Don’t focus on numbers
“We’re not just selling cars; we’re trying
to build long-term relationships.”
It sounds like something that a car dealer might say, and in fact, those words
were uttered by Zinn, who, obviously, is a
But if you ask Zinn what one of his
greatest frustrations is as a car dealer,
you start to see that maybe those words
are more to Zinn than just a corny cliche.
“When I go through my deals and go
through my daily business and I see that
we literally made too much money on a
customer, I get more upset than I do
when I see we lost a customer because we didn’t do things right,” Zinn says. “If you overcharge a customer, you will never do business with them again.”
If Zinn finds that a customer was overcharged, he will write the
customer a check for the difference between what he or she was
charged and what he or she should have been charged.
It reinforces the idea to his employees that they are all in business to service the customer in the best way possible.
That commitment has to be represented by more than just words
in a training seminar. It has to be practiced in the way your company does business.
Zinn uses the example of a customer who can’t find what he or
she is looking for at one of his stores.
“They wanted a Prius, and we didn’t have one so I showed them
a car that gets 30 miles a gallon instead of 40, and it wasn’t really
what they wanted,” Zinn says. “And I say, ‘Hold it right there.’
Regardless of whatever price we gave them, we weren’t going to
make them happy. So why push? Be ladies and gentlemen and say,
‘When we have a car available, we’ll contact you.’ To get pushy and
arrogant is where things break down.”
When you take steps to show you care about making a deal that
benefits both you and the customer, your employees should follow
suit in their own actions. The key is to make customer satisfaction
your primary goal. When you do that, the numbers will come.
“If our goal is to have the highest customer satisfaction index in the
country, we’re going to sell a lot of cars,” Zinn says. “If our goal is to
sell a lot of cars, we’re not going to have very happy customers. It
really works well if the goal is not numbers but achievable attitudes
and perceptions about your business. That would be the ultimate
By focusing on attitudes, you teach your employees that they
should always strive to be the best, not just when they are trying
to hit a quota.
“You remind people that, ‘You think you know it all, but you really
don’t,’” Zinn says. “I own the place, and I know I don’t know it all. …
You have to continually challenge them, train them, and remind
them of why they came to work for you and that every day they
come to work for us is a pleasure.”