How do car dealership brands get foot traffic?

How do car dealership brands get foot traffic?

Here you’ll find location data-driven analysis of foot traffic for brand name automotive dealerships in Houston, Fort Lauderdale and Doral, Florida. The three car dealerships - Penske, AutoNation and CarMax - are each examined using location and mobility data to augment traditional analysis performed by automotive dealers.

You will learn each car dealer’s census tract traffic patterns for October 1 2020 into March 2021, when cities across the US were attempting early recovery from COVID-19. You will get precise venue foot traffic measurements by auto dealer location and brand, including activity trendlines. Finally, you will see exactly where people are coming from to visit these dealerships, how far they are travelling, how long they are staying there, and the competitive car dealership brands they are visiting. 

Let’s get started!

Why automotive dealership foot traffic data matters

Before and after customers visit a brand name car dealership, they rely on their mobile device to provide them with advice and information they need as an automotive consumer. To harness the power of mobile device foot traffic data, automotive dealers need to understand how those people end-up walking into their dealership and what the potential buyer’s movement can tell the dealer about their location’s performance and that of their competitors. 

Of particular importance for large auto dealers is the availability of relevant data from a national level down to the census block level, meaning brands can look at individual car dealerships, or the entirety of a dealership network across a broad geographic area. So, if your dealer group has locations in Los Angeles, CA but also Miami, FL, you can get visibility across your whole portfolio. 

This is significant to manufacturer dealers looking to quickly measure and compare performance among large dealerships networks, i.e. It is a difference maker precisely because it is not something that a lot of brands yet have. Quoting AutoNews.com

“To capitalize on existing infrastructure and increase foot traffic efficiency, American brands should invest in location-based marketing strategies to drive in-store visits and improve dealership results . . . By arming themselves with these insights, brands can better understand how their dealerships are performing, how their customers are shopping and how to best gain a competitive advantage.” 

Insights from foot traffic data help brand name auto dealerships:

  • Learn when and how often people visit your dealership instead of your competitors' and how many people overlap
  • Benchmark competitors’ peak visitations, predict foot traffic, and measure other metrics
  • Compare your own customer demographics to that of your competitors

How do brand name automotive dealership’s foot traffic compare?

To get an indication of how brand name automotive dealership’s foot traffic compares at the end of Q1 2021, we selected one dealership at random from three leading brands: CarMax, AutoNation and Penske. The three individual brand dealership locations selected were:

  • CarMax at 1300 NW 98th Ct. Doral, FL;
  • AutoNation at 6606 N Andrews Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL; and
  • Group 1 Automotive at 9400 Southwest Freeway. Houston, TX.

We studied trends in daily foot traffic patterns at these car dealership locations from October 1 2020 into March 2021. To explore the data, we used our Venue Explorer tool and the Neighborhood Package in Unacast’s data console. All data is privacy compliant and used for good.

To understand the different people moving around, we segment all foot traffic into 4 categories: Residents, Locals, Non-Locals (often tourists and business travelers), and Workers. For each auto dealership’s neighborhood we then analyzed total foot traffic, before zeroing-in on the car dealer’s specific address. What follows is a summary of what we found.

CarMax: 1300 NW 98th Ct. Doral,FL

This car dealership is located in Block Group 1, Census Tract 90.10, Miami-Dade County, Florida. This Census Block Group (CBG) has not recovered to pre-COVID 19 foot traffic levels and has a flat trend, with downwards momentum. Foot traffic is down -20% compared to the same time in 2019 but up about 14% since October 1 2020 based on estimated median daily visitors in the area.

The average person count for this auto dealership venue is 3,100 per day and rising. Peak performance = mid-March 2021, bottom = -November 2020 (1,725 people), well above the overall brand trend of about 1,425 visits per day.

Traffic is slightly higher than normal on Tuesdays (17% of week) and lowest on Thursdays (11% of week). Dwell time at the dealership is higher than brand average (47 min to 43 min), as is capture rate (89% vs 46%). 18% of this dealerships’ visitors come from 16 miles or more away and the competitor venue most often cross-visited is the Hyundai Motors car dealership at 10285 NW 12th Street, Doral, FL.

AutoNation: 6606 N Andrews Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL

This car dealership is located in Block Group 3, Census Tract 501, Broward County, Florida. This CBG has not recovered to pre-COVID 19 foot traffic levels and has a slightly downwards trend with downwards momentum. Foot traffic is down -22% compared to the same time in 2019 but up about a third since October 1 2020 based on estimated median daily visitors in the area.

The average person count for this auto dealership venue is about 420 per day and flat. Traffic peaked on Dec 27 2020 and is now falling, well below the auto dealer brand trend of about 630 visitors per day and flat.

Traffic is highest on Thursdays (18% of week) and lowest on Sundays (6% of week). Dwell time is higher than brand average (55 min to 47 min), as is capture rate (24% vs 18%). 43% of visitors come from 16 miles or more and the competitor venue most often cross-visited is the Mercedes-Benz car dealership at 350 West Copans Road, Pompano Beach

Group 1 Automotive - 9400 Southwest Freeway. Houston, TX

This car dealership is located in Block Group 2, Census Tract 4335.01, Harris County, Texas. This Census Block Group has not recovered to pre-COVID 19 foot traffic levels and has a slightly downwards trend with downwards momentum. Foot traffic is down -25% compared to the same time in 2019 and down about one-tenth in Q1 2021.

Person count per day vacillates but the average is about 1,800 with peak coming on Dec 27 2020 and now falling sharply, the location is still well above the overall brand trend of about 650 per day and falling.

Foot traffic is highest on Tuesday and Wednesdays (each 20% of week) and lowest on weekends. Dwell time is higher than brand average (53 min to 42 min), as is capture rate (46% vs 16%). 19% of visitors to this auto dealer come from 16 miles away or more and the competitor venue most often cross-visited is the Toyota dealership in the same auto mall complex.  

Ranking 3 brand name auto dealerships by Q2 2021 foot traffic

Here’s how our three brand name automotive dealerships end up compared by various metrics we can discern from studying foot traffic and mobility data in these locations. 

Automotive dealership brands ranked by foot traffic
Automotive dealership brands ranked by foot traffic.

Summary

Foot traffic patterns at brand name auto dealerships are affected by a wide range of criteria. Certainly, the global COVID-19 pandemic has been a disruptive force in many industries, including for car dealers and the consumers they serve. Area population is also always a factor in total traffic volume.

That said, foot traffic and human mobility data gathered from customer’s mobile devices can be applied in a wide number of use cases for auto dealers, most predominantly to help understand who is visiting your stores and those of the competition. 

In our small sample of brand name auto dealers studied, we observed significant fluctuations in traffic that seemed impacted by a more suburban or urban location, by the density of other auto dealers in the immediate area, and to some extent by the brand name of the dealer. Capture rates were likewise skewed for similar reasons, while dwell time came within a reasonable range for the automotive dealer sector.

To help automotive dealers utilize foot traffic easily and efficiently, Unacast offers a range of tools and high-quality data feeds with dense location data for multiple markets nationally and globally. If your car dealership team is looking to build your own foot traffic insights, we can provide the ingredients, or supply high-quality location data ready to be ingested for your own automotive dealership’s use case. Just talktous@unacast.com for more information.

Unacast’s Datasets

Our Migration Patterns datasets identify how many people have moved there (inflow), how many people have moved out (outflow), and what is the net flow. 

• PRO: Uses actual population moves 

• CON: There might be a lag of 4-6 weeks in capturing a move 

Our Emerging Areas classifications describe whether a given area is growing in population & income for both long term (last 12 months) and recent (last 3 months) time periods. 

• PROS: Uses actual population growth and takes into account whether population growth is from people coming from richer areas 

• CON: There might be a lag of 4-6 weeks in capturing a move 

Our Neighborhood Traffic Trends describe how many people are seen (and therefore active) in the area on a daily basis 

• PRO: Indicator of the area’s vitality and provides insight beyond residents

• CON: Descriptive metric describing current state and does not take into account historical trends


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