Vehicle recalls are coming in at a fast and furious rate. Prior to a recent announcement of five concurrent Toyota recalls totaling 6.4 million vehicles, a recent Los Angeles Times article pointed out that about 11 million vehicles had been recalled in the United States so far this year.
Your first thought very well could be, that’s a lot of vehicle recalls … and you’d be right. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it is already about half the 22 million vehicles recalled in all of 2013 – and more than a third of the way to the recent record of 30.8 vehicle recalls set in 2004.
General Motors has come under fire for their faulty ignition switches that prompted widespread criticism and Congressional hearings; to the point where the whole issue has been lampooned on Saturday Night Live. Ford recently recalled more than 400,000 older cars and SUVs due to rusting frame parts and faulty seats.
How Does Your Dealership Handle Vehicle Recalls?
Customers of automotive dealers who sell these products are concerned, and rightfully so. The dealers themselves are frustrated because it isn’t their fault; after all, they just sell the vehicles. But if the staff at affected dealerships adopts the right mindset, they can make a very significant, positive difference.
If the recalls are handled quickly and efficiently – and with a dose of genuine concern and compassion – American car buyers will be forgiving. They bought their cars from a particular dealership for specific reason(s), and in most cases service was at or near the top of that list. If they receive top-notch care during the recall experience, they will remember it.
Are Americans Getting Immune to Vehicle Recalls?
Some experts believe that Americans are beginning to get numb to the idea of vehicle recalls, too … because there have been so many of them over the years. Statistics may prove them right. In the 1970s and 1980s, four out of 10 GM buyers said a recall that happened during that time period would alter their next new-vehicle selection. By 2004, that number had shrunk to 16 percent; and today, it’s less than seven percent. Consider also that General Motors’ sales were up 4.1% in March despite the much-publicized automotive recalls.
If your dealership sells any of the affected automotive products, you are probably hearing the same questions over and over from your customers. But be patient and kind, even during the times you wish you didn’t have to be. The way you care for these customers today will go a long way toward keeping them customers tomorrow, and well into the future. Don’t see these vehicle recalls as an issue (even though they are); instead, see them as an opportunity to prove yourself to your customer all over again.