The auto industry is seeing better days since it suffered a crisis back in 2008, when American car sales plummeted to one of its lowest points. Since then, the industry has rebounded and customers are now flocking to dealerships across the country to get their hands on a new set of wheels. But which dealers are performing up to par?
Pied Piper PSI, a California-based dealership sales and marketing agency, sent 3,524 "mystery shoppers" to dealerships across the country between July 2010 and June 2011 to evaluate how different dealerships treat car shoppers. Mercedes-Benz dealerships ranked at the top of the satisfaction spectrum for the third year in a row. Jaguar and Lexus came in right at Mercedes’ heels; and although BMW is topping the luxury sales charts, it came in after German arch-rival Audi. The Lincoln brand -- flat in sales numbers -- also flatlined when it came to customer satisfaction, coming in last among the luxury brands.
Treatment in luxury brand dealerships most often constitutes better customer treatment; salespeople devote more time to each customer because higher commission is at stake. But mainstream brands utilizing similar techniques, with Ram and Toyota topping the chart among the mainstream brands, while low-volume brands Suzuki and Mitsubishi ranked the lowest in customer satisfaction. Dealerships selling Mini, Infiniti, Buick, Jeep and Scion all managed to improve their performance compared to last year’s report.
Besides low-volume sales, reduced staff at dealerships may be at fault for low customer satisfaction scores. Fewer salespeople on the lots and showroom floors take on more car sales, which overall leads to deterioration in customer treatment. And with more car shoppers in the market, each salesperson may not be providing the best service possible.
How was your last dealership experience? Where was it the best? The worst?
Source: Reuters, Pied Piper