PROSPECTING

If we are sitting in our showroom, waiting for the “Up Bus”, we aren’t being very professional at our chosen vocation.

A professional sales person is always looking for a person to sell a car to and an unique way to get a hold of that person.  They aren’t hoping for a customer, they are working for one.

When I was a new sales person, I had been selling cars for about 4 months and I decided that I wasn’t going to achieve my professional, personal or financial goals relying on the dealers advertising only.  I knew that I needed to get out and find prospects of my own.  This is the exercise that I did (click the link below for your own copy):

PROSPECTING WORKSHEET

This was my first exercise to determine who I had to prospect, and I’ll be honest, it resulted in me spending a little money.  My whole family has attended the same small private school here in the area of Dallas/Ft. Worth where I live, Dallas Christian.  That school has a great athletic program and our football team, the Chargers, were in the state playoffs for football that year.  I had 2 nephews on that team and a niece who was the head cheerleader.  I bought 2000 of those little plastic footballs; on one side it said, “Go Chargers!” and on the other side it had my dealership’s logo and my name and cell number.  Every time we scored a touchdown during the playoffs, the cheerleaders would run up and down the sidelines and throw these ball up into the stands.  The fans would jump up and down and hold up their hands screaming for a football.  If I remember correctly, the footballs cost me about $460.  It was an investment that paid off, which if it hadn’t my wife would have killed me because I was just a poor car salesman.  I probably sold 1-2 cars per month to parents at that school over the course of my career.  Last December 2010, not even working in a dealership, I sold 9.

The next thing that I did was to put a 5’x8′ sign on the outfield fence of our baseball field.  That field was used by our high school for 3-4 months during the Spring and we rented it out to a local baseball league during the Summer, so there were always plenty of eyes on it.  That sign cost me $600 the first year and $300 per year after that to renew and keep it up there.  Once again, hard to quantify but I always knew that I was going to sell 1-2 cars per month to parents or their friends that those parents would refer to me.  Now, before I take a fresh “Up” in a month, I had 3-4 cars out.

What are you doing right now to sell a car?  Does everyone that you know, know what you do for a living?  Have you called all your family and friends in the past several weeks and asked for a referral?  Are you ‘hoping” for success, or are you “working” for it?

Get to work! Stay green!

David Simpson
Cell (469) 939-0410
david@dealerconsultinggroup.com

MANAGER’S EXERCISE

Do this;

Go to your service department and pull 25 Used Vehicle Reconditioning Repair Orders, total the number of labor hours, divide that by 25 and figure out what the average hours per R/O is for used car reconditioning.

I don’t know what that number will be, but it will likely be less than the average customer pay hours per R/O that your service advisors are doing on the service drive.

The question is, who owned that vehicle before your used car department did?  A customer, that’s who.  The same kind of customer who is probably getting in and out of your service department without getting the same work done that your service department was able to sell your used car manager.

What’s the difference?

Service Advisors: Connecting with the Customer

Service Advisors:  Connecting with the Customer

When my son was 5-years old and in kindergarten his teacher called my wife and asked her if we could come in and have a meeting about him.  We had no idea what the meeting was about, our son was rambunctious and active, like a healthy, and happy 5-year old should be, so we went imagining the worse, as young parents do.  The meeting was a lot of fun; sitting in chairs made to accommodate a kid 3 feet tall with a cheery old lady who spoke to us like we were 5-years old ourselves.

She told us that she had filled out the appropriate paperwork, and had all the signatures required for us to take our son to our doctor and have him tested for A.D.H.D. (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).   At this time, because we had recently moved to the town where we now live, we didn’t have a local doctor, so we asked her for a recommendation and she gave us the name of a doctor that she knew treated several children in the school there where she taught.  We made the appointment and took him in, filled out the new-patient paperwork and were shown into an examining room.

When the doctor walked in, he was looking at Jake’s chart and didn’t look up at us for several moments.  When he finally did, he shook our hands and watched Jake sitting on the examining table, bouncing up and down, rattling that paper that they put on the cushioned surface, kicking his legs…the doctor just watched him as he told us about the A.D.H.D. symptoms and all the consequences associated with it.  He was still talking to my wife and I as he went over, put his hands on Jake’s neck to feel his nodes or whatever, pulled out his stethoscope and listened to his heart, tested his reflexes with his triangular mallet; he did all this without saying a word to Jake, who hadn’t been to the doctor in his young memory and might have been freaked out.

The doctors diagnosis was as expected and he excused himself from the room to go get his prescription pad.  When he left the room I said to my wife, “I don’t like him at all. “

My wife asked, “Why not?  I have talked to several people and he is a great doctor.”

“I bet he is, but I don’t want a doctor working on my son who doesn’t like kids.” I replied.

Just like that, this doctor who went onto to write a book about pediatrics and A.D.H.D. almost lost a patient, a buyer, because he did not connect with us on the appropriate level.

How many times on the service drive to we treat our customers like that doctor treated us?  He was diligent to go about his work, but I never got the feeling that he cared.

We have to do several things to send the appropriate message to our customers that we really do care.  Here are a few of them:

  • Greet them promptly (within 30-seconds of entering the service drive) with a warm smile and an introduction
    • I say, “Hi, I am David Simpson, and you are…”  What brings you in today?”  I don’t say the word “help”, or “service”.  If they are here for maintenance, I am complimentary.  If they are in for service, I am empathetic.
  • Make 1 compliment about the vehicle as you walk around it
      • “This is a great looking Camry.  How long you had it?”
      • “It sure looks like you keep your vehicles nice and clean.”
  • Ask plenty of questions related to how and what they feel is or isn’t happening rather than what they know or don’t know is wrong.
      • “How does it sound when it is doing that?”
      • “Do you feel it shaking at all when you make turns?”
      • “Does the vehicle feel like it is going to die?”
      • “Can you feel that in the front or more towards the rear of the vehicle?”
  • Set the expectation
      • Verbalize what is going to happen next
      • Verbalize what the expense is going to be, if any
      • Ask for permission to continue
  • Do not use the word “Diagnostic” or “Diagnose”
      • Replace with “Inspection” or “Test”.

It’s the little things that we do that make the big difference.  The first impression is the most important.  Let’s get used to using the appropriate language that engages the customer and lets them know that we really do care.

Stay green.

David Simpson

“NO ONE EVER EXPLAINED IT TO ME THAT WAY BEFORE”

There are some things that a customer will say that make your heart leap with pride.  When I was a sales person on the floor, I knew that I had done a good job identifying my customer’s needs, matching them to the car that met those needs and making sense of the numbers when my customer would say, “I’m going to have to go home and get my checkbook.  I didn’t intend on buying a car today.”  That’s just a job well done.  We have a hard enough time selling customer’s who intend to buy, it’s really the top of our game to help a customer who legitimately did not intend to purchase.

In F&I, the equivalent to that phrase about the checkbook, for me anyway, is the customer who walks out of my office and says, “No one ever explained it to me that way before.”  Oh, the bliss!

I had a customer a couple of weeks ago who was trading in a 7-year old Passat with about 47,000 miles that they had bought new.  The driver, the wife, was a school speech therapist in a small town, and the only driving she did was from home to one of the schools in town; 3 elementary schools, 3 middle schools and 2 high schools. They were looking at a Hyundai Elantra, new, and were considering a lease.

The sales manager who worked the deal brought me the folder and said, “These people want to do a 36-month lease.  They aren’t going to buy anything.”  I took that as a challenge.  I went out and sat down at the sales person’s desk where the customers were waiting to finish their paperwork, and started my interview. “You are replacing a 7-year old Passat with…47,000 miles??  What do you do that you only drive 47,000 miles?”  She told me her story.  “You seem to keep your cars for a long time, would you mind telling me, out of my own curiosity, why you are considering a lease?”

“We don’t know if we’ll want to keep this car for that long” was the reply.

“That is an excellent strategy.  If you were to purchase, your term would have to be much longer to achieve the same payment as a lease.  You know what your options are with that 36th payment, right?  You can sell it and pocket the difference if your vehicle is worth more than the residual, you can trade it in and apply that difference to your next car, or you can refinance the residual and keep paying on the vehicle until it is paid off.  If your vehicle is not worth the amount of your residual, you can bring it back and drop off the keys and let the bank take the hit in depreciation.”

“Yes, that is why we are leasing.”

I love educated consumers.

I went through my presentation, using a graph illustration and the warranty handbook from the owner’s manual packet, to demonstrate what is covered and what is not covered.  They decided on the 5-year/75,000 mile service contract, prepaid maintenance, the PDR policy, the Windshield and the Road Hazard protection.  When I presented my menu and asked her to pick an option, she looked down and chose Option 4 and said, “No one ever explained those products to me that way before.”  It was awesome!

Here is what I told her:

That VSC is not just for failures, it is also to keep your car running good, and to make sure that your vehicle always has all new parts on it.  Those technicians work on commission and when you tell them that you have the Platinum VSA, they will know that no matter what they find wrong with your vehicle, you will only be out of pocket your deductible.  They are going to look extra hard to find parts that are worn out, wearing out or about to start wearing out; anything they can justify to the warranty company fixing, they will fix.  Not only will your car run better longer, don’t you think with all of those repair orders from our service department that your vehicle will be worth more when you bring it back in?

The PDR and Windshield policy will keep your car looking new.  Every time you bring it in for your routine maintenance, just make sure that you tell the service adviser that you have the PDR and the Windshield protection and he will walk your vehicle and make a note of any damage that can be repaired.  Then, he will schedule a time for you to bring the vehicle in to let our PDR and Windshield repair tech pop those dents and dings out, and repair any small chips, cracks and stars in your windshield.  That not only keeps your vehicle looking nice and new, it will save you from an excess wear and tear charges if you decide to turn the vehicle in rather than keep it or trade it.  Also, since your vehicle will look better at the end of your lease term, won’t it be worth more?

The road hazard protection is the best value on the menu.  If you go to a tire store and buy 4 new tires, the technician is going to ask you if you want that road hazard policy.  Most policies sold by tire retailers are 12 month/12,000 mile policies that cover only that tire.  They will repair tires damaged by road hazard, and if you blow out a tire and it is not repairable, they will replace it with another tire, prorated.  And the price of all of that is only $12-$15 per tire.  Our tire and wheel policy covers your tire and your wheel, unlimited claims, unlimited miles and is a $0 out of pocket expense to you if you ever do have a repair.  It also covers your wheel so if you hit something and bend of break a wheel, it’s covered.  If they can fix it, they’ll fix it, and if they can’t fix it they’ll replace it with a brand new tire or rim or both, and we all know that the wheels are much more expensive than the tires.  All that is covered for only $27 per tire and wheel per year.  (Think about it; $27 x 4 tires and wheels = $108 x 5 years = $540 price of the protection)

I assume the maintenance in the description of the VSC, they are right above and below one another on my menu.

“No one ever explained those options to me that way before.”  What a great compliment.

Stay green!

Amateur vs. Professional

(click link above for printable poster)

One of my very good friends owns an electrical service company, one of the best in the nation based on volume, located here in North Texas where we live.  He and I met when my son joined his son’s baseball team a couple of years ago.  You can tell a lot about a parent by the way their kids treat them, and that tells you a lot about the kid as well.  Long before I got to know my buddy, Mark, I knew that I liked his son.  He is a leader, works hard at practice, treats his teammates with respect, controls his emotions…he’s just a quality human, not to mention a very good baseball player.

As Mark and his wife became friends with Jan and I, I could tell that the “apple didn’t fall far from the tree”.  He and his wife are just good, genuine people who are always looking for a way to be of service to the people around them.   That “servant” attitude has been the common denominator in his company’s success too, by the way.   Once he found out what I did, the training that I had been doing in dealerships focusing on more than just creating profits, following a proce, but internalizing that effort to become a more quality person wholly, he asked me to look at his operation and think of ways that we could work together and apply what I had been doing in the automotive industry to the electrical service industry.

He set up space in his headquarters where I could office, and made me a part of his operation.  I was instantly accepted by his people, who were all looking for ways to improve in their craft.  That is the culture that he had developed over the years; “We are all growing together as individuals, and [consequently] as an organization.”

There is a sign in the conference room where his technicians, dispatchers, managers and foremen meet every day that says, “Amateurs practice till they get it right, professionals practice till they can’t get it wrong.”

In a service industry like that, where people need something fixed, that is still the common denominator in the best companies; practice.  Professional sports are always a great example of the need to continually practice (prior to game time) and get better at executing the mission of the team, the game plan.  It always boils down to the fundamentals, the basics.

In sales, we differentiate ourselves as an industry from service industries; however think about how many things we have in common?  In the service industry, they know the need going in, that is why they have been called to a person’s house, or why a customer is in their service drive.  The “needs awareness” is obvious so providing “needs satisfaction” is a little easier.  There still has to be value established though; value in the technician, the service itself, and the organization, or people will look for someone else to pay for that service.

In the sales industry “needs awareness” is not as obvious; sometimes it is actually kept from us, because our customer’s don’t want to yield any room for negotiating, or because the customer is afraid that “needs awareness” will result in them being taken advantage of.  That is the thing that sets sales professionals apart from service professionals; our ability to identify needs and attach value to our ability to satisfy that need.

My question for you is this, are you an amateur or a professional?  Are you practicing your presentation until you get it right, or are you practicing it till you can’t get it wrong?  Objection handling, interview, rebuttals,…are you so good at these that you can’t be beat, or are you good enough that you can do it most of the time?

Be professional; that investment in yourself will translate into you earning the right to be successful .   That is the reason that professionals are successful, and able to ask for payment for their efforts because their investment in their skills, their craft, has given the right to refuse defeat, and to be paid to do what they do.  Amateurs lose their amateur status when they receive payment for what they do.  Some of you need to start working towards losing your amateur status.

Stay green.

David Simpson

TOUGHEST F&I OBJECTION

Customer says, “I had one of these warranties, and it didn’t cover what broke.”

This is a tough one!

“I understand completely, we hear customer’s saying things like that all the time.  That makes you feel like you wasted your money, right?

Do you mind if I ask you a quick question?  Do you feel like it is possible for all the parts of a car to fail at once?”

Of course not.  (Click the image above to download this form in a PDF)  This shows the total replacement cost of all the major components on an average car.  This form states the total cost; parts and labor, if each of these parts failed.  See that number there?  ($14,127)

How much of that figure do you think the average service agreement would cover?  $5,000?  Do you think that $5,000 worth of coverage is for parts that normally fail?  Probably not, right?

Unfortunately, you’re right.  And we have a plan very much like that, it’s called the Silver Plan.  It’s available, but I never present it because of stories just like yours, and our dealership has been in business way to long to do that to even one customer.  The way that I learned to use a service agreement is ‘health insurance’ not ‘life insurance’.  Let me show you what I mean.

With Package 1, if that number at the bottom of the sheet is accurate over the next 5 years, as long as you told me you were going to own your car, it’s covered, and you’re protecting $14,127 for just $3 per day.

To get my money’s worth, most of my customer’s would bring their vehicle in as many times as possible.  By purchasing the Toyota Financial Services Platinum Plan and Option 1, you can do that too.

Remember you told me that if it was cost-effective, you’d do your maintenance here at the dealership.  When I get my maintenance done, I intend to make money.

Every time I bring my vehicle in for maintenance, I tell my service adviser that I purchased Option 1.  Now, he’s looking for not only mechanical parts that have failed, but parts that are failing, or looking like they might fail in the future.  Anything he can justify to the warranty company to cover, it’s gonna be covered.

Not only that, any dents and dings, stars, chips or cracks in my windshield, or if I damage to my tires and wheels, it will all be covered.  If they’re damaged and we can fix ’em, we’re gonna fix ’em.  No money out of our pocket, every time.

He’s gonna give me back a vehicle that looks and runs new, with all new parts, every time I come in.

And, I know that I have increased my resale value, so when I bring my car in here for trade, I’m going to get more for it since it has been so well maintained, inside and out.

If you are not going to use it, don’t buy it; but didn’t you tell me that your _____ that you are replacing didn’t have any major damage, just your basic dents and dings?   Don’t you think you would have gotten more for that vehicle if it looked new and had all new parts?  It really only makes sense, doesn’t it?

I couldn’t agree more.  Did you want to use a middle initial in the titling of your new vehicle, or not?

THE MAIN THING

My wife is worried about me about being too “deep” in my sales training. Now, she has never been in the training I provide for dealerships, however I do teach and speak in places and at events where she does attend.  She has this vision of what I do at dealerships, and she is afraid that bringing the same “life lessons” that I would when speaking at a school or civic function might be considered inappropriate.

By the way, to give you some context, for the past 15 years my wife has spent her Summers traveling the Southwest, and speaking at high schools to young women in leadership, giving them the social skills and disciplines that they will need to be effective mentors and influences within their schools and communities.  I say that to say, she knows what it is to have the responsibility of being in a position to influence individuals and to promote relationships.

It IS a responsibility.  Just like I learned, and now I instruct, when you have earned the right, or at least been given the opportunity to influence an individual and a relationship, that is a BIG responsibility.  And you don’t have to be standing in front of a room full of people to feel the weight of that responsibility, it happens to us in retail everyday.

It does not take but one significant setback in our lives to cast a spotlight on the fact that the only things in our lives that are truly significant are relationships.  When the money’s dried-up, when every thing around us is falling apart; it is relationships that give us the strength to stand up and the motivation to keep moving forward when all seems lost.

I tell my friends all the time, especially when I am doing group training, that if I go too “over the top” to rein me in, and no one has stopped me yet.  The reason why is that, like my daddy used to say, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”  No matter what your vocation, our purpose is to relate to one another, build each other up, hold each other up and sometimes pick each other up.  And you know what?

People will pay to do business with someone who knows how to keep the “main thing” the “main thing”. 

Stay green!