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Powersports Business Blog Harness anticipation to boost customer satisfaction and profitability

Powersports Business Blog
Harness anticipation to boost customer satisfaction and profitability

August 2012

Matt Appleman runs a very small custom bicycle shop in Minneapolis, specializing in hand-built carbon-fiber bicycle frames. Matt's business may be small, but he has adopted an important sales tool — anticipation — that you can apply at your dealership too.

Matt describes how he builds bicycles like this: “Upon approval of the design, the fun starts for me, and the anticipation begins for you! As the frame is being built, I'll keep you up to date with pictures of the framebuilding process …” There's that word, anticipation. He goes on to describe how in time the bike will be delivered to the new owner. You can bet also that when he sets a delivery date in the future he will stick to that schedule — under promising and over delivering.

Back to our question … How can we harness “anticipation,” and for that matter, Matt's successful process, at a motorcycle dealership?

First, recognize that a customer having to wait for delivery — for sales, service or parts — does not have to be a negative experience for the customer. In fact, ironicaly, waiting for something can make a customer enjoy it even more.

But a customer having to wait can also be a disaster. What's the difference?

Three important steps:

1. Set time expectations up front. Always under promise and over deliver.

2. Take the time to keep your customer updated while they are waiting. Give them interesting facts while they wait. Or even better, with today's easy-to-use smartphones, snap a photo of progress and email it to them.

3. Deliver on time. The only way anticipation continues to be a positive is if in the end the delivery is on time.

Your best customers are the ones who are loyal, repeat buyers. Grow more of them by throwing in a little anticipation.

» View PDF of Article (478.6 KB) PDF Document



NBC News Mercedes aims to oust BMW as top luxury brand

NBC News
Mercedes aims to oust BMW as top luxury brand

July 2012

It's one of the most bitter battles in the American automotive marketplace, and it pits two of Germany's luxury automakers in a grab for the brass ring. But this year, Mercedes-Benz is betting it can topple rival BMW to become the best-selling luxury automotive brand in the world's largest high-end market.

The maker has been staging a series of meetings with dealers across the country aimed at improving customer handling. Dealers, in turn, have spent about $1.5 billion to upgrade more than 90 percent of U.S. showrooms. The results appear to be paying off.

“Mercedes sets the benchmark,” said Fran O'Hagan, whose Pied Piper Prospective survey uses thousands of so-called “mystery shoppers” to measure how manufacturers are handling the sales and service process. Mercedes bested such stalwart competitors as BMW, Lexus and Audi in results released earlier this month.

And that's apparently helped it gain a leg up on BMW. It held a 2,000-unit lead over the Bavarian automaker for the first half of 2012 after narrowly losing the U.S. luxury sales crown in 2011. Anything can happen, especially if rivals BMW or Lexus ramp up incentives spending, Mercedes officials admit. But it's clear they are ready to pull out the big guns to grab the ring this time.

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The Detroit Bureau Mercedes Doing the Best to Close the Deal

The Detroit Bureau
Mercedes Doing the Best to Close the Deal

July 2012

Mercedes-Benz dealers are most likely to deliver customers the sort of shopping experience they want – and then close the deal, according to a new study.

Asian luxury dealers were close behind, along with Jaguar and Cadillac, according to the latest Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index which uses so-called “mystery shoppers” to measure the way potential car buyers are treated.

The study looks at 60 different sales activities, from the simple act of greeting a customer when they walk into the showroom to providing a test drive. Surprisingly, salespeople proved reluctant to take one of the most important steps of all, actually asking a prospect if they're ready to close the deal.

“The world has changed dramatically with the advent of the Internet,” said Pied Piper research chief Fran O'Hagan. Twenty years ago, the dealer was the gatekeeper, controlling every aspect of the car buying process. Today, however, “A customer can go to the showroom knowing as much as you want. So, the role of the salesperson has changed.”

And so has the balance of power. The best dealerships recognize and adapt to this shift, he explained, noting that the pace of change is so rapid – and the best brands have adapted so quickly – that a company that scored third in the Pied Piper study in 2008 would rank near the bottom in 2012 with the same score.

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Automotive News First Shift Secret shoppers pick Benz

Automotive News First Shift
Secret shoppers pick Benz

July 2012

Mercedes-Benz dealerships ranked highest in a study that looked how auto dealers treat customers.

Pied Piper's annual study sends thousands of secret shoppers to stores across the U.S. and measures how salespeople perform.



Powersports Business Blog Do today's motorcycles provide an opportunity to sell more extended warranties?

Powersports Business Blog
Do today's motorcycles provide an opportunity to sell more extended warranties?

July 2012

Stop and consider how much new technology is appearing on today's motorcycles. You know all about ABS brakes, maybe you have even ridden a motorcycle with traction control, but what about bikes with electronic suspension adjustment or a computer screen instead of separate instruments? Or ride by wire, or electronic quick-shift, or a plug-in GPS module to data-log laps around a racetrack? There are motorcycles for sale right now that offer all of that technology, and if the bikes you and your customers are riding today don't offer it, the bikes bought tomorrow will have it and more.

Regardless of whether or not we like all this new motorcycle technology, it is already here, and maybe we can use it to our advantage. Ask your techs how their work changes when repairing these high-tech bikes. They will tell you about plugging the motorcycles into expensive machines that communicate directly from dealership to factory over the Internet. They will tell you about replacing whole components rather than repairing them.

In the end, maybe these high-tech bikes will prove to be bullet-proof, but meanwhile who wants to be the first to find out how much repairs cost when these bikes are no longer under warranty? Also, could uncertainty over future repairs hurt resale prices? Instead, some dealerships are seizing the opportunity to sell many more extended warranties (often officially “service contracts”) to remove any fear of today's high technology turning into tomorrow's high repair bills.

» View PDF of Article (168.9 KB) PDF Document



Press Release: MERCEDES-BENZ DEALERS TOP RANKED BY 2012 PIED PIPER PROSPECT SATISFACTION INDEX(R) Treatment of car shoppers improves industry-wide; Highest industry average PSI score

Press Release: MERCEDES-BENZ DEALERS TOP RANKED BY 2012 PIED PIPER PROSPECT SATISFACTION INDEX(R)
Treatment of car shoppers improves industry-wide; Highest industry average PSI score

July 2012

MONTEREY, CALIFORNIA – July 9, 2012 –Mercedes-Benz dealerships ranked highest in the newly released 2012 Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index(R) (PSI(R)) U.S. Auto Industry Benchmarking Study, which measured dealership treatment of car-shoppers. Study rankings by brand were determined by the patent-pending Pied Piper PSI process, which ties “mystery shopping” measurement and scoring to industry sales success.

Acura, Infiniti and Lexus dealerships, the luxury brands from Honda, Nissan and Toyota respectively, finished in a tie for second. Overall auto industry performance improvement was widespread, with twenty-four of thirty-four auto brands improving PSI performance from 2011 to 2012. Industry-wide improvement led to a new highest recorded industry average PSI score of 105.

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Automotive News Mercedes has most effective sales process

Automotive News
Mercedes has most effective sales process

July 2012

Some vehicle brands that score high in customer satisfaction surveys do less well when the effectiveness of dealership salespeople is measured, according to a California consultant. Mystery shopping consultant Pied Piper of Monterey, Calif., sent 4,419 shoppers to dealerships nationwide, from July 2011 to June 2012, to measure salespeople's effectiveness in selling cars on the showroom floor.

Mercedes-Benz ranked first in the survey and led all brands in 10 of the 60 sales activities measured in Pied Piper's Prospect Satisfaction Index. For example, Mercedes led in salesperson introductions, offering a thorough test drive and focusing attention on important features. Mercedes was followed by Acura, Infiniti and Lexus.

Pied Piper said it looked at everything leading up to the purchase decision, starting from the first contact by the salesperson to the customer's decision to purchase or not. J.D. Power's Sales Satisfaction Index asks consumers for their impression of a dealership where they had recently purchased a vehicle.

» View PDF of Article (948.9 KB) PDF Document



Car Connection The Best Brands -- And The Worst -- For Shopping Experience

Car Connection
The Best Brands -- And The Worst -- For Shopping Experience

July 2012

There are a lot of ways to measure customer satisfaction. J.D. Power talks to recent buyers. Polk looks at sales stats and customer retention. But the folks at Pied Piper do it the old-fashioned way: with secret shoppers.

Between July 2011 and June 2012, Pied Piper hired 4,419 secret shoppers to visit dealerships across the U.S. The shoppers scored each sales pitch on 60 different criteria: were they offered a brochure? Were they given a walkaround demo of the vehicle? Did the salesperson discuss financing options? And so on.

Now, Pied Piper's data has been tallied, and the firm has released its 2012 Prospect Satisfaction Index (aka the "PSI"). Overall scores soared, proving that dealers and their teams have taken previous critiques to heart. Fran O'Hagan, Pied Piper's President and CEO, said that “This year's record high PSI results show that today's dealership employees work harder than ever to be helpful to car shoppers”.

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Media Post Marketing Mercedes-Benz Tops In Dealership Experience

Media Post Marketing
Mercedes-Benz Tops In Dealership Experience

July 2012

Mercedes-Benz is still topping out in the U.S. when it comes to how its dealers treat shoppers. The Montvale, N.J.-based automaker, which was in the top five of the J.D. Power & Associates dealership experience survey last year behind Lexus and Cadillac, takes the top position in the latest Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index (PSI).

The PSI is a mystery shopper-based study that the firm conducted between July last year and June this year, using 4,419 hired anonymous people to shop at dealerships. Mercedes has been number one in the study for the past four years, based on a process that ties mystery shopping measurement and scoring to industry sales success. Acura, Infiniti and Lexus dealerships tied for second.

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Forbes Car Brands With The Most Satisfied Shoppers

Forbes
Car Brands With The Most Satisfied Shoppers

July 2012

This is a good news/bad news, glass is half empty/half full type of situation. On the one hand, dealing with unscrupulous car dealers remains among the top consumer complaints, on the other hand a recent study reports that dealers are treating today's car shoppers better than ever on the showroom floor.

Especially if they're interested in buying a luxury-branded model.

Mercedes-Benz dealers can boast having the most satisfied shoppers in the auto industry according to the 2012 Prospect Satisfaction Index (PSI) U.S. Auto Industry Benchmarking Study conducted by Pied Piper Management Company in Monterey, Calif. Meanwhile, Acura, Infiniti and Lexus followed closely in a three-way tie for second place. Overall, twenty-four of thirty-four auto brands improved their prospect satisfaction scores from 2011 to 2012. Those at the bottom of the pack include Audi, Jeep, Kia, Porsche, Suzuki and Mitsubishi.

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