True Stories: “We went out of our way to avoid the local dealership.”
- "It was very clear he was unwilling to work with us."
- Strive to make authentic connections with your customers.
Approximately 70 percent of buying experiences are based on how customers feel they are being treated. And, it takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience.
I recently interviewed a couple who opted to travel out of their way to purchase a vehicle because the local dealership dismissed their needs. That negative experience solidified their intention to never set foot in their local dealership again, for any reason.
What was your shopping experience like?
We knew we wanted to upgrade to an SUV. There were a couple different options we liked so, we started researching online to compare vehicles. Then, we headed to our local dealerships for test drives.
The test drives, which were at separate dealerships, went well. We were upfront about considering two makes, and we wanted a chance to drive both so we could make an informed decision.
Once we decided on the make, we returned to the local dealership to start the buying process. We had specific vehicle needs based on our lifestyle and a lot of online research. Immediately, the salesperson went into sales mode, trying to be our “best friend.” The conversation was awkward, and the connection he was trying to make with us felt forced and not genuine.
Since the vehicle we wanted was not available on the lot, he was dismissive of our must-haves and vehicle checklist. He instead took the attitude, “You don’t know what you need; I know better.”
When we didn’t waiver on what we wanted or agree to his recommendations, his manner changed. He became huffy as if to say, “Where else are you going to go; we’re the only dealer in town?”
It was very clear he was unwilling to work with us, and his attitude was so off-putting, leaving without our desired vehicle was the only option.
What was your next step?
We contacted the next closest dealership, approximately 35 miles away, which had the vehicle we wanted. Through email we explained what we were looking for and the price we were willing to pay. They said they could order exactly what we wanted. There was no back and forth.
What was your experience at the dealership where you ultimately purchased the vehicle?
The experience was night and day. It was easy, and our choices were respected. It was a more relaxed and straightforward sale. They were efficient, and the process was smooth. They were courteous without trying to force a personal connection or trying to be our friend.
Do you think you would ever give your local dealership another chance?
It is highly unlikely. The extra drive was worth every mile and minute of our time to deal with a dealership that showed us respect, was willing to work with us, and delivered the right vehicle to us without any hassle or know-it-all attitude.
Not listening to your customer or trying to force an inauthentic connection will backfire and cost you today’s sale and future sales. Your customers are seeking an honest connection and a dealership that is genuine and trustworthy.
If you want a customer to be loyal to your dealership now and in the future, build a foundation of professionalism and respect.
Automotive News recently published an article discussing why dealerships are sourcing lower-grade used vehicles to fill their lots.