Why This Dealer Won't Get My Business Again!

Typically I write about specific financial issues that govern the operation of your company.  While customer satisfaction cannot be calculated by a ratio it goes to the very heart of a company's profitability, so I wanted to share a recent experience I had that hopefully will serve as a reminder to all of us of how important our customers are. Read more

We all know the studies that tell us that out of 10 unhappy customers only one will complain leaving the rest to never return to your Dealership again.  Satisfied customers are our life blood without whom we could not survive, but oh how quickly we forget!

Strike 1:  I recently went to my local GM dealer to buy a used car.  I did my research on the internet and had received a newsletter from my local dealer that had a few used cars that caught my interest.  I knew what I wanted so it was simply a matter of a couple of test drives and negotiating the price.   The buying process went fairly well and I was left with a decision as to whether or not I wanted to purchase a 2 year, $100 deductible service contract.  I contacted my nephew who is a GM mechanic to get his advice when he advised me that had I bought a 2007 instead of a 2006 model I would have automatically got the remaining 160 Km power train warranty. 

The next day I went to the dealership and met with the Business Office Manager and discussed the price of the extended service package.  He recognized my dissatisfaction with the salesman not making me aware of the difference between model years and gave me a reduced price on the contract, however he also gave me the impression that he was very unhappy giving me a discount.   Customer satisfaction, I think not!

Strike 2:  Later that week I went to read the owner's manual and discovered it was in French.  I also tried to activate the On Star only to discover that the responder only spoke French.  Off to the dealership I went to see my salesman who looked at me like he was a deer in the head lights.  He did not recognise me or immediately, or recall the sale that only happened a few days ago.  He found an English manual in another car on the lot but had no solution to the On Star problem other than to give me a number to call.  Customer satisfaction, I think not!

Strike 3:  GM gives a 30 day money back guarantee or they will fix the problem, so I took the car in for service within 20 days.  I was not happy with the steering which my nephew advised was the intermediate steering shaft.  I checked the car in with the service adviser at 7:30AM and told him I would wait.  One hour later I notice my car was in the front lot so I asked the Service Advisor if it was ready.  He said yes but they had to complete the paper work.  Finally at 10:00AM I asked the receptionist what was going on and she said that they were extremely short staffed.  I left the dealership 3 hours later after a no charge wheel balance.  Customer satisfaction, I think not!

Strike 4:  That week I received a newsletter from the dealership so I took the opportunity to send an e-mail to the owner complaining about my experience.  I received no response until about a week later when the service manager called to apologize.  I told him the steering was still not right so he told me to come in a see him personally.  I had my nephew test drive the car before I took it in and he confirmed it was the intermediate steering shaft.  I met with the Service Manager who drove the car around the parking lot saying he could not feel the problem, but bring it in and they will check it out.  At this point I said I did not want to pay the $100 deductible since it was the same problem I had within the 30 day guarantee.

I took the car in the next day at 7:30AM and told the Service Advisor about the problem and the $100 deductible.  He said "oh no, you have to pay the deductible" to which I responded, talk to the Service Manager.  I told him I would go home and he said they will call as soon as it was ready.  At 1:00PM I called to be told that it was not ready and they will call.  At 4:00PM my wife called and he said it was ready but he did not know what to do with the $100 deductible.  My wife said we are on our way.  I went to the cashier and she said the $100 deductible has been charged to the Used Car Department so there was no charge and they replaced the intermediate starring shaft.  I looked at the bill and the labour was half an hour.  Customer satisfaction, I think not!

So what is the moral of this story?  I will never buy another vehicle from this dealership and even though I will have to go out of my way, I will take my service to another GM dealer.  We must all avoid these simple errors:

Not remembering your customer is the biggest mistake you can make.  It would be nice if you remembered their name but at least remember the sale.Failure to communicate when you have a problem, such as being short staffed only frustrates your customer.  Be honest.Nobody likes to have to do things for free but live up to your guarantees.Offer compensation when a mistake has been made.

Our customers are spending their hard earned money so they should be made to feel special!  The result will be customer retention, which means income for your dealership.

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