Wow. Who would have thought independent repair shops would rank second only to Lexus dealerships in customer satisfaction?
Yet this is the finding of a recent J.D. Power and Associates study. Tire dealers should wave these results in front of their service personnel-not only to applaud them but to underscore the importance consumers place on good service.
Obviously, the hard work and vigilance of many independent repair shops is paying off.
The research firm drew its conclusions about customer satisfaction from its 2001 CSI-Service Retention Study. The survey found that poor service treatment during a vehicle's warranty period tends to drive customers away from auto dealerships and into aftermarket facilities.
Considering that tire dealers compete with auto dealerships-not only in service, but increasingly in tire sales-these findings are significant.
J.D. Power also found that independent garages, including tire dealerships, provide personalized service that instills customer confidence and trust.
Not surprisingly, motorists' satisfaction with auto dealerships during warranty service was an important factor in determining whether they would remain customers.
Those customers who were dissatisfied with their auto dealership's service tended to vote with their feet once the warranty period on their vehicles expired. Many (21 percent) shifted their business to independent service garages, J.D. Power found.
Dealers clearly are doing a better job than most other service outlets. The study showed that independent garages ranked ahead of some well-known competitors in terms of service satisfaction.
Cadillac, Infiniti, Jaguar, Lincoln, BMW and others including Goodyear outlets, Big O stores, Penske Auto Centers and Firestone stores all ranked above the industry average but below independent garages.
Some of the biggest names in the auto repair business-including Ford Motor Co., Pep Boys Automotive Centers, Sears Automotive Centers and Sears' National Tire & Battery unit, among others, fell below the industry average.
Tire dealers should look for ways to capitalize on and further improve these findings.
Providing good service is a constant battle. With high turnover at many tire dealerships, owners need to continually examine how their employees are treating customers and review service procedures accordingly.
Assuming that all repair shops need to employ qualified technicians and offer competitive prices, service becomes the difference between keeping and losing customers.