“Honesty and integrity are everything.” That’s the motto at Crippen Auto Mall in Lansing, Mich., and it’s the reason Scott Kemp has stuck around for 30 years.
Good thing for the dealership since, on average, he accounts for at least 10% of the dealership’s sales. Kemp is always the top salesperson or the No. 2 sales guy, and it’s been that way every single month for more than 15 years (and counting).
Crippen Auto Mall includes GMC, Buick, Mazda and Volvo franchises, all covered by a tight group of 11 salespeople. In 2015, Kemp averaged 15 to 20 vehicles per month, new and used, and the dealership averaged about 115 to 120 cars per month for the year.
“I’ve been around for 30 years, so that helps,” Kemp says with a laugh. He says he has built his career on relationships with customers throughout the community — enough so that repeats and referrals make up about 70% of his sales. But he says he still relies on Internet leads and still walks the lot. In any case, when he meets a new customer, finding common ground is essential. “It’s a small world. Within a few minutes, you can usually find something in common with people.”
Commonalities or not, Kemp says it’s important to be straightforward with every customer and treat them the same way he would want to be treated. He also points out that relationships with customers don’t end when they drive off the lot. “Especially with all the new technologies in the car, I have people coming back in all the time to have me show them how the technology works — sometimes people come in four or five times.”
Crippen Auto’s general sales manager, Chris Erickson, says Kemp’s CSI scores are always “near-perfect.” Most of Scott’s customers have purchased multiple vehicles or have been referred to him by customers he’s sold to — a testament to his quality of work. Erickson refers to him as a “true professional in our industry.”
For Kemp, relationships with his customers are important, and so are his connections within the dealership. Former co-worker Nick Huffman says Kemp is a “great man.” Huffman is impressed with Kemp’s sales record, of course, but even more impressed by the fact that he used his connections to the manager of the Boston Red Sox (“my favorite team in the world”) to get tickets to a game and field passes so Huffman could meet the team on his birthday.
Over the course his 30-year career, Kemp has tried his hand working in other departments, too. Many years ago, he occasionally filled in for co-workers, gaining experience as a sales manager and even as an F&I manager. But he found that his natural position was with sales, and he worried he might be losing his connections he had worked so hard to build over the years. “I never wanted to leave sales, and I like where I’m at,” Kemp says.
Despite his longstanding reputation as a top salesperson, Kemp admits he needed patience and practice to make it through his early days, and he wants other sales pros to know it didn’t happen overnight.
“Stick with it,” Kemp says, adding that, whether you’re selling cars, real estate or insurance, his advice is the same: “Just be patient. It takes time to build that.”