A Mid Year Review from the desk of the MD – Julie Caldicott

With the winter solstice a thing of the past, it feels as if we have reached the “Pinnacle” of 2015 and are speeding down the other side of the mountain. The first 6 months of the year have been challenging given the current environment we find ourselves in, with load shedding, a depreciating Rand, labour issues, and a government that doesn’t really know which direction they want to pull us in. These, together with increasing manufacturer and compliance requirements, and the demands of customers, have made the start to this year a challenging one for our dealers.

As we head down the other side, it doesn’t look like too much is going to change, and the need to focus on true customer satisfaction is intensifying. Customers now have all the tools in hand to make informed, well-researched decisions and this is only going to get tougher as the access to information is becoming easier.

No longer does a customer arrive at a dealership wanting to find out which vehicles are available, they arrive to demo one of the vehicles that have reached their short-list: having seen the vehicle on the road, on the internet, read a number of reviews, gained an understanding of the pricing and weighed up their options on competitor products. This places the dealership in a unique position whereby they are able to close deals in a relatively short period of time. This means that the dealerships need to be on top of their game, ensuring the customer service they are giving goes above and beyond the customers next stop.

Once the customer has purchased your product the next step – service retention – is critical. The current franchise servicing regulations, make the retention slightly easier, however competition for this business is growing. The non-franchise service centres are becoming more professional and the pressure is on to allow them to service vehicles in warranty. This is where customer service is critical, ensuring that the customer remains in your dealership to continue the cycle.

We at Pinewood SA have placed a huge focus in the past 6 months on both of these processes and continue to tweak Pinnacle and our training to provide you with industry leading tools and education, to enable you to give the best customer service in the industry. There has been excellent feedback on our recently released showroom module, which makes the sales cycle seamless. We have also been working very closely with dealers in streamlining the service lane, increasing communications to customers and maximising revenue potential, all the while providing excellent customer service.

As you start heading down the other side, I encourage you all to place focus on ensuring the processes you have in place both in the sales and aftersales departments are customer-centric and pivot around Pinnacle, which will result in business growth and translating to the bottom line.

All the best  for the next 6 months and we look forward to assisting you on this exciting and rewarding journey.

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