Are you a happy dealer?

  08 September 2014

Regular readers will know: we really like the NFDA Dealer Attitude Survey. Twice a year it gives a snapshot of relations in the auto retail industry and a sense of which National Sales Companies are genuinely working with their franchise partners – and which are not.

There’s a wealth of detail in the survey which helps identify the pinch-points but, ultimately, it all comes down to one metric: is this franchise worth having. Top of the chart at the moment is Land Rover, bottom is Honda.

Manufacturers who do badly tend to rubbish the results and, of course, the scores can be skewed by a few unhappy (or recently terminated) dealerships. But the rankings tend to be pretty consistent and, more importantly,  correlate closely with customer satisfaction scores.

There’s an interesting debate to be had around whether happy retailers sell more cars (industry guru, Trevor Jones of ASE, has some data which suggests they do). But equally important is whether happy retailers have happy customers.

You can check out the various motoring magazine surveys but we prefer the more independent Institute for Customer Satisfaction, which, like the NFDA, reports twice a year. It says automotive customer satisfaction has dropped back in the past six months, just as retailer/manufacturer relationships have worsened.

Brands such as Mercedes-Benz, Kia, Mini and BMW – which consistently score well in NFDA surveys – also sit high in the Institute’s charts while Fiat, Volvo, Renault, Peugeot are regular poor performers in both.

Of course it doesn’t work in every case. You have to ignore ‘the Skoda effect’, under which owners are consistently happy with their lot. And Honda also scores well, but is dropping points.

But it’s close enough to convince us – and proves the Dealer Attitude Survey is more than just a paper exercise; whatever some manufacturers make think.

You can read a full analysis of both surveys in the upcoming issue of Auto Retail Bulletin; click HERE for a trial copy if you’re not already a subscriber.

Rupert Saunders

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