Dear Mrs. Car Dealer, Can I Please Buy a Car? Please!

Sorry for this rant. But I’m confused about a sales manager at one really large MINI dealer near Frankfurt.

For 6 years I helped one of the biggest car companies selling cars by applying Customer Relationship Management (CRM) to their marketing. So it’s fair to say I know the stages of the car purchasing funnel inside out.
Building awareness for the brand, talking with friends and family, looking at car magazines, ordering a brochure, researching online, visiting a dealer to kick tires, doing a test drive, buying.

I’ve arrived at the test drive phase. I’m an easy target for any half-decent car dealer. I’m a red hot lead, ready to buy. All a sales manager needs to do is to sit down with me, listen, get me a car to drive, prepare an offer while I drive that car, and then close the deal.
But it seems that some sales managers think differently.

Keeping an eye on my budget I’ve looked at the online used car markets and found a good looking Clubman Diesel at a dealer just a few kilometers north of Frankfurt, B&K in Bad Homburg. The car is a test driver. It’s fairly well equipped and comes in a pepper white / black combo. It has less then 20k kilometers on the clock.

HG-BK Used Clubman

So I make the call. I’m greeted by a receptionist. I say that I have an eye on the used MINI Clubman that is on offer and that I may want to buy it. Can I make a test drive? She tries to transfer me to the MINI sales manager. He is busy and also the other sales manager is busy. So the receptionist takes my number and promises that I’ll get a call back.
And I get a call but only to my mailbox. And that’s it. The sales manger never calls again.

The week after I call the dealership again, this time I speak to the other sales manger. I explain about my MINI passion, that I called before, and that I’m now even thinking about buying a new, build-to-order Clubman. Or maybe the one they have on offer? I talk about my kids and that I want to see how they fit into the car. Can I test drive it? How about Friday or Saturday? She remarks that Saturday is a public holiday, but Thursday or Friday? I have meetings late on both days so I can only come by in the early afternoon or late on both days. She is very friendly, yet not willing to let me pick up the car after work and return it the next day. She says the dealership management doesn’t “like” over night test drives. I explain that I want my sons and wife to also see the car and that I can’t take a day off for a test drive. She is not impressed. I ask what she can offer, but nothing other than coming during the normal business hours and taking the car for a spin then, is her response.
I tell her again that this is difficult for me. There is a very long silence on the line. Finally I say I need to check with my wife and I will call again.

I do call her again two days later. She remembers me. I ask about the test drive and now she does something very stupid. She tells me she needs to check when the car is available because it’s the dealerships loaner car. (Aha, it’s the loaner car???) She promises to call me back later and hangs up. That was three days ago. And I didn’t get a call yet.

It’s Saturday and that public holiday, so everything is closed. We buckle up the kids in the car and drive to the dealer – just to a have a look around the dealer lot. And there, right in front of the dealership, the Clubman is parked.

So let’s see if I got this right.

  • At first, I don’t get called back. I can only guess that both sales manager in Bad Homburg must have already sold enough MINIs this year. Good for them an not good for me and other buyers.
  • Second, the car is not a test drive car as advertised, it’s a loaner. Customers get to drive it while their car is in for a service or repair. And that is a big difference for a used car – at least to the buyer. Maybe this is a common practice at dealerships. I still don’t like it.
  • And then there is something else that I realize related to the car being a loaner. Something tells me that good customers can keep the car over night when needed parts are not available same day. But I’m not a good customer and so I don’t get to keep it over night. What a shame.
  • And lastly the whole thing is topped by the car just sitting there on the weekend, while I could have done a nice test drive and the sales manager could have done a nice sales job.

Am I just an over-demanding customer?
Am I doing the guys in Bad Homburg wrong?
Should I call them again on Monday?
I think I’m going to defect. There are plenty of other MINI dealers in the Frankfurt area.
Too bad for B&K. They may need some coaching around CRM based marketing & selling. Guess what, I’m not going to return their call.  😛

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3 responses to “Dear Mrs. Car Dealer, Can I Please Buy a Car? Please!

  1. Oh I would do the “Pretty Woman” thing. I would call them, get their names, and say again that you’re interested in their car. They still won’t call you. Don’t even think of buying it.

    Buy your car, but obviously not from them. Best if it’s a fully loaded, new, to order deal. When you take delivery, the 2nd trip you make, right after taking wife & kids for an intro drive, is to the dealer… Walk into the showroom, find the (non) salesperson that wasn’t interested in selling to you and say you want to talk about a new Mini… In fact, the one that’s parked right outside. The fully loaded one that’s just sitting on their forecourt. That juicy, stunningly sexy, almost new one that’s parked just over there.

    Then when they really feel like you’re serious, just say; “Oh sorry, I just bought that one…”

    I’m going to be in FFM mid Nov, so I hope to see the fruits of this blog then…

  2. I can only agree to what Td5boy said. You should tell them the “THIS could have been YOUR deal” story once you get your Clubbi from a more dedicated and committed salesperson.

    Surprising to see that everyone’s complaining about the crisis, and everyone’s delivering even more than they have to to get over the top of this, and then it seems that some people don’t even feel the need to do their job properly and try to fool you like this. It’s a shame!

  3. Pingback: Tonight’s the Night! Test Drive Night!! « Our MINI Clubman Diesel

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