Listen To Yourself!

Go ahead, just listen. Listen to the radio ad you have, really *watch* the TV ad you paid for. Read those automated marketing emails.

Do they sound ok? Are you comfortable with the image that these things project of your dealership? If you said yes, then go get someone else to listen, watch, or read these things, and see if they agree.

Now, find out the dealerships in your area with the worst reputations and compare your marketing efforts to theirs. Find out what image you are projecting vs the Bad Guys.

The reason I venture into this topic today is because of an email I got from a high-end franchise dealer over the weekend. I’m not going to name names, because after reading the email, I have decided that this dealership has already embarrassed itself enough.

Quick back-story: I *can* change my own oil, but prefer that this dealership does it, simply because they have a great reputation for excellence and professionalism, and they wash the car as part of the deal. Best part is, I don’t have to spend my Saturday rolling around on my driveway in the heat and dirt and finding ways to dispose of the used oil myself. It also helps that their price is just a small bit more than my cost of doing it myself. Note that one of the cars in my driveway is an older 2001 Honda CRV. It’s an adequate car with good insurance rates for my 20-something college student.

So, College Boy gets the oil changed at the dealership last week, and then I get an email from the dealer’s marketing bots:

“My General Manager noticed your 2001 HONDA while you were in for service and would like to acquire that vehicle from you! We have quite a few customers looking for a vehicle like yours and are wondering if you have any interested in selling it to us or trading it in and looking at a newer vehicle for yourself?”

Really? At a dealership whose average unit price is above $40,000, you have “quite a few” customers in your Prospecting system who are pining away for an eighteen-year-old compact SUV with over 200K miles?

I also own Nissan and Buick marks, and they all go to this dealership. I have to drive past the Nissan, Honda, and Buick dealers to get to my chosen service department. I even drive past a couple of Quick-Lube type places, and three tire stores who change oil. Why? Because of their reputation. Because of the professionalism that my chosen place offers that the others just do not match.

All that image is tarnished now, because they lied to me. They also came off sounding desperate and that they would say anything to get me into the showroom.

Do not misunderstand me, there is NOTHING wrong with expressing your desire as a business owner to earn the trade of the citizens in your demographic market. Keep in mind, though that customers who were polled overwhelmingly preferred car dealers whose marketing was informative, honest, and respected their intelligence. Dishonesty, sirens in your ads, and screaming deceptive terms may grab you a few customers, but by and large they are not loyal customers, and you end up having to up the sleaze to generate the leads. Honest, intelligent marketing just keeps working.

The following suggested email would have gone worlds farther to me as a customer:

“Thank You for trusting us to service your 2001 HONDA. We would like to discuss trading you out of it for a newer vehicle, and would appreciate an hour of your time one day for a member of our Sales Team to show you what we have available, or to gather your requirements and see what can be found. Please call John Smith at 202-555-1234 or email John.Smith@FranchiseDealer.com to arrange an appointment that fits your schedule.

Thanks again for your service business, and we hope you give us the opportunity to earn your sales trust as well. ”

See that? It’s sincere, honest, and humble. It recognizes that I am a service customer, expresses appreciation for that, and requests some of my valuable time to talk. It is respectful of me as a consumer and potential sales client. Close by again expressing gratitude, and asking for an opportunity.

Consumers love to be respected. Customers love to hear appreciation. Buyers with money to spend and referrals to spare HATE being lied to. Contrary to what some of you car dealers believe, yes, they can tell. After all, some of you make it so obvious.

See you next time. Thanks as always for visiting and reading.

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