If there’s a list Tesla is probably OK with not being at the top of, it’s ‘Best Car Salesmen’. The company boasts about its distribution and servicing model being unlike any other in the industry and the latest mystery shoppers study by Pied Piper, a real consultant and market research firm (not based on the HBO series Silicon Valley), kind of proved that it is the case by placing Tesla dead last.
The study sends “mystery shoppers” to dealerships across the US in several different locations per brand to measure “how well dealerships follow sales processes, such as asking qualifying questions and ultimately asking for the sale”, according to Ward Auto.
Apparently, Tesla doesn’t follow standard sales processes in the industry because Pied Piper placed the company last with 86 points, 10 points behind the second “worst”, Volvo with 96, and 28 points behind the highest ranked, Infiniti with 114 points.
Here’s the full ranking via Pied Piper:
Pied Piper CEO Fran O’Hagan said that while staffers at some Tesla stores were found to act more like car salesmen, and to be fair a lot of Tesla store employees were previously employed at other dealerships, he says that at most Tesla stores, employees tended to act like “museum curators” because they were knowledgeable about the product, but they never asked for the sale, which is actually probably more in line with Elon Musk’s vision for Tesla’s retail experience.
In a 2012 blog post, Tesla’s CEO explained the company’s approach to distributing and servicing cars. He described the goal of Product Specialists, Tesla’s equivalent of salespeople:
“They are not on commission and they will never pressure you to buy a car. 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.”
While Tesla scored the lowest in almost every single category in Pied Piper’s research, like giving out printed materials for shoppers to take with them, the automaker received the highest rating for discussing features unique from competition.
Tesla doesn’t use a franchise dealership models like most automakers in the US and instead owns all of its stores. It is still struggling to instate its distribution model in several states where the auto dealer associations are pushing back and trying to force Tesla to use their model through legislation preventing automakers to own auto dealerships.
The main issue with Tesla using the franchise model is that dealerships make most of their profit on servicing the vehicles they sell, while Tesla aims not to make a profit on service. Musk is on record saying that he thinks it’s “terrible” to make a profit on service.
Featured Image: Interior of the Tesla Cleveland store as line filters in on the first day of Model 3 reservation by Jon Jivan.