Tesla Ranks Last Place In Auto Dealership Index

Tesla Model S


Volkswagen Group’s Audi brand dealerships ranked highest in the newly released 2018 Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index

In a dealership study published by the Pied Piper Management Company, covering the rankings of particular car dealerships from a customer’s standpoint, Tesla didn’t fare so well. The U.S based car company ranked dead last (34th out of 34) out of the auto brands included in the survey. Rankings are made by evaluating how helpful each company’s salespeople are to customers and at closing deals, something Tesla doesn’t try to actively do. Tesla also experienced one of the survey’s biggest year-to-year declines, prompting a lot of questions for the management staff.

The 2018 Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index® (PSI®) U.S. Auto Industry Benchmarking Study covers the treatment of customers through a measurement of 3,466 dealerships throughout the country. It uses what’s called a ‘Pied Piper PSI process’, utilizing a procedure with ties in “mystery shopping” measurement and scoring to industry sales success. In turn, from a customer’s perspective, the top scoring brands and dealerships on average are considered “more helpful”.

This year’s top rank is taken by Audi. According to the study, Audi salespeople were most likely on average to ask customers questions to determine how a vehicle would be used, then helping them out pick a particular model. Additionally, Audi’s salespeople are also most likely to provide a “walkaround demonstration” that showcases vehicle benefits and features to customers directly, helping said customers to distinguish particular models within the brand and the competition. German car company dealership salespeople are also more likely to ask follow-up questions, helping better understand their customers’ needs and to provide them with particular reasons and motivation for why they should buy from their specific dealership.

2018 Pied Piper PSI® U.S. Auto Industry Benchmarking Study "In-Person" www.piedpiperpsi.com (Graphic: Business Wire)

2018 Pied Piper PSI® U.S. Auto Industry Benchmarking Study “In-Person” www.piedpiperpsi.com (Graphic: Business Wire)

The rankings have – following Audi – Lexus in the second place, followed by Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, Infiniti, and RAM. As for the brands that improved most on a year-to-year basis are Audi, Jeep, and GMC. Headlining those that fell off are Tesla, infinity, and Porsche.

When Business Insider asked for comment, a Tesla representative referred them to a 2016 tweet from CEO Elon Musk, commenting on the 2016 customer satisfaction survey from the Pied Piper, in which Tesla ranked 33rd out of 33 brands.

“Tesla finishes last in being salesy! Good,” Musk said.

To be fair on Tesla, the company never moved in the same direction as other automakers did with their dealerships. Tesla doesn’t sell through them. They sell vehicles through their own website and their own company-owned stores, essentially giving them full control over the entire buying process.

“They are not on commission and they will never pressure you to buy a car,” Musk said of Tesla salespeople. “Their goal and the sole metric of their success is to have you enjoy the experience of visiting so much that you look forward to returning again.”

It seems that Tesla needs a long and hard overhaul of their sales tactics. More emphasis needs to be put into sales employee training. While this may not be code red for thcarmakerer, it still paints a rather worrying picture. After all, the sales experience is a big factor on whether customers come back for their second, third or fourth car. And with more legacy car maker, the ones with strong and budding ties between their dealerships and customers, come into the EV market, Tesla might find itself in a rather precarious position overall.

Source: Businesswire

Categories: Tesla

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47 Comments on "Tesla Ranks Last Place In Auto Dealership Index"

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I don’t even see how this is possible. Although I have not bought a car from Tesla, it seems like their model would naturally get rid of all of the things I hate about car shopping. But then again, I’m not the average car buyer as I already know what car I want before I walk into the dealership.

I agree, i have never found a sales person to know much about their cars.

I think that applies to all sales people(including Tesla). My friend is a manager of a Cell phone store and didnt know the difference between LTE and 4g

It is especially worse with cars, because car salespeople have such a massive turnover problem in the industry, with the industry average being nearly 70% turnover rate!!!

“If you’re a dealer, you think, ‘Why would I want to invest in people if they’re going to quit?’” said [Isabelle Helms, vice president of research and market intelligence for Cox Automotive]. “But they quit because of a lack of training. So it’s a case of the chicken or the egg.”


Pied’s answer to this is to tie sales bonuses to how well sales people adhere to Pied’s sales scripts. The result is where you go into dealerships and get the same robotic script from every salesperson. Like recently when I repeatedly heard the leading script “What is it that you really like about [XXX car] that brought you in to [XXX dealership] today?”

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

This is just plain dumb.

Is the obsession with Tesla, no matter how dumb the article is.

Although being first does not preclude the arrest of your President.
I guess Audi would be 1st in that survey too.

They are still production constrained, not demand-constrained, They don’t need to be pushy in sales since their products speak for themselves. And no, its not the dealership / sales experience that made me come back for a model 3 after owning a model x for two years, it is the mind-blowing superiority of the product. I do visit the tesla store every now and then just to hang out and sometimes answer questions from a customer perspective. The actual model 3 order happened on my iphone over dinner at a restaurant, then some email back and forth after that to organize trade-in of my 2015 VW eGolf, financing etc, and finally picked up in person in Fremont in january.

no pressures sales is one thing but when I bought my S I felt like customer service was lacking… I know it sounds snobby but you don’t really get the feeling that you are important to them…just kinda in and out asap. Sometimes I felt like they talked as if me being the presence of a Tesla was gift in itself

Given that Tesla doesn’t work through dealerships, what … never mind 🙂

I can’t believe this drivel. Tesla is the antithesis of dealerships and it should come in last in a survey like this. That they need “… a long and hard overhaul of their sales tactics” is ludricrous. I’m very grateful that I didn’t have to go to an Audi dealer or any dealer for that matter to get the Model 3.

The version of this from two years ago:


In that case, it was more apparent that the metrics Pied Piper was using for “success” were anti-consumer. While this new article spins it as measuring “customer satisfaction”, it doesn’t really sound like Pied Piper’s methods have changed.

Considering that I found the local GM dealer lying to me about his electric cars and the state of charging stations in Ontario and along the I-75 I take Tesla’s bad rating any day.

It seem PP methods measures how well the dealers’s lies will make the customer comfortable buying their product.

Thank you I didn’t know Tesla has dealerships, they have Tesla stores, no sales persons thanks god.

Tesla can call them what they want, but they are Tesla owned dealerships. They are no different than GM’s Saturn brand that had no pressure sales and MSRP pricing.

Maybe go and have a look if you haven’t already. The one I went to they didn’t even ask if I wanted to buy one. Didn’t talk about price. Basically answered any questions but didn’t push anything. There are no “cars on the lot”, you can’t say, “I’ll buy that one”. Nothing like a traditional dealership at all.

Oh, there is a very big difference: Tesla sales reps know their cars inside and out!

When I took my test ride in a Model S, I decided to test the rep’s knowledge of the more esoteric bits of trivia: I asked her to bring up the “James Bond” (Lotus Esprit submarine) Easter egg on the MS’s screen. As I recall she had to pull over and stop the car, since she needed to concentrate on the touchscreen rather than drive, but once she stopped, she went thru several menu levels to access the Easter egg without hesitation.

I was quite impressed with her deep knowledge. Of course my anecdote doesn’t mean every Tesla rep is as well informed, but the idea that Tesla reps need more training certainly does not match my personal experience.

In my opinion, Pied Piper got the result it set out to get with a very biased “survey”.

Here is Pied Piper’s business: “Pied Piper LLC develops and runs measurement/improvement programs to maximize performance of retail networks. What do our programs accomplish?

More profitable retailers/dealers
Faster inventory turnover
Higher closing rates…”

Pied sells these reports to major car dealership franchises like AutoNation and Penske who have more dealerships than they can effectively track. These reports detail shortcomings in how hard individual dealerships chisel and jam customers into cars while still maintaining a Stockholm syndrome form of happiness for customers. Pied advises dealerships on how they can push higher closing rates, and how dealers can make more money of you when they sell you a car.

Tesla does a lousy job at that. Thank gods.

article: salespeople not very helpful
commenters: of course they’re last, they have no need to be “pushy.”

bias: 1
reading and comprehension: 0

Actually, commenters simply know how the world works, and how they are out to help dealerships get more money from buyers and helping dealers jam more people into deals. They create recipes for dealers to push you into deals, and to force sales people into following the program or they don’t make as much $$.

But don’t trust me, take Pied’s own words for it:


Your post —
Gullibility: 100%

Your post shows:

Critical thinking: 0
Incorrect conclusions: 1

You made an accusation toward me which I want fleshed out: You said I had “TOTALLY embarrassed myself on the Supercharger ISSUE, but you can’t see it!”.

I want this FULLY EXPLAINED to me – exactly how did I embarrass myself? But you and your buddy have gone totally silent – since there was absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about. But since you keep bringing it up for apparently kindergarten brownie points, I want you to be an ADULT and explain yourself. Since you’re 64 years old, isn’t it about time?

Pied Piper’s management business is to advise dealerships on how to be better at doing this:


Not impressed with this survey. I can’t recall ever meeting what I would call a “salesman” at a Tesla store, either before or after I bought my M3. The closest they came to being “salesy” is one guy who said to the crowd of about 50 people in the store “we have model S’s right now, no waiting”. So people standing by the cars, people showing the cars, the loan arranger, the guy who showed me the car. What would be the point of a salesman? I already knew what I wanted, they weren’t going to talk me into anything else.

Ironic, whenever I went to Nissan and GM dealerships to ask them about their electrics, they either 1) didn’t know anything about the cars, or 2) tried everything possible to change the subject and try and sell me something like a Cruz. Unfortunately, there’s nothing factored into the ‘salesman’ equation pertaining to electric vehicles- which ICE dealerships HATE selling. Granted, it may not be pertinent on a macro scale, but it is for those of us that are here at an electric car website.

I love my Tesla and I hate dealerships. However a dumb dealer salesperson is still of more use than one that never answers the phone, does call back when I leave messages and doesn’t answer emails. Which is what has been happening at Tesla as of late.

It is a solvable problem however and will be.

The U.S. Auto Industry commissioned this? Hahaha. Is anyone surprised Tesla came last? Now survey Tesla owners on what they think of other dealerships.

“The U.S. Auto Industry commissioned this?”

If you know the answer, please say so. Don’t go around create artificial outrage.

Pied self identifies itself as part of the new car sales automotive industry, providing professional services for car dealerships to increase their number of sales and the amount of profits per sale.

They are as much a part of the auto industry as parts suppliers, dedicated car lending companies, dealerships, etc. They are part of the US auto services industry.

Other Stealerships are just.., That!

The fact that Toyota is ranked high tells be this survey is, in the words of Click and Clack, bohhhhhgggggussss. I have owned several Toyotas and found them to be excellent cars but the buying experience has been painful beyond painful. Part of the reasons people keep their Toyotas so long is to avoid having to deal with the buying process

Yes Toyotas last longer than most cars. I would guess Teslas will not be worth maintaining into high mileage/ old age. Tesla does not allow 3rd party service so it would be dealership repairs forever , not worth it when the vehicle is older.

In my opinion, you’re wrong. As Tesla scales up, they will produce more excess parts for maintenance. Basing their long-term ability to service vehicles based on today’s frantic pace they’re trying to produce production vehicles isn’t necessarily an accurate representation of how things will be 5-10 years from now.

All you have to do is remember what the story of the Pied Piper is about, and then realize that *WE* the customer play the part of the *RATS* in that story!!!

Could this be because Genesis and Tesla don’t have actual dealers?

Haha. You think?!


“employees are earning a $300 commission for every “P” version sold”

Shopping for a Tesla is a completely different experience than any other vehicle. If you’re walking into a Tesla “dealership”, you know what you’re looking for and you probably already placed a deposit on the 3, S or X and just want to see it up close.
The experience cannot be compared to others, the questions that NEED to be asked by others don’t pertain to Tesla vehicles.
The Genesis lineup has 4 cars. Do they ask if you need a 7-seater? Or a hybrid? Are those valid?
I feel the questions asked are probably out-of-date and need to reflect the various offerings.
When I was car shopping, I took a test drive of a Volt. A couple of days later, the salesperson called me and said the Volt wasn’t readily available but I have a great deal on a CTS….????…!!! After that call, I never went back to that dealership. I did get myself a PHEV.

Honestly, this is so inappropriate it’s almost funny. Why in the world would anyone even try to use a yardstick designed to measure auto dealerships on Tesla stores… which are not dealerships?

Maybe scoring dead last on a measure of how much salesmen pressure customers to close the deal is a good thing… for the customer!

My honest reaction after reading all this nonsense: Hahahahaha…

Every single time I have been on Tesla stores from Florida to California the service assistants (I don’t even think they are true Sales reps) have been quite helpful, clear and upfront, contrary to my own experience on Toyota (looking for a Prius) Nissan (looking for a Sentra then a Leaf), Chevrolet (asking specifically for a 2016 Volt the rep was obnoxiius pushing me into a Malibu), Hiunday, Mazda and Honda… All of them sucked big time. Even if you just want to go and check a car the dealership always wants to bully you into a purchase. So in a nutshell for this article again: ROFL

Fake News! I own a Model X. So nice to order online and pick up the car after a 15 minute transaction.

interesting, considering they don’t have any dealers, and don’t do any “deals”, but rather you order their cars as if you would any other product on Amazon.