Success Stories

Relationship Marketing Weekly: Car Sales Professional

Ever wonder why some automotive salespersons sell 30 cars per month compared to the average of 8-10 per month? The answer will surprise you!

Kody Bateman interviews 2nd generation, 20-year car sales professional Chris Kendall! Chris will explain how old school principals and relationship marketing strategies give him, and other top producers, the competitive edge in the new age of technology, apps, and online automotive sites

Kody Bateman: Hey everybody. This is Kody Bateman. Welcome to this week’s version, Relationship Marketing Weekly show. I’m coming to you out of Salt Lake City, Utah. I have a very special guest on our show today.

I’m really super excited about this show, car dealerships and how car dealerships can implement relationship marketing and basically double or triple your sales almost overnight.

It’s amazing the results that car dealerships and salespeople on the lots will get if they implement a relationship marketing strategy like we’re going to spell out for you today.

We got one of the coolest guys that you’re going to meet in the car business. You meet this guy, everybody is going to want to travel all over the world just to buy cars from Chris Kendall.

This is Chris Kendall from Bachman Chevrolet out of Louisville, Kentucky. Welcome to our show Chris. How are you doing?

Chris Kendall: Hey Kody. I’m doing great. It’s an honor to be here. I appreciate it.

Kody: So you’re sitting in a vehicle on your lot, right?

Chris: Yeah, suburban, sitting on the lot. I thought it was a little less risky than doing it inside today. So –

Kody: That’s great. So like if somebody walks by that wants to look at a car, you might have to bounce out of the interview. Is that what you’re saying?

Chris: Yeah.

Kody: OK. Hey, listen, I really appreciate you taking the time. I know you’re a super busy guy and I really appreciate you taking the time to do this today. Again, I’m very passionate about this. You know, I’ve been working with dealerships, motorsport dealerships and car dealerships for 15, 16 years now and on the one hand, there are super success stories and on the other hand, I want to pull my hair out, and I don’t have very much of it, because car dealers don’t implement this and they should. So we want to talk about that.

First of all, I want to talk a little bit about you’re a second generation in the car industry. Your dad was real big in the car business. Could you just tell us real quick a little bit about your – I love how you tell your father’s story.

He was an old school card sender way back in the day. Tell us a little bit about your dad and how he conducted his business.

Chris: Yeah, thanks Kody. I appreciate it. The last couple of days, I’ve been reflecting on my dad. He – and there will be a lot of people I guess watching this that knew him and he passed away. I guess it was 15 years last month that he passed away. So I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting, thinking about doing this interview this week and we’re from – originally from Lexington and my father got in the car business back in ’74 and I remember at a young age, I remember we had an office in the house and he would bring home all the plaques and Man of the Year, Salesman of the Month.

I knew it was good but I really didn’t get it at that age. One thing that made me laugh, I was telling our friend the other night, I said – he always said – he said, “I might not be the best, just the best I had ever seen.”

Kody: That’s great.

Chris: So one of the things – whenever I would stop and visit him at the office, he was always sitting – I used to tell people. I would say to them if somebody was a hit man, they would have an easy target because he was – I guess that was the military. He instilled that work ethic and he was – I always saw him – he was either with a customer or sitting there at his desk filling out, writing a card, writing a card, constantly doing that. I can remember that. I’ve got a neat story I will kind of share with you if you have a minute or if you want to ask another question.

Kody: We love stories. Go right ahead.

Chris: Well, let’s fast forward about 50 – I guess 15 years ahead of that or up until I guess I was 32, right when he passed away. My son was six months old. So that’s how I can keep that tracked there when he passed away.

But I remember walking and I still didn’t – I was sitting there telling you earlier Kody that I wish I could tell you that I got everything that I saw. I wish I had told you that the light bulb, that it clicked. But it didn’t. But I remember walking in to his house. I guess it was probably a month before he passed and he’s sitting there on the sofa. I will never forget this.

He’s sitting there on the sofa and I said, “What are you doing, dad?” and my son called him “pops”. He said, “What are you doing pops?” and he had all these records. That was before the days when you could have all the – you know, all your files out and he had stacks and stacks and stacks of customers’ records.

I said, “What are you doing?” and he was sitting there. He said, “I’m sorting the customers for what salesman. I want to fit them with the right salesman that has the right approach and knows how to handle that customer.”

And Kody, it just – it blew me away and I was like, “That’s cool.” But it was really up until this last week or two that I got it. I got it and I always thought – I always knew that he was good and that he was talented and I said maybe that’s all those word tracks that he would do. Maybe it was all the closeness, all the trainings. He was just smooth. Everybody said, “Your dad was one of the best.”

I always thought that maybe that was it. And you know what? The other day it hit. It was like no, he was – he was so good. He had such success because he cared about the people.

He didn’t have anything monetarily to gain on this earth anymore, nothing monetarily and I’m like because he cared and he had – he probably had hundreds of people, customers that came to his wake and I’m like, “You know what? Their customers, they became friends.” That’s why the success was there because he was friends with them.

Kody: Boy, that’s powerful. You said close to a hundred people. His customers came to the wake.

Chris: Probably more, yeah.

Kody: That’s amazing and it does show you that he had a genuine connection with his customers, which is what we really try to convey here on these shows every week is how important that is. It’s so much more than making a living and making a sell. It’s about creating connections with human beings and in doing that, the sell takes care of itself but your quality of life increases.

I mean that’s what’s cool about this. So he was an old school – like he handwrote notes and stuff like that. You came along. You’re a new generation now and you were recently introduced to our system, which we use technology really to do the same thing that your dad did back in the day. But you can utilize technology with a smartphone and everything else.

Chris: He would have loved that.

Kody: Yeah, I sure he would have. I’m sure that he would have. So the first thing he did, by the way, we – one of our relationship marketing specialists set you up on this and she does a great job of showing people things. So one of the first things you did I think is you set up a holiday card campaign. Can you tell us what happened with that?

Chris: Yeah. I will tell you. I knew that – I said – I could see that – where the internet was going and maybe that could be another conversation. But where the internet is – it’s changing this business. It’s changing this business in so many aspects.

I said you’re either going to get with it or you’re going to get lost in the shuffle. You’re either going to be there’s no – there’s not going to be any more middle – I think middle ground Kody. It used to be so much where a guy that hustled could get out and still create an income up here. But I think it’s really either going to be here or somebody that’s developing a personal relationship that can really do things that have never been done before.

But we did a Christmas campaign and what was so cool about it is the fact that – I think that’s one of the things that detours a lot of guys in the car business or in sales is like I’ve got to do all this – I got to do all this work to implement the system and it’s too much work. But you had everybody staying around, waiting on a customer to come in.

Kody: Right, right.

Chris: The mentality is messed up and the thing is, I was that way for, yeah, a long time, too long.

Kody: Yeah.

Chris: So we – it has been awesome. She helped me and my friend Arturo who’s on the same system. She helped us implement it. The Christmas cards, I’ve actually got a couple of them here and so we’re seeing a residual effect from what happened at Christmas, has developed, has bled over into January, which was my best month financially in a year and January is supposed to be the worst month in the car business, right?

Kody: Right.

Chris: Well, not.

Kody: So what’s interesting is that you just – this one is interesting. You’ve already had your best month ever in one of your typical slow months and you just implemented this system like – I think you said in November. You started out with a Christmas campaign. So you sent holiday cards out to people.

Chris: Starting with the Christmas campaign but we got rolling quick. As soon as we got involved with the system, we were automatically sending thank you cards, brownies. I mean right out of the – right out of the gate and then the Christmas card was the actual first campaign.

Kody: OK. So someone comes in and buys a car. You send them a thank you card and I think with brownies, right? Can you – do you have one of those?

Chris: I do.

Kody: Yeah, that would be great. Let’s take a look.

Chris: Yeah. Here’s a card that says, “Sending a big thank you your way.” You could see that.

Kody: Excellent, yeah.

Chris: And then this was a – this was an acquaintance of mine that actually ran an apartment complex and she’s also a realtor. She came in, bought a car and the neat thing about this is you can – while she’s in the business office, you can put – I put her information in the contact manager. So before she comes out of the business office, all that information is on my phone.

Kody: Right.

Chris: So we took a picture together, pulled her Scion in the Chevy showroom.

Kody: Nice.

Chris: And took a picture of us together and then it says – underneath there it says, “Congratulations Renee!” and it says, “Dear Renee, I wanted to send this out to say thanks again for doing business with me and that we appreciate you. Please feel free to call or stop by anytime I can be of assistance. Your new favorite car salesman,” and I put on there, “P.S. Enjoy the brownies. I added a few more for the office staff.”

Kody: That’s great. What a great story. I put a post on Facebook the other day. It says, “It’s not what you say or do that people will remember. It’s how well the brownies tasted.”

Chris: Right.

Kody: So yeah, it’s – I got to tell you. The significance of that card alone and we were talking a little bit before the show about this. People do not get how powerful that is. You just made that lady that you talked about – and she was an acquaintance already. But you just made a customer for life, period. Not only that. Anybody she knows, she is a raving fan, getting people to come.

Chris: [0:11:49] [Indiscernible] it’s already happening.

Kody: How easy is that? There are salespeople that say, “I don’t have the time to wheel the car in and take this picture. Oh, poor me. I just don’t have the time. I need to go sign the contract and close the deal,” and you don’t realize that in that extra 10 minutes of effort, which by the way is fun to do –

Chris: You know what? I think the thing is, is for so long – and I think especially someone that has been in the business as long as I have, you get jaded. You can get jaded. You can get complacent. You can just – a buddy of mine used to say “flounder around”. Just go through the motions and it’s like I’ve got that fire back again. I’ve got the fire back to want to help somebody. Last month, I quit worrying about the money and I generally wanted to help everybody and guess what happened.

Kody: Exactly. Well, and again, quality of life. There’s so much more than monetary gain by having a relationship marketing system. It’s so much more than monetary. It’s quality of life and you just mentioned that.

So birthday card – or, excuse me, the thank you card with a picture, super, super cool and I think you also have set up to send birthday cards as well and also put them on a holiday or Christmas card list. So you have three touches that are mandatory – a thank you, a birthday, and a holiday. Do you have an example of a birthday card?

Chris: Yeah, and I know you got some cool cards coming out. So we’re looking forward to that.

Kody: Good, good, good.

Chris: And one thing I wanted to share, especially for the people that are out there in the sales and the car business or any other industry, the neat thing about it was – is that from the time that I sent that – you know, when I took that picture Kody, here’s what I want everybody to realize and it’s fun. I’m not the biggest IT guy in the world. But from the time she pulled off the lot, when the taillights hit the road, I was already sending the card and it was – thanks to you guys, it was printed, stuffed, stamped and the brownies were on the way to her office before I even got back to my desk. I mean it was done because I know if I don’t get it done, it’s not going to get – so I just – that’s what was so cool about it.

So here’s actually a birthday card that I sent to a previous customer that got a Christmas card and she called in to the internet department. That’s a whole another conversation where this business is changing. But she called in to the internet department because she had seen another car online.

But she wanted to make sure that she was dealing with me. She was very adamant to let them know that she only wanted to deal with me. So I called her. She said, “Chris, I probably can’t. It’s going to be next week until I can get in.” She told me what kind of car she wanted.

Well, next week was her birthday. So I know it’s about appreciation, not promotion. But I kind of did a little twist on this one. Here’s the birthday card. Happy birthday and then on the inside, I pull up a picture. That’s what’s so neat too. I pull up a picture online of the car that she’s getting ready to purchase and it said, “This will look great in your driveway,” and then I said, “Wishing you all the best on your special day. I wanted to send this out to say thanks again for thinking of me. It really meant a lot and have a great birthday. Enjoy the brownies.”

Then on the back, the branding is great. It has got her phone number on there and one of the things I want to impress today is people can – you can give them the best service in the world. You can dazzle them. You can roll out the red carpet. But when they leave, if they don’t remember you, they have to remember you.

Kody: Right.

Chris: I see so many people that somebody – the salesman did a great job. But they didn’t follow up and all they remember was the dealership. They didn’t remember the salesperson.

Kody: Yeah, very interesting. It is. I mean we could go on all day about those kinds of stories. Before the show, we were talking about experiences I’ve had on dealerships or at the dealerships. I’ve bought a lot of vehicles over the years. Never received a thank you card, never been followed up with and I’m a great customer. I mean I buy stuff all the time and it’s just amazing to me.

My wife two years ago, she bought a new – she bought a new vehicle and we had a great rapport with the sales guy and the whole bit. We ended up buying the vehicle and my wife, she sends cards like all of us do. So she took a picture. Well, both of us were there. But she took – we had someone come in.

She had a picture taken of the sales guy and her and I next to her new car and she sent the car dealer guy, the sales guy a thank you card for selling her a car.

Chris: Wow.

Kody: And you want to know what’s funny? We never heard back from him and he was a cool guy. He was a super cool guy and we never heard back from him. It has been two years. We never heard back from him. She bought a $95,000 vehicle and we never heard back from him. It blows my mind, Chris. It blows my mind. I don’t understand it and I love seeing guys like you because you’re going to change that. You’re going to instill the importance of what we’re talking about in your –

Chris: Things have to change in this industry Kody because where the internet is going, you’re either going to – it has got to change because there are so many other options out there and it’s so limited on what’s happening in the marketplace where people – the fresh up market, so to speak, the fresh traffic, is being rerouted through the internet and you’re less – it has never been a time like there is now where the salesman has really less control over his outcome as the time that we’re in.

So if you don’t do something different, you’re going to be wondering, scratching your head, wondering what has happened. We shared earlier one of the light bulbs that went off with me in most – just like the guy with the $95,000 car. Once it hits the curb, most of those guys are like, “OK, onto the next one.”

Kody: Right.

Chris: But it’s the guys – there’s always one or two of those guys in a dealership that are following up. They’re doing stuff after the sale and the other guys are just over there looking at him while they’re in a huddle. Those are the guys that are selling 20, 30, 40 and I think now there are records – there’s a guy that just broke Joe Girard’s record. There are going to be records that are going to be set now because of the personal touch, because we live in such an information, technical age. That when they get that kind of treatment, it’s over the top.

Kody: Yeah, no question about it. Well, listen Chris, I wish we had a whole bunch more time because we could spend hours talking about stuff. You have some incredible stories. As we close the show today, any final words of wisdom from yourself on behalf of car dealers or just personally as we close off today?

Chris: Yeah. And Kody, I just want to say again I appreciate – I just feel like I had this stirring when I called my friend and I’m so glad. I know there’s a bigger, higher power going on there when I was praying for more – for something to change in my life, for more success, for more happiness and I just – you know, thank you for this – for what you’ve created and the one thing that we talk about that I really want to share was the fact that it – I always thought that it happened, the magic happened when somebody came in and the relationship was built when the time that somebody leaves.

So, for the guys that have been in the business a long, long time, you can turn it around quick. You can turn it around quick and do something different and have some enjoyment and some fulfillment when you decide to get out and get out on top.

For the young guys that have just started this, take some – success leaves clues as a friend of ours used to say and I’m glad I finally – the light bulb finally went off. So hopefully some of these younger guys too are listening to this and do something different.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result and it’s just going to – things are getting – times are changing. So I just appreciate you, Kody. Thanks so much for allowing me to be on here. I’m honored.

Kody: Thank you, thank you. There you have it everybody, Chris Kendall of Bachman Chevrolet out of Louisville, Kentucky. Appreciate you my friend. God bless. Take care everybody. We will see you next week. We will have another incredible show next week as well. We will just keep on doing this. Take care now.

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