I answered a question posed on Quora about 6 months ago. The question was:
Why does it take so long at a dealership to buy a new car?
“Once the price is agreed on, the loan or lease is approved and they have your down payment, why do new car dealerships drag the car buying process out by making you talk to sales managers, account managers, loan managers, etc. etc. and have you sit and wait for their people to sign paperwork. Used car dealers don’t seem to do this. Why is buying or leasing a new car a multi-hour inconvenience for the customer?”
My answer was as follows:
“In many cases, it only has to do with the inefficiency which that dealership is run. Typically, all these people are talking to you so that you don’t get upset for the wait so they’re just trying to keep you busy. They may also be waiting for a response from banks about the loan (keep in mind that many sales managers base the interest rate on their knowledge of what the banks will “probably” give you and not until a deal is accepted do they actually input all of your information and send it to the bank for an official approval. Whether they do this will depend on your credit.) They also have to get the vehicle ready for you to take delivery. This entails a thorough washing and detailing as well as putting gas in the vehicle. The finance manager has to get all the paperwork ready for you as well. There are many factors that could be a reason why you have to wait BUT many dealerships nowadays have made the process more efficient for customers as they know that many people feel like you so they are making their processes more efficient so that your experience is more pleasant.”
A new answer was posted a couple of days ago that floored me:
“I feel your pain… but unfortunately I think most people like the fact that it takes so long, and that’s part of why dealerships continue to do so.
Buying a brand new car is a big deal and has huge significance economically and, more importantly, culturally. I don’t think most new car buyers would be happy if it was as simple as swiping their credit card at the grocery store (though I would be) because they might have buyers remorse immediately after… things wouldn’t add up… this is such a huge deal, why didn’t it feel like it?
By taking all day, and exhausting you, I think they lessen the chances that you will change your mind or be unhappy with the purchase… because it’s going to feel like you just ran a marathon… and no one will walk away feeling like their big day wasn’t just that.
Also they love having you in the dealership all day, it’s the perfect way to maximize their chances of selling you add-ons with your purchase and have you look at your next dream car.”
It certainly wasn’t an answer I was expecting. (The person who answered is a mechanic but it’s unclear whether he’s an independent or at a dealership.) Personally, I always wanted to complete a transaction as quickly as possible (both when I was on the floor and while in the internet department) and had no interest in being tied up with one customer all day. It never crossed my mind that a consumer may actually want it to take all day to complete the transaction.
Do you think there’s any merit to his theory that consumers WANT (or NEED) to take all day buying a car to emotionally satisfy their large purchase?