OEC Blog

Your dealership’s reputation could be hurting your bottom line

Your dealership’s reputation could be hurting your bottom line

We have been talking a lot about dealerships as a whole, and how, in a lot of cases, each department of the dealership is treated and functions as its own entity.  Being ingrained in the business every day, it’s something that we are aware of. But from a customer’s perspective, a dealership is a dealership.  If they have a bad experience with one department, that might hinder them from doing business with that dealership, in general.

The same goes for shop customers.  I really hadn’t given this idea much thought, until I started to hear feedback from shops about how they won’t do business with certain dealerships anymore.

While visiting shops with an outside rep, who had been in the industry for some time, and had personal relationships with a lot of the people that we were visiting, I witnessed a shop tell her that they loved the customer service from the parts department, but after a bad experience with the service department, he just can’t bring himself to buy any more parts from them.  This shop owner had a great relationship with the parts department and actually said that he hates that he has to buy from someone else, but due to the way he had been treated by the service department, he just refused to “give them any more of his money.”

One dealership = one business

In this situation, the shop claimed to have a great relationship with the parts department, but he never bothered to call them to let them know what happened.  At that stage in the game, he didn’t want a solution.  He expected the service department to know that he was a valued parts customer and to treat him that way.  Although his expectations might have been a little lofty, it goes back to the concept of your customer seeing you as one business … not 3 or 4 small individual businesses.

Let’s be honest … there is never going to be a way that every person in every department is going to know exactly who is who and who buys what.  That idea is insane, but an idea that I absolutely love is the “secret shopper” idea.  Anytime that you are dealing with a customer, and maybe you aren’t agreeing with them, or you are having a bad day, I like to take a step back and think “what if this is someone the owner sent in, to see how I work?”  Would you treat them differently?  Or would you maybe be a little more patient and try a little harder to come to an agreement that is reasonable?

People talk

Living in the information age, we have to think about our reputation and how we are perceived by our customers.  Word of mouth has always been the best way to gain customers, but it’s also the fastest way to lose customers.

People not only talk, but they now have the opportunity to reach a much larger audience by reviewing you online.   And we all know that people like to tell stories about BAD experiences far more than they like to talk about good ones!

Things are always going to happen and people are always going to make mistakes.  Although the customer is NOT always right, it’s important to remedy the situation and make sure that you are treating all your customers the way that you would like to be treated.  Not only could it affect your next part sale, but it might affect your next new car sale, and vice versa.