Dealers can use manufacturer recalls as an opportunity to impress customers with their efficiency and build a stronger relationship, says motor industry consultancy Network Automotive.
The company, which advises motor manufacturers and dealers, says that while no manufacturer and franchise network would choose a recall, that a properly handled one can reduce dramatically any negative effects.
Colin Bruder, managing director, said: “Recalls, especially ones that generate a lot of negative publicity, are undoubtedly damaging to a brand in the short term, and at the very least create a lot of annoyance for customers.
“However, the handling of the recall is also an opportunity to impress the customer with the integrity of both the manufacturer and the dealer, and to show them how quickly and efficiently their operation can make reparations.
“Crucially at the moment, with motorists looking to reduce costs, a recall is also an opportunity for a dealer to show the advantages of using a franchise outlet for service and maintenance rather than an independent garage.”
Bruder pointed to not just the highly publicised Toyota recall that has taken place in recent weeks but also others such as the Peugeot, Citroen, Honda and Ford recalls currently underway in Europe and across the world.
He said: “Recalls are an unfortunate fact of life for manufacturers and dealers but they do provide a means for them to stand up and say, ‘We have identified an issue but we are being responsible in rectifying it.’
“Any company operating in any industry will tell you that some of their most loyal long term customers are ones with whom errors have been made – but those errors were acknowledged then put right quickly and efficiently.
“The situation is the same in the motor industry. If the dealer can demonstrate their efficiency and expertise in putting a problem right with the minimum disruption to the customer, they can create confidence.”
Bruder added that an additional way of minimising damage to the manufacturer brand was to offer customers some form of compensation for inconvenience caused, such as a free service, MoT or warranty extension.
He said: “What customers are looking for is a signal that the manufacturer and dealer know and care that they the recall has caused them hassle and bother, and some compensatory gesture will be much appreciated.”