The key to dealership success hinges more than ever on maintaining and enhancing relationships with customers who you might see only once a year, Paul Everitt, Chief Executive at SMMT, told delegates at the SMMT International Automotive Summit.
Paul was joined on a panel by Vertu Motors’ CEO Robert Forrester and Chris Mason, Managing Director of the OFT-approved provider of industry codes of practice, Motor Codes, who both talked about tackling often unfounded, public scepticism, the importance of personalised service, transparency and online consumer interaction.
As Chris pointed out, it’s important for the automotive retail industry as a whole to help guide consumers to the right garages and the weight of personal recommendation should not be ignored – 73% would choose a garage based on the say so of friends and family. Motor Codes collects feedback from customers of its network and shows in excess of 40,000 customer reviews of garages on its postcode-driven garage finder.
Reflecting statistics outlined earlier in the day by Google, the increasing use of search engines by motorists researching dealer services and reliance on the opinion of other customers was evident in that Motor Codes projects in excess of one million views its network profile pages in the coming year – a significant business proposition and a measure of the use of online retail recommendation tools.
Echoing the need to focus on the personal touch, Robert Forrester reminded delegates not to forget the basics. Yes, to convert owners of older cars, margins have to be sacrificed in favour of volume – price is critical – but, ultimately, if a customer doesn’t feel trust, doesn’t receive a valet for their car when they were expecting one, they’re lost to the competition. With 35,000 Vertu customers committed to paying for their service by direct debit, the personal touch is clearly paying off.
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