Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement - S12

MEETING CUSTOMERS ON THEIR TERMS Many auto dealers today are grappling with how to sell cars to customers who spend most of their research and shopping time online, not in the dealership. Kelley Buick GMC has embraced that challenge. Kelley is located in Bartow, Fla., a town of 18,000 which is an hour's drive from both Orlando and Tampa. To expand its reach, Kelley appeals specifically to online shoppers and those customers who don't have the time or interest to go into a dealership. Manager Dishon Putz says the dealership offers to complete the entire transaction without the customer coming to the store. "If someone is interested in a car and inquires online, with no commitment from the customer we'll say, 'Let us drive the car to you. You can look at it, test-drive it, and our driver will bring the car back,'" he says. "We do that a lot of times just to let them look at the car, and to show them how different we are." If the customer decides to buy, Kelley can finish the transaction over the phone-or return to the customer's home when necessary-and ultimately deliver the car to the purchaser. Dishon Putz Putz says 10 to 15 percent of Kelley's purchasers buy a vehicle without coming to the dealership. "I promise you that dealerships are not catching on to this. Many dealers are so programmed to get a customer in the door. But the right thing is to accommodate the customer the best way you can," he says. "If you do that, they are going to tell someone else, and help build your business." Kelley Buick GMC staff 12 / ally / SEPTEMBER 2016 The focus on the customer spills over into Putz's management style. "At sales meetings, we never discuss how many cars are sold; that's never the emphasis," he says. "Instead, we'll ask, 'How do you think you're handling your customers? Are they getting the red-carpet treatment?' "If a salesperson has a few days where they don't sell anything, desperation starts to get in their heads. And if you as the manager focus on just the numbers, it just adds pressure to the way they're thinking," he says. "I believe if you do the right thing by the customer, everything will take care of itself." He also believes that good customer service requires an informed sales staff. He gives salespeople monthly quizzes on the dealership's product lines. If salespeople don't score 80 percent, they don't get to be on the floor selling new vehicles until they retake the quiz and hit that mark. "The customer deserves to be in front of someone who knows what they're talking about," Putz says. He's addressed dealership conferences because he's passionate about the industry's need to rethink how it does business. "Too many dealers have one thought in their mind: How many cars are we going to sell today?" Putz says. "That approach costs them sales, and their reputations. One bad experience and customers, especially Millennials, will check you off the list forever." He says he likes to take special care of customers who seem to be cynical about auto dealers. "You'll find that customer who sends out an email to 10 different dealers asking for a price on a certain vehicle," he says. "Most dealers won't even respond to those. But the way I look at it, that customer is broken; they have had such a bad experience that they don't trust dealers any more. I want to change their perception of this industry. I respond, and if they come in to see the car, I'll ask them about their experiences buying cars. They respond to that." Building great customer service, he says, "is more important for us than other industries. Let's tell people that it's not the 1980s anymore. Dealers will take good care of you."

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement

Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement - Intro
Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement - S1
Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement - S2
Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement - S3
Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement - S4
Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement - S5
Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement - S6
Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement - S7
Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement - S8
Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement - S9
Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement - S10
Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement - S11
Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement - S12
Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement - S13
Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement - S14
Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement - S15
Automotive News - September 19, 2016 - Supplement - S16
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