Written by JohnReinhardt
Dad could never understand why real estate agents were treated and/or respected on the same level as a car salesperson. The consumer sees us as similar type professions (sales) and there is an age old stigma attached to us that I believe we are making headway on, but it still exists in the minds of many. Yesterday, I completed the process of purchasing a car for my wife and I did find many similarities in the two industries, and perhaps we can both learn a little bit from each other. After all, both industries have been heavily hit by the economic climate.
Today, we don’t call agents salesmen, but my GM dealer’s contract clearly states “salesman” on it. Dad, always referred to agents as salesmen, so it’s nice to hear it again. That being said, let’s get to the comparison of the two industries and the lessons to be learned.
As stated in previous posts, my company is embarking on a huge mission to enhance customer satisfaction. In fact, it is now going to be a major part of our everyday business plan. This may not be new to some of you, but many of us brokers are just catching on to this most important part of the business. As I went through the process, I learned a lot from the car buying experience.
Take advantage of every opportunity and point of contact to promote the fact that it’s a great time to buy.
First, my wife didn’t know that she was going to get a new car until she went into the dealership for routine maintenance. While she was waiting, the service person suggested to take a look at the new model cars while she was waiting and my wife thought that since it didn’t cost anything to look, why not. Kudos to the service manager for suggesting this to my wife. We didn’t realize that it was such a good time to buy a car, and after this was explained to us, we did.
Earn every customers business, even if you don’t have the inventory that they are looking for.
We did not see a car to our liking in the showroom and we went home to proceed with our search for a new vehicle. Just like real estate buyers, car buyers do most of their research online and then proceed to a dealer to see and potentially purchase. I spent all day investigating dealers online and identified 5 dealers across the country that had the car that we were interested in. I placed calls to all 5 and received calls back from 2 of them and an email from one of them. I noticed an interesting thing today, that another dealer had the car I purchased, but his email went to my junk folder and he lost a potential sale. I appreciated the phone calls and continued dialogue with the top 2 contenders of the day and I actually developed relationships with each of them. I would have enjoyed doing business with either of these guys if they came up with the right car at the right price. I think that this was the first victory. The fact that they earned my business was a major accomplishment. If we can think more about earning each and every customer’s business…even if we don’t have the inventory that they want, we are heading in the right direction.
Have the Inventory and make sure it’s promoted properly online to attract the customer to you.
So, after my extensive search online, I needed to actually see and feel the car and help me to make sure that the make and model was what actually felt right. I made it a point to go to the closest dealer in my area that had the car in stock. When I visited the showroom, the salesperson sold my wife on the car on the floor, but I thought that it had way too many frills and things that we really didn’t need. Do we really need seats that heat and cool? We liked the car, but decided that we will now continue our search online to see if there was one without all the bells and whistles. The salesperson was polite and extended and invitation to help us to evaluate the differences in any other car that we found. We believe he was genuine and quite smart with this approach.
Customer Satisfaction Calls Show That You Care, and that’s a good thing.
The next day, we received a follow up customer service call from the dealer that we visited. They asked how our experience was and if we successfully located a new car yet. I replied that the experience was great, but we were looking for alternatives. I was impressed we received the call and we felt that our business mattered to this dealer. So, why don’t we do this for every customer that comes to our open houses and visits our offices to see properties? I know the agent can call back, as they should, but someone else caring made the difference here.
Constant Contact from a Salesperson Showing Possible Solutions Keeps them In The Game.
Although I was well on the path of going elsewhere, the salesperson, after receiving the heads up from the customer care representative called me back again and told me about other options that he researched for me. I decided to stop by the dealer on the way home. They got me in the door again! I was tired, and had enough of this journey..so persistence paid off.
Have A Great Management Second String To Assist in the Close!
After sitting down with the manager of the dealership, we negotiated and agreed on ways to get the price down, such as the trade in of the existing car to save a couple thousand bucks on the new sales price tax. Now the car had the extra options that i didn’t need, but i didn’t have to pay that much more now. The financing package at 0% made the deal happen as the monthly payment was explained in terms that I found attractive…only $34.72 per month more. Wow, that’s only a dollar a day! We too can be sold if we want to be sold, we sometimes just need the tools to rationalize and justify what we’re doing.
Inspect What You Expect – Have a Plan and Follow It!
At this dealership the manager provided each salesperson with a follow up list, based on customer satisfaction input. The manager then checked with each agent on how the progress went with each customer. Now, this process was more impressive, because they did it in a very low tech way. The manager printed customer lists and the agents wrote the notes on that piece of paper and submitted it back to the manager at the end of the day. The manager then recorded the information into his contact management system and planned a carefully orchestrated follow up campaign based upon the new data. Some customers were placed on a drip, some were placed for further follow up, and others were placed in the internet research center to see if they could locate cars that met the customers specifications. I think the hands on approach of the manager here in assigning tasks to agents and collecting the results each day made a difference in the success of the dealership. Perhaps some of our brokerage operations could benefit from this amazing degree of hands on dedication and commitment to excellence in customer satisfaction that was demonstrated here. I know that I will implement some of these practices in my company.
AND BY THE WAY…
Both the manager and the sales agent are coming to my next career night to discuss a career with my company. Now that’s what my dad would have done!