November 2015, Auto Dealer Today - Feature
Good salesmanship is something you’re born with. That’s the philosophy of Bryan McGarity, a salesman at Atlanta’s Hardy Automotive Group. “The gift of gab is something I’ve always had,” he says, stressing that selling by process alone just comes across as robotic. The key, he says, is relationships.
But McGarity didn’t get his start in the car business. He spent 32 years running two powersports dealerships. At the first, he was promoted from the parts departments to sales and then to management. He was fortunate, he says, to work for two dealers who understood that motorcycle, ATV and Jet Ski sales is a business, not a hobby, and customer satisfaction and fixed ops are absolutely essential to a profitable operation.
When the time came to make the switch to vehicle sales, McGarity didn’t have to look far. He had been courted by the Hardy family on multiple occasions. He was part of a network of professionals Lee Thibodeau, the group’s general manager, relied on to get accurate trade-in values for powersports vehicles.
“He was super-excited,” Thibodeau recalls. “He came full of energy. He really wanted to dig in and figure out how to do it. Making a career change that late in life, you have to hit the ground running.”
Today, McGarity averages around 20 units per month, all used and nearly all from referrals and repeat business. His first year and a half at Hardy was spent building a foundation of loyal clients.
“I instituted a solid program with the customers I’ve sold previously,” he explains. “I want to give them an experience that’s more like a relationship than a sale. … I had to get that customer base and get to that point where I don’t have to go out on the lot to meet customers.” McGarity encourages all his customers to save him in their phones as “Bryan, the car guy” for easy reference. “The first rule of thumb is that people will buy from those whom they like and trust. I stay in touch with every customer I have ever sold. You’ve ‘got a guy’ for everything, right? I’m the car guy.”
“He takes care of his customers,” Thibodeau says. “His customers are our best salespeople. They bring in more business than our ads. Whatever spell he puts them under, they come back and send people over, or they’ll buy something, come back and trade it in.”
Because he takes such a personal interest in every one of his customers, McGarity also encourages them to purchase service contracts. He has a 70% service contract penetration rate on his sales, a feat he attributes back to those relationships. “Obviously, people don’t like to be ‘sold,’ but after you’ve earned their trust, you can say what’s best for them,” he explains. “Putting the service contact in place gives you the ability to get it fixed. I would much rather your follow-up call end with, ‘Sure, we can fix that, bring it in.’ It’s just giving them the cold, hard facts about it. Just believing in the product is all that it is.”
“Even when they come in with a credit union check, he converts them,” Thibodeau says. “He lets all of them know about the extended service contract. He doesn’t want them to come back and have to give them bad news. Most of his customers — even those who say they don’t want to buy a service contract — wind up buying one, and here’s why: Even customers who have issues that are not covered, if they trust the dealership enough to bring back, we will help them to some extent. That’s a real salesman.”