Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Tale of Three Salespeople, the BEST Way to Not Make a Sale

The recently deceased.
A couple of months ago I related the tale of how the Bausers decided to defy national statistics and become a single-car family. Right before Memorial Day we took it a step farther and became a no-car family.

Not by choice.

For the second time in less than a month, Lauren turned the ignition on the station wagon only to be met with the coolant warning light. Bone dry. A quick top off and a trip to the local Pep Boys confirmed the worst. Leaky head gasket. Coolant in the oil. Bad stuff. The mechanic recommended that the only place our car should be driven was to its final resting place. He felt so bad for us that he didn't even charge us for the diagnostic or the coolant to get the car out of his lot.

Now, I'm not one to quickly put vehicles out to pasture. In my opinion, a thousand dollars of annual maintenance is still a lot cheaper than owning a new car and having one of those pesky car loans. This time however, it was only May, and I'd already exceeded my usual budget for auto repairs. I know a head gasket isn't cheap to fix, and I knew that the job was beyond my abilities. Replacement was the only logical option. Fortunately, we had our Zipcars and good friends to help us get around for a few days while we shopped for a new car.

Did I mention I hate car shopping? To make it worse, I hadn't purchased a non-Volkswagen in more than two decades, so I had no idea where to begin. A quick consultation with my Facebook friends and a lot of time spent on Cars.com had me settled me on buying a used Kia Rondo because A) Kias don't cost a fortune, B) Rondos aren't super big and are thus easier to street park, and C) The kids really wanted a car with three rows of seats so their Nana and PopPop could ride with us when they visit.

Three web-inquiries later and my phone was soon ringing off the hook with calls from eager salespeople who wanted to sell me cars. I made two appointments:
There was also a third salesperson from an actual Kia dealership, Mike. We spoke on the the phone and via email several times before deciding the price of his used Rondo was too high for me (plus it only had two rows of seats).

Anyway, I won't bore you with the details of the sale, not even the part where the salesperson told me the story about her mom cutting off her finger in the sliding door of their minivan when she was a child (Mazda 5's have sliding doors, Rondos don't). I don't like to mess around when I shop. It was the car we wanted at the price we wanted. I bought the Rondo.

The new BauserMobile.
If you've ever bought a car from a dealer. You know it takes a long time to fill out paperwork. I walked into that dealer at 9AM and didn't leave with the new car until about 2PM. This included two test drives, a trip to the bank to get the cash for the down payment, and a trip to pick up Lauren from work so she could sign over the title on the wagon. Needless to say, I didn't make make it to the other appointment and I was too busy filling out papers to call and cancel it.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I can't stand being late or missing an appointment, so please understand that I don't take them lightly. Here's what happened next. 

First, the salesperson we bought the car from, Sheena, does all the right things to close the deal and up-sells us a warranty (I was planning to get one anyway). We drive off happy with our decision. 

Second, at about 2:30PM, I get a call from the salesperson (who I won't name) with the Mazda 5. The one I made an appointment with and didn't show up for. I apologize profusely and tell him that I had just purchased a car, a Kia Rondo, so I wasn't going to come look at the Mazda. Remember, this is the dealership where we'd bought the Passat and been fairly loyal service customers for nearly eight years. This salesperson's exact words to me were:

"Pfft. Whatever. Good luck with that, dude." (click)

Sheena even threw in
a free key chain
Did that just happen? Did this guy just bury a longstanding customer relationship in about five seconds? You know, I might need another car someday. I know I missed my appointment, but how many times did you not have a loaner car for me when my car was in your shop? How much time did I spend in your waiting area in the last decade? 

So, who's the best salesperson in this story? 

Sheena? She sold us a car. She wins, right? She even had that awesome severed finger story. Who cares if it was true or not?

Nope, it's Mike. The third salesperson who I never even made an appointment with.

I get an email from Mike that afternoon saying he'd still love to show me the Rondo he's got on the lot. I write him back a quick note saying we already bought one. I tell him it was the third row of seats that made the decision for us. Here's what he writes back to me:
Dear Adam,
Congratulations.... unfortunately we cannot earn every sale in this highly competitive market, however As a proud new owner of your recently purchased vehicle, we would like to take the opportunity to introduce you to our service department. We offer services ranging from routine maintenance to the unexpected repairs.
Always striving to be the best, you will be treated as one of the family. We realize that being without transportation can be very inconvenient, so we offer a shuttle service to take you where ever you need to go within a reasonable distance.
If you would like, you can take advantage of our "Early Bird Drop Off". You can pull your vehicle onto our lot the night before, fill out an "Early Bird Drop Off' note, and drop the note in our drop box. Please be sure to read our specific "Early Bird Drop Off" instructions here at Coleman Auto Group or on our website.
We have a very high commitment to service here at our dealership, so we are asking you to keep us in mind for your future service need.
Thank you and have a great day!
Sincerely,
Mike
Now, I realize that's a form letter, but I still think it's awesome. This dealer's sales department is smart enough to realize that:

  • This guy just bought a used Kia. 
  • All cars need service at some point. This guy's used Kia will need service someday.
  • We've got a Kia dealership that specializes in servicing Kias and it's close to where this guy lives.
  • This guy really seems to like Kias. Maybe he will want to buy another one in the future. Maybe he will buy it from us.

That's a way better way to not make a sale than, "Whatever, dude."