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Your CRM Can’t Tell You This...


In this issue:




SCA TAData-Driven

On and Off the Racetrack


Social Media Tricks of the Trade to Increase Revenue

Do you know your customers? Let us introduce you. With One-to-One Intelligent Marketing, our algorithms find the most relevant customers in your DMS. Plus we handle all of the communication for you. Let us drive customers to your dealership, allowing you to focus on what you do best: close deals. It’s the right conversation, with the right customer, at the right time. 1

Personalized landing pages


Personalized offer letter


Responsive browser views


Two personalized emails

Credible offers tailored to every customer Tagging and tracking for behavioral intelligence Drive traffic to your dealership

Knowledge is Power. Timing is everything. Get started today. 833.653.0115 2


“We have been VERY pleased with the results of the campaigns AutoAlert deploys each month. Compared to what we were doing before using One-to-One, the results have been night and day.�

Bob Tasca III, Tasca Ford


Welcome to the data edition of Modern Dealership, the quarterly magazine written for dealers by dealers and automotive experts. In this issue, we focus on “Data Tells the Story,” giving you insight into the ever-evolving world of data and how to construct better data processes. Our cover story features Bob Tasca III, known for heading-up a large, fourth-generation dealership enterprise in three states but equally known to race fans for his 300-mph trips down the quarter-mile track at NHRA events. Want to know what both activities have in common? Tasca’s insatiable appetite for data! He measures and tracks a multitude of data points, and he lets data tell him the story for all of his businesses. “You must always trust the data,” he says emphatically. But all the data in the world is of little use if you don’t use it to power your dealership. For that reason, we put together the article “Data Tells the Story That Your CRM Can’t.” Today’s data mining requires very sophisticated algorithms, and if your CRM is even a little bit dated, you may be wasting a lot of money on it. We’ll tell you things your CRM simply can’t in this revealing story. Check out the feature on dealership consultant Joe Webb for expert tips on using data correctly to improve sales and boost revenue, plus get advice on how to use video in your social outreach. And don’t miss our interview with Joey Little, the biggest player in social media for the auto industry. There’s no question that data is essential for the success of any business today, and the automotive world is no exception. We hope you’ll find this issue a helpful tool to expand your data processes. If you would like to contribute to the magazine, we welcome you! Please go to our website,, and scroll to the bottom of the page, then click Apply Now. While on the website, feel free to explore back issues. We have a lot of helpful ideas designed to improve all aspects of your dealership. This is YOUR magazine!

The MD Team






Whether Driving at 300 MPH or Operating a Dealership, Data Is King Bob Tasca III Shares His Outlook on Using Data



Some People Start Their Day with Breakfast... I Start Mine with Data An Interview With Joey Little


Data Tells the Story That Your CRM Can’t


Crazy Videos Drill Home the Point for Serious Sales Training An Interview With Joe Webb


Data DNA – Does Your Data Have the Right Genetics? Three auto-industry siblings share tips for making the most of your customer data.



The ROI of Relationships: Know Your Most Valuable Customers


Mine Further & Deeper for Success


By Kendall Billman, Senior VP, AutoAlert


Use Data to Become CPO Savvy By Robert Christman, Senior-Level Sales Leader, Revenue Through People, Process and Training



Consumer Profiling Can Help Your Dealership Gain Customers


If It Moves, Measure It – Then Get Results! By Brian Huth, Asset, Marketing, and Strategic Planning Manager, Sam Pack’s Five Star Auto Group





The Consumer Marketplace: Why You Should Be Afraid, and Why You Shouldn’t By Rex Weaver, Director of Service Innovation, Lehigh Valley Acura


Frenemies: Conquering Your Love-Hate Relationship with Data



Joining the Data Love Train


The Changing Appearance of Customer Service

By Cathy Nesbit, Social Media Director, Harry Robinson Buick GMC




Data Tells a Contrasting Story for Dealerships


Which Social Media Channels Are Best for Your Dealership?

M O D E R N D E A L E R S H I P. C O M


Build relevant ads easier and faster than ever!


855-787-9770 6



M O D E R N D E A L E R S H I P. C O M


Relationships Take Work

Dealerships that identify their most valuable customers immediately set themselves up for success. They know there’s power behind the relationships they build with shoppers, and the more they interact, engage, and improve the customer experience, the more loyalty and trust they’ll gain. Relationships take work. In fact, building relationships can sometimes seem like a lot more work than simply tossing marketing materials out and hoping something sticks. But we’ve learned over time that “guesswork marketing” is no way to build a brand.

“Guesswork marketing is no way to build a brand.” Instead, smart dealerships rely on solid data insights to help them reach consumers and stand out as leaders in today’s marketplace. Technology continues to change to meet business needs, and nearly limitless shopper insights are right at dealerships’ fingertips. From that point, it’s up to dealers to leverage the most important insights and use them to build relationships that keep shoppers coming back.

Billboards vs. Targeted Marketing

Dealerships have historically filled the sides of highways with billboards, produced print ads that reach an unknown number of consumers, and delivered mailers to “Current Resident” that likely got stacked with the junk mail. How many of your sales people have taken a short cut and used a billboard as a lead source? These campaigns, however, deliver nebulous insights, leaving dealerships to wonder at the effectiveness of their marketing efforts. While it’s difficult to measure how many drivers are affected by the messaging on a



billboard as they zip past, it’s not difficult to measure online clicks, email responses, and phone calls. And that’s where targeted, data-driven campaigns enter into the dealership relationship-building process. Intelligent data and shopper insights are valuable to the automotive industry, because they help dealerships get to know their customers and deliver exactly what’s needed with the impeccable timing today’s shoppers are looking for—leading to more sales and happier customers.

Leave the Guessing Behind The key to making your customers happy is knowing what they want, rather than guessing. Don’t guess about what resonates with your customers or which communications capture their attention. Instead, invest in a comprehensive platform that will facilitate data-driven, actionable communication that’s targeted to individual needs and is trackable. You’ll be able to quickly ascertain what’s working, tweak your campaigns, and deliver top-notch customer experiences. Best of all, every customer will get the feeling that your dealership knows them personally.

Dealerships can take advantage of the insights they already have to help them retain existing customers, as well as appeal to new ones. When you know what your customers are looking for, you’ll be able to provide a more enjoyable dealership experience. You’ll also benefit from loyalty, increased positive feedback, more recognition in the marketplace, and an expanded audience that will be more likely to turn to your dealership when it’s time to buy.

Detailed analytics and reporting.

A comprehensive platform that offers multi-channel outreach. Don’t settle for single touchpoints or replicated content that’s not individualized to your specific customers.

Be sure you can see real-time data that lets you know exactly how various aspects of your campaigns are working so you can quickly update or redirect your efforts if needed.

Personalized offers that detail specific customer opportunities. Today’s shoppers are looking for personalization, and when you offer specifics regarding how they can benefit at your dealership, you’ll boost sales.

Here’s what to look for in a data platform.

M O D E R N D E A L E R S H I P. C O M


Mine Further & Deeper for Success By Kendall Billman Senior VP, AutoAlert

Equity Mining Is Only Part of the Picture– Data Mining Offers So Much More It is human nature to want to keep to the familiar and reject change, but when it comes to lead and sales generation, embracing the future of data mining is key to success. Equity mining – that is, searching for customers who have equity in their vehicles and thus are good candidates for buying a new car – has been a useful tool for dealerships for many years. However, the depth and breadth of this kind of research only goes so far, and in fact limits your sales revenue. With data mining provided by AutoAlert, your leads are greatly increased through mining increased channels, including the service drive, retail, leasing, used car, service-only customers (i.e., those who have purchased from other dealerships), and more.



Let’s take a quick look at a few examples from some of these additional channels. The service drive is an ideal place to start conversations with customers, whether they’ve purchased from your dealership or not. With AutoAlert’s PandoAlert, your staff will be privy to a whole host of customer data, including current car information (when the warranty expires, how many payments are left, etc.), any repairs and service appointments, whether the customer has begun shopping for a new car, etc. Plus, credible offers are readily available for each and every customer. This allows your staff to start the right conversation at the right time.

Retail opportunities include customers who are close to paying off their cars. Although these customers might be ready to trade in, they don’t come close to representing the hottest leads. Statistics show that most owners are ready to trade in around 30 months. This creates a real win-win for both your dealership and your customer, as their vehicles are often in great shape and basically sales-floor ready. How about mining leasing opportunities? There are many of them out there: Leases are typically 36 or 48 months, and many people are able to

“Data mining when done correctly improves customer retention, boosts CSI scores, and offers higher profit margins...”

Other ways to use data mining include finding customers with warranties that are nearing expiration and offering them different retail, lease, trade-up, and cash-back opportunities. If your dealership is new to this type of mining for information, it may seem intimidating or overwhelming. That’s where the really great news comes in. One of the best parts of data mining with AutoAlert’s software tools is that the work is almost completely automated for you. The software provides thorough product training, a readily available support team, flexible solutions, intelligent marketing, and deep datamining tools. Further, data mining when done correctly improves customer retention, boosts CSI scores, and offers higher profit margins, all at a lower acquisition cost than traditional and digital sources.

trade out starting on the 16th month. Data mining can alert your staff to when a customer’s lease is nearing that time as well as find customers who are facing mileage penalties. Mileage alerts are one of the highest converting alerts on the market today, and helping a customer avoid paying penalties will secure a good relationship.

If you’ve ever watched a movie or TV show about mining for gold, how would you describe the people who go in search for gold? How would you describe their efforts? These are determined, resourceful folk. They use every tool at their disposal and are willing to go as far as necessary to reach their goal.

Data mining can help dealerships retain off-lease cars by providing credible offers to lessees. This builds a stock of high-quality, relatively new cars for used car sales and allows dealerships to retain customers who are loyal to the dealership and the brand. You can also use data mining to help a customer find a specific car that one of your other customers has and might be ready to trade in.

Your efforts to sell cars may not be as gritty, but the more thorough you are, the more successful you’ll be. And with software tools available to help you, it’s not as hard as you might think to hit gold.

M O D E R N D E A L E R S H I P. C O M


USE data to become


10100010100010101010101010101001001110101001010100111001010100100100101 01000100101001100101010 01010001010101010101010100100111010100101010011100101010010010010101000 10010100100100 0001010101010101010100100111010100101010011100101010010010010101000100 101001 010101010101010010011101010010101001110010101001001001010100010010 101010101001001110101001010100111001010100100100101010001

By Robert Christman Senior-Level Sales Leader, Revenue Through People, Process and Training

Rob Christman is the author of “Postcards From the Road: 14 Winning Life Strategies Through the Eyes of an Automotive Pro.� He is a 15-year veteran of the auto industry and has worked for top brands such as Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book in both corporate product development and field sales positions. Rob has presented at many industry conferences, most recently at the 2016 Used Car Week CPO Forum. 12


New car sales are not meeting forecast rates and used car sales are also behind predictions. Yet there’s still great opportunity to bring your dealership to record profits in 2017. How? A specifically targeted certified pre-owned program! Building a successful CPO system takes work — and an in-depth understanding of your customer base. If you have a good grasp of your customers’ needs, you can identify which ones will be a good fit for a CPO vehicle. Fortunately, finding the perfect matches for your CPO program is simple. That data is already logged in your CRM. You just have to know what you’re looking for. By prospecting and data mining for four major opportunities, you’ll be able to match the right CPO offers to the right customers, keeping them satisfied and your profits high.

Let’s take a look at these four opportunities: CPO Opportunity 1: Credit-Challenged Buyers Many customers would love to purchase a new car but can’t get approved for a loan to finance one. These buyers are a prime target for CPO vehicles, which provide the peace of mind of a new vehicle, but at lower price points. If you have customers in your CRM who were recently denied a new car loan, now’s the time to reach out and share the benefits of CPO.


Educating these buyers is critical — because one-third of new-vehicle shoppers still don’t know much about CPO programs. And even if customers are relatively CPO-savvy, they might not know that your dealership has CPO options. Promoting CPO in your messaging and on your website is a great way to raise market awareness about your offerings.

CPO Opportunity 2: Frequent Service Visits Another way to tell whether a customer will be a good fit for CPO is by looking at their service history. Since 10 percent of Americans will drive with their “check engine” light on for three months or more, a customer who regularly visits your dealership for service is probably more safety-conscious than the rest. And safety and security are among CPO’s biggest draws.


When asked why they chose a CPO vehicle, the most common answers customers gave were “the warranty” and “peace of mind.” A full 57 percent of CPO purchasers bought because of the warranty’s safety benefits. If you’ve tied your service data to your CRM, you can easily search for active service customers. Then target those customers with messaging that emphasizes CPO’s safety benefits. They’ll appreciate the extra peace of mind that you’re offering — and you’ll appreciate the extra CPO sales. M O D E R N D E A L E R S H I P. C O M


010 101 00 00

010 101 01

You also know they aren’t interested in paying the full price of owning a new vehicle. CPO vehicles offer the same high quality and financial benefits of a new-car lease, along with the added perk of owning the vehicle long-term.








New-car lessees are excellent targets for CPO programs. You know they’re committed to driving high-quality, proven-safe vehicles.










CPO Opportunity 3: Expiring Leases

Scan the data in your CRM for customers with fast-approaching end-of-lease terms. These customers are a great target, since you know exactly when they’re due back to your dealership. They might be thinking about purchasing their next vehicle instead of leasing — and you should make CPO top-of-mind when they’re making that decision. On the other hand, if they’d rather sign another lease, CPO can still be in the picture. CPO leases are highly attractive for many customers and are generally more costeffective than new-vehicle leases.

CPO Opportunity 4: Recent CPO Purchases 1 1001



















Back in the 1960s, an Italian businessman wanted to treat himself to the finest sports car in the world – a Ferrari. But when he took his new vehicle on the road, he encountered one mechanical issue after another. Even worse, the more often he brought his vehicle back for service, the more the dealership started to suspect he was the problem, not the car. Fed up, the businessman — named Ferruccio Lamborghini — decided to start manufacturing his own automobiles. And the rest is history. You aren’t selling CPO Lamborghinis, but the lesson remains the same: Interactions after the sale are just as important as what happens before.  Even if a customer has already bought a CPO vehicle, you should make sure you’re meeting his or her needs after the purchase. For example, if a customer has purchased a CPO vehicle but didn’t opt for a vehicle service contract, that’s a prime opportunity to provide post-sale value. Inform existing CPO customers of the additional safety benefits and features a service contract can provide.



By looking out for your customers’ needs both now and in the future, you’ll nurture long-term relationships that increase your odds of additional revenue, referrals, and retention.


















To make your CPO program thrive in the long term, it’s important to keep working to understand your customers after they purchase. How important is it? Well, let me tell you a story.



If you take the time to search for these four important opportunities, you’ll find that your dealership’s own database is your key to matching the right CPO offers to the right customers. By making the effort to understand your customers’ needs and nurture personalized relationships through the CRM, you can tap into a source of sales and referrals that can keep your CPO program successful. 14


M O D E R N D E A L E R S H I P. C O M


Consumer Profiling Can Help Your Dealership Gain Customers When it comes to consumer profiling, as well as suggestive or smart marketing, several companies are paving the way and providing tactics that can benefit dealerships. For instance, we’ve all seen how Amazon automatically offers a purchasing suggestion based on browsing history and what other customers have viewed and purchased. This is smart marketing at its finest. Without waiting to bother customers post-purchase via email or requiring them to go back to the website to make a separate purchase, Amazon nonchalantly provides suggestions while customers are in the process of purchasing. Even though there is an endless amount of data available to personally target and learn about each 16


individual, most dealerships – and companies in general – have no idea what their customers are saying, doing, or buying. The result is traditional blanket advertising, which leaves many customers falling through the cracks. Instead of personalizing messages and deals with easily accessible data, many dealerships are losing customers and opportunities. Your dealership has access to buckets of consumer data – some of it resides right in your own DMS – and having a product that allows this data to be filtered into a 360-degree customer profile will give you the ability to target and personalize each customer. The following are what your dealership can learn about your customers.

Actions. Knowing your

customers’ interaction history—if they’re visiting your site, opening your emails, taking advantage of your deals—is key to knowing what works for your dealerships. For example, it’s essential to know if shoppers are using coupons or deals sent via text more often than those sent via email. This is a great way to help you define and focus your marketing efforts. Better yet, determine which customers respond to what channel, then group their next communication accordingly.

Words. Social tracking allows you

to know exactly what consumers are saying about your dealership, your professionals, and your products. It also gives you the chance to see any mutual friendships that may exist between dealership professionals and consumers on various social media platforms. This information is beneficial in correcting and responding to negative reviews or concerns from consumers, maintaining a strong reputation, and using social connections to reach out to potential customers.

platforms are one of the easiest ways to figure out how to appeal to them. Using this information can also be helpful in finding out who else is in a customer’s social network with similar interests and targeting them as well. This data allows for real-time marketing. The mass majority of consumers get in on major events that are happening right now. Most major companies interact and post in real time about major events like the Super Bowl, the Oscars, holidays, etc. This is a great way to stay connected and in the minds of your customers—while ­­­possibly influencing their buying decisions.

Buying frequency. You already know

who is buying from your dealership and the service drive, but do you track patterns and frequency? Use purchase frequency and patterns to target specific content so it reaches the right customers, with the right content, at the right time. You’ll be surprised to know that while a great discount is appreciated, what customers need even more is the timing of the offer. These ideas are not out of the reach of your dealership. By using products such as AutoAlert’s PandoConnect, you can get to know your customers in a much more personal manner, understand their buying habits, and improve your opportunities for sales.

Likes. Your customers’ interests,

shares, and likes on social media

M O D E R N D E A L E R S H I P. C O M


If It Moves, Measure It – Then Get Results! By Brian Huth Asset, Marketing and Strategic Planning Manager Sam Pack’s Five Star Auto Group


ost dealership owners and their managers have been exposed to quality improvement systems from either their manufacturer or thirdparty providers. Trying to implement these processes and getting everyone’s buy-ins can seem overwhelming. For dealers with more than one dealership/franchise to oversee, getting results that meet your expectations on a daily/weekly/monthly/yearly basis can a very cumbersome task. Here’s a couple of questions you must explore: Do you really want to know what happened in your store(s) yesterday? What should you expect when you implement a process improvement system? Be prepared to be disappointed when you initially review your true data on your store’s regular performance! Why? In most cases, what you think is happening on a daily basis may be a far cry from your store’s actual daily routine. This includes everything from meeting



customer needs, new/used vehicle sales gross standards, asset management, etc. Inconsistent results can contribute to lost customers, lost revenue, and lost market share. Manufacturers have used programs like Six Sigma to reduce process errors, and they can help improve any dealership process. When continuous process improvement programs become a key element to your store’s daily routine, you also get a personal peace of mind, plus your business’ survival. If you only base your decisions on a Daily Operations Control report or a monthly financial statement, you’ll only be able to write a history report. Rather, proactive implementation of a quality improvement initiative can help monitor daily business practices that will produce successful results. In addition, you’ll increase internal competition while maintaining the departmental goals and standards.

3.2 accessories sold per truck

27.5 deals 1.7 seconds to

in progress

answer phone

1.25 hours to close

Implementing Process Improvements

Why Isn’t Everyone Doing This?

So how should a dealership get started implementing a process improvement system? Select some key, relevant information that you need to know daily, then develop a database management tool to track your baseline performance. Be sure to mine accurate data from your computer system, and do not rely on handwritten department logs that can be manipulated.

Tracking your store’s performance regularly is vital to the success of each process. And it takes commitment and hard work. All functions in life or business are processes, in one form or another. Try to understand, analyze, and improve processes. Then take on one process at a time, with the goal of improving the results. As your team becomes more familiar with the basic methodology, they will adopt these new disciplines.

After your baseline has been established, set your goals for improvement and use a commonsense approach to solving problems. Your team will agree it’s smart to understand the problem first before trying to resolve it. This method, which includes selecting the problem or issue, gathering and analyzing the right data, then identifying the root cause will result in a cultural change of habits. Implement new action steps to drive the new processes to ensure that your team does not revert to its old ways. This data-driven methodology means that decisions are based on facts and data, not gut feelings or how it’s been done in the past.

Data mining systems like AutoAlert can aid your internal processes by showing you which customers are high prospects for vehicle upgrades or to swap keys for the same monthly payment. Pando is an AutoAlert app that speeds customer service and processes by making task management easy and transparent. By being able to monitor your store’s activities, you can “Inspect What You Expect!” And remember, constant dedication is the key to creating and maintaining your desired results.

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Social Media Director, AutoAlert



M O D E R N D E A L E R S H I P. C O M


How long have you been involved in social media? How did you get into it? I was introduced to a little website called Friendster back in the mid-2000s along with an up-andcoming social site called MySpace. I was working in radio at the time and looking for another channel to communicate with my listeners. Engagement was a big factor in creating a good radio program. MySpace allowed me to interact with my listeners more easily and effectively. Radio was just a one-way communication device, where sites like MySpace and Friendster allowed a two-way communication platform.

What five tips would you give to a dealership looking to start using social media more and how have those five suggestions changed over the past 10 years? I think most dealerships struggle with looking for content. They’ve been stuck in this traditional marketing/communication rut for a while. Blasting out radio commercials and TV commercials and talking at their customers. This way of thinking has made dealerships focus on the sale and not the emotional connection they need to form with consumers. Even though trust is a huge bullet point in the traditional advertising strategies dealerships use, it is hard to show trust through radio, TV, and print advertising. I believe social media allows consumers inside the dealership, and seeing the culture of the dealership is what builds trust. I tell dealerships to believe in their culture and use that as the engine for content online. The second tip that I would give to dealerships is to involve their employees. Get employees excited about the social presence of the dealership and open up the social media policy to allow employees to post more from work. Showing that employees enjoy what they do and where they work really appeals to today’s consumers.

Third, look for the existing social media influencers working at your dealership and get them involved in expanding the reach of your messages. They will most likely be on board since they already exercise a strong interest in social media. They might even come up with strategies you didn’t know about. Fourth, get more into video. This doesn’t mean a bunch more walkaround videos of your inventory (which is extremely important), but videos of your dealership’s culture – what you are all about. And don’t forget your fixed ops department. Show off work that your body shop and technicians do. Find the personality of your dealership and capture it in video. The fifth suggestion I have for dealerships is to brag about the amazing things your dealership does in your community. Spread the word of the involvement your dealership has with nonprofits, schools, sports teams, etc.

There are

2.8active socialbillion media users worldwide... an increase of 22% over last year.

These suggestions have not changed much over the last 10 years. It’s all about creating content to highlight the culture at your dealership. Sure, you need to show off your inventory and your amazingly low prices, but every other dealership is doing the exact same thing online. Highlighting your culture separates you from the rest.

What is the biggest social media myth you have heard over the past 10 years? In my opinion the biggest myth is that you can hire someone with a basic understanding of Facebook to run your social media marketing strategy and campaigns. This simply is not true. You must have someone who truly understands the nature of social media along with social networking, and a clear understanding of what

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social broadcasting is. Simply taking pictures and video inventory and throwing it out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram does not cut it. You need a good understanding of content marketing and what makes engaging content. Social media is all about emotional connection with the consumer through a usergenerated website platform. Simply knowing how to put filters on Instagram pictures does not cut it as a social media marketer.

YouTube reaches more 18- to 34-year-olds and 35- to 49-year-olds than ANY cable network in the U.S.

Over the years the social media manager position had a positive impact on dealerships due to the importance of being on social media, but not every dealership has bought into hiring a full-time social media manager or community manager. Why do you think this is? I’ve seen the growth of social media managers in dealerships explode over the past three years. Many dealerships are now seeing that social media marketing is just as important as their website, search engine optimization, and search engine marketing. Dealerships that are behind the times are just filling that position with the third-party vendor the OEMs are requiring. This does not help the dealership at all. I believe all dealerships need to have somebody in-house who is familiar with social media and digital marketing, along with a background in photography and video. Using a third-party social media vendor, along with the social media manager inside the dealership, keeps the vendor in check and takes some burden off the social manager. Even though



dealerships have social managers, I believe they should also have a strong third-party social vendor working with them. The thirdparty vendor handles a lot of day-to-day tasks, allowing the internal dealership employee to focus on leads coming from social media.

How has online reviews and reputation changed over the past 10 years? It’s amazing how much online reviews have taken their place in the buying process for consumers. I don’t know one person who doesn’t read reviews before they buy something on Amazon. This is also true in the car shopping process as well. About 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a dealership. Consumers consider around 16 dealerships when shopping for a vehicle online, but only 1.4 dealerships get the customer to come in. Of course, price and inventory come into play when making that decision, but I know what customers read about a dealership also heavily influences their position. It simply comes down to what your reputation is online. Around 72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust the local business more, but no dealership can get 100% positive reviews. Sometimes we fail the customer and they express their grievances online. That gives the dealership a great opportunity to publicly address the mistakes that were made and maintain an image as a trustworthy business. A full 86% of consumers will hesitate to purchase from a dealership that has not addressed negative online reviews.

What can a social media manager do if, or when, a customer service interaction spirals out of control online? I think we can learn from United Airlines, which proved that doing nothing is horrible. I believe you need to address the challenge immediately and tactfully. Never publicly place blame on the customer. Something went wrong and someone is not happy. If a dealership wants to get the last word and make sure the world knows they did nothing wrong, it may cost sales going forward. I think the dealership sometimes forgets

that people read these reviews and can tell when a customer has a legitimate complaint compared to a customer who is just trying to get something for free. Always absorb the blame in an attempt to take the conversation offline.

What are some ways the dealership can connect and interact with social media influencers? This is a question I am asked quite often. My answer usually stuns people, like they didn’t realize the answer was so easy. The answer is look toward your employees first. Chances are you have two to five online influencers already underneath your rooftop. This is a great opportunity to empower them with your brand as well, giving them great tools to help promote what they sell or service along with the events and activities your dealership is always doing. These engaged employees can expand your reach on social media exponentially without your spending an additional dime. Communication is key, and providing amazing content about your dealership to your employees is critical. When you have engaged, happy employees, they love telling their network all the awesome things their dealership does.

75% of Facebook users

Social media continues to evolve at a rapid pace. What has been the most challenging aspect of building your clients’ brands over the past 10 years?

spend 20 minutes or more online every day.

The biggest challenge I face with dealership management is the thinking that social media is a broadcasting platform. They want to use the same strategy they’ve been doing with radio and TV advertisements, which scream a one-way message through the platform. I’ve been saying for 10 years that social media is a two-way communications platform. Not only do you get to put your content out, but you can also see the engagement with that content. With radio, you do not get to see the listener change the station. With social media, you can absolutely see who is tuning out. I’m an old radio guy so I’ve known that communication sells more than blasting a message. Getting a general manager or dealer principal to adopt that same mindset can be very challenging, but showing examples of

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how other dealerships are doing it right, as well as companies outside the automotive vertical, can sway a lot of minds.

What is the next big thing in social media? One word – video. When it comes to content on social media, visual is king. There’s absolutely nothing that is going to change that. Long, drawn-out posts do not get the same engagement as visual content. And if visual content is a mountain, then video is the peak. Short, entertaining, and educational video is blowing up. Just look at the amount of short recipe videos that are going through your Facebook newsfeed. They are recorded from a high angle, showing all ingredients going into a bowl, and creating amazing food in a 90-second video. The younger generation is not learning how to cook with recipe books; they’re learning how to cook with videos online. You always have the people that’ll read your brochures, but millennials, the iGeneration, and even Gen Xers

are turning to video to educate themselves. Attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, which means videos are getting shorter and shorter. One day your Facebook newsfeed will be nothing but short videos.

If you can leave our readers with one word to inspire them while creating social media marketing strategies, what would that one word be? Communication. It is the most important thing at the dealership today. Communication with your employees. Communication with your customers. Communication through social media. Stop selling and start communicating.




AUGUST 8-9, 2017 IN CLEARWATER, FL This conference delivers every aspect of Internet Sales and Technology Marketing Techniques, Tools and Strategies for Automobile Dealerships.




See it for yourself. Delivering alerts that make top opportunities more profitable.

All products, one seamless experience.

Pando - the most powerful messaging & task management platform at your fingertips.

Software that adapts to your dealership process.

One-to-one communication with your customers. Real offers. Real time. Call us today. 833.653.0115

WHICH SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS ARE BEST FOR YOUR DEALERSHIP? Most social media users are loyal to just one site, according to Here are some further findings to help you reach your customer base.



























151,200 MINUTES OR 105 DAYS



* The time at which a social post reaches half of it’s total engagement.


DATA TELLS THE STORY THAT YOUR CRM CAN’T When was the last time you evaluated your communications strategy using your CRM? When was the last time you did an audit to see how much your CRM is contributing to overhead costs? It could be time for a reality check, because today’s data can tell a story that your CRM simply can’t.




ata mining has gained a level of sophistication thought impossible only a few years ago, and unfortunately, that may leave many dealerships using old technology – without even knowing it. If you are using a standard data mining tool from your CRM, it is treating each customer communication exactly the same. You are telling each customer – meaning every customer – when they need to change their oil, or wishing them and their kids happy birthday, or mentioning their anniversary. You get creative and find numerous touchpoints. But it becomes the same old communication going out each and every month. That was a great angle to take in 2000, when such automation was cuttingedge. But in 2017, you don’t want to be doing this for a number of reasons:


It is wasted mail. Getting these types of generic letters have caused customers to instantly discard them in the trash. You are burning money.


It is extremely expensive. Let’s do the math. Your dealership sells an average of 100 cars a month, and each month your CRM is kicking out some type of letter. If you do this over a five-year rolling period, you’ll be sending out 6,000 letters each month. Considering that postage, printing, paper, envelopes, ink, equipment, employee wages and normal wastage could easily total $3 per letter, now you’re busting out $18,000 each month for letters that mostly are going in the trash.


It is a hidden expense. This massive expense doesn’t show up in your marketing budget, because it is likely allocated to normal overhead (postage, paper, etc.).


This practice actually harms your brand and relationship-building efforts. At first, it’s annoying, but then it turns to outright negativity to continually get outdated and non-applicable mail.

The World of Consumer Profiling In 2017, through consumer profiling and special algorithms, it is possible to know specific items that consumers are purchasing. Through this, it is easy to determine their lifestyle, how many kids they have, where they work, their income bracket, how much they travel, their age, their purchasing habits, their transportation preferences, what types of pets they have, what they like No, this isn’t the NSA spying on to eat, and the list can go on you – it is no more complicated and on. No, this isn’t the NSA spying on you – it is no more complicated than looking at Amazon and seeing how that company knows you, or more accurately, profiles you.

than looking at Amazon and seeing how that company knows you, or more accurately, profiles you.

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When you buy or search for anything on Amazon, the company keeps a record of every purchase and everything you’ve looked at, then uses this data to make suggestions and to compile an extensive history. Amazon knows the frequency of purchase, so knows when you’re likely to be back in the market. It doesn’t take long before Amazon knows your tastes and preferences. Of course, Amazon makes it very easy for you to see items to purchase (that you didn’t even know you wanted), and has mobile apps so you are never further away than your pocket for a potential purchase – and more data gathering! Add to this all the tracking that cookies do via web browsing, and voilà! Welcome to the world of sophisticated algorithms and consumer profiling.

Right Message, Right Customer, Right Time So how does this apply to today’s car customer? Dealers should communicate with their customers in the same manner as Amazon – that is, deliver the right message to the right consumer at the right time. This sophisticated profiling can’t be done from your old CRM. You need a data mining service, especially since data mining is an industry that is in a continual state of change. The sophistication levels of three years ago don’t hold a candle to what data mining can do today, and is nothing compared to where it will be one year, two years or three years from now. The speed, accuracy and detail will only get better. This means as you target customers with exactly what they need, when they need it, your response will correspondingly get better. The data mining algorithms developed by AutoAlert know exactly when and what a customer needs, based on service drive information, shopping behavior patterns, and other profiling methods. Instead of sending a monthly notice out, or a birthday card at the oneyear mark to your entire database, it knows what each customer needs, be it 9 months or 13 months or 16 months into a new, used, retail or lease. It also knows and continues to learn each customer’s preferences for communication – and it likely is not phone or mail. It might be email, text or even a social media messaging channel. So not only are you communicating with the right customer at the right time with the right message, you are also using the right communications channel – which will be the difference between customers visiting the dealership compared to them totally ignoring your touchpoints. 30


When using a company like AutoAlert, you’ll know when car leases are expiring, when mileage penalties are looming, when warranties are expiring, when service needs to be done, when the customer is ready to trade, what types of cars are being searched for, which customers can swap keys for the same monthly payment, when someone might change to a minivan or a pickup, and much more. Data mining can pinpoint the motivated customer, know the exact reasons behind the motivation, know when to communicate, and give you exactly what to say so you can have the right conversation. Ask yourself, can your CRM do this? Data can indeed tell you a story about your customer you never knew existed.

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Bob Tasca III and his family run a business spanning four generations, with multiple car dealerships in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. The enterprise, started by his grandfather nearly 75 years ago, has survived and surpassed most other dynasties, which Tasca attributes to a wealth of wisdom passed down and the continual adaption of new technology. “My grandfather used to say, ‘Be around a lot of the right people, ask the right questions, and remember the answers,’” Tasca says with a smile. He has remembered many of those answers, because he sits on top of an enterprise with more than a dozen dealerships. Then on weekends, Tasca travels the country on the NHRA circuit with his nitro-fuel Shelby Mustang Funny Car, roaring down the ¼-mile track at more than 300 mph.


On and Off the Racetrack M O D E R N D E A L E R S H I P. C O M


“I’m a data guy, and this sport is data-driven. You have to do what the race car is telling you to do. After any race, we collect at least 50 different data inputs. The data is displayed on a graph, and we can compare that to other graphs from previous races – either our best race, or a graph from similar track conditions. This composite view tells us the fine-tuning we need to make.” Likewise, he takes a composite view of his dealerships’ data and can compare it to previous months, best months, similar conditions, similar factory incentives, and more. “We have a very structured way of looking at our data. Data is only good when compared against something else. That’s when it becomes useful.” Since public preferences have changed, Tasca has been far ahead of the pack in realizing the need to connect with customers digitally. “Going forward, emails and text are far more effective than phone calls. We have always worked hard at capturing email addresses, and now we can create personalized URLs (p-URLs).”

Racing in the 2017 Season AutoAlert is the main sponsor for three of Tasca’s eight races for the 2017 season. “Their sponsorship has had a huge impact on us,” Tasca said. “The challenge in any racing season is to collect enough data in order to be competitive. This gives us enough races to gather that vital data.” Tasca is grateful to his fans that have followed him for the past 10 years on the NHRA circuit. “I am so appreciative to AutoAlert and to all my social media followers. Between Facebook and Twitter, I have about 60,000 followers, and we’re active in posting what we’re doing on the race track. These postings reach a lot of influencers.” Tasca said he had used data to help him stay on top of his lease business, but couldn’t find anything to help the retail side. “For years, we were trying to find some



data tools for the retail side. Then we discovered AutoAlert. It lets the cream rise to the top – we can easily see the customers who pose the best chances for a sales opportunity. We’ve done very well with it.”

Small Changes Add Up Whether racing or focusing on the dealership, the key toward longevity is to always be fine-tuning operations – but not implementing wholesale changes. “In our race car, a gigantic change is 3 grams of additional clutch weight. A huge change is whether to add one-tenth of one pound of additional tire pressure. A big change in timing would be 1 degree. Our crew chief will agonize over these small changes.” That philosophy carries over into his business operations.



“A lot of small changes can make a huge difference, but we don’t want to have the ‘program of the week.’ We’re building a culture of continued success versus a culture of knee-jerk reactions.” What keeps him focused is to let the data do the talking. “We measure our company in a consistent manner, based on what the data is telling us,” Tasca said. He said from the sales side, he looks at foot traffic, total leads, total appointments, total closes, the Customer Satisfaction Index, overall volume, and overall gross, along with other performance indicators. “AutoAlert plays heavily in all these metrics. It plays a role in our overall volume; it has a significant impact on the gross we generate. We can see which customers are

in a position to swap keys, and then do further upstream business with them.” When it comes to decision-making, Tasca admits there is one key difference between his racing business and the dealership business. “The race car spoils me, because I know in under 4 seconds if the decisions we made were right or not. But business is much different – it isn’t instant pudding. You have to give your marketing plans and processes time to work. We evaluate everything over time.”

Overcoming Obstacles Tasca said the biggest obstacle for any dealership in adapting new ways of doing business is to be able to let go of gut instincts. “You must trust the technology. A lot of managers and GMs won’t adapt new ways – they want to go by intuition. I’ve learned no matter what I feel, the data doesn’t lie.” M O D E R N D E A L E R S H I P. C O M




“The race car spoils

He said dealers that have adapted to technology and used it to their advantage are in a much better competitive position.

me, because I know in

“The days of operating off the hip are gone,” Tasca says emphatically.

under 4 seconds if the decisions we made were right or not. But business is much different–it isn’t instant pudding! You have to give your marketing plans and processes time to work.”

While data is most useful when compared, it also must be actionable. “You know the saying – what gets measured gets done. In that respect, the AutoAlert program really holds our team accountable. Since so much of their data is measurable, we can make sure that we’re taking action on it. We’ve been able to really impact the retail side and enhance the lease side of our business.” His business – whether it is racing or the enterprise dealership – will always focus on data at its core. Because of that, he anticipates a long, continued relationship with AutoAlert. “The secret sauce for AutoAlert is their ability to compile data in ways no one else can, and secondly, to put it in a framework that is easy to understand. I think the best is yet to come with AutoAlert.”

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Joe Webb Owner, DealerKnows

CRAZY VIDEOS Drill Home the Point for Serious Sales Training What’s your favorite Joe Webb video? There’s the one of Webb with buck teeth and an outrageous mullet wig telling car sales jokes. Or the video of “waiters” vs. farmers. Or him playing a car salesman that can’t figure out how to start the hybrid car. If you’ve seen any of these videos, you’re likely smiling – because you remembered them.

Which is exactly what Webb hopes to accomplish. They actually are, at least to a degree, training videos, ones that pack a strong, humorous message to his intended audience – car salespeople. Webb operates his company, DealerKnows, as one of the leading car sales consulting companies in the nation. Webb capitalizes on his experience as a stand-up comedian performing improv and sketch in Chicago clubs to deliver convincing, memorable points. He is serious about improving sales for his clients, and often finds the core problems surround the use of data, or the lack thereof. “Acceptance of data varies completely by store and by the roles within the store,” Webb said. “Many larger groups have a good focus on analytics and KPIs. There is another group that understands data analytics, but they’re not leveraging it. Then there is a third group that just doesn’t use it at all.”

Capitalizing on Big Data He said big data should be used to create a strategy, but it is not widely practiced yet. Many dealers, if they are involved with data, are using outside vendors and third-parties to accomplish this. “Dealers monitor and measure better than before, but they still overlook a lot of critical, useful information. They need the right metrics and tracking.” An example is credit applications. Webb said most dealers never look at the demographic information that is contained in those. “There is a ton of useful data in credit apps, as they provide a unique picture to see where shoppers are coming from. Another example is life cycle ownership data – that often doesn’t get utilized. It is a chance to identify equity opportunities. When using data for a digital strategy, you must market to consumers differently, definitely more frequently.” He stated that the CRM is the most important tool any dealer possesses. But dealers usually are not looking at the correct KPIs to gain value. Part of the problem is there are no benchmarks so they can see how they fit in, meaning they can only compare their data to themselves. “Dealers need to leverage data and find opportunities. Often, they don’t look at the granular side to find nuggets, or they don’t look at their service drive for opportunities. They also need to be looking at engagement data to discover prospects.”

Collecting Data for Process Mapping As part of his consulting program, Webb recommends doing process mapping for the retail side. The goal is to become much more efficient at all steps of the buying process.

M O D E R N D E A L E R S H I P. C O M


Customers may take a short time to make a purchasing decision, but then comes the avalanche of paperwork that can last for hours, and greatly diminish the buying experience. “There is no measuring of time when it comes to the retail side and that’s a problem,” Webb said. “Dealers need to ask, ‘How can we become more efficient?’” These process questions include: How long should a test drive take? How long should F&I paperwork take? How long should a trade-in appraisal take? How long should detail/delivery prep take? How long should it take to get a car posted online? “How do we expedite efficiency? Every customer would appreciate it, but dealers don’t even consider it,” Webb said. Too often, dealers focus only on data that Webb calls the “end-of-the-story data.” This includes total leads, total walk-ins, gross sales, gross profit, etc. “That only tells the end of the story, but they miss the middle of the story – data that can show efficiency levels – and that’s a key to improving performance.”

Comedy as a Communications Tool Anyone who is familiar with Webb knows about his humorous videos that he creates to communicate with his audience. He has scores of them on YouTube and his website (www., and many have gone viral. Today, Webb has gone from making videos solely to please himself to being hired to create them for brands, which has been a rewarding transition. “I’ve always developed comedic videos in an effort to drill home a point, but now I realized it is more about simple storytelling. That is what pleases a viewer the most. Anyone can 40


make themselves laugh – it’s something else to create something that hits a nail on the head in a comedic fashion.” He said it is vital to understand both the heart of comedy and the workings of a dealership. Webb spent years working the retail side at car dealerships, so the material is authentic. The videos often exploit the stereotypes of car sales – an admittedly easy target. “Comedy is supposed to both emphasize the ordinary as well as push the boundaries. I’m sure I’ve upset people with some of my videos. Not everyone is meant to get every joke, and few even catch the nuances. I know my audience well enough that they give me a lot of undeserved credit. I never try to be offensive, but I am not worried in the least if I am.” He said his videos are responsible for propelling him into the limelight of auto sales consulting. “I owe a lot of my career to the medium. I would not be anywhere near where I am today without videos. My dealer team and I were responding to customers’ emails with video responses back in 2006, and video chatting customers to close deals in 2007. We started making comedic vids promoting our dealership around the same time. That was the beginning. Here we are, over 10 years later, and most dealers haven’t yet caught on to the power of video.” Not surprisingly, Webb encourages dealerships to make full use of video channels to build marketing, relationships, and brand. “More videos are watched than emails are opened,” Webb said. “So I highly encourage it – and it isn’t that hard to do.” He said dealerships should hire an in-house video person, or find someone already on staff that has a strong knack for it, and provide plenty of time for them to work at it. “Look, it costs almost nothing to get involved in videos. You’re already carrying a camera in your pocket right now – it’s called a smart phone. It is not hard to find someone who is video-savvy, and editing software comes on most desktop computers nowadays. Maybe you need some

lighting, a green screen perhaps, and a really good mic. Good audio is vital to gaining an audience. It’s a minimal investment for a maximum return.�

Using Video to Promote Sales, Branding Webb has no problem rattling off a long list of ways dealers can effectively use video to boost sales and communicate with their customer base: Make videos from the service drive to demonstrate service expertise and sell more parts. Create video messages or replies to prospects through email and text. Make test-drive videos.

Develop videos on the value proposition of the dealership. Answer FAQs. Post short employee bios, letting their personality show through. Use drones to fly over the lot to show both volume and activity. Do video walk-arounds of interesting inventory. Highlight specials or sales events. Show employees active in community involvement (e.g., charity events, etc.).

Get authentic, spontaneous testimonials from customers.

M O D E R N D E A L E R S H I P. C O M


Boosting Sales Through Consulting Although Webb loves to create videos and humor, consulting and writing for the automotive dealership industry is his full-time business. He and his team of experts have worked with nearly 150 dealers in the U.S. and Canada to capture more sales. He said his team starts off with the “low hanging fruit,” which is often a CRM refresh – getting more mileage out of a dealer’s existing database by improving processes and templates. They also focus on how the sales team communicates with customers, helping to maximize leads and calls they are already getting. Attention will then shift to marketing, especially how to work in today’s digital and social media age. Webb said the consulting efforts involve a lot of coaching, mentoring, and working with Internet,



BDC, and sales teams, as well as management. It has been only the past few years that automotive vendors have brought DealerKnows aboard to create funny, engaging videos for their products. He said more organizations don’t adopt video– despite its popularity with the public–because they are too focused on short-term gains, on a month-to-month basis. Like any marketing tool, video investment takes time. Always the self-deprecating one, Webb says, “Anyone can get followers nowadays–that is easy. It is completely different to have fans. If my videos prove anything, it’s that someone who doesn’t deserve fans can get them by trying to be even moderately entertaining. Mediocre funny, I call it.” He adds, “With video, you can build a truly viable brand. It’s how you build an audience.”

Capture the best leads in automotive.

Bridge the gap between your service drive and your sales floor. For the first time ever, run your service department like an extension of your sales floor.

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DNA GEnE Does Your Data Have the Right

Three auto industry data leaders, who are also siblings, share how relevant data can help dealers create outstanding marketing plans.


magine sitting at a large family gathering at Thanksgiving or Christmas and the hot topic of

debate is . . . wait for it . . . data! If you’re part of the Stapleton family, it’s only natural. Siblings Sean Stapleton, Meg Stapleton and Kate Donovan grew up surrounded by data, as their father, John Stapleton, launched a data mining company that was eventually sold to A.C. Nielsen in the 1970s.

From left to right: Meg Stapleton, Sean Stapleton, and Kate Donovan. 44


“We’re data nerds,” says Kate with a laugh. “We’ve been monetizing data our whole lives.”

EtiCs? Data is a passion for them, and when that data is combined with digital and social marketing for the auto industry, you get some fervid discussions at family reunion time in Minnesota. Sean is CEO of Dealer Teamwork, a digital marketing firm focused on merchandising, personalization, and optimization for the auto dealership industry. His sister Kate serves as Chief Client Officer for the company. Meg is Executive Vice President and General Manager of AutoAlert, the leading data mining and trade cycle management company for the auto industry.

With personalized marketing and search engine optimization taking such a leading role in the merchandising of cars, it is inevitable that a discussion on how to use data to design the best marketing plans turns to Google. “It’s all about search engine optimization,” Sean said. “We don’t make advertising and marketing for people anymore. We make it for search engines, because if the search engine doesn’t like it, people will never see it.”

Kate agrees. “You don’t create the optimization, personalization opportunities, or the incentives for the customers, but you’ve got to create it for Google in order to get to the customer – all while making sure you’re answering the customer’s question.” But since Google is continually adapting its criteria for what it displays, doesn’t that make it difficult for those in the auto industry to implement proper SEO? “Those changes make it better for us all,” Sean says without hesitation. “Google is changing based on what it is learning, so it is constantly evolving. Remember, Google is a data company. There are two types of searches – paid and organic – and both are predicated on one word – relevance. The more relevant and precise the original query is, the more relevant and precise the response.” Relevance in data has never been more important. Everyone has experienced the frustration of getting a notice for a car they no M O D E R N D E A L E R S H I P. C O M


longer own. Relevance and personalization go hand-and-hand, but the data has to be spot-on. A sample of a personalized offer statement was sitting on Meg’s desk. “Here’s what’s really effective,” Meg said. “From the data, we know this person is already preapproved from the OEM, we know they can swap key for key for the same monthly price, they have shown intent via their shopping, their contract ends soon, they are coming in for service, they are over their mileage, and their warranty is almost up. We know all that information because of relevant data.” Avoiding Fragmented Data Data should never be viewed in isolation, nor in a fragmented or siloed manner. Good data science considers a wide variety of data to get the complete and accurate picture. “The complicated part of data is taking all the disparate data points and understanding how they come together,” Sean said. “I think of data as a beautiful mosaic. If you zoom in, that mosaic is thousands of individual pictures. But when you stand back, it becomes a clear picture. If you do data right, it becomes very clear.” All three agreed that data has the potential to be a double-edged sword, if viewed improperly or in isolation. “It is very dangerous to look at just one piece of data. It will give you the wrong answer,” Sean said. “It is both a blessing and a curse. If you interpret it wrong, you’ll go in the wrong direction. You’ll spend the wrong money.” “Data exposes everything,” Meg said. “Transparency is vital.” But lack of transparency, plus a lack of nonstandardization of data, can make data hard to grasp. The confusion surrounding data is what contributes to complications in marketing, Kate noted. The answer lies in education. “We don’t just give our clients data – we show them the data with transparent tools such as Google Ad Words or Google Analytics – that’s



not even our data, it’s a third-party,” Kate said. “That’s how we’re breaking through some of the confusion – with education.” “True democratization of data – that’s what some people are really afraid of,” Meg said. “Because if it is democratized, then only your secret sauce is what keeps you separated.” Lack of Data Standardization Creates Confusion Sean provides an example of how the lack of standardization is causing confusion in the auto industry. “We’ve all heard about bounce rates. In data language, a bounce is yucky,” Sean said. “If you go to a single web page, and spend 14 hours there, but don’t go to any other page, it is a bounce. If you go to a page for 13 seconds and leave, it is a bounce. But wait a minute – the first person got everything they needed, but it is still a bounce. Both look the same to a data scientist. See how that doesn’t make any sense?” “Someone could go to a page, be there for 3 seconds, but get the phone number they need and make a call,” Meg said. “But that is now considered a bad experience. But no, it’s not. You need to connect those data points.” Those data points could include tracking website visits, locations, area codes and time stamps. “If the bounce rate is 68%, but the conversation rate and calls are phenomenal, that tells you that you have to look at all the pieces of the data, and that’s what complicates it,” Kate said. “What do I need to look at to actually see the story?” Sean said the way some dealers implement marketing plans tells him that there is much progress still to be made in using data as efficiently as possible. “Data will show cause and effect, and how to become more efficient,” he said. “For example, television ads are a very difficult form of media to track. Did it work or not? Yet every dealer is scared to death to quit TV advertising. But statistically speaking, the return on investment can’t be demonstrated. So why does everyone keep doing it?” That scenario exemplifies why it is important to have trained data specialists who can help decipher the critical information.

“I have data storytellers on my team, and I have data scientists,” Meg said. “I’d much rather have data storytellers because they can tell you the ‘so what’ about the data. Data alone isn’t important, it is the story it tells.” How to Make Data Relevant The issue of making data useful and beneficial all boils down to the R-word – relevance. Sean said for Google or Bing, relevance often focuses on transactional data, such as price, program exclusives or specifics to a deal. “Good data management will display that information seamlessly for the consumer. This translates into better engagement, which lowers the cost of doing business.” Relevance also means using the most up-todate data possible, or even real-time data. For instance, Meg noted when dealers use AutoAlert’s PandoAlert for their service drive, each customer VIN is scanned, which sends a real-time notification of the customer’s presence to sales, plus complete information of the types of offers the customer is best suited for. “Data that is timely, personalized and very specific to the situation is what helps sell cars,” Meg said. Kate said dealers must know their demographics intimately, and develop plans for data usage based on market segmentation.

“The days of one-size-fits-all offers are over,” she said. “Those just don’t resonate with today’s shoppers.” To get the dealership team to follow data, be sure to track, measure and then share the results. “Use data to win the argument,” Meg said. “And don’t be afraid to make changes based on what the data is telling you. Change is how you stay relevant, because markets, vehicles and shopper preferences constantly evolve.” Sean said that data intensity has the potential to create an overwhelming situation. He said dealerships should use filters so they only see what is relevant. Often it is helpful to focus on just one area – for instance, service drive, used cars or leasing – and as a team gains expertise, then expand. “Be sure to first create a baseline so you’ll remember where you started, then you can tweak one lever at a time.” Sean noted that data and marketing are inextricably linked. Never make a marketing plan without considering the quality of the data that the plan is based upon. “Good marketing costs less,” he said. “And what drives good marketing? Excellent data management.”

10 Rules for Creating Useful Data

An engaging conversation with our three data experts produced this list of rules of data characteristics that dealers should examine:

Make sure the data is relevant

Make sure data is transparent

Develop standards and benchmarking

Normalize data – that is, make sure it is viewed in the same method or manner each time

Make sure the data is not fragmented or isolated Combine the right data points to see the complete story View data across the entire platform

Understand how data impacts SEO Use data to see cause and effect Select partners who will help you correctly understand data and assist with the educational process

M O D E R N D E A L E R S H I P. C O M




by Rex Weaver Director of Service Innovation at Lehigh Valley Acura

Consumers today have more choices in services and products than ever before, and yet they seem more dissatisfied. They have greater access to information,

but this data seems to make the process even complicated than when choices were limited.


– not less –

The reason for this? We’ve shifted from a transactional economy to an experiential economy. There are three entities involved in a transaction – the service provider, the market, and the client. Previously, value was determined by the service provider and the market, and the client was left completely out of the transaction. The individual wasn’t “in” the transaction because the market was made up of an aggregation (a total sum) of clients. For example, the “market value” of an oil change was $40, so a service provider charged $40 regardless of how the individual perceived the value of that service. Now as value creation has transitioned to an “experience” and not just transaction, the marketplace has become a forum for conversations. This has been prompted by technology and ease of communication between consumers via social media and online searches. A society of negotiations and online auctions have created a legion of consumers searching for value. Consumers are now willing and able to be co-creators in this experience and are willing to pay accordingly, as opposed to paying based on the value built into the cost of production by the company. An example would be a technician that makes $30 an hour working on someone’s vehicle. For the company to make money, they have to charge a certain hourly rate based on the company’s overhead and revenue structure. The client had no choice but to pay the charges since they had nothing to do with the way value was determined in the transaction. M O D E R N D E A L E R S H I P. C O M


The Reason You Should Be Afraid In his work “Co-Creation Experiences,” C.K. Prahalad uses the acronym DART. This stands for Dialogue, Access, RiskBenefit, and Transparency. Now, the reason you should be afraid– dealerships are not prepared for this type of co-creation. We still work off of the model that says we create value in a service and the client can frankly take it or leave it. As we can see, they are leaving it.

Our response to this mass exodus has been to race to the bottom and implement the “Walmartization” of services (a term coined by Prahalad). If the guy down the street can do a $20 oil change, so can we! Even if we lose money, at least we keep the client from defecting, right? Of course, our model was based on the old “we can get them on something else” theory. In a co-creation of value, “utility” – defined as the total satisfaction received from consuming a good or service – can be felt on every point of the transaction.

These “measuring” points include: • An easy appointment process. • Online appointment options with complete pricing and functionality. • Chat options. • A smooth reception process. • Evening drop off and pick up. • Access to Wi-Fi at the dealership. • A comfortable area for customers to wait and work.

A client can see the utility in all these touchpoints, not just the interaction with the cashier, and they are all vital.


Reason You Should Be Afraid

You have to find where clients find value in the transaction, and you accomplish this by talking to them. This leads to the “D” (dialogue) of our acronym DART. The problem is dialogue has never been our strong suit. We’ve never involved clients in the determination in the value proposition of a service. Again, the market determined the pricing.

Since we were never involving the client in this, we were competing with someone “down the street” and our battle was one of numbers based on the race to the bottom. If the company down the street charged $20, and if you wanted the business, you had to do the same. We thought the only place where a client saw value was at the cashier window.

The Reason You Should

NOT Be Afraid

We can now see that the entire value chain is derived by the client as a cocreator of the experience. It is no longer the traditional point of exchange – paying the bill – where value can be extracted.

So instead of allowing the competition to draw us into a race to the bottom – which they are more equipped to win – we should be opening communications with clients about where they would like to see value built into the transaction.

As we continue to dialogue with clients (or learn how to), we can see where our processes need to be adjusted. This is based on where the client says we can enhance the experience to better personalize the encounter.

Aftermarkets are more suited to the “Walmartization” of the auto service business because of their lack of investment. A dealership needs to play the Peter/Paul game on every transaction to make the profit margin balance out at the end.



For those of you who fought the race to bottom with the principle that you provide a higher level of service – i.e., factory-trained technicians and OEM parts – good for you. But the reality of value is that if your clients don’t see it, it doesn’t exist.



Big data is too overwhelming. It’s too complicated, too confusing, too time-consuming, and too expensive. If you’ve ever made any of these statements—or heard someone at your dealership say something similar—you’re not alone. Many see data as a frenemy, both a friend and an enemy. And that’s because they’ve been told they need to utilize the insights they can glean from data, yet they’re not sure how to use data to help their businesses or help consumers find what they’re looking for in the marketplace. While businesses are looking to boost their bottom lines by delivering precisely what shoppers are looking for, shoppers are looking for businesses that provide relevant, affordable options. Both of these goals can be met by leveraging the power of data.

But this can be a daunting concept for dealerships that haven’t been using consumer intelligence to its greatest potential.

Data is always there for you, 24/7. Those who have a love-hate relationship with data know they need consumer information in order to survive in the modern marketplace. Take these tips to heart and you’ll end up kicking your data frustrations and fears to the curb, leaving you with nothing but love for the insights you’ll be able to gain.

M O D E R N D E A L E R S H I P. C O M 5 1

1. CATCH AND RELEASE. In other words, keep only what you need. Although you’ll be able to get boatloads of information, some of it you don’t need to focus on. Stick to what’s relevant to your dealership, and you’ll be able to streamline data and keep it manageable.

2. USE WHAT YOU KNOW. You have a wealth of data on your current customers. Your existing DMS is a goldmine. Be sure to leverage the insights you already have and stay relevant with those customers who may be back in the market or looking to upgrade their vehicles soon. We know everyone wants a new car.

3. BUILD YOUR TOOLBOX FIRST. By investing in tools that facilitate collecting, organizing, and accessing consumer data, you’ll be empowering your entire team to make more sales with higher gross potential. But make sure the data is organized, accessible, and actionable.

4. ANALYZE AND UNDERSTAND. Once you’ve gathered the data you need, it’s important to take the time to figure out exactly what it all means. Translate it into everyday terms. What are consumers telling you with their behaviors? When you measure shopper needs against the objectives of your dealership, you’ll be able to align the products and services you offer with exactly the things consumers are seeking, resulting in efficient, seamless transactions. The analysis will also help you sort what data is useful and what is not.

5. DON’T BURY YOUR HEAD. Big data is here to stay, and dealerships that use the valuable insights to be gleaned from it are seeing increased gross potential and lower fixed costs. If you haven’t been leveraging shopper intelligence to its fullest potential, it may seem intimidating at first, but it won’t be long before you realize a data-driven approach will end up delivering satisfying results.



DATA IS YOUR FRIEND Think about your best friend in school. Data is just like that friend. Data is always there for you, 24/7. It tells you the truth, never forgets the important stuff, and always backs you up.

Your existing DMS is a goldmine. No question about it, there’s a lot of data out there. Seriously, a lot. And in order to get the best mileage out of the intelligence you gather, you’ll need to have a plan. When you clearly define your information-gathering objectives and narrow the scope of what you’re looking for, you’ll end up with reliable insights that will guide you in successfully delivering what your customers want. It’s time to make friends with data, because it’s here to stay. When you embrace consumer insights and use them to help you have the right conversations at the right times, you’ll see an improvement in your bottom line.

out of manual.


joining the


Cathy Nesbit

Social Media Director, Harry Robinson Buick GMC

There are two kinds of data people – those who love it and those who mostly ignore it. I’m on the “data love train.” I absolutely love it. In some respects, it’s kind of like a superpower, wanting to know everything, and having a desire to use the power of data for good. I urge you to join the ride. We’ve all had a conversation with someone who conjured data to make themselves sound smarter. Fortunately, there’s only a small sector who manufacture data. Now that data influences most of our lives, we’ve moved past the “impressions” phase of deceptive data.

SO, WHAT DATA MATTERS? There is some game-changing data out there! Understanding this fact is vital. What matters most is attracting quality customers to your service drive, delivering excellent service, and following up with each customer. You want to build trust, reinforce a positive message with great experiences, and ultimately achieve that all-important loyalty. Data for data’s sake is useless and a waste of time. However, data that drives business and builds loyalty? Now that’s the stuff that hits the financial statement.

We need data that matters. Is it important to know how many people viewed your ad on a website? No, if that’s all there is. Rather, what if you could specifically target nearly every person who drives your brand within 10 miles (or more) of your dealership? What if you could get hundreds of people to click on a link to set a service appointment, and have over 95% of those actually set an appointment? What if over 70% of those who made an appointment actually showed up? What if all this data could be easily tracked and measured? Yes, that’s the kind of intel we can use. That’s the kind of data we can build our service drive on.

“I urge you to join the ride.” The service and parts business is a billion-dollar industry, and that’s because a growing number of vehicles are on the road more than 10 years. More people genuinely want to build long-term relationships with those with whom they do business. And, they WILL be buying another car. Don’t you want to get them and keep them in your service drive?

USING THE RIGHT DATA THE RIGHT WAY We know there’s a wealth of information out there. We just have to ask ourselves, “What do I wish I knew?” Data gives everyone the same competitive edge. Every dealer in the U.S. has access to the same data you do. So it’s not about having the data – it’s more about knowing what data to access and using it in a way that grows your business.

For some people, it will be important to find someone to help them take that dive into data – someone who knows how to fish that pond and who can be trusted to throw in the right bait. If that’s you, here’s your action item: Find another fellow “data geek” at your dealership or hire someone in-house to make this happen. You might have to find a vendor for the job, someone who knows their stuff and whom you can trust. It doesn’t matter – what’s important is to get a data slayer on board to help. If you choose the right person, you will be impressed with the results, even if you just grin, ever so slightly and play it cool. Make sure you have some affirmative words for the data master you were so smart to hire. Once you’ve done that, equip your team for success by setting reasonable budgets, give them focus points (i.e., growing service appointments, etc.), make sure you train them extensively, give them room to work, and then let them show you what they can do.

“It takes people to connect with other people.” Never forget that data is just a “thing” – it takes people to connect with other people. It is vitally important to have exceptional customer service, and good, honest help in the service drive. Processes to follow up with and retain your customers also really matters. Data influences the service drive, not just from the first greeting (the digital one where they check your Facebook page for reviews) but through the physical reception, too. All of this combines to create a loyal lifetime of servicing and purchasing vehicles from your dealership.

The Changing Appearance of Customer Service Your Service Drive Must Evolve to Keep Up with Today’s Shoppers With the technology and smart systems that are available today, progressive dealerships are moving away from a reactive customer experience and adopting a more predictive way of thinking when it comes to the service drive. Dealerships are starting to recognize the importance of showing their customers what a comprehensive customer care program looks like by being able to recognize and respond to individual needs more efficiently than ever. Data tools are now available to offer valuable insights, and with all service drive employees on board and trained to provide the highest quality service, your dealership can, now more effectively, earn the trust and loyalty of modern consumers.



Here are a few items you can expect to see as consumers and companies change the appearance of customer service, especially as it relates to the service drive: Interactive chat is getting smarter.

Mobile is where it’s at.

Consumers are already accustomed to seeing the opportunity to chat pop up on their screens, especially when they are dealing with larger purchases and service. However, with technological advances, chat features are getting smarter. Data is much more accessible, and because of that, interactive features like customer service chat will lean toward more personalized interaction, providing consumers with more satisfying answers and solutions. This interaction is also an opportunity to boost your CSI score.

In a recent survey, 91% of U.S. consumers confirmed their mobile devices are more important to them than their automobiles. For your dealership, this means taking a good look at ways you can be present for customers and looking for increasingly mobile solutions such as apps and interactive technology. A product such as PandoAlert can instantly identify customers in the service drive that are eligible for upgrades, and the mobile app serves as a task and assignment tool so customers never fall through the cracks.

Social is getting savvier. Companies are finding it’s not enough anymore to hop onto social media platforms and interact with consumers. Instead, progressive businesses are finding ways to use social media to answer business questions in real time and direct potential customers toward their businesses. What if you could provide a customer with a service drive professional who could help answer questions? You could with a product such as AutoAlert’s FuzeShield. You could turn in-market consumers into your customers by being the go-to dealership that’s known for answering questions quickly and accurately.

Customer care is getting personal. Your goal is to create meaningful relationships with consumers so they want to turn to you when it’s time to buy, and technology is making it even easier to interact on a more personal level. Now, instead of waiting for customers to come to you with questions or concerns, there are data tools that will allow you to see when shoppers are interacting with your content—giving you the opportunity to reach out in a more proactive way. Coupled with better visibility to data, professionals will be able to offer the personal touch to every shopper. M O D E R N D E A L E R S H I P. C O M


Many customers won’t use the phone.

Listen and join the discussion.

There are various ways to stay in contact with consumers, but a recent study shows that 53% of those ages 18 to 34 would prefer to use electronic media, like email, texting or social media, rather than the phone for customer support. For your service drive, this means training employees to seek out new ways of contacting prospective customers and utilizing more electronic forms of communication in order to make customers feel comfortable.

Good customer service shows up in the way you handle not only the compliments, but also the complaints. Be sure to address each one individually and ensure customers know you share their concerns. Listen, discuss and then offer to make it right. Potential future customers will see your positive online reactions and feel comfortable using your service drive.

We live in a world where tech upgrades and advances barely give us time to blink before new upgrades are necessary. However, in order to keep up with consumers, the service drive must maintain the pace. The tools you put in place will help every professional at your dealership deliver the outstanding levels of customer service that are necessary to succeed.



M O D E R N D E A L E R S H I P. C O M


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Profile for Modern Dealership

Modern Dealership - July 2017  

Modern Dealership - July 2017  

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