Professional Community for Automotive Marketers, Car Dealers, OEM and Suppliers
“It only takes one bug in the potato salad to ruin a picnic,” according to one of the little old ladies I went to church with as a child. As I move further away from a precocious child and closer to being a sweet little old lady, I am realizing that she was not registering a complaint about church picnics but planting a seed of wisdom that would develop as I grew older. One little bug can ruin the delicious experiences of life.
While on the opposite coast for the holidays with my family, I get a desperate call from one of my friends. She had been in a roll over accident and was already dreading having to go buy a new car. My assistance was requested as soon as I got back to take her shopping for the right vehicle for her and the family.
This is the third new car she has had to purchase in three years. The first vehicle was in and out of service until the dealership finally lemoned the mechanical disaster and she bought the vehicle she just totaled. For the past three years, I have heard her complaints and statements about how can I possibly work in this industry and sleep at night. Her experience I have to admit has been less than cheery.
Thankfully, she was okay but as expected, the SUV was totaled. Her need for a new vehicle was more immediate than my return, so I suggested she go to a dealership that I have a great professional relationship with. Don’t get me wrong. I was not sending her there for the friends and family discount, but to sway her opinion about car dealerships and the experience of buy a car.
My friend called me from the dealership bubbling with the news that she found her new car, how amazing the salesperson has been and thanked me for steering her in this direction. She was currently waiting to see the finance department and work out the terms for her loan, but would send me a picture as soon as she had the keys but before she drove off the lot. I think I might have been as excited and pleased as she was. I thought I had transformed another auto industry “Debbie Downer” into a “Raving Fan”.
Just a few minutes later, I get another phone call. This time I could hear the frustration in her voice as she whispered to me on the phone, “Stephanie, why do I need Gap Insurance on a car when I am putting down half? Does this kind of vehicle depreciate that fast?” I assured her that she does not need Gap Insurance if that is the case and made some excuse that the finance person must be new or distracted. My phone rings again about an hour later. Before I could even say hello, the barrage of upset is so swift that she is taking punctuated breaths. There was some correlation in her story line between a need for more insurance and the assumption she was going to total this car out in the next year. She even mentioned that the finance person was speaking ill of the General Manager. I was taken back by this “judge a book by its cover” story and lack of professional tact.
With caution I asked, “Did you buy the car?” “Yes! Only because the nice salesperson could see I was frustrated, so he came in to help me out,” was her still venomous reply. Of course, I asked for the salesperson’s name so that I could verify if this was a former student of our training program. I wanted to make sure I sent kudos along for heeding the training and applying the lessons on customer service.
The salesperson was able to save the sale but was not able to sway her opinion on dealerships as a whole. Stephanie’s friend score: 1…she bought a new car without Gap Insurance. Stephanie’s score: 0…I still have to listen to how can I live with myself and work in the auto industry because of one bug in the potato salad.