The last time I bought a MINI was in 2012. Back then I was still living in Europe and I was about to move back to Boston. Because I needed to drive to my job, having a car ready when I would arrive was a must. I just had two little problems to overcome. First off, living across the pond I couldn’t really visit a dealership to buy a car. Second, I could have easily gotten a MINI off the lot at my local dealership when I arrived, but that’s not the proper way to buy a MINI. In this particular case, the Internet came to my rescue and after a couple of exchanges with a Motoring Advisor, my order was processed and scheduled for completion upon my arrival. Turns out these days, buying a car on the net has become a common thing and MINI is one the brands riding this trend.
[Pied Piper](http://www.piedpiperpsi.com/), not the one from the [TV show](http://www.piedpiper.com/#hello), recently released its fifth annual [Prospect Satisfaction Index Internet Lead Effectiveness Benchmarking Study](http://www.piedpiperpsi.com/press/?tag=internet%20lead%20response). For this study, the company gathered data through “mystery shopping” across **13,637** dealerships representing all major brands in the US. Brands are ranked based on **19** factors such as, the speed of response and whether dealerships answer questions at all. This year, Lexus claimed the top spot, closely followed by Porsche, and Fiat. While dealerships slightly improved overall, **17** of the **33** brands investigated have seen their score slip this year. So how did MINI perform versus its counterparts?
Although MINI’s overall score sits below the industry average of **57,** it is one of the brands that has seen the biggest improvements in responsiveness to customer inquiries from the Internet. More precisely, MINI dealerships scored above average when answering specific questions online that required the personal touch of a salesman as opposed to an automated response. Assessing the rest of the results and how the best brands differentiate themselves, there are key areas where MINI dealers should focus to improve the overall customer experience online:
– Give customers a reason to act quickly by adding timeliness to the interaction (e.g. pitching limited-time financing offers in their responses)
– Give customers reasons to buy from a specific dealerships
– Provide customers with a detailed quote (it doesn’t necessarily need to include a discount on MSRP)
– Follow-up with a call to the customer as soon as possible
Most of us on this forum are very detailed oriented when it comes to ordering a MINI. We probably know the specs of the car we want better than the Motoring Advisor herself, and through online research we have a very precise idea of how much discount we seek. Personally, I never have and will never feel the pressure to buy a car because of a limited offer or because someone is telling me to act quickly. Given how much money buying a car represents, I’m going to take all the time I need and make a decision when the time is right. However, I can understand why would someone prefer the personal-touch and to act on quick discount. After all for most drivers, a car is simply another appliance.
All in all, the growing possibility to buy and negotiate a car online is great. It removes a lot of anxiety and stress that most people feel when stepping into a dealership. It also brings more transparency to the process in place of the profoundly irritating dance between a customer, a salesman, and their managers. Finally, it saves invaluable amounts of time because you can interact with many dealers at the same time from the comfort of your computing device of choice. The ultimate goal would be for MINI to adopt Tesla’s selling model, but given this [trend](http://www.autonews.com/article/20150202/RETAIL07/302029922/moguls-superrich-families-and-private-equity-titans-prowl-for) and how the BMW Groups is currently setup in the US, it will probably never happen.