Famous horses have been featured in works of art for since the dawn of time, in the days of old a prize stallion would be immortalized in oil and the canvas hung proudly above its owners mantle for all to admire. Today your prize pony can also be immortalized and hung for admiration with an original print from the ‘Automotive Michelangelo’ himself, Mr Danny Whitfield. For a limited time with the purchase of a new Ford Mustang from Raceway Ford in Riverside, CA, you will receive a framed print signed by the artist of your new car purchased for you by me, Mike theCarGuy! Imagine having your co-workers admiration of your new Mustang when they see it hanging on your office wall or your friends and family being able to see your prized stallion as it hangs prominently on a wall in your home! I have been a huge fan of Mr Whitfields work for a long time and two of his prints myself, I wanted to offer my customers the chance to own one of these amazing works of art as well... and owning a new Mustang wont be all that bad either! The remaining 2014 Mustangs are moving briskly so time is critical, if you have your sights on a new Pony the time is now, and when you buy your new car you will get one to hang on the wall too!
You can see more of the amazing automotive artistry of Danny Whitfield HERE:
Imagine you are house hunting and you walk through a perfect house with all the bedrooms you could even want and every amenity you could desire. At the end of the tour the realtor asks you what you think about the $4 million dollar asking price and you reply; “if you could get the payments under $1500 per month we are ready to move right in…”
Ridiculous, yes however that same scenario plays out every day on dealership lots across the country. One of the biggest causes of difficult negotiations and bad feeling about the car buying experience stems from the real lack of homework being done regarding monthly payments. There is no shortage of websites these days that will give out all kinds of advice on how to get the ‘best price’ when car shopping, some will even show you pricing right on their site however, most of them fail to mention that there is a connection between that great price and the monthly payment it takes to pay back the loan for that amount. When folks ask me what the best advice I have about car shopping is I always answer the same way, “know you own monthly budget and what the buys, then stay within that amount when you go out shopping.” Sounds simple right? Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to work that way a lot of the time! Many times car shopping is done on impulse or, sometimes folks do their homework and know how much car they SHOULD be looking at and then get caught up in the excitement of new cars and try to buy more car than they can afford in the hopes that somehow the dealer will be able to ‘make it work’. The surest way to a long drawn out negotiation is to try to buy a vehicle that has a cost of more than the budget you have for yourself and think that ‘if the dealer REALLY wants to sell the car they will be able to make the math work’. I see it day in and day out, a customer will come in and pick out a car and sit down to work out the deal armed with all kinds of quotes from websites and other dealers. I agree to a price and then show the customer payment options and that’s when they freak! All the effort and time invested in getting a killer deal just to realize that the payments on that sweet price wont work….
To keep things basic I am just talking about a purchase here and yes, with enough down payment any monthly payment can be reached but for arguments sake let’s assume a no money down purchase just for a moment. Let’s say you like the new Fusion and pick one out that has an MSRP of $25995. It really doesn’t matter how much research you have done and how willing the dealer is to sell the car there is little hope of achieving a monthly payment of $350 per month without a whole lot of help! What often happens in a case like this is the customer gets frustrated and leaves, then pulls into another dealer ship with a better understanding of where his payment objective needs to be in order to get the car he wants and enters negotiations with a new target or, looks for a car that better fits his budget. Either way there is often a negative feeling about the first dealership and the car buying process in general.
There are many online calculators that will show auto financing payments and even without an exact idea of the rate you may qualify for its easy to get a general idea of a target payment will payback. For instance, to reach a target of $450 per month at 60 months the loan would payback somewhere between $18-27,000. Now keep in mind that might need to include tax, registration and any other fees that may be charged in your area. If you are looking for a car with a price in that range all should be good and negotiation may get you the deal you want however, if you had your sights on an SUV with an MSRP of say, $45,000 there is simply no amount of wheeling and dealing that will have you on the road and with a payment in that budget!
During my 25+ years of working for car dealerships I have been asked MANY times for advice on how to best research, negotiate for and ultimately buy a car. Quite often after I offer my opinion I hear the reply, “is that what the ‘car salesman part of you says or is that legit good advice?” The truth is, there doesn’t have to be a difference! Although some might assume that any advise I would have to offer wouldn’t necessarily be the best for the customer I will point out that there is already quite enough negative stereotyping about car salesman and yes, there is probably plenty to validate some of that negative I have always worked with the idea that if my efforts aren’t best for my customers they won’t be for my own long term success either. Each deal I make is in the spirit of it being the first in a long relationship I strive to build with my customers, something that has contributed not only to my achievements in the car business but also created quite a large following of customers that will pretty much only buy their next cars from me! I believe that a good deal is more than simply a number, yes price IS important but the experience and ease of purchase is equally important. Many sources of so called car buying expertise are free to give tips about how to find the lowest price but when it comes to actually working with a dealership and walking in to make the purchase they often fall short on real world, usable guidance. That is where I can help, I am hoping that shifting the direction of my blog to also include car buying help, tips and answers to many of the questions that arise during the car shopping experience can help people with real advice that will save them money and also time and stress when researching and buying their next car. There are many aspects to car buying that we will look at including; trading in or selling your car, now that I have an Internet price quote now what (?) and the benefits and draw backs of leasing in addition to answering any questions you may have. Keep an eye out for my future posts if you are looking to buy a car and if you have a specific question please feel free to send it in and I will answer it here. For the best research and product info check back to this site often for the latest in what’s new and what’s news in the automotive world! Until next time, I’m Mike theCarGuy and I want to help you ‘Buy Happy’!
To The Powers At Be At Ford Motor Company,
As this is the 50th Anniversary of America's favorite Pony car and for the first time it will be available in for sale in Europe its time to take the Mustang back to Le Mans! Not since 1997 has the thunder of a Ford V8 been heard on the most famous course in Europe although the Blue Oval has MUCH history there. Long ago Mr Carroll Shelby and his Daytona Coupes started a run of victories for Ford in Europe's race and the time to return and once again take the checkered flag with a Ford is now. Please take all your Ford Racing awesomeness, build a wide body, Trans Am style, new Mustang and put the pedal to the metal for the 24 Hours of Le Mans! Do it for Mr Shelby, Henry Ford II, Bruce McLaren, Dan Gurney, AJ Foyt, Mario Andretti,Claude Dubois, Chris Tuerlinckx, Holman & Moody, Steve Saleen and yes.... do it for Mr Steve McQueen too!
Click the Pony pic to go sign the online petition I started to let Ford know how much we want then to "Send The 2015 Mustang To Le Mans"!!
If you take the C out of closer what you really have is loser! Closing in my opinion is in fact, for losers....
Now before you prepare your letter bomb or nasty comments for the flaming thread that is sure to follow, allow me to elaborate…. Back when I got started the prevailing wisdom went something like "the sale doesn't begin until the 5th to 7th time you hear the word no...." and I focused much of my time early on in learning as much about 'closing' as I could, reading books and listening to every sales manager I could 'close' deals. As I grew in my own sales experience I discovered that the more I invested in the initial stages of the customer interaction the less I had to rely on my closing ability. When I became a Sales Manager with my first team I focused most of our training and preparation for the ‘Meet and Greet, Show and Tell’ portion of the sale and very little on the ‘write up’ as I knew the best way to overcome objections was to not have them and the best way to ensure there were few if any was with a strong presentation and demonstration. Over the years I have seen a fundamental shift in the employees that are coming into the business and especially after the recent tough economic times folks starting off in sales have a real lack of understanding of the importance of customer service and lean more and more on the strong closing skills touted by the big name trainers like Grant. It seems like as soon as new salespeople get finished with their new hire paperwork they want to skip right to learning how to work the deal like a 'closer', and unfortunately many, MANY dealership leaders are all to willing to start showing them how to overcome objections and hard close customers. The art of the customer qualification (no, not ‘hows your credit’ either!) has become thing of the old days of selling as many salespeople assume the customers have done their research and are ready to get down to business working the numbers. My focus with new people, and even the seasoned folks who have fallen into the trap, is to re-enforce the importance of the critical wants and needs analysis portion of the initial meet and greet stage, and the effective demonstration of the product based on the information gathered. In other words: "Spend two hours on the lot and the write up will take 15 minutes, OR... spend 15 minutes on the lot and the write up negotiation) will take two hours or more and end with the salesperson begging the customer to buy at a discounted price/payment"
Closing becomes crucial when the salesperson hasn’t done his job thoroughly, it’s as simple as that. If the salesperson asks the right questions, listens effectively and then demonstrates how his product best meets the wants and needs of the customer he doesn’t have to close, the customer sees value and agrees to the purchase. That’s not to say there is no negotiation required and that all customers simply lay down for the deal, I’m simply stating that I am convinced that the more focus we put on the initial stages of the sales process when training, the less we have to train the 'close'.
Not the most popular way of thinking with the old school car dawgs I have engaged with however I have seen great results in my own staff here at my store now and at many stores I have trained at. Thoughts? Let me know your perspective in the comments, good or bad lets have some discussion!
The always awesome folks at CareersInAuto.com asked me to 'Hangout' with their founder Patrick Antrim and talk about Positivity in Leadership. Hadnt had the chance to do a hangout so I jumped at the chance, as most know I do love to talk about the car biz! Went really great foir about 20 minutes until there was a power outage down at their offices in Temecula! We may just do this on a regular basis and are working out the details so stay tuned as we go big time folks! :)
I talk and write a LOT about Positivity, for me its so much more than a word or mood its actually a way of life. When I am speaking to my team about how Positivity can increase their sales it’s easy to sometimes diminish the power of Positivity by simply saying, “ok Mike, I need to be positive I get it. But how does being in a good mood make the difference?” The answer is usually more than the person asking ever bargained for as its more of a full scale lecture! The simply break down though is that Positivity in selling is more than just a ‘good mood’; it is about believing fully in yourself, your process and your product. When you do you project a confident, positive image to your customers and they feel good about working with you. A good deal is not a number; it never has been and never will be. A good deal is a feeling, as the great Joe Verde puts it; “A good deal is a car you like, bought from some one you feel like you can trust at a payment you feel is fair”. With Positivity the sale is just easier from start to finish, believe it or not. Yes, there will still be objections to overcome and yes you will even encounter the occasional alligator of a customer once in a while but those things shouldn’t sway you from staying positive.
I read a great book some time ago from a trainer named Stephan Schiffman and in it he made a great reference to the Three C’s needed in sales; Confidence, Competence and Concern. I don’t remember his exact wording but I have shared his ideas and overtime enhanced the basic concept with my own input. I review the Three C's with many sales people when training them and its always great to review with even seasoned folks. With Positivity the Three C’s come naturally, here they are with description:
Confidence. Confidence says you can do what you say you can do with a strong enough feeling behind it that your customer believes in you. When you say your product can some thing better than another, it’s believable. When you say you can deliver it’s easy for your customer to accept that you can however, its critical to separate confidence from over-confidence! Over-confidence can bury you, it says you cant really back up your commitment but you will try to cover for it by promising even more.
Competence. Doing what you say you are going to do says you have competence. If you tell your customer you are going to get him floor mats next week, get him floor mats next week or you will appear incompetent. If you talk with a customer on the lot today and tell him you will call him tomorrow you have to do just that, if you call him the day after or even worse a few days later it just seems like you found someone more important to work with and your customer will turn off. Competence is following through on your commitments AND paying attention to the details.
Concern. If you understand you customer’s needs its possible to you show him that you are putting them first. That doesn’t mean you forget who you work for, it means that you understand that the best deal is the one that is right for your customer, their needs and their budget. That doesn’t mean a small deal either. In order for you to show your customer that their needs are important you first have to KNOW their needs! A long time ago a manager told me that a customer will tell you exactly how to close them if you will just ask them. He always reminded me that we have two ears and one mouth and they should be used in that proportion; ask the right questions and really listen to your customer and you will know how to make the sale easily and with less grind.
I could go on forever but the point really is simple, with Positivity the rest is easy! Have an awesome week ahead everyone and as always; Sell Something!
Yesterday I had an eye (re)opening experience at an indoor go-kart track. I took my son and six of his buddies racing for his 11th birthday and wasn’t sure how it was going to go so I prepared for a really long, tense morning. I was convinced that the staff would probably groan with irritation when I walked in with seven overly hyped up boys that couldn’t wait for their chance behind the wheel. I could not have been more incorrect! The staff was more than incredibly polite and the amount of sincere patience they showed with the kids asking a never ending series of questions about how to drive, what to do when they crash and my favorite of the day; "can we drift?" was inspiring to a guy that has worked in retail for over 25 years now! After the first race they even complimented the kids on their on track behavior and for the second one they gave them a bit more speed on the karts! As we left after an absolutely amazing morning of fun the young man behind the counter THANKED US for being a great group, he stated that the kids were totally fun to work with and made sure to tell us to come back again soon. I came into work afterwards with a commitment burning in the back of my mind to jump online and shout about how awesome the day was on every site I could imagine and believe me when I say, I know of MANY sites! It felt really good to write out how much fun we had and how much I would recommend to EVERYONE to go to that racetrack for a day of fun at speed! I posted it along with pics of my son going full speed and I was not just happy to spread the word about them, I was OBLIGATED to.
Now, what does this have to do with selling cars????
Yesterday I was a CUSTOMER, a customer who received some really outstanding customer service. Its kind of a sad statement of the world today that great customers service is so rare that it generates such excitement but the truth is that it IS indeed very rare! The good news is, with just a little effort, a little bit of pride and a commitment to selling cars as a career and not just a job we could all provide the same type of experience with every one of our customers every day. Imagine having the numbers of customers that we do at a car dealership all online shouting, er writing, as loudly as they can how awesome we are and telling everyone to come here and buy a car!
When we take a step back, take a deep breath and remember that the customer isn’t looking for a number, they are looking for a feeling it becomes easier to focus on providing that awesome customer experience and truly earn their business AND their loyalty while at it. That’s the exact moment that we become professional Automotive Salesmen and take the step toward ultimate success!
They say when you want some thing bad enough you find a way to get it, if you don’t truly want it you will find all the excuses that make it ok not to….
You have to ask yourself; do I want it?
A few weeks ago I was ranting about dealership senior management needing to be aware of who at their store is posting to social media on their behalf and know how to take it over should the employee leave. This concern goes along with an issue I made a comment about on Facebook some time ago about 3rd party postings. I know that the idea of having a ‘professional’ agency do all the social posting for your store seems like a simple fix on the surface. None of your employees will be wasting time on Facebook, Twitter and Google +, there will be consistency of posts and you can focus on what’s important like the next weekends newspaper ad! There seems to be no end to the number of companies offering their social media prowess and a couple are even working directly with OEM’s and get some leverage when offered in a bundle with other services the manufactures pressure us into ‘considering’! My rant about 3rd party postings stemmed from seeing the very same, generic and bland, post on 13 different Ford dealers Twitter feeds! Now I fully understand that the average car shopper my not be watching the feed of as many car dealers as I do but c’mon!!!.........
With over 25 years in the retail auto biz, the last 15 being in senior level management, I consider myself somewhat of a knowledgeable person about this industry. As a Sales Manager one of my favorite parts of the job is training, I love sharing what I know to work with others and also love watching them take that knowledge and truly reach new levels of peak performance. Lately I have been thinking that my sights may have been a bit too narrow for quite a while, I mean why limit sharing what I know with only the few that I have working directly with me? I know as much about success in the car business as most of the big speakers and more than some; why not share my opinions, tips and techniques with as many as I can? The one thing I know about car sales for sure is that there is enough business for us all because not all of those in this business are improving themselves and are simply getting but so the room for true pros is unlimited. Rather than focus solely on my own staff I have wanted to be able to share with car pros all over the things I feel I have to offer, I have joined many forums and tried to participate in many threads in them and on Facebook etc however its impossible to stay on top of so many conversations while working full time for a dealership! Recently the awesome folks at Careers In Auto asked me if I would like to write a weekly column for their online magazine geared toward dealerships managers and I was honored and STOKED! Now I can offer some of my words of wisdom to folks on a reoccurring basis in one central place and not get finger cramps from logging into a gazillion forums and websites! We shall see where this goes, who knows if my weekly blog could turn into something bigger or not but for now I will keep sharing what I've seen work, the ideas I have for whats next and even a funny bit or two! Check out the site HERE, its a really great reference for dealerships managers at every level, even dealer principals can find cool stuff there. Let me know what you think about my newest venture too, I'm looking forward to some feedback! :)
Hey there, I'm Mike theCarGuy and here are some of my thoughts about cars, the car business and sales! Take a look around, maybe you will learn something or at the very least find your self smiling, and if you do... leave me a comment so I know I at least did something right! Thanks for stoppin by...
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