Winning In the Hot Rod Business is Easy: Treat Your Vendors and Customers Like Kings!
[caption id="attachment_4811" align="aligncenter" width="600"] This is Art Morrison Chassis #007. It was a FUN purchase![/caption] I have a confession to make. I LOVE to buy stuff! I love it when I find a good deal, but even more importantly, I love a great sales person. I am a sucker for great customer service. Who isn’t, right? I mean when it comes to parting with my hard-earned dollar I want to feel like I got a good deal and was treated right. [caption id="attachment_4813" align="alignright" width="400"] This guy might as well be Santa Claus. He always brings the best stuff![/caption] I have an office manager here at the shop that spends most of his time ordering and receiving parts for customer’s cars. Every day is Christmas around here when the "Big Brown Truck" shows up. We see everything from a simple bracket, to a cool set of wheels, or even a $25,000 engine come through our door. The crazy part is he spends the majority of his time dealing with suppliers that over-promise and under-deliver. Now before you think this blog is heading towards a rant about poor customer service, stay with me. It has more to do with the polar extremes of service. Some vendors are over-the-top-awesome, but the majority of them give us a bad experience. It has made me look inward at our organization and ask myself, “How do our customers perceive us? Are we doing a good job at not only selling, but delivering the service after the sale?” If you're in business as well, or would like to be some day, here’s are a few questions that you'll need to answer to test your sales and customer service. It's important to be as honest as possible here. Realize that you're biggest weaknesses in these areas can be corrected to become your biggest strengths! 1) How is your communication with the client overall, and more specifically, how is your communication with the client when things don’t go so well? Bad things happen in business to all of us (the part is back-ordered so you can’t ship it, A storm knocked the power out, you installed the brand new part and broke it, etc.). Many things happen that may or may not be in our control. That’s life though, so always be upfront with your customers. They'll respect honesty, even if it comes with unpleasant news. What they won’t respect is silence. 2) How are you doing at following through after the sale? Our vendors often ship us parts without an invoice. This in turn creates a hassle for us, and requires that we go back to the vendor to ask for one. Sometimes this process is easy, and sometimes it's hard. We remember the ones that were difficult and avoid them in the future. 3) Are you treating all your clients or potential clients with the same respect? Think about it. We all pre-judge people, whether we like it or not. You never know if your next client is the guy wearing the 3-piece suit with a $300 hair cut, or the guy in flip-flops with a scraggly beard. 4) Does my technical department have technical advice to give? [caption id="attachment_4812" align="alignleft" width="400"] Don't treat your customers like this guy did. Ever.[/caption] This should be a no-brainer, but if you are selling a complex item (even as a re-seller of it), your customers will have technical questions about the produce. How well do you know the ins and outs of it? Are you willing to go the extra mile to get the answer to their questions? 5) Do you sound excited to represent your product or even act interested that a client is calling you? If you've ever worked in the hot rod industry you've likely called a shop to purchase parts of get a quote. I can't tell you the number of times we've dealt with someone completely unprofessional or uninterested. Your sales and customer service reps need to realize that perception is reality most of the time and to act ask if they actually care that a potential customer (who is excited to buy) called. Wrap Up So, how do you rate your sales? Do you have a recent experience with great customer service? What do you look for when you purchase a product or service? Please share your stories with us! -Chris Holstrom Chris@hotrod-repair.com http://www.chrisholstromconcepts.com