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New Dealership Blues

While terrible dealership experience stories bother me, I think the ones that irk me the most are where simple corrections could have completely changed the customer’s experience.

As the publisher of AutoSuccess and having been in the automotive industry for 20 years, I hear all kinds of feedback from friends, coworkers and colleagues about their dealership experiences — both good and bad. 

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Some are truly shocking, horrible examples that keep the poor stereotypes of car salesmen and mechanics going. The stories I love to hear, of course, are the ones that make my heart swell with pride for our industry. Dealerships are some of the most generous local businesses — from sponsoring little league teams and donating thousands of dollars to local charities to fixing up cars to give to families in need. 

While the terrible stories bother me, I think the ones that irk me the most are where simple corrections could have completely changed the customer’s experience. 

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My colleague recently shared her experience that showcases what I’m referring to. 

Here’s her experience in her own words:

“I went in for a simple service issue on my car last week. I had to ask where the service department was — because there were no signs — and was directed to a door on the side of the building. I went in, and I was the only one wearing a mask. There did not seem to be any safety protocols regarding COVID. I waited at the desk and was greeted by a very nice young lady. She checked me in, and asked if I could get a ride because it would be a bit (I did have an appointment).  As I left the dealership, they promised to call me when it was ready. 

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“Around 5 p.m., I still had not received a call, so I called to check on the vehicle. It was ready and apparently had been. When I picked up the car, the service manager was at the desk this time. He told me my amount, ran my credit card, handed me the receipt and told me to have a nice day. 

“I was taken aback with the abrupt service, so I interjected and asked if he could tell me what they found and how they fixed it. I got a very short answer and felt rushed out the door.”

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My friend asked me if I thought this was a normal occurrence and wondered if maybe she was spoiled from a previous dealership she went to, where they explained everything in detail, had a wonderful lounge, offered her a ride and even cleaned her car. 

“My experience was always so great that I never used to mind going in for any type of service,” she said. “I can tell you the next time I need service, I am going to dread it or, most likely, go somewhere else.”

The sad part is, I’m sure my friend is not the only one who’s left this dealership feeling this way. And there are countless others who leave and don’t come back — off to the friendly independent shop that’s closer to their homes or offices. 

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Are there simple changes your dealership could make to ensure this doesn’t happen to your customers? Maybe your service advisors could use some additional training. There are many in-store and online options available — it could make a huge difference to improve your customer experience (as well as your service revenue) — so that no one is telling these types of stories about your dealership!

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