Most people know I like to have fun when training and I work to get everyone, whether they are in service, parts or sales, to understand the dealership has one purpose which is to make obscene amounts of money. Each person on your team should understand that there is nothing wrong with the dealership making great profits. This is accomplished by not only having great employees but also working to keep customers coming back every year and telling their friends about your dealership so they too came become lifelong customers.

Ultimately what you are striving to do as a dealership is to build a strong customer base that gets bigger and more profitable year after year.  As you think about your store, your employees and your customers you have to ask yourself, is everything we are doing helping to accomplish that goal?  Is your service, parts and sales department doing what it takes on a customer-by-customer basis to create a strong desire in your customers mind that will make them come back time and time again?

As you work to build a strong customer base, focus on the position you occupy in your customers mind and what you are doing to differentiate yourself from the dreaded mass merchandisers and local competitors.  When it comes to positioning it’s important to keep in mind that everything you do has an impact on how the customer sees you, your employees and your dealership in their mind.  That position in their mind determines whether they buy, whether they buy again or if they refer their friends to you so that they will buy.  When I hear salespeople say that a good customer ended up buying from a competitor, it tells me they, or the dealership, lost that all-important first position in the customers mind.  The question that has to be asked is, “How did that happen and what can you do to regain that number one spot”?

The position change might have happened because of the other word that we need to focus on in building a strong loyal customer base: Differentiation.  While many dealerships believe that they are uniquely different than their competitors, the reality of the situation is that many are not.  Years ago, it was easy to differentiate yourself from competitors, but today with technology and products that are very similar it has become a more difficult task.  It’s important to bring your teams together and brain storm what it is, by department, that makes what you offer or how you offer it different than those you compete against.

I want to challenge you not to let your service, parts and salespeople off with the easy answer, “We are friendlier”, or “We smile more than our competitors’ people”.   While you may have a few people in your dealership that truly are the differentiators for your customers, sadly most are not.  Right now is a great time to ask questions relative to your position in your customers eyes.  Are you or the dealership the first thing that comes to their mind for wholegoods, service, rental, or parts?  And finally, what specifically are you doing, department-by-department, to differentiate yourself from your competitors?