A car dealership has long been the place you go to buy a new car. Recently, car dealers have become brand outposts, offering a variety of post-sale services from manufacturer-certified mechanics and repair shops to acting as retailers of Original Equipment Manufacturer parts. Manufacturers have realized that the sale is just the beginning of a customer’s relationship with the brand and increasingly rely on car dealers to ensure a smooth ownership experience.
The Rewards of Loyalty
Manufacturers realized that buyers stay loyal to a badge as long as the brand retains its positive image. Customer loyalty is even more ingrained than it was previously, and most customers only switch brands after a negative experience. Manufacturers began to focus on ensuring that car dealers delivered a reliable, standard, uniform sales experience across product lines. Buildings, uniforms, processes, and advertising were all standardized.
Ownership doesn’t end at the showroom door. A bad experience with a car, even if it is unrelated to a manufacturer’s defect, could cost a customer for life. As a result, certified services are now offered through dealerships. Technicians must pass a series of qualifying procedures to allow them to perform work on vehicles that will be backed by the company. This ensures uniform quality and control at any branded dealership. Service performed under these conditions also preserves the vehicle’s warranties and is visible throughout the company via a universal service record. This can enhance the resale value as well as maximize the utility of the car over its service life. Additionally, any maintenance performed by certified technicians is usually warranties through the company as well, adding another layer of protection for current and future owners.
An ownership experience could also be jeopardized by the use of shoddy or knock-off parts. To encourage the highest standards of performance, car dealers structured their operations to include becoming a regional distribution hub for OEM parts. As a result, many dealerships now have extensive parts inventories for their mark, sometimes to the tune of millions of dollars worth. This coordinated effort ensures that branded vehicles run at their peak engineered performance for the duration of their service lives and minimizes the risk that a customer will encounter a poor ownership experience for any reason that can be controlled by the retailer.
Many consumers are unaware of these changes and hence do not utilize them to their full advantage. Using manufacturer-certified services and parts can extend or preserve vehicle warranties. Maintenance performed by car dealers, as well as the certified technicians they employ, ensures that the vehicle continues to perform at the highest level possible. Company-issued updates, recalls, and parts all reach customers through the extensive databases maintained by service departments as well, meaning that the latest technology is available most directly to those who utilize their dealership. Taking advantage of post-sale benefits is an often-overlooked perk of brand ownership.