Over 5 years ago I bought a Subaru from Van Bortel in Rochester, NY. I first started my car search by visiting all the nearby dealers to my apartment. Some of them told me I'd never qualify and some wouldn't let me test drive their cars. I always walked out with a very negative feeling about cars and car sales. Some of these experiences have tarnished the reputation of the brands - I won't even consider certain car brands simply because of the experiences I've had.
After feeling quite discouraged and worn down, my roommate suggested Van Bortel, a Subaru dealership where he had recently had his car serviced. It wasn't as close as the other dealers, but I decided to give it a shot.
I walked in the door with the expectation of walking out discouraged (the snowy and cold weather certainly didn't help). The first thing they did when I walked in was offer me something to drink, water, coffee hot chocolate or an array of other drinks. I spoke with one of the sales people who helped me without berating me on when my timeframe is, how much I want to spend, or any of those details. I said, "I'd like to check out the Legacy, could you show me one of them?" We proceeded out to the parking lot. "Which color do you like?" He pulled out the dark gray one after asking me if I wanted to test drive it. I got in the driver seat. He said, "Do you know your way around here?"
I looked at him with what must have been the most confusing look on my face. After all, I had been to 12 different car dealers. "Don't you want my license" I said thinking he had forgotten something, "Nope, just want to make sure you're comfortable driving around the area!"
Wow. What an experience. They didn't need my license and he didn't have to go with me on the test drive. He said he could if I wanted, but it wasn't required. "You can go anywhere, we close in a few hours, have fun!"
That was over 5 years ago and I can't stop thinking about what an incredible and satisfying experience that was.
Needles to say, I walked out of the dealer with a smile on my face, a new admiration for Subaru, and the dealership. It was truly incredible and I bought the car a few weeks later.
It doesn't take a lot to make an awesome customer experience. Turn it around, look at the experience as if you were a customer. What would you expect?
P.S. It was so good, that my next car will be from them, and that means flying 6 hours from California to New York. I wouldn't do it any other way.