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Dealers need to push message of convenience and of 'being there in a customer's crisis'- NFDA research

Franchised dealers need to improve consumer perception that they are less convenient than independents and are unable to take on emergency work.

Consumers believe independent garages offer the most convenience, according to an independent study for the National Franchised Dealers Association.

Respondents described convenience in a number of ways, but the most common (71% of respondents) was ‘appointments available at a times that suit you’ followed by ‘local to my home or workplace (53%).

Provision of a courtesy car (39%) was rated  almost equal to provision of collection and delivery of the car (38%) overall, but more people regarded collection and delivery as the best descriptor of convenience than the courtesy car.

All service providers across the franchised, independent and national fast-fit sectors are expected to provide while-you-wait services.

Yet there is a significantly higher positive experience of while-you-wait (WYW) services among consumers who use a franchised dealership.

Richard Roberts, chairman of the NFDA’s aftersales working group and head of Trident Garages, a Honda group, said this perhaps validates the investments franchisees make in comfortable lounges, wi-fi and refreshments for their service customers.

He added: “There are ways you can make yourself more convenient. When a customer rings up and needs a job done today but as a franchised dealer you’re booking in work at seven days ahead, you need to be able to react to that and allocate a technician’s time so that can be done today. Many of us are already.

"But it’s letting the customer know we can do that. We have to get around customer perception.

"If you came in to my business, we would do it, otherwise we would lose that customer. Many other franchised dealers do the same, but it’s getting that message out there."

The average consumer who had previously used a WYW service would be willing to spend up to one hour and 14 minutes for their service, including a VHC and a wash and vac.

Roberts said this perhaps validates the investments franchisees make in comfortable lounges, wi-fi and refreshments for their service customers.

Those who had not previously used WYW gave their main reason as not having been offered it. “It is clear from the data that a lack of awareness among consumers could give franchised dealers the opportunity to take market share in servicing,” said the NFDA survey.

“One of the reasons we’re doing this survey is to work with dealers and assist them in their planning and how they move forward. The world is a flexible world now, and maybe dealers need to be more flexible,” said Sue Robinson, NFDA director.

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