Channel | F&I

What is the Sky and Why is it Blue? The Importance of the Customer Facility Tour

Trainer Chris Lumley shares how a dealership tour can bolster relationships critical in the customer buying process
By: Chris Lumley

What is the Sky and Why is it Blue? The Importance of the Customer Facility Tour

In order to create true value and a clear understanding of our surroundings, we must first know what we’re looking at. Then, we need to understand “why” it is what it is. Let’s look at an example.

What is the sky? I never thought about this question until I was asked in front of a large group. Merriam-Webster defines the sky as: “The upper atmosphere or expanse of space that constitutes an apparent great vault or arch over the earth.” Why is the sky blue? The scientific answer is: “A clear, cloudless daytime sky is blue because molecules in the air scatter blue light from the sun more than they scatter red light.” Providing the “why” in all situations allows us to remove our own perceived reality (perceived value) and operate on a true reality (intended value).

For us, the real question is why add a dealership tour into the sales process? Maybe the harder question to answer is why are we no longer doing a dealership tour? There are several steps to take in order to create “buy-in” by all employees and establish a culture that’s unique to a dealership, which should be the “wow” factor. There are four reasons why dealerships should offer a dealership tour after the customer’s commitment to buy and prior to sitting with the F&I manager to sign paperwork.

The first reason is to simply create an activity for the customer while the necessary documents are prepared. Studies suggest buyer’s remorse begins the moment a customer agrees on the product purchase. Buyer’s remorse can become a debilitating physical and mental condition, and many people have a greater fear of making the wrong decision than making the right one. The greatest way to combat the buyer’s remorse effect is to continue building value in the purchase and offering validation that the decision was the correct one. This process needs the entire dealership to assist in the campaign and escort the customer through the dealership to each department, showing them what the dealership has to offer (lounge, restrooms, parts, service, kids’ area, coffee bar, Internet, etc.). Keep in mind, this is an exciting time for everyone, so it’s crucial to be lively and make it a positive memory the customer will carry forever.

The second reason why a dealership must offer a tour is to teach the customer how we do business. I know this may sound backwards, but let’s clarify this portion of the “why.” The old school mentality of a dealership was to learn how to do business with the customer. Today, we stand on different ground and teach the customer how to do business with the dealership. Our ultimate goal is to achieve customer satisfaction, and to provide the customer with a complete understanding of the overall operations at the dealership and how they work for them. Doing this will increase your dealership’s Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) scores. Simple information such as the departments’ hours of operation, service center location, and department contact information is a great place to start. The more the customer knows about the operation and process, the easier it is for them to do business with the dealership. We all live and die by the CSI; this is a dealership’s opportunity to create an exceptional buying experience while improving the CSI score.

As significant as it is to inform the customer about the dealership’s operations, a personal relationship might be even more important. That’s why the third “why” of a dealership tour is to create depth in the customer–dealership relationship. Simply put, the more people a customer knows at the dealership, the more likely they are to do business with that dealership in the future. Introducing the customer to a specific person in each department allows other relationships to form. The customer will more likely return if they have multiple relationships at that dealership, as people tend to do business with people who are like them. Since customer retention is a key part of our industry, a dealership should use this opportunity to get to know the customer and become someone they can relate to.

The fourth and final “why” a dealership staff should participate in the tour is to sell. There, I finally said it! Yes, we need to use this time to sell the customer additional parts, accessories and clothing. As all dealerships know, total dealership profit has to be a part of the big picture. The goal is not to turn this into a sales pitch, but rather an opportunity for the customer to buy. In 1887, John H. Patterson wrote “How I Sell National Cash Registers,” which eventually became the Primer. This was a manual that contained instructions on not only what salesmen should say, but what to do while saying it. That same year, J.H. Patterson wrote the following statement in the Primer, “No man likes to feel he is being sold.” This is definitely not a new concept. It is not rocket science, but definitely a part of the rocket.

As the customer begins to experience the dealership, the level of excitement and commitment should rise as anxiety continues to fall. In a way, a family begins to build while the relationships continue to grow. Staff members will have the opportunity to share their ideas and opinions during their conversations with the customer and also have the ability to “plant seeds” for upcoming visits with the finance manager. The simple acknowledgement of a product advertisement or installed product by the sales/parts/service staff will be advantageous to both the customer and F&I office.

Life is a complex place with many opportunities to disappoint. Our job as sales professionals is to rise above all the preconceived ideas of bad sales experiences and provide a spectacular memory. Building a relationship with customers and truly honoring the value that offers is how a dealership will find itself at the next level. Taking the time to care about the customers’ buying experience and committing to being exceptional is what every dealership should strive for. No matter what happens, a customer will remember their experience at any dealership; the important question is how will they remember that dealership and why?

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