Shopping for a Car
I recently visited our local Nissan dealer in search for a new car for my wife. We left a little disappointed in part from the lack of quality service we received and also because we didn’t find a car that matched our criteria. Here’s a run down of a couple of service-related points that really rubbed me the wrong way:
Well, there was a lady behind the front desk but she just stared at us for a little bit before asking if we needed help. We also passed 2 salesmen walking in that I guess were more interested in the conversation they were having in the golf cart than making a sale. Finally, they found someone, Walter, who was willing to meet with us, but only for a little while because he had another customer coming in soon.
We were very clear about our budget, the type of car we were looking for, and that we were relying on him to help guide us to the right vehicle. So Walter pulled out his little netbook, stopped at the first car that remotely resembled what we were looking for and then tried to convince us that it was what we needed and that he could get it close to our price range. We test drove the car and loved it but we were not willing to pay the extra $5k (just a little over budget) we were planning on spending.
A few days after our visit, I received a phone call from Walter to follow up on our visit. The first weird thing he said to me was “I was just calling to see what it was that I did wrong to cause you to not buy a car from me the other day.” I really wanted to answer the question but was already feeling awkward in our conversation. Then he proceeded to tell me how I only had 2 more days before the end of the fiscal year to take advantage of the great rates or rebates (which weren’t that great)…but he didn’t want to put pressure on me. I politely acknowledged the time frame and told him that we just weren’t going to go through with the purchase.
Here are the lessons I learned from this experience:
- A smile, an invitation to sit and wait, an offer for coffee or another beverage would have gone a lot further than a blank stare and a scrambling to see who felt like working at that moment. Customers pick up on a lot more than we realize sometimes. I know this guy didn’t want to work with us. I know the receptionist was tired and watching the clock…that’s not my problem. I’m looking to spend thousands of dollars with them…the least they can do is be happy to see me. First impressions are important!
- Walter didn’t listen to us. He tried to sell us a car that was over budget without ever warning us that he was taking us down a path that led somewhere other than where we told him we wanted to go. I think I would have appreciated and respected him more as a salesman if he had responded differently…tell me I’m being unrealistic, tell me upfront that I’ll be over budget, tell me that I may need to consider other alternatives…then show me my options. We didn’t love the car enough to justify spending more which is what I imagine he was hoping would happen.
- Why would Walter phrase his question that way? It was almost as if he just possibly could not understand why we didn’t buy the car…conditions must have been absolutely perfect except for some minute thing he did wrong. Maybe he was trying to lay the guilt on me for holding something against him instead of just making a wise decision based on the facts and my experience. I’m glad he followed up with me but please ask better questions next time…what else can I do to help you make your decision? Why did you decide not to buy? Can I show you additional options that may better suit your needs and budget?…any of these would have been better than “what did I do wrong?” Well Walter…you did almost everything wrong.
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