What do we remember when we visit a car dealership?

How many cars do we own on average in a lifetime? If we believe some of the online studies on the topic, an average of 9-12 cars are owned within a lifetime. With an average used car price of £9000, that is a lifetime investment of £81,000-£108,000 and for the majority of motorists this money is swallowed up by depreciation.

Aston Martin Vantage V8
The Aston Martin Vantage V8’s list price exceeds the average lifetime purchase cost of used cars – do dealers are make us feel this special when we buy?

Couple this car buying investment with car maintenance. After-sales in the UK was hit badly during the double dip recession with motorists seeing servicing and winter checks as unaffordable luxuries. Recent analysis has shown decreases in garage car servicing costs that the UK general public will welcome but when you start to unravel the typical buyer behaviour it leads to my first of three most memorable factors when visiting a car dealership.

1. The cost
How much, how much and thrice how much? We remember all of the bartering, being ridiculed by friends when we’ve paid over the odds and we definitely remember when we walk out of a car dealership with a genuine sales or servicing bargain. The amount of variables involved in the maintenance of a modern car would point to the sensible cash flow management decisions of quality warranty cover and servicing plans.

2. A hesitancy to trust
The car trade has occupied the awkward space of untrustworthy industry types for too long. However there are still too many instances where this is warranted. I recently visited a German manufacturer franchised dealership who attempted to charge excessively for a part as opposed to ‘attempting’ a repair that a non-franchised German motorcar servicing special. Franchised dealerships in particular have been focused on customer satisfaction but the complexities of large scale operations means that consistently delivering excellent customer service is a bigger challenge than it perhaps should be. Culturally the UK sometimes needs to look inwards and realise that we haven’t been a nation that delivers customer service well. Customers airing their customer dissatisfaction socially (did you know that ‘bashtag‘ is in the English dictionary) is now a common way of getting to the more experienced, knowledgeable customer service operatives but is pushing more organisations to ‘walk the walk’.

3. The handover
Picking up your new car should be a memorable moment. This is what you’ve been waiting for. It’s been prepared, valeted and parked up in the handover bay – your sales executive or handover specialist give you a demonstration of any bespoke controls and you’re off.

Understanding the emotive elements of visiting a car dealership lies right at the heart of Judge Service which generates hundreds of car sales and aftersales reviews each week. Buying and maintaining a car with a dealer that you can really trust is what we all want and what all major franchised dealer groups are trying to deliver. Online reviews and social media channels (particularly Twitter) are gradually having a positive influence on the UK car trade – motorists can now use these tools to feel more confident when visiting their local car dealer.

 This article was provided by Duncan Colman, digital advisor for JudgeService.com.