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Mercedes-Benz Tops Secret Shopper Study of U.S. Dealers

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mercedes-Benz dealers were number one for customer treatment in the US according to an independent study by survey company Pied Piper. The California-based company hired 3,524 “secret shoppers” and sent them to US dealerships in order to determine how their salesmen were performing in anything from explaining a car’s features to closing a deal.
This is the third year in a row that Mercedes-Benz, which looks set to top the sales charts this year in the luxury segment, has topped Pied Piper’s study.
The German firm was followed by Jaguar and Lexus dealers, who tied in second place. According to the survey, Toyota and Chrysler’s Ram sales representatives were ranked the best among mass-market carmakers, while Mitsubishi and Suzuki finished at the bottom, as did Lincoln in the luxury segment.
According to CEO of Pied Piper, Fran O’Hagen, in general the brands that scored the poorest were those with the worst sales per dealership. O’Hagen added that’s easy to explain, as these brands cannot retain competent salesmen for a long time.
He also commented that reduced staff has had a negative impact in customer satisfaction now that sales are on the rise again and dealers don’t have the necessary staff to cover their needs.
However, as O’Hagen pointed out, the secret of success in this particular business is not really a secret at all. Good dealerships focus on a customer’s needs, get to know them and ask a few questions about their driving habits – and that takes skill and time.
The “secret”, according to O'Hagen, is to "think not like a salesman, but as a customer".

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