Key lessons for dealers on loyalty

Updated: October 11, 2011
Did you go to the Total Motorshow and come out motivated to work harder and buy a new car? If yes, that’s good. If not, perhaps you thought everything new is expensive and beyond reach? Whether or not you are a smiling optimist of frowning pessimist, you should have gone, if only to kick a few tyres, listen to the beautiful sound of the Jaguar XK-R, touch the Mercedes CLS and sit in the ‘gorgeous’ BMW five series.


If you are more interested in hardy pickups, the Mahindra was on hand to impress as was the new Tata Xenon that does not come with Bi-Xenon lights. The Nissan Murano made a brave entry into town and the Jeep Grand Cherokee gracefully did the fountain area proud with its handsome muscular body.

New Chevrolet Cruze from GM was available to tease before its imminent November launch. Something for everyone, you’d conclude. I rate it the best show ever because I had a chance to engage with the exhibitors more meaningfully.

Every serious player in the automotive industry was there. I left the show convinced I should hop, step and jump into a brand new car. What brand would that be? Buying a new car in today’s economy is punitively expensive, especially a large six-cylinder engine. The dollar and euro have conspired to nail our ailing shilling to the ground, making it more difficult to entertain the thought.

After-sales service

Toyota came up with a classic offer. ‘Drive out with one of our products and pay in March 2012’. That would bring a smile to even the most tight-fisted bean counter. In my two decades of driving life, I have owned a Ford, two Toyotas, Mazda and two BMWs. My father owned a Chevrolet.

I have been toying with the idea of changing to a French marque but cannot make up my mind. Why would one change from a brand they have lived with and loved for years? These words sum it up: “After-sales service”. Owning a vehicle goes beyond driving out of the showroom, it must be a pleasure to drive and live with.

Not having the confidence to send your car to the authorised garage because your functioning parts could be removed and sold is to say the least, criminal. This is, however, happening at some established large dealers and the management seems unable or unwilling to deal with the crime.

I drove over to the BMW dealership to find out if I would be making the right choice sticking with the brand. Their warranty is indeed a real game-changer. I thought Hyundai would be the first to offer it as they have fine-tuned it to a science abroad. A good vehicle warranty makes owning car more attractive.

If you are familiar with the history of the BMW brand, you will remember the pain at Mashariki Motors. It is still mind-boggling to imagine how a franchise-holder of the world’s top selling luxury brand would treat it with so much disrespect.Things have hopefully taken a turn for the better and I met the new face of this change at Bavaria Auto led by the new general manager, Mr Stavros.

He has a difficult task changing the perception of the many customers that love the product. Things seem to be flowing in the right direction with the arrival of a specialist trainer from Germany. In my short conversation with Mr Manfred Vogt, I learned that he has more than 30 years technical experience with the brand.

So what does the attractive five-year warranty cover? For starters, if I stay with the brand I will not have to worry about service costs for duration of the cover. I will get every oil change, filters, spark plugs, micro filters, brake pads and clutch replaced when due.

Reason to smile

The warranty also covers even the wiper blades. Now that is reason to smile.This service must always be carried out on schedule by the dealer or an appointed BMW service authorised workshop. The best part is that this service warranty is carried on to the next owner, if the vehicle is sold during the term of the contract that expires after five years or 100,000km.

What is not very clear is the extension of statutory right of repair for vehicle defects. But I learnt it covers suspension components like shock absorbers and control-arms which should function for the duration of the cover.

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