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Sean Reyes

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Walk-Around Woes - Make a Good First Impression by Checking for Recalls

A salesperson has to build rapport during the initial meet and greet with the shopper. Once they have worked their way into an (at that point) semi-familiarity with the customer, they should move on to the fact-finding step. In this step, salespeople ask questions to help direct the customer to the vehicle that best fits their needs. Or, if the customer already knows what they want, they can pick up key information to better guide the sale.

A good salesperson will quickly spot a customer’s “hot buttons.” Maybe they are interested in performance. Or perhaps they need a vehicle for a family. The customer’s interests should be highlighted in the vehicle walk-around. And, regardless of customer interests, one thing that is always of interest is safety.

A consumer has probably researched multiple makes and models before coming to the dealership in person. How can you be different from your competition, aside from having a different vehicle?

Show them that their safety is important to you!

Not applicable to new vehicles, but definitely for pre-owned inventory – check for an open recall.  You might think it’s a risky step in the sales process, but checking the vehicle, right there in front of them, for a recall will build their trust in you and the integrity of your dealership brand.

Some dealerships may shy away from using this tactic simply because they think a customer would lose interest in that vehicle and move on. But that is not the case.

A dealership cannot legally sell a new vehicle if it has any open safety recalls. That being said, sometimes that information is slow to spread through the ranks of sales and service. A friend told me that they went through the whole sales process and were waiting to go into the finance office to sign papers and drive off in their new vehicle. Then the sales manager showed up at the last minute and told them that he could not sell the vehicle to them because it had an open recall. They were pretty upset after spending hours going through the process only to be denied.

In the case of used cars, dealerships are not legally obligated to ensure open recalls are addressed before the sale. In fact, if the pre-owned vehicle is a different make, they may not even know about it. Many dealers have simply taken the step of adding a waiver document into their finance process stipulating that they are not responsible for any open recalls – which is not altogether true -- read https://www.recallmasters.com/whats-at-stake-legally-when-selling-a-used-car-with-an-open-recall

If the customer drives off in that vehicle and finds out after the fact that it has an open safety recall, they are probably not exactly happy with the dealership. In fact, in a consumer survey performed by Recall Masters, 85% of respondents indicated that they would be upset with the dealership.

In all likelihood, when faced with a recall, consumers appreciate full disclosure. You can take it one step further and if the vehicle is a different make to your franchise, locate a franchise dealer close to them that will perform all the repairs. Remind the consumer that the repairs come at no cost to them and that more than 1 in 4 vehicles are on the road with an open recall. Consumers crave transparency, especially when shopping for a used car.

Serving in the interest of the buyer will elevate your dealership’s profile as a trusted partner.  That’s where referrals come from.

It’s a very competitive market. Differentiation is key to building rapport with the customer and setting your dealership apart from your competition. Do a quick VIN scan during the walk-around with the customer and reassure them that, in addition to all of the normal safety features, there are no open recalls. Going the extra mile to ensure their safety and welfare could be the catalyst to winning a customer.

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