LAS VEGAS – Car dealer Frank Maione says his customers changed, so he did too.
“The digital world definitely has changed my world,” says the dealer principal of Henderson Hyundai Superstore in Henderson, NV, southeast of here.
An auto-retailing shift that “sticks out” for him is that in the pre-Internet days car shoppers would on average visit about five dealerships before settling on one to buy their vehicles.
Now, with so much online shopping and researching, that average number of dealership visits is down to 1.6, he notes. When they get to the dealership itself, typically they’re ready to pull the trigger.
“Most of the questions they have, have already been answered (online),” Maione says. “They’re last question is, ‘What’s my payment?’”
For most Internet-enabled car shoppers, “it’s not exactly a 1-touch ‘buy’ button, but when they come to the dealership they know what they want, and they are ready to buy,” he says at the American Financial Services Assn.’s Vehicle Finance Conference held in conjunction with the 2018 NADA Convention and Exhibition here.
“Unless you are running a high-end dealership, you’re really selling credit,” Maione says. “The customer wants a (particular) monthly payment. They want you to get them there.”
His dealership is the 15th largest Hyundai store in the U.S. He bought it in 2007 from the Staluppi Auto Group, a regular on the WardsAuto Megadealer 100 listing.
Maione had served as the Staluppi group’s chief operating officer.
As a youth, his first job was at an auto parts store in Hollywood, FL. He transitioned to working at dealerships. He held a variety of positions including parts and service manager, finance manager, general sales manager and general manager.
Employees of his Henderson dealership now use computer tablets on the job to enhance interactions with customers. “We want to speak their language,” says the boss.
But some things stay the same. “The old saying is that the right relationship is important,” Maione says. “Treat people fairly and properly, and they’ll buy from you.”