Dealer Problems, Customer Perspective: The Road to NADA

Charlie Walker

Director of Marketing
Jan 12, 2018
Road To NADA Week 1 Picture


we provided an overview of our ten week series and discussed the emotions that buyers experience when when going through a large purchase such as a new car. The fear of the unknown, discomfort, and anxiety are all things surrounding any large financial purchase.

Additionally we looked through who we are at Custom Facilities, and why were trying to help dealers rethink not only their facility development and design goals, but also the mindset of apprehension toward updating and refining your own dealership. To take a look at that short preamble, click here.


When I looked into getting my first car I was convinced I needed a jeep CJ-5. The lifted body and removable sides were the perfect combination of off road rebellion and conceptual freedom that every sixteen year old dreams of.  At this early stage, all I was concerned with was what I would be able to do with a car and how it would reflect upon my own vision of who I was. I could see myself driving into the unknown listening to music with no doors and the top down in a car I had saved my money to get. I had a vision for the experience I wanted to have with my vehicle; it was vivid, specific, and important to me as a consumer. This is how owners need to approach their dealership, not with contempt for the perceived pain and frustration of a project, but how the potential created experience can be as visceral as a 16 year old in their first car.

Looking from a customer perspective, experience and emotion are very much the starting point (one that generally happens online).

Much like these consumers we, as dealers may not have a specific color in mind for the entryway, but we know the sum of its parts should be clean, warm and inviting. In short, the way that our customers have a vision for their interaction with a vehicle (Bluetooth, all wheel drive, backup camera) dealers should have vision of how interaction with facilities should function (style, lighting, process flow).

Even if you aren't considering a remodel you can incorporate this methodology into your dealership. Think through ways your customers interact with your facility and put yourself into their shoes. During our daily activities inside our dealerships, we spend 8,9,10 hours a day taking care of our guests and staff. Walking the same hallways, visiting the same offices, using the same restroom and getting your coffee from the same coffee bar, never really seeing how customer areas really look!

What we need here is to step back and use a technique I call “customer eyes”, much easier said than done. Walk through your store from with a client-experience oriented mindset and I guarantee the stains and needed updates will jump out to you. Looking through a visitor's eyes on how our facilities really present themselves, we can understand that customers see things we walk by 50 times a day.

Work smarter, not harder.

We can use manufacturer's recommendations, language, and tools to better help us solve these issues. Most OEM’s drop sections of buildings into two buckets called “Customer touch” and “non-customer touch” areas. While what this entails varies from OEM to OEM, the division of these areas are a generally an industry standard.  Simply, customer touch areas include any and all areas the retail public, in the normal course of business might be expected to use or visit.

The manufacturers spend huge amounts of money developing their image programs, take advantage of all of that work. If you don’t need a remodel, you can still use their guidelines for colors, vendors, materials for your pieces and parts that need attention.

Understanding your ideal experience puts you one step closer to understanding the specifics of what you need. With these specifics you can nail down the “must have” list that car buyers create for themselves before ever walking into a store.

With a concept of the ideal facility taking shape, how do we decide which of these aspects translate to the execution of our vision and belong on the “must haves”? We will explore these concepts and more next week on our Road to NADA,

Buckle up.

For any questions or concerns please feel free to reach out to the author, Here