DEALERSHIP SERVICE DEPARTMENTS: MAKE A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION
As the recession loosens its tight grip on our economy and businesses, vehicle sales have begun to steadily climb nationwide. As a result, a very important decision is looming for auto dealers. Many of the customers that are purchasing today are doing so for the first time in several years. As they return to the dealership, what customers find and experience today will redefine their expectations and impressions for the foreseeable future. We are getting a second chance to make a first impression.
The auto industry, from the manufacturer down now has an unprecedented opportunity to alter the once speculative impression that most consumers have had regarding the dealership service business. So far, in my opinion, only General Motors and Ford have seized this opportunity and began to campaign to change the image of the dealership service department. Their television ads are compelling and insinuate that things are different and for the better. They push to inform customers about the advantages of factory trained experts and products. All good and long overdue.
But when a consumer returns to the department, is what they experience going to be different or just more of the same? Is anything really going to be different?
The following recommendations are mandatory for every dealer and manufacturer that strive to prove that things really are different and the dealership service experience is worth the customer’s time and effort.
- Drop the aged mind set of “Service and Repair” and embrace the mindset of “Service and Service Retail”. You are in a retail business that sells services and products. For this reason, the experience your customer receives will have to match that of what would be found at any major retailer. You have to look, act and feel like a retail establishment. If your customer is a Nordstrom’s or Macy’s customer, mimic them. If they are comfortable with Target, or find themselves steering towards Wal-Mart set out to mimic the corresponding experience. Although all of those retailers are vastly different in what level of product and service they offer, all are bright, exciting places to visit. The have set an expectation that consumers expect.
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