When the going gets tough in the motor trade the tough usually get going, except they don’t they look for someone or something else to blame.
I was amused recently while speaking with an old colleague who I met at the auction, as he had come to watch the carnage of selling more of his March/April part-exchange’s for a loss. He explained, over a greasy bacon roll, how April had been a disaster, how the market had abruptly declined, that there was too much pre-registered stock about, too many bank holidays, the royal wedding, the weather was too good, everyone had gone on holiday, the recession is kicking in, they can’t get anyone bought on finance, the sales team is useless, he couldn’t source the right cars, couldn’t make money on the ones he had and so on.
When he stopped for air I chuckled to him that nothing really ever changes in our business. We are such an insecure bunch we think we are great when we sell lots of cars, it is never the market that makes the difference and when the job goes bad it is always someone else’s fault.
That is the reality of working in the results business; there is no hiding place the figures are there for all to see and 2 years of continuous success count for nothing at the mere sign of a bad month.
Of course the reality is – and my old mate acknowledged it to a certain extent – we probably aren’t as brilliant as we think we are when times are good and we aren’t that bad when times are bad. As long as we keep getting the basics right and make sure that customers, who will be spending life changing amounts of money in some cases, are made to feel special, so special that they tell their friends and the cycle is repeated as often as possible, then all should be well in the long run.
Many in the motor trade still get the balance completely wrong and are in great danger of going totally overboard in the “customer first” process. I have seen sales processes introduced by some companies which would mean some customers will need their overnight bags for the amount of time this could all take. The questions that are asked don’t apply to all customers because we are all different. I spoke to a friend who said that buying a car is a real lottery, there is no middle way he explained you either get ignored or stalked, which I suppose on reflection is a pretty good way of describing it.
I just think a little common sense and an ability to communicate will quickly tell if a customer wants the ‘full treatment’ or is pretty well sorted on what they want and have no desire to discuss whether they like to go on climbing holidays and how many miles a year they are likely to do.
The point is that because of the internet and the information contained therein we can find out everything we need to know and more before we even need to leave the comfort of our own homes, and we are actively encouraged to do this. As with most car buying information sites, at mti we advise strongly on comparing and researching to avoid getting it wrong, so the modern day car buyer will often know more about what he is buying than the sales exec who will ultimately sell the car to them. So we are empowering customers to arm themselves with facts and figures and then not accepting this when they finally arrive in the showroom and caring them away.
When times get tough great people come into their own, guys and girls who are consistent and who treat people how they would like to be treated themselves. They do it the same way but still allowing the customer to have it their way and not insist that they stick rigidly to a script that rewards a sales exec for ticking a certain number of boxes.
If we had a more common sense approach to customer service my colleague who I met at the auction would then only moan about the weather and maybe stop trying to play the blame game, but on second thoughts that’s probably pushing it a bit.