Earlier this month, we shared parts one and two of a three-part guide for improving the dealership experience. Today, we’re sharing the final part, which has one last tip from the Power Ford team for improving the customer experience. And since creating an excellent customer experience requires consistent effort, we’ll go over some of the next steps Power Ford plans to take to differentiate their dealership and continue exceeding customer expectations.
Tip # 6: Remember that culture matters.
At Power Ford they have an internal saying, “Faith. Family. Ford.” Every employee knows that these are the dealership’s values—and it makes a difference. “We firmly believe that if you take care of your employees, they’ll take care of your customers, and ultimately it takes care of your business,” said Matt.
And it works. Power Ford has earned a New Mexico “Best Places to Work” award for the past three years—and they intend to keep on winning. Here are the key ways Power Ford has focused on creating a great dealership culture:
→ Use repetition.
At Power Ford, creating an exceptional ownership experience is the mission. But a mission doesn’t matter unless everyone knows about it. So Power Ford leadership continues to keep preaching their mission and saying the same thing over and over to make it memorable for their employees.
→ Foster a great employee environment.
Power Ford knows that work environment is a major player in employee experience. So, in addition to providing competitive pay and benefits, they also take inspiration from large tech companies and provide perks like:
-Power Ford night at the local baseball stadium, where employees can bring their families, watch a fun game, and eat their weight in hot dogs.
-Power Ford softball games at Isotopes Park, where the sales and service departments take the field, there are open concession stands, and everyone has a blast.
-Bringing in food and treats on special occasions—like green cupcakes on St. Patrick’s Day.
-Providing a Tech Service Lounge and a Sales Lounge—with comfortable couches, TVs, ping pong tables, and other ways for employees to de-stress and have fun at work.
In an industry that is known for being cutthroat and abrasive, Power Ford differentiates in every way they can.
→ Listen to employees and let them know you care.
It’s a simple tip, but it so often goes overlooked. Power Ford leverages a service called Energage to keep tabs on employee satisfaction, listen to employee feedback, and make changes when necessary.
“One of the neat things about being a business leader is seeing the impact that a dealership can have on people,” said Matt. “The increase in sales is not just about selling another car or selling another service, it’s about the impact those things have on people. It’s helping someone build a career, or get behind the wheel of a car that makes them feel excited and confident.”
Next on Power Ford’s to-do list? Improving the payment experience.
“Traditional credit card processing machines are very archaic and it slows the customer experience down,” said Matt. At dealerships, when customers are ready to put a deposit down on a car, an employee has to take their credit card—and from there, a lot can go wrong. “It’s one of those things,” said Matt, “where you’re like, ‘Okay let’s go run this real quick,’ but in reality it’s not really quick. There’s always things that can go wrong which create friction for the customer.”
And according to Matt, even if there’s nothing that goes wrong, the payment process is still not quick—and heaven forbid you need to do a refund. So, next on Power Ford’s list of customer experiences to improve is payments, particularly:
→ Implementing Text-to-Pay.
Not only will text-to-pay make it easier for customers to pay remotely, but the payment link continues to live on inside the text message thread between the customer and the dealership—giving both sides clear context around the payment.
“With text-to-pay,” said Matt, “we can simply say, ‘Great, I’m going to send you a text message. You can pay through Apple Pay, Google Pay, or enter your credit card information.’ And then it’s all right there in the messages. And then if someone needs a refund later on, as soon as you hit, “Refund,” it sends a text message to the customer that says, ‘Your refund has been initiated. The refund should take 3 – 7 business days to show up in your account. The time the refund takes is dependent on your bank.’ This gives the customer peace of mind knowing the refund has been initiated.”
Not only will this provide a better experience for customers, but it will save dealership employees five to 10 minutes—at least—for every transaction.
→ Upgrading card readers inside the dealership.
“As we continue to revolutionize the customer experience, one of our initiatives is to make it more like an Apple experience,” said Matt. “When you go into Apple and you buy an iPhone, the person helping you does not leave your side. When it’s time to pay for your new iPhone, all you have to do is enter your payment in the terminal the Apple employee is holding.”
Matt has a vision to implement new card readers that are completely integrated with their texting platform, allowing them to take payment quickly, automate review invites upon payment, collect text message opt-ins, and more. “This will make it so when someone comes in and needs to pay for an oil change, they’re done. There’s no walking over to the cashier’s office to pay the bill—the service advisors can check a customer out right there,” said Matt.
Why does dealership experience matter?
According to Power Ford, investing in dealership and customer experience helps the business in various ways, including:
→ Increasing profit and revenue.
“There are studies out there that say each one-star increase in a company’s star-rating reflects something like an 8% increase in revenue,” said Matt.
→ Outshining the competition and winning more business.
“It definitely makes a difference. I hear customers say, ‘Oh, I Googled Ford and saw three dealerships but you guys have the highest rating, so I came here versus there,’” said Matt.
→ Earning customer loyalty.
“At Power Ford, we want to create customers for life,” said Matt. “We don’t want to sell them their first vehicle, we want to sell them all of their vehicles—and we’ve seen that investing in the customer and employee experience helps us do that.”
And other benefits have included winning awards like the DealerRater Dealer of the Year for four years running, the Ford President’s Award, and the Albuquerque Journal’s Top Places to Work award for three years in a row. Not to mention, a 12% increase in CSI scores year over year, minimal staff churn, increased workplace morale, and better overall reviews.
“Our mission is to create exceptional ownership experience,” said Matt. “Part of that is making it easy for our customers to do business with us. Sometimes the unexpected happens like limited new vehicle inventory, part shortages, and technician availability. Still despite those challenges, because we communicate and provide transparency to our customers, we continue to see an increase in our online reputation and overall company growth.”
→ Read more about Power Ford’s success with Podium here.