So last week the odyssey began, starting with… yes, of course, our good friend Google. Mr. Google lead us to a few dealer pages, followed by reviews, comparisons, testimonials, etc. We narrowed our choices down and then set out to hit our first dealership.
Pulling into the parking lot we could see the widening eyes of a pack of hungry salesmen. We nervously exit the rental vehicle. What an awkward moment it is walking into a dealer knowing the sales guy is coming towards you.
“Do you have any mini-vans” I ask, my way of breaking the ice. I’m not sure how they decide who gets the next warm body coming through the door – they take turns I guess. The unfortunate soul that got us was a really nice guy, three-weeks into his new job apparently.
The Test Drive
We go for a test drive – we all like the vehicle. Except for the part where the sales guy talked the whole time. Enough already! Back into the dealership, I can feel the tension building. Here comes the pain. He sets the kids up in the TV room with hot chocolate and Dora, nice touch, and then leads us into the slaughterhouse.
We sit, sales guy asks, “what did you like most about your current vehicle?” Say what?! Oh, okay, this guy is fresh out of salesman school. A number of similar questions follow. He’s building his knowledge base in preparation for overcoming the objections I’m sure to throw at him later.
After an agonizing 30 minutes like this we’re ready to ‘talk numbers’. “What does this one list for?” I ask. “Let me talk to my manager and work out some numbers for you”. Wait, I just want to know how much… Too late, he’s gone. Five minutes latter he’s back with a piece of paper on which is scribbled something about down payments, lease rates, 60 months, and a monthly payment. “How much does the vehicle cost?” I ask again. Back to the manager he goes – I kid you not.
We get up to leave, gather up the kids and start heading for the door. Now here comes the manager. “Hi, I’m _____. Just want to make sure we have a chance to earn your business” he says. Yeah sure ______, you could start by telling me how much the car costs.
OK, that was painful. Hope we don’t have to do that again.
Another Day Another Car Dealer
The next morning we reluctantly hit another dealership. We take a different approach – this time we check out the vehicle in the parking lot and wait for him to come to us. “Hi, I’m Jim, would you like to take it for a drive?” We sure would Jim, and off we go. Jim is chill. He answers questions and otherwise is pretty laid back, only talking when he sees I’m fumbling to find something or figure out what this knob does.
Back at the dealer we get out of the vehicle and Jim hands me a piece of paper listing all the features of the 5 models of mini-van we just drove, along with… the prices. What a novel concept. Jim reminds us that Honda is offering a manufacturers rebate of $6,000 on all 2010 Odysseys. “And I can probably get you another $1,000 on top of that.” Woa, did I just hear what I think I heard.
We are sufficiently impressed and comfortable with Jim. We retreat to discuss over coffee. I tell Jim we’ll be back. “Okay, here’s my card. Let me know if I can answer any questions”.
In the meantime I already have 2 messages from the other dealer. “Please don’t do anything before giving us a chance to earn your business.” We reluctantly go back there to drive a different model. Our guy isn’t there but another one fills in. More chatter about how great theirs is and how bad the other’s are. We make up our mind that we’re going with Honda. Jim never once disparaged any other car maker.
The Purchase (not the sale)
Monday morning we’re at the dealer by 9:00am. “Is Jim here?” I ask the receptionist. No, it’s his day off. She calls Jim and he’s there in 10 minutes – wow! We take er for another drive just to make sure. Back at the dealer, I know exactly where I’m starting from. I tell Jim what it will take to get us in the vehicle ie. how much more than the $1,000 he’s offered I want off the price. Over to the manager he goes. He’s back in less than 2 minutes. “Chris, it’s your lucky day” he says. “Really, I’m getting the car for free” I respond…
Jim writes up the deal and takes us over to the business manager’s office whose job it is to work out delivery details, and in most places sell you ‘scotch guarding’, extended warranties & such for $1,000’s extra. Not so at Campus Honda.
My Gift to Jim
The video clip below is my gift to Jim. He doesn’t know it but I’m going to do a video testimonial, on top of singing his praises in this blog post, and spread the news to my 2,000+ followers. I’m also going to help Jim become the most prolific social media car sales guy in Victoria, if he’s interested.
NOTE: I have been tweeting about my car research & buying experience since last Wednesday and not one dealer has followed me, or approached me on Twitter. Talk about a lost opportunity. Hello car dealers! Where are you?
If businesses that sell low ticket items like soap, beer and cameras can benefit from developing customer relationships using social media you’d think that a high ticket, considered purchase like a new car could too.
What has your purchase experience been? Any good social media stories? Leave a comment below.