When you mistreat a sales person, you only hurt yourself and your dealership.
The sooner owners and managers realize that, the better off they will be. Here's why.
Before I proceed, I must give full disclosure: I sold automotive service equipment for three years. Although I'd never do it again, I wouldn't have missed this opportunity for the world. To say the least, the experience drilled into me the hard facts of the real automotive service world.
Today, 15 years later, I'm disappointed to see how little things have changed for some hard-working, conscientious sales persons. Regular Tire Business readers know I travel a great deal, which enables me to both meet and observe lots of people. I still see too many bosses bolster their frail but oversized egos by making a sales person a whipping boy. In fact, they treat all vendor/supplier representatives this way-and brag about it, to boot!
Cryin' out loud, readers! If you've got problems in your life, punch the walls if you must but leave that sales person alone. A good salesman can be your ace in the hole in an era when everyone's concerned about reduced service from suppliers. Yes, there are limits to what any sales person can do. But what can it hurt having every sales person-a supplier's only personal contact with your dealership-on your side?
For example, suppose there's an issue regarding delivery, quality, warranty etc. Wouldn't you rather have the sales person pulling for you? You may think you've bullied or intimidated a sales person into submission. What you don't know is that the factory or warehouse often defers to the sales person's input when a dispute becomes a judgment call. His or her personal assessment may tip the scales in your favor.
Here's a sample conversation: ``Oh, that dealership? Yeah, that loudmouth owner is known for trying to chisel or pinch every vendor for everything he can get away with. He allows his people to mistreat our products and he verbally abuses everyone. Don't do the guy any favors on my behalf. If we lose the account over this, it'll actually be less aggravation for me. I'll make up the business elsewhere,'' the salesman says.
Wouldn't you rather have the salesman say, ``People at that dealership are real gentlemen, sincere and courteous professionals. I'd say give `em the benefit of the doubt on this issue.''
Abusing a sales person's time is another form of disrespect. Remember, salespersons have something in common with your dealership: They only have a limited number of productive hours per week. Like you, they're trying to maximize that time.
Competent sales people work hard to set up meaningful product demonstrations for owners, managers, support staff and/or technicians. Once these appointments are made, do everything in your power to keep the appointment. Control the situation so you and your staff get as much out of the demonstration as possible. What's the point of a demonstration if the affected workers can't concentrate on the product?
What's the point of making the appointment if your techs can't put the shop equipment through its paces on several vehicles? Techs relish a chance to push the buttons and turn the dials that make the equipment go.
Too often the boss wants to have his cake and eat it, too. He doesn't want to lose a nickel of income AND have a meaningful equipment or software demonstration. That's impossible in a busy shop. You cannot and should not distract your people from an important product demonstration just because some joker you've never seen-and won't again-insists you replace a long-ailing water pump that finally failed.
The only reason he's at your store is the pump finally quit a block down the street. That service sale isn't nearly as important as keeping your techs focused on this demo concerning a major investment in your dealership.
Likewise, allow sales and office personnel ample time to evaluate new computer software of any kind. Don't rely on those cheesy demo CD's. Insist on a thorough, live demo and schedule it so all affected or interested workers can participate without interruption.
Finally, clarify to all workers that staying late (with adequate advance notice) for meaningful software or equipment demonstrations is part of their jobs.