Some 31% of Australian new-vehicle buyers choose a dealer based on receiving the best deal or the lowest price, but J.D. Power Australia says in doing so they shortchange themselves by missing out on a rewarding sales experience.
The inaugural J.D. Power Australia Sales Satisfaction Index finds that among the 12 brands ranked in the study, Mazda ranks highest with a score of 840. The survey finds Mazda performs well in all factors, particularly in the delivery process.
Mazda sales through August were up 4.8% to 78,691 units, and its 9.8% market share puts it in second place behind longtime industry leader Toyota.
Hyundai and Honda are tied at second (832), followed by Toyota in fourth (825).
The study is based on responses from 2,477 new-vehicle owners who purchased their vehicles from September 2015 through June 2016, with sales satisfaction calculated on a 1,000-point scale. The industry average was 817.
The study examines six factors that contribute to overall customer satisfaction with the new-vehicle purchase experience: salesperson (19%); deal (18%); delivery timing (17%); delivery process (17%); dealer facility (16%); and sales initiation (14%).
J.D. Power says there is significant disparity in satisfaction levels when examining how customers choose their dealers. Among customers who select their dealer based on getting a good deal, overall satisfaction is 812, which is five points below industry average.
Additionally, the study finds 20% of all customers choose a dealer based on its proximity to their home or workplace. Satisfaction among these customers is only 788.
J.D. Power Regional Vice President Mohit Arora says in contrast, satisfaction scores are higher when customers choose a dealer because they know someone there (853) or because the dealer has a good reputation (839).
“Customers who make the effort to find out more about their dealer stand to benefit from a better shopping experience,” Arora says in a statement. “While it is important that customers receive a good deal from their dealer, the monetary savings they receive is momentary.
“It is far more gratifying for the customer to have the support of a reliable sales dealer in what may be the beginning of a long-term relationship – a relationship that also benefits the dealer, as the customer may recommend or even buy again from the same dealership in the future.”
Comparisons Welcome Even If Decision Made
The study also finds even though six in 10 customers already have decided on the vehicle they want to buy, it still is beneficial for them to ask their salesperson to make comparisons with other models.
More than half the time, salespeople do not offer to make relevant comparisons if customers do not ask for it. Satisfaction is 30 points higher among customers who request this information from their salesperson than among those who do not (837 vs. 807).
The survey finds Australian customers are avid information gatherers: Some 84% indicate they check the Internet while shopping and 45% search and verify information while at a dealership.
However, J.D. Power says, even when armed with this extensive research, customers rely on their salesperson’s recommendation, which improves satisfaction. Overall satisfaction is higher among customers who rely on their salesperson’s endorsement than among those who depend on websites (842 vs. 817).
The survey shows customers should be wary of verbal price quotes: Satisfaction among the 32% of customers receiving verbal price quotes from their salesperson is only 802, compared with 856 among those receiving quotes online.
Explanations of vehicle features at or after delivery are critical, with 15% of customers indicating they did not receive such information. Satisfaction among these customers is a significant 134 points lower than among those receiving explanations.
Among highly satisfied customers – overall scores of 924 and higher – 83% say they definitely would purchase the same brand of vehicle and 88% say they definitely would recommend the brand to family and friends.