The Salesman had been watching me through his office window for at least 10 minutes, he was on the phone and I didn’t want to be rude and interrupt him, however when he put the receiver down he was unbelievably rude to me, I had expected him to come out to greet me when he finished his call, he should have met me with a warm smile, introduced himself, shook my hand, try to put me at ease in his domain, done his best to make a good first impression (remember you only get one chance to create a good first impression) however he seemed to be doing his best to make sure that my first impression of him was that he was a W#####.

I took an instant dislike to him, and I was somewhat surprised to see him turn his back on me and start sifting through his paperwork and totally ignoring me, maybe he thought I was a tyre kicker and not worth bothering with, but the first thing they teach you in sales is don’t pre judge customers if he thought I couldn’t afford a New Isuzu Trooper he was spot on, however my Boss could, and he wanted one for his wife, I turned and walked out, that guys ignorance was to cost him and his Dealership a lot of money.

I’ve shopped on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and was treated courteously and with respect by every shop assistant without exception, perhaps they learned their lesson after watching the film Pretty Woman, I think it would be good if Julia Roberts made a film about buying a car I am sure it would do my industry the world of good and bring them out of the dark ages.

I was there to buy the Trooper in 1988, 2 years before the Pretty Woman was released, but after I saw the film I wanted to go back to the garage find the salesman and say “You work on commission right? Big Mistake, Big, Huge!” Course Julia Roberts left the shop assistant speechless, but this salesman probably wouldn’t remember me, or would have just told me to F### Off, even worse if he hadn’t seen Pretty Woman himself he would have just thought I was a nutter.

After that incident, we went further afield to buy the car, we got a great deal, and when the Trooper arrived and was parked on our forecourt it created a fantastic amount of interest, before long we were buying more and picking up a lot of business, word soon got round that customers had a choice where to buy from, and they didn’t have to put up with poor customer service or being treated like an inconvenience from the other dealer, we were selling as many cars as we could get, soon we were having to import them ourselves to keep up with demand.

We were Vauxhall Dealers at the time and we used to get all the figures every month for new cars registered in our area, we could see how many new Isuzu’s were being registered and we could also see that we were selling a lot of them and giving the local dealer a run for their money, the salesman hadn’t made a Big Mistake, it wasn’t huge either, it was of Galactic proportions!

That was the case for the prosecution, now I’m going to hand over to the defense. I turned up not in a new car, but one that was selected purely and simply because it had come in part exchange with lots of fuel in it and I was using it to do errands, It was my day off and I was wearing jeans, It probably looked to him like I couldn’t afford one, but he could have discovered that it would be a company purchase, that there would be no part exchange, It would be a cash sale, and that he wouldn’t have to prop another dreamer with no deposit and who expected a fortune in PX for his swapper and I wasn’t going to add to the part of his closing ratio statistics (the number of people you have to see before you sell a car) that his Sales Manager would use at the end of the month to beat him over the head with and tell him how bad his performance had been. Just by qualifying me (asking a few well-chosen questions) he could have found all that out and got a sale, but he didn’t, he ignored me and left me to walk out of the showroom to tell all my friends and people who read my blog never to go there to buy a car, hmm poor defense so far.

But ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, I put it to you that he didn’t bother qualifying me because he was probably fed up of having to be nice to people he suspected of being messers, having spent hours dealing with them, going through specifications, options, colours, accessories, taking them out for test drives, only for them to shake his hand and say “I’ll be back on Monday if my numbers come up at weekend!” in other words, they couldn’t afford their taste in Motor Vehicles but they didn’t mind indulging their fantasies and wasting the salesman’s time, however you have to be nice because as the saying goes you should never judge a book by its cover, later in my sales career, a customer came in and bought a Mercedes SL and a Mercedes C Class for his wife, he was wearing jeans and he looked pretty much like I did when I went to buy the Trooper, however fortunately for him, his numbers “had” come up at weekend and he’d won £6 Million on the lottery, we didn’t know that for all we knew he too could have been a messer/tyre kicker/test pilot, call them what you will, but before he left he told us that he decided to buy the cars from us, as he had been in every Mercedes Dealer from Manchester to Blackpool, and we were the only ones that had not looked down our noses at him, we had treated him with respect and as a serious buyer.

So back to 1988, our new Trooper was parked on the forecourt, the Bosses wife was here to do the accounts and as instructed she had parked the New Trooper on the end of our display and hung the price board from the sun visor, a couple who had been walking past and looked like they couldn’t afford to rub two halfpennies together wondered into the showroom, my Salesman’s sixth sense flashed red and my inbuilt “Messers” alarm sounded in my ears, never the less I approached them to see if I could help, the guy asked me if the price in the windscreen was the best I could do, I replied that I could possibly knock a couple of hundred quid off, if he was a cash buyer and didn’t have a part exchange.

I was a little dumbfounded when he said, “I’ve got a Thousand pounds cash, take it or leave it!” my eyes and face said “Are you some kind of F##### Numbskull, but my voice said, Thanks for your generous offer but I’m afraid I’m going to have to leave it” The couple shuffled round and made their way out of the showroom never to be seen again, I followed them out and watched them catch the bus further down the road, as I walked back past the New Isuzu Trooper, I noticed that the Bosses wife had accidentally knocked a 5 off the price board, instead of reading £15995 it said £1599 but even that wasn’t cheap enough for the previous customers and they wanted me to sell it for a grand!

Lessons learned:-

1)    some people are idiots,

2)    some people are timewasters

3)    always check the price board before agreeing on a deal

if you make a mistake with the advertised price a customer can actually force you to sell him it at that price, and advertising your stock on the internet, these days at the stroke of a key it is very easy to make a mistake, for your sake, I hope it’s not a “Big, Huge one whether it be a price, or pre-judging a customer.