A fly-on-the-wall view of wheels and deals

Time 11:58 am, August 2, 2013

sophie 1IF YOU’VE been keeping up with recent television shows, it would seem that now more than ever before, the public is getting an inside view into the world of car dealing. But is it necessarily a good idea for car dealerships to invite the cameras in?

After all, and this might be taking a rather cynical view, any TV documentary maker is going to be hoping for some conflicts and cock-ups when they rock up to make a programme – in fact anything that is likely to turn the show into a talking point around the office water cooler the following day.

If that’s what the makers of The Dealership were hoping for, they would have been rather disappointed.

In fact, what struck us when the first in the series was aired on Channel 4 last night, was the overwhelming good humour of everyone who appeared in the show – with the exception perhaps of rookie salesman Scott who was finding his chosen career pretty tough going.

In fact there were plenty of smiles and laughter from almost everyone involved, in particular the undoubted star of the show, super-salesman James, who with his winning way with words and cheeky grin was shifting more than 30 cars a month.

Some viewers might not approve of the behaviour of those caught on camera – I’ve read reviews in the papers today that described the tactics employed by the guys as ‘uncompromising’ and ‘manipulative’.

Looking at things another way however, James simply showed that a winning smile, some banter and the time-honoured fine art of persuasion can result in happy people all round: in one case, a young driver with her dream car and another deal sealed.

Earlier this week, I visited specialist used car dealer, Umesh Samani, founder of Specialist Cars in Stoke-on-Trent. Umesh worked at a main VW Audi dealership for 15 years, before founding his current business in 1997.

As a one-man band, Umesh manages to run his used car business and generates enough local interest to buy and sell a good number of quality cars each month. He learnt that building relationships with his customers is the key to generating leads and making the majority of his sales.

In fact, he searches for and buys a substantial number of cars to meet the particular needs of many of his clients. He explained during our chat: ‘I buy 20 to 30 per cent of vehicles offered to me, and I work with my customers to find cars which suit their individual needs. Not many dealers do this.’

Even when the forecourt remains quiet, Umesh manages to keep busy by doing exactly that.

Perhaps in contrast to the Essex boys, Umesh never seems to be in a rush to seal a deal and he’s certainly not interested in anything that could be described as a hard-sell. Instead, he lets buyers browse his stock at their own pace: ‘It’s not just about making sales, it’s about building a relationship.’

Two different approaches maybe, but of course, everyone’s hoping for the same outcome. After all, as Scott in Rainham said, ‘deals pay the bills!’

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Car Dealer has been covering the motor trade since 2008 as both a print and digital publication. In 2020 the title went fully digital and now provides daily motoring updates on this website for the car industry. A digital magazine is published once a month.

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