Dealer Irrelevance? (Part II of II)
One of those moves is offering potential customers a new way of experiencing a vehicle. This could be through off-site test-drives or mobile stores in areas with high traffic. Other ideas are allowing dealers to enter into market subscription services that are not related to their normal stores. Or a third one, and one that is gaining traction, is working closely with lenders to give customers personalized vehicle finance solutions. An example of this are pay-as-you-drive programs where one essentially rents their car but in a more individualized manner. With autonomous driving gaining traction this is essentially where the industry is heading. Cars will always be of use, but their practical side will be interchangeable.
Outside these more mainstream suggestions, Maurer also threw out some interesting options moving forward. Ride-hailing services as we all know are booming, and companies like Uber and Lyft will continue to need servicing on their vehicles. Established dealer technicians will be high demand, and this is a niche that dealerships can immediately pounce on. Another hot area is data monetization. Dealers can participate here as well, gathering data on fleet use and providing connectivity services to fleets.
There is then something known as inventory-free, peer-to-peer used-car trading. While vehicles can theoretically be exchanged online or via any other virtual platform, they will always be machinery. And as machines they will need to be reconditioned, insured and financed. Dealers would naturally not be involved in their traditional activities on this side, but they would have a role, which is what the service side in this new economy is seeking.
The key word here is “service.” A service economy is being created and all of us (you included) are potential clients. While we might always love our cars, our relationships with them will grow more distant and become increasingly transactional. If dealers can’t hop aboard, there is a large exit door looming towards the back.