How being late cost a car salesperson a $100,000 deal!

Jun 17, 2024
Source: Getty Images.

How long would you wait for someone who is late for an appointment?

Does the time differ if you are waiting for a friend, versus waiting for a salesperson?

My golf buddy Jim bought a new car last week. A Mercedes, an expensive car.

He’d done all his research. He knew what he wanted, called the dealership, and was told that he had to make an appointment to book a test drive. He had no issue with that. It makes perfect sense. In this day and age, salespeople are not just sitting
around waiting for customers to walk in the door. They’re busy, chatting to other salespeople about how busy they are!

The appointment was for 2 pm.

Jim arrived at 1.55 and told the receptionist that he was there for his test drive. He waited 15 minutes, with not one person in the busy showroom speaking to him. At 2.10 he announced, in a loud voice to no-one in particular, that he was leaving. At 2.15 the car salesperson called him. The conversation went something like this.

Salesperson: “Hi, sorry I was running late. If you would like to come back to the showroom now, we can do the test drive.’’

Jim: “No mate. I’m on my way home. You should have called to tell me you were running late, or at least called the office and had them tell me.’’

Salesperson: “If you stop your car now, I’ll drive to you.”

Jim: “Sorry mate. I’m heading home. I’ll buy the car elsewhere.’’

Salesperson: “But I was with another client. It would have been rude to cut their test drive short!’’

Jim politely said his goodbyes, called another dealer, and bought the car the next day paying more than $100,000 for his new Mercedes. I’m sure that was a good commission for the diligent salesperson who bothered to turn up when he said he would.

In this case, Jim had a choice. But that’s not always the case. Jim is a fairly easy-going person, but he’s lost all patience for people who don’t turn up on time, or don’t turn up at all, or incessantly run late. These days, people tend to believe that their time is more valuable than your time. Here’s some everyday examples of what I mean.

The doctor. How often is the doctor on time? The answer to that question with my doctor at least, is never. Without fail, you can guarantee a 30-minute wait at the surgery. And since the introduction of 10-minute appointments, things have only gotten worse.

Telstra. Our home internet is dodgy. There always seems to be an issue with connectivity. When you call Telstra, it’s always the same reply: “We will be with you on Wednesday, between 8am and 1pm.” Thank goodness I’m retired and can sit around for five hours waiting for a technician. It’s not like I might have anything else I need to do.

Aged-Care cleaners. My mother-in-law, as part of her Aged Care package, has a cleaner visit once a fortnight on a Thursday. Sometimes the cleaner arrives at 8 am. Sometimes the cleaner arrives at 3 pm. We asked the service provider if they could supply at ETA each fortnight. That was a bridge too far. So, every second Thursday my mother-in-law sits and waits … and waits … and waits. Her time obviously counts for nothing.

And what about tradespeople? It’s like winning the lottery if a tradesperson even turns up on the Gold Coast, let alone turn up on time. Tradespeople, as we know, hold the upper hand. They are so much in demand that they can pick and choose what jobs they do, and what jobs they don’t do. Our roof was damaged in the Christmas night storm. The insurance company arranged for some immediate repairs but advised we had some other long-term issues that needed fixing on our roof. So far, three roofers have agreed to come and take a look. None have turned up. All have left me hanging. I’m now told there’s a three-month wait to get a roofer on the Gold Coast to even come and assess what needs to be done. Hope it doesn’t rain anytime soon.

I’m naturally a person who turns up on time. In fact, I stress about not being on time and I hate being late and consider lateness to be a trait of bad manners. I find it infuriating if people are continually late. My wife tells me not to take it personally, she says that some people just can’t help themselves.

Psychotherapist Somia Saman, who specialises in cognitive behavioural therapy, agrees with my wife arguing that people who are late are “natural born optimists” who believe they are able to manage everything in their hectic schedules. She says that over schedulers try to pack too much into one day and as a result end up running late.

I don’t buy that excuse. Everyone has a mobile phone. So, if you are going to be any more than 10 minutes late, you should pick up the phone and call. That way, you might not miss out on the commission from a $100,000 car sale.

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