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Dealers Too Busy For OnLine Shoppers

richard15richard15 Member Posts: 1
edited March 2014 in General
Last Friday I went through Edmumds Online Shopping service and contacted every Chrylser Dodge Five Star Dealership in San Diego County to get a price on a Dodge Magnum. It is now 5 days later and not one response. Things must be booming at the car lot with walk-in traffic (right) the dealerships are suffering yet they are not paying attention to real buyers.
Richard15- San Diego


  • driftracerdriftracer Member Posts: 2,448
    and not to sound archaeic, but online buyers aren't perceived as real buyers - most dealers get hundreds of bogus or ridiculous inquiries through the internet.

    You can't test drive, sit in, or smell a car online, at least not yet. My suggestion would be to visit the store, make a point of contact, then if you want to discuss the deal and negotiate online, have at it.

    The old saying of "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" applies here - why scroll through a list of buyers trying to beat you out of every cent, when there are live folks driving onto your lot?
  • mirthmirth Member Posts: 1,212
    ...might be that the Magnum is a fairly hot seller now, so like drift said there's probably plenty of people walking into the dealer for them, and they'll get priority.

    Now, if you were looking for a Neon, you would probably have a dozen response by now, lol.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,342
    The VAST MAJORITY of internet contacts are a big waste of time. Dealers know this and respond accordingly.

    If you are really serious, try the old fashioned approach and show up in person.
  • asafonovasafonov Member Posts: 401
    So is it time for Edmunds to retire already its (not it's) "Contact the dealer for quote" browser popup?
  • jhs70jhs70 Member Posts: 213
    Nice attitude.

    What's wrong with a customer wanting information or, god forbid, asking for a quote? Maybe the customer simply wants to get a feel for the market and maybe s/he wants to do in on-line. Just because that's a different way of doing business why is it so bad? How many times do you go online to see the price of something you're interested in, but you're not ready to jump? Why does this have to be different for cars? Are you saying that car dealers shouldn't provide a quote if the customer isn't committed to purchase right then and there? Like I've tried to point out, it doesn't work that way for other items people purchase. I'm confused.
  • manamalmanamal Member Posts: 426
    I am in the process of buying a new Subaru Legacy GT Wagon. I first went into the dealer, and could not get a good deal. I even had 'internet based' quotes where some dealers ( give an online price. The salesperson responded with 'how do you expect me to make money?'.

    Well, I looked on the first dealers web site, and saw the so-called perfect car for me at a price comparable to FITZMALL's price. Right color and everything. I CALLED the internet department, came to terms quickly. I also let him know that I delt with salesperson X and my negative experience. I put a (refundable) deposit down over
    the phone.

    Now, I expect a blanket email would have given different results. Calling told the person that I was serious. The phone is a great tool in car shopping.
  • lhesslhess Member Posts: 379
    been reading the posts here and i can see both sides of this story. but, i'm an online shopper too. i own a retail business with a friend - that means 2 things - first, i have very few days off (7 days a week here) and it's tough to make a 20 or 30 minute phone call about a car when you have customers looking at you needing assistance. i try to spot out my leads over the internet to see if their car has the options i want and if they possibly have a deal i can live with. additionally, i live in wv, when i started looking for my mitsu spyder, i had to shop online. there are 4 mitsu dealers in our entire state!! i try to explain that return e-mails are the only way i can effectively communicate, but most don't bother to do that. i guess it all works out, they won't communicate with me and i don't buy from them!!
  • benderofbowsbenderofbows Member Posts: 542
    ...all I ever get in response from either is an invitation to come in to the dealership anyways, and maybe some silly tricks to try to make me.
  • mirthmirth Member Posts: 1,212
    While the internet or phone CAN work (it has worked for my family in the past), there's absolutely no guarantee that it WILL work. It's dependant on too many variables - the area you live in, the dealer business practices, the internet salesperson's skill/attitude, the type of car you want to buy, whether you have a trade-in (and what condition is it in), etc.

    It doesn't really cost anything to ask for an internet quote, but it doesn't change the fact that you should already know, ballpark, what's a good price.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,342
    Nothing wrong with my least I don't think so anyway...:)

    Someone asked a question and I answered it. Nothing wrong with this method if it works for you.

    A lot of dealers find the majority of internet "quote" requests to be a waste of time and anyone in the business will agree with me.
  • typhon1991typhon1991 Member Posts: 64
    I sell Chevrolets in Suburban Chicago and do quite a bit of business over the Internet. We have an Internet Manager who distributes leads to us salespeople. I've been in car sales for almost 10 years. I sell 3-4 Internet Customers a month on average. They are usually minideals but they help with the month end bonus. Our website gets approx 7-10 thousand hits a month. These are all potential customers. Our dealership sees it as the future. Those dealers who don't adapt with the changing times will die. Granted a good chunk of our leads are bogus, but it takes 10 seconds to send an email or make a phone call to see if it is a legitimate up.

    One advantage of an internet customer is most of the work is done before they come to the store. They usually have picked out a vehicle from our inventory, agreed on a price, and qualified for financing by applying on our web site. Usually the only hold up would be a trade appraisal. I'm telling you my fellow slingers of American,Japanese,or German Steel learn to deal with the internet or find another line of work. It is the future and it's coming fast.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,342
    You can work the internet dept. I've done so when it was in it's infancy.

    I simply lack the patience and I know that!
  • stickguystickguy Member Posts: 49,757
    a large dealer group near me (where I bought my last Honda) has been big in internet for quite a while. They have a dedicated group to handle the internet and buying group requests. Not salespeople, more like admin support.

    Anyway, when you submit a request through the system (no blast emails I don't believe), they quickly get back with an automated response with set pricing (based on invoice or MSRP). If you want to procede, you call the internet dept. They can give you current inventory, and set up an appointment with a salesperson, with the price already set.

    I assume they will do the conversation via Email, but I never bothered. it took about 5 minutes to talk to the person and get all the details set up.

    2020 Acura RDX tech SH-AWD, 2023 Maverick hybrid Lariat luxury package.

  • audia8qaudia8q Member Posts: 3,138
    I wonder why the lifespan of an internet salesperson/manager is less than any other position in the dealership??
  • typhon1991typhon1991 Member Posts: 64
    Internet only salespeople would starve taking only internet customers. At our store, we treat an internet customer like a phone up. Instead of a phone number, we get an email address. Our closing ratio on internet customers is around 15-20%.
  • rampedramped Member Posts: 358
    Really, the internet and email are the way to go if you know what you want to buy. I don't have the patience to walk into a dealership and stare at a four square anymore.

    The dealer I bought my car from last October didn't respond to my first email offer, so I called the next day, they looked it up, and we had a deal within 24 hours. They even did the trade over the internet with the accurate description I provided. I probably would never have walked into this store and tried to haggle since it is a high pressure, banner operation.

    But, all the numbers synched when I got there, and that was that.

    Things can go wrong over the internet, too, but the odds are the transaction will be more efficient for all involved.
  • bobstbobst Member Posts: 1,776
    We are looking for a Honda Accord. I sent out three Emails to dealers this afternoon (Sunday) and already got three replies. One place offered an OTD price that was pretty much invoice + trans + ttl.

    I sent out two more Emails tonight so we will see how it works out.

    We are looking for a pretty rare car (silver EX sedan with a manual trans) so not all dealers have one in stock.

    At least it shows that the dealers here in D.C. respond to Emails.
  • manamalmanamal Member Posts: 426
    Wouldn't you rather have a 3 yo camry vith very low mileage? Just kidding. My deal is falling into place. I am buying a '05 Legacy GT Wagon from Stolhman (very convient for me). The price I am getting is good: 1K back from invoice, or 2k less than TMV. I contacted the internat department via the phone, and it went really smooth.
  • mirthmirth Member Posts: 1,212
    the internet and email are the way to go if you know what you want to buy
    The dealer I bought my car from last October didn't respond to my first email offer, so I called the next day

    Ummm, sounds like email failed there, but phone worked...
  • bobstbobst Member Posts: 1,776
    I sent one of my Emails to your favorite Honda dealer right across from where you work.

    Are you sure a Subaru is your kind of car? Are you aware of its image?
  • manamalmanamal Member Posts: 426
    I am aware of three aspects of its image. I am a libaral, so that is not a problem. While I am not a rainbow myself, I have no problems with rainbows, and frankly, I do not care. The GT is one hot car.

    Good luck on the Accord.
  • asafonovasafonov Member Posts: 401
    Are you sure an Accord is your kind of car? Are you aware of its image?
  • jasmith52jasmith52 Member Posts: 462
    I have my own perception of what a Subaru is but I would like the street low-down.

    What is the image of a Subaru ?
    And what kind of person would want a Subaru ??

    Please enlighten me.
  • benderofbowsbenderofbows Member Posts: 542
    Rainbows huh? lol
  • jasmith52jasmith52 Member Posts: 462

    Where have you been ? The whole car business is about very little except image. What are Luxury cars all about? What about the bigger-the-better SUV ??

    You are what you drive - or that's what they would like you to think.
  • asafonovasafonov Member Posts: 401
    What are Luxury cars all about?
    Well, luxury cars are about luxury, no? (next you will ask what "luxury" means - please ask the auto industry advertising agencies.)

    What about the bigger-the-better SUV ??
    They are about off-road abilities, safety and reliability.

    ...making an appointment to remove tongue from cheek ...

    To stay on topic, is there a variance in brands in how dealers handle on-line shoppers? Both Drift, who I believe had broad experience in this area, and Isellhondas, stated on-line requests are (usually) a waste of time. I don't remember opinions from members representing dealers of other brands.
  • danf1danf1 Member Posts: 897
    As a Hyundai rep I will agree with Drift and Isell on this. We get on average about 30 internet leads daily which lead to about five sales per month. Now we may not do the best job with what we get, but it is difficult to retain an internet only salesperson. A lot of our leads don't even realize that they put in a request. They seem to be surprised and almost offended that a person would call them.
  • driftracerdriftracer Member Posts: 2,448
    someone takes the time to work up a quote, then calls at the contact number to have one of two things happen - either they leave a message for a call that never gets returned; or are told not to bother the person at work/home/suppertime/during a golf game.

    Waste of time, mostly - Dan has indicated that his store (been there, nice store, decent size) gets around 900 internet leads a month that generate into FIVE sales.

    So, you pay a guy $3k a month (minimum) to harvest all these leads, and he generates 5 deals, averaging $800 per - that's $4,000, and you pay him $3k....a thousand dollars for the store, not counting othat portion of overhead, utilities, fuel, etc?

    Not a winning proposal, by any stretch, even at 12-15 deals per month - that money would be better spent in outside advertising.
  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Member Posts: 1,757
    I think that a lot of people must think that the quote process is automated ... they do not realize the amount of time necessary to respond.
  • driftracerdriftracer Member Posts: 2,448
    an automated program that would answer most of the e-mail requests I've seen - too off-the-wall...
  • bobstbobst Member Posts: 1,776
    I sent out 5 Emails to dealers and got 5 responses very quickly. Two dealers didn't have the car I wanted, two gave me an OTD price of invoice + tax + ttl, and the other one gave me a price about $400 higher.

    We will probably buy a car from one of the three dealers who have the car we want.

    This internet stuff sure makes it nice for car buyers.
  • danf1danf1 Member Posts: 897
    We use an automated system which answers e-mail requests immediately with a customized form letter. Our internet salesperson will contact the person shortly after that in theory. As I said we probably don't handle this the best way.

    We used to have a full time internet sales department of three people who could give away 20 - 25 cars every month. It just wasn't the revolution that we all thought it would be 5 years ago, so that department isn't here anymore.
  • benderofbowsbenderofbows Member Posts: 542
    a full time internet sales department of three people who could give away 20 - 25 cars every month.

    Interesting wording, in most internet deals are the cars "given away" (on average, less profit retained than in a deal with a traditional negotiator who comes into the showroom)?
  • danf1danf1 Member Posts: 897
    For the most part yes. The customers will typically shop your price all over town to save $50. Not only that but most of these people are not within my normal area so I won't see them for service. They typically don't refer any customes into us for their cars. Basically it is a market share sale only, and that is not the best way to keep a large dealership out of the red.
  • scooterzscooterz Member Posts: 20
    "They seem to be surprised and almost offended that a person would call them."

    As a previous on-line shopper, not recently though (my last two have been 2 OSD Volvos), I can understand why they would get offended. They contacted you via e-mail and expect and e-mail reply. The phone call changes the transaction, like it or not. People are afraid of the confrontation and/or tricks when it comes to actually dealing with people on a personal basis. The phone call make a person subjected to any 'tricks'. The e-mail exchange is less personal and can be reviewed and studied before a response is made, also thereby slowing down the transaction.

    I think that may be why people may get offended. Of course not everyone is like this, but that's why some use the e-mail process.
  • danf1danf1 Member Posts: 897
    I can understand that for sure. The problem seems to be that they expect to be able to go through the entire process without dealing with a salesperson. At some point you had to meet face to face with someone when you bought your Volvos.

    A professional salesperson is not interested in a one time customer who they will make little money off of. We are in the business to build relationships with people so that we can sell you a car, then your family, then your friends. It is difficult to build much of a relationship with strictly business e-mails.
  • scooterzscooterz Member Posts: 20
    I, of course, agree you have to deal with a salesperson. However, with some internet deals, the negotiation is completed and therefore most of the stress is relieved because the price has been settled on at a slower pace. Granted you may still have F&I to deal with.

    My Volvo experience was a little unique in that it is essentially a no-haggle price, and the salesperson is a facilitor then.

    Now for a person to become more than a one-time customer for a salesperson, three things have to happen: 1. Buy the car 2. Like the car and brand to come back to that store 3. Salesperson to sell enough and like their that they stay in their current business/store location. It all starts with buying the car.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Administrator Posts: 11,135
    Of course the final transaction will involve a face-to-face interaction, but some buyers may feel more comfortable having agreed to a price in writing before coming to the dealership.

    And for those who prefer to deal this way, it is building a relationship. If you make the vehicle purchasing experience easy for me, I will definitely come to you again for my next purchase.

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  • danf1danf1 Member Posts: 897
    The "professional" salesperson will be there. That is a person who understands the importance of customer service and repeat business. Unfortunately that only seems to be about half of the salespeople at any given dealership.

    Though you bring up a very good point about the salesperson still being there when you are ready for your next car. That is less likely to occurr if you are dealing with an internet sales department for a number of reasons. A salesperson will stay at a dealership usually if they are making good money. Unfortunately, with the low gross opportunity provided by an internet sale, these are not the best paying positions. Also you usually will not find one of the dealers top salespeople taking internet leads. It is usually a newbie who needs the one shot customers to meet his or her quota. Those people don't last too long in most stores.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,342
    Not my cup of tea. If someone resents a friendly telephone call, they aren't the type of people I enjoy dealing with.

    Sorting through tons of internet "leads" trying to find a serious buyer isn't my idea of doing business.

    But, that's me. I guess I grew up in a different time...
  • asafonovasafonov Member Posts: 401
    I would not get offended by a phone call since I included my number in my Edmunds requests, based on the feedback I received about the high percentage of flakes among the internet shoppers. I did specify that I preferred to be contacted be email though.

    However, if the salesperson calling is not willing to give me a price (and follow it up by email so that I have something "tangible"), essentially inviting me to come in in person, I would not be offended either, I would be just less likely to buy from this particular dealership.
  • benderofbowsbenderofbows Member Posts: 542
    Exactly, I also included a phone number to show that I was serious, but specified I wanted the quote via email. Several salespeople called and I was glad to hear from them; but they all blew off the request for a quote, just trying to gimmick me into the store. That puts them out of contention for me as well. Had the numbers been right I would have gone in, after that, no way. Talk about wasting their time...
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,342
    " Had the numbers been right I would have gone in"

    Oh, really?

    Or would you have taken those numbers and gone hither and yon, shopping them all over?
  • bobstbobst Member Posts: 1,776
    That's a great phrase. Isell!

    Three dealers sent us a reasonable quote, and we will probably buy a car from one of them. That means the dealers will have, on the average, a 33% success rate in selling us a car.

    Do most salespeople sell cars to 33% of the customers they deal with?
  • bobstbobst Member Posts: 1,776
    Your response to Bender was insulting.

    He said very clearly what he would do. You should not have questioned his veracity. You owe him an apology.

  • benderofbowsbenderofbows Member Posts: 542
    Don't worry Bobst, I'm sympathetic to Isell believe me, and did not take offense. I have worked in sales.

    Actually it was for a Mazda, and I sent quotes to the 4 dealers I would have driven to (there aren't really that many Mazda dealers in the area that I could have shopped against each other). I wanted to see if the deal that I had in mind was feasible before I went in.

    Had one of the ones who responded given me numbers that were agreeable, I'd have gone there first and given them a shot. Like I said they just tried to gimmick me into coming in before talking numbers at all (well, one did offer to finance MSRP and give me the rebates in cash... that really made me want to drive out there... yea right, lol).
  • danf1danf1 Member Posts: 897
    The good salespeople will close about that many. The longer they are in one place the higher their closing percentage will be as they are dealing with more repeat and referral customers.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Moderator Posts: 228,434
    That seems awfully high.. You'd only have to see three customers a day to sell 21 units a month..

    Just because salespeople or dealerships don't see the worth in working internet sales leads doesn't mean we, as consumers, shouldn't pursue that avenue...

    Somebody WILL make the sale... If it benefits us as customers, that is what we should do.. It seems that the car business is always trying to make customers conform to their way of doing things.. Most successful businesses conform the way they do business to the customer..


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  • bobstbobst Member Posts: 1,776
    Years ago I never got a straight answer when I asked a dealer for a price, so I stopped asking.

    But I guess things change. To my surprise, a short Email got three good prices quotes. Even an old golfer can learn new tricks.
  • benderofbowsbenderofbows Member Posts: 542
    So what did your email say? (what's the new trick)?
This discussion has been closed.