Wow, so the New Year has arrived! Did you make any New Year resolutions? How many do you think you will keep? Of those who make resolutions on January 1st about 40 percent give up on them by February. And only about 25 percent keep them up throughout the year. When they made the resolution they had a strong desire to make that change in their life, and they genuinely expected to make that change but after a few disappointment they just give up.
The same thing can happen with our customers and after a few disappointments they will give up on your dealership. Here at Destination Powersports we train on the importance of not only meeting but exceeding customer expectations. The first step to exceeding expectations is to understand the customer’s desire. Desire, meaning what they actually want, in a dealership could be anything from a new motorcycle to their old ATV up-and-running for the weekend. Once you know their desire you can go to work exceeding their expectation. Expectation meaning what they think is going to happen when they ask you to help them get what they desire. We have found that most customers have high desire, but depending on the level of past disappointments their level of expectations are usually less. This creates an enormous opportunity for your dealership staff to surprise the customer and exceed their expectations. If you can do this the result will be lasting customer loyalty and a customer base that is constantly telling their friends about your dealership.
As an example, a couple of months ago we had we had a young man come into our dealership desiring a new side-by-side. He informed us he had been looking that day at two other dealerships. At the first dealership he visited they would not let him test ride or even hear a unit run, because the sales team assumed he was too young to afford it. They did not discuss price or payment with him because he was not sure what model he wanted, just that he desired to buy something to ride with his friends. A little disappointed, he went to a second dealership assuming the first one was just too busy to bother with him. He received the same basic response from the salesman there. He explained to them that this would be his first side-by-side and he was not sure which one he wanted, this time he was told after he bought the $25,000 machine they would take him out and show him how to drive it, but again did not let him test drive anything.
By the time he got to our dealership he still had a very high desire to buy a new machine and go riding with his friends. This was evident by the fact that this was the third dealership he had visited that day. It was almost closing time when he arrived and his expectation now was that he was not going to get a new machine for the weekend as he had planned. The first thing our sales team noticed was the young man had pulled into our lot with a trailer attached to his truck — a clear indication this young man was planning on buying something. After meeting him and discussing his riding intentions our staff recommended he test ride three different models. At this point he was amazed and told us about his previous experiences that day. After a few test rides he picked the one he wanted, discussed price and proceeded to pay us cash for the unit. We stayed late, prepped the unit and the customer left for a weekend of riding! There are many lessons to be learned from this experience but it shows how finding out what the customers’ expectations are and looking for ways to exceed them can build a strong and lasting customer base.
Following a couple easy steps should help your team meet your customer’s desires and exceed their expectations. First you need to talk to the customer and find out what his or her expectations are then surprise them by giving them an experience exceeding what they expected. Don’t be stuck in a routine that treats every customer the same. While a lot of our customers have the same desires, each customer has a unique expectation that sets the bar for their satisfaction. Meeting their desire and exceeding their expectation creates customer loyalty and a long term advocate for your dealership.
Jackson Smith is the parts and service manager at Destination Powersports, a multi-line OEM dealership located in southwest Florida. Jackson has more than 30 years experience in both the automotive and powersports industries.