OK, so it’s over one month later, and I finally got a car. I’m actually pleasantly surprised by my final day of car shopping. The first go-round was quite frustrating and ended with me giving up, but I’m happy to report these latest lessons in customer […]

OK, so it’s over one month later, and I finally got a car. I’m actually pleasantly surprised by my final day of car shopping. The first go-round was quite frustrating and ended with me giving up, but I’m happy to report these latest lessons in customer service from a car salesman (and this time a good car salesman).

  1. He wasn’t assuming. When I arrived at the dealership, the salesman (who very much reminded me of Sammy Davis, Jr., which probably made me a little biased, I’ll admit) was not at all assuming. He didn’t have the pushy, in-your-face attitude right off the bat about me making a purchase. He introduced himself casually and asked how he could help.
  2. He didn’t push his agenda. When I told him what I wanted, he didn’t try to steer me any other way. He let me be the guide and call the shots.
  3. If there was an issue, he said, “Not a problem, we’ll fix it.” If I wanted something addressed or corrected, he did exactly what I asked, quickly and without argument or condescension. That was very reassuring, especially with such a big purchase.
  4. I challenged him, and he didn’t feel threatened. If I argued for or against something, he wasn’t at all intimidated or threatened.  Other salesmen I’ve dealt with this month became agitated and frazzled if I challenged them.
  5. He stayed out of the way. He wasn’t in my face or suffocating me or not giving me room to think about my options. He gave me space without constantly talking or moving me from one car to another.
  6. He was accessible and prompt. If I had a question, he was available to me right away. If he didn’t have an answer, he personally walked wherever he knew he could find the answer (say the service department) and quickly returned with a response.
  7. He trusted me. If I said something, there wasn’t any sign of doubt or suspicion. We were very much on the same team.
  8. He didn’t haggle over price. An offer was made, and he took it back and forth to the manager until an agreement was reached.
  9. The manager didn’t haggle over price. He was straightforward and didn’t try to nickel and dime the situation. Negotiation was completely finished in a very short period of time, especially compared to my negotiation experiences with the other dealerships a month or so ago.
  10. He didn’t hover. I spent a lot (a lot) of time at the dealership, and when I needed time to take a break from it all, he went about other business, while the manager and other people tended to paperwork and other details. I could sit down and watch TV or read without him staying around all the time. He’d drop in every so often, but he didn’t overstay his welcome.
  11. He got things done. I had to bring the car in today to get a few things done to it. Unfortunately, I’ve been a complete scatterbrain for the past several days because of splitting my time among holiday gatherings and preparations, car shopping and work, and I forgot to call ahead so that he could line things up for me. When I showed up, he didn’t make a big deal about it. He jumped in my car and drove it around to the service department. I left for a bit with some of my family, and he called me while I was gone to let me know that the big item couldn’t be fit in today (since it was so late, completely my fault), but that they would get to it first thing tomorrow. They did, however, go ahead and detail the car today (which they’ll have to redo after the additional work).
  12. He was genuinely friendly. It was easy to see that he takes great pleasure in his work and in making sure his customers are completely satisfied. I greatly appreciated his tireless energy and spirit. It made the entire process much more pleasant and less nerve-racking.
  13. The entire staff was helpful. If I needed something, they got it, no questions and no aggravation.

Thanks to this one salesman and the supporting efforts of the dealership team, I actually had a positive car-buying experience. I was so dreading starting the process over again, but it was such a relief to walk away pleased with the entire process. They did an exceptional job, and I will be sure to remember their efforts when it comes time to purchase again or refer someone I know. Other car salespeople of the world, take note. That’s how you get a life-long customer.

Have you had a positive experience purchasing a car? What helped make it that way?

Image from Flickr by christian.senger

  1. I really, really enjoyed this article, and have shared it with my Twitter followers. I wish you had included the name of the dealership and the salesman, though. You write you’ll refer him to your friends – how about all your readers?! Good service deserves public recognition, don’t you think?

  2. In the past, I have found the car buying experience to be excruciatingly painful. Four years ago, I learned about fightingchance.com and it completely changed the car buying experience for me. I now feel empowered.

    Remember that new cars are a commodity. It is just a matter of finding who will sell it for the lowest price. Second, remember that dealers may have reasons for selling at at lower prices at certain times to make quotas, to take advantage of manufacturer incentives, etc. The last week of December will be the best time of the year to buy a car. Third, filling out an internet form for quotation is not the same thing is actively getting bids from multiple dealers. They have to know that this is a competitive process.

    Fighting Chance sells you information about the car you want to buy and a system for getting the best price. Four years ago it involved faxing dealers. The method has been updated as an email attack.

    Earlier this month I was helping my mother buy a new car. We test drove cars and she chose what to buy. I contacted 30 Toyota dealers by email and asked for their best price on a specific 2010 Toyota Corolla LE trim package. I offered a second round of bidding to everyone that chose to participate in the first round. Prices ranged from $15,000 to $17,342 for the exact same car.

    We had to drive 200 miles to take delivery of the car, but she got the car at a great price and was able to take advantage of the 0% financing option. We were in and out of the dealership in about an hour. I liked the deal so much, I went back and bought the same car at the negotiated price. And to prove my point above, the dealer I bought from in 2009 was not the same dealer that I bought from in 2006. They were $989 higher this time around.

    Aside from test driving some cars, I did not get caught up in the smarmy games that happen in the dealership. The entire negotiation process was done by email. I didn’t even talk to the salesman until we went to take delivery of the car.

    Some salesmen hate this technique but others love it. You can tell almost immediately from the replies that you receive whether this is a dealership or salesperson that really thrives on internet sales. I was surprised by dealers that took days to submit proposals or who wanted to discuss it further on the phone. Those people were never a factor because they were not going to work on internet time and they did not want to compete on price.

    I’m sure people will ask. In 2006 we purchased from Lou Fusz Toyota in St. Louis. This time we purchased from Molle Toyota in Kansas City.

    Web workers should harness the power of the internet to get the best available price.

  3. I forgot to mention the extended warranty….

    If you want to buy an extended warranty, you do not have to buy it at the time of purchase AND you can also competitively bid the warranty between dealers just like you bid the car.

    You can buy the extended warranty any time during the manufacturers warranty, but you have the most leverage if you do it at the time of purchase.

  4. [...] 13 New Lessons in Customer Service from a (Good) Car Salesman by Amber Riviere on WebWorkerDaily [...]

  5. When I was doing that job (years ago), percentage hunters (Like Bob) were not very welcomed.

    The sells were analyzed and anomalities like selling many cars to people having an address outside our area would have resulted in penalities. (The manufacturer would have lower our gross margin)

    Outside our area (defined by the manufacturer), percentage hunters got their deal from dealers with financial difficulties or for bothering an unappreciated competitor.
    Inside our area, they got good deal for quota, internal incentives, because they were recurrent customers, or bringing other customers, etc…

  6. Well, something in the industry must have changed because it was not difficult to get a number of dealers in Missouri and surrounding states (Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Iowa) to submit offers.

    In 2006 and 2009 I found that the best offers came from large volume dealers in major metropolitan areas. In 2006 the local dealer said (I don’t know if it was true) that the price I was paying was less than his wholesale cost.

    Keep in mind that this only works for new cars because you are playing a commodities game. Negotiating the price of a used car is a completely different game.

  7. [...] Continue reading…  0 votes Posted by meikah | Filed under Customer Relations Management, Customer Service Experience, Sales, customer feedback, customer service [...]

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  9. As someone who spent 10 years in the automotive business in sales, management and finance, Amber sounds like an awesome customer to deal with. Inside every one of her 13 customer service tips is a tip on how not to have a bad experience at the dealership for the customer. I promise that salesman remembers her being nice and will treat her and everyone she sends wonderfully!

  10. [...] 13 Lessons in Customer Service from Car Salesman [...]


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