It’s the Little Things that Determine Customer Satisfaction - by Ted Ings

By Ted Ings, Executive Director

As you get older, you begin to realize it’s the little things that count – like a good book or a call from an old friend.

And the same holds true in business. Customers pay close attention to the details, and it’s the small stuff that determines whether they keep coming back.

Don’t overlook the little things

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We’ve all experienced it – a dealership in disarray, with a dirty showroom and even dirtier bathrooms. The one complimentary beverage is stale coffee, and the only snack is 20-year old peanuts from an equally aged vending machine.


Likewise, most of us have visited a dealership at the other end of the spectrum – a place with pristine bathrooms and showroom floors clean enough to eat from. A smorgasbord of complementary foods are offered, and the drink list includes everything from designer water to sugar-free Red Bull.

“It’s the little things that count – from a clean waiting area to the way you greet customers. If you don’t have these essentials in place, you could be driving away business.”

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Now, we’re not saying you need to go all out and be as posh as a Ferrari dealer. But there is a happy (and affordable) medium. Paying attention to details will improve the image of your business and increase customer satisfaction. These are some of the fine points to consider:

1. Cleanliness

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you walk into a dirty home? That the owner must not have their act together. Although that may be unfair to assume, we do it nonetheless.


Customers have the same reaction when they encounter an unkept dealership. And we’re not just talking about the showroom. If they peer into the shop area, and there’s oil and grease everywhere, they’re not going to trust you with their car.

It’s imperative that every part of the dealership – from the parking lot to the bathrooms – be kept clean.

2. Attitude

These days, people are on the defensive. They’re tired of dealing with sub-par, and sometimes downright terrible, customer service. When they walk into your dealership, they’re going to expect the same. It’s up to you and your team to prove them otherwise. Go out of your way to be friendly – hold the door open for customers, great them with a smile, remember their name. All these little things go a long way.


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Being prompt matters a great deal as well. Nothing is more frustrating for a customer than feeling ignored while waiting for assistance. If you truly can’t help them immediately, let them know why and get back to them as soon as possible.

Most importantly, remember, you’re in the business of providing service. And by definition, that means helping others. Instead of treating customers as a sales quota, view each person that walks through the door as someone you can assist – someone whose life you can make better.

3. Amenities

Like we mentioned, you don’t need to go all out with catered snacks and a grocery store-sized cooler of drinks. But thoughtful conveniences here and there make customers feel welcome.

Let’s face it – people love free food and drinks more than almost anything. Having a respectable variety of snacks and beverages goes a long way. So, unplug that greasy old popcorn machine (a concept that’s been way overdone) and instead, perhaps, provide some fresh-baked cookies. Throw in a soda machine next to the Keurig coffee pot, and add some bottled water.


Of course, food isn’t the only amenity customers appreciate.

Display the Wi-Fi password in the customer waiting area where everyone can see it. Provide more than one T.V. – and offer a shuttle service, definitely a shuttle service.

Customers don’t want to tack on an Uber or Lyft fee every time they visit your dealership.

On the sales side of things, it helps to send a thank you note – or better yet a gift basket – to customers who have made a large purchase. Let them know they’re appreciated, even after the sale.

Show you care

It all boils down to caring about others. Many times, we get so caught up in making money, that we forget about the small things. And by doing that, we overlook customers and their needs. At the same time, we do ourselves a disservice, conducting business based on superficial rewards rather than dignity and integrity.

Socrates once said, “The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear." Apply that concept at your dealership – and throughout your life – and you’ll see a difference.