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Image compliance is required, customers liking your facility is optional

  • 02/27/2018
  • The Weekly Spiff!
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By Marilou C. Vroman, CPA, CFE

Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting hundreds of dealerships, both as a consultant and a client.  It seems image compliance has become a central point for dealers to ensure uniformity in brand presentation, recognition by customers, and at times, to earn incentives from the manufacturers.  While compliance is important, and most often required, how much of that capital investment will yield a direct benefit to your customers?

Interestingly, I find dealers spend millions of dollars to comply but some of the greatest returns on investment come from the smallest of dealership expenditures.  For example, let’s discuss coffee.  We are all familiar with Starbucks, which centers its business around providing coffee and a comfortable and pleasant place for its customers to willingly spend time working, meeting acquaintances, or just relaxing.  In contrast, we’ve all had it, the dealership coffee which tastes as though it should be dispensed in bulk quantities by the parts department as part of a LOF.

If your intent is to bring clients into the dealership and for them to want to stay there while negotiating a sale or waiting for a vehicle in service (keeping loaner and rental fees down and upsell opportunities up, I might add), wouldn’t it make sense to offer high quality coffee and beverages, a pleasant and comfortable environment to sit and relax or do work?

In another example, what is the condition of your client facing restrooms? We have clients whose restrooms could be that of a five-star restaurant or hotel.  Meticulously maintained, clean, art work on the walls, fresh flowers, and well stocked.  We’ve seen the contrary, and will spare you the specifics.   These are little details which are relatively inexpensive to maintain, yet make a big impact on client experience and their perception of your business.

Make it a point to invest a little extra in your clients’ “creature comforts” and they just may spend more time, and money, while they are there.

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