Leaving the past behind
15 December 2014
Got a moment to spare? Enter used car salesman into your favoured search engine, taking care also to select the images button. Try it now.
The results are perhaps predictable but disheartening all the same. Its no secret that the job of selling used cars has an image problem.
It matters because our huge industry depends on some 7 million-plus transactions a year, most managed by professional sales people. It also matters because the jobs a tough one. Long hours, the need to develop a thick skin and the resilience, too, to smile even at the end of a tough day are prime requirements, to say nothing of a knack with people, an eye for detail and a head for figures. And its low status keeps away the ablest candidates for such work.
You can argue with cause that the image lags behind reality and that the use of used-car salesman by pundits and politicians alike as a term of near-abuse is wholly wrong. If you substituted Muslim, Jew or black into their chosen sentences, a torrent of righteous anger would result. Rightly so.
Can auto retailers do much to correct this? Definitely. Its key that you openly acknowledge the issue with customers and staff and lead from the front. In my view, this retailer tackles this point well. And this ones approach (which extends through to the core message of their TV advertising) offers food for thought, too.
That done, keep reminding staff that what they do is worthwhile: how else would millions of people find the vehicle they want?
Finally, re-educate that small minority of sales execs who enjoy the notoriety they believe the job confers, and play up to it. Tell them that its time to stop shaving their heads, and to tone down the big jewelry. If they wont, maybe its time for them to go
No matter how hard you work at it, the industrys perception wont improve overnight. But selling cars is becoming a more co-operative process and a change will come. It has to be for the better.
Auto Retail Agenda