DETROIT—In the increasingly competitive automotive marketplace, car manufacturers have continued to devise ways to improve customer satisfaction scores, as well as improve employee morale at new-car dealerships. Most have instituted standards—sometimes known as ``best practices''—that experts say are slowly helping to change the culture of the car dealership.
And some have even begun forays into the open-market auto service environment, a place once the domain of independent car repair shops. Several years ago, for example, the Ford Motor Co. heated up the auto service landscape when it began operating standalone ``Ford Auto Care'' outlets that function much like a neighborhood garage.
Ford also led the industry in 1991 with the introduction of its retail operation standards. Nissan Motor Corp. U.S.A. and General Motors Corp. followed with theirs in 1994.
Ford's standards incorporate the following auto service practices:
1. Appointment available within one day of customer's requested service day.
2. Write-up begins within four minutes of arrival.
3. Service needs courteously identified, accurately recorded on repair order, and verified with customer.
4. Vehicle service performed correctly on the first visit.
5. Service status provided within one minute of inquiry.
6. Vehicle ready at agreed-upon time.
7. Thorough explanation of work done, coverage and charges.