“To err is human” and since dealerships are run by humans, a slip-up here and there is to be expected. At some point, mistakes will be made in every process at the dealership and in every department – sales, finance, service and parts. It is how the dealer handles these mistakes, regardless of how small, that is so critical.

A well-timed, well-placed apology can restore customer confidence and support in your dealership and re-ignite consumer sales. Although apologizing can be difficult, it is honest and people can see your actions to resolve things and make amends.

When in the position of apologizing, bear in mind it’s not only what you say, it’s how you say it. A perfect example of this was during the Tiger Wood’s scandal a year ago, the pitiful public apology Tiger issued for his deviant behavior. As I am sure you recall, the dry, unemotional apology lasted for 14 minutes and was a ridiculously weak attempt at a heartfelt acknowledgement of guilt. We are, by nature, a forgiving people, however, Tiger, if we don’t believe you then not only have you wasted 14 minutes of our time, but you will not be forgiven!

By contrast, a stellar example of an apology was the one given by David Neeleman, the founder and CEO of Jet Blue http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-r_PIg7EAUw, after the blunder that left passengers stranded on the tarmac for over 10 hours. When (notice I said when, not if!) your dealership has reason to acknowledge a mistake, please follow Jet Blue’s lead, and apologize in a similar way.

In a straightforward manner, without the slightest hint of a defensive stance, your dealership should:
-Sincerely apologize and convey your concern
-Acknowledge the problem, explain how it happened and how it will be dealt with
-Promise to initiate steps to avoid the problem in the future
-Humbly ask for forgiveness

Make sure you “man-up” at the dealership and take responsibility for any mistakes made – keep those satisfied customers coming back to your store! And by the way, Tiger Woods, although a gifted golfer, has not restored his reputation. Jet Blue, on the other hand, received the JD Powers and Associates Airline Industry Customer Satisfaction Award for 2007, the very same year of the tarmac incident!

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