Want your dealership to be known in the community for friendly auto sales? Create a reputation management plan and get started.
At heart, Kyle was a good kid — but he just couldn’t stop talking in school. He’d get sent out of class, to the principal’s office, and even got suspended a few times. He was never mean, but he just couldn’t find that “off” switch when it was time to be quiet.
Over time, he gained a reputation among teachers, the administration, parents, and students for being “trouble.” It didn’t matter that he was funny and he usually meant well; whenever a student was talking during class, Kyle automatically got blamed if he was in the room, even if he wasn’t the one talking. That’s because his past actions caused him to develop a negative reputation and now, it was bringing him down even when he was trying to be better. What does Kyle’s story have to do with friendly auto sales?
Reputation is everything – and not just in your personal life, but in business as well. It’s not who you are — it’s who you are perceived to be based on your actions.
You establish your dealership’s reputation the same way. You are what you consistently do. If your salespeople aren’t great at answering calls and e-mails, the dealership could get a reputation for being slow or unresponsive. If you don’t offer competitive trade-in rates, you could get a reputation for being cheap or unfair.
Reputations form because opinions spread. When someone has an experience at your dealership — good or bad — and they share their views with another person in face-to-face conversation, with 500 of their closest friends on Facebook, or on an online review site like Yelp, it contributes to your reputation within the community.
Prioritize friendly auto sales and take control of your reputation
The actions of every single dealership employee need to reflect what you want your reputation to be. Want a reputation for friendly auto sales? Make it known to your crew and then get to work implementing strategies that will make it a reality.
Be genuine from the beginning
It’s no secret that many customers walk into dealerships with their guard up. Don’t be aggressive and start your sales pitch right off the bat. Smile warmly when you first approach and greet people like a friend. Say, “Hi, how are you?” Shake their hand and say “It’s nice to meet you, I’m Tim.” Offer them some water, tea, or coffee to sip on while they shop. It’s a small gesture, but you’re making them feel welcome and like they can take their time and relax.
Run regular fun sales promotions
There are so many different types of auto promotions to choose from, and they are an excellent way to establish a reputation for friendly auto sales. For example, you can host a community cookout, have contests, or send customers a card (with a free oil change coupon inside) every year on their car’s purchase anniversary. Incentives and promotions keep you top-of-mind in the community and show you care about making them happy.
Don’t be pushy
The efforts of everyone on your team can fall apart if one of your employees gets a little pushy with a customer. As soon as a buyer feels pressured into making a purchase, they’re going to become uncomfortable and view the salesperson as pushy and rude rather than friendly. A reputation for friendly auto sales comes from low-pressure, authentic interactions — not strong-armed sales tactics.
Cater to kids and dogs
Two things in the world can make even the coldest hearts warm again: babies and dogs. If customers witness your commitment to families and animals, you have a better shot at being perceived as friendly. For children, you could set up a special area in your showroom where they can play with toys and watch movies while the parents shop for a new car. For dogs, consider making your dealership dog-friendly. In Tennessee, the Friendship Family of Dealerships auto group encourages employees to bring their dogs to work in all of their 16 franchises. Dogs have a special way of helping everyone — salespeople and customers — let their guards down a little and relax.
Make the experience personal
Earning a reputation for friendly auto sales isn’t just something that happens when the customer is in your dealership; you need to continue to maintain contact after they’ve driven away in their new automobile. Once they’ve purchased their vehicle, mail them a handwritten thank you note. Sure, you could send an e-mail, but a handwritten letter sent via the USPS shows that you took real time out of your day to think about them. Then, remember to check in through e-mail a couple of times over the next few months to make sure they are happy with their car and that everything is working well for them.
If you truly care about your customers and their happiness, earning a reputation for friendly auto sales won’t be hard at all. Treat others the way you want them to treat you and ensure your entire dealership team is on board.