3 Min Read • August 17, 2023
Dealers Aren’t Speeding Up Sales
For the past year, CDK Global has been surveying car buyers each month to gauge how easy the car buying process is. And while the average overall Ease of Purchase score remained steady, averaging 83% for the year, there were a few warning signs for dealers that the first annual tally uncovered.
One clear indicator of a car buyer having a positive experience at a dealership is the amount of time it takes to buy a car. Any transaction that takes over three hours drastically impacts the Net Promoter Score (NPS), while completing a deal in an hour or less has a tremendous positive impact on that buyer’s NPS.
Unfortunately, after a year of asking the same questions to new car buyers, it’s clear that the time it takes to complete a transaction simply isn’t improving, even if they’re rather consistent on a quarterly basis. From the first quarter to the most recent, the number of transactions completed under two hours was not just stagnant, it fell.
But sometimes car buyers expect a long amount of time so they aren’t totally dismayed to see the clock tick by as they secure their new ride. But over the course of the year, the number of buyers who said the time was what they expected never breached 50%. The best result was 48% in Q2 of 2023.
Dealers concerned that buyers want an online-only experience should feel, somewhat, at ease as less than 2% of those surveyed bought a car that way on average, never going over 3%.
And while more buyers are opting for a mix of online and in-person experiences, the number of buyers relying solely on the dealership stayed steady, averaging 66% over the year. First-time buyers are even more reliant on the dealership for their purchase with 70% completing the entire process at the dealership.
Customers Still Finding Cars in Transit
How buyers found the car they eventually bought varied radically throughout the year due to inventory issues with 36% of buyers, the lowest amount, finding the vehicle in stock in January 2023 with the highest, 52%, just the following month. The average of the year came to 44%, which is still remarkably low compared to historic norms.
Buying a car in transit seems to be a trend that’s here to stay, however. Even though that number varied between 19% and 30%, the average came much closer to the high at 26%.
Ordering cars from the factory declined steadily throughout the year with 28% of shoppers, the highest number, in our first month during June 2022 and the lowest numbers of 19% and 18% all coming in the most recent months of our survey with the average falling near the bottom at 21%.
Seeing these results play out over the course of the year illustrates that there’s extreme volatility in some areas. The most recent dip in scores confirms that. But, overall, consumers still find buying a car a relatively easy process.
David Thomas is director of content marketing and automotive industry analyst at CDK Global. He champions thought leadership across all platforms, connecting CDK’s vast expertise to the broader market and trends driving our industry forward. David has spent nearly 20 years in the automotive world as a product evaluator, journalist and marketer for brands like Autoblog, Cars.com, Nissan and Harley-Davidson.