Tips for using at-home test drives to win customers and sell cars

Apr 8, 2020
The Autotrader Team

Pickup truck in the driveway of a home for an at-home test drive

For a lot of dealerships, test drives from home are a new selling tool, one that you may have started using sooner than you intended! With many consumers stuck at home, at-home test drives can be a powerful tool for winning customers and selling cars.

And we’re here to help you get rolling! Here are some quick tips to help you make sure your local shoppers know you offer at-home test drives, make the process a smooth one and ensure that your test drives move the sales process forward.

Tips for connecting with consumers who want to test drive from home

Advertising: Make sure you’ve promoted test drive at home throughout your advertising. Merchandise all your virtual-buying capabilities everywhere you can — your dealership website, third-party listings, social media, email campaigns, paid search ad copy and display creative. Consider specifying how far your dealership will deliver for a test drive.

On your listings: If you haven’t got the Dealer Home Services Test Drive at Home tool set up for your Autotrader and listings, contact your Dealer Success Consultant to get set!*

Store policies and procedures: If you’re a leader, establish clear policies and procedures for at-home test drives. Then, be sure to fill your business development and sales teams in on everything they’ll need to know to vet shoppers and get at-home test drives scheduled. If you’re a salesperson, make sure you’re familiar with your dealership’s guidelines.

A few steps to take before you set up an at-home test drive

Before arranging an at-home test drive, take a few steps to ensure that your shopper has narrowed in on the best possible vehicle. You don’t want to go to the expense and effort of disinfecting and delivering a vehicle that’s not the right fit.

  • Provide additional vehicle images, videos and details by email, chat or text.
  • Next, be sure to ask and answer the questions you usually would during a first on-the-lot conversation. What’s the shopper looking for in a vehicle? What are his or her family’s needs? How will they use it on a day-to-day basis? What’s their budget? What do they want to know about the vehicle or the sales process?
  • Then, set an appointment for a live virtual walkaround using video chat. It’s an opportunity for the potential buyer to get a close look at the vehicle and ensure that it’s the right fit before you set up a test drive. Check out this blog post for tips for a successful virtual walkaround.

How to ensure a great home test drive, even when you can’t ride along

Woman in a car during a test drive

You’re an expert in test drives, but your customer probably isn’t. So, be sure to prep the shopper, setting expectations and offering tips for a test drive that’s exciting and informative.

  • Let’s face it. Staying healthy is a key concern for everyone right now. When you call to set time and location specifics, let the shopper know the steps you are taking to disinfect the vehicle, minimize personal contact and ensure their safety.
  • While you’re setting the appointment, go ahead and choose a time for a follow-up call or video chat, ideally while the vehicle is still at the customer’s home.
  • Before delivering the vehicle, provide a personalized list of test drive tips for the shopper. If you were riding along on the test drive, what cool features would you point out? What technology would you encourage the customer to try? What features of this vehicle perfectly meet your customer’s needs? Test drive tips are your opportunity to make sure your potential buyer checks out all the best features of the car you’re selling.

Tips for following up after the test drive

Even more than with a typical test drive, what happens after the car’s parked is key. So, make sure you’ve got a foolproof follow-up plan.

  • Make your planned follow-up call at the designated time. And if you can, do that follow-up conversation via video chat. Seeing each other’s faces can help to foster a personal connection with the customer. And, if the car is still at the customer’s home, using video can make it easier to answer specific questions.
  • In your follow-up conversation, start by listening. What did he or she like about the vehicle? Were they able to use all of the key technology features? What questions can you answer? If the conversation sputters a bit, use the test drive tips you provided as a conversation starter.
  • Be prepared with a next step that will move the sale forward.

Let’s do this!

Offering at-home test drives is a great way to win new customers. And as long as you prepare and follow up thoroughly, they can give you and your potential buyer a test-drive experience that accomplishes everything a ride-along test drive would. Good luck!

We’re here for you.

Your local Autotrader Dealer Success Consultant is ready to help strategize and execute plans for using virtual-selling tools to drive your business.

And remember, if you’re an Autotrader dealer and haven’t set up Dealer Home Services tools to promote virtual walkarounds, at-home test drives and/or local home delivery on your Autotrader and listings, now’s the time! If you’re not sure how to get in touch, give us a call at 877-627-9585.

You can stay up-to-date on all the latest news from Autotrader on our Here for You page, including details about our 50% relief program for the months of April and May.