I was just thinking about something that really amazed me about a month ago.  I was out with a friend of mine at a mall doing some shopping.  We were at Macy's and decided to take a look at their collection of sunglasses.  Both my friend and I enjoy nice things and do not play around when it comes to sunglasses.  In fact, I was wearing my $200 pair of Ray Ban glasses and he was wearing his $200 pair of Maui Jim glasses.  We had bought our glasses a year ago at the Sunglass Hut.  It turns out that this Macy's location had their own Sunglass Hut.

We walk into this section of the store and we are greeted by one of the two sales reps there.  This rep was totally on his game.  He made us feel like we were in a high end store (because we were) and like a guest (not a customer).  The other rep was completely different and just did not focus on the job or us.  The professional rep sees that we both have high end glasses and offers to clean them up for us free of charge.  We gave them to him and within 5 minutes our pairs of sunglasses were both shiny and like brand new.

We were not in there to buy anything that day but we just explored.  This rep would open the glass door so I could look at whatever pair I was interested while the other one just stood there.  When it was time to for us to leave, he had started to ask about what we liked in the shop and what we were interested in.  He even went as far to see how we like our sunglasses and to let us know about a fresh shipment of newer styles that were about to arrive.  He shook our hands and we left. 

My friend and I both being ex-car sales people were amazed at the quality of service.  In fact, we were talking about how this guy would be an amazing car sales person.  I said these words verbatim, "this guy should be selling BMWs and making $150k per year and if I was a car dealer I would have been offering him a job right now".

You are probably thinking, "Why do I care about Stan's experience at a Sunglass Hut on an automotive forum?"

Well before you lose interest quickly, please understand that my point is about to hit home really hard.

My point is simple.  I have worked in auto dealerships for over 9 years as a sales person, manager, and now a trainer.  I have worked at a few dealerships and have seen operations that were world class with true professionals as well as operations that were disasters when it came to professionalism.  I am talking about pulling up to a dealership and seeing sales people toss a football around in the parking lot.  Anyone ever walk into a dealership and get an improper greeting?  Let's take it a step further.  A sales person that does not take control of the situation and has to run around back and forth to answer a customer's question.  And to take it even further I would like to add situations that include letting customers go on test drives by themselves (I am guilty of doing this too in the past when I did not know any better).  Do you see where I am going with this?

We as an industry have been losing the lost art of professionalism.  We have forgotten the basics or are not taught this art when getting involved in automotive sales and even business development roles.  This is because the training that has been provided to new hires goes by fast where information is not retained.  That is not the only reason why today's sales professional lacks professionalism on the job.  This is because dealerships are getting more and more employees from the millennial generation that come with a different attitude.  They are technologically savvy, can adjust to the internet and the way people shop for automobiles.  They come with an attitude where they expect things to come to them and do not want to work too hard.  In fact, if you let them make $40k per year they will be content.  Is every millennial like that?  No!!!  Look at me.  I am in that generation and I had a different upbringing.  When most people my age were going to school, partying, and not worrying about the future I was in showrooms working and living in the real world.  Some say I am a 42 year old in a 28 year old body.  I was also raised differently by family and have worked since I was 15 years old.

What about the people that are leaving the automotive industry to either retire or change careers because the business has changed digitally and they feel that they cannot make money like they used to?  The same people that were once great and professional that have become disgruntled by their lower income so they perform at a lower level then they did over 10 years ago.  I am not even kidding, I had this discussion a year ago with a manager at a dealership that is my age.  He was telling me how more managers around our age bracket move up and take jobs as sales managers and finance managers because we are happy making $120k per year as opposed to a 50 year old veteran looking to make over $200k when the business has changed radically in the last 4-5 years.

The reality is that the same success is still possible.  Dealerships are lacking in training and motivation that needs to become a systematic part of their process to provide ongoing training on how to be the best professional out there.  There will be people that leave and not want a part of it but there will be other hungry people that will see how successful a sales person that sells 30-40+ units per month.  In a BDC environment, I always sell candidates on the fact that this position can lead to a very rewarding future if you study and learn your professional.  If you enjoy what you do and be the best at it, you can move up and make a lot of money.

I want to end this article by reminding automotive professionals that it is important to be professional.  If it means that you have to take a class on being professional or attend a workshop, do it!  Invest in yourself and your career and you will be a success.  If you are coffee clutching in the showroom and tossing a football, you need to think twice about how serious you are about your career.  If you are yelling across the showroom to communicate and you use foul language in your statements, you need to check yourself and consider your actions.  Customers can pick up on these things.  Seriously, automobiles are expensive these days with the average new car being in the $20-30k range.  If you are going to deal with big ticket items, learn how to be a professional.

I invite everyone reading this to share their thoughts and ideas...as always feel free to contact me.

http://dealeretraining.com/

http://www.facebook.com/dealeretraining

Stan Sher is the founder and President of Dealer eTraining, an automotive sales training company that specializes in sales, internet, BDC, and digital marketing strategy training.  To learn more about Dealer eTraining, please visit http://dealeretraining.com/.  He is also the Vice President of Millennium Business Solutions, a start up company designed to provide 24-7 business solutions to automotive dealerships.  Stan can be contacted by email at Stan@dealeretraining.com.

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Comment by Keith Camiolo on May 25, 2012 at 5:21am

Stan, when you are still up at 3:55am to thank someone for their comments on one of your articals says something. That is you practice what you write about, and I am not saying be a slave to the art. Just use what ever time you have to devote to being a professional, and those who read this understand professionalism is not a part time practice. Again great job.

Comment by Stan Sher on May 25, 2012 at 3:12am

Thank you...

Comment by Robert (Bob) Louis Silcox on May 21, 2012 at 3:22pm

Good Afternoon Stan;

 

I had this conversation with my Team Members this morning. I open my e-mail and you have this article.!! Well stated and dead on the spot! Thnaks for the enlightment. Bob Silcox

Comment by Stan Sher on May 11, 2012 at 12:12pm

Thank you

Comment by Paul Waddell on May 11, 2012 at 12:09pm

Well Put, good article.

Comment by Stan Sher on May 10, 2012 at 7:40pm
Wow some great feedback...it all starts with caring about your profession and the people that we deal with on an everyday basis.
Comment by Scott Hengtgen on May 10, 2012 at 2:21pm

David, I could not agree with you more. Customer service is a "Lost Art", but then if one never had it was it really lost? Most people only want great customer service when their on the receiving end. Great customer service is a revenue producer, just compare a dealership that knows how to do it and one that does not. Great post.

Comment by David Kordek on May 9, 2012 at 12:12am

Stan, it goes far deeper. Customer Service is a "Lost Art" in our Country. For those who do not believe that "Customer Service is an Art", think again!

 

Professionalism is something earned, over time through trials and tribulations. I have written many discussions regarding this subject. I have always said, "not all changes in business are for the best." There are some major companies who have gone back to the old Art of actually having a live person answer a Customer Service call. Gee, what a novel concept! It has been debated that Customer Service is a non revenue producer, I could not disagree more. Our industry has fallen into some pretty awful pitfalls!

Comment by Mark Tewart on May 8, 2012 at 6:04pm

Stan, you are 100% correct. I have been in this industry for 30 years and everyday I see less professionalism, motivation, civility and leadership than ever before. The sad part of this is that I see such a lack of professionalism at the leadership level and yes that also includes the dealer body. Is this negative? No, just my opinion but I am in dealerships almost everyday and what I often see makes my jaw drop. The bottom line is that you get what you hire and train for. My apologies for this post go out to the professionals who get up every morning and do their absolute best with character, integrity and professionalism. This post is not about you but acknowledges that you are becoming an elite breed. Keep up the great work. As Jim Rohn always said "Success is something you attract by the person become. Success is a becoming thing not a doing thing."

Comment by Mark Rodriguez on May 8, 2012 at 2:29pm

"For to those who have been given much, much is required" - Bible  

I was reminded of this by Kurt Smith yesterday.

What a huge opportunity we are given in this arena we call Professional Automotive Sales.  I have been blessed to learn a craft, be trained by some of the best and give back on a daily basis.  Stan's post got me to thinking about the Lost Art of Professionalism in all areas of the Automotive Dealership's "Customer Experience".  I put Customer Experience in quotes because I refer to both internal (dealership employees) and external (clients who really sign all of our checks) customers.  You see, professionalism is a kaleidoscope of positive terms, roles, beliefs and behaviors that conjure up visual images of what it is and equally as important what it is not.  

Professionalism begins on the inside of each dealership employee from the Dealer Principal position all the way down to the often lowest paid and highest tasked employee - the Receptionist.  I had the opportunity to speak with an outstanding colleague, Kurt Smith about this topic yesterday.  He was gracious enough to let me read a portion of a book he has coming out called the "My$500,000 MBA Degree The Blue Print".  It recounted the story of a dealership employee who was going to be let go because he was becoming too expensive to keep on the payroll despite selling 8 - 10 cars a month.  Much to the employee's dismay he didn't understand what he meant?  The employee was only selling walk ins, did poor follow up, had no referrals and no book of business.   What does this have to do with Stan's post  "The Lost Art of Professionalism" you might ask?   Everything!  If when we hire our employees we instill within them a business owner philosophy they will treat the business of sales as just that, a business.  When we onboard receptionists the right way, we understand that they are the vital first impression that an external customer has of our dealership.  Consequently, when they feel that they are part of the Dealership Mission Statement they make eye contact with our customers, they offer refreshments, they answer the phones politely, they dispatch calls quickly and efficiently, they take great messages etc.  When a salesperson is on boarded properly he/she treats their business as a business, they are trained on phones, trained to work by appointment,  trained on the nuances of body language,  they are trained on making high return followup calls, they are coached on reading positive material monthly etc.  What is the on boarding process when a GM, GSM, Service Director or anyone else joins the team?

Most people look at their jobs, titles or positions from two perspectives -  Is it a Task or Is it a Responsibility?

If it's a task, then the mindset is "I'm doing this because I'm asked to do it or If I don't do it I'll get critiqued".  When elements of your job are viewed as a Responsibility, you take ownership of it.  You see the bigger picture.  You see your actions as being part of the overall DNA of a Professional Culture.   When you take ownership you develop Passion.  Taking ownership of responsibilities turns into the Passion that will drive Professionalism on a consistent basis.

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