The Biz of Pacelinebiz

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A Business Lesson Learned From Car Shopping

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Good Riddance

Good Riddance

Earlier this summer I decided to replace my old car. I was not looking forward to the shopping process since it is a big decision and I expected unpleasant sticker shock since I last bought a new car in 2009. I discussed this issue with several people and a friend suggested I try CarMax. After hearing about their no-haggle approach to selling used cars I thought I would give them a shot.

My wife and I spent a couple of evenings looking at several cars and test drove a few but never were able to strike a deal.  I enjoyed the salesman and the no pressure approach but it didn’t work out in this case for us to do business with them. We ended up with a new vehicle and so far are very happy with our decision. That is not the important part of the story.

The important part of the story just occurred to me a few days ago, almost two months after we got our new car. I realized that even though CarMax had all of our contact information they never once followed up to see why we never bought from them or if we were still looking. An email or survey could have been generated at no cost to see what we liked or didn’t like and why we did not buy from them. At the very least they could have gained some information that could have been useful to them.  We were actually very close to making a deal so I would assume they knew we were serious buyers and not just entertaining ourselves.

The business lesson from this situation is to ask for feedback when you fail. It is important to learn from your mistakes so you do not repeat them. The more I think about it, I am actually shocked that a publicly traded company the size of CarMax would not have a system in place to survey people who did not buy from them. If they are surveying people who did make a purchase they are surveying the wrong people.  My friend explained to me that CarMax has an extensive data analytics department and that our instance was not something that was out of the ordinary to require a follow up. They likely knew the reason why we did not end up buying. Even if that was the case I would have thought that the salesman would have wanted to follow up so he could gain data for his benefit.

In your business, I suggest that you take every chance you can to get feedback not only when you do something right but especially when you do something wrong.  Unlike CarMax, a small business owner must rely on individual customer feedback.  That is where you have the biggest to gain. Improving your weaknesses will almost always give you better results than improving on your strengths. It is the low hanging fruit!

Have a great week improving your weaknesses.

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