Dirty Little Secrets of the Automotive Industry

Michael Horn, President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, speaks at a press event on the eve of The North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, on January 11, 2015. The annual car show takes place amid a surging economy, more jobs and cheap gas, a trifecta of near-perfect conditions for the US auto industry. The Show expects a million visitors to descend on bone-chilling Detroit between January 17 and 25. AFP PHOTO/Geoff Robins        (Photo credit should read GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images)

We have all been there before, looking to cut corners for a quick fix and hoping nobody finds out. It may be skipping a test drive in order to save time on paper work or maybe avoiding a customer who says they’re just not ready to buy. In this article I will uncover 6 common mistakes or “secrets” of the automotive industry and why it’s never a good idea to cut corners.

1.       Do you skip the post follow up call?

What if I told you, your reviews depend on it? Recently I discovered the power of “Yelp” I approached a few dealerships and inquired about the nature of their negative reviews, boy was I in for a rude awakening! Sure, nobody wants to hear that their dealership provides crappy customer service and that their sales team doesn’t understand the concept of a follow up call. But who was I to assume that they didn’t already know? The post follow up call is just as important as all your other follow up calls. It may be the deciding factor of a future purchase. So if you’re secretly skipping out on the post follow up call, please stop! You’re really not doing anyone any favors and that 5 minute call could actually mean a lifelong referral system for yourself if you execute it correctly.

2.       What if I told you, your customer knows you’re waiting in a nice air conditioned building while they navigate the hot asphalt…alone?

Ok, let’s straighten something out here, I am not saying you should invade anyone’s space or sweep in like a vulture, but you should absolutely make yourself available! If the customer doesn’t see you, more times than not he leaves. Don’t leave it up to the customer to track you down. Be available!

3.       Did you brush your teeth?

This is obviously offensive to your customer but sadly, a lot of sales people overlook it and think their customer won’t notice they had garlic flavored hummus with lunch. Hygiene is no joke. If you skip this then you’re asking for trouble. If you notice your customers facial expressions start to change or look offensive, it may be a good idea to do a quick breath check. I carry a tooth brush in my purse and brush my teeth after lunch at work. Yeah, it’s an easy fix.

4.       You simply avoid the phone.

Some dealerships use a BDC and some don’t. Either way, you should never avoid the phone. You may think it’s the best way to make sure you don’t miss a walk in but the funny thing is, if you’re living on walk- ins, you’re actually missing out on huge opportunity.  What If your dealership is on an “up” system and your just standing around, why not pick up the phone? Do you realize how many deals come through via phone and internet? Standing around doesn’t get you anywhere…literally.

5.       You skip a step in your sales process because you got too comfortable.

This means you either skip the test drive or the demo or even worse, you don’t ask questions that determine your buyer’s wants, needs and desires. You might think its ok to do that now but when you start to notice you’re not closing as often, it might be time to refresh those skills. It happens to the best of us. We put ourselves in autopilot and eventually start cutting corners to shorten time. Or we think we are experts for life when really ongoing education is what keeps us experts.

6.       You don’t follow through.

Your customer calls in asking for additional information from you about the car they purchased yesterday but you’re with a customer so the receptionist takes a message. You got the message and say you’ll call back but never do.  Customer service continues even after a purchase but you disregard your customers inquires because in your mind the hard part is over. Customers think of their sales rep as a lifeline and reach out to the, specifically for concerns. They also refer friends and family to people they feel they consider “friends” Don’t forget where your referrals came from!

These scenarios happen on a regular basis and they always come back to bite you! They are definitely recipes for failure. We all know creating a network of referrals is so vital to the career of a sales person. It’s what most dealerships are made from. Just remember, cutting corners are more like band aids and only work temporally to fix an issue. Maybe a better analogy would be a carpet cleaning machine. You can clean your carpets quickly and half a$$ but guess those stains will resurface and look twice as bad if you didn’t do it right the first time. So why not put a little elbow grease into it and provide a great experience every time no matter what? Hard work pays off, it always has and always will!

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