When do shoppers decide to buy a new vehicle – and when they do, is your business there waving them in?

That entry point isn’t necessarily the showroom anymore – and increasingly not your dealership website. Customers want to engage with you through the downline tools you offer to help them streamline their car-buying process.

Increasing, consumers start their car-buying journey miles before they used to, learning from and gaining product insight from OEM and third-party websites and then forward to your site. Along this trip, they’re also checking out dealer review sites and other points of interest such as online credit tools.

If you want a shot at their business, your dealership and what it offers must be educating consumers about tools you make available to help them make more informed buying decisions. They should also contribute to pulling that business forward into your dealership.

Engaging shoppers with credit-check tools early in their initial research phase increases the likelihood they will make a purchase from your dealership.

For example, using online credit app tools enabling shoppers to access soft credit pulls that convert to customers walking into the door, notes Richard Hall, F&I Director at Wolfchase Honda, Bartlett, TN, a Memphis suburb.

“This tool brings customers to us, and because it enables much of the information-seeking step do be done early in the sales process online, it speeds up the purchase process,” he says.

This tool, CreditVue from the National Credit Center, offers a straightforward and practical way to capture qualified shoppers who visit the dealer website – directly or through click-throughs on dealer inventory on third-party shopping sites – and rarely submit their contact information.

Wolfchase Honda receives an average 20 web leads a month from shoppers who first engage with the dealership through this online credit check tool.

The online app provides customers their raw scores. As no social security number is acquired to access this number, consumers feel comfortable providing their name and address to obtain this soft credit pull. When the customer next clicks the online credit application that complete data is submitted to the dealership for follow up.

“Ultimately, the industry is going this way. People do not want to spend time in dealerships, and the more work that can get done before they come in, they like that,” Hall said.

Branded Online credit-check tools reward dealerships three ways.

  • One, shoppers fill out the brief credit view form and instantly get their Equifax credit score. Their ability to control this step satisfies the experience today’s consumers expect and demand from digital tools.
  • Two, the dealer establishes early brand awareness, creating a unique differentiator from other dealership websites the shopper may also visit.
  • Three, the dealer gets valuable leads.

So, to the headline question, can online credit check tool investment be monetized, the precise answer is, absolutely. There is no guarantee, but this tool is a source for leads, which indicates an interest in a dealers’ products and pulls the customer into that store.

“A tool like this having a conversion rate of 25% is worth it,” Hall says.

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