What Customers Want  (continued)
So if you want to avoid getting beat up on price, stop trying to compete on price
alone.  Stop being the price company. What your business needs to stand out is better
customer service and not just satisfied customers, but delighted ones. But don’t make it
the simple “please and thank you” variety. Aim higher. Strive for fabulous, standout,
outrageously great service to set your dealership business apart from the crowd.
Copyright© 2008-2009 Automotive Dealers Network. All rights reserved.

By Michael Roppo
Director of Fixed Operations Consulting Training
& Business Development
Michael is a Fixed Operations & Business Development
Consultant with the accounting and automotive
consulting firm of Mironov, Sloan & Parziale. He is a
speaker, author, trainer and facilitator with over 30 years
of experience. He authored  "RESULTS" Service
Management Training Program and others.
    Will superior service triumph price? Absolutely, many dealerships usually say how customer sensitive they
    are, but boy do they play down that statement.  According to a four-year study, most customers will put level of
    service ahead of price - if you give them the chance. Communication, communication, communication! That’s
    what it all about.

    If you are willing to communicate value you will receive value. I once read a statement that said “Business goes
    where it’s asked for, and it stays where it’s appreciated”. These days you must ask for the business but, man
    you better appreciate your customer.
Entrenched “wisdom” may be wrong
Research companies asked tens of thousands of shoppers how they like to shop, what they look for in customer
    service and what it takes for them to buy. And according to many results”
    some of the most deeply entrenched “wisdom” about what customers want
may simply be wrong.

    For example, when researchers asked customers how far they’d be willing
    to drive for excellent service, 80 percent said they’d travel four or more
    miles, and nearly half said they would drive 10 miles or more for the right
    combination of, quality customer service and price.
    “American shoppers are really not the finicky, price-conscious bargain
hunters they have been made out to be. “Consumers will pay for more for excellent service if it’s really excellent
service with both their cash and their time.”

Your job as a dealer is to deliver high quality, convenient, superior service that attracts and keeps customers
coming in day and day out. Delighted customers say they are willing to drive a little further for great service, but
you’d better make it worth their effort.

Just how many service slipups does it take to send a customer packing? 17 percent will bolt after a single
service foul up. Another 40 percent will jump ship after two instances of poor service, and 28 percent more are
out the door after three. So for 85% of your customers, its three strikes and you’re out bud.
What your business
What keeps customers more than just satisfied?

They want to be able to trust you: Can you be trusted, is a question that all customers ask themselves on a
regular basis, you have to get this one right because if you don’t the rest can be disastrous.

Knowledgeable and available staff: While a customer is making the buying decision, they want
knowledgeable assistance, available when they want it. Customers place a high value on accurate timely
information and want to be served by employees who know the products and services they provide inside and out.

Genuine Friendly People: Customers not only want product-savvy service and sales people, they want them
to be friendly and courteous. Your staff should value each customer more than any individual sale.

Good value: This is where price factors in. But customers surveyed see price as only one component of the
bigger picture of “value” that includes the service, information and follow-up they also receive.

Convenience: The service rule here is simple: make it easy!  “Customers want merchandise and services that
are well organized, attractively displayed and easily explained and easy to find. That’s how today’s customers
define convenience, and the easier you can make the shopping, the more money you will be lugging to the bank.”

A fast finish: This final item is where too many dealerships fall flat, right at the finish line. While customers are
in the process of deciding to buy or not, they are proceeding on your time. They want thoughtful help making the
right decisions. But once the buying decision is made, get out of their way because now you are working on their
time, and they want to complete the transaction and be on their way as quickly as possible. At the cash register,
there is no time for making additional suggestions. However, it does require a genuine please and thank you.

The Bottom Line Is: In the end, it may be your level of service you provide - not your price - that dictates
whether or not you secure customers for the long term loyalty thing. If you give people what they want, the way
they want it, when they want it and follow through with a fast value added finish when it comes time to pay up, you
are much more likely candidate to turn them into long term delighted customers.