Six visits, one sale. Good enough?

  30 December 2013

Every two years I find myself in the fortunate position of changing my company car. Naturally this is something I heartily anticipate and, unsurprisingly, put substantial thought into. Heart racing, budget set and armed with a shortlist of contenders I set off on this year’s journey.

First up was Lexus. Following a cursory “sorry, the person you need is on the phone”, they left me in the showroom to cool my heels for over eight minutes.  I then left. No one asked my name or for any of my contact details: had I caught them on an off day or was this simply poor service?

 Volkswagen followed. Here’s a summary of our two-minute conversation: “I would like to test drive the new Golf GTD.”

“Sorry, don’t have one. The manager does, but he’s at lunch. Here’s a GT you can look at though. They’re quite alike… sort of”  Despondently, I left. Would I like to leave my details? Book a future appointment? Have a coffee?  Not a chance.

Perhaps I’m doing this wrong, I thought. Let’s phone ahead to BMW: “Sorry, everyone’s on the phone but let me have your details…”  Four days later, and still no contact.

Now, disaster strikes and my wife’s car must be replaced. I drew up a foolproof shortlist of three: all less than three years old, fewer than 25k miles,  and budget £8.5k cash.

I phone each retailer in advance. Detailed conversations ensue and appointments are fixed.  When I turned up at the retailers, SEAT and Volkswagen were pretty much the same: blank stares while tumbleweed gently rolls by. No sales person on site, nobody expecting us… you couldn’t make it up.

And so, I would like to dedicate this column to Frank Procopio of TC Harrison, Peterborough.  Warm welcome, car ready to test, questions pertinent, timely and relevant. A man who shares my passion for sales and for common courtesy.

I guess one good experience in six ain’t bad – or is it? Happy New Year, Frank.

Francis Marshall

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