The coronavirus pandemic was the driving force behind an already existing trend that is now rapidly changing the car industry. *
Instead of visiting one of the 4,500 car showrooms across the UK, or even several, test driving the vehicle, then picking a car and haggling with the sales team, customers are increasingly trying something new. *
These days people are far more likely to search online for the car they want, picking two or three to look at. They then only visit the showroom to make their final choice and, perhaps, try to get some discount on the price advertised online. *
People still like to go to the showroom, and on average make 3.1 trips there before buying a new car. *
But the number of visits to showrooms before purchasing a car is falling. People shop around online far more. This new hybrid model of buying, where you first look online and then go to a showroom, is increasingly popular. Furthermore, 10% of UK sales are now said to be completed totally online, with the buyer not seeing the car until it is delivered to his or her doorstep. *
Purely electric and plug-in hybrids now make up 20% of all new cars. *
And that proportion can only increase in the coming years. Not only has the massive hike in fuel prices encouraged this trend, but new petrol and diesel car sales will be banned in the UK by 2030. That means dealerships will have to spend money retraining their staff to repair and maintain electric and hybrid vehicles. And since electric vehicles have far fewer moving parts it should mean they need less servicing. *
The way people own cars is likely to change. *
In the future cars may be regarded more as "mobility solutions", something to hire for limited periods, rather than something to buy. This would give you, for example, the chance to swap your city run-around for a bigger car during the holidays, or take out a convertible for the weekend. There could be car clubs, or paying by the hour or mile. *
Dealers need to invest in customer service.
Dealers are going to need to give car shoppers a reason to choose to come into the showroom. It’s not enough to just be the better car salesperson. As the dealership buying style is now becoming more ‘retail’ orientated – the service style and customer journey is also changing. Dealers will need to adapt, and differentiate themselves in order to align with the rapid changes over the next decade. Behaviours are, and will be, a key differentiator. It’s not about ‘what’ you do, but it’s ‘how’ you do it – the behaviours you exhibit. Behaviours can me monitored as part of Performance in People’s award-winning Behavioural Measurement Score® (BMS®) – click here to find out more.
Performance in People (PiP) work with over 75% of the UK automotive industry
PiP has over 20 years’ experience within the car sales and servicing sectors. PiP has already seen changes in the customer journey, and have adapted their mystery shopping and customer experience programmes to support dealerships and help improve customer satisfaction utilising their award-winning Behavioural Measurement Score® (BMS®). Some of PiP’s Account Directors have been making their own predictions about the changes in the UK car industry…
Ryan Crookes, “In my experience there is no one size fits all model which will work for every customer. Whether you run a traditional dealership or agency lead framework the future requires us to understand and utilise omnichannel / hybrid solutions as consumers adapt to online purchasing. What’s become evident is that customers still crave physical experiences, be it a walk-in customer or a customer who’s spent hours researching online and arrived via a hybrid solution. At every stage on the journey, we should consider making the experience easy, personalised and most of all FUN.”
Scott Lawson, “The automotive industry has demonstrated its resilience and ability to adapt over recent years. The next big change for many OEMs to navigate seems to be the question of whether to move towards an agency model, or to stick with the traditional franchise model. For those opting towards the agency model, it feels as though the customer experience within the showroom becomes even more important than ever. How the customer is made to feel during their visit to the showroom becomes the primary way that a dealer can influence the customer experience and ultimately their decision of where they will be purchasing their next vehicle. Whichever model is in place, in my opinion the real winners will be those that put the customer experience at the forefront and work backwards from there.”
Lom Dolby, “The EV market share continues to grow in 2023, as seen over the past few years, this paired with recent government funding announcements to boost the nationwide charging infrastructure, all adds up to a positive outlook for the UK EV market and it feels like we’re on track with the 2035 goal for all new vehicle sales to be fully electric. Whether the customer opts for an ICE, Hybrid or EV vehicle, it’s clear the customer journey has changed to be based more online. The majority carry out their own online research which forms a big part of the decision making process, where historically a Sales Executive/Dealership would have had greater influence on this. With this reduced level of interaction, now more than ever, it’s important the customer experience delivered is exceptional and memorable.”