Must shout louder

I’ve been car buying (again) and there is one overwhelming point that I feel the need to jump up and down about. As franchised retailers, you don’t do enough to promote your strengths.

Because of the age of the car I wanted, it was never going to feature in an approved used scheme. That meant I was fishing mostly in the small independent pool of used car independents. My experiences were not good.

One independent outright lied to me about the condition of the car and caused me a wasted Saturday afternoon. It definitely did not have a full service history and definitely was not “working as it should” - unless you call an illuminated engine warning light and a slipping fan belt as “working as it should”.

But it’s not just the retail experience that sets franchised retailers apart from independents.

My freshly bought car needed a service and, wanting to maintain the service history, I went ‘franchised’. From the moment of the initial booking phone call I was treated incredibly well.

Knowing I was going to a dedicated service centre on an industrial estate meant I was expecting a large corrugated shed with a small office and a couple of hard plastic chairs that wouldn’t have looked out of place at my kid’s school.

What I got was in a corrugated shed but the service reception was more like a showroom - with fewer cars and more carpet. It was warm and inviting, had free coffee and decent wifi, and, if I hadn’t brought my own laptop, I could have used a dedicated customer PC.

If this sounds familiar, like nothing new or special, then you’re half way to getting my point. It may not seem out of the ordinary to a franchised retailer, but to a car owner it makes them feel special and well worth any perceived additional cost. And that’s before you even get to the fact the technicians would be far better trained and skilled than at an independent.

At the end of the week I was left with an overwhelming sense that, as an industry and as individuals, we don’t shout loud enough about the things we do best.
That’s the way you’ll win business from the independents.

Tristan Young
Editorial Director
Auto Retail Network

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