Changing the Adversarial Nature of Car Sales

Consumers have an adversarial attitude toward car dealers, and I can’t say blame them.

The retail auto industry has done so many things to create an atmosphere of confusion and intimidation that many car buyers understandably dread the buying experience. Not only do some dealerships encourage their sales staff to engage in dishonest tactics to fleece customers, but many have also proven themselves to be sexist as well. I always wondered how the salesmen for those particular dealerships came home at night and looked their wives or daughters in the eye.

Having sold cars myself, I have encountered the best and worst that the business has to offer. While turnover was quite low compared to most, I have seen sales associates with prior experience over the years. I have also seen them fired more than a few times of these “professionals” within a week of hiring them. Why do you ask? I don’t mean to sound trite, but most dealers do business by the golden rule. As a result, those dealers won’t tolerate dishonesty on the part of their sales staff or the condescending attitude that we notice many dealers and salespeople take toward their customers. I also refuse to use the dubious tactics that many dealers use to nickel and dime more profit out of every customer that enters their showroom. Now, let me tell you what the results of following the golden rule are… don’t have an adversarial relationship with my customers.

Sure, more than a few have stepped into one of a sales staff’s offices ready to do battle, but quickly alleviate their anxiety by doing something that I can wholeheartedly recommend for any business. Simply give them honest, fair, and respectful treatment. I know this might sound like a novel approach in the auto industry, but it’s the only way to do business in my opinion. If more dealerships would stop trying to treat every sale as though it were the last one they will ever make and concentrate on building a good repertoire with their clientele, they would enjoy the success that I do. I would bet that my profit margin is, on average, a bit below that of most other dealerships.

Still, there is never a shortage of customers, most of which return for their next purchase. Many long-term customers will wait for a dealer to find the car they are interested in before buying from another dealership. Why? Because they know that when they drive off my lot, they have been treated fairly and have received good value for their money. More importantly, salespeople can go home at night knowing they run an honest business and can take pride in considering the dealership part of the community they do business in. That’s worth a lot more than a few extra bucks. I wish more dealerships felt this way as well because it would benefit our industry as a whole to change our sales philosophy for the better.

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