Sun Toyota in Holiday, Fla., is meeting the demands of consumers, both near and far, who enjoy the ease of shopping from companies such as Amazon by delivering vehicles to customers' doorsteps through what the dealership calls Showroom2Go.
"The trend is the customer wants business with the people that make it easiest to do business with," said John Marazzi, managing partner at Sun Toyota.
Marazzi said he also knew Sun Toyota's location, about 45 minutes north of Tampa, Fla., was considered too far away by some Tampa and St. Petersburg residents.
"We were getting a lot of activity from people that would find us digitally and shop us, but it would immediately end once they realized the location of our store," Marazzi said.
Sun Toyota measures its online activity in terms of the store's lead contact percent, defined as how many of all leads the store has further communication with. The number of lead submissions from online users in the Tampa area was high, but the contact rate and vehicle sales were low in comparison.
Morgan Auto Group bought Sun Toyota last February. Under the new ownership, Marazzi decided to implement Showroom2Go at the beginning of August, delivering vehicles to customers for test drives and purchases.
Including those leads that left fake phone numbers and emails, or none at all, Marazzi said his store averaged about 45 percent in its lead contact percent before August. By the end of the month, Marazzi said, lead contact jumped 15 percentage points. It now hovers around 60 to 63 percent.
"So what changed is they submitted a lead and the engagement was more open because they knew we're going to bring the car to them, and our sold [vehicle numbers] went up," Marazzi said.
Of the average 125 people per month who show interest in Showroom2Go, Marazzi said, Sun Toyota effectively follows up with 70 to 80. From there, the store sells about 40 to 50 vehicles through the delivery program each month. He says about 80 percent of those vehicles are new.
Marazzi said it was essential to advertise the program to prospective customers. He publicized Showroom2Go with ads on the store's landing page and banners, in video promotions and in TV and social media ads.
The program operates during normal business hours and tends to see the most deliveries between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Marazzi said the majority of Showroom2Go deals are completed about 45 minutes or more away.
There are two components to Showroom2Go: the test drive and the purchase. For test drives, customers can reach out to the store with the particular model and color they're interested in and where they want it delivered.
Then a salesperson asks about trade-in or financing options and requests a copy of the customer's driver's license, without which the vehicle won't be delivered.
A popular option is the overnight test drive. Marazzi said there's a closing rate of 75 to 80 percent on people who keep the vehicle overnight. A salesperson has the customer sign a liability waiver, snaps a picture of an insurance card and then hands over the keys and takes an Uber back to the store.
To purchase a vehicle through the delivery service, customers can use preapproved financing and trade-in appraisal tools on Sun Toyota's website. Then a business manager works with a customer on other F&I products the store offers and draws up paperwork for the purchase, which is delivered to the customer with the car.
A surprising benefit of the delivery service, Marazzi said, is the increase in floor traffic from customers initially interested in Showroom2Go.
"A lot of people say, "I'll just come up and see you,' especially if we have two or three used cars," Marazzi said. "And these are people who may not have driven up before but now do."