I’m sure you’ve heard a trainer or mentor utter the following at some point in your career: “Your attitude determines your altitude.” It’s a reminder that we must check our egos and personal issues at the door, because success can only be achieved by someone with a strong, positive and resilient attitude.
With that said, I must admit that my own attitude has gotten me hauled into my dealer’s office on more than one occasion. The usual complaint my dealer hears is this: “It’s not what he said that upset me. It’s how he said it. He was condescending.” My teeth are grinding just typing that.
So, yeah, my body language and tone are the usual suspect. They tend to betray my true feelings, no matter how hard I try to hide them. But each incident reinforced the meaning behind those five words I previously mentioned — that my outlook on things would do more for my career than any skill or technique I’ve picked up over the years.
But it’s not always our fault. Sometimes even the best of us can have our patience tested. It could be that third baseman who told your last customer not to buy anything because it’s all a rip-off. And don’t get me started on those customers who object to the menu before you’ve even presented. They know the drill, they’ll tell you, and they aren’t interested.
Combine a few of those “D”-type customers with what might be a bad day, week or month — maybe your boss has already reprimanded you for your performance — and it’s easy to let some of that pressure seep out through your body language and voice inflections. Again, I’ve been there, but I’m also here to tell you that you need to do everything in your power to get a handle on your emotions.
One of the things I learned selling cars was to never get emotionally involved in the sale, because customers can sense it. And once they do, it’s like sharks smelling blood in the water.
And consider this: Dealerships devote a lot of time, effort and marketing dollars trying to convince customers that we’re going to do the right thing. Once we get them in, it’s our job to make sure every customer is completely satisfied so they’ll come back for service, hopefully buy their next vehicle, and then tell their friends and family about the great experience they had at Langdale Ford.
I also believe that customers come to the bargaining table with a reasonable amount of trust in us. Why else would they be here, right? And that’s why we must strive to deliver an award-winning experience. They work hard for their money and expect to be served a fair deal from a professional. And isn’t that what we’ve been trained to do, no matter how bad things are going?
And here’s what I’ve learned: When we do something unprofessional, like making customers feel uncomfortable because they don’t see things like we do, that reasonable amount of trust they walked in with is broken. Nobody wins when that happens. Yeah, they might come back and buy another car from your store, but you can forget ever getting them to listen to your F&I presentation again.
Think about the last time you visited a nice restaurant or clothing store and the server or sales clerk wowed you with amazing service. You probably didn’t mind their prices, and you probably overtipped or overspent. That’s the experience you want to replicate in your office.
And remember, you don’t know what kind of pressures your customers are facing. Maybe they were waiting on a tough-to-please customer before they came to your dealership. Maybe they were stiffed on a tip. The one thing you can be certain of is this: Like you, they know that the customer always comes first. They may not always be right, but they are still the customer. And as my dealer has told me many times, “Marv, I don’t care how much money you make on them, just make certain they leave with a smile on their face.” ’Nuff said. Good luck and keep closing.
Marv Eleazer is the F&I director at Langdale Ford in Valdosta, Ga. Email him at email@example.com.