Indeed, it’s a model upon which I’ve built my business for the past 25 years. Look after people, be nice to them, and chances are they’ll come back and buy from you again next time they need a medium-to-long-term transport solution…
That was my mindset when Mr Watts came on to my lot about a month ago. Mr Watts is a science teacher at our local comprehensive school, he has never divulged his first name and insists everyone call him ‘Mr’. Indeed, last time he bought a car off me, he filled in the name section on the V5 as Mr M.R Watts, leaving the mystery as vague as ever.
He’d done the same a few years earlier when he bought his first car from Big Mike’s Motors, though looking back through my records I noticed that time he’d entered his first name as ‘Mister’ and not bothered with a title. But hey, the guy was a good customer, and 10 years and two cars into our professional relationship, it was good to see him again.
Not a pleasure, that’s a phrase I reserve for people I enjoy dealing with, speaking to or looking at and Mr Watts has never fitted into any of those categories but good because it meant he was a) happy with the past two cars he’d had from me and b) probably looking for another one.
Indeed he was, and so ensued the same terminally dull process we went through last time he bought a car from me (the first one was a Volvo 480ES, the second a Saab 9-3 diesel, as somehow during the intervening period he had managed to find a willing partner with which to procreate).
This time, though, he’d been doing his homework, and whipped out his trusty iPad. He’d logged on to a consumer review website and whittled down his shortlist to three estate cars on the basis his 9-3 saloon wasn’t big enough for his pushchair and his telescope.
‘My issue is this,’ he told me. ‘The Volvo V50 is a little too racy and might attract the wrong kind of attention, the Saab 9-3 Wagon is defunct and therefore I may have difficulty procuring the necessary consumables and the Skoda Octavia is a fine motor car with a good reputation but I find it a little bit, well, dull really…’
On the basis that the Volvo, that byword in pulse-racing, knee-trembling, red-blooded excitement, was both a little too racy and also a bit smaller, we settled on the Skoda, whereupon Mr Watts went on to bore me with his analysis of the necessary engine and specification combination that would best suit his lifestyle.
A lifestyle that consisted, as far as I could tell, of commuting to and from the school, the occasional trip to whichever local supermarket passed that week’s offers-based fiscal analysis and his weekly pilgrimage to the local astronomy club, which I ascertained consisted of Mr Watts and his friend Roger. After an hour, we agreed the best choice for him would be the 2.0 TDI SE model, ideally in grey or “that lovely light metallic gold that they do”, or silver if he had to, though he’d often found his silver Saab a little too flashy ‘if I knew what he meant’. Which I didn’t.
At that point, he left, saying how grateful he was for my indispensable advice as yet again I’d helped him choose his ideal vehicle. Of course, I didn’t have anything that specific in stock at the time, or I wouldn’t have let him go, but I promised him I’d go away and hunt one down that was definitely within his price range. Three weeks later, I hit gold dust. There it was, coming through the block with a nice mileage and optional brown leather trim (which, for some reason, I guessed would be up Mr Watts’ alley) at a price that left me with a reasonable, if not massive, profit based on his prescribed budget.
That evening, I called him and asked him to drop by the lot the following day, as I had something very exciting to show him. And so he did. A little after 4pm, Mr Watts drew up on my lot in a slightly older, slightly scruffier and (as I later found out to my inner delight) slightly more expensive Octavia estate.
‘Yes, Mike, I can see that the vehicle you have uncovered is indeed a rare and desirable find,’ he told me. ‘Such a shame, therefore, that on your sage and most valued advice I went round all the car supermarkets at the weekend and unearthed my own automotive holy grail. I remain in your debt for being such a good and loyal friend and helping me reach this decision.’
Damn right you do, mate, and don’t expect any favours from me next time. Oh, and if anyone fancies a diesel Octavia estate, I’ve got a cracking one in that lovely light metallic gold that they do…