The Bad News About Customer Greetings at Dealerships

How do your consultants greet women customers when they come in the door? Does the content, context and tone of a greeting make a difference in the interaction? How about from your BDC with internet leads?

Dealerships spend so much time working toward showcasing a positive resumè of reviews – usually on several platforms. However, a new national report from shows that less than 6 in 10 women are satisfied with the initial greeting and do not have a favorable first contact at car dealerships. Said another way, over 40% of the 3,013 respondents question their dealership’s practices on engaging them when they first enter a store. The real-time impact of this is loss of brand credibility and concern on the part of the customer.

Create Trust

We know that women rank trust as the #1 reason why they buy from their consultant. The initial greeting can make or break this impression. Fears can come up or be validated when the initial greeting goes off-center or doesn’t meet her expectation. Frankly, it can send your guest to another dealership. Statistics show that 60% of women who leave without buying that day won’t return. Given that women are the decision-makers for themselves and their family, simple calculations equate to a greeting that doesn’t engage, but also doesn’t improve the bottom line.

As a solution-provider to help dealers build a culture of engagement, inclusiveness and a welcoming environment, we have created tips to improve the initial customer greeting and interaction. Today’s Women’s Wednesday focuses on the face-to-face interaction from the front-line consultants and our next Women’s Wednesday will provide tips for the BDC and Internet teams.

Face-to-face Greetings | 7 Tips to Make them Count

Women walking into a store have strong ideas about what they want. A savvy consultant understands that the goal is to answer her questions; questions which can only become obvious if asked. Below are 7 tips to enhance the initial face-to-face conversation:

1. No Assumptions. Okay, it is safe to assume a guest has interests related to cars, but beyond that, NO assumptions. After a polite greeting, engage in a non-assuming way. Clear any ideas from your mind about what type of car she wants, if the car is for herself, if she is buying alone or with a partner, etc. Those questions need be answered by her.

2. Don’t Hover. Initial interactions require finesse and the ability to read subtle cues from a customer. If she wants to engage and has questions, provide the time she needs. If she says she is “just looking,” respect her response, and invite her to look around. Be attentive at a distance and available to respond when she wants to engage with you.

3. Ask Questions. The old greeting, “How may I help you?” will typically result in a response of, “Just looking.” Use openings like, “What may I help you find today?” or “What are some of the features you are looking for in your next car?” which encourage more specific responses. Be aware of questions that stop conversation. If your guest is with another person or in a group, be sure to determine the involvement of each of them. Whatever you do, assume that your female customer is important to the deal – don’t dismiss her as irrelevant.

4. Answer Questions that are Asked. This may seem simple, but often consultants will answer the question they want a customer to ask. This creates a disjointed dialogue. Listen carefully and answer truthfully. If you don’t know the answer, find someone who does.

5. Be Truthful. Truthful responses were alluded to in the previous tip, but it bears repeating – women respond best when they trust their sales advisor. Telling the truth is the best way to foster trust, even if it isn’t the answer you want to give.

6. Let the Customer Lead. You might have a good sale in process, or have special financing, but don’t lead your prospect where she doesn’t want to go. Instead, follow her lead and ask questions to dive deeper into what she needs and is looking for.

7. Listen, Listen, Listen. Women know when someone isn’t listening, and they have several choices for buying a car if they feel unheard. Remember 2 out of 3 women who leave your dealership without buying will not return.

The above tips will help frontline folks engage at a more effective level with their female guests. Practice these greetings in role-playing situations so they become second nature. Next time: Tips on Greetings for Digital Communication.


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