Gen Z’s Biggest Complaint About the Dealership Experience (and it’s not what you may think)
The car buying experience for Gen Z is becoming well documented as the pandemic wanes and life is going back to ‘somewhat’ normal. Research into how the largest demographic cohort views car purchasing is revealing some interesting things and uncovering new opportunities for dealerships to pivot and alter their process to keep these buyers coming into their stores rather than lean into buying and financing entirely online.
But before we dive into the one surprising complaint Gen Z has had over the last year, let's be sure we know what makes this generation tick.
Who is Gen Z?
This demographic is widely described as people born between 1997 – 2012. The top end of this group are becoming a powerful car buying cohort. They are shopping for a car for the first time and will have their first early experiences with the F&I department. This is all new for them and dealerships (and F&I) have to be ready.
What makes them different?
Unlike Millennials, they have grown up from the beginning being connected to a different level of technology. They do not remember a world without cell phones and smartphones. Everything in their world has been touchscreen and all the information they could ever want has been available at the touch of a button.
They also have grown up in the world of social media – Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, Tik Tok, Twitter, etc. Everything in their world is connected to their smartphones and they spend hours each day tethered to it (well, we all do, don’t we?).
They have a shorter attention span than Millennials on average and have little patience for information channels where too much effort is needed to get simple answers or information.
Their connection to social issues is also strong as they are more likely to do business with a company that leans into DEI and other current initiatives built around making the world a more fair and equitable place for everyone.
Biggest Gripe with the Dealership Experience
A recent study by CDK Global revealed the biggest single issue Gen Z has with the dealership experience that would keep them from recommending a particular dealer.
It wasn’t price or selection or even how they were treated by staff. It was something that has annoyed nearly every car buyer for generations but for some reason it’s a BIG problem with Gen Z…
The wait to get into the F&I office.
Yep…waiting too long to move from the showroom to the F&I office is the biggest problem for Gen Z buyers. They don’t understand why it takes so long to make that transition.
This is not to be mistaken for not wanting to go to the F&I office in the first place. As they are open to being educated about the value of F&I products, it’s more about why the process is not more streamlined from the time they come into the showroom to getting the keys to drive off.
They don’t mind taking the time to learn about F&I options…they just don’t want to waste time sitting in the showroom waiting for what they perceive as no reason.
General Tips to Give Gen Z the F&I Experience They Want…
Here are a few tips on how your F&I department can make a more enjoyable and profitable connection to your Gen Z buyers…
- Don’t Make Them Wait So Long - Every F&I department struggles with this to some degree. There is a decent amount of prep work involved before you can deliver your best consultative sales presentation while getting the other official paperwork handled. One way to avoid this irritation would be to do a quick introduction at the sales desk and explain the rest of the process.
Without giving too much away, your F&I staff can give them an idea of the prep work that they must do to be ready to walk through options based on the vehicle they are buying and making sure they have the right financing options teed up for them to choose from. All while making sure they know they will be called in as soon as possible. But make good on that…don’t waste so much of their time.
In light of the latest moves from the FTC regarding F&I products and what is or is not looked at as a ‘beneficial’ product to sell, dealerships may have to polish their sales skills a bit to make sure customers see the value in every ancillary product you offer.
When times are good as they are now in the market, this is the best time for F&I directors to take the pulse of the department