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Trust me... I am a Car Salesperson

The line is an often heard line when the parody of trust is discussed, reasoning as a whole we are not trusted. Us along with Politicians were shown in a recent survey as the two most untrustworthy professions. Why is that? It's not like we get up each morning with an intention to be dishonest, deceitful and to mislead and misrepresent. So, why do people feel that way. I say that as a Car Salesperson not a Politician.

Let's drill down on this a bit and I hate to say it, it's not just Car Salespeople, it's damn near everyone in the dealership with the exception of a select few like porters. We can add in Management, F&I, Service, and Parts. Everywhere we go in the building, they are out to get you or so the public perception is. In fact, it's not just the public; ask your employees, they will give you a similar response. Service make too much off of Sales and Sales are the lazy tie wearing idiots that only get the sale after Service has looked after the customers for years making thousands for an hour of work.

The toxicity is everywhere. The rampant distrust prevails over transparency. It's just craziness. When in a couple clicks of a mouse a person can find every financial aspect of this online they STILL think there is something hidden. Have we been that bad that even with this available to the consumer they still do not believe us. 

The simple answer is yes, but it is way more complicated than that. Yes, the public has a right to be apprehensive as its a very large purchase. In the past, there were individuals who took advantage of people building on this perception. Thus causing two things to happen equally polar from each other, first, a public perception that was past on generationally, and second industry watchdogs in most jurisdictions. 

However, what was caused by a few tainted as a whole. As children we were taught not to be painted with the same brush as those who defile our reputation. We fought this prejudice on many levels throughout our lives as we know better, we act better.

For years I debated with my Father on the merits of this profession. How great it felt to help a person in need of a car, to be there for them when things went wrong, to give them a reason to say great things. How people went to work with the intention of providing for their families, that they could go days without earning an income only to have to explain to those they were responsible for. How people would come to the dealership and treat these hard working individuals that only want to earn their business. Regardless of what I said he still remained firm on his perception as he was one who was scorn long ago and it didn't matter that I was in the business it was still one not to be trusted.

Well a long time has past since those debates and things have indeed changed, the industry has changed but still some hang on to the old mantra of "We've always done it this way". Technology has improved things, transparency rules with accountability second in command. Don't operate with this focus and you'll feel the wrath of the online Gods immediately thereafter. We need to stand up and be professionals, not script spewers looking to out maneuver each potential buyer. 

Today industry is a solution based one with success being long-term engagement and retention of customers. We see the statistics that show the dark side of what we face, knowing this we need to develop better practices, processes and experiences. People are who we are and what we convey. Ask anyone in the industry and one of the first things that is mentioned is "We are a people business, We serve the people".

With that being said why is this so hard to find...

It's because the true operators out there that engage with these ideals are few and far between. How many truly serve their people, their communities, their clients. Understand the difference between supply and serve as they are different. Selling and Servicing is not serving. Look to the leaders and then to yourselves, are you doing everything in your power to change the perception or are you just moving metal?

We can make a true difference. We have the ability to use the last three years as a reset. The great resignation is about to begin, we need to search out individuals that are going to lead this charge. Once found, we need to ONBOARD them properly, overtraining them to gain knowledge, empower them for success and hold them accountable for results including reputation. Delivering this we need to guarantee them a pathway and structure to a career not just a paycheck. This is just a small step towards redirecting this perception of trust but by starting with the core and working outwards we will change it.

So as the saying goes "It's not what it is, it is what people believe it to be" when it comes to perception. In my eyes this is the greatest business in the world, where anyone can make a difference and excel to the highest positions with support from their teams around them. Look at some of the greats of the industry, one comes to mind Jimmy Pattison, who got a job as a salesman, was told he'd never make it and look at him today, he is one of the most successful individuals ever to grace this industry. Knowing this, yes, I will say 'Trust me I am a Car Salesperson".

Peter Smith is the Founder & Managing Partner of Lion Partnership that provides oversight to dealerships across North America. He is a regular on the #AutoHubShow and Podcast. Helping The Industry One Show At a Time Monday mornings 11:00 AM Eastern and can also be heard on several other industry podcasts. Please feel free to share and comment on any of the topics Peter discusses. Thank you.

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