How Seamless is Your Company?

Doug Robinson

Friday, July 12th, 2013

Joe Girard, although born into poverty, sold 13,001 cars in 15 years; making him the Guinness world record holder in auto sales. By the way, Joe wasn’t in fleet sales, so these were individual retail sales. His best year, 1973, he sold 1,425 cars, 174 in one month, which is another record still standing after 40 years.  

Joe’s customers understood that when they bought a car, they also bought him. He realized that knock-your-sox-off service was extremely important and would be the catalyst for them to return and buy from him again. 

Within a couple years, sheer volume forced him to sell by appointment only, but people were willing to wait for Joe rather than buy from someone else; knowing they would be satisfied. Word of mouth advertising from this growing group of happy customers caused his business to skyrocket, and he reciprocated by sending cards of appreciation to every customer, every month, cumulative!  

It didn’t take long for Joe to realize that the service employees were critical to his success, so he began to invite all of them to dinner at a nice Italian restaurant on the third Wednesday of each month, where he would eat with them and tell them how much they were appreciated. Additionally, once a year Joe invited every service employee and their families to a big barbecue at his home, where he and his family ate and socialized with them.  

Unlike the way Joe viewed business, in today’s marketplace it often appears that employees work in “silos” within their companies. Although they work hard, they seem oblivious to what goes on around them, creating situations like these:

A service employee telling a new customer on an installation, “The paperwork I got from the salesman who sold you this, didn’t say anything about additional cable, and I don’t have any on my truck. Those people need to get their act together.” (Might make the client feel she made a bad choice picking that company, huh?)

A salesperson being told by the gatekeeper that she is one day early for her appointment, although her lead slip clearly shows her appointment is for today. Embarrassed and frustrated she squawks, “My Company needs people who are more competent at setting appointments, because this occurs way too often.” (That certainly evokes buyer confidence in this firm, right?)

A call center agent telling a customer, “I have no clue where Harrods Station is. I told you I’m in our national call center.” (Think that sounds a bit impersonal and lacking some local feel?)

I think you see where I’m going with this. Stop for a minute and think about all the ways your employees inadvertently throw one another under the proverbial bus. They forget too quickly that, we didn’t all come over on the same ship, but we are all in the same boat.

Marketing surveys indicate that customers prefer companies that provide a small and local experience, regardless of company size. Their perception is, small firms are more responsive, and people desire to do business near where they live or work. 

Corporately, your firm may be large and national, but your individual offices are probably small and local, so the challenge is to insure that prospects and customers see the little picture.

Your employees might need a “check-up from the neck-up” to insure their actions support your company’s claims, so here are 3 S’s that could save your bacon:

- Sound and act as local as honestly possible 

Avoid statements like, “Yes I cover Negaunee, but it’s a long way off, so I only get there about once a month.” 

A softer alternative might be, “Negaunee is one of my favorite towns and I’m scheduled to be there Wednesday. Is late morning or early afternoon better for you to see me that day?”

- Silence negative comments toward Call/Service Centers 

Circumvent comments like, “My information comes from our service center, which is not even in the same time zone as us. That system is as screwed up as a left-handed football bat.”

A better option might be, “One of our admin support team members provides that information to me. With today’s technology it’s like they are just down the street. They are a great asset to insure you remain satisfied”. 

- Shield teammates by getting their backs when things aren’t seamless

When a new customer calls the salesperson because of an installer no-show, instead of, “I don’t know why the guy didn’t show when he was supposed to. There’s no telling where he ended up.” 

Try something like, “I’m so glad you gave me a heads-up about this because Nostradamus is very reliable. I’ll follow up to see if he’s sidelined with vehicle problems and will call you back within fifteen minutes.”

Sometimes employees fail to do what they are supposed to do. Simultaneously teammates assume a, “it’s not my fault” stance and point their fingers at others. But this is the time to stand in the gap, play above the rim and, if necessary, take one for the team. This response helps everybody on the team hang a “W” on the scoreboard. Once the customer is taken care of, close ranks and deal with the issue behind closed office doors as you would at home in a family meeting. Remember the commercial; what happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas? 

People buy from people they like and trust, therefore as your employees work more seamlessly, the buying public will like and trust them more, and certainly buy more. 

If any of this sounds familiar, you can put my 40 years of revenue generation experience to work for your company by reaching out to me here.