There is a certain mentality that has been embedded in those of us who have been in the automotive industry for a while that works in some cases but not in others. It’s the idea that you need to be careful about the amount of information you give to customers, whether on the phone, through email, or in the dealership’s website chat. The idea is that by giving them most of the information but leaving some questions hanging, you’ll be more likely to get them to come into the store to get the rest of the answers.

It still works… for some. It doesn’t work for most customers. The ability that the internet has given us to get have all of our questions answered has made it less valid to withhold information. If you’re not answering all of their questions, your competitors are. The idea that “if we give them all of the answers then they have no reason to come in” is an antiquated concept. They have to come in to buy the car, right? Why not take the approach of being helpful first, answering all of their questions up front so they trust that the experience at the dealership will be a positive one?

One might mention the concept that the “give me your bottom price” customer won’t come in if your price is higher than someone else. This is true in some circumstances, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be helpful and fully transparent without being price shopped to death. The art of negotiation, though publicly scorned by many vocal customers and consumer groups, is still alive and well and helps to drive the best experience for shoppers while maintaining a level of profit for the dealers. It’s hard to “just get them in” as many managers tell their sales staff when there are others out there getting them in by giving them the price on the phone or through chat.

I’m not going to argue that point too much because a lot of dealers are still finding success without giving up the price. It’s a judgment call at each dealership. What I can tell you with a certainty is that the dealers who are helpful on the phone and on chat are seeing increases in sales.