First impressions impact CSI

Do your people and facility portray your desired impression of your dealership to your customers?

As Will Rogers said, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Creating favorable customer impressions may even seem easy when you can show off renovated waiting areas and state-of-the-art amenities. But, let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that multimillion dollar investments are the only way to inspire five-star reviews – or that such investments will guarantee them.

The reality is that everything and everyone that your customers come in contact with makes impressions on them. Whether you have a brand new state-of the-art facility or a 50 year old pole barn, it is in your best interest to self-examine whether your facility and people represent the image you desire. Let’s examine some facility and employee checks that may – or may not – reflect the ideal impression:

Facility Check
Common sense tells us that your dealership should be sparkling clean. But, that goes beyond nightly cleaning and ongoing maintenance. If the coffee counter has spills on it at 9 am, the trash can is overflowing at 3 pm and the bathroom is out of toilet paper at 5 pm, it doesn’t matter how clean your dealership was when you opened your doors at 7 am. If your customers see any or all of these situations, you are not likely to elicit the customer experience or perception of your dealership that you desire. Even worse, your customers may assume that the work performed on their vehicles was just as sloppy.

To prevent such situations, we recommend keeping cleaning logs within each area that your customers will see. But, don’t expect the log alone to accomplish anything. (We have all seen empty logs on the backs of bathroom doors without any toilet paper.) The task of inspecting, cleaning and logging each area needs to be assigned to an employee – typically a porter. Then, the employee must be held accountable by having a manager check the log daily.

Employee Check
From the porter who greets your customers to the cashier who checks them out, each of your employees will make impressions on your customers. Make it a point to evaluate how your staff looks and ensure that it matches the image of your dealership you are trying to create. Do all of your employees look professional? Does your dress code match that of your customers to create a comfortable and inviting atmosphere? (It is just as important to ensure your staff is not overdressed as under-dressed.) This is especially important for any employees that do not wear uniforms.

Need a gut check? Compare your porters to valets at a high-end restaurant. How do they stack up? Would you hand your keys over to a valet at a restaurant that is dressed like your porters? If not, why would you expect your customers to feel comfortable handing their keys to their beloved cars over to your porters? Remember, your porters are typically the first and last impression that your customers have of your dealership at each visit.  Get it right!

Still not certain
if your dealership is creating the right customer first impressions?  Ask us how we can collect and report feedback from your customers to ensure that you are hitting the mark: or

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