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FF Sparks (Casual)

Customer Loyalty Thoughts

I just got a call from Chaplin's, the VW dealer I bought Skuld from.

Aaron (my tech) found the part he needed at another nearby VW dealer and got it brought over, so finished the work today instead of on Monday. He's sent the car over to Jeremy at Karmichael's (the detail shop that does work with them), and says it'll be ready at 4 or 4:30pm. He also noticed a scrape along the driver-side door and noted they'd throw in some touch-up paint for me when I picked up Skuld, since he said the scrape wasn't worth paying labor charges on and I could do the touch-up myself easily.

I've had Skuld for just over two years now, and I've never seen anything but good service from VW, and Chaplin's in particular.

When I first went shopping for a new car, I went to look at University VW. They were... well, less than friendly, I'm afraid. They said they had no Beetles I could test-drive, but they would happily sell one to me. The only benefit I got from University VW was that I saw a Beetle with the limited edition 'Riveria Blue Pearl' paint color. I nearly wrote off VW as a possibility, but decided to try Chaplin's as well.

Chaplin's, they said they didn't have a new Beetle that could be driven, but had a number of pre-owned 2001 Beetles which I could try. I noted I was just shopping around, and they said 'no pressure, we just ask that if you do decide to go with a Beetle you come back to us.' And it /was/ no pressure, they answered all my questions but didn't try to push me.

When I /did/ decide to go with a Beetle, I called and said I'd like to buy one. I noted rather sheepishly that I really wanted the limited edition (the Riveria Blue Pearl paint job, the power sunroof, the 8-speaker high-quality stereo and CD changer, and leather interior), and they admitted they didn't have any of those in, but they'd see if they could find one. Within a week, they called back and said they'd found one. I made an appointment to come in and sign the papers and get the car that evening, and they said they'd have the car at the dealer the next morning.

By the time I was done signing the papers, I found out that Vasca -- the salesguy I was working with -- had actually made arrangements with the other dealer to bring the car over /while/ I was signing the papers, and so I'd get to drive it home that night. Three days later, they called me back to say they'd found a better loan program with lower payments and lower interest rates, and would I like to come in and sign different papers? I said yes, did so, and they swapped the loan over for me.

VW itself has a driver's club; I get little coupons in the mail for hotels and all sorts of other road-trip type stuff. I have free towing if anything ever happens. My warranty covers bumper-to-bumper service at any VW service location in the US or Canada. And they even have something called 'trip insurance,' where if I'm on a road trip and the car breaks down I they'll tow it off to fix it, and then I have the option either of having them pay for hotel and food until the car's fixed, or giving me a loaner car to continue the trip and catch my own car up to me later down the road.

In general, every experience I've had with them has been nice, both with VW as a company, and with Chaplin's. Not just that they get things done, but they make you feel like they want you to have a good experience by throwing in little touches like that. I'm certain they probably spend more per-customer than many dealers do, since they take a low-pressure approach and toss in all sorts of little extras, but I think it pays off; any friend locally looking for a new car, I will totally recommend VW and Chaplins, and if I ever need to get a new car again, I will totally go back to these folks.

It's something I've always believed is the case -- that spending the extra time and energy to keep customers, and to make them /want/ to keep being customers -- is better than just whipping through them. Quantity might make for immediate profit, but quality will sustain a business better in the long run.

Why do so many businesses seem to prefer 'just get the money' over 'keep the customer'? Anyway, I'm going to try and make plans to get transport over to Chaplin's to pick up the car this evening, so I can have Skuld back for the weekend. Yay!

Comments

Saturn does a lot of these things, like working me in on a few minutes' notice, free car wash and vacuum with any service, and the Car Care package has free towing, etc... and the Renton place will take you to the airport if you're going out of town, so you can have your car in the shop while you're gone and then they'll come retrieve you when you return... I remarked that this kind of service was just like the Mercedes dealership in Atlanta, and the salesguy said, "Yeah, only we don't have the attitude..."

If I was in the market for a fun car, I'd probably strongly consider a Beetle after seeing yours... at first I thought they were butt-ugly compared to the original model, but they kinda grow on you... the other thing VW makes I'd like to have is a diesel Jetta (can you say, french fry fuel? :)
The diesel VWs are neat. If there were more diesel gas stations around here, I would've gotten Skuld in a diesel model. As it is, I'm quite happy with my fuel efficiency. I can get to Vancouver, BC and back on a tank of gas (though I'd be running on the reserve tank by the time I hit Lynnwood on the return trip).

The Jettas are nice, from what I've heard and seen. And yeah... I really have come to like Skuld more and more, the longer I've had the car. Though it's warped me... I have trouble with other cars now, because I'm so used to the big roof and huge spaceship-like dashboard, so when I drive my dad's Echo or my mom's Outback, I feel like my face is pressed into the windshield. :)