What will rural residential high-speed internet mean for rural dealerships?


As the U.S. infrastructure bill works its way slowly through Congress, I thought it would be good to look at what this could mean for rural customers and their dealerships.

Internet speeds in the urban areas have been well over 100mps for years while many rural areas are 10X slower (10mps) and close to old school dial-up service. Many shoppers forgo extensive online research with low rural speeds as it’s easier to just show up at the dealership.

I think this has helped rural dealers maintain their community relationships at a deeper level than dealers in the urban setting have been able to do. This has been beneficial in many ways and could quickly change when the community gets high-speed internet services. Dealers may already be seeing some changes due to the rollout of the 5G networks across the country.

High-speed internet for rural communities started to move forward with the Covid pandemic and when work/school from home swept the nation. This is only the beginning of the rural high-speed internet transition. If or when the U.S. infrastructure bill passes, there are many BILLIONS set aside to build out the infrastructure for high-speed internet access in the 30-40% of rural America that currently doesn’t have it.

Rural dealers need to start planning now for customers who do more research online and even want to start the buying process online. It won’t be long before the buying process is moving at light speed – literally, through fiber-optic wires. 

Learning more now about the changes high-speed internet has made to the customer buying process will set your dealership up for long-term success. The shopping path will change as customers start spending 12-15 hours researching vehicles and prices. The buying process will need to start online with credit applications, trade value analysis, and most importantly, the ability for the customer to get lender funding approved before they come to the dealership. Approved lender funding online is often the difference between the customer showing up at the dealership or going to another dealership.

80% or more of urban deals start online, and rural dealerships will quickly match that number as high-speed internet rolls out in their market. It’s time for rural dealerships to plan and be ready for the digital shopping and buying processes.

If you are interested in learning more about digital deal management for high-speed internet based customers and the changing buying process, please reach out to us at – sales@creditiq.com 

Kent Mihlbauer
Author: Kent Mihlbauer