Business, Anyone?

by Chip Thomas

If you are a retail automobile salesperson, think of yourself from this day forward as being a business within a business, because that's exactly what you are. You must then operate this "small business" in the most efficient and productive manner possible. Mentally and actively approach your selling career in this fashion - only then can you realize your full potential.

How often are people set up in business for themselves without an initial capital investment? Well, most car dealers provide your office space - no charge; your materials - no charge; your inventory - no charge; a full service, parts, and administrative staff for you - no charge. Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? It's not -it's reality! All you have to invest is your time, your effort, and your energy.

It's a fact that most small businesses fail within the first two years. This unfortunate situation appears to hold true for automobile salespeople as well. How can you avoid being a casualty? There is no secret - there is no perfect solution - but there are a few proven and effective methods for success. Of course you must have a positive attitude and lots of enthusiasm; but these must be accompanied by A) Time management, organization, and planning, and B) Networking and follow-up.

These days, the average customer is sharper, more knowledgeable, and more shrewd than ever before. In addition, he or she continually expects "more" for "less". Combine these facts with the reality that there are now more automobiles available and less quality difference between them and what do you have? A truly competitive situation with a seemingly impossible solution as far as the salespeople and dealer are concerned - notice I wrote "seemingly".

There is an answer. As a retail salesperson, a well-thought-out, systematic approach to this business will still yield big dividends. If you want different results with anything, there has to be change - change the equation, change the result; change the input, change the output. If you want to improve your productivity, shuffle up your approach to the business, your approach to each day - just try it. Before long, these changes become routine and habit - that's when it gets "fun"; you're then able to put things on autopilot and reap the benefits.

The changes I am referring to are simple:

  1. Clean and organize your office or workspace. Organization promotes self-esteem and confidence, which in turn promotes enthusiasm (which we all know sells cars).
  2. Make a real effort to do more thorough and extensive "delivery" after you make the sale. Be assured, people remember the attention given them at delivery long after they forget the price they paid - it's a fact.
  3. Develop a system of your own to stay in touch with previous customers. Keep it simple, manageable, and workable. Just do it! The customer you've already sold is by far your best source of future business. Why? because they've already proven they like you, they trust you, they like your product, they like your dealership, and they have purchasing power. You must then nurture and develop this customer into an ambassador for you and your store. Repeat customers and referral customers are much easier to sell.

What does all this mean? It means doing it right every day, all the time. It's about being a professional. Professionalism means knowledge, preparation, implementation, and execution. Operate your "small business within the big business" in this fashion and you will see a nice increase in your bottom line.