What I Learned While Car Shopping
As I was driving to the office this past Friday, I was rear ended on the highway. Other than some back pain, I'm feeling alright. At the time of this writing, I don't know if my car will be “totaled” or if it will be fixed. I have a pretty good idea, but that decision isn't entirely up to me.
I learned a few things in preparation for having to buy a new car, and I wanted to share with you what I learned while car shopping. I hope you'll share some of your experiences with me as well.
Over the weekend following my wreck, my wife and I visited 5 different dealerships and checked out almost 100 different websites. We searched reviews, prices, different models and a variety of features. But through this process I've learned the value of having support from my first board member, that there truly is only one debt worth owing, and how to be a better salesman.
Let me share with you what I learned while car shopping.
1: You must have support.
The first thing that I did after I figured out what had happened was call my wife. Having someone who will you support you in a time of need, no matter the size of that need, is critical to your success. Both as a person and as a leader, you absolutely must have people who will be there for you when you need them.
I called my wife and within minutes she'd left the house to be there for me. She arrived on the scene with all the paperwork I may have needed and she was there to take me back home so we could assess and evaluate the situation. Without her, I would have been stranded on the side of the busiest highway in America with no way to get home. She has been one of my greatest assets many times throughout our marriage and her value cannot be overstated.
As I said in this article, “If your spouse or significant other is not on board, you might as well stop now. Your spouse can literally make or break you in your efforts toward success.” While she and I were out car shopping, we faced the challenges together, we learned together and we did our best to turn a stressful situation into one we could both enjoy.
If you're going to succeed in any endeavor, you must have support. Your spouse is a great start!
2: There is only one debt worth owing.
I hate debt. In the Bible it says that if you're in debt, you're a slave to the person you're in debt too. Up until Friday, the only debt that we had was our beautiful house. We liked it that way. We liked not having the added pressure that debt puts on us and we liked the feeling of accomplishment we got when we paid cash for everything that we've filled that house with.
I'm an enormous fan of Dave Ramsey. I've attended and led his Financial Peace University and read and recommended his best-seller EntreLeadership on my EmpoweredU Reading List. Dave has made a remarkably positive impact on the world by teaching that debt free is the way to be.
By having to buy a car before we were ready, we've had to make some buying decisions that we didn't want to make. There really is only one debt worth owing and I've re-learned that while car shopping.
3. Empowered consumers change how we do business.
All sales people are different. Their approaches are different, their tactics are different and their attitudes are different. As I mentioned before, we visited 5 different dealerships this weekend and spoke with 4 different sales people.
What I found extremely interesting was how 1 of those sales people stood out from the other 3. And not in a good way. The other 3 salesmen were nice, non-pressuring and seemed genuinely interested in helping us find a great used car at the right price. The 4th was high-pressure and highly aggressive.
In today's technology-driven world, information is at our fingertips. I can look up car prices, loan rates and dealership inventory on my phone while driving from one place to another. The empowered consumer, partly due to accessible technology, is changing how we must do business. I could check the price of the car I was looking at against another car 30 miles away within minutes. I wondered, with so many things being equal, and with so many options out in the world, why would someone choose to pressure a consumer that way?
As a salesperson, (again, we're all sales people) I must choose to apply what I learned while car shopping to my own business practices. A kind demeanor, a calm approach and an empathetic ear, go much further with me than a high-pressured strategy.
That's what I learned while car shopping! But what about you? How do you respond to sales people, debt and your personal board of directors? Keep in mind that we're all selling something to someone, and not everyone tries to pressure their target consumer. Share your thoughts with me and the other readers in the comments section below!