They're Stealing My Customers! Do Something!

I was listening to a complaint in a meeting a few weeks ago that I have heard a few times. "Brand M leasing company is coming in an taking all my customers! What can you do to help combat this?" In the meeting, the response among the members was one of agreement with the problem and the response from the speaker was agreement with the problem and that they have a new computer program that may help to make more professional presentations. Right. As if that will really make the difference.

It reminded me when I was a fresh new salesman on the floor. A prospect would come through the door and I would greet them and go to show them something and when I came in for the key, this other salesman says that is his customer and I am stealing his customer and he was mighty upset to the point of punching me out! I said that the customer did not mention him, but that he was welcome to take over from here. I sent him out to take over.

I learn pretty quickly. After a couple of times at this, my first question to every prospect who entered the showroom was this: "Welcome to Brand Motors! Are you looking for someone in particular?" If they said no, they were mine for the moment. Next time they would come in, if they didn't ask for me, then they were not my customer any longer.

One can make all the assumptions that they want, but this business is all about relationships. If you have a relationship, generally they will do business with you until you prove to them otherwise. If your relationship is superficial or weak, your claims are unfounded. Customer loyalty is a great goal to have and work toward, but it is not easy to achieve. It requires communication with your client, looking after their needs and understanding their business and generally doing what is in their best interests.

A lot of people in the car business sell a car or even a fleet of cars to a customer and then think it is their customer. Hogwash. You made a sale and that is it. Customer loyalty comes with a strong relationship and staying in touch in various ways to demonstrate that. In addition, it means providing service and services that are valuable to the client.

When I was the young beginner, I would see the elder salesmen with their repeat clients that they said would buy from them every 2 or 3 years like clockwork. Then one day, they see them driving a new brand X and are flabbergasted (don't you just love that word. . .) and beside themselves with indignation. Why the nerve of them buying that brand X! They must have given that thing away. . . (and a number of other reasons, some not so pretty). They used to tell me that they don't need a follow up system because their customers are loyal to them for life. Right. They were 20 year veterans: 1 years experience repeated 20 times. Still selling 8-10 cars a month after 20 years. Customer loyalty? Hot air. If they really had good repeat customers, their sales would be going up every year.

Designing a great follow up system is a great help to increase your business, by communicating with your prospects and customers to let them know that you want their business. A phone call every now and then is another help. Follow up is a key ingredient to success.

Think about how people buy. I wrote a piece in this blog that only 4% buy price. I know that is true, though 100% may mention price. Since it is true, you would not be losing a customer for price unless they are a 4% price buyer. The rest of the customers (96%) buy you, your dealership, the product, the service, their friends recommendation or any number of other things. People like dealing with friends, so stay in touch like a friend and keep the customer yours for life. It's a bold move. No more whining about the wolf coming into the pen and taking your sheep. You've got a lock on the gate.

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