The deal is at a standstill. You’ve got all your favorite car features on the table-a precisely carved hole in the roof, a navigational system that could guide you to the moon, and a fiery red color that demands the attention of pedestrians-all for a fairly decent price.
But being the stubborn customer you are, it’s no deal with the $200 floor mats that are included with the car. If you’re a customer of Toyota sales consultant Robin Nye, there’s an easy resolution to the stalemate at the dealership.
“I’ve personally out of my pocket bought people floor mats,” said Nye, who’s worked at Maryland’s Toyota of Bowie for six months. “I took from my pay and went out and bought the floor mats across the street at Target… in order to make a sale.”
Whether persuading the dealership to include additional features in a deal, making deliveries to customers or purchasing automobile accessories, car salespeople sometimes have to go to great lengths to coax potential buyers into making a sale.
For Nye, going out of the way for customers who come to the dealership has become second nature. And when a car shopper couldn’t make it to the dealership, Nye took the car lot to the customer.
“I’ve taken a customer a car and I’ve made presentations to them at their house,” Nye said. It paid off. “It’s not normal, but it worked. The guy came in and bought the car later on,” Nye said.
Although Nye sometimes spends up to $30 for customers’ automobile accents, other salespeople aren’t as quick to pull out the checkbook on behalf of the prospective client.
“I might get them a keychain or work something into the deal,” said Jay Turner, sales and leasing consultant at College Park Honda in Maryland. “I’ve never gone out of my pocket to buy a customer something but I can see where it may have been done before. It’s not something that I do.”
Tom Ross, salesperson at Ted Britt Ford in Fairfax, Va., knows buying a car on an empty stomach is no field day. So when his dealership serves lasagna on Saturdays, he’s been known to bring some for clients. “We’ve bought pizza for customers,” said Ross, “just to try and make them feel at home.”
More significantly, Ross has made special arrangements when customers were in a bind, such as situations where the customer needs a car immediately but the newly purchased car has yet to arrive at the dealership.
“I’ve given customers a car to drive for a few days until their car gets here,” he said.
Other salespeople feel that as long as the product is presented with insight and genuine concern for the customer needs, the product will sell itself.
“A customer comes here expecting to buy a car,” said Turner. “You just give them good service the whole time they’re here. You do your job to your fullest. As long as you have a good knowledge of the product and present yourself in a presentable manner, you usually don’t have to go out of your way.”
Alexandria Toyota’s pre-owned vehicle specialist Louis Costley agrees.
“A lot of people are under the impression that we have to con somebody into buying a car,” said Costley, an employee of the Virginia dealership for seven years. “That’s totally false. When people come to the dealership, they come in looking for a car. That’s why they’re here.”
“If you show the product the way it’s supposed to be shown, they’re going to buy the car anyway,” he continued. “This ain’t no con game.”