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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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Mike Gorun

Mike Gorun Managing Partner/CEO

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Would You Like White or Red Wine With Your Oil Change?

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If you were to ask today’s consumers if they’d like to hang out at a car dealership, chances are that the majority would respond “no.” When consumers do visit a dealership to purchase a vehicle or get their vehicle serviced, many times the process can be longer than desired and is not always a great experience for the consumer. Dealerships have been attempting to streamline the sales and service process through the use of technology to make the entire process faster and more efficient so as to be more consumer friendly.

 

Some dealerships are going a little bit further to make the customer experience more enjoyable with the addition of delis, Starbucks, movie theaters and hair salons, as permanent fixtures. And thinking even further outside the box, a recent Automotive News article highlighted a Fort Worth, Texas dealership that chose to open a 250 square foot wine store inside their dealership. It has been so popular with their customers that it has actually added $700,000 to the dealership’s annual bottom line.

 

Due to its popularity, the dealership then opened a full size retail wine bar in downtown Fort Worth… with a catch. Not only does the dealership display new Cadillacs inside (and outside) the bar, the bar also serves as a satellite service drive that allows wine bar customers to have their vehicles serviced while socializing and enjoying some wine. The wine bar is 20 miles from the dealership so there are employees on-site who transport customers’ vehicles to the dealership for service, then back to the wine bar upon service completion. This provides a very unique customer experience. It also makes service much more convenient for the many downtown Fort Worth employees who would otherwise have to drive 45-minutes to an hour to have their vehicle serviced at the dealership.  In addition, the wine bar produces at least one vehicle sale per month, to say nothing about the increased service business.

 

Regardless of whether you decide that a wine bar within your dealership is a good idea, creating an excellent experience for your customers certainly is. If your customer experience is less than great, it won’t matter if you have an amusement park in the back lot, your customer could still leave.  Customer loyalty is a fickle creature that can be lost much faster than it can be gained. Give your customers a reason to choose your dealership. Then ensure that the experience they have is one that they would want to repeat. Only then can you really build that relationship and transform your customers into loyal customers that will return because they want to – not because they have to.

Denim Simkins
It is amazing to me the extent that franchised dealers have to go to in order to "appeal" to customers. I rarely see our largest aftermarket competitors go to this level to attract new and keep existing customers?? It is strange to me, granted I have worked in the industry for 23 years so I'm probably not a typical customer, that customers will choose this option over going back to the dealer that the customer purchased their vehicle from. Price, Convenience, Relationship are just a few of the reasons given as to why but we have to figure a way to break though those barriers if we want to regain some of our marketshare in service and parts.
Carl Maeda
My wife goes to a Toyota dealer, Toyota of El Cajon, that is more than 20 miles away even though there is a Toyota dealer right around the corner from my house because they have an amazing pirate ship play ground for the kids. She usually takes one or two of her friends with her and makes it a play date with the kids. I had her go there initially because they are our customer. They get the oil changed while the kids are playing and the adults drink coffee and eat snacks there. Here's a picture of that pirate ship: http://blog.toyotaofelcajon.com/2012/07/07/saturday-at-the-el-cajon-cove/ My kids love going there and even look forward to it.

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