"Drivers love Audis; it's the dealers they loathe."

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Thread: "Drivers love Audis; it's the dealers they loathe."

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    "Drivers love Audis; it's the dealers they loathe."

    Business Week

    February 18, 2013 - Page 66

    Article Quotes:

    Reinventing the Showroom

    Drivers love Audis; it's the dealers they loathe. Enter Continuum, a design firm whose goal is a better shopping experience, not prettier products.

    Audi has a problem. It isn’t sales; the cars practically sell themselves. The brand, stalled in the mid-1990s, is now the fastest-growing luxury automaker in the U.S. While still behind such peers as Lexus, Mercedes, and BMW in total unit sales domestically, Audi is coming off 24 straight record months. The trouble is, few drivers come back. Only 46 percent of Audi drivers buy another Audi, compared with other German imports who lure over 55 percent of their customers back.

    In September, Audi of America President Scott Keogh began visiting dealers around the country, telling them he attributed the low numbers partly to the dealership experience, and that he wanted to focus on customer service. The dealerships ranked second to last in the U.S. Sales Satisfaction Index. Audis routinely win accolades for their seamlessly updated mapping and telematics packages, yet in car showrooms, young, affluent buyers entering a dealership have been greeted with a Bunn drip coffee machine and a crackling PA system. “We’re not satisfied with what the customer service experience is like in our retail environment. At dealers today, people encounter a lot of unknowns, a lot of waiting, bottlenecks,” says Mark Ramsey, the general manager of digital and retail marketing for Audi of America.

    If Audi doesn’t solve the dealership disconnect, the company’s rise could be a blip. A 2012 study from consumer marketing analyst Maritz Research found that the average car dealership could sell as many as 217 additional cars per year by improving customer service. So last year, Ramsey went shopping among the small number of design firms in the world that specialize in so-called service design, which emphasizes not just the aesthetics of a product but the actual process of buying it. He found just two in the U.S. and two abroad, and tapped Newton (Mass.)-based Continuum to make over Audi dealerships.

    Full article at link.

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    Re: "Drivers love Audis; it's the dealers they loathe."

    A must read article - not just for Audi employees, but for all retail dealerships and their suppliers.

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    Re: "Drivers love Audis; it's the dealers they loathe."

    I found Audi dealer efforts excellent. It is the reliability of the cars that send buyers to other brands on future purchases.

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    Re: "Drivers love Audis; it's the dealers they loathe."

    Very interesting, though I hardly call 46% return customers "no one". The dealer near me is nice and new, I wonder what their return customer rate is? I'd look at the return rate for their newer showrooms to determine if that is really the issue. Could also be that the quality is questionable. I also recall in the past few years that Audi (and Infiniti) were considered by consumers to be non-aspirational luxury. Meaning people buy Audi for different reasons vs a BMW where people lust for the brand.

    How is GM doing with strong arming dealers to update? My Chevy/Cadillac dealer is still stuck in the 1940's-1980's (except for the magazines, they are only two or so years old with the exception of the one's I bring in for them - sad that a customer has to supply a dealer with magazines). My next purchase will probably be from the MODERN Danbury, CT GM dealership even though it is less convenient for me. I just can't stand sitting in the cinder block waiting room on the circa 1980 chairs with the 25 year old TV on the cheap Caldor cabinet that has been leaning ominously for at least 4 years. I'd hope for the cabinet to collapse so the TV will break, but I doubt the dealer will replace the TV.
    Last edited by BlackGTP; 02-15-2013 at 08:25 AM.

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    Re: "Drivers love Audis; it's the dealers they loathe."

    It often stuns me how dealers(I was one) will complain that a manufacturer misses the mark when introducing a new model but forget that the first impression of physical sight and touch most often occurs at their location, where environment is a big part of the experience. Investment in that area is key to convey that your purchase/interaction location must maintain a level of consistency with the product. Bluntly, you can't expect to have potential customers, whose shopping habits and viewpoint on service have changed drastically, see your products and supporting services as cutting edge if you are operating in a facility that looks 1986 with accompanying technology and design thought.

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    Re: "Drivers love Audis; it's the dealers they loathe."

    I have been told by Boomer colleagues that "Nobody ever buys a second Audi." LOL.
    Current: 12 Buick Regal Turbo Premium I Group (Crystal Red/Cashmere with sunroof) and 09 Saturn Outlook XR

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    Re: "Drivers love Audis; it's the dealers they loathe."

    I don't see how a dealership experience would make you run from a brand altogether. If they love the cars so much why don't the customers don't just go to another dealer to buy their next Audi? How much can one trust the phrase "love their Audis". I'm sure there somethings to love about Audis and a whole lot that's not to love, which is why customers aren't returning.

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    Re: "Drivers love Audis; it's the dealers they loathe."

    I know that dealer design should reflect the aspirational nature of the brand. But, in my experience, the most important thing is how you are treated by staff. It starts with the buying experience and absolutely extends into the service experience. If I feel a sinking feeling that the shifty salesman got the better of me on the deal, of I faced a lot of high-pressure sales tactics on the deal close (extended warranty, rustproofing and the like) or the service experience was terrible, I probably won't want to deal with that dealership again. Which means I'm already at least considering another brand if there isn't another Audi dealership nearby. It is incredibly difficult to manage a customers experience with your brand when the most important relationship is managed by an independent contractor who doesn't have a lot of stake in your company.

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    Re: "Drivers love Audis; it's the dealers they loathe."

    It applies at all dealers, not just Audi dealers. I think just about everyone of them have at least one car that people would buy and love. The games and B.S. is what people don't want to deal with at the dealership experience. This isn't going to change any time soon, but smart dealers who want to stick around will try to keep their customers happy. Bad word of mouth is no way to build a business.

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    Re: "Drivers love Audis; it's the dealers they loathe."

    From personal experience the Audi dealer I took my Audi TT to was completely clueless about diagnosing and fixing the DSG transmission. 2 weeks and $1000 to replace some sensors and all they can tell me is maybe replace the mechatronics unit or maybe replace the whole transmission for $6000. All that on a 7 year old car worth maybe $12000.

    I won't be buying another one.

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    Re: "Drivers love Audis; it's the dealers they loathe."

    Reliability and the costs to keep it running. I am friends with a girl that had an A4. When it came time to replace it, she didn't even consider another audi for those two reasons. Always breaking down and god awful expensive to make the repairs. She had gotten a used one, just out of warranty with fairly low miles. She loved the looks, performance and overall package, just couldn't keep the damn thing running.
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    Re: "Drivers love Audis; it's the dealers they loathe."

    Quote Originally Posted by Chaz_23 View Post
    I don't see how a dealership experience would make you run from a brand altogether. If they love the cars so much why don't the customers don't just go to another dealer to buy their next Audi? How much can one trust the phrase "love their Audis". I'm sure there somethings to love about Audis and a whole lot that's not to love, which is why customers aren't returning.
    I'm an example of this - my experience with our Honda was a bit below average but not a deal breaker. It was my interaction with 2 separate dealers that broke any chance of me ever returning for another Honda. I still don't understand how dealerships in the "big 3"'s () backyard wouldn't even try to keep a customer. Just awful.
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    Re: "Drivers love Audis; it's the dealers they loathe."

    They were miserable to work on when they first "invaded" the US market in the early 70's, and very little has changed. I owned a 100LS because it was so cheap and fun to drive, thought I knew it's weak points well enough to deal with it. Gave up after a year. Have worked on every generation since then, not on a regular basis (even I'm not that dumb), but enough to know I wouldn't take one as a gift.

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    Re: "Drivers love Audis; it's the dealers they loathe."

    Quote Originally Posted by Al63240 View Post
    Reliability and the costs to keep it running. I am friends with a girl that had an A4. When it came time to replace it, she didn't even consider another audi for those two reasons. Always breaking down and god awful expensive to make the repairs. She had gotten a used one, just out of warranty with fairly low miles. She loved the looks, performance and overall package, just couldn't keep the damn thing running.
    The moral of the story is do NOT own a German auto especially Audi out of warranty.

    I've even heard of CPO Audi vehicles screwing owners of pre owned certified cars more often than any other brand...

    The old saying of Audi N/A saving a dime and losing yet another customer.

    Satisfying customers during ownership experience transcends consumers initial demand on the perception of the product.

    When perception meets reality the Audi owners do NOT come back.


    The cars are crap with an image that hides it ....... German engineering my @ sss

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    Re: "Drivers love Audis; it's the dealers they loathe."

    As a former Audi owner and current Cadillac owner, I can say I disliked the dealers and the car. The 2 of 3 dealers around us had very old, small showrooms (only 2 cars would fit). The third was nice, but at a huge automall type place and it shared its showroom with Porsche. It was very easy to wander over to the Porsches since Audi's aren't very exciting anyway.

    The car had to go to the dealer to get fixed every couple months. There was some problem where when it got cold out, it wouldn't start and left my wife stranded in sub-zero temperatures at least 3 or 4 times (I don't remember what problem they finally found), and twice stuff would break on my way to the dealer. Once the fuel gage quit working on the way and they had to replace the entire IP (and keep the car and extra couple days, the loaner car was an Audi in horrible shape). Needless to say we got rid of that thing as soon as the warranty ended because I did not want to get stuck with the thousands of dollars in repairs.

    I've bought 3 Cadillacs since. Have almost no repairs (only 2 I can think of) a couple of recalls, but that's it.

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