5 ways to turn your dealership into a pre-qualification powerhouse

Remember in the early 2000s when “showrooming” was a 4-letter word and people were convinced auto retail was doomed because consumers would come in store—but then buy online?

It never really worked out that way. With 2022 only a month away, J.D. Power* has released new insights that put the final nail in that myth that showrooming is killing auto retail; in fact, approval and pre-approval online is quickly becoming the new top-of-funnel activity.

“Nearly half—45%—of all customers now do research prior to financing a vehicle and their experiences with lenders  can have a tremendous influence on that process. That really puts the onus on lenders to deliver a superior customer experience to existing customers and to position their websites and consumer marketing initiatives to maximize conversions.”

Consumers are not entering your store only to pull out their phones and buy elsewhere. Remove that fallacy from your mind. They are on their phones or tablets at home—doing the prep work work to make buying easier. To ensure that the purchase at your dealership, and that you get the opportunity to hold rate and recommend protection products – below are 5 ways to make your dealership a pre-qualification powerhouse.

  1. Streamline your CTAs
    If 45% of customers want to research financing prior to purchase, look long and hard at your CTAs. I’m talking to you “View window sticker,” “Get ePrice,” and your friend “Confirm availability.” Urgency is back in the car business; let’s lean into it by getting approved buyers, not just emails and phone numbers.
  2. Keep your CTA language focused
    Ask yourself and your team what the site is trying to accomplish and how. And then create a focused buyer flows with succinct CTAs.
  3. Maximize visibility and simplicity of your finance page
    Look at your top-level navigation menu. What happens when you click finance? Are you taken to a finance page, or do you have a sub-menu requiring more clicks? Think back to web basics: 1-click or people are going to drop off. Does your finance page have solid content leading to either a pre-approval soft pull or a standalone credit app? Remember, we want to be concise and guide this finance-centric activity toward activities that matter: a soft pull or an app.
  4. Upgrade your non-native leads to digital deals
    Even after we streamline our CTAs and turn our traffic into digital deals, we will always get leads from non-native sources. Some might be 3rd-party, some might be tier-1; the point is these customers can benefit from the opportunity to do more, and you can save BDC effort by allowing these customers to upgrade themselves to digital deals. Incorporate an automated upgrade option into your auto responder. We call ours Quick Quote, and it upgrades slow-closing leads into stone cold deals even when you’re asleep.
  5. Bring digital convenience into your physical dealership
    Sure: customers want certainty in their finance options, but what about those of us on the sales floor?
    The reality is: saving time for us (and our customers) in-store pays even greater dividends in terms of sales/consultant and profit opportunity.