There are a number of practices still common across automotive retailers which are not customer centric. That doesn’t necessarily mean dealers using these tactics need to change, but it does mean they shouldn’t be kidding themselves about being customer centric in their approach. It means they shouldn’t mislead themselves about offering superior customer service as their why-buy-from-me message.
If your prices are negotiable, yet your customer cannot speak directly with the only person who has pricing authority, then you might not be customer centric.
If your team is still answering questions on the phone with “come on in and we’ll have that answer for you,” then you might not be customer centric.
If your sales team does not give too hoots about the customer’s needs for accessories or service, then you might not be customer centric.
If you are not fully utilizing your CRM system to maximize customer satisfaction as well as leads, then you might not be customer centric.
Not every business needs to be customer centric, but those who are not need to stop kidding themselves about who they are. Those who are trying to be customer centric must realize the reason to focus on the customer is to maximize profits. This does not mean just short-term profits but total profitability over the life of the customer relationship and spilling over into that customer’s network of friends and family. Managing toward that may require lots of changes, maybe even changes in compensation, but a change in attitude is the most important of all.
In my grandfather’s day, no one needed to tell this to a small town dealer. It was obvious. You lived or died by your reputation. It seemed everyone talked to everyone, and no one got away with faking it for very long. Social media is bringing our industry back around to the days of the small-town dealer and away from the fifty-year era of most customer relationships starting at the curb and ending as the customer drives off it.
Every dealer will choose their own focus, and many variations can be profitable when executed properly. The most important thing is recognizing what the focus of your store really is.