Matt Sneed is the Director of Operations at Power Ford—a one-location dealership in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Power Ford has been family-owned and operated for over 30 years. In 2017, Matt’s brother, Rob Sneed, took over the dealership as Managing Partner and General Manager and quickly asked Matt to join him and help build the business.

Originally, Matt joined the team because of his background in marketing and consumer experience. Right off the bat, the Sneed brothers set out to establish a more customer-centric brand for Power Ford with a very clear mission statement:

Create an exceptional ownership experience.

“Our mission is to create an exceptional ownership experience while setting an example of excellence for others. That’s a big vision, and it requires us to do things differently than the traditional dealership,” said Matt.

Since 2017, the Sneed brothers have made big changes in their overall dealership experience—changes that have helped them grow the business, improve their branding and reputation, create a stronger employee culture, increase their Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) scores, and more. Because of the incredible success they’ve seen, we sat down with Matt and asked him for his best tips for revolutionizing the dealership experience. And now, we’re sharing his insights with you in a 3-part guide.

Here’s what he said:

Tip #1: Make it all about the customer—from the very first interaction.

Think about it. What’s the first thing people think or feel when they realize they have to visit a dealership? It’s probably not, “Oh yay! Can’t wait!” Instead, most consumers have a perception of dealerships that tells them to prepare for a ruthless negotiation battle and to walk away having spent more than they’d hoped on a vehicle that isn’t exactly what they wanted. From the get-go, the customer expects a bad experience. That’s the standard the industry seems to have set.

Matt said over and over again, “If we’re just thinking about selling cars and servicing vehicles—we’re missing the mark.” Instead, he recommends changing the mentality to just “treating people like people.” To him, dealerships are about people helping people. And he’s found that staying in that line of thinking has made a massive impact. Here are a few other customer experience tips from Matt and the Power Ford team:

→ A friendly smile and a wave go a long way.
“It’s back to the basics,” said Matt. “If you’re within 10 feet of somebody, wave at them and say, ‘Hello, how are you?’ Especially coming out of this pandemic, where there has been significantly less in-person human interaction, a friendly smile and a wave can go a long way.”

→ Get rid of siloed thinking.
“Salespeople have to get rid of the territorial mindset of, ‘That’s my customer,’” said Matt. “Instead, be friendly and helpful. Change the thinking to, ‘How can I help each guest, whether they are my customer or not?’” According to Matt, this seemingly simple change creates a friendlier environment for both customers and employees and ensures guests get help whenever they need it.

→ It can be as simple as a branded water bottle.
“This may sound cliché, but water is the first hospitable thing you can provide someone—in your home or your dealership,” said Matt. At Power Ford, the first thing they do is offer customers a branded water bottle. Not only does this create a more comfortable environment, but it signals to other employees that those guests have been helped.

With the leadership of the Sneed brothers, Power Ford is now a dealership that has shifted its mentality from “sales first” to “customer first”—and it’s making all the difference.

Tip #2: Create a brand and reputation synonymous with a great experience.

When Rob and Matt started at Power Ford, there were three Ford dealers in the Albuquerque Metro area, and the largest, most notable dealer was their top competitor. That dealership had been the number one Ford store for 27+ years. Immediately, the Sneed brothers set out to find a way to first, become the #2 Ford Dealer in the area, and ultimately, take over as #1. To them, the most obvious solution was to create a brand that their local customers associated with a great customer experience. Here’s what they did:

→ Revamped their online reputation.
“For Power Ford, the question was, ‘How do we continue to move forward and tell people about the excellent ownership experience?’” said Matt. “The way to do that is through word of mouth and online reputation. We knew we needed to have a better online reputation through reviews.” As quickly as they could, they invested in a text-based reviews solution and started soliciting more reviews to help bolster their SEO, Google Business Profile, and DealerRater reviews.

→ Created more customer-centric branding.
“Our main competitor outspends us significantly in terms of advertising,” said Matt. “So we knew we had to focus on creating a brand to market to our customers.” With a clear brand message in place (creating an excellent ownership experience), the Power Ford team set out to update their brand and marketing plan to help share that message.

→ Started living their new brand.
“Then as part of the brand,” said Matt, “If you’re going to talk about how easy it is to do business with you—that you’re going to create an exceptional ownership experience—then the data behind that has to back it up.” Power Ford believes that it’s not enough to just make claims and say you’re customer-centric and service-oriented in your advertising and on your website. The experience your customers actually have in-person at your dealership—and in all other interactions—has to back up those claims.

→ Weren’t afraid to zag.
When it comes to great branding, the best thing a company can do is find key ways to differentiate themselves from competitors and make their brand more memorable. For Power Ford, that meant challenging the status quo in the automotive industry. “Anything that a traditional car dealership does,” said Matt, “We want to challenge it. If everyone is zigging, then we need to zag. So as part of building our brand, we don’t do things like the tall wavy flag guys or the pink gorillas on the roof. We believe our customers want a better experience.”

Love these tips from the Power Ford team? Keep an eye out for part two of this three-part guide coming soon.

Raechel Duplain
Raechel Duplain Group Manager, Solutions Marketing

Raechel Duplain is an experienced content, marketing, and business professional at Podium, the premiere marketing and communications platform for local businesses.

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