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Welcome to NCM's Up to Speed Blog

What Happened to the 10-Foot Rule?

Chris Kahrs
Written By: Chris Kahrs
Posted on January 02, 2020

I am sure all of you can feel the energy of a store during a big sale. Coming off huge weekends like Black Friday or Labor Day creates emotion. Walking into a store that has a big sale going on is overwhelming, exciting, and sales are strong. Now think back to an average weekend in your dealership, one that doesn’t have a big sale going on. Does the energy of the store change? In most of your high performing retailers, there is still excitement in the air because the staff engages with the consumers and helps generate that excitement.

Make A Positive First Impression

I have the opportunity to visit a lot of dealerships across the country and can immediately feel the energy of the store from the moment I walk in. I often find that most of the employees in the dealership are face down in a computer or a cell phone. It is very rare that I get a hello, let alone a formal welcome when I come within 10 or even five feet of the closest employee. What message is this sending to customers who visit your showrooms? What does this say about the culture of the dealership and its personnel? I can tell you for a fact that customers notice things, making all of these areas determining factors as to whether or not they’ll choose to do business with you.

The 10-Foot Rule

The 10-foot rule has been well known in the automotive industry for a very long time, but it seems many new employees have never been taught this crucial skill. For those of you who don’t know, the 10-foot rule is simply the regular acknowledging and greeting of your customers. If a customer is within 10 feet of you, they should be engaged. Why is this rule so popular and so important? Because it works!

Customers enjoy feeling appreciated, and the attention they receive confirms they made the right decision to stop in and visit your dealership. Dealerships invest a significant amount of money into advertising and marketing trying to convince people they are the place to do business. When customers arrive in the dealership, do you show them you’re glad they are there? Does your staff abide by the 10-foot rule, or even better, do you abide by this rule? As I mentioned earlier, I have seen several occasions where this rule is not being followed regularly. If you were to walk around your showroom and service department, how many of your staff are greeting customers whether they are in the waiting room, walking by the coffee machine, the showroom, the parts area, etc.?

If the 10-foot rule isn’t being followed, I would suggest you take a look at the following list and work to actively implement these practices within your organization.

Three Simple Rules:

  1. All employees should greet every customer who comes within 10 feet (or whatever distance you specify for your store) of them

  2. Greet the customer with a cheerful hello, eye contact, and nod of the head

  3. Be proactive. If eye contact is made from a greater distance, employees should be encouraged to wave to the customer. If they notice an unattended guest, encourage employees to walk up and greet them properly.


  1. Customers seem to immediately warm up and feel comfortable. Being surrounded by friendly people makes the experience of buying a car much less intimidating and stressful.

  2. Customers like to be liked. All great salespeople know that establishing a connection with the customer is key to closing sales. Taking a genuine interest in your customers will dramatically help.

  3. This can serve as a great boost to your marketing! With lots of competition, the way you make your customers feel can give you a significant advantage. You are the friendly place to do business, the other guys aren’t.

  4. Most people like to be in a positive environment and this rule also applies to the employees within your organization. Maybe you’ll notice a boost to your morale, and your team will start looking forward to coming into work.

  5. Employees don’t always leave because of money. Sometimes they leave because of the lack of positive recognition and acknowledgement in their work environment. Retention can also improve under this plan.

Once your dealership is armed with this longstanding best practice, please take note of the differences you see. If you are now a store that utilizes, manages, and monitors the activity of your staff, congratulations! I bet your bottom line is thanking you.

Get Even More Out of Your Sales Staff

Unfortunately for everyone in the retail automotive industry, the unpredictable nature of auto sales can keep even the most experienced sales staff on their toes. That’s why our automotive experts works with variable operations professionals from all corners of North America to find out what is working in today’s market and what is helping the most successful dealerships close deals.  If you want to learn more, please check out the following articles from our automotive professionals.

1 Comment
Adam Gaines January 13, 2020 8:53 PM

Thanks for the good reminder of this rule! A young man in my sales department said, "2020 is going to be a clear vision year." This is a great message to get the year going.

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