V12 Vehicle Finance (V12VF) states that the role of used car professionals is undergoing transformation.
A customer survey carried out by V12VF – featuring 1,002 dealers – showed that 69% feel most confident when buying a car from a franchised or independent dealer.
The research also revealed that more than a quarter (26%) of motorists would contact a car dealer for advice on their next car purchase first, before speaking to anyone else.
Estelle McConnell, sales director at V12VF, said: “We do see a lot of men in sales positions, particularly at independent dealers, but we also see so many more females too and a more even split amongst franchised dealers.
“We work with dozens of female account managers and unlike 30 to 40 years ago, women are welcomed in the trade – and respected for their knowledge.
“The used car dealers we work with also say that the industry is leaning towards a more female dominated environment, with lots of examples at warranty, finance and insurance companies.”
McConnell said the used car dealer role will not reduce in importance when it comes to online sales and that it would remain relevant.
“The ‘centennial generation’ is more adept at purchasing online than any other before it, with online purchases of used cars becoming the norm,” McConnell said.
“But this won’t reduce the importance of the role, as the used-car dealer will work hand in glove with each online transaction. Customers still want face-to-face contact, with vehicle handovers being one example of this.
“The job has completely changed now, but with change comes opportunity. Unlike many years ago, customers can make proposals themselves, meaning dealers have no say in the finance rates.
“They can structure their own finance package before enquiring on the car, but far from making the used car dealer position redundant, it strengthens it. Enquiries are of a better quality and the relationship moves towards a collaborative one, precisely because customers will still want to touch and feel what they are buying before taking delivery.”
McConnell also stressed that dealers should keep an eye on the future and adapt to the ever-changing marketplace, with a rise in electric vehicles (EVs), shared travel and less outright ownership expected.
She said: “Self-service models and even virtual reality test drives might well be things of the future, while we are already urging dealers to start futureproofing now for the advent of EVs.
“At the moment, dealers aren’t selling many used EVs because there aren’t many on the market.
"But this won’t be the case for long and it’s important for them to be prepared with a robust digital sales function so that when more stock is available, they can sell them to a forward-thinking customer base.”
Car buyers and aftersales customers need to receive a consistent experience online, in-store and across departments, CitNOW Group’s chief customer officer Carol Fairchild will tell delegates at next month's Automotive Management Live 2022 event.
In August 2022, V12VF reached its third-year anniversary with record sales figures.