This Hyundai Salesman Learned What Customers Hate and Does the Opposite


  • Richard Chan, Keyes Hyundai Picture

    Richard Chan, Keyes Hyundai Picture

    "Although I work for Keyes, my true boss is my customer," says Hyundai salesman, Richard Chan. "I never forget that and it has served me well." | January 24, 2014

Just the Facts:
  • Keyes Hyundai salesman Richard Chan is one of the top performers in the country.
  • His sales methods came from watching unhappy customers and learning how to avoid common sales mistakes.
  • He regularly uses text messaging for fast communication and hired an assistant out of his own pocket to make deal completion faster.

LOS ANGELES — At 20, Richard Chan saw a want ad in a newspaper for a nearby car dealership. The dealer was looking for salespeople, and with nothing to lose, Chan decided to give it a shot. At first, he says, he wasn't very good.

But he made it a point to observe car shoppers and learn their buying habits, he says. He paid special attention to unhappy customers: He wanted to understand what made them unhappy, and to avoid doing whatever it was that took the fun out of car shopping.

Fast-forward 13 years. Chan now works at Keyes Hyundai in the Los Angeles community of Van Nuys and is one of the country's top salespeople for the brand.

In 2013, Chan averaged 40 deals a month. Most car salespeople are happy to do 15 deals per month and the national average is around 10, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association. Chan has earned a slew of customer service awards, including being honored by Hyundai for outstanding sales and customer service for the past four years.

The recipe for his success is no secret, Chan says. Just give people what they want. What car shoppers want is good service, he says. And they want it fast. So Chan accommodates. Indeed, he says, most of his customers complete their deals in the showroom within an hour.

Does it sound impossible? Here's how Chan says he does it:

Chan works in the Internet department, so he meets most of his customers via e-mail. He targets a near-immediate response time for shoppers looking for a price quote, and responds with both a phone call and email.

But what works best is a text message, he says. "Text is quick, but engaging. People are often unable to take a phone call, but can usually text," he says. "The sooner I can answer customers' questions, the better."

He also makes a point of offering to work out most of the purchase with customers before they come to the dealership. He tries to ensure that the car a shopper has selected has been prepped and is ready to be driven home prior to the buyer's arrival. That way, all the shoppers have to do when they come to the dealership is test-drive the car, fill out some forms and go home with a new car.

To make the most of his customers' time, Chan did something really novel: Out of his own pocket, he hired an assistant to help him demonstrate cars, conduct test-drives and teach car owners the finer points of their new vehicles. While Chan does paperwork and calculations, the assistant is available to show off the features of the car and keep the deal moving. Waiting around, Richard says, is a sore point with car shoppers.

"My job is so simple," he says. "It really is: Please my customers, build trust, and make the deal quick and painless. This is how car sales should be. Why should a customer be at a dealership for seven hours?

"Although I work for Keyes, my true boss is my customer," he says. "I never forget that and it has served me well."

Edmunds says: Sales and promotions are good ways to sell cars. But nothing beats having salespeople who focus on satisfying customers.

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