CarGurus scoured more than 1,000 written reviews posted on its website during the past six months and found five clear reasons why some dealers are loved by shoppers while also listing the top five reasons why some dealers are found to be not so appealing.
Site officials discovered poor communication and deceptive business practices were the dominant themes in the negative reviews. On the bright side, they said friendly service and upfront, timely communication were cited most often in favorable consumer reviews.
CarGurus suggested its findings prove a dealer’s candor and responsiveness carry significant weight and can make or break a sale among online shoppers — sometimes even before the consumer meets the salesperson face-to-face.
For each dealer review submitted, consumers rated dealers on a scale of one (negative) to five (positive) stars and were asked to provide written comments about their experience, the site explained.
Officials determined that 34 percent of the written reviews analyzed had ratings of one or two stars; 10 percent were rated three stars; and 56 percent were rated four or five stars.
CarGurus shared the following lists of the most common themes in written comments contributed by consumers:
Top 5 Consumer Complaints About Dealers
1. No response. Consumers complained that some dealers failed to respond to e-mail or phone inquiries about an advertised vehicle.
2. The bait and switch. Consumers complained of the classic bait and switch, citing instances in which a model they viewed at the dealer’s site did not match the advertisement or the dealer reported the vehicle had “just been sold” when the consumer visited the dealer location. Consumers felt that they were duped into visiting the dealership, then pressured to consider other models.
3. Communications disconnect. Consumers cited frustrations in getting accurate, prompt answers from dealer staff via e-mail. Others cited inconsistent communications between the dealer’s online staff and showroom staff. In some cases, what was promised in an initial e-mail contact proved to be inaccurate once the consumer visited the rooftop.
4. Unsatisfactory customer service. Consumers cited instances of rude, arrogant or uninformed service from dealers. Others indicated they do not like feeling pressured to buy and complained that aggressive communication and arrogant attitudes from some dealers were a turnoff.
5. Time wasted. Consumers complained of the time spent chasing answers from the dealer or in other cases time wasted driving to the dealership only to find the vehicle no longer available with no prior notification from the dealer. In some cases, consumers complained they were made to wait despite having scheduled an appointment or asked to fill out lengthy paperwork before they were able to see the model they wanted.
Top 5 Reasons Consumers Love Dealers
1. Friendly, professional service. Courteous and respectful service proved to be a crowd pleaser. Many consumers with good dealer experiences commented on dealers that were sensitive to their unique needs, and they commended specific salespeople and expressed future loyalty.
2. Fast response. Many positive consumer reviews praised dealers for their quick response to online inquiries about a vehicle.
3. Forthright, accurate answers. Consumers were grateful for dealers’ willingness to provide detailed answers via email or phone rather than pushing for a location visit. Dealers that provided candid, accurate information about the model being considered received high marks.
4. Clean dealerships, clean vehicle interiors. Many favorable reviews commented on the cleanliness of the dealership and on the appearance of the used vehicle's interior.
5. Good prices. Consumers who felt they had purchased a unit at a competitive or fair price were generally pleased with their dealer.
Top Site Exec Gives Advice to Dealers
Langley Steinert, founder and chief executive officer of CarGurus, offered some tips on how store management can take these findings and improve lot operations.
“For most car shoppers today, the dealer relationship begins online, and that has changed the game for consumers and dealers alike,” Steinert noted
“In this age of online information transparency, reputation matters more than ever,” he insisted. “The dealers that have embraced this new online paradigm are winning customers.
“However, those dealers that have failed to adapt their business practices to the online channel risk alienating not just one prospective customer, but all consumers that come online after that one,” Steinert concluded.