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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
No, not the TV show, but rather the Customer Satisfaction Index. :p

Many of us on here know how to look up incentives for vehicles (carsdirect.com or Truecar.com will let you find out about most of them). Some of us even know how to get info on nitty gritty details like lease residuals, money factor, lease cash, even dealer-only rebates, etc…

But I don’t believe nearly as many people know that they can also use the CSI as a way to sweeten (or close) a potential deal.

Obviously, dealers make money up front on each car they sell. New cars don’t usually have huge profit margins. Plus with all kinds of incentive info on the internet these days, dealers have a hard time taking a customer “to the cleaners” like they could maybe 10-20 years ago. Still happens though, as the saying “a sucker is born every minute” still applies.

After the customer thinks they have dodged all the bullets hammering down a final price, they may relax when they get in the finance manger’s room to signthe deal. This is where dealers can earn extra profits on the “back end”, by selling customer’s dealer financing/extended warranties/service plans/lease wear and tear coverage/space-age paint protection blah blah blah. I don’t have any hard info, but I bet the money made in the F&I office is actually than the profit from purely selling the car.

I won’t delve into the trade-in much, but that is another place dealer scan make big $$$. They give you seemingly crazy deal on the car you’re buying, but the customer lets their guard down and lets the dealer low ball them on their trade….effectively neutralizing any money they may have given up on the new car deal.

But one tool many customers leave on the table is the Customer Satisfaction Index survey….the one the dealer always goes “please give us a perfect score! Anything less than 10 is a failing grade!”. They are actually telling the truth when they say anything other than a 10 is a failing grade. A 9 on a GM survey might as well be the same as a 0.

In addition to manufacturer bonuses for hitting certain sales numbers, dealers also receive bonuses for achieving a certain CSI score as well. Take this article for example: http://www.autonews.com/article/20160801/RETAIL07/308019995/1546
It states a Nissan dealer got a $765k bonus one quarter for meeting its CSI score goal set by Nissan! That’s a lot of money! And a lot of money that may have potentially gone down the drain if they received 1 too many bad CSI survey scores!

So how do you actually use the CSI as a bargaining tool? No, you definitely don’t go all suicide bomber yelling, “GIVE ME MY $10K DISCOUNT OR I’M GONNA NUKE YOUR SURVEY SCORE WORSE THAN HIROSHIMA!!”. That’ll probably result in the dealer refusing to sell you any car and maybe even blacklisting you as a customer.

Instead, use the CSI as a carrot on a stick, especially if you are close to the price you want. “Hey, I know we’re real close on a deal, but I really need (insert discount) more off to seal the deal. If you can give me (insert discount/whatever you are asking for), I guarantee that your dealership will receive a perfect survey score from me.”

Obviously, if that discount you are asking for is $10k, it’s not gonna happen, but if it’s a few hundred bucks (or some accessory you want), odds are good the dealer may bend. Especially if it’s the end of a sales month/quarter.

As always, your mileage may vary, but if you use the CSI reasonably, it can be a good way to seal the deal. Of course, if you say you’re gonna give a perfect CSI score and the give you what you want, make sure you actually give them a perfect score! Calling out people by name in your survey “Sales rep Joey Goodguy was great to work with!” is always good, as not only will the dealer benefit from the survey, but the sales rep as well.

And if you approach that same dealer and sales rep down the road looking for another deal, you think they will remember you and do all they can to meet your wants and get another sale? You better believe it! I didn't sign and flip 4 leases the past 8 months and come out in the black purely on incentive knowledge. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)

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Great info, I have always used mine after they stand their ground...
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Great info, I have always used mine after they stand their ground...
As always, timing can be everything. Some people just get lucky at the end of the month when the dealership is just a couple of units away from a big bonus....they will lose money on a single sale if it means they are clinching a huge manufacturer bonus.
There was an MD dealer a few years ago that scored a $100k bonus from GM for selling a certain number of Volts that summer.....this was during the great 2012 Volt "giveaway". How much you want to bet the guy that bought the bonus clincher got a REAL nice deal? :p

http://www.autonews.com/article/20120918/BLOG06/120919860/dealer-cash-juices-volt-sales-boom
 

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Fortunately the CSI weight is being diminished by manufactures because of things like this. True dealer reputation will be shown by repeat and referral customers. This Forum alone has generated over 2000 sales to people who enjoy the opportunity to work with a dealer and a GM of a dealership that has not only great and simple deals, excellent sales and servicing staff, but as important the inventory and the facility to top off the experience. Why we are not anything close to perfect, nor do we always have the best deal in the world. There are 2000 plus customers who came from this Forum over many years who help propel our staff to want to be the best of the best. We challenge ourselves daily to accomplish this goal. Our theory is quite simple . We can replace cars but we can not replace customers. The above tactics to me are disingenuous to a great relationship that includes customer , dealership and salesperson. This is my opinion and mine only. I am certain many will disagree . Happy Holidays
Rick
 

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Fortunately the CSI weight is being diminished by manufactures because of things like this. True dealer reputation will be shown by repeat and referral customers. This Forum alone has generated over 2000 sales to people who enjoy the opportunity to work with a dealer and a GM of a dealership that has not only great and simple deals, excellent sales and servicing staff, but as important the inventory and the facility to top off the experience. Why we are not anything close to perfect, nor do we always have the best deal in the world. There are 2000 plus customers who came from this Forum over many years who help propel our staff to want to be the best of the best. We challenge ourselves daily to accomplish this goal. Our theory is quite simple . We can replace cars but we can not replace customers. The above tactics to me are disingenuous to a great relationship that includes customer , dealership and salesperson. This is my opinion and mine only. I am certain many will disagree . Happy Holidays
Rick
During the Gen2 volt launch, kudos to both offering the Gen2 Volt under invoice and then allowing those customers to convert to the Costco if they wished (many reported other dealerships not allowing them to "convert" their pre-order to a Costco deal). I think many, going to be blunt here, just don't care about the relationship part...One of the beauties of the Volt is it included service loaners; Volt breaks, bring it in and in my case, in less than 5mins I was out with a service loaner...A waiting area or longue as they're calling it nowadays can offer free wifi, huge tvs, leather recliners etc but you're still waiting around there, I'd rather go home or run an errand...But I understand, the survey is a bargaining chip for the customer...I do think it would be wrong if a person can't get the price they want to ding the dealer on the survey...I'll just add, my best car purchasing experience was the Volt and I never once needed to step inside the dealership, they did everything over the phone email, sent a courier to my work during lunch to sign and delivered the car to my house that evening...
 

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Ok, today I used the CSI to ensure the dealer I purchased my Bolt from followed up with a promise they had made regarding my GM Card earnings redemption.

Back when I was doing the paperwork for my Bolt, the dealer went ahead and redeemed my GM Card earnings. I got the automated message from GM/Capital One, so I figured that was that, and I had just saved a few hundred bucks on my transaction.

A little while later, I get an email from the sales manager, saying that the VIN for my Bolt was not eligible for GM card earnings (wtf?), and that they would call someone at GM and get an answer as to why that was. They said this was the first time this had happened before.

The next day, I get an email saying that for some reason, my Bolt's VIN keeps showing up as being not eligible for GM card earnings redemption, so instead the manager said they would cut me a check equal to my earnings. I said sure, that's fine.

Fast forward to today, I ask about my check now that I had my Bolt, and my sales rep (he was really not much at fault here) sales that their finance department said GM was not accepting the redemption, so my GM card would be refunded with the earnings. I was like, "WHAT??", those earnings are now worthless to me because I am not planning to purchase a new car anytime soon now that I have my Bolt. I sent an email saying I had their dealership saying in writing they would cut me a check, and that I would not be completely satisfied until they followed through on their pledge.

They come back to me and say it sucks, but they can't do anything about it, and say they will check on whether I can use the earnings for accessories or service. I respond I'm not driving 3,000 miles for any service, and I don't want a few hundred bucks in accessories, I want my money I was promised! At this point I basically tell the sales rep I am gonna nuke his CSI score unless he gets that check mailed out to me. I felt a little bad, because the sales guy wasn't really at fault, but he was the one I was communicating with, so he was the one I had to direct my displeasure at. (FYI, CSI scores mainly affect the sales reps, not the managers, I was told)

He comes back to me and says he will write me a check from his personal bank account, but soon after his dealer finally agrees to cut a check and send it to me. So after pulling the pin on the CSI grenade, I finally got what I was promised.

Honestly, I really don't fault my sales guy....more the dealership's finance department/managers and also GM for making it so hard to redeem freaking GM card earnings...I mean the Bolt is listed as eligible on the website for crying out loud!

If I had submitted that survey weeks ago, I bet it wouldn't have ended like this.
 

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A little while later, I get an email from the sales manager, saying that the VIN for my Bolt was not eligible for GM card earnings (wtf?), and that they would call someone at GM and get an answer as to why that was. They said this was the first time this had happened before.
Because you bought it out of state, maybe? With they way they cracked down on sales, perhaps this is part of it?
 

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Service complaints, if reasonable, may get you extra perks too. I had my vehicle in for a oil change, I had an appointment and I felt I had to wait too long to get it done, I noted that on the survey, and the dealer gave me 2 months of Sirius for free.
 

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saying that the VIN for my Bolt was not eligible for GM card earnings (wtf?), and that they would call someone at GM and get an answer as to why that was. They said this was the first time this had happened before.
Overall great story and I'm glad it worked out; it was reported by one other the same that the card did not qualify...To my understanding there's at least two cards, old one and the new one...I wonder if one qualifies and one doesn't...

For the record I just asked Chevy chat (EV) if the GM card qualifies for the Bolt EV...Their response "have you talked to your local dealer about this and if not I can locate one for you"...<facepalm> I said I was hoping to find out before I made the long trip...Their response "I recommend that you contact the number located on the back of your GM Card or the GM Card Redemption Center at 800.947.1000"...The mystery remains...
 
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