Memo to Saab dealers – This isn’t what it takes to win customers

The following are recent comments about dealership experiences from readers of this site. I’m aware that there are quite likely a great number of good dealership experiences to balance the accounts below, but this post has been made in response to a dealer asking me, via email, what it would take for people to visit dealerships again.

I want dealership discussions on this site to be instructive, constructive and useful. I think anyone with money invested in a Saab dealership has a vested interest in running their business the right way. I think they want to do it right and I think the majority of them do. Sometimes, however, staff can let you down and it appears that has happened a few times recently.

Names and some locations have been omitted as the specifics aren’t necessarily what matters here. What’s important – what we can all learn from – is the experiences these people had when they visited.

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Hello all, love this site, have not had the courage to comment as of yet, but read it almost daily. I must compliment Swade and general SAAB community for keeping the discussion open, honest, and refreshingly free of childish bickering.

I wanted to give support to the notion that we are often too hard on the SAAB 9-5′s interior quality. I recently spent some time in the interior, and pictures really do not do it justice. There is a very solid, forged quality to the interior that is difficult to convey, but I actually really loved it. Could it use a bit more flair – absolutely. Is it competitive in the segment – definitely (IMHO). The workers at SAAB clearly put alot of effort into the build quality and it shows.

On a slightly more negative note, I went to a SAAB dealer in …… with a friend who was looking for an “extra” car. I had to convince him to look at the 9-3, and actually drove him to the dealer myself. Unfortunately, the dealer spent little time with us, and really didn’t sell my friend at all. No one assisted me when I spent some time (alone) looking at the 9-5. I am a physician, and my friend is in finance, we both can afford vehicles in the 9-3/9-5 segment and we were both largely ignored. I actually live in …. I wanted to support SAAB so I went looking for the car while I had some free time, which is rare for me. I wish the dealer had spent a bit of time with us – they really should focus on every customer that comes through the door!

Regardless, I plan on picking up a new 9-5 (deciding whether to get a discounted ’10, or wait for the ’11) – will be making a trip to some new england SAAB dealers soon. Are there any recommendations for the RI area? I currently own other luxury vehicles, and am accustomed to at least polite treatment at the dealership, so I want to go to a place that my wife and I will be treated at least courteously. She is on the fence about SAAB (she wants the E-class), but I am trying to convince her otherwise, and actually usually do manage to persuade her on car choices. However, I will need a good dealer to help me “sell” my wife on SAAB.

Look forward to the advice, As a sidenote, I have loved SAAB’s since I sat in one at a combined Honda-SAAB dealership as a child (my parents were buying a civic, it was all they could afford at the time, but the SAAB people were nice enough to let an 8 year old spend some of time in their demo cars, which I will never forget – good dealers can have such a lasting impact!) I really am glad the brand survived, and promised myself I would buy one if it did. I will do what I can to fulfill that promise soon. Thank you all for the comments and posts, love this site!

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That last paragraph contains a resounding truth – good dealers can really have a lasting impact!

And then there’s the following…..

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I’m concerned about the quality of the dealer network in the U.S. I’ve been considering the new 9-5 for months. Finally got to a …. dealership. Its an auto mall, not a stand alone dealership. The sales guy knew nothing – I mean nothing about the car. He gave me his business card which had a Saab logo with about 7 other makes (VW, Scion, etc). I laughed when I noticed the Saab logo on his card was the old (I mean really old) Saab/Scania logo. Well, its only been 21 years.

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The dealers that I’ve had contact with over the last few years are ones that I’ve rarely ever heard a compaint about. I don’t want to blow SU’s trumpet here, but my guess is that if they’re engaged enough to be seeking out a site like SU (and others in the niche) then they’re the type of pro-active and motivated dealer that Saab needs.

My gut feel is that 90% or more of Saab dealers and their staff care a LOT about the brand, the cars and their customers. My hope is that national Saab organisations can work hard with the others to get them up to speed.

Different customers require different levels of care and knowledge. Personally, I don’t like being approached too much by salespeople in any field. I prefer to do my own homework, know what I want and the salesperson is just there to facilitate the transaction. Others will be comfortable in receiving a deeper level of service and I guess the trick for dealers and sales people is to have the appropriate level of product knowledge and people skills to judge the situation and act accordingly.

Thanks to these commenters (and others) for sharing their experiences.

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Please note: Relating some disappointing experiences is OK, however I’d ask that you refrain from naming the dealership concerned. In a recent thread, one particular dealership with an otherwise very good reputation was criticised quite harshly by an angry customer. That dealership has contacted the customer and hopefully they’re now working on a resolution to the issues raised. Having heard a bit more of the story, I remain unconvinced that the dealer was at fault for anything more than some tardy communication.

The point – you might be angry about something, disappointed about something…whatever. Posting here constitutes an unverified account of a situation and I’m reluctant to allow a dealer’s reputation to be sullied on Saabs United by unverified and subjective accounts. If you have a problem, talk to the dealer themselves.

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