Fast Food and RV Dealers
by: Michael Rees
Other than the fact that many RV salespeople eat fast food while
working, what do fast food restaurants and RV dealerships have in
common? Let’s find out with two examples of experiences I had
recently at fast food places.
The Popeye’s Experience
My partner and I were in a town conducting some training, and, like many
RV salespeople and managers, decided to stop at a fast food restaurant
for a quick lunch.
We pulled in to a Popeye’s for some chicken. Now, I know we
weren’t going to spend much money there, but it would have been
nice if we had received some kind of customer service.We received no
welcome, no interview, no building of customer rapport, just someone
with their fingers on the till waiting to take the order.
“Yes,” was the one word that finally spat out of the
order-taker’s mouth. Although this was not a customer-friendly
experience, it didn’t stop the sale from happening. After all, we
had made the trip, arrived at our destination hungry, and ready to pay
for food, so we did just that.
The food was good, the service sucked, but they made the sale. The
restaurant made the same amount of money with lousy service, as it would
have with good service. Popeye’s has been around for a while, and
will probably stay around, because it’s good fast food.
The Chick-Fil-A Experience
Two days later, we went out for lunch again. This time we drove a little
further away to a Chick-Fil-A.
As soon as we pulled up, we noticed a difference. The building was
clean, a definite air of professionalism hitting us smack in the face as
soon as we opened the doors. The place was busy, with a number of people
in line waiting to place their orders. The line of cars for the
drive-thru circled the building. I immediately thought we would be in
for a long wait, and wondered if we would be able to eat there and
return to the dealership within our lunch hour. Then came the best
experience I have had in a fast food restaurant. Although we were not
next in line, the people behind the counter acknowledged us and promised
that they would not be long. They welcomed us to the restaurant, and
they were correct, the line moved quickly.
“I’ll be happy to help the next guest in line” came
from a smiling face behind the counter. I gave my order, paid the bill,
and received my meal. Here’s the kicker, when I thanked them for
my food, they responded, “My pleasure.” What a difference
from, “You’re welcome.” I really believed it was their
pleasure to serve us the way they did.Why? Because, they are
“differently better” than other fast food restaurants. They
took pride in who they were and what they did.
This terrific experience didn’t end there. As we ate, a host
came to our table to ensure our meal was good, and asked if she could
top off our drinks for us. After a few more minutes, the owner of the
restaurant visited us to ensure our satisfaction. Although he
didn’t single us out for this attention, we felt special.
On getting up to leave, the host immediately noticed and came over to
the table and cleaned it for us, so we didn’t even have to drop
anything in the trash.What a difference from two days prior, and, we
didn’t pay any more for the meal we had at Chick-Fil-A than the
meal we had at Popeye’s.
Now, I expected the experience to be better at Chick-Fil-A, because I
know the company’s background. I know that the owner, S. Truett
Cathey made a conscious decision a few years ago to have every employee
of Chick-Fil-A to respond to a customer’s thank you with “my
pleasure.” He announced it at one of their annual conventions.
However, to announce it and to have it firmly in place are two different
things. How did that happen? It‘s called accountability, desire,
tenacity, and respect.
He held his people accountable for implementing his request. He
visited different restaurants without them knowing who he was to check
on implementation. He visited one where he did not get a “my
pleasure,” and instead of talking to them about it right there, he
went back to the headquarters, and went down the line, through the
proper chain of command, so it finally got to the owner/operator of the
restaurant in question. They changed their process. This process is
management, not micro-management.
He had the desire to put this process in place, and the tenacity to
do what it took to succeed. He had the respect of all of his
subordinates, so they willingly went about the task.
What Should RV Dealerships Do?
So, what does all this have to do with RV dealers? Although sales go
through, it doesn’t mean that the dealership will have repeat
business from those customers if the service was poor. RV dealers sell
fun. Make sure to remind your people of that, remind them that they all
need to be very proud of what they do and take pride in their
A couple of the dealers we work with have started to say “my
pleasure” instead of “you’re welcome,” even to
each other. They are becoming differently better.
With many salespeople experiencing less income than in prior years,
their attitude sometimes reflects this. As a dealer, you need to change
that. You need to have thedesire, respect, accountability, and tenacity
to make sure your customers enjoy the best experience ever while at your
dealership. Make it happen while you still can.