It's nearly time to get Julie a different vehicle so we spent yesterday to go car shopping. We made four stops and the first three were awesome! They welcomed us a showed us exactly what we asked for and more! Gracious and welcoming, it was tremendous! McRae Ford, Bacon Chevrolet, Toyota of Tyler - I can't say enough good things about how they treated us!
But then we made a fourth stop. It was getting later in the day - I think around 2:30 or 3 PM. From the time we set foot on their parking lot, I knew this was going to be different than it had been. No one had asked us for any information up till now. This guy wanted everything except my mother's maiden name. Everyone else had started with showing us the vehicles we asked for. This guy started with us in his cubicle. Everyone else - that we didn't already know - called us "Mr and Mrs Wood". This guy - well younger than us - called us by our first names (it seemed a bit familiar to me). Hmmmm. Not off to a good start.
All we really wanted was a competitive price on a particular car. It was clear he'd be instructed to sell us an older model of the same vehicle. I asked once - twice - three times - for a price on the new version of it. He kept running back and forth to the sales manager and bringing me information on the older one. I was as gracious as I could've been in my requests. The salesman seemed like he WANTED to meet my requests but was being led wrong by whoever he was seeing in the "sales office." Finally, the fourth time he had to leave to get a question answered, I told Julie it was time to go. An hour and a half of waiting for the little dance between me, the salesman and the sales manager that I hadn't seen. We didn't have the information we came there to get but I had been through all I was going to take. We got Joshua out of the toy room and left. Wouldn't you know it? Joshua left one of his favorite drinking cups behind. When I returned to retrieve it, the salesman - now panic stricken that we had walked - came hot after me with the sales manager with him. "Oh Mr Wood, why did you leave? We were just getting the information you requested!" Yeah right. SURE you were. With the kindness and the gentleness of the Savior, I told them they stink. I was as clear to them as possible that we felt misled and unheard. After 90 minutes, NOW they were ready to give us what we asked for after multiple requests. Too late. Our business is worth more than that.
It made me think - they think they're in the car business. They seem to believe THAT'S what they do. I would submit to you they are wrong - they're in the PEOPLE business. Here's what I mean. You might intimidate some into deals using methods like these, but only once. As for us, I can assure you we've made our last trip to that dealership. You can sell to those who have no other options or who are so ill informed that they don't know / understand that their business is worth more. But when they figure it out, they'll do the same thing we did - walk. Why? Because when you're in the people business, you're not just interested is selling cars, but in providing transportation for the people who are coming to see you.
I understand they need to turn a profit. I've got no problem with that. Where the breakdown comes for me is when my business is taken for granted or as if I'm a bumpkin who doesn't know beans or when I'm treated like a knucklehead. Nope - that's the kind of things you do when you're in the car business. If you're in the people business, you never will. Examples like McRae Ford and Bacon Chevrolet - they are in the people business. It just so happens they sell cars.
It made me think about some churches I've known. They think they're in the "church" business. Wrong. As a church, we exist for two purposes: glorify God and share the Gospel with people. We are most definitely in the people business. The sooner we recognize that, the stronger our direction will be. Let's serve Christ by serving people. There's really no other option. After all, Christ came for people. He died for people. He was raised for people. He sent the Holy Spirit for people. He's coming back for people. If that's Jesus' strategy, it had better be mine as well. After all - I'm about people.