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Martin:

I think there is some truth to that. The sales reps I talk to who work for car dealers are not too happy to be identified with the system as it stands today. Some actually do want to do a good job for the customers.

There are some good dealers out there! The idea of customer service is foreign to too many dealers, though.

My motorcycles have come from "excellent", "okay" and "you're still in business?" dealers. But at least they didn't leave me to "think" about it...

Motorcycle dealers are having to learn how to sell to women, though. It's a different process than selling to guys: the sales effort is defined by talking to the customer. (There's a concept for you...)

Overall, I prefer the American/British system of (nominally, or maybe "supposedly") independent dealers to the factory-controlled dealers of Europe. The pub trade in Britain suffered with the loss of the independent publican; the choices were dictated by some anonymous "weenie" over in Head Office, and not by what the guy-with-a-stake-in-the-business thought.

So while the dealership is supposed to add costs (I'm not convinced it does), the fact that competition exists is good. If I don't like Dealer X, I'll go to Dealer Y.

To echo your example, Valeria: my Ducati dealer knows that if they don't provide superior service, I'll simply take the bike elsewhere. It's irrelevant to me if I have to go 35 miles or 135 miles; if the service warrants it, I'll drive that far. My Vespa dealer didn't understand that; they lost my business. (I took it to the other end of Delaware for a service, rather than go to my dealer, who was closer.)

But to make things better, American auto dealers need to understand the customer better. The factories need to be more responsive (they still act as if they control the market), and the dealers need to realize that they have to be more "people friendly" if they're going to win customers.

I have the distinct impression that auto dealers think in terms of "units sold", and not in terms of "customer satisfaction": that's something the factory claims to think about. It's an expensive purchase, and it should be addressed in that manner: not as if you're shopping for slightly more expensive Corn Flakes.

Besides offering cars that people actually want to buy, that change would help the American auto industry.

Carolyn Ann

It seems most of the BrandingWire pundits, including me, have a pretty negative perception of the auto dealership. Nice to know you've found a user-friendly one. But I'm pretty sure they suffer just by being an auto dealer. I'll bet they would rather be able to position their operation outside of the dealership category.

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