Professional Community for Car Dealers, Automotive Marketers and Sales Managers
My first car which I purchased was a 1977 White 4-Speed Toyota Corolla. It wasn’t the nicest looking vehicle anyone has ever seen. As a matter of fact, it was what people today would call a “hoopty” or “jalopy”. As soon as I made the purchase, I headed over to AutoZone to cover the steering column, replace the side mirrors, buy seat covers, and styled it up with the double windshield blades. My taste in style has since changed. It was ugly to say the least, but it was mine!
The sales person, on the note lot saw me coming a mile away. OK, really he saw me when I walked in the door because no one was outside to greet me. I was a seventeen year old kid who wasn’t going to earn him much of a commission on this $1200 vehicle. He had his eye on a couple that was looking at the 1984 BMW sitting right next to this future “white freedom mobile”. I wasn’t the most informed consumer on the lot that day. I just knew that I had worked all summer mowing ½ acre lots for $20 a pop. We will talk about the sales process in a second.
To make every American boys dream of having the freedom to go where he wanted to go, and truly take one step closer to adulthood; I had to acquire 7 accounts. I promised to mow, edge, weed, and hedge their bushes each week. Each yard would take me about three hours after cleanup. It wasn’t that bad because most of these yards were about a mile away from my house, so I would load all of my equipment on the push mower and service these accounts regularly. The owners didn’t care what day I mowed just as long as it was the same day every week. After closing all 7 accounts in a day, I planned my schedule accordingly working around summer football two-a-days.
My schedule went something like this. Monday I would arrive at practice by 7:30 AM. By 10 AM a teammate would drop me off at my house and I would start the walk to my first account. Normally my work mower would sound off by 11 AM. By 2:30 PM I would make it back to my house in time to eat a sandwich drink a lot of water and rest up for the late practice which started around 5:30 PM. This schedule was duplicated Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. On Saturday, I would walk to the two accounts that were next door neighbors to each other and probably the most difficult to maintain. After six or more hours of making their yards look great, I would head back to the house. Sundays were a different story. After church, and Sunday lunch with the family I would start on my parents’ lawn. However, I was not getting paid for this because my father purchased the lawn equipment and he told me early on that I was born to take out the trash and mow his lawn until I moved out on my own. I thought this was a fair agreement with him because I didn’t have to put any money up front for my little enterprise.
It took me 252 hours of lawn maintenance and 3 months to acquire enough money to be able to walk onto a dealership lot and be able to seriously look at what would become my largest purchase of my life. It seemed like a lifetime. Needless to say I was very excited because school was about to start, and I was going to get to control when I would be able to arrive and leave.
When I arrived on the lot I could hardly contain my enthusiasm because my new adventure into freedom was about to begin. The sales person who was eventually going to help me looked a little like I did after my second football practice of the day. He actually looked like I was inconveniencing him while he stalked his prey that was looking at the BMW. When I approached him to talk with him about the prize I was eyeing; he actually looked around to see if another sales person would talk with me. Determined to drive off the lot in what I felt was “My New Car” I continued to express my desire to get into the “white freedom mobile”. He reluctantly allowed me to take a test drive. I don’t know if it was the poor commission he was about to make or the fact that the air-condition was less than satisfactory for his taste. He didn’t really talk a lot about the car, but he did let me know how many vehicles he sold that day.
What this sales person failed to realize is that this was the greatest sale of my life that he was about to make. He was about to change my life and I was about to experience this great feeling of driving off of the lot in my first vehicle. I was always going to remember this experience and share it with everyone I knew. He sold several cars a day, but I was only going to buy a “new” vehicle every 2 or 3 years.
Today, I still am in the market for new vehicles. Although I have upgraded the type of vehicle I purchase and the frequency they are purchased- I still get excited when I am handed my keys and drive off of the lot for the first time. Experience has led me to purchase vehicles from those who truly care about my business.
Do you thank your customers for their purchase? Do you treat your customers with the same enthusiasm they have when purchasing their vehicle. Remember when you purchased your first vehicle? How would you have liked to have been treated? Customer expectations are still the same. Every customer you see is making the second most expensive purchase in their life no matter if they spend $ 150,000 or $ 1200 for their vehicle. Give them an experience they will never forget, and you will see your customers and their friends again.
Good luck selling, and creating your customer for life.