Recently I returned from an Automotive Conference where I spoke on The Power of Connected Marketing with one of my co-authors Troy Spring. After the session, some of the attendees came up and wanted to discuss more about customer service and how it must connect to your marketing promises. More importantly it is what surrounds your employees that can sink a deal before anyone opens their mouths.


To explain my point, I posed this question to these dealers: “Has there ever been a time when what customers saw upon coming to a dealership negatively affected their willingness to buy?”


Each dealer had multiple stories, from customers having to walk through a messy smoking area to salespeople grouped together right by the door on a Monday morning, sizing up the arriving customers, to messy coffee areas, to – the worst situation in my mind – an incoming customer receiving no greeting for minutes at a time even while the customer can see salespeople standing there looking back at him yet not moving at all.


How unsettling. So, when they asked me, “What would you recommend?” I responded simply as follows:

How do you respond to poor customer service?


For example, think of a bad customer experience in which you were on the receiving end.


  • Let’s say you went to a restaurant and no one greeted you for five minutes yet workers walked right by you. How did you feel?
  • Perhaps you were in a department store and could not find anyone to answer your question, so you walked all over the store, still finding no one. What was your impression?
  • Maybe you asked someone a question and they ignored you or never returned with an answer. How did you react?
  • Or, let’s say everything in a store you visited looked messy and sloppy. Were you happy to do business there?


If this type of behavior bothers you, then why would you allow these things ever to happen at your dealership?


Four Customer Service Tips You Can Implement Immediately


  • When you get out of your car each day and head into your dealership, look around outside and think, This is what my customers will see. Does it give a good impression? If not, fix it.
  • When a patron comes in, someone from your dealership needs to acknowledge that person. Even if the salesperson says, “I will be right there,” people will wait because they will have felt noticed.
  • Give people your full attention. Give them your focus. That gives people comfort. They will feel you care about them.
  • Make sure all your employees are actively doing something during business hours. Nothing looks worse than people standing round. If anything, it looks desperate. Get your employees on the phones, studying information on product, following up with clients, etcetera.


Creating an environment where people want to spend more time takes only a little effort every day from all employees. If everyone is focused on how the dealership looks, it makes the atmosphere energetic and inviting – and that makes people feel more comfortable and willing to do business with you. Even if they do not buy today, when they are ready to buy, they will come back to you.


Sometimes it is not the sale itself but what’s right under foot that makes the difference.


Let me know your thoughts.