Car Dealerships, Social Media and the Purchase Process

salesman.jpgSo 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.

Building Trust
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.

Jim Galand
[email protected]
Twitter: TBD

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.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest

14 thoughts on “Car Dealerships, Social Media and the Purchase Process”

  1. Chris you wrote a very true and accurate description of what happens to car buyers. I’d like to offer introduce a much better way to buy a vehicle that will save lots of time, stress and money. My name is Brian O’Donnell I am an auto consultant with over 25 years in the dealership experience and have opened O’Donnell Auto Consult. here in Victoria.The website is . As a consultant I do all the researching, locating, negotiating of price, finance and leasing, review all contracts and am there when the client signs and takes delivery of their new car. The clients are never at the mercy of salespeople and and managers. Having been in sales – new cars, trucks, used cars, management, wholesale buying, finance and leasing I speak the same language as the dealer which means no salespople, games, loaded contracts, or unexpected fees. Only dealer principles and managers agreeing on numbers with me. Clients are protected by written contract; O’Donnnell Auto Consult guarantee – if we can’t save you 100% of our fee our service is free.
    This is a win win for everyone including the dealer. Dealer does not have to pay a salesperson because I’ve done all the work and brought them a qualified buyer. Client saves a lot of:time, stress and money,
    If I may be of help to you or your readers please give me a call. It will be my pleasure.I got out of dealerships because I do not have it in me to exploit someone to make a living. I like helping not causing financial/credit ruin.
    Brian O’Donnell

  2. You do have a lot of experience with buying cars, don’t you? I loved your tale, car dealers can be so annoying sometimes. Now I am interested in getting a BMW MD, I am not the type that likes to talk much so I guess my next car buying experience won’t be such a hassle.

  3. When I was 24 living in Calgary one year out of marketing school I was beyond gitty making my way to the VW dealership to buy my first car. I visited two that day. It was 34 degrees and I was wearing cut off shorts and tank top and sun glasses on my head. People looked (up and down) but not one person at either place gave me the time of day. There was no way this chick was going to buy a brand new car. How could she possibly afford it looking that way?

    Anyhooooow, a week later I visited the dealer I bought my(silver)car and wore heals and a blazer. The same thing happened – no one had time for the chicky browsing the classy cars. But finally as I was walking out a manager came out and apologized since he realized what was going on and said “i’m so sorry someone should have helped you sooner…” By faith in sales was semi-restored. But i’ll never forget and always go back to that dealer.

    Which reminds me, i’m almost due for an upgrade…

  4. Great blog Chris, and very good points. I’m actually surprised you were able to get settled with a new vehicle so quickly, but that’s Honda for you! I can say from experience that Campus Honda has great customer service, even for an old ’95 Accord.

    Again, you laid out percisely the fears buyers go through and the BS they end up having to deal with. Dealers, salespeople (whomever) cut the schmaltzy ‘ooooh I’m your new best friend and let’s see what I can do for you’ act and just tell it like it is.

    Congrats on the new wheels.

  5. This comment from Jill came via Linkedin but it was so good I wanted to add it to the blog. Chris

    "I absolutely love this post Chris! Still giggling. I worked in the car industry for 25 years as a Business Mgr, many of them at Honda. I know Jim Galand very well. Before I scrolled down to the video – I already knew it was Jimmy. So glad it all worked out. Happy motoring!"

    ~ Jill Moores

  6. Great review. Bought a car 2 weeks ago and it was a horrible customer service experience. Would have bought there instead! Thanks for posting.

  7. I’m sure there’s a dog-eared 80’s sales manual in every car dealership. I bought a second-hand car from Seafun on Esquimalt Road and got the same old BS “There’s another couple coming back to buy this car later, but I’d rather sell it to you”

    I also got the 20 minute run-around before anyone would give me an price with the time filled by the sales guy hammering at a calculator with occasional trips to the manager’s office. Ridiculous!
    In the end I bought a car for what seemed like a fair price, but still felt like I’d been ripped off.

    I felt like mentioning social media accountability, but decided they weren’t worth it.

  8. Im a new Car sales consultant at Boyer Chevrolet Buick GMC. Brand new to the business… Im using social media as a tool to build customer relationships as well as provide some great info about GM’s product.

    Jim is very lucky to have someone rave about him online. It will go a long way forsure!

    Learned a bit from this post as well 🙂


    Grant Gooley

  9. You could have probably talked him down another two grand or at least 1500, but you would have had to try to walk out of the place four times. They want to get rid of 2010 and make room for 11’s.

  10. Thanks everyone for your comments, feedback and for sharing your experiences. It’s been a few weeks now and I’m happy to report that the whole family is loving the Honda Odyssey, aka; "the swagger wagon". 

    At the end of my post above I talk about making a difference in the way auto dealers do business – by using social media to build relationships. In my tweets I predicted a major change in the car sales culture and process. 

    The change has begun. Without solicitation I was contacted by the sales manager and this week I start working with the staff at Campus Honda to train them on the use of social media.

    Please keep the feedback coming. Your experience is valuable and appreciated.  



Leave a Comment