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AUTO DEALERS WARNED: QUIT FOCUSING ON "ME" AND
START WORKING ON "WE"
Leadership Expert Charlie Fewell Tells Automotive Industry Dealers to Focus on Teamwork in Training and Development to Deliver Best Customer Service
March 12, 2008. Dallas, Texas - Charlie Fewell, President of leadership consultancy firm Charlie Fewell & Associates, has targeted American auto dealers' customer service approach as being their biggest obstacle to sales growth, warning them to wise up to the feelings and sensitivities of their customers and employees or watch them move elsewhere.
Charlie's message to the dealers was clear: you can't build a meaningful customer relationship by yourself. "They need to understand that a purchase flows through the team. It's not just about making a sale by themselves and focusing on the bottom line. This is where so many dealers go wrong. They need to be aware that everyone who touches the customer, even by just answering the phone, is either building, or diminishing, the customer relationship."
Charlie's call for awareness and teamwork has come at a time when most dealers are worried about their bottom line, with recession fears likely to impact sales in the automotive industry nationwide. He insisted that building a strong team and developing the right kind of customer service is the only way to get ahead in the market, especially during such uncertain times. In other words: burying your head in the figures won't bring in the dough.
Fewell's speech was warmly received by his audience of parts managers, dealers and sales professionals representing GM Powertrain product dealers - most of whom are looking for any market advantage they can get. The conference in Dallas aimed to provide the necessary technical and product know-how for GM's energy-saving Powertrain technology to its dealers. Charlie has been brought into the conference over the last five years to show how expertise and diligence alone will never deliver an optimum level of sales unless dealers bring together a customer-focused team.
By tuning into the kind of behaviors that encourage customers to buy, and understanding that different customers will respond to different behavioral approaches, dealers can achieve the sales and, beyond that, customer loyalty, according to Charlie. He explains that it is not enough for the dealers themselves to find the highest level of customer empathy, they need to coach it to all their staff as well, establishing a first-rate experience for the customer - from every member of the team, not just the head of the operation.
For automotive dealers starting from a base of poor relationship-building, Charlie says that negative feedback provides the perfect teaching manual. "If you receive a complaint from a customer or client, it's not the end of the world. You can turn it to your advantage. Treat complaints as gifts." This way, argues Charlie, leaders can use a real-life example to illustrate the detrimental effect bad teamwork can have, and use the "gift" as a launch pad for building better customer relationships. "Get your team in the right frame of mind, and build lasting and meaningful relationships with your customers. This will keep bringing customers back to you for more".
Charlie has worked as a consultant to orgainzations and individuals, from Fortune 500s to aspiring entrepreneurs, across America. The principles that guided Charlie to success in his 30-year career in the wholesale distribution environment are still with him in the advice he brings to his clients today, "Achieving the best possible customer service is the responsibility of everybody in an organization. If you can energize every single individual in your team, show them how they too can be a 'winner', and how to connect the dots between their thoughts, their actions and outstanding personal and business results, they will build great customer relationships and generate the kind of sales that keep coming back."
Charlie Fewell is the founder and President of leadership consultancy firm Charlie Fewell & Associates. He is a frequent speaker for national trade associations and corporate organizations. Charlie also contributes articles and opinions to various industry publications and newsletters, including Automotive Cooling Journal, AutoInc. and LeadZine, the journal of Leading & Learning Inc.