Providing an exceptional customer experience

A smooth in-store experience is paramount to successfully running with a digital retailing strategy. A smooth online experience should follow them when they show up to take delivery.

It’s go-time.

If everything is prepared and ready, the customer continues down their painless digital path. If they show up and everyone is scrambling, it further reinforces the negative stereotype that you’ve worked so hard with your digital process to distance yourself from.

When a customer sets an appointment, they’re setting you, the dealer, up for success. The question is, are you taking advantage of this opportunity?

In today’s market, customers aren’t won by price anymore.  Every dealer has the equivalent price, the same rates, and the same claims of being the best, most honest dealer “proudly serving your town since 1935…”

So how do you stand out amongst a crowd of chest-thumping slogans and win customers over?


It seems simple enough, and most people would say “We’re already doing that!” But I challenge you to look at your appointment process and ask yourself these questions:

When a customer has an appointment…

Is the vehicle really ready to show?

I mean super clean. There’s no interior food residue from the last demo. The car is gassed up, and the battery is not dead. It’s ready to go for a test drive. Right?

Is your sales person ready to sell this specific car to this particular customer?

Do you know why the customer likes this car? Did they ask about any specific features that can be highlighted when they arrive? What are they driving now and how does it compare to this car? What possible objections will the customer have? Will the stroller fit in the trunk?

Do we have a backup plan?

Is the car parked in a VIP place ready for their arrival? Or is the car parked behind 3 other cars, causing confusion and wasting valuable time.


Caitlin Risden, Internet Sales Consultant at Hansel Ford in Santa Rosa, California gave us some great insight.

I’ve had guests drive 3 hours to see us for an appointment. If they’re willing to drive 6 hours round trip, I’m going to make sure I have everything ready and perfect for them when they arrive…’ 

“We have a lot of guests with challenged credit. They’re being declined and turned away so much that when we get them approved, and then we give them a VIP experience when they arrive at the dealership…it really makes their day.”

Caitlin refers to all of her customers as “Guests” just like a nice restaurant or hotel would. It makes sense since Hansel Ford is pioneering the VIP experience. It’s complete with a banner highlighted parking section, customized deal jackets, and a personable handoff process.

This is all driven by a hyper-focused marketing campaign consistent internal messaging from the top down.


Real Proof

The real proof is in the customer feedback. Here are some recent examples from AutoFi customers who were asked to rate their experience from 1-10.

“They were able to wrap up the whole deal with a test drive in 1 hour 45 min”  – 10/10.

“I had an appointment with Bill, my truck was ready to go, and all I had to do was to sign the papers for the price and rate that I was quoted online! The time at the dealership was less than an hour! Kudos to Bill for his professionalism and X Ford for instating this online app.”  – 10/10

“Excellent communication and super-fast purchase. Easy process with people that are helpful throughout.”  – 10/10

You don’t want this:

“I sent a request telling you what car I wanted. I received several messages to come in and look at the car.  When I got there, it was reserved for someone else. A phone call would have been appreciated instead of wasting my time after work.” 1/10

You’re Not Scrambling Eggs Anymore: Right?

Customers spend over 17 hours researching and preparing before they visit your dealership. So, how can YOU be better prepared to win them over and turn them into raving fans that tell their family, friends, and social media following?

It starts with a simple pre-appointment checklist. Don’t have one yet? AutoFi has you covered.

Just ask!

To find out more about how we can help your team deliver real digital sales, reach out directly to your Dealer Success Manager or email me directly.

Joe St. John

About Joe:

Joe was born with dealership blood coursing through his veins. His dad in F&I and Mom in Service, he sold his first car at 5, was full time by 16, and a GM by 30. He has an Accounting Master’s from USC, studied at Cambridge and Oxford, was named a Truman Scholar, and a USA-Today Academic All American. Teaching at OSU, his engaging style was voted a student favorite. When he’s not wrestling grown men (jiu-jitsu is his thing) or spending time with his family, Joe leads Dealer Success at AutoFi, revolutionizing the automotive buying experience online.

Learn more about the three changes your dealership faces.