Automobile Dealer Experience

July 18, 2015

My wife and I are contemplating getting a new car. Last weekend and again today we did some test drives. At the first dealership we visited today we had a very good, low-key experience. The salesman met us in the lot, answered our questions, and wasn't overly pushy. Nor did he try to be familiar or ingratiating. After making a copy of a driver's license he let us test drive the vehicle we were interested in.

At the second dealership we had to go inside to find someone, and were then lead to a pint-sized office where a mild interrogation began. Where did we live? Would we be buying the vehicle together or just one of us? After giving the salesman my phone number I watched him access some kind of public records database service to pull up information about me. When he tried to circle back around to the finance question again, I explained that I knew he had a boss and a script, but that we were only interested in test driving a vehicle and that all the other items on his list could wait. He relented and got us a demo model to drive.

One of the dealers was Nissan (where we drove a Rogue) and the other was Ford (where we drove an Edge and an Escape). Prior today I would have bet money, upon hearing a tale like this one, that Ford was the invasive dealer and the Nissan was the low-key one. It was exactly the opposite. Ford was relaxed and pleasant while Nissan felt invasive and heavy handed.

As a member of the information technology industry I am very well acquainted with the idea of user experience. Car dealerships have a history of very poor, adversarial, user experiences. Particularly American marquee automobiles. After today's experience I am ready to believe that American car companies have improved their approach to treating customers, and that the off-shore brands are falling behind.

At least for the two dealerships we visited today, the Ford dealer beat the Nissan hands down for the user experience.

Author's profile picture

Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.