Case-study – Perception and individual decision making


Mahesh loves what he does. He just isn’t crazy about how others see him. He is the owner of RR Automotive Sales, a used car dealership in Karol Bagh, Delhi, with about 30 cars on his lot at any time.

“Used –car dealers deal with a pretty bad reputation,� say Mahesh. Just why, he isn’t sure. He didn’t realize there was such a stigma attached to used-car dealers until he opened his dealership in 1997. “At Diwali, when family members would ask what I was doing, I’d tell them, and they’d ask me why I’d want to do that.�

Regardless of the public’s impression of used-car dealers, Mahesh loves his business. He enjoys being his own boss. He likes being the sole salesman on his lot. He relishes the diversity of his work—he does everything from buying the vehicles, to fixing them up to sell, to helping buyers arrange financing. And, very importantly, he likes the opportunity to work with customers. “There are a thousand guys out there selling cars who are better at selling than I am,� Mahesh says. I’m more interested in having a relationship.

One of the Mahesh’s strengths is that he loves cars. It’s in his blood—his father worked for a new-car dealer and frequently traded the family’s cars. Mahesh believes his intimate knowledge of cars makes it easier from him to sell them. “I can tell you whether the car has 75% of its brake pad left or if the brake pads are new, because I did it.�

To build a meaningful relationship with a customer, Mahesh has to overcome the stereotype of a used-car salesman. He thinks this might be coming from the hard-sell techniques used by some in his business. “I don’t think it would take a customer long to get jaded if they are out shopping for a car. That is a hard thing to overcome.�

It’s frustrating to Mahesh when potential customers see him as just another shady salesman. Because he works hard to build a customer’s trust, it hurts him when he realizes that he’s failed. Mahesh always feels that if a customer questions his integrity it is hard for him to reply in affirmative. The conclusion is that Decision making and perceptions are not compatible always and sometimes the perception alters the decision.

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