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Old 07-12-10, 12:45 PM   #1
GS69
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Post Dealer Study: Showroom Customers Treated Best @ Mercedes/Jaguar/Lexus


A study measuring how dealerships treat customers rated Mercedes-Benz highest but said Detroit's brands have showed the most improvement.

Ford, Lincoln and Chevrolet scored above the average for the first time in the four years that Piped Piper Management Co. has conducted its study. Lexus was No. 2 and Mitsubishi placed last in the survey.

Pied Piper, of Monterey, Calif., sent 3,658 mystery shoppers into dealerships to develop its Prospect Satisfaction Index. The shoppers ranged from 21 to 65.

In the latest report, 25 of the 34 brands surveyed had better scores than a year earlier. Luxury brands continued to outperform mass-market brands, but BMW scored below Cadillac and Lincoln and tied with a host of other brands, including Chevrolet, Ford, Toyota and Volkswagen.

“Today's car shoppers are armed with far more vehicle and pricing information than ever before,” said Pied Piper CEO Fran O'Hagan. “Successful brands and dealerships have responded by acting as helpful enablers for today's shoppers. At the most successful dealerships, the stereotype of the old-fashioned car salesperson no longer exists.”

Relatively soft consumer demand for new cars, along with tougher standards from many lenders, has put more pressure on dealer personnel to sell and provide new-car financing options for many consumers.

“Customers have come to expect the type of treatment that they get at Mercedes, BMW and Lexus in all their shopping experience," said Mark Cannon, vice president of communications at AutoNation Inc., the nation's largest holding company for new car dealers. "They want someone who is knowledgeable and can help them with the process.”

When Ford launched the Taurus, AutoNation sent a sales trainer to every dealership and trained sales people on the product.

"I don't ever remember that being the priority five or 10 years ago,” said Cannon.

Old stereotypes are dying, as well.

The study found that showroom visitors are likely to encounter an overbearing salesperson just 6 percent of the time. In contrast, 18 percent of the time, shoppers encountered a salesperson who was not helpful enough and did not devote enough time and attention.

In an example, Pied Piper said Ford dealership sales personnel scored better than the competition in three areas:

• More likely to discuss Ford's unique features.

• More likely to introduce themselves.

• More likely to discuss available financing options.
“Despite the widespread and continual improvement in how cars are sold, there is still plenty of room for improvement, although not necessarily in the expected areas,” the study said.

About 18 percent of the time, salespeople did not pay enough attention to the shopper. Only 57 percent offered a brochure, underlining the decision “by some brands and dealerships to limit or discontinue offering brochures,” the study said.

The study also found:
• 95 percent of Lexus and Porsche sales personnel reviewed a vehicle's features and controls before a test drive, compared with 74 percent at BMW.

• Land Rover, Smart and Mini salespeople rarely introduced shoppers to dealership personnel.

• Suzuki, Volkswagen, Nissan, Toyota and Infiniti dealership employees used introductions to dealership management 40 percent of the time to help clinch a deal.

• Nissan, Mazda, Infiniti, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and Volkswagen dealerships are most likely to initiate follow-up contact within 48 hours after an initial visit.

• Buick, Mitsubishi, Chevrolet and Acura dealerships were the least likely to follow up within 48 hours after a shopper's first visit.

• At BMW and Volvo stores, 80 percent of the time, personnel told shoppers about their free scheduled maintenance programs.
You can reach Diana T. Kurylko at dkurylko@crain.com.


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Old 07-12-10, 02:23 PM   #2
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Dealerships vary quite a bit in how they treat people, not just across-the-board by brand name/manufacturer, but even within different dealerships of the same brands. For instance, some of both the nicest AND most arrogant salespeople I've ever seen have been in VW shops. BMW shops used to be arrogant, but, in general, have improved quite a bit lately. Still, even today, BMW shops can vary significantly from one to the other in how customers are treated.
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Old 07-12-10, 03:13 PM   #3
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umm I dont get jack sqat at the MB dealership. No loaner, no coffee, natta
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Old 07-12-10, 03:36 PM   #4
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I agree with Marshall. Location has to factor in there somewhere. I would never buy a vehicle near me again. The dealers are absolutely deplorable in northern NJ including the two closest Lexus dealers. Drive 20-30 miles to the south and it's a whole different story.
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Old 07-12-10, 04:56 PM   #5
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I agree, location and specific dealership means more than brand (at least when comparing premium brands).
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Old 07-12-10, 05:33 PM   #6
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I don't get particularilly good service at MB either, BMW on the other hand is great.
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Old 07-12-10, 05:50 PM   #7
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my friend used to replace her MB's with new MB's, but she stopped because of the lack of attention they would give her. as customers, its important that salespeople and those involved with the sale of a vehicle make the process as easy and stress-free as possible. sure, there are dealer tactics that try to maximize sales commissions, but customers have and should continue to be #1. we live near two lexus dealerships (both Elite of Lexus), and they were very hospitable towards her when we went. not being pushy but just getting a feel of what cars they had to offer her. and ever since, she has been enamored by not only lexus vehicles but the services provided. the coffee, cookies, and kids play area certainly helped.

of course, customer satisfaction of dealers are more case by case. there have been a few posts here about poor service at some lexus dealers, but for the most part, lexus has been quite hospitable towards me and those closest to me. ive been to a few MB dealers when we research our future purchases, and though they're very active, i see the salespeople as more threatening. they push to make deals fast like they're being timed or something. and if they get the impression that a potential client isnt interested, they'll turn your back to you faster than you can say MERCEDES BENZ. that doesnt seem to be "the best or nothing" in my book.
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Old 07-12-10, 05:53 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IS-SV View Post
I agree, location and specific dealership means more than brand (at least when comparing premium brands).
My dealership is top notch but I have heard other guys complain about the service people at their Lexus dealership. I agree that its the location
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Old 07-12-10, 06:32 PM   #9
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in my experience, with atlanta dealers, its been lexus>porsche>mercedes>all others
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Old 07-12-10, 06:51 PM   #10
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I can't find the list but it sounds like Benz, Lexus, BMW were tops? Seems most everyone improved as well.

I agree dealerships can be hit or miss. From my experiences Lexus dealerships have been great for the most part outside the one ******** dealer on the southside here. I have a lovely time at the new Macon dealership a couple of months ago, it looks like someones home.

Benz is odd, I've heard hit or miss stories from pals, rarely anything in-between.
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Old 07-12-10, 07:02 PM   #11
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Actually MB, Lexus, and Land Rover were tops:
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Old 07-12-10, 07:37 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kitlz View Post
I agree with Marshall. Location has to factor in there somewhere. I would never buy a vehicle near me again. The dealers are absolutely deplorable in northern NJ including the two closest Lexus dealers. Drive 20-30 miles to the south and it's a whole different story.
Agree with you here bro.

The two Lexus dealerships near me treat me pretty poorly so I take the hour drive to Lawrence Lexus in NJ. Definitely the best treatment and service even though I'm very young and pull up in a modded GS.

An Acura dealership and Hyundai dealership near me are very nice as well. The BMW, MB, and Lexus dealers are HORRIBLE.
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Old 07-12-10, 08:32 PM   #13
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Thanks for the chart. They all scored pretty high.
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Old 07-12-10, 11:32 PM   #14
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for me it varies by area. richmond is always terrible. vancouver generally has the better dealerships. whether it be honda, nissan, toyota, lexus, mazda, acura.

vw has sucked no matter where i went. the two subaru dealerships have been pretty friendly and helpful
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Old 07-13-10, 01:06 AM   #15
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Here's my personal Los Angeles experience: Lexus- great to average treatment. Don't really need free food or drinks. Just need to be treated with respect. MBZ- arrogant and sly. Audi- generally good, with some slyness. BMW- arrogant, can't get anyone to take me seriously. Honda- arrogant, can't get help or too pushy when they do try helping. Nissan- a total joke and insulting. Get the feeling they are only used to selling cars to poor or uneducated people. Lots of game-playing. Toyota- Very mixed, from good to same as Nissan. Hyundai- decent, with some shades of "good ol boy" car buying techniques. GMC- same as Hyundai. Chevy- pushy and obnoxious. Acura- mixed and all over the board. Don't get the feeling of a luxury brand once inside the dealership. Infiniti- a notch below Lexus, but decent overall. Haven't had much time inside a Caddy dealer since the early 90's, but things felt pretty old-school in there. I wonder what it's like today with most of their customers as hip hoppers and blingers.
I agree, all this varies from dealer to dealer. I'd say treatment is getting slightly better, but there are still a lot of hidden games being played. Those who do not educate themselves prior to arrival, are going to get taken advantage of.
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