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There’s an all too familiar stereotype about car salespeople—they’re pushy, they’re annoying, and they’re all crooks! All they care about is their fat commission checks. UGH! They’re all so terrible!
Well, maybe that’s true for the lot of them (pun intended), but not Joe Girard. People would voluntarily wait days for an appointment with this guy just to buy a car.
Why? What’s the big deal about buying a car from Joe Girard? Did he offer free donuts, smell exceptionally delightful, or have exciting stories? No, nothing like that. He didn’t offer a discount, a superior car, or anything fancy. Simply put, he approached sales differently than all his competitors.
Joe Girard, a world record holder for automobile sales, did these 3 simple things to get him to the top:
1) He sold more than just a car
Girard understood that he wasn’t just selling cars, he was selling himself too. For Girard the deal wasn’t finished when all the papers were signed, and the car was off the lot. It was much more than that.
Whenever customers came to have their cars serviced he made sure to have them taken care of immediately. Girard would have 3-4 mechanics rush out to the vehicle and start the repairs. Occasionally, he would even pay for some of the parts! All he’d say to his customers was “Just come back.”
When you bought a car from Joe Girard you got his honesty and integrity.
2) He loved his customers and employees
In a world where the daily mail is full of bills upon bills it’s magical to receive a letter. It’s even more enchanting to receive a hand-written letter instead of one of those mass produced typed up mailers. Girard knew this and took full advantage of the opportunity.
If someone purchased a car from Girard they could be sure that he’d send them a handwritten greeting card in the mail every month. Every year he commissioned an artist to design 12 cards, and then he’d send them out.
So, what was written on these cards? Was it some eloquent poem, a heartfelt message, or, better yet, a sales pitch? Not at all. He wrote “I like you” and that was all. Everyone loves being liked!
Girard extended this kindness to his employees too. On the third Wednesday of every month he would take all his employees out to dinner. He shared a meal with them and made sure to tell everyone he appreciated their work. He would even have employees and their families over for a barbecue at his home once a year.
Of course, this created a powerful cycle. Girard’s employees loved working for him, so they worked harder, which in turn satisfied customers, bringing them back, which brought in money to the dealership.
Never underestimate the power of a few kind gestures.
3) He was a regular guy
Close your eyes for a moment, and picture someone trying to sell you a car. What are they dressed like? The person is probably wearing some form of a dress shirt, a tie, khakis, and shiny shoes. Maybe this person even has a luxury watch that glistens in the sunlight, or earrings that sparkle brilliantly in the day. Immediately you’re subconsciously thinking, “I can’t relate to this person.”
You would most likely relate to Girard. He wore casual clothes to fit in with his customers. It wasn’t just fitting in, he was an average person. He came from a poor family, worked several jobs before finding his calling, and even had to beg for his first job as a car salesperson. He was no stranger to the plight of the blue-collar person.
People tend to want to work with people who they view as similar. This is known as the similarity bias. By dressing similarly to his customers Girard was already leaps and bounds ahead of his overdressed competitors.
You don’t need flashy gimmicks to reel in the customers.
Overall, there’s no secret to Joe Girard’s success. His fantastic sales record came from understanding the desires of his customers, valuing the people around him, and being himself. Of course, he thought and worked differently than those around him; how many people do you think were sending out handwritten greeting cards to their customers every month?
Although Girard’s record has been broken recently, it’s important to note that the new record holder—Ali Reda—was significantly influenced by Girard’s techniques. The evidence is clear, be like Joe Girard and the sales will arrive in tidal waves.