I saw a “courtesy van” from a local car dealer and thought about persuasion and relationships.
In 2016 there were 261.8-million registered vehicles in the United States. I’m going to hypothesize a great deal of those owners will want to buy a replacement vehicle.
When buying, some love the process of negotiating while car shopping. Some loathe it.
Those who love it – we’ll call them transactional shoppers – account for a higher percentage of foot traffic in dealerships yet they account for the lowest margin of sales.
Those who loathe the process – we’ll call them relational shoppers – account for a smaller amount of foot traffic but higher sales margins.
To the transactional shopper, a relationship with the dealer has little impact on their decision making. They’ll look for a car that best fits their budget and needs and haggles to get the lowest possible price. They will shop multiple locations for the same car until they get the best possible deal.
To the relational shopper, the trust they have with anybody at the dealership is golden. They look for people they can trust and will take advice from. They’re happy to pay extra for the feeling of a good, trustworthy relationship. When they have that relationship, they’re not likely to go anywhere else.
To cultivate a relationship, it takes time and patience. Thankfully for dealerships, they have an average of 6.5 years to gain the trust of people.
An aside: I have an entire presentation focused on relational vs. transactional shoppers if you’re interested.
Knowing people are at the repair shop to get their car worked on, there is a good chance some of those patrons may be in need of a new vehicle in the next few months or a year from now. There is even a good chance someone is in the process of thinking of buying a new one. Is this not a prime opportunity to deepen relationships with customers? They’re already in your shop so they must have an amount of trust with them.
All within seconds of seeing the “courtesy van” I thought “why don’t dealerships allow people who need a ride to pick out a new car to get where they need to go? I’m not talking for the entire day… they use a vehicle the customer picks out as their personal “van.”
Tommorrow, I’ll share more details, the conversation as I envision it happening, and what it all means to any business who has a long product cycle.