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The drive to continuously grow and improve is at the heart of the MRAA, our members and our staff. That’s why we’re launching this blog: to share what we’re learning in our work and in our lives with you – and in hopes you’ll share what you’re learning too.

 

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Slow Down and Create Customers for Life

Posted By Matt Gruhn, Wednesday, July 15, 2020

In any summer selling season, you feel rushed.

 

There are leads to nurture, customer questions to answer, trade-ins to evaluate, and deals to finalize. There are boats to prep, parts to order, deliveries to make, and customer-mandated deadlines to launch boats. You don’t even know how it will all get done.

 

Leads accumulate, showroom traffic grows, and your sales team tries to hand the baton to service to take care of your customers. You feel the tug of competing priorities: Taking care of your boat buyers vs. moving on to selling the next boat. Meanwhile, boaters everywhere are hitting the water, service requests are piling up, parts and accessory orders are on the rise, and staff frantically tries to meet every demand. How do you keep up?

 

The pressure of a summer selling season at a boat dealership resembles a juggling act amidst a frantic race to the end, as priorities shift between sales momentum, service efficiency, customer demands and inventory management, not to even mention staff workloads, overtime, summer vacations and the need for more help.

 

And that’s just a normal year. In 2020, all of this has certainly been magnified by an overwhelming number of leads, record sales, factory shutdowns, depleted inventory, work-from-home mandates, appointment-only boat sales, social distancing requirements and more. You focus on keeping one ball in the air, another ball drops. Running a boat dealership demands a balance that is tricky to navigate.

 

I have two words for you: Slow down.

 

It may seem contrary to how we’ve needed to react to this crisis, but there’s great value in simply slowing down and refocusing your attention on what matters most.

 

At this moment, it’s the customer experience that matters most. With such an incredible influx of new boat buyers, it’s our job to help ensure their ownership experience keeps them in their boat and encourages them to upgrade that boat in the weeks, months and years ahead.

 

How important is it? Well, if you put any value on customer service, you’ll see that as boat sales have risen dramatically, customer satisfaction scores have been heading the opposite direction — a decline driven mostly by a lack of follow-up by the dealer or its sales person. And that shortcoming is a result of not slowing down and taking care of the customer.

 

It’s time to slow down and refocus our attention on those customers. Offering them just a little bit more effort on their experience and satisfaction can pay big dividends on your business. And there’s never been a better time than now to try it, when inventory levels are low and you won’t be able to spend as much time on sales.

 

Here are a few quick ideas on what you could to enhance the customer experience:

  1. Share unique insights that you have about the boat or the brand that they’ve purchased or are considering.
  2. Connect them with other boaters or an owners club from your dealership or the brand they purchased.
  3. Make sure you use your customer relationship management tool and the FORMAT process that Sam Dantzler teaches in MRAA’s online courses, to help you personalize their experience.
  4. Follow-up with boat buyers and ask how they are enjoying their boat, or check in with them after a service appointment. The simple gesture can make a huge difference.
  5. Send customers ideas on how they might be able to get more enjoyment out of their boating experience through a new part or accessory, the reassurance of a maintenance package, or a new waterway to explore.
  6. Schedule a reminder to text the customer or schedule the text to send automatically, to stay in touch and provide another reminder that you’re available to them.
  7. One of the most valuable touch points you could offer is a thank you note. Stand out from the crowd with a hand-written, sincere thank you for their business. I promise you this will have an impact.

 

There are plenty of options for you to explore with this. The important thing is you take care of the customer. The key to taking care of the customer the best way possible is to slow down and give them the attention they deserve.

 

This will give you and your team the opportunity to take a breath and provide significant value to the ownership experience. And it just may create a customer for life. Give yourself and your team permission to slow it down and focus on what matters most: The customer.

Tags:  customer experience  follow-up 

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The No. 1 tactic for retaining first-time boat buyers

Posted By Matt Gruhn, Tuesday, July 7, 2020


As long-time boating enthusiasts and professionals, it’s easy for us to forget how much first-time boat buyers don’t know about boating.

 

Last week, for example, I watched as a new boat owner tried more than a dozen times to back his trailer down the ramp to retrieve his boat. He gave up and asked a fisherman who had been standing in the parking lot drinking a beer, to back the trailer into the water for him. After he obliged, and the wheel wells were submerged down the ramp, the novice had one more question: “How do I get the boat onto the trailer?”

 

No matter what your personal boating history, and no matter if your customer is a first-time buyer or just a new-to-them boat buyer, there are a number of unknowns they face. And let’s be honest, there are numerous issues — What’s wrong with my trolling motor? Why doesn’t my speedometer work? Why aren’t the lights working on my trailer? How do I get these things fixed? — that either we’re not aware that the customer is experiencing or we gloss over them because of our years of dealing with and fixing those issues ourselves.

 

But these are the exact reasons why post-sale follow up is the No. 1 tactic for not only ensuring a quality ownership experience, but also for gaining repeat business. As that customer’s dealer, you are also their closest ally in an enjoyable boating lifestyle. You are the authority on boating. You are the guide to help them get the most out of their new purchase. And you are their resource when something goes wrong.

 

Unfortunately, when something goes wrong, consumers today are more likely to voice their discontent on social media than they are to pick up the phone and call you. Another reason why follow-up is so critically important.

 

First-time boat buyers need extra care in the buying and ownership process. Dealers need

to make sure they bolster their follow-up procedures to help retain them as customers.

 

 

I know you don’t have time to follow up with every customer, especially in today’s overwhelming sales environment. But you need to make the time in order to keep these customers in boating and to bring them back to your business when it’s time to upgrade.

 

We often think of the sales process as a relationship building effort. But, really, the customer needs the relationship on the back side of the sale — after they trailer off your lot or idle away from the dock. That’s when they’re really going to need you. Will you be there for them?

 

We want to make a follow-up procedure as easy as possible for you, so we’ve created a series of resources and ideas to help you get started. Here’s a six-step approach for prioritizing follow-up and creating an outstanding customer ownership experience:

  1. We’re all running short on inventory, and now that we’re past the early July peak of summer, and the sales season is beginning to slow, you should create a plan to ramp up your follow-up procedures. Start by making the shift from a sales mentality to a customer experience mentality.
  2. Decide your approach for which team member(s) will make the calls: Typically, it would be the sales contact or a sales manager or a customer service representative or some combination of them all. You could make a case for that call to come from a service writer who could help assist with minor issues the customer is having. The “who” is not as important as actually making the call because it’s the care and concern that matters. Just make sure they have a customer experience mindset.
  3. Start with your sales log. Pull a list, to include name, contact info and the make and model of the boat that was purchased, for every boat buyer since the beginning of the year. Start with the first boat and call every customer in order of purchase. Yes, you should include used- as well as new-boat buyers.
  4. Log every conversation in your customer relationship management (CRM) tool.
  5. Create a task calendar for issues that need to be followed-up on further, and make sure those tasks not only get assigned to someone but also that they are followed through on.
  6. Don’t forget about service. Demonstrating that you care that the service work you completed has been done satisfactorily is a great way to build rapport and strengthen your relationship with the customer. (Follow the same process as above, beginning with a list of every service customer and the work that was completed.)

 

Your follow-up strategy doesn’t need to be super elaborate. It can start as easy as that outlined above. The important thing is that you ensure that post-sale (and service) follow-up is conducted so that the customers know they have an ally in your dealership … and someone that they know will take care of them when it comes time to upgrade their boat.

Tags:  customer experience 

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Operation: Keep Your Customers Boating

Posted By Matt Gruhn, Monday, July 6, 2020

 

In Minnesota, a salesman admits that boat deliveries and walkthroughs are being compromised by the overwhelming number of customers who need to be cared for. This, despite the fact that he’s selling boats to customers who’ve never even been in a boat, let alone have never owned a boat.

In Florida, a dealership principal tosses and turns through sleepless nights because he knows his customers aren’t receiving the care and attention they deserve. In Ohio, it’s plain and simple, a dealer’s “CSI scores are going to take a hit,” because of the frantic pace of boat sales and service.

Across North America, boat dealerships are facing a culmination of pressure points that make it nearly impossible to keep up. Leads have increased exponentially, all the new customers we’ve dreamt about are swarming dealerships, and boat sales are surpassing record numbers. What started as a sales season rife with panic and concern on a level not seen since The Great Recession, has quickly transformed into a prolific boat “buying frenzy” that has boat dealers overwhelmed, staff on the verge of burnout and inventory significantly depleted.

On the manufacturing side, production lines have restarted and boats are being shipped, but executives admit that they’re rushing to fill orders. They acknowledge that the compounding effects of restarting production lines, hiccups in the supply chain and the pressure to deliver boats have caused a rise in quality issues. Meanwhile, the long-running quip that dealership service departments serve as the last 10 feet of the production line has recently been updated to the last 75 feet.

This isn’t a blame game or even a pity party. It’s an acknowledgement that while the boat business experiences significant demand, there’s both an opportunity and a risk we should be aware of.

First-time boat buyers have been leaving boating at a clip of about 40 percent in their first five years of boat ownership — during normal times, according to a study released last year. Today’s dealers risk that this sudden pressure on their businesses will cause them to fail to deliver the world-class customer experience people expect when parting ways with their discretionary income. And they risk more customers than normal will become one-and-done boat owners.

The opportunity, then, is that we can deliver for them and capture these first-time boat buyers for life. With their eyes opened to the escape boating can provide, it’s our chance to show them how being on the water can change their lives for good. That effort begins with the dealer, and a little bit of the right effort will ensure the ownership experience is worth recommending and returning for.

The MRAA is here to help ensure that you capitalize on the opportunity in front of you and that you overcome all risks to the long-term profitability of your business.

Introducing “Operation: Keep Your Customers Boating,” a step-by-step guide to helping you ensure the boat ownership experience exceeds expectations, and creating an environment where your customers will develop two-foot-itis in a year or so and will be in to trade up on their boat.

This multi-part guide has been conceptualized by MRAA’s Dealership Certification Program Manager Liz Keener and Lead Consultant Bob McCann and captures and shares some of the leading insights our team has garnered over the years. They’ve tapped expert advice, dealer best practices, and industry trends to help you manage the customer experience. The first phase of this guide will be released as blogs right here on MRAA.com.

In this series, you’ll gain critical insights on topics like post-sale follow-up, processes for taking care of first-time boat buyers, service shop efficiencies, and digital engagement. You’ll also gain access to resources like call scripts, process maps and key job descriptions. It’s a robust, step-by-step guide for not only taking care of your customers but also for helping you capture future business.

The important part of this is the three-part commitment you need to make for your business and your customers:

  1. Acknowledge that the customer experience and the future prosperity of your business are at risk;
  2. Tap into the resources you will learn about and MRAA is providing for you; and
  3. Put them to use in your dealership starting today.

Your new customers might already be on the water, but it’s not too late to ensure they have a world-class boating experience. You get to decide if that happens, and the time to act is now.

Tags:  customer experience 

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Sharpen your team’s phone skills today

Posted By Nikki Duffney, Thursday, April 9, 2020

When we operate out of our normal businesses, dedicated staff typically receive all inbound calls. We train them how to transfer calls, how to answer customer questions and how we represent our brand over the phone.

 

 Download this FREE guide to mastering your team's phone skills.

 

 

Today’s work-from-home business reality demands that everyone on our team becomes even better communicators over the phone. And with a slower business environment, there’s no better time to have your team work on it than right now.

 

The MRAA published a Guide to Phone Skills that you and your team can download for free (in addition to offering several courses on MRAATraining.com that incorporate phone skills). I went through and pulled out some highlights to whet your appetite or maybe as a replace for those of you who are members of the #tldr club. 

 

  • Page 4 - Tip sheet outlines the do’s and don’ts of scripted calls. While scripted calls can be great for training and helping people get comfortable with delivering answers on calls – be careful to not have the scripts drafted in a way that doesn’t allow for natural flexibility in the conversation. They called you because they wanted to talk with a human, otherwise they would have emailed or used a chat.
  • Pages 6 & 7 – These are packed full of gems, read it and re-read it and then have staff read it. While we working remotely, this could be a great time to do phone trainings with role play. Have an experienced person call the staff with less phone experience to ask common questions and allow for time to work through the responses.
  • Page 8 – Texting, are you set up to send and receive texts with customers? If not, this is the time to figure out how you can bring text to life in your operations. (NOTE: There is a great and very timely course on Texting found at MRAATraining.com.)
  • All the courses listed in the Guide are phenomenal recommendations, check them out.

 

I spend a lot of my time at MRAA calling dealer members to talk with them about their business. Somedays, calls go off perfectly with connections made, resources delivered, new members joining and giving back to the industry. Other days, I don’t know if it is me or the people I am calling, but nothing clicks. I sit on hold for several minutes; listen to advertisements from years gone by; get hung up on; am transferred to the wrong department; or have frustrated people not representing your brand the way you’d hope … In those moments, I wonder if customers have the same experience.

 

Now’s the time to sharpen your team’s skills.

Tags:  customer experience  marine industry  phone skills  Training 

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Dealer to Dealer: March 2020

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Wednesday, March 11, 2020
If you were to start a brand new dealership today, what would be your first priority for establishing a foundation for success?

“The key to starting and maintaining any business begins with your people and their culture.  You can be the best at what you do but without a strong team behind you, the long term successes will be short lived.  A formal plan to educate and maintain your team allows them to grow within your business.  Your people are the face of your business and who form the relationships with your customers.  As a business owner you can only wear so many hats and be successful.  Hire and take care of your staff and they will look out for you.” - Jeff Siems, Blue Springs Marine

“Creating an internal company culture which promotes and fosters individual growth through collaborative, team centric and employee focused programs. Build the company around building up your team. That foundation is unshakeable. Businesses should promote human flourishing, both inside and outside of the company. But we have to start with allowing our people to flourish.” - David deAndrade, White Lake Marine

“To make sure the team is clear on the mission of the organization. This goes for President to the lot person. This needs to be put in a handbook. That is used and not stored away.” - Ken Toby, Marine Sales

“The first priority must be hiring the best people for where you want the company to go.  Sometimes that means paying up for a better person, but in the long run it's worth it.” - Jeremy Anderson, Big Thunder Marine

“Putting a good business plan together would be the first thing I would do. You need to know the area and the opportunities that exist. Establishing relationships with banks and vendors, what products you would like to sell and what lines are available for that area are key. Specialize in something! Have a product or service that no one else has or can provide. Although location is always important if you specialize in something I believe it is not as important as it used to be.” - Lou Cecchini,  Off Shore Marine, Inc.

“One of my first priorities would be to have a well laid out plan for departments which would include clearly documented processes along with properly educated employees with clear job descriptions and proper training.  This has been one of our biggest challenges to implement after being in business for 30 years and allowing the business to grow without these items in place.” - David Muirhead, Willey’s Marine

“Purchase a on-water location so storage and rental could be included as revenue contributors.” - Joe Lewis, Mount Dora Boating Center

“Products are an important piece that can attract a new customer. Many products are available online, but a store that carries quality merchandise can give consumers their first chance to experience a feel/smell/touch of something that makes them decide whether or not it is the right choice and why it is important to carry a wide variety of different items when trying to see what your new area is in need of.” - Dave Larrison, Waterfront Marine

“[When you first start a dealership], you have nothing… and nobody knows who you are. My first priority would be to create vision, mission and value statements. As you go out into the world to create your dream business, people need to know who you are and what you stand for. Having these statements will inform and impress prospective lenders, vendors, employees and customers that you have a direction, how you intend to get there, and that you are someone that can be trusted.” - Larry Russo, Sr., MarineMax Russo

“My first priority would be finding the right people to help me run it. I truly believe that The Sportsman is very successful because of our staff. You have to have the right people in the right places to do the right things!” - Christi Romero, The Sportsman

“It would be the location! We’ve all heard the saying “location, location, location”  Where are your competitors located? How close are you to water for demoing? How many people drive by your location each day? Freeway visibility is a huge way to get your name out in the local community.” - Bob Bense, Superior Boats

“With experienced personnel at a premium, finding the best Dealer Management System has become more important than ever. Picking the product that has a foundation of managing the day to day business and not just an accounting system with management tools added, is critical. The time spent learning the pros and cons of the many DMS that exist will pay dividends for years to come.  The DMS will be the very foundation that the business will be built upon and will play a pivotal role  in achieving success.” - Frank Sublette, Marine Sales


What would be your first priority? Tell us below in the comment section.

Tags:  best practices  business advice  continuous improvement  culture  customer experience  dealer  dealer development  dealer to dealer  discussions  employee satisfaction  growth  industry insight  marine industry  member spotlight  MRAA member  relationships 

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Dealer to Dealer: February 2020

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Wednesday, February 12, 2020
Updated: Wednesday, February 12, 2020
How do you and your team inspire prospects and customers to trust you?

“Lasting trust is accomplished over time. If you view your walk ins and leads like “just a number” you are going in the wrong direction. Helping a client find what truly fits their needs and not trying to cram them into your oldest non-current is a good start. My take on trust comes down to this, ‘if you wouldn’t treat your mother that way, don’t treat your client that way.’” - Greg Harvey, Tobler Marina

“At the risk of using some overused expressions, we are basically honest to a fault. We believe in complete transparency and treat customers with the utmost integrity. We under-promise but over-deliver. Procedurally, our sales process is pain free - from sea trials to closing to service after the sale – our customer are made to feel at ease and treated like friends. We’re always accessible, we carry reliable products, and we maintain consistency throughout our six locations.” - Frank Ferraro, Nautical Ventures Group

“By assimilating my life and experiences to theirs. By demonstrating that I am a professional boat dealer and I give them answers that are correct and make sense to them. I ask questions and use their answers to "fit" the boat to their needs in a transparent and entertaining way.” - Jim Sabia, Top Notch Marine

“We have always taken the approach that we are to guide and educate them on the journey to boat ownership- not sell them.” - David deAndrade, White Lake Marina

“Tell the customer the truth […] and you will earn the respect and a good customer. I have been doing this for the past 57 years.” - Anthony Cavallo, Hi-Tide Boat Sales & Service

“Review reputation with Google and Facebook. Prior customers provides that first line advantage.” - David Nichols, Eric's Outboard Marine Sevice, Inc.

“Become an advocate / educator for your customers. Work hard to communicate with your customers on a regular basis. For example, email / post tips and articles for your customers and prospects to see. Offer to take existing customers on test runs of new models as they arrive at dealership. Both of you will experience a new model together with no expectation to purchase. You never know where the experience will lead to!  Hopefully an upgrade and trade of their existing boat or potentially a referral to a friend looking for a similar boat!” - Kim Sweers, FB Marine Group

"At the conference this year I heard the statement that sales sell the first boat at a dealership and service sells the rest. We fully believe in that statement. Many of our customers do business with us because of the service they received from us before the made any purchases from us. Those same customers are our best promoters. It always seems to come back to quality service in a timely manner. Customers for life or even customers for generations." - Jeff Sanborn, Handberg's Marine

“Integrity and  backing of the product you sell, strong follow through, open communication which includes “listening” to the customer.  What tops the list for me is reassurance of how we will take care of them “after” the sale.” - Shauna Reetz, Tracker Marine Boat Center - Sidney, Nebraska

“Attitude, kindness, and holding ourselves to a higher standard, use our mistakes as wisdom and correct our shortcomings and successes, and use examples to others in our communications to teach, inspire, and build truth into the relationship. Lead by example.” - Ed Brailsford, Charlotte Ski Boats

“We get told over and over again from prospective customers, recent new customers and ones who are on their 4th+ round with Rinker’s; why they not only chose us but keep coming back … and it’s not a surprise if sometimes they pop-in to say “Hi” and/or for a visit to catch-up. It’s simple … we are genuine in showing we really do care! Our always friendly atmosphere, personalized service and amazing, timely follow-ups makes all of our customers feel special and like they have become an extension of our family, not just a ’one-and-done’ experience/relationship just to get another boat out the door. At Rinker’s Boat World we strive to provide the most comprehensive and enjoyable experience overall for the customer as our major, #1 objective. We listen to what their needs are, develop great communication with them and show empathy. Empathy matters in sales, leading with empathy can mean the difference between a good salesperson and a great salesperson. When you're able to connect with a customer on a higher emotional level, the more likely they are to trust and believe in your ability to help. When salespeople understand and feel what the customer feels, they gain deeper insight into the emotional foundations of the customer's needs. This enables them in turn to define and articulate the best solution in terms that resonate with the customer.” - Carrie Ranney, Rinker’s Boat World


What do you and your team do to inspire trust? Tell us below in the comment section.

Tags:  authenticity  best practices  business advice  continuous improvement  culture  customer experience  dealer development  dealer focused  dealer to dealer  discussions  employee satisfaction  growth  industry insight  marine industry  member spotlight  MRAA member  relationships  workforce 

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Dealer to Dealer: November 2019

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Tuesday, November 19, 2019
What is one big trend are you watching as you
begin to prepare for 2020?


"Pontoon Inventory levels.” - Chad Taylor, Taylor’s South Shore Marine

"Triple & quad center consoles” - Jim Dragseth, Whiticar Boat Works, Inc.

"Watching the alternative propulsion methods. GreenLine Yachts is building the only true Hybrid currently available in the US market. So we have jumped into this space to be on the leading edge of the next wave of boating. Moving away from fossil fuels. “ - J.R. Means III., Bayport Yachts

"We are watching for a trend in boat leasing.” - Bryan Schiffli, AMC Marine


What trends are you currently following? Tell us below in the comment section.

Tags:  continuous improvement  customer experience  dealer development  future-proofing  industry insight  marine industry  member spotlight 

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Step One: Evalute Your Website

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Step One: Evalute

As a marine retailer, you know that digital marketing is one of the fastest changing areas of your business. You have heard that your website is now your business’ “virtual storefront.” So with that understanding, it is key that your website not only provides its users with great content, BUT it also needs to provide them with a stellar user experience.

As discussed as part of the digital publication, "Evaluate Your Website’s Domain, Design and Digital Content", the first (and arguably the most important) purpose of a website’s design is to prevent a bounce. If you can convince your users to stay on your page for 30 seconds, you have a solid chance that they will stay much longer.


Use the following checklist, that is presented and explained in the whitepaper, to evaluate the USABILITY of your website:

How much time does it take to load the homepage? _________________

Can a visitor find information easily?  YES or NO

Is there a search button for visitors? YES or NO

Do all the links work? YES or NO

Is my site mobile friendly? YES or NO

Is my site compatible with multiple browsers? YES or NO

Are visitors able to navigate between different webpages in a simple an hassle-free manner?
YES or NO

Are all clickable items and navigation buttons clearly marked and easy to identify?
YES or NO

Are all the images clear and easy to see? YES or NO

Are there options for providing me feedback? YES or NO

Is the overall performance of my site acceptable?
YES or NO


Now that you made it through the checklist, what are you doing well? And what did you identify as an opportunity to better your website’s usability? Even one small change can dramatically advance the user experience of your website.

For two more guided checklists and additional guidance on auditing your website’s domain, design, and digital content, MRAA members can login and download the full white paper here.

The digital publication, "Evaluate Your Website’s Domain, Design and Digital Content” is the first in a three-part series, “The 3Ds of Effective Website Marketing,” created through a partnership between MRAA and Dominion Domains.

Tags:  best practices  continuous improvement  customer experience  dealer focused  growth  guides  Industry Guide  online retailers  usability  website 

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Good Thing I Knew What I Wanted...

Posted By Nikki Duffney, Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Good thing I knew what I wanted…

Because the sales person I worked with to get my new compact SUV didn’t know much about the product or the sales process. Here is my experience when buying a new vehicle recently. Be warned, this could be happening at your dealership.

In the end of last year, I was in an icy head-on collision that totaled my little coup that I had been driving for about a decade. It was sad for the car and luckily, no one had major injury. So, as I moved into the space of replacing my lost little car with something bigger and safer; I had my father and partner test drive about a half dozen vehicles for me (different story, different time... I can only drive with adaptive hand controls) to get it down to the final two for me to go test ride in. Here is how the day of purchase unfolded.

I went to the first dealership and was greeted by a new sales person. He was very courteous, asked the right questions, sat us down and talked through the options available. I only had one question that he had to walk away to consult his manager about and it was brief. On the test drive, he asked us questions to learn about who we were – which made the experience of riding in a car with a stranger better. After the drive, I knew that I probably wouldn’t buy that model as it didn’t fit what I wanted. Off to the next dealership!

As I walked into the next dealership, I was welcomed by a greeter (strong start) and she paired me up with an available sales person. Before we had been introduced, I already knew I would likely be buying the car from that dealership, that day.

Next, as we sat down with the available sales person, he opened the conversation to let us know he had only been working there for about 3 weeks and was brand new to car sales (not building my confidence). As we started to look at the available on-site inventory for test drives, he mentioned models that weren’t what we were asking for and struggled with navigating their product software system and had to go ask for help. It felt as if most every question I asked, he has to go ask someone else for the answer. About an hour into being at the dealership, we got into a vehicle. I knew immediately that was the one I wanted to get as it fit my needs well, yet he was still trying to tell me about the differences between the model we were in and the top trim package. He was trying to sell me on features and benefits like he was reading it from his phone in the back seat. It was an un-natural conversation and shut me down even more. When we got back to his desk, and we were talking colors and interior, he was showing me the wrong color pallet for the model year I wanted, frustrating. When we were about to start on the paperwork part – the closing – he was pulled away to help other sales people move cars around. What!?! Was this a part of hazing the newbie, and he didn’t have the ability or confidence to say no. So, we waited.

After we met with the business manager to finalize the financials and warranty, we were told to wait next to my new SUV that was washed and ready for delivery. Where was my sales person? Where was anyone? I had been at the dealership for nearly 5 hours; I was tired, hungry and ready to be anywhere else at that time – and I was yet again waiting for my sales person.

Still waiting on that follow up call… or not. I had been loyal for service to this dealership for the last decade with my coup, and decided that I wouldn’t be bringing my new vehicle back for service as this experience changed my relationships with that dealership location. While I am still brand loyal, this was an example of undertraining of new staff cost the dealership a decade long loyal customer from any future service revenue.

How long are you training your staff before releasing them out to contact with your customers? And what is the real cost of under-training your new staff – or not having regular trainings to remind your team about best practices that make your dealership better than the rest? Something to think about the next time someone feels “too busy” to train a new or junior staff person.

Tags:  customer experience  customer service  Sales  sales process  under trained 

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Follow-up is Critical to Building Loyalty

Posted By Liz Keener, Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Updated: Friday, October 12, 2018

Earning one sale from a customer is great, but building upon that relationship is key to earning service business and the subsequent sales. That’s why follow-up is so important.

Last month I explained why I bought the motorcycle I bought and how the salesperson understood me and my wants. However, since that purchase, my experience with that dealership has gone cold.

It seems that after I bought my bike, that dealership stopped caring. They earned my money and moved on to the next person. Does that make me feel welcome? No. Does that build my loyalty? Definitely not.

As great as the sales experience was, everything from the delivery on has been disappointing. At delivery, I was sent back to the service department to pick up my bike. There was little excitement, little instruction, and my bike was dusty. I was so thrown from the experience that I forgot to ask important questions, like where the manual is, so I can get to know my bike. I had to go back to get that instruction a few minutes later.

Since picking up the bike almost two months ago, I haven’t received one phone call or email asking me about how I’m enjoying my bike or if I need any further assistance.

In fact, just this week the dealership missed a key follow-up opportunity. My license plate finally arrived from the DMV, and the call to tell me about that was purely informational – again no questions about my motorcycling experience or if I need anything else to enjoy riding more. Later in the day, I stopped into the dealership, and my plate was simply handed to me with no other interaction.

Three people were on the floor of the dealership – one customer was being helped by two employees at the parts counter. I had to stop a third to be helped, and again no one asked me about my bike or if I was interested in any parts or accessories now that I’ve spent some time on it. In fact, I could use a tank bag and am interested in other accessories as well. But no one asked.

As any customer experience education has taught us, loyalty is built on the entire experience at your dealership, not one sale. Be mindful that you’re not leaving customers hanging after they make a purchase from you.

Tags:  customer experience  expectations  Experiences  follow-up  loyalty  motorcycle dealerships  relationships  Sales 

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