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Porsche, Buick do the dealership experience right according to J.D. Power survey

Buying a car might be different today than it was 15 years ago, but not as different as you'd think.

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera 4
Porsche buyers have the best new car buying experience, according to J.D. Power.

Buying a new car has historically been kind of a lame experience, for the most part. The internet has helped remove a few of the pain points in the process, but there's still a lot of back and forth with dealership employees, there's the act of actually going to a dealership (which may or may not be in your town) and then there's the negotiation process.

Online car buying services such as Carvana have tried to make the process of buying a car online as easy as possible, but still many people -- myself included -- just aren't willing to buy a vehicle like that, so we suffer through the dealer experience.

J.D. Power wanted to see just how much of an effect a dealer experience has on people's purchase, and even more, it wanted to see which brand was the best at guiding people down the "sales funnel" from looking at a car online to driving one off of the lot.

The results of the Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) survey, which includes responses from 28,867 buyers who bought or leased a new vehicle from April to May of 2019, are in one way similar to what you'd expect. But in another way, they're a little surprising.

Buick continues to rank at the top of the heap in sales satisfaction, having done so for years now.


The survey is broken down into two main categories: luxury and mass-market brands. This is because a luxury brand dealer caters to a different kind of customer, one with different demands, than the mass-market brands. But all the scores are based on six differently weighted factors.

Survey respondents judged their dealer experience based on dealer personnel (28%), delivery process (21%), working out the deal (18%), paperwork completion (16%), dealership facility (13%) and the dealership's website (4%).

The survey also polled "rejecters," which are people who shop at a dealership but end up purchasing their car elsewhere. These people gave their feedback in five categories: salesperson (40%), fairness of price (15%), experience negotiating (15%), variety of inventory (15%) and dealership facility (14%).

So, which brands came out on top? Well, the unsurprising result is that Porsche claimed its fourth win in five years with Mercedes-Benz and Infiniti coming in second and third, respectively. Out of a total of 1,000 possible points, Porsche's buyers gave it a score of 827, with Mercedes lagging behind by just two points.

Part of Porsche's success likely comes from having a well-developed website and in-depth configurator that lets buyers figure out exactly what they want before getting to the dealer.


Out of mass-market brands, General Motors takes the crown with two of its brands in the top three. Buick finished on top for the third time in four years with a score of 795. GMC came in second with 791, and Mini rounds out the top three with 790 points.

Within the survey data, J.D. Power noticed some other data trends which are pretty interesting. The first is that customer satisfaction for dealers that used some kind of tech during the sales process -- their own phone, a tablet or the customer's phone -- was 45 points higher than dealers who kept it to pen and paper. Customers also seemed to prefer dealers that communicated through text messages, rather than through phone calls or email alone. Texting dealers scored 11 points higher than non-texting dealers.

Lastly, home or office delivery of a newly purchased vehicle is becoming an increasingly available option for car buyers, but -- and we found this especially interesting -- customers were largely less satisfied with the delivery than those who picked their car up in a conventional way.

J.D. Power found that the reason for this is that during a home or office drop-off, buyers have less time with dealership personnel and so they receive less instruction on how to use their new vehicle's technical features. Luxury car buyers scored their experience 27 points lower for home or office delivery, while mass-market buyers only docked their dealers 10 points.

So, this leaves us curious as to how you, our readers, would prioritize your dealership experience? Would you weigh the categories that J.D. Power used differently, or do you feel like it missed a category entirely?

Let us know in the comments.

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