There is only so much you can do

On MTI We usually try and highlight the good as well as the bad aspects of the trade. We like to think that there are many great people who try to make a difference, but appreciate that with high financial stakes involved customers do not always feel like they have received the experience they deserve.

Speaking from a personal point of view from I have been in and around the car selling and fixing business for more years than I care to remember and although I cannot claim to be perfect I like to think I treated people pretty much how I would like to be treated myself.

I think that unfortunately, like many jobs in this world, there will always come a time of complacency or times when you just have an off day. We all have them but unfortunately in this business your off day may coincide with a customer who has saved for years to finally buy the new car they have always dreamed about.

Unfortunately this collision of worlds ends up with them meeting the sales person having their bad day but that salesperson may not realise that the consequences of that bad day ends up having far reaching ramifications.

In other words we become immune to the fact that, to the buyer who is just about to make a major commitment, this process is vital whereas to the sales person it’s just another customer buying just another car. Unfortunately it is a rather expensive “just another car” but to the sales person then and there it might as well be loose change.

That is probably why the suspicion of car dealers has grown over the years, and unfortunately it has festered in such a way that some customers expect buying a car to be flat out stressful and are often fully prepared for a fight.

Of course it is rather sad that it ever got to this stage and – although there is still a long way to go, and some companies are making rather a meal out of just giving customers what they want – there are still examples every day of disillusioned customers who shop for cars purely on price on the assumption that if they are to receive poor service they may as well get that poor service as cheaply as possible.

I was starkly reminded of this recently when I went to visit a friend who runs a busy showroom near York. I was waiting for him to finish a meeting before we went for lunch and was sitting in the showroom enjoying the hello magazine and a coffee. The showroom was pleasingly busy with all the staff dealing with customers and either demonstrating cars or collecting info. There was a real buzz about the place and a great atmosphere.

This was until a lady, clearly agitated that she had not been seen within 1 minute, started remonstrating with the showroom host who was trying manfully to explain that all the sales staff were with customers and would she like a coffee or to make an appointment to re-visit when she had more time. The lady was having none of it and gave the immortal line “well if you don’t want to sell me a car I shall go elsewhere”

I have heard this many times and often wonder if this is because they have had such a bad experience before they feel it’s best to go in all attack mode, or that the trade has such a poor reputation that they feel they can say or do anything and everyone will immediately jump.

I don’t know what the answer is but what I do know is you can only do what you can and if the place is full of customers waiting to be served and you do not have an appointment then that’s just the way it is. As long as the staff try to make you feel as welcome and as comfortable as possible and offer you an alternative then that should be fine.

The truth is I suspect, like a microcosm of life, there are both rude sales staff and equally rude customers, so really it’s probably best if neither of them ever meet each other.
Although I’m sure it would be worth watching.

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