Car dealerships are facing a number of challenges these days, including widespread parts shortages and staffing issues, both of which can exacerbate frustrations for customers.
In a recent study, Cox Automotive examined car dealerships and their related service centers, as well as customer perceptions and concerns related to these service centers. According to the study, car dealerships remain the preferred location for vehicle service, with 34 percent of those customers studied indicating that they would select car dealerships over other options, a 1-percent increase from 2018, and ahead of general repair shops as well. Fifty-five percent of customers who participated in the study indicated that car dealerships are their preferred location because the dealership “knows their vehicle.”
However, there are significant negative perceptions to overcome as well. Per the Cox Automotive study, car dealerships are often considered “overpriced and expensive,” while the location of the dealership is also a concern, as is the time it takes for the repair to be completed.
This latter frustration is compounded by continuing issues exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is reported that the majority of car dealerships (57 percent) are currently not fully staffed, and that 80 percent expect the labor issues to worsen in the short term. Fifty-eight percent of service centers also say that parts delays from manufacturers are one of their top operational roadblocks, while 45 percent say that finding and hiring the right technicians is another top operational roadblock.
However, in the face of these headwinds, some car dealerships are turning to new digital tools to help boost customer satisfaction. These include service pick-up and delivery, ride sharing services, progress tracking, online cost estimates, and mobile check-in. Online appointment scheduling was another critical feature cited by customers.
To note, the 2021 Cox Automotive Service Industry Study is based on survey responses from 2,502 customers located in the U.S., aged 18 to 75, with at least one service experience in the last 12 months, as well as 529 franchise dealers with decision-making authority over fixed operations.