Where would we be without the test drive?

Probably more unsatisfied customers – new owners may discover that a vehicle that looked great and had good reviews didn’t “feel right” once he or she got behind the wheel. This could lead to more buyer’s remorse and owners either changing their minds right away, or hanging onto it unhappily for years, vowing never to return to that dealer again.

Good for Sales

Either way is bad news for the salesperson, since it’s their job to find the right car for the right owner and hopefully build strong relationships that last for multiple vehicles. Making prospective buyers comfortable by letting them try before they buy goes a long way in making purchases happen.

Certainly some enjoy driving several types of vehicles before finding something that appeals to them, or spend the weekend just doing test drives – and that’s OK with most dealership employees, especially if they eventually end up making a purchase.

Good for You

Some people may even visit a dealership or dealerships with the intent of test driving only, not buying. That’s OK too. The biggest challenge for a dealership is getting people to the lot, and once they’re there, it’s potentially much easier to talk them into a super deal.

Though some lot visitors are obvious browsers, they still should be given the same attention as any other shopper even if the pay-off may come later rather than sooner. Most salespeople need to always be focusing on their numbers, and taking time for a ride with another looky-loo can sometimes cut into time helping more serious customers. But from a customer service point of view, you never know which drive will switch a tester into a buyer.

Here’s why test drives are important to the buyer and seller:

1. Buyers remain educated.

Want to learn more about a particular make or model? The best way is to give one a spin and see how it performs. It’s one thing to read the specs online, but more satisfying to feel it, and then remember the experience when it’s time for shopping.

2. One drive may not be enough.

If you’re serious about a particular auto but don’t need to rush, you can test drive multiple occasions. Try it on rainy and sunny days, in daylight or night, or even on daily errands or heavy traffic so more defensive driving skills are required. This gives you more time to learn about other costs, such as different insurance premiums or discounts.

3. It can be fun.

Even if the dealership can offer nice financing and your budget could stretch a little, you might prefer to not take on new debt right now. But testing different cars and doing your homework can still be entertaining, even if the gratification is delayed. You can also try something outside of your price range, just for the experience.

4. It encourages the salesperson to try harder.

As a consumer, you’re likely to want to work with a salesman or saleswoman who you know and trust. And someone who has been patient with your browsing habits is definitely appealing. The better salespeople can even keep an eye out for certain vehicles that may interest you.

5. You can win things.

As a way to get more people visiting, some dealerships offer no-obligation incentives for people who test drive, such as event tickets, gift cards or small appliances. The sales staff is encouraged to work their magic to convert all test drivers into buyers, but legally the promised prize is yours if you satisfy certain conditions like join a mailing list.