IRVINE, Calif. — Consumers want to finance their vehicle online and doing so significantly improves their overall car-buying experience and perception of the dealership they buy from, according to a new survey from SpringboardAuto.
The survey, conducted among consumers who have recently financed a vehicle online with SpringboardAuto for the purchase of a vehicle from a dealership, provides a snapshot of how consumers’ impressions of auto dealerships improve when they can complete financing online before setting foot into the dealership and shows a significant positive impact on CSI and retention.
“It comes as no surprise that consumers want to feel more empowered and more informed during the auto financing process, and that they want to do it at their own pace. What is especially striking is that if they have that opportunity, their positive feelings about their dealership skyrockets,” said Jim Landy, founder and CEO of SpringboardAuto. “With today’s technology providing multiple platforms that enable consumers to complete financing online and, in many cases, qualify for financing they may not otherwise be able to get through a dealership’s F&I process, the opportunity for dealerships is significant — especially if that platform is seamless, and easy to use.”
The survey, conducted online in November and December 2017, asked consumers to compare their perceptions of completing financing at the dealership versus completing it online prior to purchase. The result? Customer satisfaction with the dealership increased on average by over 100% when they completed their financing online as evidenced by them being likely/highly likely to:
- Give a high CSI score: 63% (financed online); 27% (financed at the dealership)
- Recommend dealership to friends: 55% (financed online); 28% (financed at the dealership)
- Return for service: 49% (financed online); 28% (financed at the dealership)
- Return to dealership for next purchase: 47% (financed online); 21% (financed at the dealership)
- Post a positive review: 40% (financed online); 18% (financed at the dealership)
Eddie Castillo, general subprime sales manager for Pine Belt Cadillac in Toms River, N.J., found the experience of working with a customer who has completed financing online prior to coming to the dealership to be a positive one.
“You don’t go back and forth with the customer going over their credit or some of the very sensitive areas that sometimes can affect the situation. So now, they look at the car, they like the car, we agree on a price, and it’s an easier and more comfortable experience.”
The majority of those surveyed also reported that the finance experience online was easier, more pleasant and hassle-free than what they had experienced previously at a dealership. They stated that what they liked best is the ability to do it all online, followed by not being rushed and having more control over personalization. The survey also made clear that these consumers have been hampered by fear when heading to a dealership for financing, and that fear is fueled by lack of information and feeling disempowered.
“Dealerships [that employ online F&I] gain where it counts most to their bottom line: in service visits, loyalty, positive word of mouth and that critical CSI score, all while saving time spent on financing paperwork,” Landy said.