During my years with KPA, there were dozens of things that I can attribute to the company as important moments of truth in my professional journey. I learned the essence of company culture, something that KPA has always held at the highest pinnacle of importance and the reason that very few people ever leave. I learned that excellence in processes and procedures can overcome many of the challenges that arise when trying to produce best-in-class products. I learned the power of communication and transparency within an organization, something that so few on the vendor side of the automotive industry truly grasp.

Despite all of these awesome lessons, the most important thing I learned was the power of the customer relationship. After the company purchased TK Carsites, those of us who continued on with the company learned very quickly that success wasn’t just a matter of pushing for increased sales or higher prices on products. Keeping the best interests of the clients in mind with every decision helped to establish a bond of partnership rather than just a vendor-dealer agreement. KPA knows that being the trusted partner in all things digital will keep the relationship between them and the clients as strong as possible. It’s the glue that brings success to everyone involved.

It’s the most important lesson I learned at KPA and will be the thing that makes both my former company and my new company successful in the years to come. Dealers can apply the same mentality at their stores. Granted, the ongoing aspect of the vendor-dealer relationship is normally a constant while car purchases are infrequent, but that doesn’t mean that the principle doesn’t apply. If anything, there’s more that can be gained by both the dealership and the customer when a focus on the customer relationship reigns supreme.

There is, of course, the service aspect. When a customer feels mistreated during the purchase or neglected after the purchase, they are less likely to bring their vehicle in for service at that dealership. They will drive further to get to a dealership that they trust. It’s paramount for that service relationship to start with the sale and continue to be nurtured all the way through to the next sale. Any salesperson that’s been in the business long enough and spent enough time properly honing their trade has experienced the service customer that turned into a new sales customer. If you can sell them a car, keep them satisfied through service, and then sell them their next car, you’ve built a bond that can last indefinitely.

The other important part of maintaining this sort of relationship occurs when communication is maintained well beyond the sale itself. Repeat and referral business should be the driving force for dealers. The internet has made customers less loyal. Thankfully, the internet can be used to increase their loyalty as well through social media.

One of the biggest gaps right now in the industry is the use of social media by both the dealerships themselves as well as the sales team. I truly hope I am able to make the time someday to spend a couple of months working at a dealership again. I know in my heart that I could sell more cars today than I ever did back before social media by focusing on the “networking” aspect of social networking. Many of us have learned the importance of networking, yet so few have taken advantage of the most powerful networking asset ever created.

I am currently working on a two-hour curriculum for a company that will show salespeople how to use this tremendous tool at their fingertips. Savvy salespeople can make extra sales every month through social media. Savvy dealers can turn their sales team into a marketing powerhouse. All it takes in both cases is a willingness to accept it and a desire to apply it. More on this in January, but in the meantime, you should ask yourself a question:

“Does the sales team take full advantage of their time to stay in touch with their customers after the sale?”