Straight Talk: 3 Tips From Agents to Dealers
Straight Talk: 3 Tips From Agents to Dealers

What do people want when they go visit a dealership or its Web site? What makes them choose one make of vehicle over another? The specific answer to those questions can only come from those who are already satisfied clients or repeat clients. However, I can address the general answers to help you get started on helping your dealers attract more customers.

We all want the same things when doing business: quality products and good service at a low investment. That’s the bottom line. Is that what your dealers provide? If so, make sure they are shouting it from the rooftops! However, few companies can provide all three. Your job is to help them address whichever of the three they aren’t currently providing.

If they provide quality and service, but not at the lowest investment, that quality and service had better be exceptional. There is a perceived value for excellent quality, and people actually don’t mind spending a little more money for it. They’ll also go the extra mile for something if they feel the service is great. If you aren’t sure about that point, think about the last time you left a tip at a restaurant.

With all that in mind, here are three tips you can try on your next visit.

1. Say It Like You Mean It.

For a dealer to be more successful in this industry, they have to learn how to ooze quality and service. This begins with the first impression the dealership makes, whether it’s in person, over the telephone or online. Everything should be first class and easy to navigate. If you aren’t certain exactly what this means, contact a few other dealerships and compare how they handle calls versus how your clients handle calls.

Help them develop a business “voice.” How they say things is critically important. Rather than answering the phone with “ABC Auto, this is Dan,” they should try “Thank you for calling ABC Auto. This is Dan. How may I help you?” Or, “Thank you for contacting the service department. This is Bob. How may I help you?” It may not seem like a big deal, but the person hearing it will feel the difference.

2. Keep It Clean.

Your client’s dealerships should be clean and clear of clutter. Everyone’s job description should include picking up or wiping down, especially in areas where they might be walking with or sending clients. A dealership should be easy to navigate. Why risk frustrating potential buyers by having them walk farther than necessary, or walk through an obstacle course of signs and chairs? I know the idea is to slow them down and force them to see what you want them to see, but, in the buyers’ eyes, there’s a fine line between marketing and frustration with marketing.

3. Be Courteous and Engaging.

When a customer is made to feel important, they are more likely to pay attention to what the salespeople have to say. How do they achieve that? With eye contact, or a welcoming smile. Even if the dealership meets potential clients over the phone, make sure they are smiling and using a warm and friendly tone of voice. Believe it or not, people can tell if you’re smiling, distracted, bored or unhappy whether they can see your face or not. They can tell simply by the tone of your voice.

Good old-fashioned courtesy goes a long way. If the business involves getting to know people by name — and it should, no matter the type of business — always call them by “Mr.” or “Ms.” if they give their last name. Remind the dealer not to get too friendly too soon by calling customers by their first names. That can put people off, which is the last thing they want to do. If they only give their first names, then use it, but not so often that they wonder if you are memory-challenged.

Rather than jumping right in to tell people about the dealership, products, or services, make sure your dealers are asking what made them contact the business in the first place. What was it that made them call just then? Be careful not to ask, “What are you looking for?” That’s too abrupt. “What brought you to Acme Auto Center today?” Or, “What was it that prompted your call today?” are better options dealers should use. They want to get inside the customer’s head to find out what they really want, what they really need before trying to sell them anything.

Once the dealer knows the general direction of the customer’s needs, they can then ask additional questions about their likes and dislikes to help narrow their focus from everything they have to offer, to the one particular vehicle that will best suit their needs. And from there, the dealer is far more likely to have success selling them the F&I products that will be the best fit for each customer — increasing everyone’s bottom line.

About the author

Tom Hopkins


Tom Hopkins is world renowned for teaching practical, how-to selling strategies. His training increases competence and builds confidence when it comes to qualifying, presenting and closing sales. Or, Click Here to download a free e-book titled, “6 Practical Tips for Making More Automotive Sales.”

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