A few weeks ago, my wife and I started talking about getting her a new car. This is a transaction process that few look forward to — something to which we in the real estate industry can relate. I kept putting it off because I wasn’t in the mood to walk into a showroom, get accosted by a salesperson, deal with the finance guy and more fun stuff.
My wife had done some research online and came across a Lexus dealership about 45 minutes from our house that was very responsive and helpful. They even offered a creative prepaid lease program that would result in us being able to get a brand-new car for no money down and no payments for two or three years.
I was intrigued.
Keep in mind, we have a Lexus dealership less than 20 minutes from our house, but I agreed to drive the 45 minutes because of the experience my wife had with their Internet salesperson, Alicia.
Even so, I had to mentally prepare because I don’t like shopping for cars, and I wasn’t convinced that presales experience would carry over once we arrived in person.
We drove up to a beautiful building and walked into an impressive lobby with two reception desks, a nicely appointed seating area plus a bar serving drinks, coffee and sandwiches. And I’m not kidding — there was even a guy playing a harp.
There were salespeople milling around the room, but it was clear they were not allowed to approach clients; it was the receptionist who decided who would get to assist us. She asked us a few questions and then brought over probably the nicest guy in the world, Maury. He was originally from New York, so we had immediate rapport because that’s where I grew up.
We had done a lot of research and walked the lot before we walked in, so there was no need for us to be “sold.” He walked us back to his office where he went online to see what he had available before taking us out in a golf cart to see the actual car we would be buying.
I did not feel for one second that I was being “sold” and remained relaxed the whole time. Maury even mentioned that they automatically discount every vehicle and that there is no such thing as “end of the month” pressure you get at a lot of car dealerships. “Every day is the end of the month for us,” he said.
We were totally at ease. We picked the car and went back to the showroom where he walked us over to the finance manager, Keegan. Here is where I thought things would go back to my past transaction experiences: some high-pressure guy making you feel defensive the minute you walk into his office. The first words out of his mouth were, “Congratulations on your purchase. Let’s make this work for you.”
I would not call what happened the next few minutes a negotiation in the sense of what many of us have dealt with in the past. It was more of, “Here is the price, here is the discount, and here is what we can do for you. Is that OK?” When I asked for a couple of more concessions, he said, “Sure, I can do that. How about if we give you this, too?” It blew me away.
And by the way — all the documents were electronic. He explained everything on a computer screen, then had us sign on a touchpad. All paperwork was handled: new tags, registration and so on. It was a completely painless transaction experience.
Believe it or not, it gets better. Maury, our salesperson, walked back in and introduced us the delivery specialist, L.J., who was going to show us how all the gadgets in the car work. L.J. was a nice young guy who immediately said, “Congratulations!” and that he would wait for us at the new car delivery port where he had pulled our new car next to our old one so we could transfer our personal belongings. But we didn’t have too much to do because L.J. had already started moving things from our old car.
He spent about 30 minutes showing us how everything worked, pairing my wife’s phone with the car’s Bluetooth, and helping her program her phone’s contacts with the car. Maury came out again to make sure everything was OK and that he would check back with us in a few days. He thanked us sincerely for our business.
One more thing: On the way out of the dealership, we heard a noise coming from the backseat and thought we should find out what it was before we got on the road. We pulled up to the lobby, I got out and told the receptionist we had just bought a car and needed to ask Maury a quick question. She immediately congratulated us on our purchase and had Maury come out. He quickly explained why we heard that noise and how to make it go away. He again thanked us as we pulled away.
Here are my takeaways as they apply to real estate:
- Make sure you have a good Internet presence and the people to respond to Internet leads in a professional manner. That’s the main reason we decided to drive 45 minutes versus 20 to buy a car.
- Your greeters, receptionist or concierge must be highly skilled and trained in the art of dealing with people and reading customers.
- Your salespeople shouldn’t come across as salespeople. They should be well-trained and know their product inside and out.
- Be sure your mortgage and other partners worry about your consumer’s transaction experience as much as you do.
- Make the transaction experience carry on well after the contracts and commission checks are signed.
By the way, Maury called us yesterday to make sure we were happy with everything and to ask if we needed anything from him.
Do you think I will refer friends to these guys and buy another car there when I am ready? I do.
What do you do to make yourself referable? Please share in the comments section below.
Jose Perez is the founder of PCMS Consulting.