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Our newest platform, Empower, allows you to research your database and market area in real-time to uncover big opportunities for your dealership. This interactive tool provides real market data and business intelligence that will elevate your business.


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TURN A PROBLEM INTO A PROFIT. WE’RE THE ANSWER. Traver Connect’s automotive Service BDC is your new profit tool, not a line item expense. This solution is self-funded and increases your service center’s revenue stream. Missed service calls. Scheduling inefficiencies. Upsell opportunities lost. The list goes on. This can all stop today by engaging Traver Connect’s robust Automotive Service BDC. Our proven service and solutions can ensure every service call will be answered, OEM recommended services will be presented, and an increase in service appointments will be made. This Service BDC will help absorption, increase your average repair ticket, and enhance your overall customer experience.

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AutoSuccess Magazine is published monthly at 2300 Hurstbourne Village Dr, Suite 1200 Louisville, KY 40299; 502.588.3155, fax 502.588.3170. Direct all subscription and customer service inquiries to 877.818.6620 or Subscription rate is $69 per year. AutoSuccess welcomes unsolicited editorials and graphics (not responsible for their return). All submitted editorials and graphics are subject to editing for grammar, content and page length. AutoSuccess provides its contributing writers latitude in expressing advice and solutions; views expressed are not necessarily those of AutoSuccess and by no means reflect any guarantees. AutoSuccess accepts no liability in respect of the content of any third party material appearing in this magazine or in respect of the content of any other magazine to which this magazine may be linked from time to time. Always confer with legal counsel before implementing changes in procedures.© All contents copyrighted by AutoSuccess Magazine, a Division of Systems Marketing, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part is prohibited without express written consent from AutoSuccess. AutoSuccess may occasionally make readers’ names available to other companies whose products and/or services may be of interest; readers may request that names be removed by calling 877.818.6620. Printed in the USA. Postmaster: Send address changes to AutoSuccess Magazine, 2300 Hurstbourne Village Dr, Suite 1200 Louisville, KY 40299.

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ONE STEP BEYOND: Going the Extra Mile to Make An Impression

Imagine you have an employee who always gave only the bare minimum to get by. This employee shows no initiative, no drive, no creativity and no enthusiasm. He shows up on time, goes about his duties, and leaves at closing time on the dot. This employee is better than one who underperforms, sure, but still…. Come review time, would you promote this employee over one who has passion? One who floats ideas out there to improve your dealership? One who seems excited by their work and inspires excitement in others? The same apathy you would feel towards the employee putting out just enough to putter along? That’s the same apathy customers feel towards dealerships that fail to distinguish themselves from the competition.








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You cannot expect rewards for hitting the bare minimum. Customers won’t be excited about your dealership unless you give something that can excite them. It’s fair to say that many customers would rather not deal with visiting a dealership in the first place — it’s often a stressful situation they see fraught with financial dangers — so you’ve already got your work cut out for you. So, what can you do that other dealerships are unwilling to do to make your dealership stand out from the crowd? How can you make the customer’s life easier? Your marketing tells them that you want their business — just like every other dealership on Planet Earth. How can you show them you want to be their dealership? Show Up for Your Customers

Suppose a customer is having trouble making it into your dealership. Maybe they don’t have a working vehicle — which is why they need to see you. Sure, they could take a cab or a bus, or get a ride with a friend. Bare-minimum thinking would say that’s fine. Whatever. But, what if you offered a service that would pick them up to come to your dealership? How would that change their mindset when they arrived on your lot? The same could be said for service customers. Sure, they can wait a few hours for their vehicle to be serviced, or arrange transportation to leave and come back later. That’s totally bareminimum acceptable. It’s what everyone does. Don’t be “everyone.” Be special. Pick up the vehicle while the customer is at work. Give them a loaner so they can get around and not have to give another thought to transportation — thanks to you. And, one step beyond, loan them a vehicle comparable to their own. If the customer is a mom of three needing an SUV with car seats, for example, a two-door compact isn’t going to be a great help. These are just a couple of ideas. Ask if your team — made up of people not happy with bare-minimum performance, right? — has any ideas for your specific customer base. Have the vision to go beyond what the other dealerships are tolerating. Be special, and your customers will reward you.


JOIN THE COMMUNICATION EVOLUTION Get seamless communication for your dealership through the FuzeCast App and ProfileFuze plug-in to your CRM via Mobile. Create and track customizable workflow processes throughout your dealership. or call 888.998.8575 to learn more

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Consider this: Consumers spend hours researching vehicles online before ever stepping foot onto your lot. Job applicants are no different. Today’s job seekers aren’t satisfied with simply surfing job boards; they’re going straight to your career site to learn about your business before deciding whether to apply for a job. To understand this phenomenon, we measured one of our partner’s hiring activity over six months to see how employment branding affects the quality of applicants in the overall hiring process. They utilized both job boards and a branded career site to attract more than 1,800 job applicants. We found that, while job boards drove more than 80 percent of applications, they resulted in only 20 percent of the overall hires. This means applicants applying through the Website were nearly 20 times more likely to be hired than through a job board. So, while the site lagged in overall candidate flow, the quality of the applicants was higher. We also evaluated the performance of these employees and found that career site hires represented high-performing employees by a factor of two to one over job board hires. To top it off, the partner also reported a dramatic reduction in turnover that is 70 percent below the industry average. More Than Just a Career Website

A dealership’s employment brand should be treated with the same level of consideration and control as the consumer brand. With increased competition and uncertainty in today’s marketplace, the difference between success and failure may rest on your ability to hire and retain great people. And, great people want to work for great companies — making it critical that your brand meets today’s standards. Your career Website is a powerful representation of your employment brand. It’s the way your local market’s talent pool

perceives your organization as a potential employer. You’ve invested time and money getting your dealer’s site to a point where it’s producing leads, and your career site needs the same attention to detail to attract higherperforming candidates. After all, you’re competing with other businesses for the best talent to staff your locations. Does Your Career Site Speak to Today’s Candidates?

The most recent NADA Dealership Workforce study found that 48 percent of all new hires in 2014 were Millennials. This group now makes up 31 percent of the average dealership’s workforce and is on the rise. They’re technologically inclined, innovative and have different expectations of what it means to be an employee. Your career site needs to address everything they seek from an employer. • Show How They Can Grow: Millennials aren’t just looking for a job; they’re looking for the opportunity to learn, progress and expand their skill set at a good company. Both Millennials and experienced candidates want to see a defined career path. A solid career site highlights mentorship programs, peer learning programs and professional development opportunities. • Tout What Makes Your Dealership Special: Millennials also want to feel connected with their company, and they don’t want to work for just anyone. Beyond sharing your company values, they want to see the legacy your dealership has built, awards or

recognition it has received and how involved it is within the local community. Is Your Career Site Appealing?

Outside of your career site’s content, first impressions are critical. Just like a strong consumer site, a strong employment site can differentiate you from other local dealerships and draw in the best candidates. The site should be clean, crisp and visually driven with lifestyle photos that give a great impression of your team, culture and history. Another key attribute that we can’t stress enough is that the site be mobile friendly. In 2015, 50 percent of all candidate traffic in North America originated on a mobile device. This means you’re throwing away half of your applicant traffic if they can’t open your careers page on a mobile phone — drastically restricting your access to the strongest candidates in your local job market. The application process should also be simple. If you’re asking applicants to completely re-create their resume on a Web form with dozens of fields, you risk losing their interest by making it much harder to apply. As a rule of thumb, online job applications should have eight fields or less. The goal is to generate interest and make contact; if you’re running an effective interview process, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to fully vet candidates. Ultimately, a career site is more than a simple listing of jobs. It needs to build excitement, show a defined career path and reflect your company’s history, culture and community involvement. Having a well-thought out employment branding strategy and career site will help hire and keep higher performers — directly benefiting your bottom line.

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Top Dealerships Are Profiting From Video Video is the most powerful resource for any car dealership. That’s right out of all the shiny objects, magic beans and great ideas. Video is the most powerful opportunity for dealers to have an unfair competitive edge against their competition. But the problem is that the vast majority of dealerships do not have a video strategy and, what’s worse, they do not even realize that they truly need one. As a matter of fact, 75 percent of all businesses in all verticals do not have a video strategy — or even plan on creating one. This blows me away because video is a major part of our lives; it is totally integrated in everything we do. The current lack of respect towards the importance of video and the massive underestimating of its viability reminds me of the “Hip Hop” music phenomenon. Most people thought that Hip Hop was a fad; it was a silly trend in music that would blow over. Others thought that Hip Hop was only for the urban market, and corporate America stayed away from it. Well, that was obviously not the case. According to Forbes, Hip Hop currently generates more than 10 billion dollars per year, and has moved beyond simply music and the urban market. Hip Hop has integrated into every aspect of mainstream America. Now, look at how the Internet was received in the automotive sales industry. It was looked at the same way as Hip Hop music. It was not taken seriously. Dealers thought it, too, was a fad and would pass. It had no legs. Back in the mid to late 1990s, in the early days, most dealerships still did not even have a CRM. They were using paper desk logs with highlighters, and the OEMs knew that dealers were not taking the Internet opportunities seriously. They used to have to fax dealers Internet leads because dealers didn’t understand or utilize the Internet correctly. Then came social media, and dealers thought that, too, was a fad, like the Internet. They believed it was a waste of time and a distraction. They thought — incorrectly — that you couldn’t sell cars on Facebook. Now, there are dealerships such as Castle Auto Group in Chicago that are selling a tremendous amount of quantifiable units directly from Facebook on a monthly basis. The same is happening to video. Sean V. Bradley, CSP, wrote the first article in the automotive sales industry about Video Search Engine Optimization (VSEO) in 2006. Ten years later, and most dealers still do not understand VSEO, never mind using it as part of their dealership’s digital marketing strategy. Fast forward three to five years from now; will you be reading this article or would you be watching it on video?

Here are some of the most recent and powerful statistics of video: • One minute of video is equal to 1.8 million written words – Dr. James L. McQuivey, VP of research and development of Forrester research, said that if a picture is worth 1,000 words, then a minute of video is equal to 1.8 million written words because it is sight, sound, motion and emotion. • People prefer watching video more than reading, writing, emailing, texting or chatting. • According to Forbes, 59 percent of executives would rather watch video than read or text. • Email that contains video has a 200 to 300 percent higher read open rate. • Approximately 70 percent of all Internet content will be video by 2017. • According to consumer research from Levels Beyond, 42 percent of consumers like it when companies share videos online, but 75 percent of brands say they rarely or never produce video for their social media followers. • Approximately 62 percent of all Google searches include video. • Google prefers video content to all other content. Video propagates and indexes faster than any other content on Google. • A video on a search engine results page (SERP) is clicked on 53 times more than a static link. • Businesses using video grow company revenue 49 percent faster year-over-year than organizations without video. • Video quality does matter. The days of cell phone video footage are over. Prospects and customers are used to higher-quality video and want it. • Approximately 36 percent of people who consume video content consistently watch videos that are more than five minutes long. That is up 14 percent from last year. • Cisco says that, by 2019, more than 90 percent of all Web content will be video. • The average Internet user spends 88 percent more time on a Website with video than without. • Nearly 64 percent of consumers are more likely to buy a product after watching a video about it. • Approximately 69 percent of smartphone users say videos are a perfect solution for smartphone viewing, as it offers a quick way for consumers to grasp an overview of a product. • Only 24 percent of brands are using online video to market to consumers. • Video has a higher “science of communication” value over text or phones. Based on the science of communication: - Text or written words make up only 7 percent of communication. - Tone and inflection are only 38 percent of communication. - Visual perception and body language are only 55 percent of communication. - Video combines, sight, sound, motion and emotion. Car dealerships also have a couple of other realities confused. Just because you have video content doesn’t mean it has any search engine optimization (SEO) value. There is an art to Video Search Engine Optimization. Unfortunately, there are a lot of pirate companies and vendors that peddle VSEO but have no idea what they are doing and don’t possess the true skills and knowledge to optimize dealers’ video content. To be clear, video content on a Website, social media or anywhere else doesn’t automatically mean that the video is optimized. A video on YouTube, for example, is similar to a full-blown Website. Castle Auto Group in Chicago uses video and delivers more than 350 units online a month.

"Their video email strategy has increased email read opens and their appointment shows are averaging more than 70 percent. That is because they are utilizing video emails for all appointment confirmations."

A Website and video both have: • HTML Code • A URL (Website address) • Anchor text • Meta tags • Back links • Geo-targeting • Destination mapping • Unique content. This is a big one. Just like traditional SEO, you cannot just have duplicate or plagiarized content and expect to be indexed. Video SEO is unique because: • Search engines now have facial and pixel recognition capabilities. • Search engines have speech and audio recognition capabilities. Another colossal mistake that dealers actively make daily is utilizing generic, recycled video content from their OEM or from the Internet and expect it to be search engine optimizable. This is a serious error because, if you are a Chevrolet dealership, for instance, how can Google rank one of your OEM videos on the first page of Google when it is being used by 3,000 other Chevy dealerships across the country? It’s the same thing if a dealership buys video clips or content online or, worse, just hijacks video from YouTube. Now that the power of video is clear, let’s dive into how important video is for the automotive sales industry specifically. Here are some recent automotive sales video stats: • Nearly 70 percent of people who used YouTube as part of their car buying process were influenced by what they watched. • Mobile searches from dealership lots increased 46 percent in the last year. • Nearly half of all auto review videos were watched on mobile devices. • Videos on dealerships’ Websites will increase time on site and reduce bounce rates. Now that we have talked about “why” video is so important, let us discuss the “how.” Specifically, how can dealerships use video to take their organizations to the next level and not only compete in their market, but truly dominate their market? Here are some of the most successful and profitable dealerships in the country using video:

THE ATLANTIC AUTO GROUP — AKA THE “NEW YORK AUTO GIANT” — IN LONG ISLAND, NEW YORK • Atlantic Auto Group is a $1.1 billion dealer group. • Atlantic has 22 (soon to be 24) rooftops, continue reading on page 14

representing domestic, import and high-line vehicles. • It’s the No. 1 Hyundai dealership in the United States. • It’s the No. 2 most profitable privately held dealer group in the country. The Atlantic Auto Group, led by Toni Anne Fardette, the eCommerce director for the dealer group, saw the true potential of video production and invested in a full-video production strategy by creating high-quality but cost-effective video production for all 22 rooftops in her dealer group. All of their rooftops use video for: • Value package proposition videos (“Why Buy From Us?”) • Dealerships tours • Comparison (conquest) videos • Offsite and community events, sales, etc. • Video email template library • HR/recruiting videos • Social media • Videos for their Website(s) • Sales and specials • Special events and occasions • Staff introduction videos (“About Us”) for sales, Internet/BDC, service and management personnel

RK Auto Group's "Making Strides For Breast Cancer."


Dealer Principal Jim Gee and GSM John Luciano of RK Auto Group saw tremendous value in video production — enough to invest in a cost-effective dealer video production company to come to their dealership with a team of highly trained video production specialists who solely work with car dealerships and understand automotive Internet sales, BDC and the culture that goes with it. RK was able to showcase its beautiful dealership and unique value package proposition with some of the most advanced video production technology and techniques at a fraction of the cost they thought it would cost. RK Auto Group utilizes the same video production strategy as the $1.1 billion Atlantic Auto Group. But unlike the New York auto giant, RK Auto Group is an average-sized Chevy, Kia and Subaru dealership. One additional video strategy RK utilizes is to show the public how altruistic they are. They are huge supporters of the community. In their “Why Buy From Us” video, they show and discuss, how out of more than 3,000 Chevy dealerships in the country, they have been the No. 1 Chevy dealership for Chevrolet’s “Making Strides For Breast Cancer” for the past four years straight.

"Video TO" from AutoFlex's David Blassingame.


Castle Auto Group is a three-rooftop dealer group that generates 3,000 leads per month (almost all of their traffic is organically generated) and delivers more than 350 units online per month. Castle Auto Group has similar strategies as the other dealerships previously mentioned. Additionally, they have an aggressive video email template library in their dealership CRM. Internet Director Gus Medina and ISMs Mike Rodriguez and Oliva Montoya spent a lot time creating custom video email templates for follow up and customer relationship management. Their video email strategy has increased email read opens and their appointment shows are averaging more than 70 percent. That is because they are utilizing video emails for all appointment confirmations.


AutoFlex delivers more than 300 units per month in excess of $3,500 per copy. They, too, have created a powerful video strategy. One of Dealer Principal David Blassingame’s favorite videos is his dealership’s “Video TO.” That’s right — he created a video himself where he says, “I heard you are no longer interested in a car from us… I hope it wasn’t something we did….” He has that video set as an automatic action plan in his CRM, and any time a salesperson or BDC rep deads a lead for any reason, the prospect gets a “Video TO” from him directly. Blassingame said that has been one of the most powerful tools ever. Even sales professionals are understanding the power of video. Jeff Cormier has the absolute most powerful Website in the country for a showroom sales consultant at He has video throughout his Website, but one of the most effective uses of video is for both the new and pre-owned inventory. If someone goes to his Website and clicks new or used car inventory and does not see what they are looking for via video, he tells them not to worry, that the vehicle is probably in transit but, if not, he can get it for them within 48 hours.

Sales professional Jeff Cormier using the power of video. What is so amazing is that most dealerships don’t even set expectations for prospects if they do not find what they are looking for. And “Inventory” is the No. 1 visited place on a dealership’s Website. Type “2014 Toyota Sienna NJ” into Google and you will find a large video player as the first organic search result. In the second organic position, there is another video listing. The punchline is it’s for a Honda dealership. The local Honda dealership is conquesting all of the Toyota Dealerships in New Jersey and crushing them with this placement. I can keep going with example after example, but I hope you are seeing the power of video. Please call me at 856546-2440 or email me at for a free strategy session and a complete list of what kind of videos you should be shooting and where to use them.

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Mobile has become much more than just a device. Today, more than ever, consumers are turning to their smartphones, iPads and tablets to do one thing: access the Internet. People are now using their mobile devices twice as much as compared to a couple years ago. Why does this matter? Whether they’re checking their email, looking at Facebook or even shopping for a vehicle, consumers expect that their mobile online experience will be easy and efficient.




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Check out some of these relevant automotive mobile statistics: • 48 percent of all searches for car dealers are now coming from mobile devices. • 68 percent of shoppers check the price of other cars while on your lot. • 72 percent of all digital marketing by 2019 will use a mobile strategy. So, what does this mean for your dealership? First, it means your Website needs to be mobile friendly or, even better, have a responsive design. This also means that every aspect of your Website — including any third-party plug-ins like chat, loan applications, rebates and incentives, and even new and used vehicle specials — needs to integrate seamlessly so the consumer doesn’t even notice you are using a partner. For example, what if a serious buyer is interested in one of your vehicles and wants to learn more about their financing options? If they can’t access that area of your Website on their mobile device because your plug-in isn’t mobile friendly, they will simply leave your site and go where they can easily get this information. Next, you should continue to look for opportunities to get your message in front of serious car buyers who are on the go. The world has gone mobile and dealerships need to adapt or fall behind. Every day, fewer people are engaging with traditional sources like television, radio and newspaper. The challenge for mobile has always been how to reach the right consumers. With so many mobile impressions available, using new technology such as GPS targeting can help your dealership now reach the right customers at the right time with a relevant message that will help engage and create action. Almost 90 percent of all consumer mobile Internet usage is now being done through mobile apps. The average person uses mobile apps 16 times per day — and as many as 27 different apps during that time. Mobile is a strategy that should be given serious consideration — especially if you can target a specific audience with a relevant message.

“Mobile is a strategy that should be given serious consideration — especially if you can target a specific audience with a relevant message.” Today, mobile is more than just a device; it’s the new normal of how people live their lives, interact with each other and, yes, even shop for vehicles. Embrace it and win the business when serious car buyers are in their final buying moments.


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It’s time for a reality check. I’d like to begin with pointing out the fact that more often than we realize, the correct solution to a problem is both obvious and simple. We live in a common-sense world, but I think people forget that sometimes. From a young age, we’re programed to be “critical thinkers” and to look at a situation from all vantage points. Our encoded mental paradigms tell us we should analyze, over-analyze and over-complicate every possible variable that may contribute to a desired outcome. However, according to Ockham’s Razor, a scientific theory dating back to the 14th century, “the simplest solution is usually the correct one.” Spending my entire career in the auto industry, with much of it in a dealership, we skip most of this — thankfully — but there should be a happy medium. It’s where common sense meets analyzed data. While paid search — or pay-per-click — may appear to be an affordable form of advertising, there is a significant breakdown in the attribution, no matter how transparent and detailed the reporting. Plain and simple, paid search is complicated. As one of the first automotive marketers to use paid search more than 10 years ago, I have “complicated” scars. Yes, you can see the amount of clicks your campaign received. You can see the impressions. You can see the engagements. But can you see, validate and know that a paid click led directly to a showroom visit without any other factors involved? Absolutely not. People simply looking for information don’t translate to a sale. So, how do you measure the true ROI? Think about how much you spend driving people to your Website each month. Thousands upon thousands of dollars are devoted to driving potential customers to your site in hopes of converting a click to a sale. As of today, the vast majority of customers cannot and will not purchase a car on your Website. Therefore, dealers depend on leads to attempt to convert Web traffic into showroom traffic.

lines. If something isn’t working 95 to 99 percent of the time, we need to do something about it. We need to direct our attention towards something we can quantify without a shadow of a doubt that led to a sale. We need to Buyer search terms are specific and measurable. change the game — or more specifically, change Buyers know what they want down to the year, make, model and color. Most will not contact the average lead form.

“Yes, you can see the amount of clicks your campaign received. You can see the impressions. You can see the engagements. But can you see, validate and know that a paid click led directly to a showroom visit without any other factors involved? Absolutely not. People simply looking for information don’t translate to a sale. So, how do you measure the true ROI?”

The stats speak for themselves. There is no arguing that well under 5 percent of Website visitors will complete the standard dealership lead form. Specifically, WardsAuto, DealerRefresh and other industry leaders report 3 to 7 percent of automotive shoppers actually submit leads. CDK’s Digital Business Intelligence study shows only 1 percent of auto shoppers submit email leads from dealer Websites.

In the Bounce Exchange’s latest “Guide to PPC,” they acknowledge the tremendous waste potential of paid search. “Whether you’re a do-it-yourself small business or an agency managing hundreds of thousands of PPC dollars,” the guide states, “you are leaving money on the table right now. Guaranteed.” Even worse, you could unknowingly be creating more opportunities for your competitors or just tossing money straight to Google. Their advice? “Move your budget into something that works.” More importantly, make sure that you have better and bigger nets to catch the fish. 

It’s time we stop chasing imaginary attribution

Let’s be clear. I am not saying don’t do paid

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search. It can be a great tool for driving traffic to your Website. It’s not, however, ideal for converting actual sales or showroom visits. The reality is, paid search is not simple, and you can’t draw a straight line from your search campaign to a vehicle sold. A smart PPC provider, and more importantly a smart marketer, knows the difference between “researcher” and “buyer” search terms and online actions. Which do your campaigns target? What about your inventory? Are your search efforts boosting aging units or wasting ad dollars on high demand vehicles that will sell on their own?


you before coming in for a test drive unless your Website provides an experience that gives them something in return for submitting their personal information. Yes, I’m referring to offering incentives just for coming in for a test drive. It’s so simple. Give something to get something. If you are willing to pay for a click why wouldn’t you be willing to pay for a showroom visit? Heck, they probably would have clicked anyway. At the end of the day, you can empty your pockets in attempt to drive the world to your Website. But the real question is, does your Website convert once they arrive?

CAPTURE SALES CarsQuickBuy is a platform built to aid dealers in turning e-leads into completed sales with paperwork. Reducing the in-dealership visit to 30 minutes or less.


This all-new platform is facilitating real-time, secure online buying in the automotive space. Car buyers can initiate and complete the car buying process, all online from their home or office, with a computer, tablet or smartphone.


CARS QUICK BUY OFFERS: Calculate and factor in a trade-in to the deal. Utilizing the most current Black Book pricing. Show all of the stackable rebates for the vehicle line in the zip code of the location in which the vehicle is to be titled. Calculate the sales taxes for the state or county municipality in which the vehicle is to be titled. Cars Quick Buy will then furnish back to the consumer, pennyaccuratemonthly payments based on selling price of the vehicle (including dealer defined fees) less rebates and trade allowances plus appropriate taxes.

Contact David Martin 800-996-1952


The Cars Quick Buy platform is an independent, secure, e-commerce platform that was developed from the ground up to easily integrate into any dealership’s website and will allow buyers to seamlessly go from shopping for a vehicle to completing the purchase, all online.

ls leadership solution


founder & CEO of Rapid Recon \ 866.268.3582 \


On the road to more profitable used car operations, an increasing number of dealers are aligning their resources and processes to operate at the best-practices level of reconditioning performance. Their recon operations, like yours, can cut cycle time by half, getting their inventory frontline ready in three to four days, adding a week of selling time and increasing inventory turns by a factor of one to three. The speed you move acquisitions from trade or auction to retail ready is best described as recon Time-to-Market (TTM). There are three stages on the way to a three-or-four-day TTM: 1. Find your baseline TTM using a welldeigned workflow system matched to current processes. 2. Identify and remove bottlenecks and plan your capacity to cut your baseline in half. 3. Consistently achieve a three-or-four-day TTM range, with all process-step owners having real-time access to workflow data, so every car is at the right step at the right time.  Let’s now explore each of these stages, based on workflow TTM software, which automates the various recon steps (customizable by dealer), structures each phase to meet expected time parameters and improves communications between recon, service and the used car department. Identify Your Baseline

many opportunities show up. One of the first bottlenecks to reveal itself is organization. Without TTM accountability, your crew will lose its focus on the clock and, therefore, productivity. All steps must be completed within best-practice limits. A significant bottleneck is misplaced inventory. TTM software with VIN code or QR code functionality pulls vehicle details into the software upon the vehicle’s release from finance or transport. Vehicles taken out of recon to wait for special-order parts or other reasons are similarly accounted for and tracked. Apply TTM practices first to mechanical and detail operations as they are the two crucial workflow steps. Decide the level you need to operate to hit best-practices TTM. Best practices dictate that combination of mechanical — including inspection and parts hold — and detail must be two days or less.

Expect your baseline to be higher than what you assume and what you have been hearing from your team. When you measure the real times that each car is spending on each step, you will have your true baseline.

The body shop will likely add another day to 20 or 30 percent of your cars, taking 4.5 days average. Consider building in some of recon’s best practices into how work flows through the body shop to increase cycle times there, as well.

Put a clock to the following stages to document your current and accurate baseline: • Inspection • UCM approval • Mechanical • Body • Detail • Photos

Work out an inventory photography work flow to market the vehicles online immediately.

If your total is six days or more, then you are a perfect candidate for implementing recon best practices. Before implementing workflow, dealers average 10 days or higher and burn an extra week of prime selling time. If you do not measure your TTM, your holding costs are probably cutting into your profitability. Eliminate Bottlenecks

Once you put a clock on your recon processes,


Set response standards for used car manager repair approvals. Identify how off-site subletting work is to flow into the mix — and set tight parameters for that work being done. Perhaps subletting dent and paint repair or tire and wheel detail will eliminate a bottleneck — or perhaps bringing those sublets in-house is the answer for you. Some dealers may eliminate final detail work until vehicles are on the frontline. High-line brand dealers whose clientele are highly visually aware may not want to do this, but it can be a prudent strategy for others.

Where you have identified bottlenecks, estimate the time-savings potential to be gained by eliminating or reducing them. Streamlining here not only reduces TTM, but also holding costs. This is a daily percentage of your overhead carried by each unit in inventory. NCM Associates has calculated this cost at an average of $32 per vehicle per day (higher for high-line brands) until the vehicle is sold. Now you can calculate accurate holding costs to see how much gross is being lost. This will range from $230,000 to $750,000 annually for the average dealership. Real-Time Access

The third stage is consistently achieving a three-or-four-day TTM range. What’s essential here is that within this tight TTM zone, all process-step owners must have real-time access to your recon process data. This is perhaps the only way to ensure that your crew knows where every car is, and if it is in the right step at the right time. Work progress slows without a clearly defined and communicated way for responsible parties to know when one phase is ready and being transferred up the line to the next stage. This can be conveyed by email, text or phone to keep work moving. Use of workflow software here ensures tighter control, management and communication. Spreadsheets and whiteboards are not useful because they’re just not effective. Best practices also require a methodology for technician notes to be added to vehicle inspection screens or sheets. Notes notify advisors quickly about the parts and labor needed, so the used car manager can be alerted for his or her prompt approval and parts can be sourced and ready for the technician. Assign ownership of every step of this new workflow. Each person in the recon process must follow a written plan for their work and its relation to the other steps. Use text notifications and daily emailed trouble reports to keep all step owners on top of their cars and their individual metrics.

Digital Dealership System

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Digital Service Menus

Dare-to-Compare Digital Signs

Customer Lounge TV

Appointment Service Boards

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Showroom Digital Signage

Digital Video Wall

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Interactive Signage

Customer Resource Center


FREE CONSULTATION - Increase Revenues, Closing Ratios, & Customer Retention 800-841-7084 - CALL TODAY | 1-800-841-7084

ls leadership solution


founder & president of DealerRE \ 866.347.6022 \


What does a new car franchise store and a Buy Here/Pay Here (BHPH) operation have in common? Very little. Why do franchise dealers get into the BHPH business in the first place? It has a lot to do with getting the most out of the trades you take in, and realizing that the secondary lenders are making more off the car than you.

the BHPH customer, especially coming from a new-car mentality. Most BHPH customers desperately need a reliable vehicle to get them to work, church, the grocery store and their kids to school. There are some big factors to understand when dealing with BHPH customers, though: Cars Break

When the franchise customer has a problem with their car, most often it What becomes very evident very fast in BHPH is that you can’t just pat is an inconvenience and can be costly. The solution you can provide is to customers on the back at delivery and watch them ride off into the sunset. sell them a vehicle service contract (VSC) at the time of sale. When the BHPH customer has a problem with their car, it can be a crisis. There are It’s more like you just got married. The lifeblood of BHPH is payments. two reasons why: The more payments you have coming in, the bigger you grow your book • Most BHPH customers are hourly employees. of business and the more successful you can be. You are not so much • If they aren’t at work, they are not getting paid. selling cars as you are selling payment-producing machines. And, you realize you’re not in the car business; you are in the collection business. Most dealers cannot afford to sell a VSC to a BHPH customer because the VSC must be purchased from the warranty company and will add a The stumbling block is the BHPH customer. They are not always as significant additional expense to the dealer. For example: An $800 cost reliable as the franchise customer; otherwise they wouldn’t be a BHPH for 30 cars a month equals $24,000 out of lending pool. This creates a customer. no-win situation. When that car breaks down, and the customer can’t afford to repair it, they’ll walk away. They’ll be driving another car So, I want to outline some things that you are going to run into — and from another BHPH dealer by the end of the day, and that paymenthow best to avoid the problems associated with these situations. producing machine is no longer producing payments for you. My most important piece of advice is to love your customer. I say that because sometimes we have a tendency to be a little less patient with

Social Media Is More Than a Popularity Contest

The solution is to set up a dealer-owned reinsurance company with a managing agency that understands this problem. This company can provide premium finance for the VSC. Included in the customer’s payment each month, the premium is collected and forwarded on to the reinsurance trust account. This allows BHPH customers to have a VSC and you to have a new capital resource to keep those paymentproducing machines on the road, generating income. Collateral Protection

Statistics show that nearly 50 percent of the BHPH books of business are uninsured. It is a daily struggle to keep up with the enormous burden of making sure that all of your customers’ cars — or, rather, your cars — have collateral protection. In fact, the not-so-funny thing is that most dealers have a full-time employee just to make collection calls. For what? To force your customers, at the threat of repossession, to go spend money with someone else just to cover your butt. There is a better way. Through your dealer-owned reinsurance company, you can provide debt cancellation coverage to your customer as an alternative. This debt cancellation coverage premium is paid directly to you, instead of some third-party insurance company, so you know immediately that the premium has been paid. That premium is then passed to your dealerowned reinsurance company, where it builds up in your trust account instead of the third-party insurance company’s account. When your customer has a total loss, their debt is wiped clean, and you can get them into a nicer, newer payment-producing machine right away without the hassle of insurance adjusters.

Download the whitepaper:

24 read, listen, watch, share, succeed.

There are many other benefits to offering debt cancellation coverage as a BHPH dealer: • You build a capital resource. • You stop debt collecting for the insurance companies. • You can retain your customer after a total loss • You salvage the totaled car yourself — not to an insurance company — to recoup losses. • You put more deals together. • You sleep better at night.

ms marketing solution

An Interview with PhilAime

senior director of national automotive sales and motorsports for Spectrum Reach 866.429.6850 \


“It’s important to have the right tool for Dealers have more methods of reaching consumers than ever before, but the sheer the job, and digital marketing has the amount of choices can sometimes lead to decision paralysis. AutoSuccess recently ability to provide a dealer with many sat down with Phil Aime, the senior national director of automotive advertising and tools for many different situations.” motorsports for Spectrum Reach, to discuss what dealers should look for in a marketing partner when it comes to digital marketing to make sure that their message gets to the right time. It’s important to have the right tool for the job, and digital marketing has the right consumer at the right time. AutoSuccess: How can digital marketing help auto dealers specifically in ways that other media can’t? Phil Aime: There are several benefits to

dealers when it comes to digital marketing. Some of these benefits include reduced costs and easy-to-measure campaigns, along with results in real-time and greater engagement levels than those that traditional media channels can typically deliver.

AS: What should dealers look for when searching for a partner to aid them in their digital marketing efforts? What makes for a successful partnership? PA: It’s very advantageous for a dealer to have

someone on their side who will listen well and

learn the inner workings of their dealership. A partner who will take the time to provide fresh ideas and help with strategic planning to target marketing to a dealer’s specific audience and area can be just as important as your most valuable employees.

AS: In what ways can a digital marketing agency help dealers reach consumers in various parts of the sales funnel, from those just beginning their search to those deep in the funnel? PA: It is important for any agency to have

multiple solutions in place to help reach the right client, regardless of where they are in the sales cycle. Each solution can target the right network and deliver the right message at the

ability to provide a dealer with many tools for many different situations.

AS: What reporting data should a digital marketing agency provide to a dealer who wants to track his return on investment? What data is most important? PA: It’s critically important for a marketing

company to give their client data during the life of a campaign so that the dealer can track the effectiveness of the effort, and to better target future campaigns. Dealers should be looking for revenue and conversion-focused data from their agencies. Site traffic, clicks to their Website, phone calls and emails are all very important KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to monitor.


SOLUTION Our Digital Mobile Solutions provide dealers with Turnkey monthly Push Notifications, Geo Targeting, E-Blast / Mail, Analytic Reviews and much more.

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Don’t Settle for Less! You Can Be More and Earn More! Take the lead! Your F&I Performance Matters! Chernek Consulting since 2001 offers in-dealership training designed to stream-line your process get all your staff on the same page. Significantly boost profits while reducing liability. One day complimentary audit with a minimum of a two-day consultation for the next 5 dealers that take action today!

Rebecca Chernek, President, Chernek Consulting, LLC. 866-894-1899 “I would highly recommend Becky Chernek for all finance and insurance training. In my 30 years in the automobile business she is the strongest trainer that I have had the opportunity to work with. I will not put a finance manager in the office until they have been through Becky’s program. Her program has doubled my back-end gross and product sales and has kept us compliant. She is an asset to anyone that is involved in her training.” Jamie Cobb Vice President/Dealer, Gwatney Automotive Chevrolet, Buick, GMC

Check out Chernek's interactive continuing education learning center for automotive, RV and recreational dealers nationwide and receive a 5-day FREE Trial! "One of the big differences Rebecca Chernek brings to her training is that she ties the front end desking process to work with the F&I process like an engine and a transmission working together. Her training produces ‘instant offense: gross, product sales and compliance all at the same time!’" Scott Boggas GM Honda Kentucky Dealership

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ms marketing solution


sales manager for \ 866.396.5871 \


Today’s car shoppers spend six to eight weeks comparing makes and models before they even begin looking at particular inventory. They take this time to identify the makes and models that will best fulfill their needs and are within their desired price and payment range. Many create spreadsheets with the information that will help them make a buying decision. If they are this prepared when an inventory search brings them to your Website, shouldn’t you be, too? Consumers are also extremely knowledgeable about their own trade vehicles. Consumers have access to more information about the market value of their trade-in, and how to determine this value, than even car dealers had just 15 years ago. The mystery of how much a trade is worth and a dealer’s ability to steal trades has diminished with today’s educated consumers. Today’s information-empowered consumers demand more from dealers and the first impression they will likely get of you and your dealership is your Website. Let’s follow the consumer’s path to your Website. First during their six- to eight-week research period, they use sites like Edmunds, New Car Test Drive and Car and Driver to

28 read, listen, watch, share, succeed.

learn about different makes and models, options and pricing. Next, when they are ready to start looking for the actual vehicles in their market that are available, an search leads to one of your units and they visit your site for the first time. What kind of first impression are you putting out for them? Is your site mobile enabled and does it offer valuable information that will encourage car buyers to give you the opportunity to earn their business? Is it unique or is it a cookie-cutter site just like every other dealer in town? Dealers spend millions of dollars building unique dealerships that stand out amongst the others on dealership row. They should put the same effort and attention into their Websites.

Dealers need a Website that can be easily updated by the dealership staff to stay up to date and relevant. The easiest way to do this is to use a Website with drag-and-drop capabilities. Imagine a Website that can be updated as easily as you can drag and drop something into a PowerPoint or a Word doc. In most other industries, this is the standard. In retail automotive, the largest Website providers, through consolidation and OEM mandates, have kept many dealerships in the Internet Stone Age. So, have you stopped and asked yourself what your Website is telling consumers about your dealership? Perhaps you have one of the inexpensive template sites or OEM sites and you’ve always just figured you were good because everyone else has one, too. Do you want car buyers’ first impression of you to be that you are just run of the mill? If nothing else, at its very core, marketing’s goal is to make yourself stand out. If you want to lead in your market, it is time to upgrade.



president \ 800.996.1952\



More and more car buyers

want to shop and buy their vehicles online. And why wouldn’t they? They buy everything else online. A new Forrester Research report forecasts that online sales will be up 45% in 2016. Dealers who provide this option will have a distinct competitive advantage. Since the 90’s, car buyers have demanded that more and more information be available on dealer websites. In the past, consumers couldn’t get all the information they wanted on dealer web sites, so they sought out information on 3rd party sites. This opened the door to the advent of the 3rd party lead generation business model, which is to provide sought after vehicle information and then sell the leads generated to multiple car dealers.

Dealerships using Cars Quick Buy are able to deliver more vehicles without adding more staff. Customers are al-

Consumers are ready and eager to buy or lease vehicles from the comfort and convenience of their own home or of�ice by using their laptop, tablet, or smart phone. The Cars Quick Buy web site walks consumers through a streamlined online research/shopping/ purchasing process that includes a trade-in evaluation option, application for �inancing, and offers car buyers the ability to complete all the necessary purchase documents. Once they complete the step-by-step online process, all they have to do is schedule a convenient time to come in and sign the paperwork, con�irm trade-in evaluation to complete the deal, and they are off in their new vehicle in no time. It’s just that easy!

ready past the sales and desking phases of the road to the sale, before they step on the lot. All that is needed is paperwork signing and vehicle delivery. This reduces staff requirements, as well as the costs of sales and desking.

included and promoted through the all new Cars Quick Buy national, online marketplace web site.

When a car shopper uses Cars Quick Buy, all available and applicable rebates and incentives are accurately and automatically calculated into the deal. The end result is a faster and easier car buying experience. Cars Quick Buy reduces the in-dealership time down to approximately 30 minutes, allowing existing F & I personnel to handle more deals.

The Cars Quick Buy platform integrates right into your current web site and converts your passive, informational web site into an e-commerce, transaction focused web site. Additionally, your inventory will be

The Cars Quick Buy online process allows you to provide full support to consumers through available text messaging, online concierge chat, email, click to call, and a direct telephone line to a representative. The Cars Quick Buy online process provides the ability for the dealer to handle these high quality leads, with the highest quality trained personnel. The web site’s backend dashboard allows the dealer to see what stage each prospect is in during the buying process (i.e. account created, trade-in entered, buy/lease comparison reviewed, credit application entered to delivery scheduled). Dealership personnel knows when a consumer is on the site and exactly what page they are viewing, allowing the dealer to be proactive, if they choose, to reach out to the consumer to see if there are any questions.

With Cars Quick Buy, the customer relationship starts earlier in the process than by any means currently available. Customers spend less than an hour at the dealership, rather than all day when they buy a car. This results in an increase in CSI. The system works well with BDCs, call centers, sales teams, Internet personnel and/or any other dealership process or existing culture.

Today’s car buyers live on their devices. Cars Quick Buy is multi-device compatible and is optimized for desktop, laptop, tablet and smart phone. For consumers, getting started is easy with automatic account set up and noti�ication. If the user has to pause the process, they can restart or even leave and return at another time that’s more convenient for them, without losing all the work they have already completed.

Consumers have wanted to buy their vehicles online for years. Now they can! The only question is, will they be buying them from you? Call today for a quick demonstration on how you can dominate your market online and sell more cars now!

View the testimonials here

Learn more about the platform at


s&ts sales & training solution


CEO of Traver Connect \ 866.685.5725 \




It was Jim Rohn who once said, “Neglect starts out as an infection and then becomes a disease.” Neglect is what a customer experiences after they have to endure the service call phone barrier just to get their vehicle serviced at the dealership. When a customer calls the dealerships to schedule service on their vehicle, the reception and process should be professional and organized. Yet, it is often the weakest part of the process. Customer retention cannot be a picture of health unless a dealership handles the incoming appointment call properly and consistently. Most of us reading this magazine have a sales background. We either reside on the variable side of the operation or we have roots there. We know how competitive and difficult it is to win a new customer on the showroom floor. If we’ve held a sales or operational management capacity, we are also privy to the rising cost of customer acquisition. Yet, we assume that when we sell a vehicle, the next logical move is to entrust that customer to the service department until they are in the market for their next vehicle. Missed Opportunities

Today’s automobile business is more than a tactical board game — it requires strategy. This means we need a long-term plan to retain our customers. Without question, the service drive is the cheapest and most direct way to accomplish this. So why, then, are the incoming service calls ringing up statistics like these today: • 23 percent of all service calls are missed or off-lined. • 67 percent of service calls will hold longer than one minute. • 38 percent of service calls will hold longer than two minutes. • 44 percent of service calls will be transferred at least twice between departments. • Less than 1 percent of dealerships know how many service calls they take monthly. That last data point speaks volumes about the


problem. We can’t manage what we do not measure. Look at the statistics. The results bear witness to the fact that dealerships don’t know just how bad this problem has become. Compare how our industry has embraced the model for the sales BDC — which has now been in place in our industry for more than 25 years — to the service BDC; less than 10 percent of dealerships have a functioning service BDC process in place today. Adding insult to injury, look at the continually rising Per Vehicle Retailed (PVR) cost to win a new customer. It’s the cost of acquisition plus the poor customer experience that suggests this customer neglect has become a disease.

What is apparent is there are seven common mistakes being made by dealerships when trying to resolve this shortfall. And it might be these same mistakes that are keeping other dealerships from trying to solve this very important part of customer retention. Mistake No. 1: Understaffing the call volume (the cost to properly staff is too high) Mistake No. 2: Failure to cover all open service hours due to the cost of labor Mistake No. 3: Training and coaching failures (someone must manage training) Mistake No. 4: Cost vs. return falls short (failure to generate additional revenue) Mistake No. 5: Internal issues develop between advisors and agents Mistake No. 6: Lack of proper tracking tools inhibits process Mistake No. 7: Balancing inbound and outbound calls proves difficult

“Today’s automobile business is more than a tactical board game — it requires strategy. This means we need a long-term plan to retain our customers. Without question, the service drive is the cheapest and most direct way to accomplish this.” Primary Hurdles

For the past 25 years, I’ve worked in and around BDC solutions, with the last six years focused around service BDC processes.

Next month, I’ll go into how to avoid these mistakes, and give you some steps for implementing a winning process for handling service calls and retaining your customers.

ms marketing solution


director of customer experience for PurCars \ 866.872.8150 \


In some ways, the end of tax season is like Christmas for consumers. Their refunds are nestled safely in their bank accounts, and it’s time to make those bigger purchases they’ve been patiently waiting for. For some, this means paying off a lingering credit card bill or making home improvements. For a good chunk of consumers, however, these bigger purchases involve their automobiles. In fact, more than one-third of drivers plan to spend part of their expected tax refund on their vehicles, from standard maintenance and updates to purchasing a new model. Not only will consumers use their tax refunds for automotive purchases, but they will also use today’s leading platforms and a variety of digital channels to do their research and shopping. With consumers using multiple touch points to research automotive purchases, the time to implement a robust, cross-channel digital marketing strategy is now. Traditional advertising certainly still has its time and place in the auto industry, but dealers should be leveraging digital advertising — specifically on mobile, social and video — to increase awareness during the tax refund season and beyond. By effectively reaching out on these channels with relevant, personalized advertising, tax day can be like Christmas for dealers, too.

moments” by serving car shoppers relevant, personalized ads that will drive traffic back to the dealership’s site and, eventually, lead to conversion on the lot.


No matter what time of year, researching an automotive purchase is a social experience. Though serving consumers Amazon-like retargeted ads for automobiles on a channel like Facebook may seem a bit unusual, leveraging social has become crucial for dealers to effectively reach consumers. Nearly one-fourth of car shoppers use Facebook to research future automotive purchases, which indicates that social ads are just as impactful in the auto industry as they are elsewhere.

Consumers are more mobile, and dealers must mirror this trend in their marketing efforts. Today’s shoppers research and make purchasing decisions when and where they need to, often on impulse, and they’re using the devices they have at hand to do so. In fact, about one in five consumers said they are likely to use a mobile or wearable device to research and buy a vehicle in the future. With that in mind, dealers must capitalize on these “micro

When prospective customers use mobile to research their next automotive purchase, they typically conduct longer-tail searches, as well. A desktop user might look for a “car for sale,” while someone speaking to Siri might search for “a red sedan with bluetooth near me.” This gives marketers a better idea of what shoppers are looking for, opening up even more opportunities to serve more relevant ads based on a user’s location and search history. Social

Lifetime purchases such as automobiles, however, require more than a typical re-targeted Facebook ad. Even after browsing online, consumers still have to go to the lot to purchase, so social automotive ads must be detailed and specific to maintain awareness and eventually convert the shopper. More so than for other purchases, social ads must serve as relevant reminders to repeatedly engage shoppers through the extended buying period cars require. Video

Like mobile and social, consumers are increasingly engaging with video, as well. Dealers can take advantage by serving instream, in-display ads during or alongside the videos they watch. Right now, 43 percent of car shoppers learn more about vehicles they hadn’t considered through online video. Video ads are often criticized for being irrelevant and bothersome to the user, which encourages browsers to skip an ad rather than engage. Dealers’ ads don’t have to fall into that mix. Like all channels, when reaching car shoppers via video, dealers must ensure that ads are personalized to each shopper’s preferences and offer real value. Mastering these marketing channels is particularly important during the tax refund season. Tax shoppers don’t have brand loyalty — they’re shopping for price. To make the most out of this season, dealers must ensure they are reaching at-market shoppers on every channel with the right message, at the right time.

Choose Hörmann High Performance Doors for

Service and Shop Entrance & Exit Doorways We have the solutions Hörmann High Performance Doors Contact us today ▶1-800-365-3667 / 1-724-385-9150 / /

32 read, listen, watch, share, succeed.


leadership solution




founder of vAuto \ 866.867.9620


If you ask dealers for their top complaint about the used car business, many will say it’s difficult, if not impossible, to acquire wholesale vehicles “on the money.” Dig a little deeper, and the root of the complaint becomes clear — dealers believe they can’t make the gross profit they would like to see in their used vehicle department, particularly on units they acquire from auction.


Part of the complaint owes to market conditions. Front-end grosses on most used vehicles simply aren’t what they used to be, thanks to increased price transparency. National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) data shows that the front-end gross profit as a percentage of the sales price of used vehicles has declined 20 percent over the last several years and, judging from recent industry reports, the downward trend continues. But I would submit that real reason dealers find auction cars profit-problematic owes to the ways they identify, purchase and manage these vehicles as part of their broader inventory management strategy. Let’s take a closer look at each:

Transform the way your Transform theengages way your dealership dealership engages customers. customers. Multi-Channel Engagement Automated Campaigns Multi-Channel Engagement In-Market Buyer Alerts Automated Campaigns Individualized Follow-Up In-Market Buyer Alerts Social Reputation Management Individualized Follow-Up Social Reputation Management


It used to be OK to just go to the auction and buy some cars. Not anymore. The market’s too competitive, transparent and volatile for such gut-driven guesswork. The best dealers today know exactly what they plan to buy before they spend any time in the lanes or online. They are extremely precise, as well, placing the highest priority on cars that meet the color-, condition-, equipment-, mileage- and profit-parameters that fit their market. Most use technology and tools to achieve this level of precision, purpose and specificity with their auction buy lists. It shouldn’t be too surprising that dealers who operate in a less-sophisticated manner often have the most difficulty finding the right cars. Purchase

Today’s best dealers approach the purchase of an auction unit the same way. It’s a dispassionate, stone-cold analysis. They assess whether they can buy the car they need on the money, with precise knowledge of the profit to expect, given how much they’ll pay for the car and put into it. They use technology and tools to estimate all the cost inputs — acquisition price, packs, postsale inspections, transportation and other fees — and determine their potential gross before the bidding starts. Likewise, these dealers are disciplined. They rarely purchase outside their pre-set parameters and, when they do, they have a very good reason. Manage

Top-performing dealers know that, in today’s market, auction cars represent their most costly and risky used vehicle investments. This understanding drives the care and precision they apply to consistently knowing the right cars and buying them on the money. But this understanding carries further — to each day and every stage the dealer owns this more costly and risky investment. Auction cars get more attention and scrutiny in reconditioning, in online merchandising and in the ongoing reviews of asking prices compared to trade-in vehicles. This level of extra-scrupulous management oversight is necessary to maximize profit and minimize risk. As one dealer put it, “I don’t like to have any over-age vehicles in my inventory, but I absolutely hate it when we let auction vehicles age. More often than not, we end up with a loss we could have avoided.” Dealers who strive to heed these three best practices will typically find improvements in their front-end gross profits. Such gains stand to reason: They’ve got the right cars, they bought them correctly and they’ve done everything they can to maximize each unit’s return on investment. These dealers may still believe that front-end gross profits aren’t where they should be for auctionsourced inventory. 612.536.1500 | 612.536.1500 |


But this belief is more of a commentary on current market conditions, and the all-points effort that’s now required to optimize used vehicle performance and profitability. These dealers understand there’s money to be made with auction vehicles — if you have the fortitude and knowhow to make it.

ms marketing solution


director of digital & social engagement for AutoAlert \ 866.515.6516 \


The way consumers use and access brands via mobile has drastically changed how we build relationships and, in turn, the way businesses create meaningful connections with shoppers. Face-to-face encounters at brick-and-mortar locations are no longer the first contact we have with customers; instead, our first interactions are likely to occur digitally — and take place in a much shorter time frame. Micro-moments are driving the successful consumer experience because they are quickly understood, easy to digest and memorable. Not only does their quickness resonate with fast-paced consumer lifestyles, but their intentional messaging hits home with today’s savvy shoppers, as well. Dealerships that master micro-moments and the powerful connections that can be gained from them are the ones working marketing magic and being recognized time and again by loyal consumers. Defining Micro-Moments

Today’s shoppers gravitate toward micromoments for several reasons. These moments are short bursts of intentional marketing that resonate with consumers and provide memorable content. While shopper attention spans are growing shorter, the marketplace is growing more crowded — and this creates an even more challenging landscape for businesses when it comes to getting noticed and being remembered by shoppers. For this reason, dealerships that create unique micro-moments with content that really hits its mark will stand out from the crowd. While many of your marketing campaigns take time, effort and in-depth planning, that’s not necessarily the case when you implement micro-moments into your marketing plan. While micro-moments are intentional and highly relevant to your brand message, they should feel quick and spontaneous and shouldn’t leave your followers with the impression the moments were planned or set up to “sell” them. The best and most effective micro-moments are opportunities for engagement, allowing you to start conversations and interactions with your audience. Your Dealership and Micro-Moments

Shoppers in just about every industry are going online to shop, research and get consumer

feedback; that means they’re getting many of their insights and making decisions before visiting brick-and-mortar stores. Whenever shoppers access information, view product videos or reviews, take quizzes or tutorials or even interact with online chat apps or individuals from your dealership via social platforms, they are participating in micromoments. All of these small interactions help to give shoppers a snapshot of your brand — and it’s up to you to determine how memorable that snapshot will be. When you leverage the power of micromoments to deliver messages that resonate with consumers, you’ll make your dealership more memorable. And, when you use micromoments to share knowledge, updates and insights, you’ll build your credibility and earn consumer trust. Try some of the following to start building unique micro-moment experiences that will encourage shoppers to seek you out in the marketplace: • Offer Video — From lot walk-throughs to interviews on the showroom floor, unique and creative video can keep shoppers interested and make your dealership memorable. Change things up, post on a variety of platforms and get in on the livefeed trend to capture shopper attention. • Be Visual — In addition to video, still images resonate with shoppers, so be sure to stay up to date and provide new images to pique their interest and keep them coming back. Visuals are a quick method to convey your overall message and reach consumers in a memorable way.

• Answer Questions — In addition to a great Website, consider live chat, a great FAQ page and even a specified time to interact on social platforms and answer shopper questions. Your presence makes a big impact — and can make all the difference when it comes to making a sale. • De-mystify — Choose a topic that’s typically daunting and break it down to an easy-tounderstand format. For example, explain a complicated financing process with a quick tutorial that’s shareable. You’ll likely get plenty of hits from customers who want to understand and share what you’re explaining. • Be Quick — Today’s shoppers are in a hurry, and they expect quick answers and feedback, so if you can be first on the scene with insightful information that helps them along in their buyer journey, you’ll likely be remembered. Shoppers make many decisions based on online feedback, so be sure to keep an eye on your reputation and be quick to respond and interact to feedback — both positive and negative — as well. • Make it Personal — When you do a great job of providing targeted and personalized content — and showing you truly know your audience — you’ll make great strides toward capturing the magic of micro-moments. Shoppers want to believe you are speaking directly to them, so do your homework and offer relevant, enlightening posts. The world is moving at breakneck pace, and however you decide to reach consumers, it’s important to embrace the power of micromoments to help you remain top of mind and gain an edge in the marketplace. Shoppers are looking for the moments that matter, and when you offer intentional, quick bursts of valuable marketing that resonate, you’ll grow an audience who looks to you for information and valuable industry insights.

“Shoppers are looking for the moments that matter, and when you offer intentional, quick bursts of valuable marketing that resonate, you’ll grow an audience who looks to you for information and valuable industry insights.”


mobile Targeted Marketing

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managing partner for Digital Dealership System \ 866.513.6690 \


Dealerships have a lot of decisions to make on a daily basis regarding sales, staff, inventory and hundreds of other items, along with all the phone calls they receive and challenges that pop up during the day. Simplifying these daily challenges is key to a successful, lower-stress lifestyle for dealership management. One way that dealership management can simplify is by working with the fewest number of vendors possible for their product and service needs. If you can get the “best in breed” from one vendor — it’s a win, win. Benefits of a Single Vendor Approach Support — You have one call to make when things don’t go right. Admit it: We all want things to go right 100 percent of the time. Rest assured, however, that support will be needed at some point. It could a major issue — a system is down — or a more common concern — there is new content or updates needed — but having one call to make for service and support eliminates the need to find the phone number of each vendor for each issue that can come up throughout the day. You can completely eliminate the finger pointing that comes when two non-related systems are not working together properly. Products — Synergistic product offerings are key to the future of car dealerships. Being able to share data between services and solutions in real time is paramount. This creates a comprehensive solution for dealer services. Having all systems work together provides for a consistent message to customers and an enhanced simplicity for dealership staff. Combining best of breed in a single vendor offering has a value beyond


the visual in that it will also enhance the inhome, out-of-home, or in-store experience for customers which, in turn, increases closing ratios and bottom-line profits. Pricing — Working with a single vendor to maximize an investment in a comprehensive solution takes a mutual level of commitment. This allows both parties to manipulate the pricing and terms of a deal. Dealerships should expect front-end discounts in the way of additional services or lower costs when combining multiple synergistic products. Vendors appreciate the commitment and should be willing to sweeten a deal when there is more commitment from the dealer.

Price and integration are obvious pros, but the cons aren’t so clear and can vary for each dealer. Integrated solutions may make support easier, but if the integration is based on acquisitions, then the various products may not work well together and may cause more headaches during a transition. If the products were all created by the same group, however, this is not as much a concern. Each dealership is unique, and their needs — based on management — are unique, as well. A rolled-up solution may not work when the dealer only needs a piece of the system and the costs aligned with those may be higher than the bundled pricing. Every dealership is different. The one vendor system might work for some and be a disaster for others. That is why you must consider all the pros and cons that apply to your store

“Having all systems work together provides for a consistent message to customers and an enhanced simplicity for dealership staff. Combining best of breed in a single vendor offering has a value beyond the visual in that it will also enhance the inhome, out-of-home, or in-store experience for customers which, in turn, increases closing ratios and bottom-line profits.” There are both pros and cons to consider when using a single vendor for multiple services.

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s&ts sales & training solution


CEO of Cactus Sky Communications \ 866.859.8052 \


According to Street Fight Magazine, for every 100 cars sold, 19 percent will result in bad reviews. If your dealership sells 100 cars each month that equates to 228 bad reviews in a year — 228 complainers publishing negative experiences about your dealership online for everyone to see. Can you afford to take that annual hit? Once a bad review is posted online, there is nothing you can do to remove the review, short of contacting the original poster. It is time to turn the odds in your favor. We can’t fight online reviews. Car buyers are more likely to trust what other consumers say versus content generated by the automaker or dealership. In fact, 45 percent of car buyers trust reviews and comparisons while only 10 percent trust brand-owned and operated content. To play the online reputation game, dealerships need to be proactive. Keep negative reviews off of the major review sites like Yelp and Google+ by approaching customers directly before they receive the CSI survey — and before they blast you online.

Do Business


According to, 63 percent of shoppers are showrooming while physically shopping on the lot. That means they are browsing on their mobile devices to check out other nearby prices. With Google integrating online reputation in its ranking algorithm, those 228 negative reviews a year are going to start weighing you down. Your dealership will rank lower than nearby dealerships if you accumulate too many negative reviews. Shoppers on your lot can be persuaded to leave by a simple smartphone search of locally reviewed dealerships. A better online reputation starts with the twopronged approach to reputation management. Dealerships need to prevent negative reviews and gain more positive reviews. The easiest way to implement this strategy is to ask customers if they are satisfied. Before the CSI survey is distributed, contact customers directly with a personal email message asking about their experience. Direct satisfied customers to leave a review on popular review sites and lead unsatisfied customers to a private offline channel to complain.

With FLEX Mobile, scan a driver’s license, add a customer, add a vehicle, generate true payments, collaborate with others, and get deal alerts—all from your mobile device. Focus on your customers. Not your DMS.

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Add a line of copy in your message that says “Not satisfied? Click here!” with a link that sends them to a form sent straight to your sales and service managers —not to Yelp and Google+. Most unhappy customers just want to be heard. Give them an offline channel to express their issues and resolve the problem before the CSI survey comes out.

“Most unhappy customers just want to be heard. Give them an offline channel to express their issues and resolve the problem before the CSI survey comes out.” With the release of this latest study, dealers need to tune in to their online reputation. A lot can happen to a dealership’s reputation when you are not looking. It is time to pay attention.

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owner of Hawkins Chevrolet \ 866.694.1886 \

AUTOMOTIVE VENDORS: Can You Effectively Help the Little Guy?

One of the things I have learned the last few years is there are tons of automotive vendors offering products or services to the deepest and most influential retail network in America. The fact that more than 10 percent of our country is employed by companies in or tied to the auto industry explains why this makes sense. I’d like to share a couple things I have learned with the idea of helping smaller dealers get access to some of the great products and services available in the market. First of all, once you start attending conferences to educate yourself and see some of the things that vendors have to offer, you can expect a barrage of communication from them offering their unbeatable product or service. I get it — I am a dealer and understand the importance of the sales mentality. Interestingly, the biggest surprise for me was how even LinkedIn has been become a frequent source of unsolicited requests from vendors. I have been more liberal about accepting connections on LinkedIn, often only to be immediately messaged with a request to call or meet about their product. However, I still get tons of emails and phone calls from people I don’t know wanting to pitch me their product. One thing I like about the direction of many vendors is the “education” approach they take. They are establishing themselves as


educators and thought leaders. They then share information for free and develop a relationship with dealers and dealership employees. They do this with the hope — or goal — of making a relevant enough contribution to earn their business. I see these vendors having success with this model and now have some business relationships myself due to this approach. Because of all the requests I get, I will not even consider doing business with anyone — no matter how effective their product or service is — unless I already have a relationship with them or they are referred to me by friends. Secondly, I’m still looking for vendors that can concentrate on providing value to smaller, rural dealers like myself. I know there are many products that scale only for large dealerships.

There is a time and dollar investment that takes many products out of the range of small dealers. While there are some products that are available to dealers my size, there are also many great products that could be scaled to smaller dealers. I’d love to see someone, or maybe a group of vendors, develop a strategy to make their products or services affordable to smaller dealers. When you are in a town with a population of 25,000 in a 30-mile radius, how do some of the digital marketing strategies work differently than markets where a 30-mile radius has several hundred thousand people? How do you train people to use a system consistently when they likely wear many more “hats” in a store of 20 to 40 employees compared to 100 to 200? It is so easy to get the next greatest “gadget” that will truly help even a small store, but fails for lack of consistent use due to time. I’m not putting blame on vendors, who have to develop strategies to work with clients that can grow their business the fastest. I’m just wondering if anyone is willing to look at the untapped “small dealer” market and see if there is a profitable path to make it work.

ms marketing solution


national sales manager for Callbright \ 866.865.3175 \


Dealers have several ways of finding out if an employee isn’t meeting expectations. You can gauge your employees’ success through the amount of vehicles they sell, how many leads they’ve contacted or how customers have responded to recent survey questions. The information gathered from these sources can help you make decisions with regard to training or even continued employment. When an employee isn’t generating revenue for your dealership, you should do everything you can to change that. If one of your marketing campaigns is underperforming, wouldn’t you want to do the same? While it can be easy to know when an employee isn’t successful, how do you know when your marketing campaigns are struggling to bring in leads and generate revenue? How do you calculate the ROI on your marketing dollars? How you use your phone numbers can be a key part of understanding how your marketing campaigns are performing, and the right numbers can give your marketing a boost, as well. The proliferation of smartphones has led to phone calls becoming the most valuable lead source for many companies. Last year, eMarketer estimated that 73.4 percent of all Internet users in the U.S. used smartphones. And, according to a recent BIA/Kelsey report, 66.4 percent of marketers view phone calls as a high-quality lead source. That means you need to be equipped to track offline responses to your marketing.

If your existing phone numbers aren’t getting the job done, I have some tips to help you put your telephone numbers to work. Use Tracking Numbers

I can’t say this enough. No matter what collection of digits you use for the phone number on your marketing campaigns, you need to be able to track the number of calls coming in so that you can see how effective your marketing campaigns are. Understanding your marketing ROI helps you to understand your consumers. John Wanamaker, a department store owner and marketing innovator in the late 1800s, is famous for saying, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” If you’re spending thousands of dollars on marketing, don’t you want to know what portion of your marketing budget is generating the most leads so you can better manage your campaigns? Using toll-free numbers (TFNs) is the most effective way to evaluate your marketing ROI. You can apply unique TFNs to each of your campaign materials — such as a television spot, a print advertisement, a billboard or a call extension in a pay-per-click ad — and use call tracking software to see which piece of marketing is getting the best response. Your call tracking software should provide you with reports on the number of calls you’re receiving on the different numbers, indicating if a campaign is or isn’t generating leads. Be Memorable With Vanity Numbers

TFNs are great for tracking the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns, but generic 800 numbers can be forgettable. That’s why you should look into vanity numbers, which apply letter values to the numbers and form words in place of the random numbers in your TFNs. For example, 855.CALLBRIGHT is much easier to remember than 855.225.5274. In your case, you’d want to try to find a number that fits your dealership. You could use your dealership’s name or other car- or OEM-related terms, such as BUYJEEP or GOCHEVY. When a number like that plays on a radio or TV ad or appears on a billboard, it will be instantly memorable. Keep Things Local

Maybe you’ve had a local phone number for a long time that your business is well known for, or it’s possible that your client base might not respond well to TFNs or vanity numbers, no matter how easy they are to remember. In those cases, using local numbers with your local area code might be your best bet. Even though your dealership doesn’t have to be part of a big national chain to use TFNs and vanity numbers, some customers might see TFNs as an indicator that you’re not that interested in doing business locally. TFNs have many advantages if your dealership is in an area that has multiple area codes or if you’re close to state lines, but a local number might be more useful in a smaller community. Local numbers can help your customer see you as a local business that keeps its money in the community, which can be endearing in smaller communities. However, even if you use local numbers, you still need to know how your marketing campaigns are performing, so be sure to use call tracking software that can track local number performance. Would you like to hear some more ideas for ways to put your telephone numbers to work? Give me a call or send me an email.

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Profile for AutoSuccess

AutoSuccess April 2016  

The No.1 Sales-Improvement Magazine for the Automotive Professional

AutoSuccess April 2016  

The No.1 Sales-Improvement Magazine for the Automotive Professional