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Longer test drives and less pressure to buy: what car buyers really want from dealers

The 2018 J.D. Power survey reveals what Australian new car buyers really want from their dealership
Andrew Chesterton
Contributing journalist
CarsGuide

4 Feb 2019 • 2 min read

Australian car buyers want longer test drives, less pressure to buy and better informed sales staff when shopping for a new vehicle, according to the J.D. Power 2018 Australia Sales Satisfaction Index Study.

The J.D. Power study is one of the biggest of its kind, surveying 3075 Australians who either purchased or leased a new vehicle between March 2018 and January this year. They were asked how satisfied they were with the experience, focusing on six specific areas: the sales staff, delivery process, the dealership itself, negotiating the price, the required paperwork and the dealer's website.

And it wasn't all doom and gloom for dealerships, with Holden and Mazda landing in shared first place for customer satisfaction in the mainstream manufacturer segment (ahead of Toyota, Nissan, Ford, Volkswagen, Honda, Kia, Subaru, Mitsubishi and Hyundai). BMW took first position (ahead of Audi and then Mercedes-Benz) in the premium car market.

Among the findings for this year's survey was that test drives are too short to make a proper decision about a vehicle. While 80 per cent of shoppers take a test drive, 70 per cent of those people spend less than 20 minutes in the car. But buyers who get a longer test drive (31 minutes or more) are happier with the buying experience.

The study also found that high-pressure sales tactics are still used, mostly for younger or first-time shoppers, and that buyers want collecting a new car to feel like a special occasion. Just over half of buyers say they remember a special ceremony occurring when they took delivery of their new car (be it uwrapping the vehicle or even balloons), with J.D. Power suggesting those kinds of celebrations spark an increase in customer satisfaction and in the likelihood a customer will recommend a dealership to family and friends.

“Given the slowdown in sales, it is essential that sales consultants spend the required time with each shopper to identify the best model and variant for their requirements,” says J.D. Power country manager - Australia, Bruce Chellingworth.

“Simply ‘pushing metal’ won’t help the dealership gain positive referral, ensure customer loyalty or promote the brand. In an increasingly competitive market, it is imperative that dealers understand and build trust with their customers.”

What's important to you when shopping for a new car? Tell us in the comments below.