Consumers like their dealerships, too -- though you wouldn't know that by the media coverage. NADA surveyed car buyers in 2015 and found that fully 90 percent reported a good or excellent dealership experience. Only 4 percent reported anything negative. If you have a hard time believing that, note that J.D. Power and Car and Driver reported similar numbers.
However, we also found that only 60 percent of car buyers expected a good experience at the dealership. And the delta between those two numbers -- 60 percent expecting a good experience and 90 percent reporting having one -- is the generic headwind that the industry faces. It's a headwind that feeds a negative narrative in the media about auto retail, based on a stereotype of dealership experiences from the past.
But the data prove that the old experience is gone, that the best dealerships from 1985 wouldn't match even today's lowest performers in customer satisfaction.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, customers overwhelmingly like and are satisfied with the dealership experience. And not only is the consumer experience at franchised new-car and -truck dealerships today something to be proud of; it is something we can put up against any other retail experience anywhere in the world.
That's why NADA is launching the MyDealership.org campaign for our 100th anniversary this year. MyDealership.org is a new website and robust social media campaign showcasing the benefits of local dealerships from the point of view of the folks on the ground -- consumers, dealership staffers, local officials, folks who know firsthand how their local dealership benefits them and their communities.
All of the video stories at MyDealership.org feature real people, not actors. One customer from Chantilly, Va., tells how her dealership is local, how her neighbors work there and how great it is to interact with a business so rooted in the community.
One dealership employee tells how his dealership is modern, with the staff performing product demonstrations and e-contracting on tablets while a wind turbine powers the dealership. A service technician tells how his dealership is an incredibly diverse workplace that looks like his community, where he has heard more than 20 languages spoken.
And a customer tells how the dealership saved her money because it competed with another dealership on price, making her purchase more affordable.
Those are our industry's best spokesmen and women, real people who live those stories every day. Our customers benefit when local businesses sell, finance and service vehicles. Dealership staffers benefit from good-paying jobs with opportunities to advance -- even without college degrees or when other local industries may be dying or moving away. Communities benefit when local businesses grow roots in the local economy. And manufacturers benefit from the dealership business model and the massive downstream competition it creates.
That was the story when I grew up in a depressed rural economy in the 1980s, and it's NADA's story for dealers as we embark on our next 100 years.
We all need to get the message out. And we can do that best with help from local dealerships, state association executives and our manufacturer partners embracing the MyDealership.org campaign.