In an earlier post titled I’m Buying a 2011 Ford Explorer in Madison, WI. Who Wants my Business?, I noted that I was in the market for a 2011 Ford Explorer, and that I was turning it into a case study. I posted this on Twitter a couple hours prior to the blog post:
— Collin Kromke (@CollinKromke) June 17, 2011
I was able to find three local Ford dealerships on Twitter – @KayserFord, @MiddletonFord and @CapitolFordKia (which has since been sold). I expected one of them to earn my business, but only if they chose not to sit around the dealership on a Friday afternoon waiting for me to walk through the door. As Chris Brogan said in his article titled Buy a Car Off the Internet?
“The people who LISTEN for business beat the people waiting around for business to find them.”
Several hours after the initial tweet, I received two Twitter replies. The first was a direct message from Middleton Ford. It didn’t contain a contact name, email address, or any other information that would help me continue the conversation, so I replied via DM asking for the name and email address of the sender.
Replying to me via DM was a mistake on the part of the salesperson at Middleton Ford. It did nothing to show that they are responsive and engaging on Twitter. I was the only one who saw their reply. To the rest of the world, it looked like they were ignoring me.
This one caught my attention
I have to admit I wasn’t very excited at first about dealing with a dealership in Milwaukee. It’s an hour away from Madison, and I really preferred to give my business to a local dealership. I’m also not a huge fan of the reply coming from Mike’s personal account rather than the dealer’s account. Much like the DM from Middleton Ford, it looks to the rest of the world like Uptown Motors isn’t responsive or engaging on Twitter.
I liked what Mike had to say, though, and really liked having a name and a face to associate with his very well written @reply. I replied publicly, telling him I’d be in touch, and I started putting together my wish list for the vehicle I wanted. I also posted the following:
I sent a DM to @MikeRobards requesting his email addresses, because it would be impossible to communicate my needs 140 characters at a time. My hope at this point was to communicate privately with Mike via email. Later that night, I emailed both Mike Robards at Uptown Motors and the salesman at Middleton Ford with my list of specs.
The next morning (Saturday) before 10 am, I received an email reply from Mike at Uptown Motors, and we were off to the races. We exchanged 10 emails (5 each) that day, all of which were sent from and read on my Blackberry while I sat in a lawn chair at my daughter’s softball tournament. By 3:30 pm we had reached an agreement on a price for a 2012 Ford Explorer Limited.
Mike was well aware of my preference to do the entire deal without talking on the phone or visiting the dealership, so he agreed to give me a preliminary appraisal of my trade based on photos I would provide by email.
When I asked Mike how he found my original tweet, he said he found it by searching on TweetDeck for the keyword ‘Explorer’. He explained that he tries to “listen for opportunities”. He also admitted that he probably got a little lucky as well!
Sometimes you make your own luck
While I was negotiating via email with Mike all day on Saturday, I got the first email from the salesman at Middleton Ford at 12:30 pm . All it said was
“I have a full plate today. First thing Monday I’ll have all the pricing for you. Have a good weekend.”
Oops. I hope he had the sale of a 2012 Ford Explorer Limited on his full plate that day, because his response guaranteed he wasn’t going to get my business.
It gets better
Also on Monday I received an email from someone at Middleton Ford. The salesman had her send me a scanned document for a 2012 Explorer Limited with my required specs and a price written on it. Mike Robards from Uptown Motors had probably asked me at least 20 questions during our email exchange two days earlier, and this salesman just scribbled a price on a vehicle invoice and had someone else scan it and email it to me. Still too busy to put any effort into selling me a car, and probably upset that I wouldn’t do business his way by coming into the dealership for a test drive.
Five days after reaching an agreed price on the 2012 Explorer, I provided Mike at Uptown Motors with a link to an online gallery containing 71 photos of my trade-in. After a little negotiation, we reached an agreement on the trade value exactly one week after agreeing on the price of the Explorer. All that was left to do was to place the order for my new Explorer.
Two weeks to the day after my initial tweet, I scanned a signed contract and credit apps and emailed them to Mike. I also left him a voice mail message with my credit card information for the down payment. They ordered the vehicle, and I took delivery 7 weeks later. That was my first visit to Uptown Motors, and my first time actually talking to Mike Robards and meeting him in person.
If you’re somewhere within a reasonable driving distance of Madison or Milwaukee, WI, Mike Robards and the crew at Uptown Motors in Milwaukee get my highest recommendation. Believe it or not, this was Mike’s first sale, and I’m pretty sure both he and the dealership learned a lot about the potential for selling cars just by paying attention, listening and engaging on social media channels, and by demonstrating a willingness to accomodate customers like me who don’t want to buy the way they might prefer to sell.
Here’s how you can reach Mike Robards
Work phone: 414-771-9000 Ext. 103
Here’s where you can find Uptown Motors
Any questions? I’d be happy to answer them. Just post in the comments below.