All great dealerships should aim to build lasting relationships with customers.
With more than two decades of experience in sales and leasing, Jamie Hird, General Sales Manager at Wolfe Subaru on Boundary in Vancouver, shares his insight on service in the auto industry.
“I have been in the industry since 1995. I can’t really pinpoint how I started in fleet, but it seemed a natural fit as I grew within the industry,” he says. “After being on the sales floor for several years, looking after fleet accounts enabled me to further my career in the automotive business.”
Now, after several years in fleet, Hird states that the reason for his success is simple: adding a personal touch to customer service.
Prior to joining the auto industry, Hird managed hotels and restaurants as part of the hospitality business, which taught him how to deal with people, timelines, and budgets effectively.
“The transition from hospitality to sales almost seemed natural. People drive both industries, and I have always believed that if you can deliver excellent service continually, people will always come back and recommend you to friends or family. The foremost attribute from these years is the ability to truly understand what service is and what it means to clients,” he says.
In fact, understanding clients and their needs is becoming increasingly vital within the industry as customers are demanding a more convenient and personalized buying experience. In doing so, dealerships are able to connect and promote brand loyalty.
Hird takes each of his customers through the purchasing process himself, which helps garner great, long-lasting relationships. “Every customer is cared for from beginning to end. I help with vehicle selection, allocation, and delivery. All clients are equally important, whether they are a single retail client or a fleet client,” says Hird. “Service is never sacrificed, and it is our goal to make the experience second to none.
“Build great relationships and treat everybody the way you want to be treated. When a fleet client first contacts you, you must make a great first impression and be sure that you have all the tools in place to make sure they leave with the WOW factor,” he adds. “After the initial meet, it is all about communication and ensuring that you have met all of the clients wants and needs. I also stay in touch with all of my fleet contacts on a regular basis to see how things are going and to see if there is anything I can do for them.”
Change and challenges
The fleet industry has grown exponentially over the years and so has the competitiveness, in terms of both service and products. The demand for better products and the need to keep up-to-date with current trends in vehicle technology are driving consumers to purchase new vehicles for their fleets more often.
“Some of the smaller clients are moving away from fleet due to increased cost and liabilities. We are offering an alternative in-house program to help meet their needs,” says Hird.
“Years ago, once you acquired a fleet client, they were yours, year in and year out. With less competition, our clients returned to us almost due to necessity. This is no longer the case, and you have to offer the client something unique to keep them coming back,” he explains. “This is where relationships and your service come into play. You really have to earn their business nowadays.”