February 2014, Auto Dealer Today - Feature
Steven Bishop was nearing the completion of a 24-year enlistment in the U.S. Air Force and looking for his next challenge. An active churchgoer, he was approached by a fellow parishioner who happened to be the mother of Roger Scholfield, owner of Scholfield Honda in Wichita, Kan. She said he had a “million-dollar smile” and suggested he try his hand at auto retail. He met Scholfield and, three days and a handshake later, he joined the team.
That was two years ago, and Bishop has become the best salesperson in the dealership’s 42-year history. Scholfield credits Bishop’s attitude and intelligence; Bishop says he likes the work because of the constant, face-to-face interaction with customers. Plus, he says, Honda is a great brand. “I don’t think I could work somewhere if I didn’t believe in the product.”
Despite his lack of experience, Bishop says the Scholfield Honda team was very welcoming. Some have even begun asking his advice, and it’s no wonder: He now averages 22.8 new and used vehicles per month with a one-month record of 36 units. Last year, he set the store’s new all-time record. Bishop’s efforts have earned him two straight Honda Council of Sales Leadership gold membership awards as well as the dealership’s Platinum Masters Sales award.
He also brings in leads. Bishop’s Air Force credentials grant him access to Wichita’s McConnell Air Force Base, where he maintains friendships with servicemembers and looks for new sales opportunities. He also likes to use both his personal Facebook page and the dealership’s to find customers. A group of the dealership’s Facebook friends set up a poll to rate Scholfield Honda’s salespeople. Bishop took the top spots for vehicles sold and happiest customers.
Nevertheless, Bishop says, the best way to establish relationships is to meet clients in person, shake their hands and let them know he’s a real person, not just a salesman. He finds discussing his two teenage children or his faith makes a strong connection. But he says the sale itself is only a small part of the car-buying experience. “I always tell my customers I don’t want them to buy a car they aren’t totally satisfied with, because if I run into them at the grocery store, they are only going to see me as their car salesman, not a real person. This way, we can talk normally.”
Bishop also credits his faith with helping him keep up with the more experienced members of the sales team. He prays about sales every day, he says, before hitting the show floor. In his downtime, he serves as an elder at his church and volunteers at the local high school’s sporting events. Bishop says he will continue to work hard, but he is less concerned about how much money he will make and more about how much his tithe check — a church donation — will be at the end of the month.
Bishop says he appreciates the fact that Scholfield Honda is closed on Sundays and says management promotes a healthy balance between work and life. “If you lose your family in the process of your career, then it’s not a success.”