Best PracticesDealership Communication Tools

One-Price Car Shopping. Is it Coming, or Not?

You say you want a revolution

Well, you know

We all want to change the world

You tell me that it’s evolution

Well, you know

We all want to change the world


One Price…Is it Coming, or Not?

The short answer is yes, and it may not be as scary as you think.

It seems that we’ve been talking about a revolution in automotive retail for a long time. One-price car shopping. Salespeople as order-takers. Whole teams of dealership employees left to do little more than collect leads from a computer and process financing.

By some accounts, the revolution would be a total online shift to selling a car on a website or mobile device. In this vision, the future is as simple as point, click and drive.

Hmmm. But, that doesn’t make a lot of sense. Maybe, the revolution is actually more an evolution, a progression of systems and processes driven by digital innovation. Consumers want a one-price scheme, make no mistake, but they also need that all-important human touch and dialogue about value, features and options. It would be hard to imagine making a $40,000 decision without it, right?

Your business thrives on making that connection, and it also needs the more efficient approach made possible by digital retailing. Just think about how you sold cars in the “old days,” and ask yourself one question: In the here and now, could I still compete?

That answer is NO – not by a country mile.

The evolution of car buying is happening because online tools are critically important given the pace and complexity of today’s auto business. It’s more efficient to shift many research and buying tasks online. It costs less, results in better lead to sales conversion and arguably gives dealership sales teams more information about the car buyer.

And here’s an interesting bit of news: so far, many one-price strategies have increased transaction prices.

Today it’s more about finding the right type of digital tool to put in your dealership’s tool belt, one that gets the right car to the right buyer, at a fair price in through a pleasant experience. That’s an evolution of efficiency and improved business practices.

Indeed, think of the changes in automotive retailing by way of three segments:

  1. Online Retailing: The consumer does most of the work around selecting a car, arranging financing and establishing a price.
  2. Showroom Sales and Delivery: Dealership experts work with consumers to finalize their purchase and ensure a happy and friendly experience.
  3. Service and Nurture: By extending the relationship into service, dealership employees create a personal relationship that leverages digital tools to deliver service and relationship management.

Buying a car is not the same as buying a washer. It will always be about creating an emotional connection to the brand, the dealership and even the car itself. Whether that experience comes about via “one price,” it’s the experience that matters – and consumers are asking that more of that experience happen via digital tools and at their convenience. It’s a win-win proposition because at the end of the day those digital tools are the very way sales and service professionals can continue to form those bonds of trust and credibility, long into the future.


What digital tools have you implemented at your dealership in order to help evolve and improve efficiencies and the consumer experience?

Do you think your sales price per car would increase or decrease with a one-price scheme?

Brian Chee has worked for a broad array of automotive companies such as VW, Audi, DrivingSales and Autobytel. A “car guy” through and through, som...