When I came to the States from Australia, its no surprise I needed a job, and like many of you I got in the car business by accident, little did I know it would end being my passion and a career. Since I was new in the country, my employment options were limited; but I had a background in Finance and Marketing so I took a job selling cars. It was a good time and I did well but I really was not into waiting on the lot to fight over the potential customers coming in the door.
Most sales consultants at the time (and lets face it, the industry has not changed much in this regard) sold cars to as many walk ins as they could and after the sale forgot about the customers so they could get back on the lot and get another. It sounds almost cliche-ish but I knew there was an easier way to get in front of these customers. I began to come to work early, with a pocket full of quarters, and spent my mornings buying coffee and getting to know the service customers. I had a great time building relationships with these customers (they took a liking to my accent) and you would be surprised how many questions people have in the service drive that a good sales person can answer. It took some time but soon I had built a reputation as the "Friendly Aussie" who sold cars. Soon the referrals started coming in from the service and parts personnel and people began to ask for me when it was time to shop for a new car.
Now it did not happen over night, but I stayed in the business through the highs and lows and over the years I had built a stable business that would prove to be recession proof. I eventually built a small dedicated and passionate team with similar ideals and we formed our own department, with a staff of admin support, my own lot techs and drivers, we were literally selling approx 2,000 cars a year. We were a dealership within a dealership, and the best part was the deals were easy! Our small marketing budget was targeted on generation of second and third generation sales to previous customers, communicating with our current customers instead of focusing on finding new ones proved to be the foundation of our success. We did so much repeat business that we generally started the month with up to 100 retail orders, factory orders, in the bank to be delivered. After 13 years, I left the dealership and began focusing my career on technology to assist dealers in managing these customer relationships. Our success was built on a solid process and a genuine desire to ensure a great experience for our clients.
I share this story for a few reasons:
First, to let you know that if I, fresh from Australia with no contacts, could build a business based on relationships, you can too.
Second its a great example of the power of relationship selling, selling up to 200 new vehicles a month was easily achieved working our own data base of clientele , it was all based on treating the customer fair, displaying transparency and giving them what they want; a relationship!
Lastly, it all started with a pocket full of quarters and some hard work. We did not have the technology back then that is available to day. Not that technology is the end all answer (obviously) but with hard work and some of the relationship management tools out there, you, particularly ISMs, are in a great spot to be wildly successful!