Service and customer support are far more important than price in driving vehicles sales, says Steve Atkinson, Franchise Director of Combined Motor Holdings (CMH).
Atkinson is actively involved in training staff across the many CMH Group dealerships, with the aim of further improving customer service.
“One would think that price is the most important consideration when buying a new car, especially in today’s difficult economic climate,” says Atkinson, pointing at the wide array of advertisements promoting cash back discounts and better repayment rates.
“Our experience is different. Price is an important consideration and ensures that a customer makes the first contact, but after that sales support and service become the key purchase drivers.”
Atkinson speaks from more than two decades of experience, having being part of the CMH team that re-established Volvo in South Africa in 1994. Today he manages a wide range of vehicle brands for the CMH Group and has a bird’s eye view of the best practices amongst various dealers.
“The old adage holds true, people buy from people,” says Atkinson. “The relationship and level of service received from a sales consultant or specific dealer are much better indicators of sales success and return business than the sales price.”
Having identified the key drivers of vehicle sales, Atkinson champions the training initiatives in the CMH Group and is entrusted with sharing best practices across the 59 dealerships that CMH operates across brands as diverse as BMW, Toyota, Volkswagen, MG and Volvo through the company’s unique CMH Connect platform.
“We have the powerful advantage of being able to study sales support and customer reaction across all types of brands. At the same time our technical staff has many years of institutional memory on servicing and maintaining passenger and commercial vehicles. We are now creating a platform on which they can share this to ultimately serve our customers better,” says Atkinson.
CMH is a South African listed company that specialises in the automotive industry. Apart from its franchise operations it has divisions in a wide range of other sectors, including finance, insurance, lifestyle, marine and vehicle rental through First Car Rental.
“Thanks to this culture of sharing best practices and improving skills we have shown 18 months of continued growth, says Jebb McIntosh, CEO of the CMH Group. “This, alongside several dealer awards from brands such as Land Rover, Jaguar and Volvo is proof enough of the value of good customer service.”