Article

Basics Of Customer Relationship Management

September 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by David Keller, CPA, CFE - Also by this author

We all know that taking care of the customer and the relationship we establish with them is the most important thing we can do with our time to promote our current and future business profitability. What does it really take to “lock” in a customer today and keep them forever?

The normal dealer is inundated from all sides by various vendors in the automotive industry trying to sell or promote their CRM product or service. How do you know which type of CRM product or service to use for your dealership? Which one is going to give you the best bang for your buck?

To help with your decision, first ask yourself some simple questions. 1) What person has impressed you the most in your life? 2) What did they do to impress you? 3) Do they impress you every time you see them? 4) Do you still have a relationship with that person? 5) If not, why not? Or if you do, what has sustained your relationship? When you have answered these questions, next ask your friends, family and your employees the same questions. Write down their answers! I just asked you to do some extra work to achieve a result. Yes, you should write them down. You can abbreviate them to the point that you can still understand them.

Next you should compare the answers. I know it sounds like extra worth, but it is worth it. It may not generate the results you expected. By this point you probably have already figured out what the answers should be. So why do it? Because it may help you understand different personality types and what influences them, thereby allowing you insight as to how they want to be treated.

Completing a survey of these questions should bring you some answers you probably would not have expected to hear or ever thought of. This could be because most people arrive at a pre-determined decision of whether they like a person by their appearance, the way they talk and present themselves when exchanging conversation and their habits we notice as the relationship continues. When you asked which person impressed them the most, more than likely a smile was on their face when replying because it generated a happy experience. Isn’t this what we are trying to accomplish with everyone we meet, including all of your customers?

Go back and review your answers again. Did the people in the same group tend to have similar answers? If so, is it because of their surroundings, their jobs, their family life, how sociable the person is or how and when you asked the questions? If you can use these answers to create happiness with everyone you meet in your life, then you have accomplished positive long-term relationship management and will probably sell and service more vehicles.

Now how do you accomplish this in your business to achieve positive customer relationship management? That is the really big question. It will take a lot of work from you and your personnel every day. It is tough to always present yourself positively to everyone you meet. It all comes down to some very basic principles.

One company that exhibits those principles and has impressed me is Enterprise Rental Car. Their personnel dress mostly in business attire (suits in case you are wondering), and are friendly and accommodating people who want to make your experience with them happy and stress free. They greet you by name and shake your hand when you walk up to the counter. They always seem to be smiling when they are talking to you. They walk you out to your car and complete the walk around with you, always holding a smile and opening the doors, trunk and helping you with your luggage if needed. They give you a list of gas stations that are close to the airport so you can fill up the gas tank on your return along with the directions back to the rental car facility. The same process is repeated when you return. Isn’t this the attitude and personality traits we need to make our businesses successful?

Those same principles even apply to my profession. When I started in the CPA profession 21 years ago, I thought all you had to do was know how to make accounting entries, reconcile general ledger accounts and prepare tax returns and financial statements. Little did I know that I had to establish relationships with everyone I would meet and further develop those relationships to become successful in my business. As the years have gone by it has become easier and more natural to meet new people and develop those relationships. I have found many new friends throughout the years in places and situations that I have never dreamed I would. You and your personnel need to explore what steps are needed to develop each person who works for and with you into a better people development manager.

Just as I learned how to develop new relationships with all the different people I have met, it will probably take time for your dealership personnel to develop long standing, comfortable and trusting relationships. Look around your dealership. Do you see employees who can make potential customers smile and feel good about the way they were treated, even if they didn’t buy anything at the time?

Review your hiring and training processes and what personalities you are looking for in your employees. Remember those answers you got from those questions? Review them and realize that the same thing you do to make one customer happy may not make everyone happy. Your personnel need to be able to react positively to all situations and personalities they may encounter to achieve happy long time customers who brag to others about their experience with your dealership. Having more happy customers will surely increase your business.
 
Vol 3 Issue 4

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