German dealers lose sales through bad service, says survey

Peugeot, VW praised but Opel and Renault get low marks

Frankfurt, Germany. At the Peugeot dealership on the Hanau highway, the test shopper had a good feeling right from the start.

The dealership's exterior gave a neat, friendly impression. The choice of models on display was broad and the salesperson was extremely polite and capable.

"If my interest had been serious, there would have been a deal," a test shopper wrote in his report.

Over three months, this test shopper and 13 colleagues from the management consulting firm MSU Consulting traveled back and forth through Germany to check out customer service in new-car sales.

A total of 47 dealerships representing major brands, including Peugeot, Renault, Ford, Opel and the Volkswagen group, were audited in a survey commissioned by Automobilwoche. The checklist totaled 125 points.

The audit looked at the staging of vehicles, the separation of reception, service and sales, the presentation of information, and salesperson performance, among other issues.

Sobering results

The results were sobering, said Tobias Haeckel, who managed the survey.

Many dealerships made an ill-kept impression; salespeople gave shoppers short shrift at lunch time, potential sales prospects were left alone with marketing materials, or were allowed to go home without leaving behind their personal data even after a test drive.

"Many opportunities for closing a deal were recklessly squandered," Haeckel said.

In the evaluation of individual brands, Peugeot took the lead by a wide margin. "Here they were striving for a brand experience," Haeckel said.

In addition, the Peugeot sales staff were very dedicated and capable.

The testers also gave VW operations good marks for their performance. Information was abundant at VW dealerships and display space was ample. The shoppers also praised the high level of consultation skills.

At Renault and Opel, sales staff often seemed unmotivated or just plain overextended.

"Both brands looked as though they were trying to save on staffing," said Haeckel.

The bottom line: Despite considerable training and in part a significant investment by manufacturers and sales organizations, a great deal of potential for the new-car sales is being left unrealized.

The entire study can be obtained from MSU Consulting by calling +49 (0) 6172/963-500.

Ranking of the automakers in individual categories
 PeugeoutRenaultFord of EuropeOpelVolkswagen
Arrival and exterior14531
Receipt and waiting situation14352
Showroom and consulting area12543
Vehicle presentation15342
Specialized authority35241
Discussion guidance24152
Total rank14352
Source: MSU Consulting
© Automobilwoche

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