I was just thinking about something that really amazed me about a month ago. I was out with a friend of mine at a mall doing some shopping. We were at Macy’s and decided to take a look at their collection of sunglasses. Both my friend and I enjoy nice things and do not play around when it comes to sunglasses. In fact, I was wearing my $200 pair of Ray Ban glasses and he was wearing his $200 pair of Maui Jim glasses. We had bought our glasses a year ago at the Sunglass Hut. It turns out that this Macy’s location had their own Sunglass Hut.
We walk into this section of the store and we are greeted by one of the two sales reps there. This rep was totally on his game. He made us feel like we were in a high end store (because we were) and like a guest (not a customer). The other rep was completely different and just did not focus on the job or us. The professional rep sees that we both have high end glasses and offers to clean them up for us free of charge. We gave them to him and within 5 minutes our pairs of sunglasses were both shiny and like brand new.
We were not in there to buy anything that day but we just explored. This rep would open the glass door so I could look at whatever pair I was interested while the other one just stood there. When it was time to for us to leave, he had started to ask about what we liked in the shop and what we were interested in. He even went as far to see how we like our sunglasses and to let us know about a fresh shipment of newer styles that were about to arrive. He shook our hands and we left.
My friend and I both being ex-car sales people were amazed at the quality of service. In fact, we were talking about how this guy would be an amazing car sales person. I said these words verbatim, “this guy should be selling BMWs and making $150k per year and if I was a car dealer I would have been offering him a job right now”.
You are probably thinking, “Why do I care about Stan’s experience at a Sunglass Hut on an automotive forum?”
Well before you lose interest quickly, please understand that my point is about to hit home really hard.
My point is simple. I have worked in auto dealerships for over 9 years as a sales person, manager, and now a trainer. I have worked at a few dealerships and have seen operations that were world class with true professionals as well as operations that were disasters when it came to professionalism. I am talking about pulling up to a dealership and seeing sales people toss a football around in the parking lot. Anyone ever walk into a dealership and get an improper greeting? Let’s take it a step further. A sales person that does not take control of the situation and has to run around back and forth to answer a customer’s question. And to take it even further I would like to add situations that include letting customers go on test drives by themselves (I am guilty of doing this too in the past when I did not know any better). Do you see where I am going with this?
We as an industry have been losing the lost art of professionalism. We have forgotten the basics or are not taught this art when getting involved in automotive sales and even business development roles. This is because the training that has been provided to new hires goes by fast where information is not retained. That is not the only reason why today’s sales professional lacks professionalism on the job. This is because dealerships are getting more and more employees from the millennial generation that come with a different attitude. They are technologically savvy, can adjust to the internet and the way people shop for automobiles. They come with an attitude where they expect things to come to them and do not want to work too hard. In fact, if you let them make $40k per year they will be content. Is every millennial like that? No!!! Look at me. I am in that generation and I had a different upbringing. When most people my age were going to school, partying, and not worrying about the future I was in showrooms working and living in the real world. Some say I am a 42 year old in a 28 year old body. I was also raised differently by family and have worked since I was 15 years old.
What about the people that are leaving the automotive industry to either retire or change careers because the business has changed digitally and they feel that they cannot make money like they used to? The same people that were once great and professional that have become disgruntled by their lower income so they perform at a lower level then they did over 10 years ago. I am not even kidding, I had this discussion a year ago with a manager at a dealership that is my age. He was telling me how more managers around our age bracket move up and take jobs as sales managers and finance managers because we are happy making $120k per year as opposed to a 50 year old veteran looking to make over $200k when the business has changed radically in the last 4-5 years.
The reality is that the same success is still possible. Dealerships are lacking in training and motivation that needs to become a systematic part of their process to provide ongoing training on how to be the best professional out there. There will be people that leave and not want a part of it but there will be other hungry people that will see how successful a sales person that sells 30-40+ units per month. In a BDC environment, I always sell candidates on the fact that this position can lead to a very rewarding future if you study and learn your professional. If you enjoy what you do and be the best at it, you can move up and make a lot of money.
I want to end this article by reminding automotive professionals that it is important to be professional. If it means that you have to take a class on being professional or attend a workshop, do it! Invest in yourself and your career and you will be a success. If you are coffee clutching in the showroom and tossing a football, you need to think twice about how serious you are about your career. If you are yelling across the showroom to communicate and you use foul language in your statements, you need to check yourself and consider your actions. Customers can pick up on these things. Seriously, automobiles are expensive these days with the average new car being in the $20-30k range. If you are going to deal with big ticket items, learn how to be a professional.
I invite everyone reading this to share their thoughts and ideas…as always feel free to contact me.