According to a study done by Beepi Inc., which looked at consumer perception of the entire automotive purchasing experience, the vast majority of consumers hate buying cars. A staggering 87{137f86425451f0eed4391b215cab1f0aedcc26ced4aeb45d9a5267c3194b8614} said that there was some aspect of the process that they disliked, and 61{137f86425451f0eed4391b215cab1f0aedcc26ced4aeb45d9a5267c3194b8614} felt like at some point in the process, the dealership took advantage of them.

The survey – which talked to 2,135 people – relayed more than a few alarming statistics:

  • Nearly a quarter of respondents aged 35-44 would rather get a root canal than negotiate a car deal.
  • 62{137f86425451f0eed4391b215cab1f0aedcc26ced4aeb45d9a5267c3194b8614} of women and 52{137f86425451f0eed4391b215cab1f0aedcc26ced4aeb45d9a5267c3194b8614} of men considered Millennials feel pressured by salespeople to buy something as soon as they walk onto the dealership lot.
  • 54{137f86425451f0eed4391b215cab1f0aedcc26ced4aeb45d9a5267c3194b8614} of all respondents, across all age groups, would love to be able to buy a car without ever leaving their home.
  • 42{137f86425451f0eed4391b215cab1f0aedcc26ced4aeb45d9a5267c3194b8614} of those respondents would be comfortable with an entirely online car buying experience, as long as there was an assurance of quality, such as a money-back guarantee.

As an industry, what can we do to shift these perceptions?

It’s obvious that something has to change. In today’s online world, consumers arm themselves with extensive facts and knowledge before they ever walk through the dealership door. The manufacturers have responded to the consumer craving for knowledge by creating in-depth websites that include every statistic about every inch of the vehicle. As a result, consumers often walk into dealerships not only knowing exactly what they are looking for, but they likely already know which trim level best suits their needs, which options they want, and they have probably run the numbers on multiple payment calculators to determine the ballpark number for what they should be paying.

As a result, consumers are more knowledgeable and more confident walking into the dealership. And often, they’ve already made their purchase decision as well. More and more, consumers are making purchase decisions at home, outside of an environment where they feel pressured, or feel like they are being “sold to.” This means that the role of the dealership has changed from one of selling to one of supporting the purchase decisions the customer has already made before walking into the dealership.

So what does this mean for the F&I office?

In general, dealerships have been slow to put F&I information online. While all the other aspects of the car-buying process are now at consumers’ fingertips, this one piece still remains a mystery for the vast majority of people. Most consumers still don’t know what F&I products are or how they’re helpful, and in today’s online world, that can be very dangerous. Studies show consumers are much more receptive to F&I products when they know about them in advance of stepping into the dealership. When this doesn’t happen, consumers can feel ambushed, which puts the F&I manager in a challenging position and reduces the chance of a positive experience for everyone. It’s not a problem that can be solved overnight, but we cannot afford to ignore it any longer. We need to make sure we are approaching today’s savvy consumers in the way they want to be approached.

When 87{137f86425451f0eed4391b215cab1f0aedcc26ced4aeb45d9a5267c3194b8614} of people dislike at least one aspect of the automotive purchasing experience, change has to be made. As an industry, we can either be the ones leading the charge, or we can be the ones left behind when someone finds a way to successfully disrupt the status quo right out from under us. It’s time to embrace the resources we have at our fingertips and evolve the F&I office into a place consumers get just as excited about as they do when sitting in the driver’s seat of their chosen car for the first time.

This post was written by: Garret Lacour, CEO RoadVantage