7 Dumb Mistakes People Make When Working With Dealership Service Departments
If you’re a vehicle owner and you live in North America, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve had at least one bad experience at a car dealership. Car dealers (generally speaking) aren’t too popular because the industry has a long history of poor service. While this has most definitely changed in the last decade (dealerships are better than they’ve ever been), there’s no disputing the fact that dealers aren’t perfect.
If you’re having a problem with your dealership and you’re not sure what you should do, there are TWO posts you should read. The one you’re looking at now, and this post on Dealership Customer Service – Tips for Getting Your Problem Solved.
7 Dumb Mistakes Customers Make When Working With Auto Dealership Service Departments
1. Bragging about how many cars you’ve bought from the dealership. This is akin to saying “I’m more special than anyone else.” While it might be true, the fact is that a) sales and service are different departments, and the person at the service counter (often known as a service adviser) really doesn’t care how many cars you bought and b) every customer has to be treated the same, whether they’ve bought 10 cars, 2 cars, or none.
If you really want to tell someone how important you are because of all those cars you’ve bought, go find the sales person or sales manager that sold you all of your cars from and ask them for help…that will work much better than telling the service advisor that you buy a new Camry every two years for blah blah blah.
2. Telling the service writer that you can “send a lot of business their way” if they do a good job. This one might seem like a good idea, but take a step back: How many times do you think the service adviser has heard this line? How many times do you think it’s actually come true? Don’t waste your breath – save your boasting for your friends at the bar.
3. Claiming to be friends with the owner, some higher up, or Akio Toyoda in order to try and get something “extra.” Saying “I went to the high school with the owner of this dealership” is a waste of breath. A lot of people make these types of claims, and the fact is that sometimes the owner (or other higher up) isn’t all that popular. Claiming you know him or her is like painting a target on your forehead that says “I’m a jerk just like your boss.” Skip it.
4. Yelling and screaming. You’ve got to be a grade-A moron to yell at someone who is trying to fix your car. Not only is it a waste of effort (they’ve been yelled at by bigger and better people than you), but it’s a great way to make sure the problem never gets fixed. Do you really think a technician is going to bust his ass to fix your car when you just called him every name in the book?
Here’s the smart play – go buy a box of donuts or two, bring them into the service drive, and ask for help. The people working at the dealership will be so amazed by your kindness they’ll work overtime to fix your car.
5. Lying about facts that the dealership can easily verify. This happens a LOT – a person will bring their car into a Toyota dealer, claim that they’ve had something on the car looked at 5 or 6 times, and then demand a free repair, a loaner, whatever. NEWS FLASH: Dealers all use the same computer system. If you say “I’ve had the transmission looked at twice in the last two weeks,” the dealership can usually verify that. When the person you’re working with discovers that you’re feeding them BS to try and get what you want, they’re not going to believe anything else you say.
Generally speaking, lying is a poor negotiation strategy.
6. Threatening to go to the media. This NEVER works. NEVER. At a busy dealership, people say that they’re going to call the local news station about 10 times a day. Guess what? 99% of them never do. What’s more, even when people DO call, the local news usually doesn’t care.
7. Threatening to “sue” or pursue “legal action.” This can work, but only if the threat comes from a letter written by an actual attorney and delivered via certified mail.
Here’s the kicker with threatening legal action: You can’t get an attorney to send a letter like this for less than a couple hundred dollars. If the dealership is truly in the wrong, they’ll usually do something to make your problem go away once they have that piece of paper. However, if they know they’re in the right, they’ll have their attorney contact your attorney via certified mail, and then your legal bill will go from $200 to $2,000 in less than a week.
Anyone who’s ever actually tried to file a lawsuit knows that it’s absolutely the last resort…and everyone who’s worked at a dealership for more than 2 weeks recognizes that threats of legal action are completely and totally baseless because most people can’t or won’t spend the money.
Here’s a Cheat Sheet For Dealing With Dealership Service Departments
- Don’t lie. Not only have they heard them all, but they can usually figure out when you’re lying to them.
- Don’t boast. No one will believe it, and it makes you sound like a moron (cause most of the time, only morons do it).
- Don’t make vague threats about media or lawsuits…they hear those all the time.
- Be nice. This works amazingly well, mostly because the people that dealerships come into contact with usually aren’t very nice. Be the exception, and you’ll get exceptional treatment.
The Satisfaction Survey Is King
Finally, here’s the most important tip we can give: your leverage is your customer satisfaction survey. The Service Advisor’s paycheck comes from two places: 1) How much service they sell and 2) How many people are “completely satisfied.” If they get a lot of good surveys, they usually get a nice bonus.
If you explain that you understand the importance of the survey, and you promise the person you’re talking to that you’ll fill it out “completely satisfied” across the board, your chances of getting what you want are sky high. By telling them you’ll give them a good survey, you’ve done them a favor…and you’ve also implicitly explained you know how to really hurt them if you want to.
The survey is your leverage – use it wisely.
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