I’m not going to be bold and say the customer is always right. Frankly, they are not always right however, without them you have no business. Let’s rephrase that and say the customer is important. We could even say the customer is critical and be correct. What I find amazing is how little interaction there is between management and staff in exactly how the customer should be treated. They’ve been given expected hours to be on site and employee numbers. They know how long their lunch is and the chain of command. How well is your staff trained to deal with an upset customer? How many policies does your dealership have in place that upset customers? How many policies does the manufacturer have that don’t properly care for the customer causing extreme frustration?

An example I will share today is one manufacturer issued a special policy because some of their engines are using large amounts of oil. They also believe the customer doesn’t need oil changes until the light comes on around 10,000 miles of driving. If a customer waits for the car to recommend their oil change real damage can occur as they run out of oil. In many cases, the engine might just be out of warranty letting the customer experience unnecessary expense. Would the customer be wrong to be upset if an advisor stated it was their fault they don’t check oil levels between service intervals?

I believe best practice is to check oil levels before performing the oil change service. This would identify engines that are using excessive amounts of oil and also protect the customer from poor engineering that will lead to engine failure. I’ve heard maintenance should only be recommended by the factory and performed when suggested by them. Fact is I change my vehicles oil every 5000 miles and am totally confident my engine benefits from this care. Those dealers that are so concerned about their customers, that they would add the extra time to check the level of their engine oil before they change it are the dealerships that will retain customers.

I challenge everyone to constantly evaluate how you can maximize the customer experience. Leave no stone unturned in your quest to totally care for the customer. Do you have a vending machine demanding the customer pay for a snack while they are spending money at your dealership? Or do you understand providing them a variety of fresh treats while they are waiting illustrates how much you care about them? Provide at your dealership a culture of best practices that illustrate the importance of your most valuable asset. Your customer.

Rob Gehring, President
Fixed Performance Inc.
Cell: (419) 282-1351
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