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Parents Call the Shots?

derrickwoolfson

4 Pounder
Sep 10, 2014
77
25
First Name
Derrick
In the past month I have seen more than six deals go south because the adult's parents pressured them into buying at another dealership. Or to purchase a car they did not like or want.

This not something I have witnessed before, honestly. Just this morning I spoke with a customer who said they were very upset that their parents pushed them buy elsewhere. Stating that they live and work within a few miles of the dealer. Saying that they now have to pay for service at our location or spend two hours driving for an oil change. Spending an average of 3-4 hours total. Not something a millennial wants to deal with at all. Sure dealers offer amenities, but unless you have a wine bar, craft breweries, or a chipotle you might not be in luck with getting the car back for service. Unless the parents take it in for service?

I so badly wanted to ask the adult why s/he let their parents call the shots - but, obviously, I cannot. Have you ever experienced a deal where the adults parents called the shots. Despite the adult being independent, financing it on their own - using their own money for the down payment?!

What gives? Is this a classic helicopter parent tactic that is distracting the millennial buying process?
 
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ryan.leslie

One of the good guys
Apr 20, 2009
611
544
First Name
Ryan
Couple thoughts:
  • "My parents won't let me" has been the fallback phrase for more than one generation. It makes it easy to avoid the perceived conflict by pinning it on a third party. It could be that its use is being extended into young adulthood with some "millenials." ( full disclosure, I hate that term.)
  • It may be that the leverage the parent has over the choice is the down payment not the financing.
  • Any salesperson benefits from analyzing his or her losses and looking for areas of improvement. Outsider looking in and no disrespect intended at all, but this looks like a failure to identify the decision maker. Vendors in this space do it all the time. "The ISM told me we were good to go and send over the contract, called him back today and he still really wants our widget, but his GM is forcing him to buy from our competitor." If it is a pattern in your area it makes sense to rethink your approach.
  • Last thought. If you haven't seen this Simon Sinek video on the topic of "millenials" it is well worth the watch. I don't necessarily agree with his fourth point and conclusion, but it is thought provoking for managers of those in this age bracket and sales people that have them as clients too.
 
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Reactions: derrickwoolfson

derrickwoolfson

4 Pounder
Sep 10, 2014
77
25
First Name
Derrick
Couple thoughts:
  • "My parents won't let me" has been the fallback phrase for more than one generation. It makes it easy to avoid the perceived conflict by pinning it on a third party. It could be that its use is being extended into young adulthood with some "millenials." ( full disclosure, I hate that term.)
  • It may be that the leverage the parent has over the choice is the down payment not the financing.
  • Any salesperson benefits from analyzing his or her losses and looking for areas of improvement. Outsider looking in and no disrespect intended at all, but this looks like a failure to identify the decision maker. Vendors in this space do it all the time. "The ISM told me we were good to go and send over the contract, called him back today and he still really wants our widget, but his GM is forcing him to buy from our competitor." If it is a pattern in your area it makes sense to rethink your approach.
  • Last thought. If you haven't seen this Simon Sinek video on the topic of "millenials" it is well worth the watch. I don't necessarily agree with his fourth point and conclusion, but it is thought provoking for managers of those in this age bracket and sales people that have them as clients too.
Sure thing. I should have noted it in the post, but the parents have been in the dealership with the adult. And during the "needs analysis" the parent is calling all of the shots. The tactic of the decision maker (as you have said) has been here for ages. I just have not yet seen parents actually coming into the dealership or managing the communication for their adult child when submitting an inquiry online.
 

ChrisR

Boss
Oct 12, 2015
229
221
First Name
Christian
We had a customer in at my last store, school teacher, in her late-20's, loved the car we offered her. Loved the deal. Her mother jumped in, and controlled EVERYTHING. Tried to over-negotiate the deal, to the point we nearly lost the buyer, due to her overbearing mother. Fortunately, we were able to save it, while we all scratched our heads, asking that same question.

After the purchase, the mother would not let her daughter drive her own car until LoJack was installed, stating she was too concerned her daughter's 2015 Subaru would be stolen from the elementary school parking lot in the few days between purchase, and installation appointment date.
 
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SeanW

Green Pea
Dec 30, 2016
6
4
First Name
sean
Couple thoughts:
  • It may be that the leverage the parent has over the choice is the down payment not the financing.
  • Any salesperson benefits from analyzing his or her losses and looking for areas of improvement. Outsider looking in and no disrespect intended at all, but this looks like a failure to identify the decision maker. Vendors in this space do it all the time. "The ISM told me we were good to go and send over the contract, called him back today and he still really wants our widget, but his GM is forcing him to buy from our competitor." If it is a pattern in your area it makes sense to rethink your approach.
These same two thoughts popped into my mind. If Mom/Dad is putting the down payment they have ultimate control over the deal and you should really be tailoring the sale to them. I have seen many parents call the shots because they were providing the down payment.

But as you mentioned these people are providing the down payment and financing on their own and still walking because of their parents...that is a little mind blowing to me. I haven't noticed that in any of my stores.

@derrickwoolfson If it continues to happen please update us on ways your staff was able to turn around the situation and close the deal.
 
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derrickwoolfson

4 Pounder
Sep 10, 2014
77
25
First Name
Derrick
These same two thoughts popped into my mind. If Mom/Dad is putting the down payment they have ultimate control over the deal and you should really be tailoring the sale to them. I have seen many parents call the shots because they were providing the down payment.

But as you mentioned these people are providing the down payment and financing on their own and still walking because of their parents...that is a little mind blowing to me. I haven't noticed that in any of my stores.

@derrickwoolfson If it continues to happen please update us on ways your staff was able to turn around the situation and close the deal.
I certainly will! Perhaps it was the holidays - lol - I am starting to keep a tally of how many parents submit a lead. The conversations, too, can be a bit awkward. Always offering a new learning experience.
 

derrickwoolfson

4 Pounder
Sep 10, 2014
77
25
First Name
Derrick
We had a customer in at my last store, school teacher, in her late-20's, loved the car we offered her. Loved the deal. Her mother jumped in, and controlled EVERYTHING. Tried to over-negotiate the deal, to the point we nearly lost the buyer, due to her overbearing mother. Fortunately, we were able to save it, while we all scratched our heads, asking that same question.

After the purchase, the mother would not let her daughter drive her own car until LoJack was installed, stating she was too concerned her daughter's 2015 Subaru would be stolen from the elementary school parking lot in the few days between purchase, and installation appointment date.
Wow! - the hardest part dealing with these sorts of situations is balancing the conversation towards the buyer. Ensuring that they feel/believe that they (the buyer) have made their own decisions. In your case, it seems that the buyer was "unable" to make the decisions. Offering a bad no fun experience! Buying your first "real" car should be a good experience!!!
 

ChrisR

Boss
Oct 12, 2015
229
221
First Name
Christian
Wow! - the hardest part dealing with these sorts of situations is balancing the conversation towards the buyer. Ensuring that they feel/believe that they (the buyer) have made their own decisions. In your case, it seems that the buyer was "unable" to make the decisions. Offering a bad no fun experience! Buying your first "real" car should be a good experience!!!
Precisely, with my current stable of dealerships, we have the steady flow of parents submitting leads, or at least following up on their childrens' leads. I spoke with one father extensively recently, and he wanted to make sure his daughter was getting a quality vehicle, but wanted to make sure she made her own decision, and had the experience by herself. That is a much better parental interaction scenario, than having the parents dictate what their offspring are, or are not, allowed to do with their own money.
 
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Reactions: Jeff Kershner

Jeff Kershner

Founder
May 1, 2005
3,728
1,295
First Name
Jeff
It wasn't but maybe a year ago I had to ask someone what a Hellicopter parent was. I laughed out loud when it was explained. Pitiful. It's exactly what is wrong with our society today.

@ChrisR proves there is still some hope out there.
 
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Reactions: Alexander Lau

Alexander Lau

Under the Bridge
Feb 11, 2015
2,459
749
First Name
Alex
I think a lot of parents look at the millennial generation as a whole and think, "my kid isn't going to make business decisions and suffer like most of them seem to." (At least starting off). Dunno..., but that's the feeling I get in reading this and having seen somewhat similar situations at the dealership level @ Cochran Automotive Group.

"Helicopter parent" is absolutely hilarious!
 
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