Monday, December 15, 2008

It's Official: We LIKE Car Dealers

New data from JD Powers suggests that while Detroit may be on the brink of collapse, and while House GOP leaders portray autoworkers as bogeymen while giving senior execs make $20 Mil or so even when sales drop like a stone a pass, that consumers buying cars like the buying experience.

Yes you read that correctly. Here's an excerpt from coverage on MediaPost:

Most of the auto business is heading south, but J.D. Power and Associates says at least one element of the business is going in the other direction. According to the firm's 22nd annual Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI), consumers' happiness with the new vehicle retail process--once about as much fun as getting a tooth pulled -- is continuing the upward trajectory it started in 2005.

The firm surveyed 35,805 new-vehicle buyers who purchased or leased in May this year. The analysis parses customer purchase experience based on: the dealership facility, the sales staff, vehicle price, paperwork and finance process, and delivery.

Overall satisfaction across the industry--which J.D. Power measures on a 1,000-point scale--is up, from 842 points in 2005 to 857 points this year. The firm says more than 90% of brands examined in the study improved their overall satisfaction score this year versus last, mostly from physical improvements and better delivery processes.

With the improvements, however, there is a lag in dealing with consumers who arrive at showrooms after they have done their research online, per Tom Gauer, senior director of automotive retail research at J.D. Power and Associates. He says those younger, more affluent, and better-educated consumers who do a lot of Web research and pricing first are less satisfied overall with the experience than people who don't shop online. The latter group also constitutes a shrinking portion of new-vehicle shoppers.

So the uninformed prefer the process versus the informed, but even so the figures suggest that the stereotype of a guy in a plaid jacket and an incongruous pair of plaid pants with a white on white shirt and shortie tie is incorrect.

One thing we WILL be seeing next year is a significant increase in the percent of overall auto spending from dealers and dealer associations. Well, at least the people we like will be doing the spending, anyway.

Thanks for reading, and don't forget to write.

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