It's time for a new car, what do you do? Chances are you do a lot of research online, then you take a deep breath... and ask your friends and family for a direct recommendation of where to go.
The truth is you can do a lot of browsing and building online and what you've got is a virtual car. That may work for Second Life; in this life, the only place when you can actually buy a real car is through a dealer. Now let's go for a raise of hands -- who loves to visit auto dealers?
This is how I started a BrandingWire post on kicking the tires on the U.S. Auto Dealership five years ago. Operationally, the issues of the franchise distribution system, where the cars are sold, are still quite complex.
Buying a car is still quite a challenge.
When asked, would you rather give up your car or your phone? Millennials walked away from car ownership -- note with one exception they all answer they would choose to keep the cell phone.
A comment from an industry insider about the dealership model five years ago still rings true (emphasis mine):
Service depts need to become more responsible about how repairs are handled and billed, and finance - don't get me started on finance. Change the commission structure, create openness in pricing, and purge the sales floor of the fast-talking shysters who will say anything to make a sale.
Customer Service needs to be the watchword, respecting them, caring for them, providing them with a quality product up front, and then remarkable service after the sale. Brand-building will come organically to the dealership that takes this philosophy to heart.
Truth be told, I kept my Toyota Camry all these years because of the exceptional service team at my dealer. The car does dent quite easily, is too light on the road on a windy day, and is entirely too long to negotiate the tight corners of the airport garage.
Consumer Reports continues to put Toyota among the top three auto makers it rates based upon the predicted reliability scores from their latest Annual Auto Survey, which drew 1.3 million responses from subscribers. Service was among the top categories.
Several times in the last couple of years I thought about looking for a new car. It's a very time consuming affair -- doing the research, especially, given the fragmented market and the gap between car markers Web sites and local auto dealers.
I'd love to put the specs for the vehicle I want up for bid by car makers/dealers and solicit comments and ratings by peers.
Of course, I have all this information scattered through email and in person conversations. But the car makers are not included, and so aren't the service desks of local dealers. That's quite a large data gap and it impacts my ability to make a good decision.
Ideally, one would not need to use service too often, aside for regular maintenance, but once you need to, you really do want to work with a team (and potentially digital experience) that puts you, the owner, at the center.
By the way, you want to buy your car insurance in the same way. By going with a reputable company that stands behind its products -- or you will be very sorry when the time comes to file a claim.
That, and my taste seems to be at odds with what is currently being produced for the U.S. market where you have large family vehicles, small cars and bland sedans that seem to be all manufactured in the same plant and with the same parts on one hand, and over priced "luxury" cars on the other.
With no aesthetically appealing choice in the middle for authentic, pragmatic, heel-wearing women who like to drive stick shift.
Valeria is an experienced listener. She is also frequent speaker at conferences and company events on a variety of topics. To book her for a speaking engagement click here.