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Do You Want Warriors or Brand Ambassadors?

In the last few years I have seen a shift to a Customer Experience model in the dealership, more recently this is moving to holistic Dealership Experience model; yet we still hold on to the point of domination and warrior attitude. With this conflicting mindset how are we ever going to progress forward. Better yet, what do it mean for our operations.

I joined this industry in the eighties, back then it was different. We had no digital presence, we advertised in the phone book, newspapers and billboards. Our computers were simple calculators, our cell phones were attached to our desks with 14 ft. cords so we could walk around, and our CRM was a filing cabinet in the back room with the accountant dare we ever venture in there. We networked by joining clubs and leaving business cards everywhere. We asked for referrals to gain opportunities and we took care of each and every individual that we greeted.

Back then we didn't look to things called statistics, acquisitions cost, days supply, conversion percentages or turnover rates, we focused on the customer. We knew we needed to give them a reason to buy from us, we wanted to be their car person. For then it was about a relationship not a transaction. We built that based on trust and action, we showed our clients WE WERE the people to deal with as WE WOULD be there for them. 

Some will say technology ruined this model, that the relationship became transactional as time progress with the advent of cell phones, computers and the internet. The phone book no longer was the start of the shopping journey, magazines weren't researched, the internet gave access to information like never before. The term instant gratification was ever present. No longer did we have that loyal car person we dealt with for years as it was now a race for the bottom and whoever gave us the best price WON. I feeling of resentment was developed, we were being ripped off both ways. Customers felt dealers made too much and dealers started believing customers were liars, as the rarely kept their word. 

Was this true? NO. But it was the perception and that is what sticks.

What did we do about it... We created armies of hardened warrior to go out and fight for what we believed we were entitled to volume and gross profit. We trained them not to accept any form of delay or negative reply. Horror stories got passed around like trophies without consideration to reputation or long term customer value. It became a business of who could survive the front line. 

We've all used that term, Front Line. Do you know what it is like to be on the Front Line? Stakeholders and OEMs say it to Management, Salespeople to their colleagues, especially newbies... It's like you are going to battle and only the toughest, most adaptable survive. We're not storming the beaches at Normandy

or climbing Everest folks, we are selling cars.

So... do we need Warriors with a hunting eat what they kill attitude? A lot would say yes. It's a dog eat dog world out there. If we don't do it someone else will and they will not only eat our lunch but our breakfast and dinner too... This is amplified as we delve into the issues of today with inventory, interest rates, turnover and competition. 

Or... do we need to reflect on the environment of today's retail customer. One that only visits 1.2 dealerships, is aware of their credit status, the inventory of the dealership, its reputation and proximity to their home or office. One that is looking to be treated fairly, transparently and honestly with efficiency. These are the statements and facts from today's surveys. Price has never been a priority, in fact, nearly everyone ever surveyed has said "They would be willing to pay more if the serviced was there to justify".

Does this mean we need Warriors or properly trained Brand Ambassadors? If you ask me the latter.

Let's look into this for a minute. Why is Chick-fil-A so wildly successful, EXPERIENCE. They offer an experience like no other QSR out there. How do they do that, Brand Ambassadors. Their teams represent the brand they don't just work there. How many times to you see line-ups at a Chick-fil-A when the restaurant next door doesn't have one? Why? They both sell food. Again, it goes back to experience.

I often talk about the "Hamburger Story" when I train and how much you've paid for a Hamburger. It's always between $0.99 to upwards of $40.00. So why, if you think we are price driven, need Warriors to protect and retain that price is there such a discrepancy to which a single person will pay for the same thing. It comes down to service and experience. Warriors do not supply this Brand Ambassadors do.

This leads us into how do we develop this mindset but that is for another article where I will share how some of the leading groups as well as single rooftops are changing and using technology to bring their customers back.

Please feel free to share by reposting. Also you can contact Peter directly at or (872) 274-4422.

Peter is Founder & Managing Partner of Lion Partnership specializing in providing unbiased objective driven dealership assessments as well as providing Performance & Leadership Management programs. He can also be seen weekly on the #AutoHubShow and Podcast. Helping The Industry One Show At a Time and on Lethal Sales with Larry Feldman.

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