In psychology, a first impression is the event when one person first encounters another person and forms a mental image of that person.
When dealing with people you only have one chance to make a first impression. This is more important in our dealership environment today than ever before. Your customer typically has several “touch points” with your operation before the first time you meet them face-to-face.
First service touch point
It is common for a service customer to contact you either with a question or to make an appointment. The first method is by phone. When someone answers the phone at your dealership, do they 1) thank the customer for calling ABC Chevrolet 2) give them their first name and 3) ask “where may I direct your call”? What is the tone of their voice? Can they feel the “smile” coming through their voice? You have to admit you can detect that smile when you contact a company in your daily personal or business life. Are they having a good day? Do they make you feel like they want to assist you? This touch point needs to make a positive impression!
Another common method of contact is by your company web site. How quickly do they receive a response? Is it a “canned” response or a personal response? Does this contact come from a salesman…BDC personnel… or someone from your service operation? Timing is everything in this area. Is the person making the contact focused on the customer concern(s)? This touch point needs to make a positive impression!
Second service touch point
Does the dealership have easy access from the street? Is the entrance well marked for customers to pull onto the lot? Is the lot well marked with signage, stripes, and/or directional arrows to direct your customer to service? Is the path congested with sales vehicles on display? Is it intuitive for the customer to find the service entrance? Is the path cluttered with trash? When you drive in one morning, evaluate this process yourself as if you were the customer. It needs to be a very simple process for your customer to enter the lot and find the service entrance. This touch point needs to make a positive impression!
Third service touch point
Before you ever meet this potential customer there is still one more touch point…entering the service reception area. What do they see? Is the outside of the entrance clean? Paint on the building peeling? Is there signage directing them to pull forward in the building? Are leaves/trash collecting around the doors and just inside the entrance doors? Are any of the lights burned out in the service reception area? Can the customer identify dealership staff? When you walk in each morning, do so as if you were a customer entering the first time. It needs to make a positive impression!
You haven’t even met this potential service customer yet, but they have already formed an impression of you and your operation by these touch points. You only have one chance to make a good first impression!
Will your store, and its processes, make a good first impression?
Written by Bruce Gamble