Chrysler, GM Rap Dealer's Knuckles

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
chrysler gm rap dealer s knuckles

Some car dealers are missing the bad old times when Detroit was preoccupied with problems at home. Carmakers again have the bandwidth to look at “the channel,” and some don’t like what they see. Suddenly, dealers find themselves at the receiving end of harsh criticism. Both Chrysler and GM dealers are receiving a derriere chewing.

Jeep, Ram and Dodge landed at the very bottom of the latest J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) index. Sergio Marchionne is not amused and tells dealer to shape up. “We’re not top league”, Marchionne told Automotive News. “We moved up. But that’s not true of the customer interface. We’re doing well, the dealers are doing well, but they’re not doing well with the customers.” Dealers blame the fact that Chrylser no longer rewards dealers for meeting company standards. Dealerships that were up to snuff could collect up to $200,000 per quarter. With the program suspended, dealers must excel for free.

GM has another problem: GM dealers are ordering too many cars. Automotive News [sub] reports that “General Motors is cracking down on dealers who it says are “gaming” its vehicle-ordering system to finagle more cars and trucks than they deserve.” GM says it has uncovered “significant ordering and reporting abuses” by dealers who are trying to get more cars than they deserve. Damn if you do, damn if you don’t. In the olden days, dealers were drowned in cars they had not ordered, now they get rapped for ordering too many cars.

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  • Drksd4848 Drksd4848 on Jan 24, 2012

    Just an aside: I love term Customer "SATISFACTION". So vague. All based on perception so to speak. Essentially, from my point of view as a car buyer it means: The dealer can screw me as much or as hard as they can so long I "FEEL" satisfied.

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    • Drksd4848 Drksd4848 on Jan 24, 2012

      @carbiz As I had said, "satisfaction" is all perception. When I was buying my first new car at the age young 24 - twelve years ago, I was worked over by the dealer and paid more than I should have. Yet, it all happened with a smile I sure thought they were on my side, helping me get the best deal I could afford. At the time, I was happy and filled out the CSI survey and marked excellent on all the bubbles. But back then I was idealistic and naive. As I became older and wiser I realized I got screwed. The first indication was a check I received from my dealer a year later for $500; part of a class action law suit settlement against them for slipping in a "dealer prep fee" as part of the vehicle cost. I've leaned more since then. Enjoy golfing!

  • Bobertbill Bobertbill on Jan 24, 2012

    Having worked previously at a Chrysler dealership(5 years ago) I can concur with a previous comment about getting "excellent" scores and coaching your customers. Our dealer back then tried doing it the honest way, no coaching. We averaged around 90-95 percent of our sales and service customers saying they were very satisfied or completely satisfied. It is a well established dealership with loyal customers and good sales. Problem was Chrysler(and Ford I found out later in a new job) were solely focused on Top Box scoring- completely satisfied. We were trained to coach our customers about the importance of a completely satisfied score. I would tell a new customer that when they got the survey, to please score it completely satisfied, anything less and it got docked against me and could result in punishment. If there was a problem notify me before sending the survey in. There were stories of other dealerships offering free oil changes for perfect scores and other gimmicks. The results- our scores went up to nearly 100. Problem being, we really didnt do anything different, other than coach our customers into filling out a survey( and getting the really satisfied ones to fill it out- they often just didnt). We were a great store before the coaching, and a great store after the coaching, but nothing about the processes was changed- nor did it need to be. Now observing from the outside, I take comments like these from manufacturers with a grain of salt. It they scored themselves on product reliability, warranty repairs, ownership, after warranty adjustments- their scores would be lower than President Obama and near Congresses approval rating. Reminds me when our service department manager was all in a hissy(still a good friend of mine) after getting RIPPED apart with all zeros on a survey from a safety recall customer wanting warranty work done for his inop power windows, and loose ball joints on his 03 Ram----with over 90k on it! Not under warranty, but he- and the dealership - were a holes now according to the customer(who had to be told by our SM to leave for his foul mouth) for not giving free service- after appealing they still wouldnt throw out the survey so it scored against us. Man am I glad I not having to deal with all that anymore.

  • Carbiz Carbiz on Jan 24, 2012

    All the CSI surveys are crap. Every company coaches their customers. When I was in the business, some months my CSI bonus was half my pay! As commissions were squeezed, GM and the dealers were redirecting funds to areas where perception could count. A recent stay at a Sheraton Hotel elicited the usual survey:about 15 questions, based on 1-10. The hotel was great: convenient, clean, newly renovated, the service and food very good. Knowing how important these surveys are, I happily filled it out and mailed it within a day or so. Out of 10, I gave mostly 7s, with the odd 8 thrown in. Imagine my surprise when I got a call from some person from the hotel chain, wondering why I was unable to give them 9s or 10s. What? If I was carried from my vehicle by seven vestal virgins, who then helped me unpack and bathed me in olive oil - I would still only give an 8 or 9! Welcome to modern business schooling. At GM, it was binary code: out of 5 - 5 was a pass, 4 was a fail. It did not matter to us if the customer put all ones and threatened to drive their new purchase through the front showroom window. A one was the same as a 4.

    • JMII JMII on Jan 24, 2012

      +1 this is totally true! My wife was a manager of a corporate restaurant, you know the one with unlimited bread sticks and salad. Their CSI score made up a good chunk of her pay (and promotions) and yes only "5"s count. Was your food hot? Scale of 1 to 5 - most people are happy at 4, but in corporate's eyes this is a "fail" grade. Having your life judged on such a fuzzy metric is crazy.


    The new car service after the sale will always be sporadic when sales people are paid $75-$100 flats per transaction and $300 a week draws against commission