If I asked you to rank car dealers on a list of trustworthy and respectable businesses, where would you place them?
The truth is, dealerships deserve a higher ranking than many of us would grant them. In this era of online dealer reviews, fierce competition and online research by customers, car dealers know they have to provide superior customer service, because with today’s customer they get only one chance.
Like anyone else, I’ve had excellent and disgusting experiences with car dealers. I’ll share an excellent one here, mention a disturbing Google trend and, of course, ask for your story of the best dealer experiences you’ve ever had.
Automotive News reported that Google has removed hundreds of reviews of dealerships from dealer pages on Google+. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason behind this, which understandably ticks off dealers.
The article gives an example of a Suzuki dealer who saw 400 reviews disappear into the vast emptiness of the Google vortex. He said,
Google believes it can do whatever it wants and has no accountability.
Of course, with the positive reviews gone, his dealership watched its positive ranking disappear. Google did respond, but said it simply tried to make sure that reviews are “authentic, relevant, and useful” to its users. While we can’t be sure all those 400 reviews were genuine and not planted by the dealer, it doesn’t seem right that Google can simply delete what it deems irrelevant. Aside from a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, there’s not much in the way of recourse the dealership owner can pursue except to build up a new library of positive reviews one customer at a time.
For dealer reviews you can be sure are genuine, check out the CarGurus used listings. Actual customers rate and review their dealer experiences, with the vast majority being positive. They can be really helpful—check them out.
When I was in the market for a used SUV for my wife, we found ourselves at a Lexus dealer looking at a used RX 350. While that particular car was over our budget, the salesman knew of a possible trade-in coming from a retired couple. That car was an RX 330 purchased 5 years earlier. We let him know our interest and parted ways. He kept in touch via email and let us know the status of the car until one day, about three weeks later, he said it was finally available.
This was in 2009 and the car, a 2004 model, had just 24,000 miles on it. The back seats had never even been sat in. The car was an absolute diamond, but still priced just outside our range. Not willing to overextend ourselves, we offered a price we were comfortable with and the dealership accepted. There was never pressure, just a respectful business deal where our interests were listened to and our needs met. Plus, the dealership offers perks for buyers, such as free rides to the airport and complementary car washes, which we still take advantage of over three years and 40,000 miles later.
That’s the kind of experience that will keep customers coming back.
Which car brand have you had the best car dealer experience buying?