Since 2009, the gap between list price and transaction price has steadily declined. To overcome profit margin compression, you must reduce overhead, free up dealership resources to focus on profit centers, and sell more cars at a faster rate. Here’s how to do it.
I have been a little MIA from the Community recently, but I have a good reason! I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Japan and my husband and I had a fantastic time there! While in Japan I observed a few things that I wanted to share with all of you, particularly about customer service!
1. Walking In The Store. The customer service in Japan is OUT OF THIS WORLD. It was absolutely amazing and I was so impressed with every place we went to, whether it was a restaurant, hotel, or the airport. I loved how kind they were from the second we entered the room. They would say "Please come on in, thanks so much!" in Japanese the second we walked in the door (luckily my husband speaks Japanese, and could translate for me.) Everyone in the store would shout and smile at you, welcoming you in. It was a great way to make us feel recognized and at ease. I feel like we can apply this in every auto dealership by making sure that when people walk in the door, they feel recognized but not overwhelmed.
2. Comfort Is Key. Every place we went focused on our comfort. Whether we needed water, a place to sit, you name it and they were prepared to get it for us. I could tell they would all go out of their way to make sure that we were comfortable and happy with our interaction. We can follow this lead by making sure we offer seats, water, snacks, anything a customer might want, we should be ready to give to them.
3. Timeliness Is Valuable. One thing I loved about Japan was how timely all of our interactions with customer service individuals were. They very obviously worked their hardest to make sure our interaction wasn't any longer than it needed to be. This was really important to us as we had a lot to see and do. We can make sure we are timely in our interactions at dealerships by having processes decided and working quickly.
4. Apologies. If anything at all was even slightly wrong, we were so quick to receive a million apologies. All of our interactions where we had concerns or questions were met with the most humble apologies. We didn't hear any sarcasm, we didn't get any eye-rolls, just genuine concern for our happiness and satisfaction. I think we can always work a little harder in our store or dealership to make sure that our apologies are sincere, and that our focus is on ensuring the customer is happy. No matter how rude they may be to us.
5. Above And Beyond. We had so many instances where employees went above and beyond to help us. From practically pushing us in the direction of our train so we wouldn't miss it, to making sure everything was packaged perfectly so it wouldn't break, the customer service was just so wonderful. It's part of what made all of our shopping, eating, hotel, and travel interactions so perfect.
I think it's so valuable to look at other cultures and companies and evaluate how they are handling their customers. Customer service is something we talk about ALL THE TIME, but it's still not quite where we want it to be. As long as you still have even one customer that's leaving unsatisfied, you can be working on your customer experience. I learned so many things from our trip that I want to work to implement into my customer service routines, and hopefully you've learned something too!