A study by Sewells Research and Insight on company car drivers buying habits and their evaluation of manufacturer websites show that major car fleet manufacturers are failing to meet the needs of company car drivers.
The Fleet: Driver study revealed that company car drivers derive less enjoyment from the experience of choosing a new company car the longer the process goes on. Therefore, it is important that manufacturers and dealers ensure they do not miss any sales opportunities early on.
The study uncovered a four-stage process in company car selection, with drivers progressing from pre-consideration to active consideration then action, before making their final choice. 42% look forward to the ‘Active Consideration’ stage when they research their options. A similar number enjoy this step.
Fleet and business sales accounted for more than 57% of all new car sales in 2017 therefore manufacturer websites need to meet the needs of company car drivers. Simon Staplehurst, commercial research director says ‘’Our research repeatedly shows that company car drivers start their search online’’
More than one in three (35%) of company car drivers say they have made up their minds before visiting a franchised dealer and 40% say they had already made up their minds before a test drive. By the time drivers consult manufacturer websites, their most common source of information, they have already settled on their future car and are simply fine tuning their choices. However, 60% admit to changing their minds at the last minute when comparing specification and options.
The Manufacturer Website Evaluation tasked 200 user-choosers with a free choice of company car to find vital information on the websites of 28 manufacturers. Their experiences were then backed -up by an independent online mystery shop, and further assessed by an industry expert. Each manufacturer website was assessed across 10 criteria including navigation, reliability, ease of use and test drive booking.
The exercise revealed a wide divergence in the ease of use of different websites and huge variations in response times. Peugeot typically responded to emails within the hour whilst other manufacturers took up to 4 days to reply or failed to follow up completely.
Skoda, Kia and Land Rover were judged to have the best car configurators, Vauxhall and Honda excelled when it came to company car tax calculations. Overall, company car drivers rated Hyundai’s website most highly, awarding it top marks for both its ease of use and simplicity when booking a test drive. BMW and Vauxhall came second and third in the rankings, but other major fleet players found themselves mid-table with some premium brands at the lower end.
The report shows that some major manufacturers are failing at the first hurdle and missing out on potential sales. They are pushing interested customers into the arms of those brands that have taken the time to asses the demands of company car drivers.