AutoTrader released a study conducted by IHS Automotive that asked buyers to rank their satisfaction with the purchase process. Find that survey here: 2016 Car Buyer Journey.

Consumers reported spending and average of three hours buying a car, and more than half of that time is spent negotiating and completing the paperwork. We’ve talked about paperwork before, and the importance that you make sure you have the right numbers and the right forms in place before closing.

What this study highlights is that only 57% of buyers of used cars were satisfied with the closing process. That, my dear readers, is awful. Just 65% reported to be satisfied with the interaction with the finance office. BUT, four out of five people were by and large satisfied with the test drive and the interaction with the sales person. Problem is, people don’t usually highlight that part of it in their conversations with friends. The last thing they remember is that closing process, and that part being the worst part, will be remembered long after the satisfaction of the test drive fades.  

You can fix both of these. The closing process doesn’t always lend itself to an efficiency make-over, but you may need to drag it kicking and screaming.  

First, train your finance people better. Second, get rid of those negative, sour-faced, exasperated individuals who make this experience for your customers even worse. Someone just agreed to buy a car from your company, the least you could do as owner or GM is to make sure the next person they talk to is friendly, professional, respectful, and pleasant.
I have seen a lot of “Finance Managers” who used foul or abusive language, smoked in the office, treated the consumers like inconveniences, and just generally pushed the buyers around. I have seen them rudely take personal calls (or text) with someone at the desk, get up to go yell at sales staff. I have even heard this said by a “Finance Manager” to a buyer at a closing, and this is an exact quote: “Stop asking me so many damn questions and just sign the damned forms already.”  

Watch the “Finance Manager” work through a couple of deals, and ask yourself: Would YOU still sign paperwork if you got treated like that? I have heard a disturbing amount of lies come out of these offices, also, which leads us to the next point:

They need to be honest. Sadly, that does not go without saying in this industry. Consumers now have access to huge swaths of information literally in the palm of their hands. Many of them do not actually have to look at their smart phone to realize they are being lied to or that someone is taking advantage of their financial situation. They will sign the papers anyway and buy the car, especially from BHPH dealers, because they feel they have no other options. You’ve got to ask yourself: Will someone who feels trapped or cheated make payments on time? Go back and re-read the Happy Customer entry in this blog.

Make sure that the final closer (person getting the paperwork complete) knows what they are doing. This person or persons needs to be able to explain the paperwork competently. Teach them (or get someone to do this) what all the the phrases and terms mean, and how to explain it to the consumers if they ask questions. Competence and confidence in this person at this closing goes a long way toward smoothing (and speeding up) this process, and that will lead to satisfied consumers. Remember that the more satisfied the consumer is, the more likely they are to refer a friend, and say nice things about you on social media.  

In a future visit, let’s look at how we can take that four out of five sales staff satisfaction and make it nine of ten, or even better.

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