Autotrader Tips for using at-home test drives

Alex Locklair

Green Pea
Dec 5, 2019
7
7
First Name
Alex
For a lot of dealerships, test drives from home are a new selling tool, one that you may have started using sooner than you intended! With many consumers stuck at home, at-home test drives can be a powerful tool for winning customers and selling cars.

And we’re here to help you get rolling! Here are some quick tips to help you make sure your local shoppers know you offer at-home test drives, make the process a smooth one, and ensure that your test drives move the sales process forward.

Tips for connecting with consumers who want to test drive from home
Advertising: Make sure you’ve promoted test drive at home throughout your advertising. Merchandise all your virtual-buying capabilities everywhere you can — your dealership website, third-party listings, social media, email campaigns, paid search ad copy, and display creative. Consider specifying how far your dealership will deliver for a test drive.

On your listings: If you haven’t got the Dealer Home Services Test Drive at Home tool set up for your Autotrader and KBB.com listings, contact your Dealer Success Consultant to get set!

Store policies and procedures: If you’re a leader, establish clear policies and procedures for at-home test drives. Then, be sure to fill your business development and sales teams in on everything they’ll need to know to vet shoppers and get at-home test drives scheduled. If you’re a salesperson, make sure you’re familiar with your dealership’s guidelines.

A few steps to take before you set up an at-home test drive
Before arranging an at-home test drive, take a few steps to ensure that your shopper has narrowed in on the best possible vehicle. You don’t want to go to the expense and effort of disinfecting and delivering a vehicle that’s not the right fit.
  • Provide additional vehicle images, videos, and details by email, chat or text.
  • Next, be sure to ask and answer the questions you usually would during a first on-the-lot conversation. What’s the shopper looking for in a vehicle? What are his or her family’s needs? How will they use it on a day-to-day basis? What’s their budget? What do they want to know about the vehicle or the sales process?
  • Then, set an appointment for a live virtual walkaround using video chat. It’s an opportunity for the potential buyer to get a close look at the vehicle and ensure that it’s the right fit before you set up a test drive. Check out this blog post for tips for a successful virtual walkaround.
How to ensure a great home test drive, even when you can’t ride along
You’re an expert in test drives, but your customer probably isn’t. So, be sure to prep the shopper, setting expectations and offering tips for a test drive that’s exciting and informative.
  • Let’s face it. Staying healthy is a key concern for everyone right now. When you call to set time and location specifics, let the shopper know the steps you are taking to disinfect the vehicle, minimize personal contact, and ensure their safety.
  • While you’re setting the appointment, go ahead and choose a time for a follow-up call or video chat, ideally while the vehicle is still at the customer’s home.
  • Before delivering the vehicle, provide a personalized list of test drive tips for the shopper. If you were riding along on the test drive, what cool features would you point out? What technology would you encourage the customer to try? What features of this vehicle perfectly meet your customer’s needs? Test drive tips are your opportunity to make sure your potential buyer checks out all the best features of the car you’re selling.
Tips for following up after the test drive
Even more than with a typical test drive, what happens after the car’s parked is key. So, make sure you’ve got a foolproof follow-up plan.
  • Make your planned follow-up call at the designated time. And if you can, do that follow-up conversation via video chat. Seeing each other’s faces can help to foster a personal connection with the customer. And, if the car is still at the customer’s home, using video can make it easier to answer specific questions.
  • In your follow-up conversation, start by listening. What did he or she like about the vehicle? Were they able to use all of the key technology features? What questions can you answer? If the conversation sputters a bit, use the test drive tips you provided as a conversation starter.
  • Be prepared with a next step that will move the sale forward.
Let’s do this!
Offering at-home test drives is a great way to win new customers. And as long as you prepare and follow up thoroughly, they can give you and your potential buyer a test-drive experience that accomplishes everything a ride-along test drive would. Good luck!

You can sign up for the Autotrader Dealer Advantage Blog to receive tips and insights straight to your inbox HERE.

The Autotrader Team
 
  • 1
Reactions: ThatMonteiroGuy
Learn more about DrivenData

DrewAment

3rd Base Coach
Apr 30, 2009
325
147
First Name
Drew
I honestly don't think that a huge %% (less than 1-2%??) of customers are asking for a at-home test drive, or even taking up the drive if a dealership offers. The industry is making a bigger deal out of it than it actually is. Most of it from vendors or blog/post/social managers that work for venders.

And, quite honestly, the model doesn't scale. We are already asking salespeople to perform a huge number of tasks to get the sale, during the sale, and after the sale -- all to sell ~10-12/month average. Now they are going to go off-site for hours a day (in the dealerships new car - ya I see the dealer insurance premiums going up) and still sell ~10-12/month?

Could I find a purple rabbit -- like the Mercedes dealer that does 20 "off site" test drives a day -- etc etc. Sure, but that is not going to be the norm.

Does anyone have an idea why Carvana doesn't do presale test drives??


In closing -- Lawyers are always involved -- just a legality to make sure you are aware of if doing "at-home" test drives:

 
  • 1
Reactions: Rob

Alex Locklair

Green Pea
Dec 5, 2019
7
7
First Name
Alex
I honestly don't think that a huge %% (less than 1-2%??) of customers are asking for a at-home test drive, or even taking up the drive if a dealership offers. The industry is making a bigger deal out of it than it actually is. Most of it from vendors or blog/post/social managers that work for venders.

And, quite honestly, the model doesn't scale. We are already asking salespeople to perform a huge number of tasks to get the sale, during the sale, and after the sale -- all to sell ~10-12/month average. Now they are going to go off-site for hours a day (in the dealerships new car - ya I see the dealer insurance premiums going up) and still sell ~10-12/month?

Could I find a purple rabbit -- like the Mercedes dealer that does 20 "off site" test drives a day -- etc etc. Sure, but that is not going to be the norm.

Does anyone have an idea why Carvana doesn't do presale test drives??


In closing -- Lawyers are always involved -- just a legality to make sure you are aware of if doing "at-home" test drives:

Hey DrewAment - we expect customer adoption of at-home test drives to continue to grow as more customers learn about the ease and availability of the service from dealers. Also, Dealer Home Services provides virtual tools to help ensure your customer gets the right car before the at-home portion of the deal happens. You can chat with your client via email, chat, or text to answer any of their questions about the vehicle. You can then schedule a time to take the customer through a virtual walkaround of vehicles that match what they are looking for. Yes, at-home test drives are not new, but we are in new waters and people are much more willing to try new services to stay safe if they are aware they are available.
 
Jul 2, 2020
3
2
First Name
Anthony
I honestly don't think that a huge %% (less than 1-2%??) of customers are asking for a at-home test drive, or even taking up the drive if a dealership offers. The industry is making a bigger deal out of it than it actually is. Most of it from vendors or blog/post/social managers that work for venders.

And, quite honestly, the model doesn't scale. We are already asking salespeople to perform a huge number of tasks to get the sale, during the sale, and after the sale -- all to sell ~10-12/month average. Now they are going to go off-site for hours a day (in the dealerships new car - ya I see the dealer insurance premiums going up) and still sell ~10-12/month?

Could I find a purple rabbit -- like the Mercedes dealer that does 20 "off site" test drives a day -- etc etc. Sure, but that is not going to be the norm.

Does anyone have an idea why Carvana doesn't do presale test drives??


In closing -- Lawyers are always involved -- just a legality to make sure you are aware of if doing "at-home" test drives:

Your points are valid and @Alex Locklair lays out a nicely organized checklist of items that need to be applied if your dealership does get into the full experience of "Remote Selling". The stat of less than 1-2% that are asking for a at-home test drive is probably accurate because that service is not readily available nor do many dealer promote it, so it makes sense that not many would ask.

In my opinion, a "Remote Test-drive" is not something that you do willy nilly or offer to every prospect. Like any good sales tool you create a process and a set of rules that are incorporated into your current processes. Service has been handing out loaner vehicles for years and years and in most cases there are certain criteria that needs to be met to qualify for loaner car unless it's an OE program that mandates that everyone gets one. But they are mostly based on the job duration and value, customer loyalty and frequency, service plans etc.. So apply the some similar sets of rules or qualifying criteria to the remote test drive and flip it around, you offer it at the right time vs expecting the customer to request it. Think about a process of once the prospect is close and has landed on the vehicle, you have vetted and qualified them as being a legit "in-market" customer but may need to go an extra step to wrap it up. Additionally, this works especially well if there is a Trade involved. Offer to bring them the vehicle they are interested in for a 24hr home test drive and retrieve the trade for appraisal. This accomplishes 2 critical elements of the sale, Puppy dog close or mental ownership and the ability for the dealership to physically inspect the potential trade for an accurate appraisal. Dealer is much more in control of the transaction now and the final numbers can be derived because there is no ambiguity in that trade valuation.

Now lets address the salesperson performing multiple tasks concern, Don't use sales associates to move vehicles, it's not their job. Use an on-demand GIG based workforce to take the vehicles and pick-up the trade, this gives the dealer the option to provide this service without investing in additional staff or tasking current staff with additional jobs that distract from their core competency. We have found that customers across the country are very willing to pay for this service so it's not 100% on the dealer to pay for these drivers. By using on-demand drivers, the dealer can do 1 or 100 without having to deal with or building out the physical infrastructure to support this service, Home Delivery, Service P&D or lot-to-lot vehicle pick-up and drop offs. Deploy the steps suggested by Alex; like video chat while the customer has the vehicle to bring the face-to-face into the equation even though it's a virtual version of it.

I will be willing to bet that 1-2% will grow very quickly to north of 10 and the dealers that are progressive and make these changes in their selling culture and process will gain market share and higher satisfaction scores.