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Key Idea: Counsel Don't Sell

Brenda Woodruff, business manager at Rodgers Chevrolet, says advising is primary to the customer relationship.

Key Question:


Be the expert on your product but only sell it if the customer needs and wants what you have to offer.  You discover the customer's needs and wants by asking questions, not by lecturing.

Q: What kind of counseling do customers receive from Rodgers Chevrolet?

A:  The business manager spoke about helping the customer understand the implications of taking on a monthly loan payment.

Rodgers does not want to make a loan to a person who might not be thinking clearly about the total picture of their personal finances. In the short run, this strategy might mean fewer people buy cars.

However, this is the responsible tack to take knowing that service is the backbone not the back end at Rodgers. Brenda is delivering a service when she helps a customer understand what level of debt is prudent for them.

Think about it

Are you selling when you should be counseling? What kind of counseling could you offer your propects that might turn them into customers?

Clip from: Rodgers Chevrolet - Meet Pamela Rodgers!

Woodhaven, Michigan:  In a quiet suburb just south of Detroit, we go inside an American icon -- the car dealership -- to witness a "can-do" attitude in action. We meet a woman whose love affair with the car is as real and palpable as any romance going. And at this place where GM is sold, driving people to act upon that passion is her business.

Pamela Rodgers is the owner of Rodgers Chevrolet.  We learn that key to her repeat business success is service. From her originally designed, colorful waiting area featuring a speedway theme to a team of highly skilled service advisers, Rodgers Chevrolet is a company that never misfires when it comes to building long-term relationships with customers. This is a team that's as well trained in the mechanics of human dynamics as they are the electronics of today's automobile engine. Keeping that relationship running smoothly is a matter of individualized communications where customer satisfaction is not an optional service.

Pamela's story is all the more unique in that she is one of the few women in the world to own a dealership in her own right. It wasn't passed on to her by her father or a husband, and she took a failing location and turned it around.

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Rodgers Chevrolet

Pamela Rodgers, CEO

23755 Allen Road
Woodhaven, MI 48183

Visit our web site:

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1991

Counsel Don't Sell

HATTIE: Tell me what you do here.

BRENDA WOODRUFF: I'm the Business Manager.

HATTIE: What does that mean?

BRENDA: Basically what I do is, I help people with their financing of their vehicles. In many cases, we're doing a counseling, you know, helping people to understand the position that they're in, how they got there, how they can get out of it, what we can do to best serve them so that they don't get themselves in a worse position.

HATTIE: Tell me why I feel so different in here – when I drive up to get service on my car, it's just a bunch of metal and gray. What is this going on here?

PAMELA: A little creativity, if you will. When we renovated the building 5 years ago, we created this window in the customer lounge, for customers to wait while their cars are being serviced. So we found a person that actually does play sets.

HATTIE: Great idea. A set builder.

PAMELA: A set builder for a theater -- we came up with the Speedway theme because Chevrolet is known for their car racing and auto racing, that type of thing. So we tried to take that theme, bring it home, and make our own speedway. And customers love it. It takes the edge off of when they come in, and kids really seem to enjoy it, too.

HATTIE: It seems like we have your neighborhood here.

PAMELA: That's right, Ms. Rodger's Neighborhood, if you will. A service customer will pull through the drive lane here. They will talk to our Service Advisors who sit here, and describe the concern or the problem with their car.

Our Service Advisor will record the problem, discuss any maintenance needs that the customer may have -- And make sure that the customer has a timeline, in terms of when the car will get in for service, when it will be repaired, and to call the customer when the car is ready to be picked up. So those things are very important. Communication with the customers.

HATTIE: 'Cause people don't want to do without their cars.

PAMELA: They don't want to do without their cars, and then they like to know what's going on with their cars, so we try and keep those lines of communication open with our customers so that they know what's going on with their cars at all times.

HATTIE: Right.

PAMELA: Our Service Advisors talk to each and every customer. So it's important that they know their stuff, if you will, that they're trained properly, that they have good communication skills and good customer relation skills.

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