Great service is a right not a privilege, or so the saying goes and in today’s market any company in the retail sector knows they are competing for fewer customers with less money in their pockets and these potential customers are far more demanding when it comes to price and quality. Most businesses have upped the ante when it comes to measuring how they are performing in terms of sales growth and customer retention. These days potential buyers generally have less patience and are far more inclined to attempt to drive a hard bargain. It is therefore vital that sales teams are highly motivated and strive to make sure, no matter how busy the dealership is, that there is a process in place to capture every customer and record their details.
This however, although seemingly common sense, is not happening enough to help dealers negotiate their way through this recession and the following account might provide some insight into why there is still lots of work to do before the lessons of the past are fully learnt.
I was visiting my parents recently and when I arrived they were talking to a friend from up the road who had popped in for coffee, and because my dad thinks I am car dealer of the year, bless him, he makes it his life’s work to inform everybody he knows about his son’s knowledge of all things car. He had already informed his friend that I would be interested in his recently acquired new car, which, of course, I wasn’t particularly but I feigned interest out of politeness. Now this chap was clearly not short of a bob or too and could probably afford almost any car on the market but had decided to go and look at some Jaguars at a dealer in Cambridge, quite some way from home. He had looked on the net and they had some cars he may be interested in and on that basis was prepared to make the trip.
At this point he had made no contact with the dealer other than viewing their cars on the website, so, as I said, he visited the showroom to enquire about a new jag but would have considered a used one if the price was right.
He stood in the showroom for about 10 minutes before anyone acknowledged him and his wife and when someone finally did they were barely interested in anything he asked. Worse still, when he said he had seen a car on the forecourt he might be interested in the salesman said that unless he had an appointment he could not look at it!
Undeterred, but fairly deflated, he went back on the net that night and decided to look at Lexus where he went even further afield to Norwich. This time he wasn’t even approached until he was virtually back in his car and was starting to get the feeling that he must be someone who looked ‘dodgy’.
He decided that he would have one more try and this is where the story goes completely west. Now I must stress this guy knows absolutely nothing about cars, was looking for a deal and some spec and had the money, but incredibly the car he ended up buying was, wait for it, a Chrysler Sebring! They looked after him like he was a king; he got leather, sat nav along with a whole heap of plastic for half the list price and perhaps almost as incredibly he is absolutely delighted with it.
Sea of plastic in the Chrysler Seabring’s staggeringly awful interior
The moral of the story is that with customers who do not visit showrooms very often and may feel naturally on edge by visiting them, they will get their info from the net and maybe bypass that initial contact with the dealer. By them going there on the off chance a salesperson may not even realise that he has a “live” customer who just wants to be looked after and sold the benefits of a car he has driven miles to see.
If he has not even been acknowledged the dealer will never know they have lost a customer and of course the unhappy, disillusioned car buyer will tell everyone how badly they were treated.
Oh and Chrysler will sell more Sebring’s…you have been warned!
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