An expectation is something we think about but maybe we unconsciously take for granted in establishing our dealership’s culture, or the way we conduct business on a daily basis. Do we really take the time to fully understand exactly what this word means? We should, because it is an important key to our success as an automotive retail dealer!

Consider that at birth even a baby has expectations…they expect to be fed, have their diapers changed and to be held and spoken to. Once starting school the same individual has the expectation of a decent education, a roof over their head and food on the table. As we become adults we learn to have expectations about life and everyday tasks. When you go to an airport you expect to get on a plane, leave on time and arrive safely at your destination. Eating out you expect your waiter to be knowledgeable, considerate and provide you with exceptional service. You expect all businesses to treat you with respect and appreciate your business. If at any time your expectations (real or imagined) are not met. You find alternatives. Most often this means you go to another business that meets your expectations.

In the Automobile Retail business it is the same. Our customers have expectations. Ones we are all familiar with are that they can find the vehicle that suits their needs, get a competitive price, a fair appraisal on their trade, be treated with respect and appreciated. We know that when any of these expectations are not met you most often miss the opportunity of doing business with this customer. If you are a dealer you know all this and you strive everyday to meet these expectations. In other words, you are very similar to all other dealers in your market. Your very existence depends on your employees stepping up every day and doing what is expected to perform in your business culture.

The question is how do you set yourself apart from all the other dealers? We think about this daily and are always searching for the “next best thing”. The only way to be really different is to exceed expectations! Accomplishing this task is an ongoing quest for most dealers. If the dealer down the street puts in a car wash, you have to have one. If they install a playground for kids, you have to also install one. This is a constant tit-for-tat that has existed since Henry Ford started building vehicles. The only way to be really different is to exceed their expectations. The solution is very simple and it’s right under your nose. You have the means to truly stand out among the competition if you look around at the opportunities you have to earn your customer’s business and create more opportunities to increase your existing profit centers.

A simple solution to truly exceed your customer’s expectations and wow them with how different you are is to supply them with a package of benefits that you will provide as a part of obtaining their business that makes their ownership experience a safe, economical, and rewarding one. These benefits can be as basic as complimentary car washes, oil changes, tire rotations and inspections. Coupled with an ongoing rewards program that gives your customers a reason to return to you for all their automotive needs is a winning formula and will exceed their expectations. When you do these things you have moved the customer experience at your business to another level. A level that truly makes you different and gives your sales customers more reasons to return to your dealership and allow you to provide everything they need during their period of ownership.

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Roy Olive