Saturday, May 7, 2011
A Lesson In Professional Presentation
I recently purchased a new vehicle, so I got to experience the sales process of several local dealerships. The biggest impression I was left with was the importance of professional presentation, not just by the individual salesperson, but by the company. The biggest contrast was between Bianchi Honda on Upper Peach Street and a dealership in Erie County that I'll call ABC to protect their identification. (No reason to bash a local company.)
I know everyone reading this article has visited a car dealership at some time in their life, but I'd never been to a facility like Bianchi's before. Click here to check out an outside view of their building. I couldn't find any indoor shots online -- this was the best I could do -- but the showroom was spacious, bright, and clean. When my wife and I met with veteran sales rep Bill Donor (pictured above) at his desk, we all sat in comfortable chairs and had room to move around if necessary. Oh, I didn't mention the best part of the buying process: the lounge in Bianchi's service department offers FREE Oreo cookies! They didn't just have a couple sitting on a styrofoam plate; there's a plastic case on the counter filled with what had to be 100-150 Oreos. (I think I ate half of them during one of my visits.) Basically, the atmosphere at Bianchi's was one of professionalism. You couldn't help but feel confidence in their organization after spending half an hour there.
The ABC dealership was a complete contrast. The showroom, which looked like it hadn't been updated since Reagan was President, was stuffed with vehicles -- so many that you felt cramped just being inside the building. A couple unused cubicles had collected assorted junk -- promotional signs, manuals, dirty car parts, etc. On a bookshelf in one cubicle was a CD that someone had labeled "The Best of Christmas and Crazy Sh*t." When we met with the sales rep, his cubicle measured maybe 6 feet wide by 6 feet long. And instead of sitting at a professional desk, he was crammed behind a secretary's desk like this one. His wall was decorated with several "Salesperson of the Month" award plaques, but none of them were recent. While my wife and I were hanging out waiting for someone to look at my truck I was planning to trade in, I asked our rep and another about the award plaques. "It looks like I haven't been working very hard the last 10 years, doesn't it?," our rep said. When I asked why ABC stopped awarding plaques, both reps basically said, "I have no idea. Now we just get our paychecks and they want us to be happy with just that."
Back to Bianchi. I purchased my car in March and had some extras added to the vehicle the first week of April. While waiting at the service area (and stuffing Oreos into my mouth), I noticed a memo from Bianchi owner Lou Porreco on a staff member's desk. Porreco was congratulating his team on setting an all-time sales record for March and announcing that every Bianchi employee would be treated to a on-site catered lunch.
If a friend asks me about my car-buying experience, I'll be sure to mention Bianchi's professional presentation and how they worked to make everyone who stepped onto their property feel like a valued customer. And I'll let my friend know that even if they're not interested in a Honda, they should at least stop by for the cookies!
-- Jim Roddy, President, Jameson Publishing
The Erie Sales Club is a joint effort of three leading local businesses: Jameson Publishing, Marsha Marsh Real Estate Services, and VertMarkets.