I took classes, live and on line, I went to seminars, had lengthy discussions with engineers, marketing people and sales consultants during my time in the automobile business. I consumed reviews, road tests, comparison tests and consumer reviews of cars. I worked at it. I even took classes on "phone techniques"!
Here's a few things I learned:
The number one complaint people have upon the delivery of their new car is so stupid, I couldn't, still can't, believe it.
THE WINDOWS WERE DIRTY!
Survey after survey of customers post delivery, all over the country, every make, every model, every brand the number one "piss me off" is dirty windows. It has been for years and nobody does anything about it. That is so easy to fix, it's mind boggling. You get a clean shop cloth, a bottle of window cleaner and clean the damn windows, all of them. Takes no more than 5 minutes.
Another complaint, "the tires didn't look shiny". How hard is to wipe the tires down with Armour All? Squirt each tire and wipe. About a minute a tire.
Another complaint, "my cell phone wasn't hooked up". This takes longer to do, but it isn't brain surgery. Walk the customer through the process, make sure their phone works and they have a grasp on the process and remind them the owners manual and the accompanying DVD has all the information in an easily understandable, step by step form. Mark the page with the instructions with a paper clip or post it note.
Another complaint, "the sales person wasn't knowledgeable about the car". Once again, there's a lot of down time in any job, the car business has more than most. Most of my associates in the sales department, shot the shit with each other all day long, they stood around, playing grab ass, talking about sports, sex and staring at heir phones and then they'd share some stupid video with the other guys. You know what would happen?They'd get an "up" bump into the wall when they couldn't answer a question about something and they'd come and get me or the one other sales guy who knew "stuff" about a truck or a car they were attempting to sell. It happened every day! The result? I'd get half of the deal, one month I had 9 half deals, because I knew "stuff".
When I decided to sell cars out of a combination of utter boredom, depression and the desire to help my wife with her start-up agency business, I talked at length with my retired car dealer friend Ralph Thomas. Ralph told me the biggest problem with the car business is the management. He was right. If you look at the top four customer complaints all are an easy fix, by management. Maybe they are too easy, so easy that nobody pays any attention
Part of the pay plan for sales people, managers and the dealership is based on something called CSI or Customer Satisfaction Index, it's a sliding scale with 10 being an A. The problem is a 9 is an F. It's an ongoing survey that tells the manufacturer, the dealer, the management and the sales person nothing about their performance, useless. You know who loses the most from bad CSI? The sales person. Bad CSI slashes not only the pay per unit, it knocks back or eliminates bonus money.
I had perfect CSI, why? Because I tried.
I was taken aside one day and told by an idiot sales manager, "You know you've got a problem." I asked him what it was? His reply, "You know too damn much about these cars!" This was the same guy who when I asked how he evaluated used cars, he told me, "You don't need to know any of that.", Over time I learned how he did it. He quickly looked over the car, then went on line to the Kelly Blue Book regional auction price site, put in the car's parameters and offered the lowest price to the customer. Used car expert, right?
I could go on but it makes my head hurt too much...