Hoffman Opens Paperless Smart Center in Hartford

Glenn Swanson
by Glenn Swanson

This weekend, I attended the grand opening of the Hoffman Auto Group's "smart center" in Hartford, Connecticut. Two smart cars filled the appropriately diminutive showroom floor: the Passion coupe and a Cabriolet (no Pure). The first salesman was desk-bound and down, fiddling with his phone. When I asked about the smart's EPA mileage, he quoted me the wrong numbers, which were, of course, too high. A bit later, he disappeared, leaving two salesmen at the far end of the showroom. I busted-up their little confab to ask about available heated seats. Salesman B's thick German accent was, again, brand appropriate. But I got the distinct feeling I'd interrupted a more important conversation. Salesman-averse customers were SOL. Sales brochures were conspicuous by their absence. Even the Monroney sticker was MIA; the cars' windows were rolled down. The comments I overheard from the public in attendance were largely positive. Imagine how many sales leads were lost due to a lack of attention. Or was it arrogance from a dealership used to selling higher end (read higher-profit) cars such as Audi and Porsche? Perhaps it’s a matter of wen kümmert es?

Glenn Swanson
Glenn Swanson

Glenn is a baby-boomer, born in 1954. Along with his wife, he makes his home in Connecticut. Employed in the public sector as an Information Tedchnology Specialist, Glenn has long been a car fan. Past rides have included heavy iron such as a 1967 GTO, to a V8 T-Bird. In between those high-horsepower cars, he's owned a pair of BMW 320i's. Now, with a daily commute of 40 miles, his concession to MPG dictates the ownership of a 2006 Honda Civic coupe which, while fun to drive, is a modest car for a pistonhead. As an avid reader, Glenn enjoys TTAC, along with many other auto-realated sites, and the occasional good book. As an avid electronic junkie, Glenn holds an Advanced Class amateur ("ham") radio license, and is into many things electronic. From a satellite radio and portable GPS unit in the cars, to a modest home theater system and radio-intercom in his home, if it's run by the movement of electrons, he's interested. :-)

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  • PJungnitsch PJungnitsch on Jan 15, 2008
    I’m intrigued to find out how Smart does in the US - my 2c is that it’s very unlikely to work but does anybody know how successful they are in Canada? Mercedes was planning on sales of 800 cars per year when they first brought them in in late 2004. Sales have run 3000-4000 per year since then. Sales seemed to have legs, as the biggest sales month was in May of 2007, three years after introduction (after which the dealers started running out of new cars).
  • Landcrusher Landcrusher on Jan 16, 2008

    Glenn, My logic is not a common perception, and your story is only indirectly related to it. First, I watch companies make this mistake all the time. They try to rely on the professionalism or greed of their sales people to get them to sell some lower commission items. The problem is the sales people are unconsciously working on a formula that includes a calculation of the value of their time as well as a return on EFFORT. Not ROI, ROE. They will often not take a bird in hand for $20 per hour on the chance that a $40 per hour opportunity may be missed. Why? because no sale is certain, so they are playing the odds that they calculate at that moment. You can't armchair the decision and say they are stupid because you will make assumptions they did not. Always. Your example is just a guy who is either having a bad day, or is just a putz. No system of commissions can overcome the 5% dirtbag rule. 5% of them (or more) are going to be dirtbags. The relation is that both of these rules fall under the biggest rule that everyone needs to know. Bad sales experiences are almost always a result of BAD MANAGEMENT. Whether or not the sales person is a jerk is usually irrelevant. If he was a jerk when he was hired, it's the manager's fault. If he became a jerk afterwards, WHO DO YOU THINK CAUSED THAT? The only thing management cannot stop is when a reasonably good employ has a bad day and acts like a jerk when they usually act okay. It happens. In the end you are 100% right about how you should react. You should consider taking your Porsche business to a company under different MANAGEMENT.

  • Glenn Swanson Glenn Swanson on Jan 17, 2008

    Landcrusher: Bad sales experiences are almost always a result of BAD MANAGEMENT. You'll get no argument from me on that point. :-) P.S. My "common perception" comment was not meant to insult. My apologies if you took it as such.

  • Landcrusher Landcrusher on Jan 17, 2008

    Ah, I see what you were saying now. I didn't take it as an insult, but I didn't get the nuance and thought you had run off in the wrong direction. No worries.