Dealer Digest

September 6, 2011

Comfortable waiting rooms win points

Dropping off their cars for service, then returning and waiting to pick them up, can be major frustrations for busy customers. Most would rather not interrupt their daily routines with a detour to your dealership. How can you minimize any frustration they may feel? Offer high quality service and competitive pricing, of course — but also take a look at your waiting room.

A comfortable, inviting waiting room can help leave customers with a positive impression of your business. A waiting room should offer plenty of seating, reading material geared toward both male and female customers, drinks (coffee, tea and soda), and possibly a play area for customers’ children.

Providing a clean, welcoming waiting room can raise your customer satisfaction rating, ultimately leading to repeat business and increased revenues. With all else being equal, your waiting room could mean the difference between the customer choosing your dealership or choosing one of your competitors.

Market research is great — but get to know your customers

Understanding customers’ wants and needs through market research is important to any business. But it shouldn’t replace one-on-one conversations with customers to find out their individual preferences.
For instance, a good deal of recent market research has centered around learning which vehicle fea-tures female customers find most necessary. The findings? Women generally found safety the most important feature. So, to sell more cars to women, manufacturers are developing advertising campaigns stressing safety.

It’s great to take note of these kinds of research findings. Of course, good old salesmanship is still in order. Salespeople should ask each customer what he or she is looking for. A particular woman, for instance, might value safety but be particularly interested in gas mileage. After learning the customer’s actual preferences, the salesperson can guide him or her toward vehicles that can best meet them.

Getting to know customers’ needs through both market research and discussion will help your salespeople develop solid relationships with customers. And that’s the best way to boost the bottom line.

Increase revenue by keeping quality employees

Nothing is more valuable to your dealership than good employees. Keeping valuable staff members is critical, because they acquire a customer base that will continue to return to your dealership. If you earn their loyalty, you’ll prevent them from going to competitors and possibly taking their customers with them.

The way to an employee’s heart is partly through a competitive salary, but offering additional benefits can mean the difference between the employee staying or jumping ship. Some benefits employees find attractive are paid vacation time and sick time, a strong medical package, a 401(k) plan with an employer matching contribution, and life insurance.

Education reimbursement related to job experience also is beneficial, because it can help employees improve their skills and share the knowledge with others at your dealership. Offering some of these benefits to your staff can help you retain them, and at the same time increase your revenue.

Frankeberger Vausher + Company, CPAs… is a full service CPA firm whose partners have collectively served the dealership industry for over 35 years. We provide a full compendium of professional services including traditional taxation and financial statement preparation as well as strategic consulting for dealers in such areas as: Financial and Operating Controls, all activities for Buy/Sell transactions, valuation requirements, estate planning assistance as well as being Expert Witnesses in Litigation Matters. In addition, we provide expertise in Forensic, Fraud and Embezzlement situations as that need may unfortunately arise.

Please contact Dennis Frankeberger at 909-597-1100 to discuss this article or any other dealership issue that may be of interest to you. Email address dennisf@FVCPAS.com

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