I finally did it. I bought my first less-than-5-years-old, financed car last week! So now that I’ve gone through the entire shopping, buying and F&I experience, I’ll probably be writing about the process for the next few months, but the first topic I want to address is dealership reputation.
As I started telling people about my car, of course one of the first questions that came up was which dealership I used. I happened to find my pre-owned non-luxury vehicle from a luxury-brand franchise dealership in the area that has a reputation of being elite and serving its customers well. The dealership has an impressive 180,000-square-foot facility, is the largest dealership of its franchise in its five-state region, is the Midwest’s largest Certified Pre-Owned dealership for its brand and is the No. 1 pre-owned luxury retailer in its dealership group.
But those who I talked to had never even bought a vehicle there. Instead, two of my brothers-in-law and my husband knew of their reputation from towing vehicles there. And others had just heard about the dealership through the grapevine (and of course you can easily spot the multi-story dealership from the freeway).
All these conversations got me thinking about reputation. Locally, this dealership is known for being elite, expansive and providing excellent customer service. In your area, that might be what you’re shooting for as well.
But that reputation doesn’t fit for everyone. Maybe you’re known as the dealership that goes above and beyond for its customers; maybe you offer more demo ride opportunities than anyone else; maybe you have the coolest events around, or maybe your service department is known for its impeccable attention to detail. The list goes on and on.
Then again, on the flip side, your dealership might be known as the one where no one responds to emails or answers phone calls, or the one where the employees seem to hate their jobs, or the one where service doesn’t take good care of customers’ bikes.
Do you know what your reputation is? It might be hard to discover, but there are some steps you can take. Google your dealership name, check Google and Yelp reviews and any other review sites and have your friends ask their friends. If your reputation is what you’re aiming for (or better), congrats! But if your reputation is negative, work immediately to remedy it. Figure out what you want people to say about your dealership, and deliver on that promise.
We all know word of mouth is everything in this business, so make sure you know what locals are hearing about your dealership. Work hard to shape your reputation into something positive, or consumers will soon be turning away from you and toward your competitors.
Liz Keener is the managing editor of Powersports Business, a trade magazine for the powersports industry. She reports on the powersports industry through Powersports Business’ varied media, including in the magazine and online. She assembles the brand’s three-times-a-week e-news and handles a variety of assignments for the magazine. Powersports Business is known for its exclusive national dealer surveys, in-depth industry analysis, Power 50 dealership honors program and dealership conference, Powersports Business Institute @ AIMExpo.