How to Lose a Customer in 10 Minutes or Less

October 26th, 2010 by Rob Berman Leave a reply »

TOYOTA by ThreadedThoughtsphoto © 2010 Tom Peck.. | more info (via: Wylio)
I previously wrote about Bad Customer Service and its impact on customers.  I had an experience this week that really drove home how your employees can lose you a customer in 10 minutes or less.

What Is It About Auto Dealers?

My wife went to the dealer for an oil change (free because of a prior snafu at the dealer).  The self-proclaimed “world class” inspection found she needed new front brakes.  The price was quoted as $340, which I know, is high based upon recently having the brakes changed on my car.

I asked for a discount since there usually is some type of special offer. I was told, “the price is the price.” We have exclusively utilized this dealer for six years. Over that time, we have spent thousands of dollars. I asked for a discount as a loyal customer. I was told no.

I then asked would they match a competitors’ pricing. I got a non-committal answer. After telephoning two competing dealerships, within 5 minutes I had two better quotes. One was over $100 or 32% better. I called the Service Advisor and let her know my findings. She would not budge and indicated her manager would not budge. She said she could only change the price if she was a member of the family that owned the dealership. In fact, she named the family that owns this dealer and many others.

One Last Chance

I  related to her that I would go to the other dealer for service.  I further explained that once I tried another dealer we might like then and start going to them for service.  She was not interested in salvaging my last attempt at keeping all my business at the dealer. She said, it was my choice to go to another dealer and goodbye.”

The entire process took less than 10 minutes and totally turned me off to the dealer. We had a prior problem with this dealer when my wife bought tires.  We gave them another chance. Is there a reason I should give them a third chance other than the fact that they are the closest dealer?

The Takeaway

It takes many interactions to gain a customer and retain them.  It takes one event that could be less than 10 minutes to ruin the relationship.  Train, train, train your customer facing employees.

Those are my thoughts.  Over to you.  Please comment below.

1.      Should I give the dealer another chance?

2.      Would you pay more for the convenience of a closer provider?

3.      How would your staff have handled a similar situation to retain a customer?

If you would like to contact me, you may do so by visiting my LinkedIn page, following me on Twitter,  or e-mailing me at rcberman2 (at)

Be Sociable, Share!


  1. Frankly the dealer is stupid. You lose one customer you lose ten. If he and his company doesn’t change I wonder how long they will be in business?

  2. Unbelievable. Not only would I not give that dealer another chance, I would let anyone who would listen know how I was treated. (I admit to once posting a particularly grievous infraction on Facebook once.) Since you were dealing with the Service Adviser, good customer service is apparently not a priority there.

    I would not pay more to be treated poorly. Both convenience and customer service weigh into my decisions on where to shop.

    I have managed customer service departments throughout my career and with the exception of one cantankerous tech-support specialist (who eventually was fired), I can say that with clearly documented procedures, policies and weekly staff meetings a business can empower and entrust their employees to treat their customers well. Customer service is obviously not a priority at that dealership. It’s amazing.

    • Rob Berman says:


      What I found most amazing about the entire situation is that the same family owns 3 dealerships co-located with different approaches. I go to one brand where they want my business and will meet competitor prices. My wife goes to another where they will not.


  3. Paul Novak says:

    Give another chance? You gave too many already.

    I only pay more if a couple things are present.
    Better quality, better service.

    I have no staff. However, I have owned my own business, been manager and in management.

    I allowed very little decision making on the part of those I ws responsible for. Precisely for reasons like this.

    Too few know anything about dealing with customers or making or saving a transaction.

    I can recall more than one instance of observing one of my crew speaking with customers and practically running to get over there and take over before they said something foolish.

    I’ve learned that even if you occassionally only break even on the deal, you still made a net benefit through repeat business, positive WOM, and a loyal base.

    • Rob Berman says:


      I know what you mean about trying to avoid the disaster you see coming. We are going to the other dealer on Friday. Let’s see how that goes. At this point, I would not give them another chance.


© 2009-2018 Rob Berman's Blog All Rights Reserved -- Copyright notice by Blog Copyright