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Megan Barto

Megan Barto Finance Manager

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What's On Your Desk?



For those of us in the car biz, sometimes one can feel like their desk is their second (or sometimes first) home?  Most people in this business spend a lot of time at their stores and so they bring in some personal items to put on their desks albeit a picture of their family, a plant, or various other items.


I think a lot about a customer’s perception – because after all, their perception is their reality.  If you know someone is coming over to your house for dinner, do you typically make sure there isn’t an over flowing trash can, a pile of dirty dishes in the sink, 10 coats on the coat tree?  Of course you do. 

Isn’t your desk much the same? Except that you always have people coming over to your “house” (well – at least that’s why you’re in this business, right?).  Why do you have stacks of papers all over your desk? Why do you have it completely cluttered?

Sure, a few personal items are a good thing, it shows you have personality and helps customers relate to you. Isn’t building rapport one of the most important and yet sometimes, one of the hardest things?  I have personal items but each one of them had a strategic reason for being on my desk.

  • Car & Driver Magazine (or something similar)? NEVER!
  • Bobblehead for my favorite football team? Absolutely!
  • Matchbox Cars? You betcha!
  • A book of music playlists? #1 Piece On My Desk (I recommend The Pocket DJ by Sarah Lewitinn)

I know what you’re saying – “No Car & Driver but a Book of Playlists?”


Hear me out.   Let's say you have a customer who is purchasing a 2012 Honda Civic.  They’re sitting at your desk waiting to do their paperwork with F & I.  You have Car & Driver because well, this is a car dealership why wouldn’t people want to read about cars while they’re buying a car? STOP RIGHT THERE.  Car & Driver does reviews, right? WHAT IF this same customer is sitting at your desk waiting to purchase a 2012 Honda Civic & they see a post in Car & Driver that doesn’t paint the Civic in a 100% favorable light (because none of us have ever read those articles). What is the customer thinking after reading that review? “Should I buy this Civic?  Is this really what I want?”

Simple solution – don’t have Car & Driver (or other car magazines on your desk). 

Now as for the book of playlists – most people like music, right?  People ask about stereo systems when shopping for cars all the time, “Does it come with XM Radio? What does Pandora Streaming Capability mean? Can I hook my iPod up to it?”

This book of playlists has simple content.  As the name indicates it’s a book of lists of music.  No chapters, no reviews, no studies.

Here are an example of some of the playlists: 

  • 70’s Dance Songs
  • Classic Rock
  • Folk
  • Jazz
  • Motown
  • Playlist by Smashing Pumpkins
  • Playlist by Mark Spitz
  • Playlist by Duran Duran
  • Back To School
  • Car Sing-Along Songs
  • Fight Songs
  • First-Date Songs
  • Songs To Get Your Thirteen-Year-Old Cousin Into Good Music 

There’s more – but you get my point.  There’s a playlist for every person in the book.  Have the book of playlists as one of the only pieces of reading material on your desk.  If you’re sitting with a customer and the conversations gets monotonous (which can inevitably happen), 9 chances out of 10, your customer will pick up this book.  Let them pick it up and realize what it is – then you say “Oh, that’s a great book!” and go onto what playlists YOU think are funny, good, etc, etc.  They may put the book down and start talking to you about music, or they may continue flipping through it.  Either way - let them entertain themselves with the book

Why is this beneficial do you?

  1. They’re not reading a bad review on your product.
  2. They’re engaged in a conversation they care about (since if you let them lead the conversation, they’ll talk about THEIR favorite types of music).
  3. They won’t realize they’re waiting a whole 20 minutes to do their paperwork!

Now, this is a book I use.  You can use whatever you prefer, the moral of the story is – have something on your desk people can relate to, and will find interesting (that doesn’t have to do with cars, or financing).

The football team bobble head? Useful for conversation starters as well!  I’m a Steelers fan (living in Central Pennsylvania, mind you), so we have a cross-section of fans here; Steelers, Eagles, Ravens and even some Redskins fans!  Especially during football season, fans are always wanting to “debate” (I’ll put it nicely) their favorite teams.

Keep what you have on your desk strategic.  Every thing on your desk within the reach of a customer should have a reason for being there - if it isn’t a “closing tool” or an asset to you (such as thank you cards from previous customers, or a book of reviews customers have written about you), make it disappear!!

And for the sake of it all, keep your desk neat and tidy! 



Eric Miltsch
Nice ideas Megan, very unique - music is one of the best ways to connect & start a conversation. And, for those of you on Spotify, check out my playlists & subscribe to the DrivingSales Driving Tunes playlist as well.
Megan Barto
Thank you! :-) As they say - Music Makes the World Go Round! I didn't know Driving Sales had a spotify play list! I'll check it out!
Jim Bell
I love this all Megan. The one thing that makes you stand out is having matchbox cars in your desk. What I mean by that is if you have a stash of them and mom and dad are in looking at cars, you can give one to the kids to take home. That will make you stand out like non other. I love all of the ideas you presented here. You are making it more of a personal experience, and not just a business experience. Good stuff!

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