Dealers, sales and F&I professionals are all in a tither over what to do about the growing number of Millennial car buyers. These folks are “different,” they say, and they’re right. They’re young, having been born in or after 1980. They’re computer- and mobile device-savvy, having grown up with the technology. Many have never visited a library. Why bother?
Millennials use Google to do research and social media to create a sense of belonging, make acquaintances and remain connected with friends. Write a letter? Are you kidding me? Even emails and phone calls are too slow for this generation. They text, Snapchat and Instagram. When I grew up, we had three TV channels. Today, with hundreds of entertainment options to choose from, stupid is the new cool. Piercings, tattoos and earlobe gauges are de riguer.
Millennials devour reality TV. Whose reality, you ask? Watch the commercials and wonder who buys the products. It’s the flavor of the day.
Millennials dream about going “viral,” making their existence known to the world via a cute or disastrous public or personal moment captured on smartphone video and broadcast on YouTube.
Millennials operate with a mindset that places a premium on being right, not getting it right. They have the power to instantly verify and confirm correct, accurate and prevalent information at their fingertips.
Would you fix your own broken leg or deliver your own baby? Well, neither would a Millennial. They would call a professional. Are you a professional? Do you know that 47% of all statistics are made up? Actually, I made that up. Google it! The experts say Millennials want to buy their own vehicles on their own time with their own phones. And yet, unlike librarians, we continue to welcome them into our places of business every day. Why? Because it’s a huge purchase. They use the Internet to research vast amounts of information in hopes of making a wise decision — including whom to do business with — and rely on professionals to guide them through the final stages.
I treat Millennials the same as any customer. Money follows service. Provide me service and let me decide. Millennials are my favorite guests. F&I offers viable products that save time and money. These products are not sentient and are thus unaware of the buyer’s age, race or number of Twitter followers.
I will concede this much: Millennials have short attention spans. I respect this and recognize that I need to make our time together count. It takes homework, sweat and discipline to dig beneath each customer’s surface and discover their needs.
Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal. Meet your guests where they actually are rather than where they say they are, where we assume them to be or where the experts say they will be any day now. Millennials exhibit traits of confidence and tolerance, but also have a sense of entitlement and narcissism. At times their outward virtues don’t match their inward issues.
Keep upping your game and never settle. You can’t change the wind. You can, however, adjust your sails.
G.P. Anderson is finance director of Thielen Motors Chevrolet Buick in Park Rapids, Minn., and a 25-year industry veteran. He is AFIP-certified, a 2008 F&I Pacesetter and winner of the inaugural 2011 F&Idol contest. [email protected]