Many dealerships with their own service centers consider loaner cars a necessary evil. As part of the car manufacturers’ mobility warranty, they must keep a certain number of cars in stock, while others keep them for their clients to remain competitive with other car repair shops. But what if you can get even more out of it? What if a loaner car is a way to increase sales of new and used cars?
How we buy a new car
Countless surveys of pre-purchase of those interested in buying a car shows that a very important part of the whole shopping process is their own experience with the vehicle, a test drive if you will. And for some drivers, a test drive can be the main initiator of the whole purchasing process. The brands and models still exist, that serve to fulfill dreams. And it’s far from just the most luxurious or sporty segments. The problem is that it is not always possible to identify which car is the dream one for any individual. Many dreams come alive within the brand the customer has already purchased. So quite commonly the owners of a Golf dream of a Passat or Arteon, the owners of the BMW 3 series turn to the 5 or 7, while owners of a Yaris dream about the bigger Corolla or Land Cruiser. But many of them first need their own driving experience to begin to make the dream a reality. These dreams can often be fulfilled by a used model of the previous generation. Especially if their own lower-class car is several years old.
“User experience,” or the actual “ride” in the car world, is absolutely key in many other industries. However, with cars, this experience is relatively complicated, especially during coronavirus. The customer must order a test drive from a car dealer, and often feels some obligation to the dealer, which paradoxically creates a barrier to the user experience. Some dealers are very well aware of this, so they organize various open days, skid schools, etc., where they try to provide potential customers with an obligation-free user experience. This is expensive and complicated.
Loaner car as a new user experience
Every branded service center must keep loaner cars in stock. In conjunction with the dealer’s test cars, it is generally a good-sized fleet of cars covering a variety of models, equipment, and engine options. In addition, some dealers include current used cars in stock into this fleet, often out of necessity, when loaner cars run out. However, these things can be arranged differently.
Imagine that you lend an older Passat, that has been in stock for some time, as a loaner car – naturally for a very attractive price – to the owner of an aging Golf headed for warranty inspection. Or that you will lend a new electric MX-30 to the owner of an older Mazda CX-3, who uses it mainly for city driving. Or you will lend a Corolla Sports Touring that can easily fit a stroller to an expecting young newlywed couple who currently drive a Yaris. Do you think those people will be more likely to buy a new car? And how will that probability increase if you prepare a targeted offer for the loaner car, including the purchase of their existing car?
Gather information about who to lend to
That’s exactly what it’s all about. The moment you know the needs of your customers, it is much easier to sell them cars, and at a higher overall margin. The problem may be how to figure out who wants what. And then how to arrange that they get exactly the loaner car they want. Fortunately, today there are advanced CRM systems that can capture and process exactly these situations. All comments when communicating with any dealer or service, whether in person, by phone, email, or on social networks. All this is offered by Automotive CRM, a cloud-based system from Konica-Minolta for car dealerships and service centers, providing a 360° customer view. With it, you can put all your customer wishes into context, together with their currently owned vehicles and their condition. You can then easily prepare personalized offers including the targeted rental of a suitable loaner vehicle.
Automakers already sell electric cars this way, so use it for everything else
Carmakers have already caught onto the fact that loaner cars are a very elegant opportunity to support sales, especially of new and revolutionary models. Presently, they use this approach for electric cars. For example, Mazda, which relies heavily on the driving experience, has launched a targeted campaign in several markets, offering the rental of the electric MX-30 as a loaner car during service completely free for a limited time. In certain markets, this has helped to completely sell out stock of this model. But why focus only on electric cars? With virtually zero effort you can use this approach to sell any other model. Every customer has a dream car. You just need to know what it is.