In my previous two columns, we discussed the concept that winners win. We looked at the life of the famous race car driver Parnelli Jones, and some of the characteristics that lead to winning in both his driving and business career. There are certain things that winners do that almost ensure their success.
Besides the actual execution, there’s preparation, the activity that precedes the planned action.
The same is true for those of us who serve the motoring public from the automotive retail sales counter. The prepared Counter Intelligent Agent (that’s you or your team) will have available the most frequently needed information and materials to execute the immediate needs as they arrive on a daily basis. The first thing is prepping the sales counter, itself: pens that write properly, staples in the stapler, paper in the printer, the necessary vehicle inspection forms, and current offers/rebates posted and ready to present. These are just a few things to prepare.
Not to discount the dangers and challenges of Parnelli’s auto racing career, but racing is a sport; it’s a form of recreation, a form of entertainment. Servicing customers and their vehicles, however, is serious business. Parnelli was a winner, and not based on his driving skills only; he had some of the finest support teams ever assembled. When he raced, he was ready to race and ready to win.
Are you ready to win every day at the counter? Do you and your team have the attitude and the preparation necessary to win for your business and win for the customer? If people on both sides of the counter, the customer and the sales team, are not winning, then neither are winning. Winning for the customer translates into services rendered that meet or exceed expectations, and winning for the store team translates into an acceptable margin on services rendered.
When I was involved in store operations on a daily basis, I never experienced a winning store that came together randomly. I believe strongly in the principle of reciprocal value, that when serving the public (and the automotive public is no exception), you must give before you can get. I’ve noticed that whichever city I’ve lived in, there are always restaurants that give more and get more. It’s always a combination of portion size, taste, atmosphere, and friendly customer service, but the restaurants that give more value get more customers.
Besides the basic preparations discussed above, are you prepared to win races and win championships? Do you dare make a decision to give more to get more? Stop and think... do customers want more value for their money? Of course they do. Customers want more and you want more. This raises the question, “Who is going to give first?” It’s our job to give. You might say, “That’s all I do is give.” Well, maybe you can or should give differently.
As counter-intuitive as this sounds, I remember clearly when we instituted a new program where we started charging for a free service, which actually worked better on both sides of the counter. We began charging $9.95 for a free vehicle inspection.
I know how you feel; I felt the same way. Let me tell you what we found. Customers were skeptical of a free vehicle inspection. They thought we were just trying to find additional ways to charge them more money. Imagine that.
What we did was offer a more complete vehicle inspection and developed a new and better presentation that was more honest and transparent up front. And if the customer had any of the recommended service work done, we gladly refunded the $9.95.
The end result is it worked better on both sides of the counter. We collected tens of thousands of dollars monthly in additional inspection fees, our customers more readily received the additional estimates, and we did better and more complete inspections, leading to more service sales.
The new presentation improved communication with the customers, and the result was added value. We actually gave better service, and the customers received more value. The service technicians and the service team were happy there were no more free inspections, and we then paid them to do the inspections.
There are many ways to offer more in our business, many ways to enact the principle of reciprocal value so the customer gets more and you get more.
When everybody gets more, everybody wins! Winners win, and nobody wins alone!
I’ll see you in the winner’s circle. ■
Wayne Williams is president of ExSell Marketing Inc., a “counter intelligence” firm based in La Habra, Calif. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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