Ranked: Some Car Brands Have Better Dealers-Some Suck!

Our friends over at JD Powers have rated dealer’s sales satisfaction for mass-market and luxury vehicles. But there are many categories that differentiate brand dealerships. Some car brands have better dealers, while some suck. For luxury Porsche tops the list and with mass-market Buick is at the top. 

JD Power released its US Sales Satisfaction Index Study. It says that there were four most important categories for a satisfied customer. When purchasing a car salesperson interaction, working out the deal, vehicle delivery, and a superior online shopping experience are the top of the list. Those dealers that have lower close rates typically have a bad website, limited inventory, and a compromised facility. Typically, these perform below segment sales averages.

“90% of buyers still visit their selling dealership during the shopping process”

Toyota SUVs for sale at a dealership
A row of Toyota RAV4s are displayed on the sales lot at a Toyota dealership | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

“While digital retail is on the rise, shoppers aren’t quite ready to adopt an Amazon-like business model when it comes to purchasing a vehicle. They still want to view inventory in-person and often rely on salespeople to explain how the vehicle technology works,” said Chris Sutton, Vice President of Automotive Retail at J.D. Power. “In fact, 90% of buyers still visit their selling dealership during the shopping process. The key for dealers is to ensure they don’t lose the sale before a customer even steps foot on their lot. If a new-vehicle shopper isn’t satisfied with the dealer website or facilities, they aren’t going any further in the sales funnel. That sale is lost before a dealer can demonstrate how well it does everything else. Brands with the highest close-rate percentages are successfully delivering the experiences vehicle shoppers want.”

Nearly a quarter of potential buyers that don’t ultimately buy from a particular dealer have rejected it based on how good that its online experience is. They are shopping from websites before ever stepping foot on a dealer’s lot. Most dealers lose sales before the negotiation process takes place. 

Most customers still find the delivery experience at a car dealership better

Man at car dealership looking at brochure

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With home deliveries making a major increase most customers still find the dealership delivery experience better. An increase in explanations and demonstrations of the ever more increasingly complex tech features at the dealership scored better. JD Power found over 80% of tech and safety features were handled at the dealer whereas under 70% took place with the home delivery. 

Tablets and monitors used in the process have the biggest effect on overall satisfaction. But over a third of buyers say the dealer they purchased a car from didn’t use any type of tech device. So here is an area that dealers can improve on. 

Texting was also seen as an advantage. Texting with dealer personnel increased customer satisfaction. It has been suggested that sales staff that embrace the use of texting will increase customer satisfaction scores. 

For luxury cars, Porsche car dealers finished first

Newly assembled Porsche cars ready to be sold
Newly assembled Porsche cars ready to be sent to dealerships | Sean Gallup/Getty Images

For luxury cars, Porsche finished first, Mercedes Benz second, and Infinity third. Mass market dealerships were led by Buick, followed by GMC and then Mini. Those brands above average after Infinity were Cadillac, Lexus, and Lincoln. The bottom two were Genesis with Land Rover just above. 

In the mass market category that scored above average and below the top three were Chevy, Volkswagen, Subaru, Ford, Honda, and Nissan. At the bottom was Fiat with Kia and Dodge slightly above.