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J.D. Power Reveals Sales Satisfaction Index Study

November 16, 2006

Customer satisfaction with the new-vehicle sales process has reached a record high, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2006 Sales Satisfaction Index Study released Wednesday. J.D. Power said customer satisfaction is measured on five factors — dealership facility, salesperson, paperwork/finance process, delivery process and vehicle price. The industry achieved a record overall SSI score of 847 on a 1,000-point scale, a five-point improvement from 2005, the company reported. However, a leading cause of lost sales at new-vehicle dealerships is poor customer treatment. Nearly one-half of all shoppers who walk away from a dealership cite poor treatment as a reason, executives noted. The study also found that customers are particularly sensitive to time-related issues when purchasing a new vehicle. On average, the entire purchase process takes about three hours. Vehicle selection typically takes the most time, averaging 47 minutes, followed by negotiating the deal (38 minutes) and paperwork/finance (32 minutes). One area impacting sales satisfaction is the time customers wait between negotiating the deal and beginning the paperwork and financing process, which currently averages 31 minutes. "Just sitting around waiting to begin the paperwork process is a slippery slope, which is why it is critical for the dealership to manage the buyer's time productively," said Crane. Nearly one-third of all new-vehicle sales occur on either a Saturday or Sunday. However, satisfaction is consistently lower on the weekend compared to weekdays on every factor, primarily due to a longer process, according to executives. Overall, it takes an average of 22 minutes longer to purchase a car on a Saturday or Sunday. With an SSI score of 912, Jaguar leads its closest competitor, Cadillac, by 21 points. J.D. Power also pointed out that this is the third consecutive year Jaguar has ranked the highest. The purchase experience sets the tone for the subsequent relationship with customers during the entire vehicle-ownership cycle, according to the study. While four of five new-vehicle buyers express a general interest to spend future service dollars at the selling dealer, less than one-half (45 percent) indicate they "definitely" plan to do so, J.D. Power said. As sales satisfaction declines, the intention to return also declines. Sales Satisfaction Index Rankings: (Based on a 1,000-point scale) Jaguar: 912Cadillac: 891Lincoln: 889Porsche: 889Lexus: 887Saturn: 887Buick: 884Volvo: 883Mercury: 881Mercedes-Benz: 876Hummer: 874BMW: 873Mini: 873Land Rover: 872Infiniti: 868Chevrolet: 862GMC: 861Ford: 855Acura: 854Saab: 854Pontiac: 852Audi: 849Industry Average: 847 Hyundai: 844Honda: 843Jeep: 841Chrysler: 839Dodge: 834Toyota: 832Kia: 828Volkswagen: 827Scion: 826Subaru: 825Nissan: 823Mazda: 815Suzuki: 810Mitsubishi: 794 Isuzu was included in the study but not ranked due to small sample size. The 2006 Sales Satisfaction Index Study was based on responses from 42,218 new-vehicle buyers who registered their vehicles in May 2006.
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