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True Stories: “They put garbage in, and we got garbage out.”

Trash bins
Article Highlights:

  • Your customers' experience should be a priority.
  • "The only one looking out for us at the dealership was us."

According to a recent AutoTrader study, only 17 out of 4,002 automotive customers, from their 20’s to 60’s, currently prefer today’s car buying process. That means 99.6% don’t like the way you do business.

I spoke with Elizabeth, a millennial about to graduate from college, who took a trip to a dealership with her parents. Elizabeth’s experience confirmed all of her perceptions and assumptions of the car-buying experience – from the rude salesman to the extensive, incorrect paperwork. Here is Elizabeth’s story:

A Bad Test Drive

“My parents were in the market for a new BMW, so I decided to tag along. As a soon-to-be college grad, I wanted to learn about the car-buying process. They already knew which car they wanted (2015 X3), so the first step was a test drive. The car was used as a loaner and demo, so it was sitting on the lot waiting for us.

During our test drive, my mom noticed something wrong with the vehicle. It was difficult to accelerate, almost as if the car was resisting. The salesman insisted she was wrong and there was nothing wrong with the vehicle. The next day we found out the car had a flat tire. Not a good start.

Rude salesman? Check.

The Long Wait

The process hardly improved from there. After the test-drive, the salesman took us into the waiting room while they detailed the car and prepared our paperwork. I wasn’t prepared to spend over an hour just waiting on the paperwork. I only tagged along to take a cruise in my parent’s new BMW.

Too much time in the waiting room? Check.

A Downhill Spiral

We were supposed to have an extended warranty. The salesman told us the extended warranty was included in the price of the vehicle. However, he failed to inform the F&I manager, so the warranty was offered to us again. We declined, assuming it was in addition to the one we already had. When we got home, we realized there was no warranty paperwork to be found.

Things only got worse. The car was supposed to be classified as a certified pre-owned vehicle. However, flipping through the paperwork, we realized there was no sign of certification. They ‘forgot.’

Miscommunication and missing documents? Check.

An error at the beginning caused continuous errors throughout. Just like the expression says, ‘Garbage in, garbage out.’ They put garbage in, and we got garbage out. We had to return to the dealership to restart the paperwork. We had to go through the entire process again, re-signing every single document.

The entire experience left a bad taste in all of our mouths. No one seemed to care about our happiness or the life of the car after the sale. We thought the dealership would take care of us and help us when we needed it. But it turns out the only one looking out for us at the dealership was us.

Back to the dealership to fix their mistakes? Check.”

Consumers expect to be taken care of when they’re spending money. They want their retail experience to go well. Even more than that, they want to believe you care about them as human beings, not just another pay day. Defy the bad perceptions of the car salesman and dreaded time in the F&I office. Provide your customers with a smoother, more pleasing customer experience.

Are you looking out for the customers at your dealership?


Editor’s Note: This article was written by guest author Meg Thomson, who was an intern in the Reynolds Marketing department.

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Director, Brand Marketing, Reynolds and Reynolds

Ashley is Director of Marketing Communications for Reynolds and Reynolds. In her 10 years with Reynolds, she has managed the marketing strategy for several key Reynolds solutions and branding initiatives. Today, she leads the U.S. and Canadian marketing teams to drive brand awareness, product penetration, and content strategy for Reynolds and other key brands within the Reynolds Retail Management System.

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