AM Online

Where's the joy?

With the onset of the new block exemption rules it has never been more important to recognise that the route to a successful motor retailing business is directly through creating happy customers.

The motor retailing sector is failing, miserably, to put in place the systems and personnel necessary to create a culture of 'happiness'.

Historically, motor retailers have not been able to attract the brightest of people and to compound the problem, little effort is made to train, coach and manage these people in a constructive customer-facing way.

As a result, ask customers what they expect of a vehicle retailer and they will tell you their expectations are not that high – in spite of the manufacturers' attempts to paper over the cracks with their customer service initiatives.

Of course, some dealer groups do employ trainers to enhance their selling skills in the shop front and occasionally you find the odd one or two that actually employ customer service trainers.

But the real problem here is that people within the motor industry only seem to trust trainers from within their industry.

Think about it. The motor industry engages people from within its own sector to train people to provide a level of service targeted to be better than anything else in that sector. It simply doesn't stack up.

Why do we need sales people in dealerships anyway? Customers have never been better informed about the product – through manufacturer advertising, the press and through internet research. Many know what they want even before they enter the showroom. I know one person who simply wanted an order to be processed and had to visit three dealerships before he could find anyone willing and able to help.

Dealerships must expand their horizons and look for customer service experts to help them.

There will be exceptions – and to those training organisations or training consultants within the automotive sector who genuinely offer good service I apologise. Then again, there are probably huge numbers reading this who think they offer good service – but don't.

A consultant isn't just someone who takes your wrist-watch off you to tell you the time (and then keeps the watch).

Good consultants may take your watch off you but he or she will first check that the time showing is correct, that the watch is wound up or has new batteries and show you how you can get an early warning when the thing might be losing or gaining time.

If you don't understand this concept, you may need to change your consultant.

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