The Essentials Of Marketing Ourselves (Part One)

by Michael D. Hargrove     


Recently, a one on one client and friend of mine told me, “I don’t even consider it a car deal, Michael, until the person who bought from me sends me a referral.”

Now, how powerful is that?!

It’s been well documented that sales professionals who have the majority of their business come from repeat and referral customers enjoy much higher gross profit averages, as well as, closing ratios two and three times higher than their counterparts on the line. There’s nothing more sad, to me anyway, than the twenty year veteran who still has to call “ups” with the greenpeas. Granted, some of these people still make a very handsome living but, for sure, they’re working WAY too hard for it.

Over the next few months, we’ll cover the essentials of developing and maintaining an effective marketing campaign. We’ll cover how to manage a clientele database, the timing and various methods of marketing, referral programs that work and those that don’t, when NOT to market our products or services, and this month, where it all begins.

I have come to realize that working that repeat and referral gold mine starts right at the delivery. Most consider the delivery part of the sales process but I consider it part of the follow up process. Now, if we are delivering a vehicle it’s probably safe to assume we’ve already built rapport with our customer and have earned their respect. With that in mind, I believe that the last impression we leave with our customer is far more important, and much more profitable, than the first impression. So let’s go get ourselves a shop rag or detail towel (keep it in our desk) and we’ll cover how to make our delivery process something that earns us referrals well into the future.

Although a scheduled delivery will differ from a spot delivery, we should always make sure that the vehicle is ready for them by checking for any equipment that was to be installed, making sure there are two sets of keys, that the tank is full, the unit is immaculate, etc.

We should walk them through the service and parts departments again, reintroducing them to the key players there and reviewing the hours and procedures of our particular store.

We will need to go over all the paperwork, schedules, owner’s manuals, warranty books, etc. that our Finance and Insurance associates don’t cover.

We should re-demo the vehicle. By that I mean to demonstrate ALL of the vehicle’s features to our customer and to make sure they know how to operate all of them. We should set the clock and radio stations with them. We need to be sure to show them all the safety features and where the spare and jack are located. And, when possible, we should drive the car with them again.

We need to make the delivery something special and memorable. We can use flowers, balloons, champagne, theater ropes, gift baskets, etc. to accomplish this.

Now, here’s a surprise, we should NOT ask for referrals or stuff a stack of our business cards in their hand at the time of delivery. I know this probably flies in the face of what you may have been told by other trainers, or even your managers, but we will have plenty of opportunities to ask for referrals later, as you will see. Besides, this is THEIR magic moment, not ours. Think of how it might sound if WE were the customer. The salesperson says, “Here are your keys, your owner’s manual, and your new car. But before you go, here are some of MY business cards…send ME some of your friends…help ME with MY business…blah, blah ,blah.” It’s simply not the most effective way to go about getting anyone to like us, no matter what the circumstances.

Finally, remember that detail towel of ours? Here’s what we do with it. When our customers are leaving F&I, we need to make sure they see us wiping down their car as they approach it. After everyone has piled into their new car, with the registration in the window, and as they start to pull away, we scream at them to, “HOLD IT!!.” We then dash over to the left rear quarter panel, bend over and give it a quick wipe or two, stand back up, smile, wave and say, “Okay! See ya!.” How’s that for a good last impression?

Bottom line: make it memorable, make it special, keep it geared completely towards the customer, and have fun with it.

Next month we’ll get into the timing of our subsequent contacts and methods of long term follow up and marketing.

© Copyright 2013 by Michael D. Hargrove and Bottom Line Underwriters, Inc. All rights reserved. Michael D. Hargrove is the founder and president of Bottom Line Underwriters Inc.

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