Franchised dealers are to be encouraged to endorse a new set of industry standards on consumer care in a partnership between consumer facing website Trusted Dealers (www.trusteddealers.co.uk) and the National Franchised Dealers Association.
The ‘public face’ for the standards will be the web business, established by dealer bosses in 2011 and headed by former Motors.co.uk executive Neil Addley, as a lead generator for franchised dealers, offering stock from 886 dealerships, representing 75 groups. It has 1.2 million monthly unique users.
In April the NFDA bought a 52% controlling stake in Trusted Dealers.
A recruitment campaign is being aimed at the NFDA’s 3,800 members.
Conceived by dealers, the standards promote their adoptees commitment to offering the highest standards of customer care.
The NFDA and Trusted Dealers are also working on a set of standards for aftersales as well as enhancements to the website to allow dealer to promote their service operations.
Once adopted, the standards will be used to bring the site to the attention of consumers in a marketing campaign in 2014, backed by the NFDA.
The standards will be promoted as a consumer ‘promise’ within its ‘10 points of difference’ programme for used cars and, soon, aftersales.
The NFDA is talking to its members for comment on the standards. And one of the aims of the controlling stake and the promotion of standards is to improve the public awareness and perception of the NFDA.
Sue Robinson, NFDA director, said: “Dealers have driven the agenda on this and made it clear that they wanted to a new portal for used cars. We have been asked to provide something like it, but Trusted Dealers provides the platform and the backing of the NFDA gives it enormous clout in a sector where there have been a number of new entrants.
“The NFDA works under the eye of organisations like Which?, Watch Dog and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
“So, our standards have to be incredibly robust and dealers committing to them are making a commitment that should be shared with all staff to ensure compliance and universal application of service quality to consumers. The most complaints are made to consumer watch dogs when it appears this is not happening.”
Trusted Dealers' managing director Addley said: “The link with the NFDA and the new standards will give us a stronger consumer proposition without changing the nature of what has become in a short time a strong business proposition for franchised dealers.
“The significant growth in the number of dealers promoting stock through the portal will be matched by an equivalent increase in marketing budget - the cost per click investment or email marketing - and so we guarantee the number of consumers looking at the site will increase.”
Future developments for the Trusted Dealers’ platform include the introduction of a service booking function for consumers with an equivalent set of dealer standards on quality of aftersales customer care and work standards.
New, associate members of Trusted Dealers do not have to pay a joining fee, just the cost to display a vehicle.
Profits in the business are used to enhance the online profile of the website and dealer leads.
Trusteddealers.co.uk receives 325,000 visits per month; the site generates more than 7,000 calls and 900 emails per month.
The average cost per enquiry is below £20.
Member dealers include Johnsons, Arnold Clark, Hartwell, Ridgeway, Phoenix, Allen Ford, Hendy, Swansway and Marshalls.
The Trusted Dealers ’10 points of difference’