Guest Blog by Steve Junion:
We needed a new vehicle and I had been seriously dreading the anticipated negotiation combat that always accompanied the purchase of a new car. I knew what I wanted and I had armed myself with the nuclear codes, aka consumer & market research.
After speaking with six dealerships, I was getting close to my price mark but was already battle fatigued and I had yet to set foot on a lot. Then, as I was on my way to a dealership where I was locked in a tenacious struggle on price, I decided on a whim to stop at a different dealership along the way.
I walked in ready for battle – protected with my mental body armor. The salesman, who we will call Zach, greeted me enthusiastically. I explained I had offers on the same model they had in the lot and asked if he could get to a specific price range.
The first salvo was launched. He tried to smile but I knew it was going to hurt. He left to speak with his GM. When he came back he presented me with MY number. The battle zone in my head went silent. This clever salesman had not only assessed me and my armor within the first moments of meeting, he had listened. He knew if he met me where I stood, I could only say yes. A broad grin came across his face. That was the start of a very transformational car purchase experience.
As Zach started filling out the finance paperwork, I still felt a bit edgy. The initial battle was over, but where was the impending surge of finance upsells – offering options I didn’t need or want?
Zach explained they did business differently. He said his GM invested in sales people to also become Finance Managers “because you never get handed off – unlike most dealerships where you might interact with up to 5 people during the sale. Here you only interact with one person through the entire process.” As he spoke, I felt my remaining armor falling away.
Zach’s GM stopped over – let’s call him Jim. I asked Jim what his primary focus was in building the business. Jim, a former marine, said thoughtfully “culture.” He went on to say, “Having the right culture means that I can do things that other dealerships won’t. If I do those things, my team and the customer wins.”
The war was over and I had strong feelings of esprit de corps.
Battle Lessons: What I Learned
- Simplicity is important in winning the experience battle. Working only with Zach made my experience easy and we became battle buddies.
- If culture is the end point, leadership and mindset pave the way. Jim the GM is a leader, disruptor, and has instilled and invested in versatility on the ‘battlefield’.
- Jim’s culture values knowing their customer and building unit cohesion amongst his team and with the consumer.
What You and I Can Ask
- Is our mission clear to colleagues and consumers?
- How can we make it easy for our consumers/customers to say Yes! to anticipate and avoid resource wasting battles?
- How does our organization’s leadership example impact our culture?
When someone says they are looking for a new vehicle, I will know where to point them to an experience, not just another dealership.