Car Dealer, NASCAR Team Owner Rick Hendrick Calls Online Car Shopping ‘Stupid’

So, you’re stuck in the house, maybe in the midst of a little self-quarantining, and you want to do some car shopping online in your comfy pants.

Not so fast, says longtime NASCAR team owner, car collector and mega-car dealer Rick Hendrick.

Led by online retailers like Carvana, you can buy your next car completely from home. There’s even a way to pick up your car from a giant vending machine.

“That is stupid,” said Hendrick. Hendrick is not only a NASCAR Hall of Fame team owner; he made his fortune selling cars. Lots of cars. He now owns 130 automotive franchises and 96 dealerships. Hendrick’s dealerships have had to adapt and change with the industry. And he has had to respond to the online car-buying phenomenon.

“A lot of people will look at a car online,” Hendrick said recently at Daytona International Speedway. And he points out that while a lot of people look at cars online, “When it gets down to giving them your Social Security number and all of the other information, they’re a little bit more cautious,” he said. “Not many people want to buy a car (with) 60,000, 50,000 or 100,000 miles without seeing it.”

“Not many people want to buy a car (with) 60,000, 50,000 or 100,000 miles without seeing it.”

Hendrick points out the one big advantage a physical dealership has over an online retailer.

“Service is still the key,” he said. “If you take good care of the customer, you have owner base, you really have a good reputation, you make sure that nobody leaves there unhappy; then you’re still going to get the bulk of the business.”

While Hendrick points out that a very small percentage of sales are done online,
“All of our stores are able to take you to that point if you want to go there,” he said. “Usually people, once they get a little bit of information, they want to go to the dealership and see the car.”

As for the future, Rick Hendrick doesn’t seem worried.

“We’re going to stay in step with them,” he said. “If they want it online completely, we can do it. If we can take it to their house, whatever the other folks do, we can do. None of those folks have the shop, the parts and the service. Most people want somebody to take care of it after the sale.”

As for the brands themselves, Toyota is aware of the online buying trend, and they are also reacting to it.

“We have many, many initiatives that are going on that are helping with the digital retailing process right now,” Ed Laukes, group vice president of Toyota Division Marketing at Toyota Motor North America said. “We have pilots all across the country at different Toyota stores, as well as in Lexus stores, because the shopping and buying experience is different for everybody. Some people still like bricks and mortar, some people want to buy online.”

However, there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of concern.

“I just came from Chicago where they have a Chicago Auto Show,” he said. “They get 1.2 to 1.3 million people that come into that auto show. There still has to be an experience where people still like to touch and feel, so I don’t think the Amazon model really is big yet, but we’re working our way through it.”

Source: Read Full Article