Buying or leasing a premium automobile and choosing a dealership for that automobile can be quite a challenge in today's market. There are many choices. The perceived differences between makes, and the agencies that sell or lease them, can be confusing.
“Customers really just want to be taken care of,” says Carlos Dague, new care sales manager for Ganley BMW in Middleburg Heights, “and the successful dealership recognizes this fact.”
Smart Business asked Dague what else to expect at a luxury dealership.
Why is doing business with a luxury dealership different than dealing with an ordinary sales floor?
A prospective customer’s expectations and perceptions of a luxury agency are elevated by the marketing of the manufacturer and perhaps his or her own peer group, many of whom may already drive luxury-segment vehicles.
The atmosphere at a luxury dealership is usually more relaxed and the sales people are more facilitators than salespeople, providing the information the customer desires in a factual and nonpressured manner. The customer is usually well-informed already via the Internet and really just wants to see if the car will fit his or her needs and wants. There can be also facility differences, predicated by the manufacturer, that seek to create a more luxurious showroom — and, of course, amenities like Starbucks coffee, leather seating in the customer lounge and large-screen TVs.
How does it pay to build a continuing relationship with one salesperson or dealership?
Customers of luxury dealerships place a lot of emphasis on saving time and hassle. By offering such things as free service during the warranty period, free valet pickup and delivery for service and free service loaners, the dealer is building the relationship for future business.
Successful salespeople also will keep in touch periodically with the customer, further enhancing the ownership/leasing period. Because of these actions, when it comes time to buy/lease a new car, the comfort level is already there if the dealer has done a good job after the first sale by taking care of the customer. Dealers also reward their repeat customers many times with special vehicle pricing and discounts on accessories.
Would you follow a trusted salesperson to a new luxury car dealership?
Yes. I’ve had it happen personally. Typically, there will be a comfort level with the relationship that has been built over time with a good sales person. As long as the new dealership has a good reputation, I’d say it is a good idea. That sales person knows what you expect and what it takes to keep you happy.
Does the sales staff tend to remain more consistent at luxury dealerships than others?
The average turnover in automobile sales is about 50 percent per year. Many salespeople try to stay with the hot products or, because of little or poor training, just quit the business. However, if salespeople are trained properly and understand that repeat and referral business will continue to build the longer they stay with one dealership, they’ll be successful.
Luxury manufacturers and dealers invest considerable money into training and rewarding outstanding performance.
Is a luxury car dealer likely to let a prospective customer take an extended test drive?
Most luxury dealerships will extend the courtesy if the customer is interested in a specific model and wants a longer test drive. Typically, they’ll allow the customer a drive from an afternoon to overnight, in some instances. This lets the customer explore the many features and comfort options that cannot be enjoyed during a short drive. It also lets the customer run the car over familiar roads so he or she can get a better comparison.
How safe is it to rely on a friend’s recommendation about a dealership or sales person?
The majority of our customers — at least half — are referral or repeat customers. If a person has credibility and has driven that brand, by all means listen to his or her advice. Remember, this is likely the second largest purchase of your life. Dealerships always appreciate referrals and will do extra for a referral. We want the person who made the referral to look good, too.
CARLOS DAGUE is new car sales manager at Ganley BMW, Middleburg Heights. He has been selling BMWs since 1982. Reach him at (440) 843-3552 or firstname.lastname@example.org.