The process takes a while. We gotta go through applications, process credit, pull credit—all that stuff takes time. Building rapport with the customer takes time, car choice takes time, demonstrations, test-driving the car takes time.
Then buying the vehicle and doing the paperwork takes time. So you put all those together, it ends up being a fairly lengthy process. But there are ways to speed it up.
Sometimes the customer makes it take longer because they don’t have all the necessary documents with them to take the needed steps to purchasing a car. Sometimes they can’t decide what they want so they bounce all over the place: they come in to drive a car and then change their mind and move to a minivan, then they want a pickup. That takes time.
Would you say Country Auto does a pretty good job of getting people in and out of there quickly?
It still takes time, but we’re efficient with what we do.
We have a system we use: the way we meet and greet customers, then pre-approve the customer on a car. This takes away a lot of that wasted time of them looking at a car too much that they can’t afford.
We try to build rapport, investigate up front so we know if they need a pickup or a minivan. So we try to eliminate a lot of that out of the process.
We’re pretty efficient inside. We have enough employees here to handle every section of the process. Somebody can be pulling credit at the same time that we’re doing the application to speed the process up. All our paperwork went to complete laser printing rather than inkjet—that sped up the process. If everything works absolutely perfectly, it’s an hour, but generally it’s about an hour and a half from start to finish.
If someone calls ahead of time and even does an online app, we can have that part of it pretty much done, credit pulled. That takes a good 20 minutes out of the process.
What if a customer shows up and is in a hurry; they don’t want to have to wait for the entire process?
Rather than try to put a customer in something because they are in a hurry, we’d rather lose the sale. Being in a hurry doesn’t ever work long-term. If someone is thinking of buying a car, they should plan ahead. Sometimes we hear, “Oh I don’t know, anything will work, it’s just a car.” But if they know what they need and are specific, we can quickly go through the application to speed up the process.
Our website has a short pre-application to fill out; there are other steps to take before they come in such as proof of employment, pay stubs, etc. One of our salespeople will text or call to make an appointment and let them know what to bring in. When the customer brings everything they need, it really speeds up the process.