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VOL. 38 | NO. 32 | Friday, August 08, 2014

Recalls provide headaches for owners, opportunity for dealers

By Joe Morris

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Trying to find a make and model of car not facing a recall these days is a tall order.

From General Motors’ top executives getting hauled in front of Congress for a grilling to lower-profile actions, 2014 has been full of trips to dealers for repairs.

While that’s nobody’s idea of a fun day, there’s been a positive side for dealers in terms of cementing stronger customer relationships, and maybe even some sales.

For example, if someone’s got to come back to get something under the hood replaced, why not get an oil change? Or maybe the brakes need repair?

It might even be time to kick some tires on a newer model. All of these and more are happening at Middle Tennessee dealerships.

“Most people come in just to get the recall item taken care of, but once they are here they do think twice about maybe getting other services,” says Angie Carpenter, a customer service representative with Bob Frensley Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram.

“We want to make sure that their main issue, the recall problem, is taken care of, and if they want to look around, we’re happy to help them.”

Making sure that customer leaves happier than they arrived is the key, adds Ann Eaden, vice president at Beaman Toyota.

“It’s an opportunity for us, yes, but it’s also a scary thing for customers,” Eaden says. “We make sure that they know that the recall isn’t necessarily about something that could go wrong, but about an improvement that will help their car function better. Even so, it’s a double-edged sword and we are aware of that.”

The goal, she says, “is to make sure we’re doing a good job with that customer. If it’s someone we haven’t seen in a while, then yes, we can find out if they have any needs while they’re here for the service visit.”

However, if someone just wants the replacement or enhancement done, then the goal is always to meet that need and get him or her back on the road.

“We’re certainly not saying we like recalls, but sometimes they are necessary,” Eaden says. “We want people to know that work will be done as quickly as possible, because it’s important for us to have them back in their car, and that car in the optimum operating mode.”