Monday, June 26, 2023

Who You Gonna Call?

No, unfortunately, the Ghostbusters can't handle car dealers, but the owner of the dealership, the general manager, and the department heads of their new car sales, used car sales, service, parts, and body shop departments can and usually will.

What's the biggest obstacle and frustration when you've had a problem with any company? You'll agree that it's the inability to communicate with someone who has the authority to make things right. If you've had a problem with Comcast, AT&T, Florida Power & Light, or any other utility company, you know what I mean. These companies and thousands like them force you to call, text, email, or chat with "tech support" or customer service. I can understand why huge international companies feel they must resort to this impersonal, highly time-consuming, and aggravating process. However, car dealerships are local and not too large to have human, empowered decision-makers available to their customers.

The trick is to obtain the necessary phone numbers BEFORE you finalize your vehicle purchase. Prior to signing on the dotted line and giving the dealership your money, you're a very important person in their eyes. After they have your money and you have their car, you're "just another customer". Sure, you can call the main switchboard at the dealership or email and text, but your phone calls might not be returned and emails and texts might be ignored.

The key is to get the personal cell phone number of the person who has the authority to make things right if you have a problem. Ideally, you should ask for the cell phone number of the owner/dealer or the general manager of the dealership. At the very least, don't buy a new car without having the personal cell phone number of the new car sales manager. The same applies to used cars, service, parts, and body shop.

When cell phones first came out, they were rare and expensive. NOBODY would share their cell phone with anyone except close friends and family. Some older folks still erroneously think of cell phones like we used to. Today, cell phones and their usage are inexpensive and have virtually replaced regular phones. Pay phones hardly exist anymore. The only reason anyone would refuse to share their cell phone with you is that they don't want to be bothered.

Companies teach their salespeople this little trick to get the names of prospective customers: "Hello, my name is George Brown, and yours is…?" Notice the long pause after George gives his name. He's smiling, looking into your eyes, and waiting for you to give him your name, which you usually will. The next time you're talking to a car salesman, and before you buy the car, ask to speak to his supervisor or, preferably, the owner or general manager. You can add, "I just wanted to thank him for the wonderful job you did in helping me find the right car." You can bet he'll run off and rush back with the highest-ranking manager he can find. "Mr. Brown, I'd like you to meet the owner of our dealership, Earl Stewart. Mr. Stewart, I’d like to introduce you to George Brown who’s buying this new 2023 RAV-4 Hybrid." Now you say, "Mr. Stewart, it’s a great pleasure to meet you. My cell phone number is 555-555-5555, and yours is...?" (Maintain eye contact, smile, and wait for him to give you his cell phone number. Hopefully, Earl Stewart says, "mine is 561-358-1474." (By the way, that's my real personal cell phone number, which I gladly share with all my customers.)

Please give this technique a try. You'll be much less likely to be stonewalled by your salesman or anybody else in the dealership when they know you have the personal cell phone number of their boss. If you do have a problem and the salesman doesn’t respond, one call to their boss is usually all it takes. One of the reasons my Toyota dealership in North Palm Beach is recognized as #1 in customer satisfaction is that all my employees know all my customers have my personal cell phone number. My employees also know about the six red phones inside our dealership that ring my cell phone 24/7 when any customer picks up the receiver."

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