Car Buying During the Coronavirus: What Buyers Are Doing

What car shoppers are doing when buying a used car during the coronavirus pandemic and what you can do.

As you know, our routines continue to change on a daily basis since the COVID-19 outbreak and it applies to every single part of our life.

Major retailers from Apple to Nike have closed outlets in the U.S., among other countries, yet many car dealerships, especially independent dealers remain open.

Chances are, your dealership has already seen a major decrease in foot traffic or leads that are coming in. During this time, you must understand what the shopper is thinking and address their concerns throughout your advertising and website.

Here is a map of the most active areas as of the publishing date:

Live US Corona Virus Map

Here is a list of what buyers do when shopping for a used vehicle during the coronavirus outbreak and what you, as a car dealer can do about it:

  • All car research will be done online, without them leaving home - such as research, credit applications and negotiations.
  • DO THIS: If a customer is qualified and interested with a loan app on file but doesn't want to spend a few hours on the lot, consider offering them a quick test drive and doing the paperwork from home. Some dealers are even driving the vehicle to the client’s home. 

  • DO THIS: Advertise appointments only to prevent crowds. This will make interested shoppers feel at ease.

  • They’re worried about contracting the virus from surfaces they touch. As recently outlined in this Harvard article, Coronavirus can live up to 3 days on plastic and stainless steel and in the air for up to 3 hours.
  • DO THIS: Mention cleaning and disinfection techniques you apply at the dealership to prevent this, such as disinfecting handles, shifter knobs, steering wheels and window regulators.

  • They’re spending more time on mobile devices since most shoppers through the US are being forced to spend more time at home or isolated from public places.
  • DO THIS: Understand exactly which marketing channels are working best for you at this time, and double down on those.

  • Searches for trucks and SUV’s is on the rise during the Coronavirus
  • DO THIS: If you have these vehicles in inventory, prioritize them on your website and marketing. They may move much faster than you’d expect.

To recap, as strange as it may sound - some used car dealers will sell more inventory during this crisis than ever before, just like some real estate agents sold more homes in the crash of 2008 than in the best of times.

The only question is which dealers and how.

This too will pass, that we know. The goal is to take a step back without panic, implement everything you can to address the shoppers concerns, and in the process - prepare your dealership for success and to come out on top once this passes. 

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