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How consumers pick a dealership

June 5, 2015
By Nancy Walter, Foresight Research
Like their counterparts around the country, Chicago area dealers wrestle with how to get the greatest return on investment — whether related to facility, inventory, marketing or training.  Foresight Research measures what is important to new and used auto buyers to help you make the right business choices.  
What do Chicago shoppers/buyers look for in a dealer?
Nine of the top 10 dealer choice factors are shared by new-car shoppers and buyers (see list below).  But more buyers vs. shoppers rate non-pricing factors as important. Buyers deeming "location close to home," and "comfortable environment" leapt to 60 percent (from 43 percent and 48 percent of intenders, respectively). "How skilled or good the salesperson was" ranked No. 6 (36 percent) when buyers did the rating, and fell to No. 17 for shoppers (14 percent). 
Top 10 important factors in dealer selection for shoppers/buyers
Cost/pricing experience Other factors
Price or lease deal Location close to home
Financing available Comfortable environment for browsing/shopping
No price haggling Reputation of the dealer/recommendations
Fair trade-in offer* Selection of vehicles in inventory
  How skilled or good the salesperson was**
  Previous experience with dealership
  Overall service department
*only asked of shoppers **only asked on Buyer Top 10
This range of important factors presents a challenge and an opportunity for Chicagoland dealers who have to cover more bases in marketing and sales, but have a wider breadth of ways to engage meaningfully with potential buyers.
How can my dealership best influence the purchase decision?
Six in 10 buyers in the Chicago market said the price/deal and the salesperson influenced their purchase decision. Forty-fifty percent of buyers were influenced by inventory (having the specific desired vehicle / vehicles on display), and location (close to home). Chicago new auto buyers are 40 percent more likely to be influenced by "location close to home" than are all U.S. buyers, indicating there is value for Chicagoland dealers in hyper-local sales and marketing focus.
Shoppers Source: 2015 Chicago CSA Market Test
Buyers Source: 2015 CHIPS Study – Chicago
Foresight Research provides syndicated and custom research for OEMs, dealers, auto show producers.  Dealer-focused reports include dealership influence on the new auto purchase process; market-specific buyer and shopper intelligence to guide traffic and sales generation; concise one-topic reports to help manage, market, and sell at auto dealerships; and custom studies to answer questions specific to your dealership. For more information, go to or email Nancy Walter at