It’s not your building – your parts – your cars – it is your customers! I have been in the car business for a long time and I cannot tell you how long ago I heard this. The PROBLEM is everyone agrees this is important, but do we really treat it as your “Most Valuable Asset?”
Let me start by sharing a recent experience I had in a dealership that I feel is very normal. I was working with a salesperson and we will call him Abe. I asked Abe how many units he had delivered the previous month – he responded 11. I asked him how many he was forecasting for the upcoming month – he responded 12. I then asked him how long he had been selling cars? He responded 10 years. That is when I almost lost it. The national average is around 10 units per month and this salesperson has been selling for 10 years and he is selling 1 more car than the average. What has he done with the past 10 years of owners?
He has done with them the same as what most other automotive salespeople have done – very little. No – let me change that answer – he is “WAITING” for them to come in and ask him to sell them another vehicle. I see two issues that cause this in today’s business model and I will address one of them in this issue – the other in an upcoming issue.
The first thing I see is this person has never been trained how to develop a “book of business” and capture all the opportunities it offers.
Let me start by sharing some data. I asked Abe how many units he had sold in the previous 3 years, he said 330. I shared with him that 1/3, or 110 of those people will either replace a vehicle in their driveway, add a vehicle, a relative or close friend will replace a vehicle, the problem is – Abe doesn’t know any of that information. If he does do follow up with his customers it is usually just checking in on the car he sold them. He doesn’t have any clue: “How many vehicles they own, who the drivers are, were they purchased new or used and when, and most importantly when they plan to replace them”. He has NO CLUE – HE JUST LEAVES IT TO CHANCE. Abe has 9 people EACH MONTH he has done business with that are going to be purchasing a vehicle or someone very close to them will be purchasing something – he basically lives by the floor. And here is the bigger problem, multiply that by the number of salespeople in your dealership and think of that amount of business you are leaving to “chance” each month. Think of how much you could reduce your advertising if you had control of these opportunities?
The first step in fixing it is at the TOP. You have to provide time and resources to go after this business. Take away the “loss” of not standing by the door or you will miss a good UP. Have a rotation system. Require people to contact so many previous owners or bonus or spiff money isn’t earned. Train them. Train manager’s to manage these opportunities. Build “Controlled Repeat Business” into the pay plan.
With as fast as the Internet and everything else is changing in the car business – this has not changed and will not change. People want to be appreciated and “building a book of business” creates fantastic owner loyalty.
Just an FYI – I write this version of my newsletter for managers – I also write another one specifically for salespeople. In the one for salespeople I got more into the specifics of what and how they could build their “Book of Business”. If you would like a copy of that newsletter let me know and I will forward it to you.
I would love to hear your comments or successes with “building a book of business”.