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Longstanding perceptions of dealers don't match reality: ART

November 22, 2010
A new pamphlet, "Continuous Improvement," produced by Automotive Retailing Today (ART), seeks to dispel stereotypes about dealerships that might harm the ability of dealers to attract the most capable employees. "Dealers compete with other industries and businesses for the same quality workers: responsible, ambitious, intelligent, loyal and personable problem-solvers. And despite competitive wages and benefits, ART research shows few career counselors and even fewer parents suggest dealership employment as a good choice for today's young people as they make career decisions," said ART Chairman Alan Starling. "A major step toward dispelling stereotypes," Starling added, "is to unify our industry to speak in one voice about the continuous improvements in today's dealership experience and the positive perceptions and attitudes of new-car buyers." Copies of "Continuous Improvement" were sent recently to franchised, new-car dealers nationwide, to arm them with survey findings that debunk outdated but persistent stereotypes about buying a vehicle. Surveys indicate that car buyers trust their dealers more than the auto dealership industry in general, revealing that industry stereotypes diminish as customers experience a dealership. Personal experience in car buying, in turn, increases customer-reported trust scores and positive perceptions. The latest data, from 2004, show that new-vehicle buyers rate their dealers nearly as trustworthy as law enforcement, and more trustworthy than the insurance, health care and news media industries. Among ART survey findings: • 91 percent of new-car buyers-89 percent of minorities- are satisfied with dealership where they most recently purchased/leased a new vehicle. • Women (91 percent) and men (90 percent) nearly share satisfaction with the purchasing/leasing experience. Automotive Retailing Today is a coalition of all major automobile manufacturers and dealer associations that works to narrow the gap between perception and reality that negatively affects dealer image. ART also promotes a better understanding of dealer sales and service business practices, career opportunities and contributions to the community. Starling urges dealers: "Please join ART in setting the record straight and educating the public and the prospective workforce about the positive change in America's franchise dealerships."