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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Pied Piper just published its 2019 Prospect Satisfaction Study, which basically ranks each auto brand dealers’ responsiveness to online leads. Pied Piper is a well-respected, independent mystery shopping organization with a long track for solid work.

For clarification, unlike JD Power studies which surveys individual customers, this data is collected by Pied Piper hired, trained and paid staff posing as “mystery shoppers”.

Nevertheless, FCA brands, including Alfa Romeo, are huddled at the bottom of the rankings, a pattern we typically see in customer-based data, or pretty much any non-financial metrics.

If I were a prospective automotive partner looking to merge with FCA, I’d look at all these customer-based metrics as much as financial and sales data. The pattern that emerges is pretty clear.

Here’s a link to the PR on BusinessWire: BMW Auto Dealers Ranked #1 for Responding to Website Customers Reports Pied Piper PSI®
 

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I'm not sure what FCA can do to get its dealers to respond to internet sales leads. To me it's more on the dealers to do better. It is interesting to me that besides Cadillac, none of the American Brands (GM/Ford/FCA) did very well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It may be something as simple as establishing clear processes and training dealer staff consistently.

Toyota takes training very seriously. Although Toyota dealers are not particularly known for their high customer satisfaction, they manage to stay above industry average. Dealers themselves normally rank the Toyota franchise high for (1) allowing them to make money, (2) clear processes and consistent training.

Clarity of processes and training consistency alone go a long way towards helping a franchise stay above industry average.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
BTW, NADA just published its semi-annual Dealer Attitude Survey results:
Lexus keeps No. 1 rating on NADA report card

Lexus and Toyota rank No. 1 and 2. They have been perennial winners for 20+ years by (1) allowing dealers to make the most money, and (2) treating them like real business partners.

Happy dealers are more likely to align their goals with HQ, follow corporate processes and treat customers well.

The top 10 most-liked brands in NADA's winter 2019 Dealer Attitude Survey were largely unchanged from summer 2018.
  1. Lexus
  2. Toyota
  3. Subaru
  4. Honda
  5. Porsche
  6. Mercedes-Benz
  7. Audi
  8. Volvo
  9. Jeep
  10. Acura
Source: NADA
 
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Is it a coincidence that FCA brands tend to score low on almost anything to do with customers and dealer service?

.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Is it a coincidence that FCA brands tend to score low on almost anything to do with customers and dealer service?

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No such thing as “coincidence”, I am afraid.

As I’ve been saying for years: while Marchionne paid inordinate attention to plant utilization, margins and other financial information, he had a huge blind spot for customer satisfaction, customer retention and every other customer-based metric.

Whether he didn’t understand them or he simply dismissed them, it continues to show an inward focus at FCA with long-lasting consequences.

Hopefully Manley has a plan to straighten things out before it’s too late.
 

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I doubt Manley’s boss will be too concerned about this study or any other customer metric.:(
 

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2002 Ram 2500 Quad Cab 4x4 with Cummins. 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Altitude
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Until someone gets serious and dealers are weeded out for unsatisfactory dealer experiences nothing will ever change. The absolute best time to buy a Chrysler product has always been when one foot is in the grave. The worst time? Right before the foot enters the grave. We bought a brand new 1980 Ramcharger. In those days the dealers and the company would practically beg you to buy one. We ordered it and when it arrived it was immaculate. It was never back to the dealer. Bought another one in 82, same story. It was actually nicer because it had more options on it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Until someone gets serious and dealers are weeded out for unsatisfactory dealer experiences nothing will ever change. The absolute best time to buy a Chrysler product has always been when one foot is in the grave. The worst time? Right before the foot enters the grave. We bought a brand new 1980 Ramcharger. In those days the dealers and the company would practically beg you to buy one. We ordered it and when it arrived it was immaculate. It was never back to the dealer. Bought another one in 82, same story. It was actually nicer because it had more options on it.
True that. My 2008 Sahara and 2009 Rubicons were put together by bankrupt Chrysler better than my 2016 Scat Pack and 2018 Rubicon were put together by solvent FCA.

Of course my expectations also changed between the days Chrysler charged me $26,000 for a 2009 Rubicon vs FCA charging $50,000 for a 2018 Rubicon.
 

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True that. My 2008 Sahara and 2009 Rubicons were put together by bankrupt Chrysler better than my 2016 Scat Pack and 2018 Rubicon were put together by solvent FCA.

Of course my expectations changed between the days Chrysler charged me $26,000 for a 2009 Rubicon vs FCA charging me $50,000 for a 2018 Rubicon.
My 2008 Liberty had numerous issues in its first 40,000 that I always attributed to a bankrupt Chrysler.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
My 2008 Liberty had numerous issues in its first 40,000 that I always attributed to a bankrupt Chrysler.
But you still can’t compare it against a $45,000 2018 Liberty...because there’s no such thing.
 
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Figures don't lie, but liars can figure.
Note carefully the scale of the bargraph. Note that the longest bar, 62, is scaled *7 TIMES LONGER* than the lowest bar, 43. It should only be 1 1/2 times longer. But the scale starts at 40, so it wildly exaggerates the differences. This is deceptive and it's deliberate.
Always analyze the data carefully, especially how it's presented.
 

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I contacted three dealers by phone and one online for a price on a factory order for a 2019 Scat Pack Challenger Widebody. Only one responded with a price. They got the sale not only because they were the only ones to respond but they were also fair, quick, polite and easy to work with. Apparently the other three are doing so much business they didn't need my money.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I contacted three dealers by phone and one online for a price on a factory order for a 2019 Scat Pack Challenger Widebody. Only one responded with a price. They got the sale not only because they were the only ones to respond but they were also fair, quick, polite and easy to work with. Apparently the other three are doing so much business they didn't need my money.
Same thing with my Fiat 124 Spider purchase. The only dealer to respond was 125 miles away in Tacoma. The salesperson went out of his way to earn my business, even getting me the exact vehicle I wanted from one of the other Fiat dealers that didn’t bother to respond.

When I purchased my Tacoma truck, the only Toyota dealer in town responded like there was another Toyota dealer down the street.
 

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Is there a metric somewhere that compares daily website volume?
I would imagine a response to request ratio to be lower for a very high volume web site than a much lower volume one. I didn't scrutinize either report, but I did not see a reference to traffic stats for comparison or size of dealership, etc. Hard to tell if we're looking at true apples to apples comparisons.
I do recall either reading in an article or something said in a town hall that FCA was paying attention to such things. Something about number of hits on the web site, cars configured on the web site, dealership in person visits, and actual car sales. It is on their radar and they are monitoring that information. The intent is to increase the ratios all the way down from casual visit to purchase.
People like me are not helping those averages as I configure tons of cars just to satisfy my curiosity and get a feel for how much certain models cost equipped with the preferred options (generally in the range of about $8,000 in options).
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
Is there a metric somewhere that compares daily website volume?
I would imagine a response to request ratio to be lower for a very high volume web site than a much lower volume one. I didn't scrutinize either report, but I did not see a reference to traffic stats for comparison or size of dealership, etc. Hard to tell if we're looking at true apples to apples comparisons.
I do recall either reading in an article or something said in a town hall that FCA was paying attention to such things. Something about number of hits on the web site, cars configured on the web site, dealership in person visits, and actual car sales. It is on their radar and they are monitoring that information. The intent is to increase the ratios all the way down from casual visit to purchase.
People like me are not helping those averages as I configure tons of cars just to satisfy my curiosity and get a feel for how much certain models cost equipped with the preferred options (generally in the range of about $8,000 in options).
Yes there are metrics out there that keep track of website hits. I’m sure FCA collects hits to its own websites.

But keep in mind that Pied Piper is not blindly gathering website hits like Google, Cars.com or Edmunds do. Instead it purposely creates a controlled environment by sending each brand a set of standardized online requests and then measuring how many dealers respond, how long they take, etc. They even have well-established metrics developed for the greeting, understanding the customers needs, depth of information provided, etc. The goal being that every automaker gets measured by the same yardstick and is given the same chances.

I know for instance that German automakers keep track of how quickly dealers respond to customer inquiries, the tone of the responses, the content of the interactions, etc. The goal being to leave as little as possible open to chance.
 

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BMW, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Acura and MINI dealerships were the most likely to email an answer to the customer’s question within 24 hours, more than 55% of the time on average. In contrast, dealerships selling Ford, Genesis, Buick, Hyundai, GMC and Lincoln answered the customer’s question within 24 hours less than 30% of the time on average.

I would call that a significant difference and only one of the metrics being measured.
 

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But you still can’t compare it against a $45,000 2018 Liberty...because there’s no such thing.
If there were I would buy one.....sigh....my check engine light is on....sigh.....:(
 

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If there were I would buy one.....sigh....my check engine light is on....sigh.....:(
You can option a Cherokee up to $45,000...…...
 

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You can option a Cherokee up to $45,000...…...
Yup, you can for sure. And it’s a decent vehicle for sure too. I just don’t know if I’d ever want one for myself. And judging by how my local dealers act when I go in for service, I’m not sure I want to set foot in there either.
 
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