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Changing the Adversarial Nature of Car Sales

Consumers have an adversarial attitude towards 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, many have 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. Being a dealer myself, I have encountered the best and worst that the business has to offer. While my turnover is quite low compared to most, I have hired sales associates with prior experience over the years.

I have also fired more than a few of these "professionals" within a week of hiring them. Why, you ask? I don't mean to sound trite, but I do business by the golden rule. As a result, I won't tolerate dishonesty on the part of my sales staff or the condescending attitude that I 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.

I don't have an adversarial relationship with my customers. Sure, more than a few have stepped into one of my sales staff's offices ready to do battle, but we quickly alleviate their anxiety by doing something that I can wholeheartedly recommend for any business. We 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 repoire 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, I never have a shortage of customers, most of which return for their next purchase. Many of my long term customers will wait for me 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 a good value for their money. More importantly, I can go home at night knowing I run an honest business and that I can take pride in considering myself part of the community I do business in.

That's worth a lot more to me than a few extra bucks. I wish more of my competitors 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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