Arkansas Buick GMC Dealer Creates a VIP Experience for Car Shoppers | Edmunds.com
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Arkansas Buick GMC Dealer Creates a VIP Experience for Car Shoppers


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Just the Facts:
  • The dealership has created a VIP program, which aims to make shopping easier for time-crunched car buyers.
  • Customer benefits of the program include offsite trade-in appraisals, transportation to the dealership and upfront vehicle pricing.
  • The family-owned dealership also offers offsite test-drives for shoppers who can't make it to the showroom.

FORT SMITH, Arkansas — Creating a great customer experience is something many forward-thinking dealerships strive to do. But most dealerships wait until the customer is in the showroom to begin the process.

Harry Robinson Buick GMC takes a slightly different approach. The dealership aims to wow customers before they set foot into the showroom — if they ever do. The dealership also makes it possible for car shoppers to make a purchase without ever coming to the store, if that's what they prefer.

In February of 2014, Harry Robinson Buick GMC created its VIP program. It consists of five key customer points: up-front vehicle pricing, guaranteed best price, offsite vehicle delivery, offsite trade-in appraisal and courtesy transportation to the dealership.

These five points can go far in making the sales process easier for the car buyer. The proof can be seen in a recent increase in customer satisfaction scores.

"Our goal is to give each customer the smoothest experience possible," says Jackie Durham, VIP sales process manager for Harry Robinson Buick GMC.

Durham says the program is part of a dealership effort to better serve the growing number of shoppers who are busy, want to save time, reduce stress, or who simply prefer to shop online.

Offering an online shopper the option of getting a low up-front price is a great way to start a conversation that may lead to a sale, according to Durham. To ensure that its prices are in line with the local market, Harry Robinson Buick GMC mystery shops other regional Buick/GMC dealers. It then uses the information it gathers, along with other internal dealership tools, to create pricing.

Just having a price in hand isn't enough to make a deal easy for car shoppers, however. There is still the prospect of coming down to the dealership to view and test-drive the car, fill out forms and sign documents.

Not all shoppers have the time or desire to come to the dealership to do these things. To cater to them, members of the Harry Robinson Buick GMC VIP sales team will deliver a purchased car or bring one out for a test-drive. They'll also do a trade-in appraisal away from the dealership lot, if the shopper prefers.

"We are responding to the growing technologically driven online community who are busy, want to save time, reduce stress," Durham says.

The team members will also pick up customers within a 25-mile radius and bring them to the dealership, which makes things easier for those who want to finalize the transaction at the store, but aren't planning to trade in a car.

These steps seem to be paying off for the store. In addition to the increase in customer satisfaction scores, the store is also selling more cars — nearly 150 per month, almost double the units average of only five years ago.

Edmunds says: Customer-focused initiatives like the VIP program are popping up all over the country. They make car shopping easier for the customer and result in more sales for the dealership.

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