How to Use Vehicle History to Drive More Conversations, Visits and Sales

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Trends come and go – but for consumers of new and used vehicles, the past few years have ushered in a new era, characterized by informed purchase decisions and a much shorter (but essential) in-person interaction on the day of purchase. Even as COVID begins to fade into the rearview mirror, customers are getting used to looking for what they need online first, gathering information, then heading to your dealership ready to buy. Throughout this new process — from online search to finalizing a sale — it’s important to demonstrate transparency and build trust, even before your customer has walked into the showroom.

Poll data found that 61% of consumers say their vehicle buying process has changed forever as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the polling suggests that more than 80% still feel that there are aspects of a vehicle purchase that are better done in person, 92% say that they will research online before going to a dealership. Consumers now search for their perfect car online, then head to the dealership ready to buy.

With demand expected to continue and even increase in the foreseeable future, dealers have to be prepared to present vehicle details clearly online, and be ready to discuss the cars detailed history with customers in person. CARFAX’s Vehicle History Reports (VHR) are an important key to making a sale to an informed customer — in fact, CARFAX data shows that shoppers spent 47% more time on websites featuring CARFAX Vehicle History Reports. It is important to prepare not only to draw shoppers to your inventory online, but to be prepared to work with CARFAX-informed consumers when they arrive at the dealership ready to buy.

Turn website research time into more dealership visits, acquisitions, and sales. Here’s how:

Training Your Team to Present Vehicle History

Successful dealerships partner with consumers by presenting as much history–positive and negative–as is available. Consumers more fully respect and trust dealerships that don’t ‌sidestep tough questions or hide flaws.

A Wards Automotive survey underscored that successful dealers embrace tools to educate consumers better. Those consumers approach dealerships in less adversarial ways, resulting in quicker closing sales.

Beyond just including CARFAX Vehicle History Reports with each of your listings, make sure you train your salespeople on how to best present vehicle history during the sale.

  • Ensure Vehicle Histories are readily available. Successful dealers have strong online presences that include as much vehicle history as possible. Customers positively respond when they can research a car before contacting the dealership. But don’t stop there. Encourage your sales staff to print vehicle histories and review them with the customer.

Ensure Vehicle Histories are Readily Available

  • Ask the customer how you can help and really listen. You’ll want to pay close attention to the customer’s timeframe, vehicle needs, and budget. Some customers don’t realize that buying a used car differs ‌from purchasing a new vehicle. The most obvious, of course, is the vehicle’s history, which will inevitably come into play. Understanding vehicle history can help guide a customer to the right choice for them, even if a vehicle has had an accident. Discussing vehicle history can help position you as an advocate and a helpful resource as they navigate to their purchase.
  • Find out where the customer is in the process. Is your customer simply looking at available models to determine what might work for them? Have they selected cars on your lot to test drive? Have they researched vehicle histories and have come up with questions? All of that is essential information for your salesperson to ascertain.
  • Discuss the vehicle’s history. Wherever the customer is in the process, you’ll want to detail the histories of any cars they choose. That means showing them the CARFAX Vehicle History Report and discussing both the pros and cons of the vehicle. Yes, it’s a positive to have a Ford F-150 available, but do the lifts on the bed cover work? Is that important to the buyer? Going through the car’s history inspires your customer to trust you.

Key Points of CARFAX Vehicle History

It may surprise shoppers that CARFAX VHRs are so detailed. When you supply them with histories, it shows you’ve invested in due diligence to provide them with the most thorough understanding possible of the car they’re considering.

We recommend you and the customer review the entire report before the walkaround, and keep it handy as a reference. It’s especially effective to make sure you spotlight certain information on the report including:

  • Service history: Many shoppers don’t realize that service histories vary widely. But pointing out evidence that the vehicle has been serviced regularly (especially if it’s at your dealership) builds credibility.

Service History

  • Accident history: Damage and accident vehicles are probably on your lot—today’s market makes them hard to avoid. But the CARFAX VHR helps you explain to your customers that not all accidents mean major damage. Make sure you show your customers the damage severity scale and explain how that damage may — or may not — affect the car.

  • Type of Owner: Some consumers do not realize the advantages of buying a car that has one or two owners. The Vehicle History Report gives you the opportunity to spotlight how a car with fewer owners has likely been better maintained and cared for. If the car had several owners, you can explain how your dealership prepped and tested the vehicle to ensure safety and reliability.

Type of Owner

  • Title History: Title washing is a continuing problem. The CARFAX VHR offers title history so that you can discuss what these types of issues are and explain your dealership’s due diligence in double-checking for damage or title issues.

Title History

Want to learn more about how CARFAX Vehicle History Reports can bring you more customers who are ready to buy? Contact us.

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CARFAX invented vehicle history in 1986—and has been investing in it ever since. CARFAX has the most accident, damage, and service information.