This week’s fundamental was written by Brian DeClesis. Brian is a Regional Business Manager with our specialty vehicle group. He’s been with us for 2 years, owned his own tow company, sold equipment and now helps tow operators in the Northeast.
The Eastern Way Fundamental #3: Make a great impression.
Make every customer interaction stand out for its friendliness, warmth and helpfulness. Be a fanatic about response time and keeping customers updated on the status of their issues.
I have lived this fundamental since I was the owner of my own business. I used to say to all my employees, “You only have one chance to make a good first impression.” Tow truck drivers sometimes get a bad rap on television. You may see them as overweight, dirty or even worse, as people who want take advantage of stranded motorists. The image of tow truck drivers is often blown out of proportion.
A good example of this would be the “Audi Quattro Tracker” commercial, where a grumpy and dirty tow truck driver, who has hooked every vehicle except the Quattro, tracks the vehicle everyday hoping to hook it before he retires.
I worked hard at my tow truck business. I insisted that my drivers wore their work uniforms every day and were clean and presentable while servicing customers. My trucks were never “show” trucks, but the drivers were responsible for keeping them clean and neat. When I saw a dirty messy interior, I asked the driver, “Would you be happy if your mother or sister had to sit here?”
The driver is the first, and sometimes only, person a motorist met from my company. It was important that the driver looked professional even in the dirty environment we worked in every day.
Become one of them
I carried that same attitude with me through my years in truck sales. When customers had questions about products I was selling, I could answer them professionally and from their perspective.
My motto was, “I am one of them.” I was able to operate every piece of equipment I sold and spent many weekends in recovery classes doing truck recoveries exercises and tractor trailer rollovers. Unlike my competitors, who sat on the sidelines, I was rolling over tractor trailers and garbage trucks. I enjoyed being in the mix of guys pulling wire rope, setting rigging and operating the wrecker to upright the wreck. There was never a class that I took where I sat and watched from the sidelines – that just was not me.
I think about success in selling heavy duty wreckers and what set me apart from the rest. Customers saw that I was so much more than just a sales guy pushing products. I was the guy who could help them solve problems. I could see things from their eyes and figure out a solution.
Find common ground
In my new position, as Regional Business Manager at Eastern Funding’s Specialty Vehicle division, it is sometimes more about how we deal with people over the phone, rather than face to face.
I work with a vendor in New Hampshire who supplies chassis and carriers to three major dealerships in the state. I speak with three of the sales representatives from there often and discovered that we all have something in common – motorcycles. We’ve built a pretty solid connection over the phone by sharing laughs and stories about our journeys on bikes. I wanted to go meet these guys in person.
I planned a trip last week to finally meet them. I wore a brand new pair of jeans and our green company polo shirts. I knew that dressing casual would get me on the same level, and I was right! When I arrived, the first thing one of the salesmen said was, “If you came here in a suit we were going to throw you out!” The entire staff was welcoming and friendly as I imaged. I was excited about that stop. Building a relationship over the phone first really helped make this visit a success.
Making a good impression comes in many forms. We need to know our customer and what their expectations of us really are. We want to look and act professional all the time. If you can, get on their level and find something in common with them. You will be sure to make a good impression.