Much is made of the latest technological advantages in displaying inventory on the Internet, obtaining leads, selling cars, and, for BHPH & LHPH dealers, collecting your money and tracking your customers. The important thing to remember is that the car business always has been and always will be about people.
All the latest developments can help you enhance your reputation, provide greater visibility for you and your dealership and help you maintain contact with your customers. However, it is how you treat people that will determine whether those people choose to buy from you or make their payments as agreed. No technology in the world can replace treating people fairly, honestly and with respect. And no technology in the world can overcome treating people poorly.
We have all heard of the Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This concept is almost as old as time itself and is taught in one form or another in almost every religion.
Confucius said, “Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself.”
In Luke 6:31, Jesus is quoted as saying, “And as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them likewise.”
At its best, it is a reciprocal or two-way relationship between you and others that involves both sides equally. Treat your customers as you want them to treat you and they are more likely to treat you in the same way.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some practical tips for using the Golden Rule at your dealership:
- Listen carefully. A weakness that most of us possess: we all want to talk, but very few of us want to listen. And yet, we all want to be listened to. So take the time to actually listen to your customers, rather than just waiting for your turn to speak. It’ll also go a long way to helping you understand others.
- Practice empathy. Make it a habit to try to place yourself in the shoes of your customers. Really try to understand, to the extent that you can, what it is like to be them, what they are going through, and why they do what they do. Whether customers are coming to you to purchase a new vehicle or because they can’t make their car payment, there is an issue that has brought them to you. Understanding what that issue is and why it is an issue for your customer will help you determine the proper solution.
- Practice compassion. Once you can understand a person, and feel what they’re going through, think about what you can do to minimize their concerns and resolve their issues. And when you can, take even a small action to somehow ease their pain in some way. This is the real secret to creating a Win-Win solution. Decide what you can afford to give up, while still staying within your company’s guidelines, that will ease the customer’s pain and help them to buy from you or make their payments.
- How would you want to be treated? The Golden Rule doesn’t really mean that you should treat someone else exactly as you’d want them to treat you… it means that you should try to imagine how they want to be treated, and do that. So when you put yourself in their shoes, ask yourself how you think they want to be treated. Ask yourself how you would want to be treated if you were in their situation. Different people have different personalities and prefer to be treated in different ways. Learn to read your customers to understand how to best treat them.
- Be friendly. When in doubt, follow this tip. It’s usually safe to be friendly towards others. Of course, customers just don’t want someone acting friendly towards them; they need you to be a friend. You should also be friendly within the bounds of appropriateness. But who doesn’t like to feel welcome and wanted? Being friendly can help disarm awkward or uncomfortable situations.
- Be helpful. This is probably one of the weaknesses of our society. Sure, there are many people who go out of their way to be helpful, and I applaud them. But, in general, there is a tendency to keep to yourself and to ignore the problems of others. Don’t be blind to the needs and troubles of others. Look to help even before you’re asked. Being proactive can resolve a situation before it becomes a major issue.
- Stay Positive. We all have a tendency to criticize others, whether it’s people we know or people we see on television. However, ask yourself if you would like to be criticized in your customer’s situation. The answer is almost always “no”. So hold back your criticism, and instead learn to interact with others in a positive way.
There is a quote from Maya Angelou that I use in almost every one of my training classes, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Make your customers feel like they have been treated fairly, as you would want to be treated, and you will have more success in accomplishing your goals. Remember, it’s always about the people!