CHECK IN: Snuggling Up To Your Customers Every Morning Before Their Feet Hit The Floor

The car business has changed more in the last 10 years than it did in the previous 100 mainly because the world has changed so dramatically in the last decade.

We used to sip coffee and leisurely scan the morning paper before starting our day, but a recent study shows that now nearly two-thirds of all Americans pick up their phones within 5 minutes of waking up - sometimes before their feet even hit the floor.

We check our texts, we check our email, and we check our social media accounts to see what our friends are up to today. The typical American has two to three hundred Facebook friends and those friends have replaced the newspaper editor and newscaster as the most influential people in our lives. 

For a quarter of a century, Dan Rather led the national debate from his anchor desk at CBS evening news reaching millions of viewers every night. CBS evening new just named a new anchor who you've never heard of and he's lucky to pull in half the audience Rather pulled in. Meanwhile, Dan Rather regularly reaches 20 million readers writing little blog posts on Facebook.

“I’ve gone through the print era, the radio era, the television era,” says Rather in an interview with The Atlantic. “I’ve become totally, completely convinced that Facebook and its offsprings are the future.”

The way we communicate with each other has changed. The way we buy cars has changed. And the way we communicate with our customers has to change to

Originally published in the February 2018 issue of MidAtlantic Dealer News

Ten years ago your customer had to reach out to you because they needed information about the cars you sell.

Ten years ago they had to reach out to you for information about the value of the car they want to trade in.

Ten years ago they had to reach out to you for information about financing options and their credit score.

Today, all of that information is literally at their fingertips 24 hours a day and they never need to contact you at all until AFTER they've made every single one of their buying decisions -  what kind of car they want to buy and who they want to buy it from.

Fortunately, we already have a pretty good idea who they want to buy it from. 

Friends like to buy from friends.

People prefer to do business with people they know, like, and trust. That much has never changed.

The NADA says that 70% of all new car buyers based their final purchase decision on the fact that they found a salesperson that they liked says that 97% of all car buyers prefer connecting with a salesperson BEFORE they ever set foot in the dealership. This astounding revelation led them to revamp the century-old 4 P's of marketing - Product, Price, Place, and now PEOPLE.

There's no such thing anymore as business-to-business, or business-to-consumer. All business is now person-to-person.

And you have, either in your hand or on your desk right now, the greatest device in the history of the universe for making friends and connecting person-to-person: your phone.

But we can't use our phones to communicate to our customers the same way we used the newspaper and network TV. Nobody gets out of bed first thing in the morning and checks their phone to hear about your Giant Super-Fantastic Used Car Blow Out.

You and each of your salespeople, service writers, and all your other employees do however have a few hundred Facebook friends who hop out of bed every morning desperate to find out what's going on in your life today.

So tell them.

Challenge yourself and each of your employees to "check in" at the dealership every morning this week.

"I check in to work when I get there in the morning," says Mike Corerra, sales director at Riverside Chevrolet in Riverside, CA. "Everybody that I'm friends with sees that I checked in to Riverside Chevrolet, and it's a subtle reminder that I work at a car dealership and I enjoy being there."

You don't have to beat them over the head with info and sales offers. Just remind them that they've already got a friend in the car business.

If you have 25 employees with 300 friends each and each of them has 300 friends you have a built-in, untapped referral network of over 200,000 people who already know, like, and trust you or your people. 

They're going to buy in the neighborhood of 50,000 cars this year and they want to buy from a friend. 

So be friendly.

- For the last three decades, Terry Lancaster has helped car dealers and salespeople create armies of buyers who know, like, and trust you before they've ever even met you. He has spoken at NADA & TedX, written two #1 best selling books, and has been featured in Automotive News, Dealer Marketing Magazine, and Forbes.

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