Dealerships Suck! Here’s How We Want To Buy Cars

It’s the best thing. It’s the worst thing. Buying a new car is an exhilarating experience. Some get goosebumps thinking about it. That first drive, showing your friends, new car smell, walking into the dealership. Wait, scratch that last one. That’s the worst thing about buying a new car. Dealerships suck. The whole experience inside those glass walls is excruciating. Get me out of here! This is not how we want to buy cars.

Recently, Cox Automotive did a survey and found consumers want a different experience than the typical agonizing dealership encounter. The study found buyers want less time in the showrooms and more time focusing on the products. There were 2,000 people in the study that looked at the dealership nightmare.

We want to buy cars in a “brand experience center”

The Safest Cars for Teen Drivers
Brand specialists would spend time showing you the new tech. | Daisy-Daisy/Getty Images

Only one in three people said they were “very satisfied” with the status quo. Seven out of 10 wanted a “brand experience center” to be able to get acquainted with their new purchase. In the study, there were “trailblazer” respondents considered those most likely to want new technology and services. 

Trailblazers will make up the vast majority of consumers within the next four years. Their choices will blaze a path everyone else will follow. Sixty-three percent of those trailblazers said they would switch brands if technology and services were the center of the buying experience. 

Dealerships suck-we want the shopping experience to be fun

Man drives manual transmission
Driving stick shift | Motortion/Getty Images

With so much new technology in vehicles, most want to focus on test drives and learning about the new tech. They want the shopping experience to be fun, not full of haggling in a small room. More than half want help with the new vehicle and not from a salesman. Instead, they want a staff person trained as a product specialist.

This would make the dealership experience more of a service-oriented one-on-one focus. Dealership staff allocation and training would shift to this type of training. It would become a time to get to know your new vehicle.

Most consumers surveyed want at least one of the purchase steps handled online. More of the process would take place online rather than within the dealership. If the process could be entirely done online it might change what a dealership is. 

Dealerships would no longer have huge inventories of vehicles

A row of trucks for sale at a dealership.
A row of new Ford trucks are displayed on display at a Ford dealership | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

This new dealership might only have two or three of each model instead of hundreds they pay flooring on. These would be used as demonstrators. A centralized location would house thousands of cars. The new purchase would be pulled from this inventory and brought to the dealership within a few hours. 

The orientation could either happen in a demonstrator or the buyer could come in after their car is plucked from the centralized bank of vehicles. Then they could spend time with a product specialist in their new car. 

The internet has evened out what consumers know about sale prices, dealer incentives, and even the best times to buy. So, we are well on the path to this new experience right now. Colors and options could be matched to vehicles in the centralized bank. You might never have to step foot inside the dreaded dealership closer’s cubicle. 

If this is the future we like what we’re hearing. It can’t happen soon enough.