Most dealers are aware that a successful test drive can vastly improve the chances of a sale, as it gives potential customers the chance to get to know the vehicle and learn about all of its features and benefits.
But it’s not just dealers who feel this way. During a recent survey, we found that more than half (58%) of drivers think that test drives are a very important factor when deciding whether or not to purchase a vehicle.
But why are test drives so important, and how can your dealership offer the best customer experience during one? Read on to find out.
Why do test drives improve the chances of a vehicle sale?
Test drives play two important roles in the path to purchase: moving customers from the consideration stage to the buying stage, and ensuring that there are no misunderstandings about the vehicle.
During a test drive, the vehicle can effectively “speak for itself” as the driver learns about the functionality, comfort and features of the car. The driver is also able to test how the vehicle performs first-hand, which could otherwise lead to disputes after the sale.
According to research by Automotive Management, an estimated 80% of customers who go on to purchase a vehicle take a test drive initially. When it comes to used car buyers, test drive rates are higher overall, the main reason being that customers plan to buy the specific car they are interested in.
However, when it comes to purchasing brand new vehicles, many of those who took a test drive before buying chose the same model with different specifications.
The majority of drivers take a test drive once they have narrowed their search down to a select few vehicles or have already decided on the car they want.
A successful test drive could therefore be the difference between closing and losing a sale, so it is essential to get the test drive experience right.
Key components of a successful test drive
There are several ways that dealerships can enhance their test drive offering. These include:
- Offering unaccompanied test drives - during our survey, 63% of respondents said that they would prefer to take a test drive without a salesperson present, allowing them to focus on the car without any distractions and test it in a more comfortable environment.
- Removing pressure from the test drive process - rather than making the customer feel rushed by asking them to return in 15 minutes because another customer is booked in, make sure that appointments are spaced out appropriately to allow for more time in the vehicle as a longer test drive gives a buyer a greater sense of the car.
Making negotiation as easy as possible - research by Gumtree suggests that buyers often don’t haggle, but sometimes this can lead to the loss of a sale if the customer thinks the cost of the vehicle is too high and doesn't know that they could negotiate. It might be worth hinting that there is wiggle room on the price if the test drive goes well - this can also help you to build a lasting relationship with the customer as they are more likely to come back to your dealership when they next buy their car.