DETROIT -- Customer satisfaction was the retail mantra of the 1990s. Now the National Automobile Dealers Association wants to move customer loyalty to the forefront.
The group this week is expected to name Bob Williams, the Chrysler group's former director of dealer relations and dealer strategy, to head NADA 24.
NADA 24, which began in April, aims to measure the loyalty of customers to their dealerships.
Williams, who retired last month, has 32 years of experience in dealer relations. He developed, implemented and managed Chrysler's Five Star dealership certification program.
NADA 24 surveys dealership customers within 24 hours of a vehicle purchase or service procedure.
The four-question survey asks customers whether they would buy another vehicle from the dealership and recommend the store to others. Customers rate their overall satisfaction with the transaction and describe its high or low point.
The survey also invites customers to leave a voice-mail message describing their experience at the store.
"It's finding the problems and fixing them fast," Williams says.
Repeat customers generate revenue and business referrals in an era of growing pressure on profits, NADA says.
About 100 of NADA's 21,000 members have become clients of
NADA 24 since April. NADA wants to enlist at least 500 dealers this year, Williams says.
NADA 24 is a joint venture of NADA and Synovate Inc., a Chicago market research company.
The survey program competes with research powerhouses such as J.D. Power and Associates.
The program is designed to replace in-store measurement efforts or competing services, says Wes Lutz, chairman of the NADA 24 committee.
Lutz, who owns Extreme Dodge- Hyundai in Jackson, Mich., says focusing on repeat business is critical.
"It is wonderful to know if my customers give me a 9.2 on a 10-point scale," he says. "But I don't really care about that. I need to know if you are going to come back and spend your money with me."
Lutz calls the voice-mail messages from customers "powerful."
"I am detecting patterns," Lutz says. Certain staff members anger "the customer the same way. We can go back and do training. We can say: 'You can't say this to the customer. You have to phrase it this way.'"
The NADA 24 survey staff makes seven attempts to reach a customer. If no contact is made, the dealer does not pay.
In October 2003, NADA had a war of words with Dave Power, who heads the research company that bears his name. In an essay in , Power argued there are more efficient ways to retail cars than the dealership franchise system.
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