They are coming in scared. They are wearing gloves. They are wearing masks. For the first time in history, they aren’t stealing our pens. In fact, they are bringing in their own.
This makes us uncomfortable and that is where growth comes from.
We are all in similar situations. We are interacting with customers in a very different fashion than we are used to. The playing field has once again been leveled, and we now have a tremendous amount of common ground, which is actually a silver lining. Normally, we are trained to pick up clues, quickly establish credibility, and find common ground. The incentives have never been better with zero percent for 84 months and 120 days until first payment. The time to complete the sale has decreased tremendously.
The days of customers shopping you against five other dealers have ceased. They do not want to go into five dealerships. They want to get in and get out, just like before this virus changed our world. If they like, trust, and respect you, the resistance level drops and the gross increases.
With online credit apps and the ability to hold a digital chat or a good old-fashioned phone call, the customer can send over all the documentation you need, like driver’s license, proof of insurance, and trade registration along with payoff information to where you can essentially prepare the deal, get it approved, and be ready for the show when they arrive to complete the necessary paperwork. Ask for the gross and you just might get it.
When you’re not in the dealership, try to stay fit … go for a walk and stay positive. Do whatever it takes to keep the situation we are in from dictating how you are going to respond to it. A lot of people are struggling and they are scared. Stay connected and stay mentally fit. That is what determines a real pro in this business.
Relationships matter. To quote an interlude from one of my favorite songs by Dennis Lloyd, titled “GFY”: “And whether your relationship is awful, good, or great, we don't like endings. We don't like to lose things. And especially, we don't like to lose things that are important to us. And make no mistake, relationships are the single most important thing to you and your life. It's the source of all of your best memories. It's the source of all of your worst memories. When you think back on your life, when you're 95, a hundred years old, and you look back over the course of your lifetime, you're not gonna think, "I wish I owned a better phone. I wish I spent more time on the internet. I wish I spent more time at work, or sleeping", it's not gonna’ be any of those kinds of things. It's gonna’ be, ‘I wish I spent more time with the people I love.’”
Our best customer is our salesperson. When you connect with your team, they can provide valuable intel so you can maximize your time with the guest. Communication and understanding are paramount during times like these. In this time when people are scared and nervous, they want to be protected. The likelihood of being rejected when you transition into your menu presentation is low. The customers who might have stopped you and said, “I’ve done this before – this isn’t my first rodeo – save your breath,” has checked out. They want to have coverage because they have little certainty on many things in their life right now. Put their minds at ease and protect them. Panic prevents profit. Full price is a fair price. You can always go down, but you can never go up. Remember, gross is a state of mind.
Make a connection with the customer. Give them a wow factor. Change something about your process to connect with them. Play music. You have time. There’s no excuse to not spend time with people. Put them in their comfort zone. Don’t talk politics.
Make your paycheck great again. Make the car buying experience great again. Keeping your mind right and stay connected to the salespeople, your friends, and your family. This is just a moment in time. This is making us better for having gone through it. This makes us uncomfortable and that is where growth comes from.
Justin B Gasman is the financial services director at McCaddon Cadillac Buick GMC in Boulder, Colorado.
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