Dealers need to tailor test drive routes and offer more than the standard “15 minutes around the block” in order to improve their conversion rates, Coachworks Consulting has said.
Karl Davis, managing director of independent automotive consultancy Coachworks Consulting, said that sales executives need to change their attitudes towards test drives to remove the view that the process is tying up too much of their time.
He is now urging sales managers to assess the way test drives are offered in light of What Car? research which indicated that the average buyer is planning to test at least two new cars before making their next purchase.
A total of 45% of What Car? readers also revealed that they intended to test more cars than they did last time they purchased.
“The test drive is an increasingly important part of the sales process and with buyers expected to test more cars than before, it has to be experiential for them,” said Davis.
“Sales staff should take time to find out about the customer’s typical usage and factor that into a test route. When you’re expecting a customer to commit a significant amount of money to a purchase it’s not good enough to offer a 15 minute test drive around the block.
“Dealers should be offering customers a good mix of roads on a route planned, where possible, to include town and country driving. If the customer does a lot of motorway driving then this, or a dual carriageway, should be included as well.”
Davis said test drives can be under-utilised by sales staff who might view them as tying up too much of their time, adding that the best dealers are achieving high conversion rates from test drives because they put some thought into the routes and are prepared to invest the time and effort into doing them properly.
He said: “It’s vital for a customer to be given sufficient time and a decent route to make an informed decision.
“It’s also an opportunity for sales staff to build a relationship with the customer, develop a better understanding of their specific needs and demonstrate features such as park assist which some customers may not have used before.”