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There’s No Going Back: 3 Ways Covid Has Fundamentally Changed Car Sales


Published August 27, 2020

Written By Nathan Furr

Creative Director at Periodic. Hobbyist woodworker and musician with a love for finding, restoring, and reusing old things.

IHS Markit reported that it expects US auto sales to decline by 26.6% for 2020 due to the effects of the global pandemic on manufacturing and retailing. The low sales volume of this year will mirror the numbers set in 2012 as the nation began its climb out of the Great Recession. Consumers are hesitant to purchase new vehicles for two key reasons. First is a hesitancy to be in public and the second is an overall concern for their short term economic future. The scare with health and safety concerns can be remedied as auto dealers reach out to tech companies to help them develop more robust digital systems for reaching customers.  Traditional methods of advertising are not reaching the same audience anymore. People are listening to less radio as their daily commutes decline and workers remain remote. Subsequently, billboard impressions are down as well.


Dealers Are Embracing The Digital Car Lot

Evan Martin of Community Cars in Central Indiana is the second generation owner of a regional dealership. They reported a 60% drop in sales in March and April, but their numbers are beginning to climb again in July and August. Martin led his company to get lean, dropping many traditional advertising outlets. As a result Martin said, “During Covid we cut all other advertising outside of digital, reducing our ad budget by 40-60% and we have not seen a difference in lead generation.”  Online traffic was already an important investment for Martin who continued, “We assume everyone under the age of 70 looks at our site before ever looking at our lot.” He is looking for more people who can handle and manage digital traffic, discovering that many people in the company had “tac-on jobs” as the shift from traditional to digital has taken shape over the last decade.


Consumers Are Expecting An At-Home Experience

Working with companies like Roadster and Periodic to enhance the level of online research and engagement they can achieve with their customers has led to an increase in conversion and higher ROI’s. During Covid they found that vehicles booked through Periodic (a test drive booking software) were twice as likely to close compared to other lead sources. Being able to complete a deal through Roadster is what keeps Community Cars moving forward. Not only are consumers expecting to be able to learn more about the cars they want to buy online but they are increasingly expecting to be able to make the purchase without the old school back and forth of working with a dealership.

“The average consumer spends about 15 hours researching cars online before they make a purchase. So, if you get an online lead you should be able to convert it because they’ve done so much research.

Online booking is a way for consumers to engage with us first without us having to directly engage them. When a customer uses online booking it’s a high likelihood of a sale.”

Evan Martin – Community Cars

Everyone Wants A Frictionless Sale

Today both buyer and seller are more aware and more savvy to the real desires of their consumers. People want to be able to do as much research as they can online where they feel safe and informed and they want the sales process to be as frictionless as possible. Traditional sales people are taking on a newer consultative approach facilitated by technology to deliver solutions to problems to help limit the hard negotiations over price. More dealers are invested in alternative ways to buy a car. Whether that means enabling your site to buy and trade-in online, offering at home delivery for test drives, or even selling through text messaging, dealers are listening to their customers and changing the game with the adoption of new tools like those offered by Roadster and Periodic that make the transaction process smoother.

Periodic is a software company headquartered in Bloomington, IN home of the Indiana Hoosiers. Specializing in advanced booking and resource management. Periodic’s aim is to assist auto dealers as they navigate trying to find the best vehicle fit for their customers in a safe and flexible way. To learn more about Periodic’s scheduling and resource management solutions for auto dealers you can visit and speak with a solutions representative.

Periodic is here to help auto dealers make the shift to booking test drives and selling vehicles online avoiding the old way of back and forth negotiations and gridlock. Book test drives, sales appointments, internal meetings, vehicle service and more all in one powerful platform that can integrate with your other software systems. Visit to bring people back to the lot and into a car.