“Messer” is term wildly used in many business situations and perhaps none more so than the motor trade. It has long been acknowledged that over the years the industry has attracted some spurious characters that have not covered themselves in glory. Sadly these “characters” have helped tarnish the reputation of many a car dealer down the years.
Of course in these days of customer centricity the improvements in the business have long been promoted and we believe buying cars these days’ results in a much more positive experience for many customers and dealers alike. Dealers now tend to have a long term view on a profitable relationship between themselves and their customers.
With the wide variety in make, model and vendor as well as the empowerment buyers have gained from all the information readily available, there is now a clear choice for used car buyers between main franchised dealer, independent , specialist, car supermarket or even auction and latterly online retailers such as Tesco.
Within these channels is a wealth of experience and expertise and everyday positive examples of great outcomes between seller and buyer.
On the other hand, it is not widely spoken of, but dealers have to handle on almost daily basis the lesser spotted messer, who comes armed with reams of paperwork and ready to ask every conceivable question and compare a car he has found in Scotland which is £500 cheaper than yours. Then, after spending hours in the dealership, he decides to leave it at this time.
I don’t necessarily know the answer to this because we are dealing with emotive issues and there are large sums of money involved, however I do believe that customers can suffer from information overload and actually end up talking themselves out of buying a car which is perfectly suitable for them both in terms of lifestyle and price. These people then unfortunately end up being branded a messer.
I was reminded of this recently when a colleague told of a prospective client who wished to trade-in his 2 year old Freelander for a bit of an economic downsize. Because he was quite a long way from the dealer the transaction was conducted on a ‘subject to’ basis i.e. a changeover figure was based on the dealers car being as described and the trade-in not needing any more visible preparation than the customer had already stated. All well and good and by setting out the ground rules in most cases it saves any confusion before the buyer has to make a long trip and enables the dealer to take the car off sale whilst the logistics of finalising the transaction are agreed.
In this case the customer reached the dealer, inspected the car he was buying, pronounced himself satisfied and invited the sales exec to ensure that his trade-in was as described so that they could complete the deal. However this is where it goes wrong; the sales exec inspects the car and compares it to his telephone appraisal and confirms that the car is fine and happily invites his customer in to complete the paperwork. The buyer on the other hand, thinking that he now has the upper hand, exclaims that he wants another £500 for his car as it is in such “good condition” and in his opinion is worth more. The bemused sales exec explains that they had a verbal deal and that he was ready to honour his side of it and expected the buyer to do the same.
The manager was called and explained, quite fairly given the circumstances, that if he had made the buyer drive all the way to the dealership and then told him that the car had subsequently gone up by £500 as they had had another interested buyer the customer would have quite rightly been outraged. This would certainly have been “dodgy” at the very least and certainly not good for the dealers reputation so why should they be treated the same way by the customer?
The upshot was the customer left without buying the car and the dealer and sales exec were left bitter about the fact they had done everything in a positive way only to be messed about when it came to completing the transaction.
Again I don’t know what the answer is but clearly sometimes the customer needs to take responsibility for behaving like this when if the boot was on the other foot, well you can imagine the headlines.
At the end of the day as much as we want to rid the car industry of dodgy dealers we also want shot of dodgy customers!