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I was in the grocery store the other day digging through some apples, looking for some without all the dents and such. I hate shopping but my wife asked me to do this weeks duty because she's not feeling well. My shopping list included apples. After finding the apples (it was easy, they were under the GIANT produce sign in the market) a lady pulled up a little scooter and parked it next to the apple-bin. She was blind. Her little scooter was like the ones some senior citizens drive. The blind lady reached into the apple-bin, pulled out an apple then placed it in the little basket hanging off her handle bars. She did this three times. The first thing I thought of was "how the heck does she know what apples she just selected?" The next thing that crossed my mind... "How the heck did she drive that crazy cart through the store without crashing into stuff?"
She didn't seem to spend anytime "feeling" or "squeezing" the apples, she just grabbed them and tossed them in her basket. I asked her... "Do you want me to find you some good apples?" Her reply..."Nope, I got the best ones, the most perfect ones in the entire bin." Me..."How do you know that?" Her.. "because the produce manager looks for the best ones for me and places them in the exact same spot every-time, I know right were to look for them." She drove her little cart away, maybe to go find the perfect tomatoes - who knows.
It took me forever to find my stupid apples without any dents and bruises, eventually I did. My apples sucked compared to the ones the blind lady got but I was satisfied. I finished finding the items on my shopping list and headed to the check-out stand. I was among maybe 50 customers, it was really busy. I watched lady after lady, with an occasional dad tossed in, a few teenagers, some old folks, and a blind lady in a stupid-fast go-cart. None of us had anything in common, EXCEPT, we all knew exactly how to give this place our money. We knew the process. We knew the routine. We were all very different in most ways but very alike in one important way - we all knew how to shop at this place. Heck, even the blind lady knew how to turn over her money.
On my drive home I was checking out a local car lot while I waited for the red light. I see this lot constantly, it's on my way home. I probably know more about their inventory than their best guy - I spy it everyday. I watched a couple kind-of wander around unassisted. It sure looked to me like they wanted to buy something. Their beater Civic was parked on the curb and the "mom" pushed a stroller around gazing at mini-van after mini-van while husband perfected his dazed and confused look. It occurred to me that maybe these people really did want to buy a car but didn't know how. Could they not understand the process? Could they have never bought a car before? What the heck, are they looking for a checkout stand?
Hundreds of thousands of people (a million?) buy cars every year for the first time. Does your store help them understand the process or do you just "drag them around from base-to-base?" Do you assume they already know how you do business? If you have not told them, believe me, they don't. Your website (the one they looked at earlier in the day) didn't explain the process, your store doesn't have a debit machine at the door, you don't have a "checkout line." How could they know?
Confused customers are difficult customers and almost never end with a sale. Know this, most dealers confuse customers and frustrate them to the point that they want to move on. Do not frustrate your customers with "mysterious processes." Explain to each and every customer HOW to do business with you. Tell them the basics, even if it sounds silly. You will be amazed at the result. Taking away the anxiety of being on a car lot may be your single biggest secret weapon. And get this, it's easy. All you have to do is explain what you already know and they do not.
"Hi Mary, my name is David and it's my responsibility to help you enjoy your visit to ABC motors. My boss and I understand that being on a car-lot can be a bit overwhelming and confusing so I want to explain how we operate....."
Tell them how you can help them find a car. Tell them you can help them drive a car. Tell them you can help them find more information that the internet may not have provided. Tell them you can help them figure out what the terms may look like in the event that they decide to buy. Tell them HOW to buy from you. Make your dealers buying process so easy to understand that a blind-lady could do it. Our little blind-friend at the market would never consider going to another market - ever. Not because the apples are any different or because the prices are any different or because the store is any different. She wouldn't go anywhere else because she doesn't understand how to!