Dealers have opportunity to boost test drive bookings by offering unaccompanied and longer sessions

Dealers have an opportunity to increase test drive bookings by providing more flexibility to prospective buyers including the option to get behind the wheel without a salesperson present and by offering them for longer periods.

The latest Consumer Insight Panel, polling the views of 2,000 car buyers, asked what would encourage them to test drive a car they were interested in, even if they were undecided about whether it was worth their time taking it for a spin.

Topping the list of incentives was unaccompanied test drives, favoured by a third of all buyers, although 23% appreciated having a salesperson present to answer questions.

Longer test drives were popular with four in 10 buyers. These were evenly split between those wanting a car for 24 hours (25%) and a full day (24%).

Another key influence on test drive conversions was sales staff revealing in advance any special offers available, an option identified by 31% of buyers.Price increases were seen in the 2-5 year (0.7% / £144) and 5-10 year (0.5% / £64) segments, with price drops seen in under 2 year old (-0.6% / -£191) and over 10 year old (-2.2% / -£162).

Other influencing factors were zero-excess insurance cover (22%) and being able to negotiate a final cost beforehand (21%).

Overall, one in five buyers were likely to take a test drive if they could book one online.

“Test drives are an integral part of the car buying experience with our research revealing how some dealers can achieve higher volumes of bookings by listening to customer needs and removing any potential friction,” said Lucy Tugby, Marketing Director of eBay Motors Group.

“Unaccompanied test drives were the norm during the Covid lockdowns, so processes exist to offer them again if they have been suspended. However, they are not for everyone, as nearly a quarter of buyers want a salesperson in the car to answer their questions. This demonstrates how dealers need to have a balanced approach to their test drive offerings.

“Likewise, some dealers might need to review the length of their test drives and offer longer ones. Promoting these benefits will help attract buyers to a particular dealership.

“With dealers facing the ongoing challenge of converting leads into sales, offering more flexible approaches to the traditional test drive could provide an ideal opportunity for dealers to stand out and build rapport with customers,” said Tugby.