Embrace the power of "why"

By Andre Nataf
Friday, October 08, 2021

Having been a dealer and a leader of dealer channels for 30 years now, I have seen literally hundreds of dealerships come and go. Many exit gracefully and some exit in flames, but one common thread that has never changed is this: truly valuable dealerships unquestionably know their “why.”

They know why they do what they do and why they have built what they have built. These dealerships rarely change the products they represent and never leave their commitment to respectfully serving their customers.

It’s been said a million times that helping others get what they want — and truly need — is the secret to all riches. But seeking riches to help oneself at the expense of others is the quick path to ruin. Today more than ever, the marketplace moves so fast, labor is tight and no one fully understands where the market will be from month to month.

Many shortcuts are being taken on the road most traveled. But dealerships that put their customers and employees before themselves take the road less traveled. On that road, you will find the salt-of-the-earth dealerships; ones I would recommend to my own kids if they were ever crazy enough to want to start a restaurant or retail business.

Sure, the marketplace, products and even the way business is done has changed. What remains unchanged is the need for businesses that are of service. I think about my experiences with companies in my personal life that we all interact with every day. Car dealerships, service companies for large appliances, landscaping businesses: some are large companies while others are not. Some are dealerships and some are direct. Either way, I look for an advocate, a consultant, someone willing to come out and see me, someone who has my best interest at heart and someone who is invested in my success.

I think about how successful companies like Salesforce.com, Apple and even others in our industry differentiate themselves. The companies that put the customers’ best interests first are racking up record profits. Those that are locking their customers up, bribing them or stealing from them unknowingly are racking up record debt. It’s simple: Just help others before thinking about yourself. Truly help them. Teach them to fish instead of giving them the fish.

For example, if I pay you off for being my customer, I am only feeding you for a day and training you to rely on handouts. In the long term, this makes you more of a liability, so that when I need to turn debt into profits, I can cut you out or force you to sell to me. What does that have to do with taking care of the customer and adding real value? It all comes down to implied return on investment. Most businesses will gladly pay what things are worth. The key is making sure you are providing that worth.

I had a boss who used to say, “give it away for free and make it up in volume.” Of course, it does not work that way, but how does one compete with all the ways customers can buy or accept something in return for something else? It is a deal for your soul and we all know it. So many figure that if you cannot beat them, join them, but the real answer is found within the dealerships that I mentioned before: those who travel that road less traveled.

By putting their clients first, they have never needed to look around. They have been profitable because customers that buy into the latest scam eventually return with their hat in their hand. A lot can be learned from these dealers. Put your customers’ best interests first, and you will always have more business than you know what to do with.

In today’s marketplace, uncertainty and shortcuts abound. But dealerships that commit to their customers first, ultimately come out on top. If you’re ready to boldly reinforce your business’ foundation with a customer-first cornerstone, we’re here to help. Become a Heartland Dealer and get solutions, support and expertise from a team that cares as much about your customers as you do. Contact us today.