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Two months ago, I bought a new Subaru Outback and sold my 2001 Honda Accord on Craigslist. The transactions nearly happened on the same day, and I’m convinced the only reason my Honda wasn’t snatched up straight away was the fact that it hadn’t been detailed that weekend.
You see, we hadn’t planned on buying the car that day. On a whim, my husband and I took a turn for the dealership because my pregnancy cravings were driving us straight to the ice cream parlor next door. A stroll with our cones took us one parking lot over, and voilà! There was the silver-colored car of my dreams.
For the past three months we had been hounding the dealership websites and classifieds, convinced we wanted a larger SUV. The loan paperwork was burning a hole straight through my purse, but every time my husband thought we were close to finding “the one,” I turned into a regular Goldilocks. This one was too large, this one too small. This one was okay, but it kind of smelled like porridge.
And so, when I finally found my match, he pounced. He was in the back room signing paperwork before I could finish my chocolate twist with rainbow sprinkles.
We got home a little after noon that Saturday and I decided to write a simple two line ad for the Honda Accord. I didn’t post any pictures because I knew I wanted to get the car professionally detailed before we entertained any serious buyers. Little did I know how attractive a one-family-owned Honda Accord with all its service records could be!
Before 6 p.m. we had three people show up to check the car out. I was in shell shock. The ink hadn’t even dried on our Subaru paperwork and the insurance coverage wouldn’t start until midnight. How was I going to get my 10 p.m. ice cream cone?!
Luckily for me and baby, all of the buyers ended up shrugging away in the end. When I finally went outside to move the car back into our driveway, I realized I would have shrugged away, too – there was black dog hair covering the back seats, dirt and sand from a recent trip to the beach on the passenger’s side floormat, wet nose marks on the windows, and some suspicious chocolate-looking stains on the steering wheel. (These ice cream cravings are no joke!)
On Monday, I took the car out to the local detailer and gave it the best shampoo and style of its life. Driving it home, I felt a twinge of regret that our time together had come to such a beautiful close after 10 years together. The vanilla scent of the interior convinced me to take one last run for ice cream before we said good-bye to Helen Honda forever.
The next day, we had a buyer come by at 10 a.m. and the car drove away at 10:30 a.m. First impressions do matter, and it’s something you should remind your customers of each and every day. Whether they’re driving clients around or trying to sell their truck on Craigslist, everything is better in a clean car – even chocolate ice cream.
Kate Carr, Editor in Chief