When Bill King was a sales manager at a large franchise dealership some time ago, he probably didn’t imagine he’d eventually decide to leave that position to work as a salesman, especially for employees he once managed at the car lot. But that is exactly what happened in June 2011 when he left to work at Show Me Auto Mall, a fledgling independent dealership in Harrisonville, Mo. The year-and-a-half-old store is owned by Josh Snider and Jason Bohnert, two men who used to sell cars under King’s management at the franchise store.
After working at a lumber yard from the age of 18 until he turned 22, he applied for a sales job at a General Motors franchise at the suggestion of his stepfather. In his first month on the job, he sold 17 cars and managed to rank atop 44 salespeople. He eventually moved up to the position of sales manager at that dealership and stayed there until he made the move to Show Me Auto Mall, where he now averages 22 vehicles per month.
On the topic of going to work for people he used to manage, King joked, “I guess it’s a good thing I was a good boss to them, right?” In truth, he has actually been good friends with Show Me owners Snider and Bohnert since they all worked together at the GM lot.
The move to Show Me Auto Mall required King to make some adjustments, such as learning more about F&I. Since it’s a small store with few employees, the salespeople at are responsible for presenting F&I products to the customer in addition to selling vehicles. He has successfully adapted, as evidenced by penetration rates the last couple months of 52 and 44 percent on extended service contracts. “That was probably the biggest transition,” he noted, “having to talk up a car so much and then go into a warranty pitch.” He added that the key is, “to believe in what you sell also. I have a warranty on my vehicle and my wife’s vehicle because we’re on a budget just like anybody else.” If something costly were to happen with a vehicle not covered under warranty, it could be financially devastating. “The last thing I want anybody to do is have a bad taste in their mouth about me or the place I work,” King said.
Caring about customers, he said, is the secret to his success. “I think before you sell a customer, the customer has to know that you care about them,” King said. “I’ve always been a pretty friendly person. I was the football jock who stood up for everybody [and] made sure nobody got picked on at school.”
Snider said, “Customers love him. If he’s meeting a guy he hasn’t sold before, in the first five minutes they’re just like friends.” He noted that King is also excellent when it comes to follow-up and working his current customer base; he estimated that King sells eight to 10 cars a month from repeat and referral business. “He’s very motivated. The guy’s always doing something to sell a vehicle, whether it’s calling customers or [being] out on the lot talking to a customer [or] e-mailing a customer—whatever he can do to be selling a car.”
King appreciates the more casual, laid-back atmosphere at Show Me Auto Mall and has enjoyed watching the dealership grow. “It’s definitely exciting starting from the ground up.”
Congratulations to Bill King, Sales Professional of the Month, and thank you to Josh Snider for bringing him to our attention.
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Vol. 9, Issue 10