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By Craig Cole, Feb 06, 2015

Whether they deserve it or not, dealerships often have less-than-favorable reputations.

Historically both the crooked tactics and unsavory characters they’ve employed have led to fractured relationships between dealers and the customers they were supposed to serve.

Highlighting some of the nefarious things that can – and have – happened we published a story not long ago exploring some dealership horror stories.

But not all car buying experiences are negative. In the interest of fairness, we’ve decided to follow up with this post, one that aims to explore the positive side of dealership experiences. To see what really goes on in modern showrooms and to get some tips on how to find the right dealer, we reached out to two experts in the field. Curiously they’re located on opposite sides of the country.

Top-Tier Treatment

Joseph Wade, new car sales manager at Schaeffer BMW in Wilmington, North Carolina said the whole car-buying process is “about building a relationship with the customer.” Continuing he said, “It can’t all be about the transaction.”

“We try to become a concierge to our customers,” said Wade, a person who is there to answer any questions an owner may have and to help them in every way possible.

To ensure drivers are comfortable with their new BMWs Wade said the automaker has a special training course called the Encore Program. Basically customers are invited back to the showroom with their car. The vehicle gets detailed and a full tank of fuel while the owner receives special training to help understand the technology in their vehicle. Wade also mentioned this gives the salesperson another touch point with the buyer and allows them to really build a relationship.

After all, Wade said they’re responsible for how happy their buyers are because the automaker sends surveys out. “It’s a series of questions and BMW holds us accountable for a very high level of customer satisfaction.”

BMW is a top-tier luxury brand; their customers have high expectations. When asked if buyers can get superb treatment from dealers selling more mainstream brands Wade said, “It is absolutely not out of the realm of possibility.”

No. 1 in the World

Moving to the America’s opposite coastline, Terry Miller is the general manager of Galpin Ford in Los Angeles, California. They’ve been the No. 1 blue-oval store in the world for the last quarter century. In order to remain so dominant they’re clearly doing something right, and have been for decades.

“At Galpin we love cars … we love doing what we do,” said Miller. “I wake up every morning loving to come to work [even] after 28 years.” We should all be so lucky, to as thoroughly enjoy what we do for a living as he does. His enthusiasm, which was apparent during my telephone interview with him, is part of how they keep people coming back for more.

Miller said this attitude “creates a lot of that loyalty” and accordingly they often deal with generations of customers, as repeat buyers come back for another Ford and word of mouth brings new folks in the door. “Our reputation has a lot to do with our success,” he said.

Undoubtedly a friendly staff is key, one that listens to potential buyers and doesn’t pressure them. “Everybody’s mindset is, we want to take care of the customer,” said Miller. When asked about shady transactions or other underhanded activities that dealerships are sometimes known for he said, “We don’t put up with anything like that.” He also said, “Trust is the key,” and it’s something they aim to build with every buyer.

“My father was in the car business back in the ‘50s and ‘60s; the business was a lot different,” said Miller. “I don’t think back then they had the same mindset,” and that could be a big reason dealers have such sullied reputations, even today.

Secret Sauce, Clandestine Condiments

“A car purchase is a lot of money regardless of the economic standing of the customer. If it’s $15,000 or half a million, it’s a lot of money,” said Wade. “It’s an emotional purchase, too,” he said, and every buyer deserves to feel good about what they’ve bought.

It’s not easy delivering the best customer experience possible. Having a well-trained staff is critical. Wade said, “It comes down to the quality of the people the dealership hires. And that’s true of every industry.”

Selling cars is stressful and challenging, which Wade said results in a lot of turnover. “The salespeople get caught in the middle … [it’s] not for everyone.” They’re trapped between management that needs to sell as many cars as possible as profitably as they can and customers that want to pay as little as they can get away with. “It’s a very high-stress business.”

Employee turnover in the car-sales world can be high but it’s not an issue at Galpin. Miller for example has been there nearly three decades. “We have tenure here at the dealership,” he said and consequently turnover is “very, very low.” Encouraging people to stay, “We promote all of our employees from within.” It’s probably safe to assume happy employees lead to happy customers.

Steering Clear of Trouble

So how can you – the car-buying public – avoid getting “knocked over the head” by a devious dealer? Wade offered some sound advice. “One obvious way is to check out the reviews online,” but he cautioned you shouldn’t just read the first two or three comments because most people won’t go on a review site unless they’re disappointed, which can skew the results.

After this Wade said the best thing to do is visit a dealership you’re considering. Look around, see how it’s run and take note of how the staff acts. He said customers can pick up on tension if any is present.

Wade also suggests you, “Talk to people that are already doing business [with the dealership],” he said. “Maybe even talk to a customer that’s waiting in service.” These people are generally having a bad day, inconvenienced by vehicle issues or maintenance. However, if they’re happy with the way the dealer’s treated them, then it could be a store worth shopping at.

Additionally it can be prudent to chat with the sales manager or even general manager of a dealership. Wade said, “Do your research in person just as diligently as you’d do research online.”

Of course finishing your homework is no guarantee of a perfect experience. If you do end up with a salesperson you don’t like it’s ok to break things off, though Wade said, “That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to go to a different dealership.” Chances are they can easily find you another sales rep to work with.

Situations like these are “not common,” said Wade, noting that it happens very rarely at their store. “But industry-wide I don’t think it happens enough.” He said a lot of salespeople think they can handle any customer or situation but, “It’s simply not true.”

Proven Results

At Galpin the product of their customer-focused mentality is strong sales and repeat business. “We are above the national average as far as customer satisfaction [is concerned],” said Miller.

Because of its success they can do things other stores are unable to. “Most dealers can’t deliver the kind of service to the customer [that we can],” Miller said, though he made it clear he did not want to boast about this. “I really feel uncomfortable; I don’t want to say anything negative about other dealers,” though he did say that Galpin simply does it better.

Likewise Wade said, “We try to make it an experience.” If you treat people right, “You get a customer for life … [and] that’s huge.”

What Really Goes On at Dealerships Part II » AutoGuide.com News
 

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Sadly, this is complete BS. No dealer is in the business for customer service. They don't care if the customer is happy. Of course its part of the selling experience, and they try to go over the top to take that negativity everyone has about the car industry away.. Sadly, though, they only care about how many units they have sold, and how much did they make on the front and back end. All this BS this guy from Galpin is spitting out is bogus. Every single dealership will tell you the same thing... Customer Service is the most important thing to us..... Lies.

The thing about car dealerships and salesmen/women is, they only care about how much money they are making that day. If they are not making more than the flat on your deal, you're as good as dead to them. Its funny, the people who haggle and get the best deal, are always the most unhappy. That's because the dealership made next to nothing on the deal, and just want the customer to leave so they can move on to the next customer. That kind of customer is always around the longest and those deals always last the longest... also FYI, car guys and girls, typically are not smart. Every single one of them goes into a deal with their lips loaded by someone who has more experience then them. Salesmen/women get it from the desk, the desk gets it from the GM if the store has a GM, and the GM and/or desk gets its from the Dealer. People should approach car buying, like they approach criminals. They don't want whats best for you.... ever.
 

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Sadly, this is complete BS. No dealer is in the business for customer service. They don't care if the customer is happy. Of course its part of the selling experience, and they try to go over the top to take that negativity everyone has about the car industry away.. Sadly, though, they only care about how many units they have sold, and how much did they make on the front and back end. All this BS this guy from Galpin is spitting out is bogus. Every single dealership will tell you the same thing... Customer Service is the most important thing to us..... Lies.

The thing about car dealerships and salesmen/women is, they only care about how much money they are making that day. If they are not making more than the flat on your deal, you're as good as dead to them. Its funny, the people who haggle and get the best deal, are always the most unhappy. That's because the dealership made next to nothing on the deal, and just want the customer to leave so they can move on to the next customer. That kind of customer is always around the longest and those deals always last the longest... also FYI, car guys and girls, typically are not smart. Every single one of them goes into a deal with their lips loaded by someone who has more experience then them. Salesmen/women get it from the desk, the desk gets it from the GM if the store has a GM, and the GM and/or desk gets its from the Dealer. People should approach car buying, like they approach criminals. They don't want whats best for you.... ever.
We are in the business of customer service. We've been a Ford dealer since 1930 and have never showed a huge profit. Generally we break even. In fact, right now we are riddled down with debt from the recession. We have perfect customer service scores and reviews. We NEVER meet Fords ridiculous sales goals for us because we would rather sell less and have happier customers than blow everything out as quick as we can.

We spend 8 hours prepping every new car. Every car sale goes through the owner. We have 6 employees including techs. There are some others like us out there.
 

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We are in the business of customer service. We've been a Ford dealer since 1930 and have never showed a huge profit. Generally we break even. In fact, right now we are riddled down with debt from the recession. We have perfect customer service scores and reviews. We NEVER meet Fords ridiculous sales goals for us because we would rather sell less and have happier customers than blow everything out as quick as we can.

We spend 8 hours prepping every new car. Every car sale goes through the owner. We have 6 employees including techs. There are some others like us out there.

No dealer, i don't care how many times they say it, care about customer service. yes its important for return business, but they care more about moving units. They incorporate customer service into the deal, so when FnI drop that bomb shell of a monthly payment on someone with a 620 beacon, its easier to swallow. The whole, "we only care about making you happy" malarkey is the used car salesman in them selling themselves. No one becomes a Dealer to go into debt. How many units does your dealership move. With 6 employees total, I can't see you moving more than 20 cars a month. Ford ridiculous sales goals? They're goals are the most modest I've in the industry. The Standalone store i worked at, even through the recession, outsold the goals Ford gave us. Why does it take 8 hours to PDI a car? At the stand alone store the Dealer touched every deal as well, and they moved 300+ new and used units a month. Also the service department that was grossing 180k a month was watch closely by the dealer, and the parts department, oh and the body shop. Mind you, he is also the Chairman of the Board for all South Florida Ford Stores, and his store has over 100 employees. Reviews and scores are coached by the salesman, only reason you have scores when compared to a large volume dealer is because its easier to put our a campfire, as opposed to a brush fire.

Only reason the franchise is still around is because its been in operation since 1930 and Ford likes dealers that stuck by their side. Ford believes in helping the little dealer, that's why each dealership looks different. The store is run by the Dealer/GM, and not corporate. They don't care about furniture, or color schemes, or crap like that. They have very loose control over the dealers.
 

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No dealer, i don't care how many times they say it, care about customer service. yes its important for return business, but they care more about moving units. They incorporate customer service into the deal, so when FnI drop that bomb shell of a monthly payment on someone with a 620 beacon, its easier to swallow. The whole, "we only care about making you happy" malarkey is the used car salesman in them selling themselves. No one becomes a Dealer to go into debt. How many units does your dealership move. With 6 employees total, I can't see you moving more than 20 cars a month. Ford ridiculous sales goals? They're goals are the most modest I've in the industry. The Standalone store i worked at, even through the recession, outsold the goals Ford gave us. Why does it take 8 hours to PDI a car? At the stand alone store the Dealer touched every deal as well, and they moved 300+ new and used units a month. Also the service department that was grossing 180k a month was watch closely by the dealer, and the parts department, oh and the body shop. Mind you, he is also the Chairman of the Board for all South Florida Ford Stores, and his store has over 100 employees. Reviews and scores are coached by the salesman, only reason you have scores when compared to a large volume dealer is because its easier to put our a campfire, as opposed to a brush fire.

Only reason the franchise is still around is because its been in operation since 1930 and Ford likes dealers that stuck by their side. Ford believes in helping the little dealer, that's why each dealership looks different. The store is run by the Dealer/GM, and not corporate. They don't care about furniture, or color schemes, or crap like that. They have very loose control over the dealers.
you are incorrect sir. i don't care how many units I sell. I'd rather sell 20 cars a year to happy customers than 150 that I just blew out the door. please do not tell me why I am in business or what I care about when I serve my customers.
 

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you are incorrect sir. i don't care how many units I sell. I'd rather sell 20 cars a year to happy customers than 150 that I just blew out the door. please do not tell me why I am in business or what I care about when I serve my customers.
You rather starve your family then sell units? Lol ok, you are in the minority when it comes to dealerships. Again, the act you have only 6 employees speaks volumes as to why you care more about happy customers instead of selling cars. Maybe because you don't have the traffic?
 

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You rather starve your family then sell units? Lol ok, you are in the minority when it comes to dealerships. Again, the act you have only 6 employees speaks volumes as to why you care more about happy customers instead of selling cars. Maybe because you don't have the traffic?
im not going to argue with a troll on how i conduct business on a site thats here for the RS.
 

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Hey lolms3, although you have your mind made up (on no facts that I see, BTW...), Jon's dealership is what he says it is. I've purchased three cars from them in the past couple of years, and it's a lot different (and better) experience than most that I've had.

Be sure to know your facts before you post. Otherwise, it's just typical social media claptrap.
 

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how much do you see yourself marking the RS over msrp??? 5k?
 

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how much do you see yourself marking the RS over msrp??? 5k?
$0. We've never done an ADM. Not even on our 2005 GT. And we might not even have one to sell depending on how they do allocation. I am trading my ST for the first one so if we only get one then I won't have to worry about it anyways.
 

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$0. We've never done an ADM. Not even on our 2005 GT. And we might not even have one to sell depending on how they do allocation. I am trading my ST for the first one so if we only get one then I won't have to worry about it anyways.
Would you give up your RS to a customer for better customer service? :p
 

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Would you give up your RS to a customer for better customer service? :p
I realize you're prolly being sarcastic, but if it was a good customer who really wanted an RS, probably. I've already given up the GT350 my father and I were going to hold onto to track. And in the past we gave up our first 5 05 Mustang allocations and several others over the years. I am hoping that the RS won't be as limited so I won't have to worry about it.
 

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I realize you're prolly being sarcastic, but if it was a good customer who really wanted an RS, probably. I've already given up the GT350 my father and I were going to hold onto to track. And in the past we gave up our first 5 05 Mustang allocations and several others over the years. I am hoping that the RS won't be as limited so I won't have to worry about it.
Where are you again? I might fly over and buy from you ;)

To add to this thread, I'm actually one of those Galpin customers. Purchased my ST and first Ford from there, had a great experience with an internet sales rep who literally (I'm seriously not kidding) called me every other day and left me a message for two weeks AFTER I had purchased the car just to make sure everything was ok and going well. I've purchased many cars before and have never had such service. I've also done both TSBs at Galpin and they were both very aware and eager to take care of my issues with no questions asked. They did overcharge me A LITTLE I feel on the break job I just had to do and charged me $420 for all 4 pad replacements and rotors machining but hey, my car feels great and their professionalism is worth the extra buck. I vouch for Galpin but if they try to screw me on the RS I'm looking to you jonb!
 

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Sadly, this is complete BS. No dealer is in the business for customer service. They don't care if the customer is happy. Of course its part of the selling experience, and they try to go over the top to take that negativity everyone has about the car industry away.. Sadly, though, they only care about how many units they have sold, and how much did they make on the front and back end. All this BS this guy from Galpin is spitting out is bogus. Every single dealership will tell you the same thing... Customer Service is the most important thing to us..... Lies.

The thing about car dealerships and salesmen/women is, they only care about how much money they are making that day. If they are not making more than the flat on your deal, you're as good as dead to them. Its funny, the people who haggle and get the best deal, are always the most unhappy. That's because the dealership made next to nothing on the deal, and just want the customer to leave so they can move on to the next customer. That kind of customer is always around the longest and those deals always last the longest... also FYI, car guys and girls, typically are not smart. Every single one of them goes into a deal with their lips loaded by someone who has more experience then them. Salesmen/women get it from the desk, the desk gets it from the GM if the store has a GM, and the GM and/or desk gets its from the Dealer. People should approach car buying, like they approach criminals. They don't want whats best for you.... ever.
My dealership has made itself in customer service. We send people to Disney institute to mimic how they do things and the incorporate them into the dealer. We have had great success with this and because of us it is now required for all the dealer owners to attend the class for General Motors. We often write off 4 figure bills just to keep people happy even if they are wrong. We are not the cheapest dealer around by any means but we are always over capacity, people come back for the service we give them, and many dealers are adopting our model to apply to thiers.
 

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My dealership has made itself in customer service. We send people to Disney institute to mimic how they do things and the incorporate them into the dealer. We have had great success with this and because of us it is now required for all the dealer owners to attend the class for General Motors. We often write off 4 figure bills just to keep people happy even if they are wrong. We are not the cheapest dealer around by any means but we are always over capacity, people come back for the service we give them, and many dealers are adopting our model to apply to thiers.
Yea, GM has a very strict agenda when it comes to there Dealers. We are in the process of moving our Chevy store in between our Mazda/Volvo/Hyundai Dealer and Cadillac store. The list of demands are so crazy, some borderline crazy. I was speaking more towards Ford Motor Company because they do not give strict guidelines for the dealer to follow. Its more of a "if you want, you can" list.
 

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im not going to argue with a troll on how i conduct business on a site thats here for the RS.
Troll? Lol hardly a troll, just someone that knows the lies and bull**** dealers throw at customers. Im not saying YOU lie to your customers or treat them like crap, but at the end of the day, if you can't pay bills, you wont be able to make the customer happy. I couldn't careless about how you run your business, or what you do with your dealership.. but from my experience of talking to dealers at the Dealers Meeting in Detroit, the general vibe of Ford Motor Company dealerships are units sold, gross per vehicle, gross in service. Thats not to say customer service isn't important or necessary. But the fact remains, money is the #1, #2, #3 reason dealers open a dealership.

Hey lolms3, although you have your mind made up (on no facts that I see, BTW...), Jon's dealership is what he says it is. I've purchased three cars from them in the past couple of years, and it's a lot different (and better) experience than most that I've had.

Be sure to know your facts before you post. Otherwise, it's just typical social media claptrap.
My facts are from direction conversations with Dealers. A dealership is never how it seems. My autogroup that sells over 1000 cars a month has a much better sales experience and after sales experience then most smaller stand alone lots.

I know my facts, since im on the inside. Not a customer like yourself.
 

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Troll? Lol hardly a troll, just someone that knows the lies and bull**** dealers throw at customers. Im not saying YOU lie to your customers or treat them like crap, but at the end of the day, if you can't pay bills, you wont be able to make the customer happy. I couldn't careless about how you run your business, or what you do with your dealership.. but from my experience of talking to dealers at the Dealers Meeting in Detroit, the general vibe of Ford Motor Company dealerships are units sold, gross per vehicle, gross in service. Thats not to say customer service isn't important or necessary. But the fact remains, money is the #1, #2, #3 reason dealers open a dealership.



My facts are from direction conversations with Dealers. A dealership is never how it seems. My autogroup that sells over 1000 cars a month has a much better sales experience and after sales experience then most smaller stand alone lots.

I know my facts, since im on the inside. Not a customer like yourself.
the truth comes out ha. again, please don't tell me how i run my business. and i struggle to pay bills almost every day.
 

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Well, I'm hoping I found a decent dealer. Spoke with several people and they were most recommended, even though not the closest. I'm also hoping for no dealer mark up, but that may be part of a deal I'm working for them.
 

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I'd stop arguing with lolms3.

He probably has horrible credit, thinks he gets shafted because it's always our fault his credit is bad, and lastly has made every concerted effort to steal from a dealership every single vehicle he has bought.




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