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Reputation, trust, and today’s car buyer

Posted by Meg Bernazzani on April 7, 2022

It’s no secret that today’s buyers are increasingly completing more of the car-buying process online. With so many resources available, digital makes it easy to research makes and models, compare prices, and importantly, research sellers’ reputations. More than half of CarGurus buyers (57%) say they always look at a dealer’s reviews before contacting them.* Reviews help validate the dealership experience and build a buyer’s trust with a dealer before ever walking onto the forecourt.

At CarGurus, we’ve always believed that a dealership’s digital experience and online reputation are extremely valuable tools that dealers can use to their advantage to sell more cars. Read on to learn how data from the CarGurus 2022 Buyer Insight Report backs this up.

Buyers rely on online resources to make decisions

Buying a vehicle is often the second-largest purchase consumers will make. And while it’s an exciting milestone for most, it demands extensive research and careful consideration. That’s why, more and more frequently, most shoppers (68%) are turning to online tools and resources to make them smarter shoppers. For dealers, it’s crucial to think about the experience and information you’re providing to buyers early on and all aspects of the purchase process. Consider the following questions as you improve your digital presence:

  • Is your website easy to navigate?
  • Does it provide the information consumers need to choose your dealership?
  • Are you transparent about pricing and paperwork or delivery logistics to customers online?

Keeping consumers’ preferences and shopping habits throughout their journey in mind will help you deliver a standout experience that helps close more sales.

Reputation and trust matter to buyers

When shopping generally, 69% of people always use ratings and reviews to inform their decisions – and the car shopping journey is no exception. Visits to sites like CarGurus, which provide verified customer reviews and trusted vehicle and seller information, play a crucial role in helping more than one-third (38%) of buyers who start the process undecided on where to buy make their decision.

Not only does a dealership’s reputation help buyers decide where to buy, but it also impacts how consumers feel about their purchase. According to CarGurus research, trust in the seller was the top reason buyers said they felt like they got a great deal, with 32% of dealership buyers saying they felt like they got a great deal. Among them, 30% said they believed it was a great deal because they trusted the dealer. Comparatively, 23% selected ‘price paid compared to initial price given’ and 15% selected ‘the finance or lease agreement.’

Mobile makes research possible right up until the purchase

For today’s digital-savvy consumers, the research doesn’t end once they’ve selected a dealership to visit. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of dealership buyers report using their mobile for last-minute research while on the lot. Among them, about a quarter (24%) said they shopped competing sellers while in the store, and a similar number (23%) said they looked up dealer reviews for last-minute reassurance.

Your reputation deserves regular attention and is something your staff should actively work to maintain or improve. Encouraging satisfied customers to leave reviews and responding to reviews online are two simple ways to stay ahead of your competition.

Awards like CarGurus Top-Rated Dealer can help you win more shoppers

Fewer buyers are walking into dealerships without contacting them first. While the pandemic and inventory shortage accelerated this trend, it’s been growing for years. Awards like CarGurus Top-Rated Dealer are an excellent tool to help your dealership stand out early on and build trust with shoppers online before they ever step foot on your lot. If you’re currently a 2022 Top-Rated Dealer, here are two things you can do to put your award to work for your dealership today:

  • Download the free Top-Rated Dealer digital badge and add it to your dealership website. Car shoppers value the transparency and third-party valuation that reviews offer – and having the badge on your dealership website will let shoppers know your service is backed by verified reviews.
  • Incorporate the award into your digital marketing Show off your accolade on your social media channels or use email templates to share your accomplishment with past and present customers.

Want to learn more about how to earn the exclusive Top-Rated Dealer Award? View our award guide here.

*CarGurus shopper survey, n=484, Jan 2022

Topics: awards, reputation management, Top Rated Dealer