15 years ago I told Ron Craft (the dealer I got my start in the car business with in 1984) “Customers aren’t shopping for a car they are shopping for a salesperson to buy a car from”. That was the way I approached car sales when I got into it after having been in the shop for a few years. I didn’t know it then but I was using social media.
Each day I would I would take brochures, donuts and coffee to local hair salons, boutique stores, doctor’s offices ect. talk with the employees, customers and patients about just anything… and cars too, I got to know a lot of people and got a lot of referrals. Before I knew it I was selling 20+ cars per month and in 1988 I made over $80K selling cars in Baytown TX.
For a single 20 yr old making $80K and yr runnin around in a free Camero, well those who know me know can certainly imagine the trouble I was able to get into, that’s another post (maybe).
On each sale I got to the point that I would pretend to take the deal to the desk. Just leave my office hang out in the back for a while then return with a number. It was great fun and I think the reason I have stayed in the car business as long as I have is that it was and still is fun.
This morning while working out and listening to Seth Godin as I often do, all the pieces started to fall into place from my early days selling cars to now and the use of social media in the car business. I Tweeted this morning “Customers will no longer pay for salespeople who are merely a cog in a machine #thedeathofthedesk in automotive”
People are shopping for a salesperson…an experience, social media starts that experience with the salesperson early and can greatly enhance the customer wanting to buy from that person and your store. You dealers that are blocking Facebook, Twitter and keeping your salespeople from blogging you are killing yourself and stopping many customers from connecting with the experience, DON'T.
Secondly, we all know that the back and forth to the desk process…customers hate it. They want their salesperson to be empowered, so let them be.
Bottom Line – the desk was put in place to control gross… here is a wakeup call dealers, the market controls gross now you don't. Abundance of information has removed that responsibility from you, you don't have to like that fact but you do have to live with it. For the record I am with you I don't like it either, some of my best retail memories are of working the desk.
Pricing is a function of the market now, your job is now price positioning and differentiating your buying experience. Social media and how you interact with customer pre and post sale has a great deal to do with that experience. Make no mistake about it like it or not you are seeing the last days of the desk, and because I love it so much and want to remember it in its prime I am willing to put a bullet in its head now and put it out of its misery, you should too.
That’s my opinion…what say you?
Larry Bruce (@pcmguy)