A dealership has many relatively autonomous “silos”: service, sales, parts, body shop, finance, and management – all of which may differ significantly on important parameters. If there are pronounced differences, it becomes impossible to rate the whole dealership
This review is stimulated primarily by the Grand Prize Finance/Administrative silo. My experience with this silo really clouds my perception of the whole place.
To be fair, I must state in advance that I have had un-ambivalently wonderful experiences with two other Grand Prize silos:
1. Service, where Jim Kobernick has been my regular consultant. Jim, along with Joe a technician, helped keep my 2001 Suburban running up to 185,000 miles. Jim was always very accessible and straight-forward but non-pressuring; what he would recommend proved on checking elsewhere to be absolutely and proactively needed. The quality of required and elective work was always first-class and sometimes heroic, as when Joe repaired a complicated wire bundle chewed up by mice. Service could not have been better.
2. Sales, where I was fortunate to meet Rich Santana when finally needing a replacement Suburban. Rich was great – with the same non-pressuring candidness and personableness I had found in Jim. Rich was also attentive. When I took delivery, Rich had preset several SiriusXM stations for our favorite kinds of music, information we had shared in conversations months earlier. That is both kindness and great customer relations, all the more because it was sincere and unstaged.
The 45-minute delivery-finale with Finance/Administration was the antithesis. My Suburban was manufactured later than predicted, so I happened to arrive at Grand Prize right after returning from two weeks in Europe – brain-fogged, jet-lagged, and extremely fatigued. I carried two bank checks totaling the contractual amount: one from savings, the other from an auto loan.
The Finance Office literally freaked out – verbally, expressively, and bodily -- at finding out that I was not financing through the dealership. This Officer got on the computer and phone, searching for dealership-connected financing, eventually getting a loan one point lower than my own bank loan. That whole process seemed endless, but how could one argue with a point difference? By that time I was just so worn out - like, just give my keys and let me drive home for a nap.
Within the last five minutes, however, came the Extended Warranty pitch for this vehicle with lots of computer-ware on it. I had never researched this topic but assumed a Jim and Rich level of integrity from the Finance person. $2,950 for Major Guard up to 84,000 miles? OK – just give me my keys!
Reviewing that warranty a couple days later, I had some questions. I left FOUR discrete and distinct messages on this Finance Officer’s voicemail and NEVER RECEIVED A CALL BACK! After a $60K purchase, that is simply UNCONSCIONABLE! A vice-president with whom I spoke also never returned a call as promised. I sensed “Gotcha!” as the implicit response.
For the benefit of future customers, here is what I then proceeded to find out from my own research:
1. Other GM dealerships offer Major Guard online at competitive prices. Once you cancel a Major Guard policy for a vehicle, you cannot buy another one elsewhere. Yeah! – “Gotcha!”
2. Several other companies offer Extended Warranties at competitive prices, some for more mileage than the GM maximum of 84K. Actually, some of these would have suited my needs better as I keep vehicles for a decade plus. My needs were not given time to be delineated.
3. GM Major Guard does not have to be purchased immediately at delivery. This timing option was not presented. Yeah – “Gotcha!”
4. On researching this Finance Officer’s self-presentation on a common website for business people and professionals, it was astounding to see this Officer’s public braggadocio about how much money this Officer pulled in for car dealerships with special emphasis on pre- and post-sale add-ons. Ah, the picture was getting even clearer.
5. For this “Special” (whatever that means) Finance Director, Grand Prize was the fifth auto dealership worked for in eight years. Hence, there was minimal awareness of building customer loyalty, as this Officer did not know prolonged loyalty to a single business. What matters in a delivery/closing was clearly a personal batting average with no sense that this was a prime occasion for building customer loyalty.
6. It is disconcerting that management does not vet such online self-promotions by its “Special” Finance Director, as this Officer’s statement screams: “Beware”.
7. I feel that my vulnerability near the end of the Closing Ceremony was read in street-smart fashion by someone skilled in doing so along with a well-rehearsed set of advertising slogans -- resembling the Paris pickpockets I had managed to avoid.
I have now owned four long-lasting Suburbans. With every successive one, I found that the previous dealership(s) had gone out of business: all three from a combination of greed, myopia, or just plain stupidity. You see, it takes no talent, really, to kill a business.
I Recommend This Dealer:
Unnamed "Special" Finance Director; Jim Kobernick (Service), Rich Santana (Sales)
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