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Clawson Motorsports monitors traffic with colored lanyards

Months ago, when customers walked into Clawson Motorsports in Fresno, Calif., it was hard to decipher which shoppers had yet to speak to a salesperson and which had already been bombarded by everyone on staff.

So when JC Cowles became sales support manager, a position that serves as the liaison between the sales manager and the sales staff, he made it his goal to better manage the store’s showroom traffic.

What he developed was a lanyard system, whereas each of the store’s 12-14 salespeople has their own colored lanyard to denote which customers they’re working with.

“It’s to control the traffic in the showroom, and it’s to make sure everyone is taken care of,” Cowles said.

Every morning, each salesperson starts with four or five of his or her lanyards. He attaches his business card to the lanyards and carries them around the floor. Then, when a customer walks in, the salesperson introduces himself. If the customer is ready to buy and set on a certain model, the salesperson immediately helps that customer and proceeds through the sales process.

However, if a customer comes back with the typical “just looking” retort, the salesperson moves to the lanyard system. The salesperson collects the customer’s name and contact information for the CRM, then hands the customer a lanyard.

“If you’ve got a customer that you’re working with that wants to look around, the salesperson offers them a lanyard and tells them, ‘This is my lanyard, put it on, and that way, no one else will bother you,’” Cowles explained.

This gives the customer the opportunity to peruse the more than 700 units in the showroom without being bothered, while managers are assured they’ve already been approached.

JC Cowles
JC Cowles

“One of the worst things there is as a customer is to have a salesperson walk up every two minutes. ‘Can I help you?’ ‘Can I help you?’ ‘Can I help you?’” Cowles said, adding that the lanyards prevent salespeople from approaching a customer that has already been helped.

Once a customer has a lanyard, the salesperson checks on that person every 10-15 minutes to see if they need any additional help or are ready to make a purchase. Cowles monitors the activity from a tower in the middle of the showroom, to assure the process is running correctly.

“It just controls the showroom a lot better than I think anyone else has,” Cowles said.


Clawson Motorsports implemented the lanyard system about six months ago. At the beginning, some sales staff were against it, saying it was stupid, or that they felt pressured to hand out lanyards, but as they’ve gotten used to the system, they’ve grown to appreciate it.

“Everybody likes it. It’s proven to work,” Cowles said. “Once it’s proven itself and it works, they don’t have a problem with it.”
The biggest thing Cowles has to watch is whether his salespeople have given out too many lanyards, but he says this typically only occurs with rookie salespeople.

1113News-Lanyards Clawson 3“In our system, if I see two or three lanyards out there in the same color, I tell [the salesperson] he is not to take another customer up; he has to pay attention to the customers he’s already handed lanyards out to,” Cowles reported.

The dealership sees about 60-65 customers per day, so the lanyard system helps assure each is taken care of in a timely manner. And so far, the customers have appreciated the convenience.

“The vast majority of people love it. We’ve had people say, ‘God, this is a good idea,’” Cowles reported.

The customers not only get the luxury of perusing the showroom at their own speed, but with the attached business card, they have the name of a salesperson to approach if they have questions.

1113News-Lanyards Clawson 1The dealership has gone all-in on the program, buying 10,000 lanyards at a bulk price of 18 cents apiece. Though customers often return the lanyards to their salesperson or Cowles, giving the staff a chance to catch customers one more time before they walk out the door, some take the lanyards home, which is OK by the dealership.

“I buy the lanyards pretty cheap, so if they walk out the door, they walk out with the business card,” Cowles said. “As long as the salesperson is doing his job and getting the person’s info up front, he has a way of following up with the customer.”

Customers now leave the showroom knowing they were thoroughly taken care of, while not harassed, and Clawson Motorsports is assured each customer has been approached, even if they were “just looking.”


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