Car buyers like dealerships but not salespeople, research finds

Analysis suggests dealer staff are the only weak link in the buying process.

Car dealer
Car dealer

New research suggests car buyers are generally very satisfied with their dealership experiences, but staff tend to be the weak link in the process.

Since the pandemic first hit in early 2020, dealers have been transforming the buying experience to provide online tours of vehicles and contactless handovers.

And according to Autovia’s ‘Driver Power’ research, which questions up to 60,000 motorists each year, these have consistently beat buyers’ expectations.

Furthermore, investment in the quality and comfort of showrooms has paid off, as respondents say dealer premises are better than expected.

However, despite an overall positive customer satisfaction response, criticisms of staff accounted for three of the four areas where expectations were not met.

Autovia reports that customers ‘remain wary of trusting sales staff and are more likely to find fault with transparency, honesty and communications than almost any other aspect of the purchase experience’.

The other area where dealers disappointed customers was the condition of vehicles upon collection or delivery.

Despite these complaints, the majority of buyers said they would go back to the same dealer to buy their next car.

Steve Fowler, editor-in-chief of Autovia, said: “Dealers will be concerned to see some aspects of their work failing to completely delight customers.

“But it’s not all bad news for dealers, who have had the most challenging period in memory with lockdown closures and unprecedented supply constraints. Our analysis reveals only a small gap between the customer’s experience and expectations in each case where dealers apparently fall short.

“So perhaps a customer verdict of doing well, but could do better, is only to be expected.”

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