Smart Car Buying is about Relationships, Not Cars

Long before I was in the car business, for years, my friends would call me and ask me about cars, what to buy and how much to pay. They’d tell me their budget, likes, dislikes, what they were looking for in a car, and I’d come up with what I thought were some good options.

Once I made my suggestions they were on their own, I didn’t know anymore than they did about how to work with a dealer, I didn’t even know any dealers to refer them to. That all changed in May of 2008 when I got into the car business. All of a sudden they could come to me.

Some of my first sales were to friends and acquaintances; I didn’t have an established clientele like the veteran sales people. I figured my friends knew me, they trusted me, I had to start somewhere. I always felt a real obligation to make sure they got a great deal on a great car and they did.

Soon I had old college friends coming from three states away to buy a new car (easily passing 4 or 5 dealerships selling the same product on the way!), friends I knew when I lived in Chicago 5 years ago driving 6 hours to buy used cars at Feldmann Imports. They were coming because all of a sudden they had someone in the car business that they knew and trusted.

My good friend David Pearlman came up from Chicago to buy this used Audi A4 at Feldmann Imports last Summer.

They all could have bought essentially the same car within a few miles of their home. It wasn’t about the car at all, it was about trust, it was about a personal relationship. By dealing with me they knew they would be dealt with fairly, without the games and B.S. that so many car buyers expect and dread.

All of a sudden a very bright bulb went off in my head… I need to treat every single customer I meet on the show floor like I treat my friends. Every transaction I enter into needs to be like these transactions. I need to be real, I need to be myself. I need to become everyone’s no nonsense car guy. I need to become a resource for prospective car buyers. I need to change the perception of the car sales profession one customer at a time. This is what I’ve been trying to do ever since.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for me personally is being greeted with such apprehension on the part of customers, and in many cases flat out hostility. It can wear on me if I don’t remind myself: it’s my job to change their perception of what I represent. I need to be the opposite of the guy they talked to at the other dealership they just left because they didn’t feel comfortable.

In general, I think I’ve been successful while striving to accomplish this goal. It’s funny now to think back on those customers that were apprehensive, even stand-offish when I approached them initially (and most are), when they come in for service in their new car months later and greet me with a huge smile and a slap on the back, “Dave, how have you been? How’s business?” You can’t put that in the bank per se, but it’s the best commission a genuine salesperson with a long term outlook can receive. It’s what makes me want to go to work everyday.

‘Finding and buying the right car should be fun an easy’ not a battle.

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