As much as we all need the showroom to make a commission check, it’s sad to see how often teamwork is overlooked. You can chalk it up to egos and individual pay plans. Unfortunately, bravado and drive is what closes deals and puts cars over the curb.
Last month, I wrote about the juggling act that plays out in the showroom and in F&I to keep the process moving and today’s time-sensitive customers satisfied. Well, I’d like to continue that discussion, as I have the perfect example of how we, with a little help from our friends in the showroom, keep those balls up in the air.
"The salesman now had two sets of customers in the showroom, but he seemed to have things pretty much under control. But if you’ve spent very much time working in a car dealership, you know that some deals can grow hair pretty quick. Well, what happened next was classic."
See, one of our salespeople brought me a deal on a Mustang GT. I did my usual meet-and-greet while picking up a couple of missing items. I then returned to my office to prepare the menu presentation.
Shortly thereafter, another couple returned to talk with the same salesperson about finalizing their deal. I got their deal info about the same time I was going out to fetch the first couple, so I introduced myself to that second pair of customers and promised to return.
The salesman now had two sets of customers in the showroom, but he seemed to have things pretty much under control. But if you’ve spent very much time working in a car dealership, you know that some deals can grow hair pretty quick. Well, what happened next was classic.
The first couple decided on their products and terms. I reprinted a revised menu and, just as the husband was about to initial it, the wife said, “Before you do that, let me call our insurance agent to check on the rates.” This was an impulse buy. The couple happened to cruise by and saw the car and flipped over it. Checking on insurance rates seemed perfectly reasonable, so I waited patiently while she did.
Casually listening to the telephone conversation revealed something else: Their 18-year-old son had totaled one of their cars and their insurance premiums had skyrocketed. So they wanted to make sure they could afford both. The agent needed a moment, so I decided to redeem the time by doing a little preliminary work on the second deal.
I also excused myself to update the second couple since things were dragging. They said they were in no rush. I told the sales department about the delay and everyone seemed OK.
After what seemed like an hour, the insurance agent called back. The new premiums were out of sight. The couple decided it was unaffordable. A moment earlier, they had agreed on price, payment, and terms. Now they were heading for the door.
I quickly stopped them and asked if they were loyal to their agent. They weren’t. So I called my personal agent and handed the phone over for a quote. This was a lengthy conversation, but it resulted in much lower premiums. They happily signed the menu and thanked me profusely.
In the meantime, the salesman was busy keeping the attention of the waiting couple with casual conversation. They were laughing and having a good time. I’m pretty sure he was nervous that the deal in my office was about to unravel, but he never showed it. In fact, I was in awe of how well he kept the situation under control. I was working solo that day, so I couldn’t hand it off to our other finance office.
When I went out to escort the couple back to my office, they were relaxed and happy — even after spending more than an hour waiting their turn. While I was fretting about their patience while I was with the first couple, the salesman never left them alone for more than a few minutes. When he did, he was getting both cars prepped for delivery. His calm resolve and determination to keep them happy were notable.
As I wrote last month, “It’s not the time a customer spends in your store nor those precious minutes spent waiting to get into F&I that drives them crazy. It’s how long it actually feels to them.” And that’s why teamwork is so critical. And when faced with a roadblock that stalls the process or the handoff to F&I, like the salesperson in my story, maintain the same great attitude you used to close the sale.
Folks, this is good, old-fashioned customer care that no algorithm or tech product can replace. Good luck and keep closing!
Marv Eleazer is the F&I director at Langdale Ford in Valdosta, Ga. Email him at [email protected].