I saw a video on LinkedIn that suggested that most UK car dealers don’t communicate with their customers nearly enough after the sale – even if they know exactly when the finance deal is due to expire & therefore when the customer will be in the market for a new car!
This got me thinking, and in particular made me recall ‘The Worlds Greatest Salesman’ an American car salesman called Joe Girard who reportedly sold over 13,000 vehicles in his 15 year career and a world record 1,400 cars in 1973
Girard went on to be a published author, speaker and sales trainer and I’d come across him last year when researching a presentation on building strong customer relationships
This is another one of those where does Marketing stop and Sales start quandaries…
Anyway, there are a number of techniques that Girard has become well-known for
In particular he’s known for keeping in touch with his customer database by sending them personalised ‘I like you…’ postcards every month
Now I appreciate that this ‘cheesy’ American message is unlikely to sit well with a UK audience but surely the principal remains sound, even if the messaging may need a little work?
Surely it makes sense to build a relationship with your customers, over and above the annual ‘Your Service Is Now Due’ reminder or a naff corporate Christmas Card?
In preparation for this post I recently posed the question in a couple of networking meetings and to my LinkedIn connections ‘Do UK car dealers communicate with their customers after the sale?’
Now it’s not in the slightest but scientific but I didn’t receive a single positive response from either car buyers or those in the motor trade
Anecdotally it seems that some of the bigger dealership chains and manufacturer franchises fare slightly better at keeping in contact
I suppose this fits in with my personal experience, having worked both with the Nissan dealer network and also Sytner Rolls Royce dealers in the past – as you’d expect, the latter knew a thing or two about making their customers feel special…
But this still means there’s a massive opportunity for a switched-on local independent to put themselves ahead of the competition and take their business to the next level
After all, 100% of big firms were small firms once!
Aside from the postcards, Girard’s success was also attributed to a genuine care and concern for every single customer
This often included him paying out of his own pocket for extras or if it was going to help or delight the customer
He didn’t just treat his customers well – he also extended this approach to his team
Every month he treated all the service technicians to a monthly Italian meal and he hosted an annual BBQ for the service department at his home – all to ensure his customers got priority and a 5 star service whenever they brought their car in
So how would you adopt the Joe Girard approach in 2019?
I’d say it has never been easier – don’t forget Girard achieved his success in the 1970’s, the days before Mailchimp, hybrid mail and sophisticated CRM software – imagine how a dealer with access to these sophisticated tools may benefit today!
To find out you don’t need to look much further than Ali Reda, a Michigan based car salesman who claims to have sold over 1,500 cars in 2017 to break Girard’s long-held record
Let’s stop for a moment and break that down – that’s 125 sales per month, or 28 per week or around 4 sales per day (Girard clocked up 18 sales in his best ever day!)
Reda has openly admitted that he has achieved his success by adopting (but also updating) Girard’s techniques & methods
An obvious rebuttal would be to highlight that both Girard and Reda achieved their success selling cars in the USA not the UK – the inference being that their methods won’t translate – sorry, I don’t buy this…
Do people buy cars in the UK for different reasons to the US?
I’d argue not – it’s going to be a combination of a similar range of factors – basic transportation from A to B, freedom, load carrying, fun, status & self expression, all that sort of stuff
Do British people (whether customers or employees) react differently to being treated well to their American cousins? Again, no – the British may shuffle uncomfortably and stare at their feet when complimented but everyone likes being treated nicely, don’t they?
So I’m a little bit perplexed as to why it seems so few UK car dealers have adopted this approach, given the potential benefits for getting it right could be pretty spectacular for their businesses?
I’d be very interested to hear from any UK based car dealers who may have tried such methods to hear whether this was successful
I’d also be keen to hear from anyone who owns or runs a car dealer who may be interested in working together to undertake a small scale test – applying some of the methods discussed here
And finally, given this post is loosely about car dealers but NONE of the principles discussed are exclusive to that industry – I’d be interested from hearing from any business owner who thinks the methods discussed could help them to sell more and grow