Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017, 10:04 AM UPDATED 10:29 AMBy Sarah Rubenoff
These days, customer service is all about giving your clients what they want.
Think about Amazon Wardrobe, for example. Now, Amazon Prime subscribers can get clothes delivered to their doorstep for free — and send them back for free if they don’t fit.
Aly Jiwani, general manager of OpenRoad Auto Group’s The BMW Store, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Vancouver and Mini Yaletown, runs his dealerships on the same concept: “I think customer service means different things to different people. And I think more than anything else, we are trying to adapt to what the customer wants,” Jiwani said.
Employees at Open Road Auto Group — which now touts 22 stores in Canada and covers 18 brands — work to let their customers know they will “do business the way they want,” said Jiwani.
And that’s true whether we are talking about going to extra lengths in the service department, offering no-haggle market pricing for pre-owned vehicles or innovative technology to enable online buying.
Online vehicle purchasing — a customer desire on the minds of many a dealer and OEM.
“We will do and adhere to whatever they want to make it as easy and convenient as possible,” said Jiwani of his customers. And this includes exploring online purchasing technology.
Companies like CarMax in the U.S. have been at the forefront of online buying for pre-owned vehicles.
But now, dealer groups across the U.S., Canada and beyond — many of which are already comfortable with buying wholesale vehicles online to stock their lots — are preparing to take another step in the digital evolution of vehicle retail, as well.
Canada’s OpenRoad Auto Group has gone so far as to create a subcommittee within the company, which was launched specifically to explore the topic of online vehicle purchasing.
Jiwani, a member of this digital committee, says the organization is “fully headed toward online buying.”
“We have an entire department dedicated to online buying. We have invested a lot of resources, including monetary, people and time, because we know that’s the direction people are going,” Jiwani said.
In fact, the company already offers customers the option of putting down deposits online to hold vehicles for future purchase.
“So, in a way we have already started selling online. We are kind of in the infant stages, but it is going to be in full force by the end of this year,” said Jiwani.
Jiwani shared with AuSM Canada that customers, especially pre-owned, have had no problem adopting the online deposit program. He went on to explain this acceptance goes hand-in-hand with OpenRoad’s reputation.
“I think right now the way the industry is going, it is being dominated by the large dealer groups,” said Jiwani. “And I think that people want to always feel a sense of knowing they got a deal. So they want to deal with someone reputable. OpenRoad has over 20 stores, and customers know they aren’t the only ones dealing with us.”
How? Well, beyond the obvious, Jiwani says customers “just go online and find Google reviews, Yelp reviews, DealerRater, and see what other people are saying.”
Jiwani said he can think of at least five to 10 of his customers that live much closer to other auto dealers, but they still drive all the way to the closest OpenRoad Auto Group store to purchase their next vehicle.
“They bought from us because of the reputation we have, because of these online reviews. And I think it’s paramount right now. You can’t hide those things anymore, so if you are doing well, people will tell people, and if you are not, people will also tell people,” Jiwani explained.
The dealer group’s positive reputation plays right into the success of their programs that promote online reservation and deposits.
“A lot of people, especially pre-owned, they understand that these cars online are going to be perfect when they get them,” said Jiwani. “They are getting tons of pictures; they are getting full disclosure; they know everything about the car already.”
At OpenRoad, dealership management aims to provide a “no surprises” experience with its online customers. This may mean going the “extra mile” says Jiwani, but it again comes down to providing the customers’ preferred buying experience.
“Some people feel more comfortable buying online in their homes, and we just want to help facilitate that more than anything else,” said Jiwani.
“And again, more than anything else, it’s just to adhere to what the customer wants and listening to what the customer wants and then following through. The main thing is that we follow through,” he concluded.