I recently held a luxury brand parts and service manager 20 Group meeting, and one of the parts managers was proud of the fact that his counter gross retail percentage had increased by 3% that quarter. When the group asked how he achieved this, he told them something that stunned the room. He had reduced his pricing so his employees would stop discounting and overriding parts prices for their customers.
In the past, when his employees saw the cost of the part, for example, $1.25 for a fuse, they thought it was entirely inappropriate that the dealership marked it up and charged the customer $8.00. However, before you yell, “Fire that parts team,” realize that this is happening all over YOUR dealership and you may not even be aware. Many times, employees take it upon themselves to “right the wrongs” or “cheat” in business, so they can make the sale, reach the goal, gain the customer, or earn the SPIFF. Fostering an environment of open and honest communication, appropriate encouragement to meet goals, and a little room to make decisions to sink a sale can make all the difference.
The 20 Group proceeded to ask the parts manager if he thought the customer was going to leave their dealership without purchasing the fuse because it was $8.00. I’m willing to bet the answer is “No.” This scenario led me to remember an article I had just seen that says, “We are not going to be the least expensive, we are going to be the BEST and deliver the BEST experience possible.” Instead of the parts counter person discounting the part to $4.50, or another “acceptable” amount, he/she could say to the customer, “Let’s take this fuse out to your car and try it, just to make sure it works before you buy it.” I guarantee the customer would be pleasantly surprised and wouldn’t think twice about paying $8.00 for the fuse. Your employee ensured it worked correctly and solved their problem before they left our parking lot, so why would they question it? Taking the extra time to qualify the sale and genuinely help the customer has been linked to increased customer retention. As a consumer, don’t you enjoy shopping at and returning to businesses who care about you and your reasons for buying?
We also need to remind our employees how many complimentary things we do for our customers. Coffee and food in the waiting rooms, topping off vehicle fluids, safety inspections, car washes, battery checks, rental cars, shuttle services … the list is endless. Remind your employees of the value your dealership offers so they can project this value onto customers during the sales process. Instruct them to point out the complimentary amenities and casually offer them whenever possible. Emphasizing the value of a product or service, and the value your business brings, is another helpful retention strategy and continues to build the business/customer relationship.
Let me leave you with one last scenario: you hire a rookie salesperson and do a great job training him or her, and what do they do? They do exactly what you taught them to do. They sell the oldest vehicle for the most amount of money and retain a happy customer. 2017 is the year to train our employees to be the best, demand it even, to ensure both our businesses and team members thrive, and our customers leave happy and keep coming back. Which dealership do you want to be? The least expensive? Or the best?