Months before the pandemic would shutter businesses across the world. Kelly Ford and INFINITI Of Melbourne already had implemented a seamless, entirely-virtual car buying experience to make life easy and comfortable for all their clients and potential customers. Chris Saraceno, who serves as Vice President and Partner of the Kelly Automotive Group, has been in the Automotive industry since 1984. Through intense research, his many connections and studying the data of consumer buying patterns, he clearly knows and understands trends.
“We knew we needed to offer a unique buying experience at Kelly Automotive Group similar to what people were able to do with Amazon or Tesla for a few reasons:
First, most people start the car buying process online with research;
Second, most people want to come into a dealership knowing the final purchase price and/or payment;
Third, people are so busy today they want to limit their time at the dealerships.
“Implementing something like this was the best way to respond to the needs, wants and desires of our customers, potential clients and the community,” he said.
Industry analysis supports Saraceno’s positions. For many dealerships, the cost, time and effort of developing or researching a customer-focused program that offers an entirely virtual online experience-like you see with high tech companies-is too daunting.
“Through some common connections, we discovered a world class dynamic web platform that had exactly what we knew would make life easier for our customers during the automotive research, buying and ownership experience. In 2019, the Express Buy Online function was added to our web sites at INFINITI of Melbourne and Kelly Ford,” Saraceno explained.
TECHNOLOGY TO THE RESCUE
According to the software manufacturer, this platform is the world’s first fully integrated online car purchasing program, allowing consumers to research, purchase, finance and take delivery of a vehicle virtually. The service also allows for trade-ins using a calculator to determine the trade-in value.
From start to finish, depending on how quickly you navigate through the system, the process takes about 60 to 90 minutes. Financing options, unlike the negotiating roundtables of past days, is lightning quick with multiple options sent to financing companies that are responding in real time. Information is submitted through a number of presets that trigger the application to financiers based on credit background, household income, age and a number of other factors.
“After the online forms are completed, the buyer visits our showrooms to test drive their vehicle and sign their paperwork. At-home test drives and deliveries are also offered and done approximately 32% of the time. This option was added a few months into the process due to numerous customer requests,” said Saraceno.
The addition of the “Express Buy Online” feature has paid off. Since inception, more than 3,000 buyers have participated in the online process at Kelly Ford and INFINITI of Melbourne, and more than 300 families have opened
a Kelly Express Buy Online accounts. Nationally, more than 25% of car buyers who open an account complete the process and purchase a vehicle, about double the traditional agreement percentage of an online traditional lead.
CUSTOMERS FIRST, ALWAYS
This response to customer needs aligns seamlessly with the philosophy of Kelly Automotive Group’s shared vision and mission statement: Providing “The Best” sales and service experience to our customers and community.
Their mantra is backed by their actions, behaviors and results. The Kelly Automotive Group has been awarded Top Customer Satisfactions Awards with every automotive division they represent.
The Kelly family entered into the Automotive industry in 1934 they have been in Brevard for over 45 years. In fact Tim Kelly, (the founder’s grandson), his wife Alicia, three children and two dogs relocated to the Space Coast from Pennsylvania five years ago where they currently operate other dealerships (Nissan, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Buick, GMC, Mitsubishi and two Risk Free Used Vehicle Centers) to support growth and acquisitions on the Space Coast.