What does that have to do with what I've got to talk about? Attitudes and process. Some stores that I work with are just like going to Disneyland and then with a few — you wonder how they can get their shoes tied. Some stores just try harder than others. It's that time of the year when dealers start signing up with new warranty providers because they think they'll make more money and maybe that this new company will keep their cancellations down.
Cancellations are a nightmare for any business manager. Most of us want to keep them under 2 percent but even less is better. But how can you do it? Our top-performers don't just cross their fingers and hope for the best. They also don't typically point fingers at a department for causing a cancellation. Our top business managers are managing the various departments and people that come in contact with any of the customers. I'm talking about training everyone, from the lot boys to the owners.
Some of you might have the process in place or are familiar with the process of getting people approved to buy a unit and then handing those that have stellar credit something like a red balloon or a red goody bag. Then with those that have marginal credit, are handed a blue balloon or a blue goody bag. What these stores are doing is labeling the customers for the entire store to see. The red balloons mean that these customers can finance everything that you can sell them. And we all know that many times we can put some really nice emotionally driven accessories in front of a payment buyer and guess what — they'll buy them all. With the blue balloon customers, they get handled a little differently. Their blue color indicates that they may have to pay cash or put their accessories on a credit card. But that isn't what I want to share here. This is about cancellations and how to prevent them.
I've got some efficient dealerships that run pretty smooth. These stores all have top-performing business managers and with commitment, training and persistence, they've increased all of their backend numbers along with many other departments. Rather than just focus on red or blue markers to label their customers, we've taken it a lot further. All buyers get colored lanyards — cash green, unlimited finance red and limited finance blue and then year, make, model and the customer’s name are printed on the cards that hang from them.
A higher volume store is always trying to both run fast and be efficient. Salespeople have multiple appointments showing up at the same times and F&I managers try to manage all of these people, which allows quite a few customers to get subpar service. A business manager that sells a $1500 VSC, $800 Gap and $1000 Priority Maintenance stands a good chance to have a few chargebacks if that customer gets home, looks at their bill of sale and decides that they don't feel warm and fuzzy about spending $3300 on your backend products. That's where the lanyards and training come in. Everyone that's wearing a lanyard is given the type of attention that you'd probably only find in Disneyland. But to get that attention in Disneyland you've got to spend more money than the average person walking around. I'm not talking about a Fast Pass either. I'm talking about The Royal Treatment. And if you've got a kid that gets The Royal Treatment at Disney then it really hurts your wallet but you and your kid will never forget it.
Ask yourself: Do your employees (especially managers) look at customers and say hi, or are they more likely to stare past them as if they've got better things to do? Do all customers get a quick tour of the dealership or just the ones that are nice enough? Do you treat cash customers as well as the finance buyers? I've known many business managers that couldn't get the cash buyers out of their office fast enough.
The dealers that give The Royal Treatment hold a short monthly training meeting for all employees on how to treat customers as if they are in Disneyland. For example, say hi to everyone that you can and be especially courteous to those with any lanyard around their neck (they're spending thousands of dollars with you). These customers need special attention because if they buy some products from you, and then perceive that they weren't treated well enough, when they get home they will cancel some of those products. But if they were handled with kid gloves from the beginning, there's a strong chance you'll not only sell some product but they'll keep those products.
The business manager is often the person that buyers like the most and leaves the lasting impression. There's more to this process that I'm talking about but this is a good start.
Tommy Ady is a powersports sales expert with more than 25 years in powersports retail business. He founded The WriteBack in 2013, which has become the #1 performing sales tool in the North America. Top 100-ranked dealers use his programs, along with the highest performing F&I managers in the country. His entertaining training shows are broadcast via YouTube to dealers every week.