Working retail in the auto industry can certainly be taxing. Salespeople work 60-70 hour weeks to make a paycheck. Sales managers do so while also having to manage the sales team, create multiple reports and handle a multitude of tasks — and the service department is just as overloaded.
Not surprisingly, frequently the excuse, “there’s not enough time,” comes into play. However, it is important to remember that the entire existence of a car dealership – as a business – is to sell and service cars. Growth and profitability is dependent upon satisfying the needs of many customers which, at times, can be overwhelming. When the GM is breathing down a sales manager’s neck to have a report done by a specific time, all while trying to desk a deal and handle heat, it’s easy to lose track, or miscalculate priority. It’s almost like the chicken before the egg argument.
So what IS most important?
The most important thing is to make the customer first. There’s a great old saying by Henry Ford: “It is not the employer that pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer that pays the wages.” This is absolute truth. Without customers, no business can last. It will fail and there won’t be any managers or salespeople any longer.
The existence of a car dealership is entirely dependent on ensuring that people buy and service their vehicles with them. If those things don’t happen because managers are overwhelmed or have higher priorities, business will drop. On the contrary, however, by putting the customer first, the customer feels appreciated, valued and is taken care of. This fosters loyalty, referrals and repeat business which, in turn, grows the business rather than seeing it falter.
Customer loyalty and advocacy will only be encouraged and developed by making the customer the priority. And I’m not just talking about handling heat, ensuring that there’s enough floor coverage or available service bays. Customers and their questions, care and problems, should be a priority.
If the customer doesn’t feel that spending $30,000+ on a vehicle is appreciated, they’ll go someplace where they feel appreciated. Treat the service customer like they’re a nuisance and schedule them 4 weeks out for an appointment and they will find someone who is willing to help them when it’s convenient for them, not for the business. Imagine going to McDonald’s and having them tell you that all of the employees are taking a break so you’ll just have to wait. Or that they’re simply too busy to assist you at the moment so come back later. Would YOU come back? Probably not. And neither will your customers.
I guarantee that if you take care of your customers first, those reports will look better each and every time you send them to the GM or dealer, and they’ll forgive the fact that you were tardy. Bottom line is that a report isn’t going to bring in revenue, leave reviews or service its car with you… but a customer will.
Author: Michael Gorun
Michael Gorun is founder of Performance Loyalty Group, a technology-based owner retention and loyalty company. He has more than 25 years in operational service management positions for Ford, Nissan and General Motors. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.