- Cars are more technology-rich than ever.
- Carriage Nissan's delivery specialist team customizes the vehicle's navigation, radio and other settings for new-car buyers.
- That kind of personal service helps grow the dealership's already strong word-of-mouth business.
GAINSVILLE, Georgia — Carriage Nissan isn't a large dealership, nor is it in an auto mall. It doesn't spend much on television commercials, and only occasionally does newspaper advertisements. But it really delivers — in several senses of the word.
Carriage builds loyalty to the store by offering a better-than-expected experience for customers in both sales and service. One of the things Carriage created to make the ownership experience great from the start is its delivery team.
Along with its sister stores in the Carriage Automotive Group, Carriage Kia and Carriage Mitsubishi, Carriage Nissan employs a team of six new-car delivery specialists. When the dealership sells a new car, it assigns a delivery specialist to meet the purchasers and introduce them to the vehicle.
These delivery specialists are on hand to make sure customers buying new cars are not just given the keys to their new car and sent on their way. They also get a friendly tutorial on how to use all of the new car's features and options.
The specialists work with the new owner after the sale to customize the vehicle settings, including setting up navigation and radio, pairing of Bluetooth phones or describing and fine-tuning any other feature that may be new to the buyer.
The delivery specialist and the new owner also go over the vehicle together at time of delivery to look for overlooked scratches or dings, and to make sure the vehicle is cleaned to the buyer's satisfaction.
This practice isn't necessarily the industry standard by any means. Carriage sees it as a way to help buyers get the most out of their big purchase. After all, a new-car owner who thoroughly understands the vehicle is more likely to enjoy it, and is less likely to be frustrated by a complicated feature, turning the delivery experience into a tiring, multi-day affair.
The focus on follow-up doesn't end in the sales department. The dealership checks in regularly with customers in the service department as well. Making sure a service customer is happy with a recent repair visit is just as important as new-car sales satisfaction — and maybe even more important, since a customer will likely visit a service department more often than the sales department.
The intention, according to Customer Relations Manager Sharon Seiter, is to find potential problems and resolve them as soon as possible. Taking care of problems early on is key, she says, to keeping customers happy and loyal to Carriage. It seems to be working: nearly half of its sales come from repeat customers, referrals and service department customers. Repeat customers, referrals and customers in the service department make up roughly half of the dealership's new car business, Seiter says.
Carriage also makes inexpensive used cars available for its bargain-minded shoppers. It's not uncommon for dealers to offer used vehicles under $10,000, but Carriage makes an effort to also stock used cars under $5,000 as well.
Carriage also delivers on its commitment to making its customers feel special while it's doing outreach to the surrounding community.
In December, Carriage Nissan sponsored a free concert featuring four-time Grammy winners Third Day. The free show was open to the community and took place at Carriage Kia. People who purchased cars from any of the three Carriage Automotive Group stores in the month leading up to the event were treated to preferred seating and an after-show meet-and-greet with the band.
"At Carriage, we are always looking for new ways to be helpful in our community, and to keep customers happy," Seiter says. "People come to us because we take care of our customers. If you take care of your customers, they will come back. And maybe even refer you to friends, family. There are no better advertisements than good service and word of mouth."
Edmunds says: Given how tech-rich cars are today, a delivery team is a great way to get an ownership experience off to a positive start.