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Dealership Stickiness: Customer Service Is Key

Customer sitting in car
Article Highlights:

  • There are four components that turn a vehicle sale into a great experience.
  • "They are finally able to advise the customer; not just take an order."

My previous article in the dealership stickiness series stressed the importance of first appearances. A strong first impression sets the stage to a great customer experience, and dealership stickiness depends on that experience.

In this article, we’re going to look at our second key to creating dealership stickiness: how to deliver excellent customer service.

Active Listening

First and foremost, your sales team needs to ask the right questions and then listen to the answers. They should find out how the vehicle will be used, how many miles it will be driven, does the driver have children, etc. The answers to these questions will help them find the perfect vehicle that fits the customers’ needs.

Poor listening leads to a poor experience. It shows insincerity on the salesperson’s part and may lead the customer to a different dealership for his purchase.

It’s important to note that today’s consumer will most likely arrive at the dealership with his desired vehicle already picked out from doing research online. That doesn’t mean the salesperson should skip this step. He may uncover needs the customer’s chosen vehicle doesn’t satisfy or be able to upsell the customer into a better vehicle.

Know Your Products

After listening to customers’ needs, your sales team needs to provide the right vehicle suggestions. In order to be successful, that requires knowledge of vehicle specs and features.

Most new car buyers expect your salespeople to be knowledgeable about new vehicle inventory, and in some cases, used vehicles. Does your sales team take the time to learn about off-brand trades? If not, this may be an area of improvement to focus on.

Advise the Customer

When your salespeople have superior product knowledge and they have truly listened to their customers, they are finally able to advise them; not just take an order. Your sales team will be able to provide insight on which makes or models fit the customer’s needs best, and potentially upsell him to a higher line model.

If the customer is set on a specific payment, but it is unrealistic for the vehicle he really wants, the salesperson should provide him with alternative leasing options. This will show the customer the salesperson is a partner who wants to help him reach the end goal of buying a new vehicle.

Remember: two heads are better than one. I recommend the salesperson introduce the customer to the sales manager. This additional insight can help figure out the best vehicle and promotes transparency with the customer!


This is NOT handing the customer the keys and telling him to enjoy the demo drive. The presentation is the perfect opportunity to make the customer fall in love with the vehicle. The salesperson should walk the customer to the vehicle and spend some time showing the features they discussed earlier. The salesperson should point out specific features that will meet the customer’s needs and make the customer feel comfortable exploring the vehicle.

Setting the stage

Great customer service is more than being able to talk it up with customers or getting laughs. Great customer service—the kind that truly makes a dealership sticky—requires a thorough and comprehensive plan for each and every customer.

Stay tuned for the third article in this three-part series on achieving dealership stickiness, “Atmosphere Keeps Them Coming Back.” For more information on training and dealership improvement, contact Reynolds Consulting Services at 800.657.9784 or send us an email at consulting@reyrey.com.

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Director, Reynolds Consulting Services

Carl Bennett is the vice president of customer success services. This team, under Bennet’s leadership, teaches automotive retailers in the U.S. and Canada how to achieve higher levels of success and better results throughout their dealership. Bennet has spent over 15 years with Reynolds, helping dealerships through training, consulting, and installation roles. Prior to joining Reynolds, Bennett worked in dealerships for 15 years as a general manager, finance director, and sales manager.

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