Car dealerships and the post-code lottery

We have all heard about the postcode lottery when it comes to the quality of all kinds of services such as schools, dentists and hospitals. This is often due to the priorities of the elected councils and the financial health of that particular area but it appears that this kind of chance is taken by car owners when looking at where might be the best place to maintain and service their vehicles.

This of course is a two way street.

We were talking recently to the general manager of a franchised dealer at a busy London showroom which represents a popular German brand and he told us how, despite their best efforts to employ the best advisors with on-going training and first class communication skills it seemingly counts for very little as they are consistently near the bottom of the Customer satisfaction surveys. They provide a collection and delivery service and try to compete strongly in terms of labour rates but no matter how hard they try the brand are always on their back in an attempt to improve.

As a lot of income is now derived from manufacturers who rightly place customer satisfaction as their number 1 priority there is a real feeling that where you are situated has a real effect on how customers are treated but perhaps more interestingly, from the dealers point of view, how customers treat the dealers.

Having recently spoken to an old friend who ran a dealership in London for many years, but has re-located with the same franchise to the outskirts of a small town, he told me how amazed he was that even though customers had the usual array of issues with their cars around quality of service, lack of communication and faults that seem to take 2 or 3 visits to rectify, the customers there remained calm didn’t kick up a stink and were patient with how the issues were resolved but most tellingly did not open the conversation with “what compensation do I get for this”. He says it’s like a breath of fresh air compared to London and of course the dealer he now works at has customer satisfaction scores at the higher end.

So we came up with a theory; in a city location customers can be “screamers” firstly because they don’t have the time or patience to put up with it but also because they will always have an alternative location to have their cars maintained because of the close proximity of multiple dealers from the same franchise in city locations. However if you live in a small town or village where the next dealer could be many miles away if you become a screamer there and the staff decide you are just too much trouble to deal with you will effectively have nowhere else to go if you are not welcome at their local dealer. As a result the customer base is “happy” to cut the dealer (who of course values his reputation locally) some slack.

Everyone gets what they want as long as they all stay very calm

Well that’s the theory anyway.

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One Response to Car dealerships and the post-code lottery

  1. Mike Cuthbert June 7, 2012 at 2:35 pm #

    Well there could be another side to the story. Customers who complained at having ” lack of communication and faults that seem to take 2 or 3 visits to rectify” do have a valid complaint to make. Instead of thinking of relocating to a smaller town, aim to sort problems there and then or communicate with the customer exactly how long it will take.

    Then again it could be easier to move and let the customer wait….

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