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Jared Hamilton
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CDK Global

CDK Global

Exclusive Blog Posts

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Take 60:The Dealership Experience Challenge

60 Ways to Upgrade Your Dealership’s Customer Experience

Be honest: how many errands have you bailed on because you were cold, hot, hungry, bored, or in need of a restroom? Now turn the tables: how many “little things” in your dealership have caused you to lose a customer? Whether the person left because there was no toilet paper in the bathroom and they were too embarrassed to ask for more, or because they couldn’t get cell reception and wanted to take an important call, it only takes a little discomfort to send a potential customer out the door.

So here’s the challenge: we dare you to incorporate all 60 of these dealership improvement efforts into your store in the next month. Post in the comments and let us know which ones you’ve incorporated, and also chime in with your own ideas for improvement.

1.     Make name tags mandatory for every employee (real names or fun nicknames)

2.     SNUGGIES. Keep branded snuggies on-site for customers to wear while winter car shopping

3.     Add a blackboard to the lobby-scribble a welcome message, an inspirational quote, or a fun piece of car trivia

4.     CLEAN, CLEAN,CLEAN-it doesn’t cost any money to keep things tidy, and a sparkling dealership helps sell cars!

5.     Raffles. Skip the boring local lunch coupon and get creative: think trapeze classes, free car washes for life, or dates with your single daughter (we kid, we kid)

6.     Subscribe to the latest magazines-people hate buying magazines and love reading them, so why not have the most current selection attractively arrayed on your dealership coffee table? No one will mind the wait when they’re getting caught up on their reading!

7. Have branded umbrellas available for rainy-weather shoppers.

8. Invest in time-passers like Xbox Kinect, Wii and HD TV in your dealership lobby. It may seem indulgent, but when you consider that customers will be willing to wait literally hours for you to meet with them, it’s totally worth it.

9. Practice a thirty-second greet. Popular in the restaurant industry, this practice should also be applied to car dealerships. Make sure a receptionist or staff member says a quick hello, offers a beverage or reading material, and says “Our service rep Dan will be right with you” within thirty seconds of a customer arriving.

10. Wi-Fi. Do we really have to say it at this point?

11. Board games. Don’t have the budget for high-tech electronics? Go old-school with affordable games all ages can enjoy, like checkers, chess, and Connect Four.

12. Go green. Plants are another affordable way to spruce up your dealership and create a relaxing atmosphere. Get adventurous with colorful blooms or play it safe with hearty succulents. Either way, a little green adds instant calm to your dealership.

13. Go to the bathroom – no, really! Dealership restrooms are sometimes the most-used and most-neglected places in the building, particularly if employees and customers alike share them. Make sure they are cleaned several times during the day, and stock them with extra tissue (both kinds!), towels, sprays and soap. If you really want to impress customers, add mouthwash, toothpicks and hairspray!

14. Toys. Keep the little ones occupied with stuffed animals, coloring books, and of course, remote control cars.

15. PLEASE GIVE. Incorporate charity opportunities into your dealership, like a food drive, clothing drive, or giving tree.

16.   Add an aquarium.

17. Cultural flair. Show your regional pride by tastefully incorporating the best of your area. If you’re from Vermont, have mini bottles of maple syrup to take home. If you’re in Seattle, serve Starbucks, and if you’re in Florida, a bowl of oranges makes a great coffee table centerpiece.

18. Wall of fame. Take all the local clippings, magazine press, and awards you’ve gotten over the years, and create a wall of pride in your dealership. A tasteful gallery of accolades will ensure customers that they are in the right hands.

19. Humor! Post a “No Sharks Allowed” Sign or a sign in your dealership window that says “Welcome to an intimidation-free zone.”

20. Have a “Cosmic Dealership night” where car buyers can shop until midnight, accompanied by flashing strobe lights, disco music and fun giveaways.

21. Find out what hours your competitors open, and open an hour earlier and stay open an hour later.


23. Have music playing, preferable an XM or Sirius channel that is middle of the road

24. Stick out your hand and thank the prospect for coming in.

25. Introduce your manager in the beginning of the sales appointment, not the end.

26. DOGS! Be pet friendly; dogs are fun!

27.  No smoking in the front or side of the building!

28. Hire an appropriate  greeter.

29. Upgrade your artwork.

30. If you are selling high line vehicles, wear high-end clothes

31. Turn your cell phone to vibrate

32. Consider an appointment board

33. Have good hygiene (deodorant, brush teeth)


35.  Take pictures of happy customers picking up their new vehicles and tag them on Facebook.

36. Place crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and word games on your coffee table

37. Have the customer lounge on the showroom floor.  It should be very comfortable and not look like an afterthought.

38. Make certain that customer parking is as plentiful as possible and very clearly marked.

39. Have prices clearly marked on all vehicles – new and used.  (No more “see sales person for details” on the used car price sticker.)

40. Have Saturday full-service hours for at least part of the day.

41. Hire non-traditional people for sales consultants.  Today’s consumers do not respond as well to “old-school” sales tactics.

42. Invite the customer to go with the manager when performing a used vehicle evaluation.  Most will decline, but this can go a long way to creating trust and confidence instead of arguments and confusion.

43. Consider a pay plan not based on gross profit.  Pay on performance, CSI, volume, etc.

44.  Upgrade Your beverages. (You do have beverages, don’t you?) If you have coffee, add syrups. If you have water, add sliced lemons. Make sure to have decaf and caffeinated options.  It’s the little things that count!

45. Don’t use hokey old types of promotion, such as the gorilla on the roof, red sirens, etc.

46. Have multiple trash cans-guests hate not having a convenient place to throw things away.

47. Have a coat rack-encourage guests to take off their coat and stay awhile!

48.  If your dealership is in a cold climate, invest in a fireplace.

49. If your dealership is in a warm climate, invest in a nice air conditioner.

50. Slow your roll! Speak slowly, walk slowly, and make the customer feel like they are a treasured guest rather than a sales victim.

51. Do not display your sales staff sales total on a public bulletin board-customers don’t like to feel like they a bulls-eye on their back.

52. Know what specials your dealer website is promoting and be able to speak to them.

53. Complete quick trade-in evaluations.

54. Invite customers to leave dealership reviews with an on-site Ipad or laptop.

55. Honor expired service offers.

56. Provide free service calendars with written-in service appointments

57. Offer loaner cars that are an upgrade on the customer’s current vehicle.

58. Price match any written offer.

59.Offer pick-up and delivery for vehicle service.

60.__________________________ You tell us! Sound off with your best customer experience idea in the comments below!

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