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sales & training solution A Call to Action for All Dealers
WHO IS THE ‘MINORITY’ WHO ACCOUNTS FOR 85 PERCENT OF ALL CONSUMER PURCHASES? WOMEN
ACTIVITY BREEDS PRODUCTIVITY
AUTO TRANSPORT BY RAIL SALES UP TO 30 PERCENT
WHAT IS (AND ISN’T) A ONE-SOLUTION SYSTEM
MANAGE YOUR ONLINE MERCHANDISING, PART 2
A SMART, PRACTICAL, STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO CRM SUCCESS
HOW TO RULE WITH STRATEGIC MARKET LEVERAGING
Susie Horne, Account Manager John Warner, Sales-Improvement Strategist firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Who Taught You the Rules?
Brian Ankney, Account Manager firstname.lastname@example.org
JoePollaro & ShelleyMcBride
LEGAL COMPLIANCE JimRadogna
CREDIT SCORE IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMS
Tammy Darvish, Vice President, speaks out on eLEAD and Automotive Marketing
Dave Davis, Editor & Creative Strategist email@example.com
LAUNCHING A POSITIVE REVIEW CAMPAIGN FOR THE SERVICE DEPARTMENT
DARCARS Automotive Group Knows Owner Retention...Do You?
Thomas Williams, VP & Creative Director firstname.lastname@example.org
STEPS TO STRENGTHENING YOUR FINANCE DEPARTMENT HossDevine
Learning the Art of the Old Give and Take
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THERE’S A GUY ON THE LOT...WHO’S UP? JohnBrentlinger
OPTIMIZE YOUR MARKETING, PART 1 JoeAbraham
30 32 36 37
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18 TomHopkins 24 PeterBond 25 JeffGrandstaff 26 KirkManzo 28 JockSchowalter 38
IDEAS, NOT GENDER, ARE KEY TO SUCCESS KristinDeBates
INTEGRATION MYTH BUSTER BillPhillips
DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT, THE SALES ARE OUT THERE FranTaylor
THE PATH TO PROFITABILITY:
THE DEATH OF THE TRADITIONAL DEALERSHIP, PART 2
THE VALUE OF A MANAGER’S MINUTE MarkTewart
11 14 16 17 SteveBrazill
An Interview with UPS’ Kristin DeBates
2300 Hurstbourne Village Dr, Suite 1200 Louisville Kentucky 40299 | 877.818.6620 / 502.588.3170 | AutoSuccessOnline.com / AutoSuccessPodcast.com | email@example.com
An Interview With TammyDarvish
Susan Givens, Publisher firstname.lastname@example.org
sales & training solution
THE PATH TO PROFITABILITY: A Call to Action for All Dealers Recently, I received a note from a successful dealer stating in part that they’ve experienced difficulty with appraisals of late. Part of it is that they are stretching so far to make new car deals, they’re often putting too much into a trade. His desk managers are really finding a larger disconnect between auction values and what other similar cars with respect to miles and trim are selling for on the Internet. There is no question that the pain being experienced with respect to appraising vehicles for acquisition and the amount that’s necessary to be paid at auction isn’t justified when you consider the retail market. I’ve been speaking incessantly over the past year about the rapid increase in wholesale values without a corresponding retail price increase. The effect is a highly compressed margin environment. There are identifiable reasons for this compression; however, that’s another discussion, and it will not likely change in the future. In other words, this is the reality of the current and future retail automotive environment. Although the industry is struggling to accept this margin compression, it’s clear that it is the reality of all efficient markets. Specifically, this reality begins with the recognition that profit margins will be much smaller than they were in the previously inefficient market. This new reality sets up two important questions. First, will there be a race to the bottom, where no one makes any money? Second, if not, who are the winners and losers in such an environment? With respect to the first question, the answer is no, there will not be a race to the bottom where no one makes any money; in fact, some will make plenty. The support for this position can be found by examining some of the most efficient markets in the world. Such markets include mercantile and commodity exchanges — markets where everyone has access to relevant information with lightening speed. In these markets, there are certainly winners and losers; but to be sure, the profit margins are razor thin.
So who are the winners in these most highly efficient razor-thin margin markets? They are the companies that possess two essential characteristics. The first characteristic is the company’s ability to perceive the price at which their products will sell at any given moment and their willingness to offer the products at that price point without delay. The price at which the product will transact at the given moment is called “the equilibrium price.” The second essential characteristic of efficient-market winners is a highly costefficient operation. Since the profit margin at the equilibrium price is razor thin, lessefficient operations cannot survive for long at that pricing level. If, and when, too many sellers meet the equilibrium price, the equilibrium price will drop and thereby systematically weed out those sellers with marginally less operational efficiency. Under such circumstances, these sellers will exit the market in favor of more profitable opportunities, which could mean soy beans instead of corn, compacts rather than SUVs, or storage facilities instead of dealerships. The good news is that, as the lessefficient operations exit in favor of better opportunities, the equilibrium price will then begin to rise. The profits of the most highly efficient operations will soar as a result of their extraordinary efficiency. Once the profits for the most efficient operations climb to a high enough level, the other less-efficient competitors will again return to this sector searching for a share of the profits. At this point, the cycle repeats itself over and over. The bottom line is that the reality of the ever-more efficient retail automotive market is lower margins. There will, however, certainly be winners and losers. The winners will possess the two essential characteristics of being able to move immediately to the equilibrium price and hang in there until the less efficient are flushed out by the inefficiencies of their operations. This new paradigm for the retail automotive industry
poses challenges at multiple levels. First and foremost is the industry’s culture of pursuing fat margins in favor of moving directly to the equilibrium price. This cultural resistance is presently allowing dealers to significantly improve their market share. Another significant challenge, however, is the restructuring of their businesses to create more efficient operations. Only some of this restructuring can be achieved through conventional cost cutting and expense control. Fixed expenses such as land and facility costs are prime examples of those that can not be easily or quickly reduced. Because the greatest cost efficiencies, and to be sure the hardest ones to achieve, lie in the dealership’s organizational structure and processes, it is now time to take inventory of all the necessary tasks and to eliminate all nonessential ones. This effort requires hard choices to be made between the “nice-to-have” and the “must-have.” Moreover, the remaining tasks must be reengineered to achieve effectiveness with lower cost. This, too, will require tough choices involving employees and relationships with outside entities. The present moment in the industry is one between from where we came and where we are headed. Although there is a growing trend of dealers characterized by this movement who are learning and executing the principles, there are many others who have simply adopted the practice of equilibrium pricing. The consequence for such dealers who are willing to price at or near equilibrium without attaining greater operational efficiency has not yet been realized. Without question, over time this group of dealers will experience results that will cause them to retreat from the market by either reverting to non-equilibrium pricing or pursuing other more attractive investment opportunities. Dale Pollak is the founder of vAuto and an author. He can be contacted at 866.867.9620, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
sales & training solution
WHO IS THE ‘MINORITY’ WHO ACCOUNTS FOR 85 PERCENT OF ALL CONSUMER PURCHASES? WOMEN Women buy 60 percent of all new cars and 53 percent of used cars, and spend $300 billion annually keeping their cars repaired; and yet, a recent study of 200 Chicago car dealerships by economists Ian Ayres and Peter Siegelman shows that women usually get higher price quotes than men. Overall, most women liken buying a car to having a tooth pulled. It is not like most of her other retail shopping experiences at all, and many women do love to shop. With all that buying power, women resent not being taken seriously at the dealership. One of the top complaints is that women hate highpressure sales tactics and the feeling that they are being manipulated or lied to by the salesperson.
The advent of the Internet has enabled women to find the resources and information they need to take charge of their own finances and buying decisions, and give voice to their needs and preferences. In today’s competitive auto industry, dealership owners and employees can no longer afford to ignore the need to create a safe comfortable experience for the female car buyer. If anything, they should cater to women and win their trust, or risk losing market share to competitors who do recognize the huge opportunity to grow their business with these loyal customers. Here are Some Facts on the Purchasing Power of Women:
According to M2W.biz Fast Facts, women account for 85 percent of all consumer purchases, including everything from autos to health care: • 91 percent of new homes • 66 percent of PCs • 92 percent of vacations • 80 percent of healthcare • 65 percent of new cars • 89 percent of bank accounts • 93 percent of food American women spend about $5 trillion annually, which is more than half the U.S. GDP. Reaching the Underserved Female Majority
With the rising tide of the economic power of women, car dealerships and automotive retailers need to devote time, resources and budget to gain a larger share of this huge market. If 60 percent of new car buyers are women and 85 percent of new vehicle purchases are influenced by women, what percent of your marketing and advertising budget are you willing to devote to attract, sell, retain and increase loyalty with this majority of the American auto buying market? Properly armed with the right tools and training dealerships can increase their share of the largest and fastest growing demographic of new vehicle buyers — women.
Jody DeVere is the CEO and president of AskPatty.com. She can be contacted at 866.849.9973, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE VALUE OF A MANAGER’S MINUTE Time waste differs from material waste in that there can be no salvage. The easiest of all wastes and the hardest to correct is the waste of time, because wasted time does not litter the floor like wasted material. – Henry Ford If you are a manager in a typical dealership, you (and your family) know you spend most of your waking life there. The value of that time to you is determined by a variety of personal choices that only you can assess, but the value of that time to the dealership is easy to calculate. We’ll assume the dealership purchases your time with the expectation that you will use it to produce a profit in your department. And, because the standard accounting period in dealerships is one month, we’ll consider the profit you produce and the minutes you work in a single month. Using round numbers, we can build a simple example. Departmental profit is what’s left over after you cover your expenses with gross profit
from sales. If you expect to produce $10,000 in profit and your expenses are $90,000, you must generate $100,000 in gross profit. If you work 12 hours per day and 25 days per month in the process of producing that $100,000 gross profit, you will have worked 18,000 minutes (60 x 12 x 25=18,000). Dividing the $100,000 gross profit you are expected to produce in a month by the 18,000 minutes you will spend working on that task reveals that you must produce $5.56 per minute you spend at work.
equipment and people (including yourself).
Now, $5.56 per minute may not look like a lot of money, but remember: It’s equal to $100,000 per month and $1.2 million per year.
Everyone’s situation is unique, and you will have to discover the solutions that work for you today, then adjust them as you go forward. The only universal thing is that time is wasted one minute at a time and, once gone, it can never be reclaimed. Tick, tock.
I’m not suggesting that you take this analysis literally. You should not spend four minutes, 18 seconds helping a customer resolve a problem, then walk away thinking, “Wow! That guy just cost us $23.91.” You can, however, be constantly aware of the fact that your time is a finite resource that is not free. You can identify and change those things that repeatedly consume more time than necessary — streamline or eliminate processes, cranky
You might begin by estimating how much time you spend on the various activities that make up your day. Find areas in which you can reallocate time for greater effect. Here’s a thought starter: If 20 percent of your people are producing 80 percent of your results, are you spending more of your time with them or with the 80 percent who produce only 20 percent of your results?
Steve Brazill is the chair of automotive marketing for Northwood University, Texas Campus. He can be contacted at 866.861.1515, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
the #1 sales-improvement magazine for the automotive professional
Today’s auto dealers have technical advantages that no other generation of vehicle sales professionals could have dreamed of. With these new tools, though, there are challenges, one of the biggest being the decision on which tools will work best with for a dealership’s unique situation. AutoSuccess Publisher Susan Givens recently sat down with Tammy Darvish, vice president of the high-volume DARCARS Automotive Group in Maryland, to discuss the steps she’s taken to make sure her people have the right tools for the job. AutoSuccess: Everyone wants to know how your stores continue to improve, Tammy. What are some key factors? Tammy Darvish: Well, for one thing, we
have not and will not operate under the belief that we are executing as well as possible. We really believe that if we are not improving and looking for ways to better serve our customers and our communities, then we’re not going to grow or sustain. At the same time, we think that internal accountability at every level is vital. We place a lot of emphasis on targeted strategies, not only on attracting more customers but, more importantly, retaining them. By offering our customers the right incentives and providing them with the level of service that they expect and deserve, we’ve been fortunate enough to see meaningful increases in our sales and service retention percentages. While it’s tough to get out of the comfort zone of traditional advertising, we have placed greater focus on our customers’ digital experience. AS: What’s the biggest technology point you rely on? TD: One of the biggest operational decisions
we made a couple of years ago was to partner with eLEAD as our CRM tool and to create a sense of credible accountability across the board. Until we defined how our CRM was going to measure accountability, we never really utilized it fully. Although we don’t let CRM serve as an excuse or focus every day, eLEAD is one of the very few digital strategic partners that we have. Like many dealers, we felt technologically challenged and had to learn that partners like this were about much more than technology; they were more about delivering an experience to our customers. Our
goal was to vet and select just a few partners that could integrate with each other to provide the most return on our investment. Eliminating many technology sources was a risk, but one that has paid off well, in our case. After several CRM changes, it has been very productive to find a long-term approach and partner that works for our entire group. We have experienced that there is no magical software system that’s not going to have issues at times, but front-to-back we believe that we have found the most complete option out there. More importantly, eLEAD has resources available to move forward and keep up with the advancements of technology and our other partners. I think it’s a great advantage to partner with a company that is focused on retail, owner retention and continual improvement. We have grown together in the industry for the past few years. AS: Do you employ an internal BDC or call center? TD: A lot of my peers are customers of
eLEAD and successfully combine both, but our stores do not staff BDCs. We do use their call center as a safety net to measure how effectively our managers and sales consultants are following up. Our CRM makes sure our leads and unsold opportunities don’t slip through the cracks. It’s not realistic to expect our front-line players to complete all the calls, all the time, as well as managing everything else. We’re realistic about the number of calls that really get made out of a retail point each day versus the optimum number that should be made. There is no way any store could execute the number of calls and appointments that the call center averages. It’s a challenge
in many of our stores just to keep up with the appointments that are made by the call center. We are comfortable knowing that while our CRM provider is doing what they do best, our teams can focus on the better managing our business. How many appointments we have at each dealership every day is no longer a mystery. eLEAD helps keep us focused on the many other tasks in our showrooms that we can have direct control over, while remaining as productive as possible. AS: What types of targeted marketing strategies consistently work well for you? TD: With a well-established customer base
in each of our dealerships, we work with our CRM provider to coordinate all of our electronic efforts related to all sales and service campaigns. They often provide us with credible recommendations based on our traffic and timing. Whether its e-mail, telephone calls, recalls or direct mail, we believe in professional communication with a clear call to action for all of our customers to maximize every sales and service opportunity. Using external marketing to attract new customers is not only much more expensive, but is often more unreliable than marketing to our own databases. Creating and maintaining long-term positive relationships with our customers has always been our goal, and eLEAD is a tool that certainly advances our efforts towards that goal while providing real value for our customers. Vehicle sales and repair orders generated from true prospecting calls are tracked with accountability, just like other key metrics. AS: What types of marketing calls do you find most effective? TD: We use eLEAD’s GoldDigger Agents
to strategically mine our databases on schedule with professional sales and service prospecting calls to point our managers in the right directions. Most of our sales campaigns target customers who are in positive equity, warranty expiration or can lower their monthly payment. The service campaigns assist us in securing the first service visit from our customers after the sale and help retain them throughout their lifecycle. There are many tools and “menu” items that are offered by eLEAD, all of which work in tandem with our other operational business partners. AS: What can you tell us about your follow-up process with prospects who do not buy immediately? TD: We tend to believe there is really no such thing as too much follow-up in the car business. The cost of generating new opportunities is high, and customers don’t have time to waste at dealerships. It is important to have consistent follow up not only to try to encourage
customers to come back to the showroom when they are ready to buy, but also to learn more about their experience in our showrooms on their initial visits. We want to follow-up until the appointment is set or they have bought elsewhere without aggravating or offending our customers. If nothing else, we want to create a friendship with every customer so that even if we missed an opportunity today, they would consider us again in the future. Regardless of the type of prospect, we insist on CRM usage to capture the customer’s information, track daily follow-up tasks and give our management team quick access to missed appointments and uncompleted tasks. While the workday of a sales consultant is typically very unstructured, we now have professional daily work plans that provide them with a clear road map to managing all of their opportunities on a daily basis. Most beneficial are the follow-up calls that eLEAD makes to our unsold customers that, more often than not, would have ended up falling by the wayside.
AS: Many people wonder how you manage it all? Any words of advice? TD: Being a part of every “team” in our
dealerships is important so that, as decision makers, we have first-hand experience and knowledge of the challenges that are faced each day. Having thorough knowledge of all of the tools available to us through our partnerships is key to the success of our relationship with our partners. And personally, although its difficult at times, I’ve found that the more listening I do, the easier it is for me to manage more effectively.
For more information about Tammy Darvish, or the DARCARS Automotive Group, visit www.DARCARS.com. For more information about eLeadCRM, contact the owner, Hugh Hathcock, at 866.347.6160, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE DEATH OF THE TRADITIONAL DEALERSHIP Do you feel like you are missing out on something? Are you confused as to what the next step is in making your dealership successful? Itâ€™s a different ballgame than it was even just a few years ago. The traditional dealership is dead and you must bury it to prosper in the future. For years, the car business could be a forgiving business. There was room for a lot of error in a dealership, and yet a dealership could still be profitable. Those days are gone. Dealerships cannot be run in only a â€œseat of the pants,â€? entrepreneurial fashion anymore. To be successful, dealerships have to be measured intensely in four areas: people, process, product and positioning. People
You must choose a path that works for your dealership philosophy. You must recruit people on a full-time basis based upon want, not need. The leadership of a dealership must have a written and executed game plan for recruiting that utilizes online services, job fairs, colleges, tech schools, high schools, Web sites, micro-sites, social media, newspaper, mass media and more. A dealership needs a detailed plan that includes interview questions, a number of interviews, personnel trained to interview, testing methods for potential job skills match, screening methods, follow-up methods, and initial and ongoing training methods for new hires. Process
Each dealership should have a written and executed process for every part of the dealership: sales process, Internet lead process, marketing process, service process, parts process, manager process, used car inventory process, etc. As an example, the selling process must be reviewed to make sure it is up to date and matches todayâ€™s marketplace. Most sales processes being used today were created in the 1950s and 60s and have changed only slightly. Meanwhile, for the customer, everything has changed. Information gathering, overall knowledge, shopping process, volume of choices,
Every dealership needs to review their process based upon TLC â€“ Think Like a Customer. What are you currently doing in your dealership process that lessens customer trust or ease of shopping/buying? Most dealerships are living in the stone-age when it comes to something as simple as the meeting and greeting of the customer. Nothing in your current process is sacred, and the mantra for many things should be â€œjust let it go.â€? The days of â€œStackâ€™em deep and sell them cheapâ€? are over. Your new and used inventory must be monitored daily using analytic systems and technology that measures not only your inventory but others and market conditions. Many dealers have fought using any type of turn system, even though simple mathematics proved you would be better off doing so. Well, the tide has turned again. Turn systems themselves are now outdated and can even lower your dealerships ROI without other factors involved. Each vehicle is an investment â€” just like a stock or mutual fund â€” and must be analyzed, bought, priced, marketed, sold and eliminated using several conditions. Just saying that you have a 45-day turn system is not good enough anymore.
Here is the sad result: Out of hundreds of dealers, only one knew the answer to these questions. I continually find that dealers and managers do not really know what is going on in their own dealerships and are not doing anything to educate themselves to change that. The reality is that the future belongs to dealers who educate themselves more, execute better and understand the value of speed in todayâ€™s marketplace. The marketplace of today and the future will continue to be very unforgiving, with little room for margin of error, inattention or being slothful. The traditional dealership is dead, but the exciting news is your new dealership is waiting to be born.
Gone are the days of running display newspaper ads and waiting for traffic to arrive. Your dealership must have a dealership strategy that combines market positioning. Selling vehicles based upon price only will not create long-term success. Successful dealers will no longer be able to delegate all of their marketing to an advertising strategy without educating themselves on the marketing and positioning aspects of their dealership.
For a free special report titled â€œ10 Things You Must Do At Your Dealership To Be Successfulâ€? e-mail me at the address below with â€œ10 Thingsâ€? in the subject line. Mark Tewart is the president of Tewart Enterprises, and the author of the best seller, How To Be A Sales Superstar. He can be contacted at 866.429.6844, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Dealers will have to massively educate themselves on things such as direct response marketing methods, copyrighting, multi-step campaigns, integration of online and offline methods, social media, continual customer
In the last year, I have asked hundreds of dealers the following questions: â€˘ What are your overall sales to service retention numbers and percentages beyond a free first oil change? â€˘ What are your number of inactive customers, and what percentage is that to your overall customer base? â€˘ What is your planned and executed strategy for a continuity program to keep your customers for sales and service?
relationship building strategies, and sales to service continuity programs and retention. Dealers will learn that many advertising agencies do not understand any of these things and simply create lousy to mediocre production and buy the media. Without a well-thought strategy, using intentional congruence with all of the above-mentioned factors, you cannot be successful in this and future marketplace.
expectations, value perceptions and lessening of brand loyalty are all things that have changed dramatically.
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DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT, THE SALES ARE OUT THERE I spoke with two dealers who had their best months ever last month. Mike Polsom, GM at Wyatt Johnson in Clarksville, Tenn. and Mike Warner at Blaise Alexander Chrysler Jeep in State College, Penn. They both are doing several things differently than most stores to achieve these tremendous results. They are both good at managing their stores by making people accountable. Every dealership plans to send out birthday cards to their customers. Are you sure all your people are doing it every time? Are your people handwriting the envelope to be sure the card gets opened? Are your salespeople including magnets and $100 referral cards in each envelope, as well? (Check the laws in your state to be sure the referral bonus is legal.) If you answered “no” to any of these questions, make it a requirement and not a request. A great way to be sure that this happens every week is to have your salespeople turn in their birthday cards during a weekly meeting.
Get Your Salespeople to Drive in Customers
Good managers expect their salespeople to invest in themselves and their business. A great way to encourage this is to split bonuses. Pay half of each bonus in cash and the other half place into a self-improvement / prospecting account. You need to implement this procedure into your entire sales force all at once, no exceptions. Enforce a Consistent Demo Route
People buy vehicles based on emotion, and the emotion flows most while driving a potential new vehicle. Both Mike Polsom and Mike Warner have designated demo routes. They have both designed a route that avoids excessive traffic, allows for fun driving and exploration of the cabin and give the salesperson the opportunity to sell the car. At your next meeting, explain to your people why you are going to be using a new route and the
benefits that this new route will provide. Next let them know that this route is mandatory. Continuous Training and Improvement will Increase Your Sales
Dealerships spend too much money to bring in each customer just to have an improperly trained salesperson blow them out. Be sure that you are teaching your salespeople everything they need to succeed. Teach them more than just logins to your systems. Teach them the steps to the sale, what to say on the phone, in the showroom, on the demo drive and in the delivery. Sales process is as important as marketing, so devote the necessary time to perfect yours. Fran Taylor is the president and CEO of Taylor Techniques. He can be contacted at 866.848.9864, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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IDEAS, NOT GENDER, ARE KEY TO SUCCESS An Interview with UPS’ Kristin DeBates Conventional wisdom says that, since the automotive field has historically been a maledominated industry, women working with that field have extra obstacles to overcome. That hasn’t been the experience of Kristin DeBates, a marketing manager at UPS who deals with the auto industry. Gender isn’t the key qualification, she says; having the right idea for profitability is. “With the industry undergoing such dramatic changes in recent years,” DeBates said, “customers are open to ideas that help them be more profitable and position them for long-term success, regardless if you are a man or a woman.” We recently sat down with DeBates and asked her about her history at UPS, her dealings with the automotive field and her experience in being a female leader in the industry. AutoSuccess: Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get started with UPS? Kristin DeBates: I’ve been around wheels
now for about 20 years. I started with UPS as a driver in 1990. Back then, everyone at UPS had to be exposed to operations and truly understand the backbone of the company. So, I drove and had the opportunity to see everything from the ground up. For the last three years, I’ve been working in the automotive sector as the marketing manager for transportation and logistics information. It’s wonderful, and I love what I do. I love helping customers streamline their businesses. I love helping them think differently about their supply chain and making them more profitable. AS: What were some challenges you’ve faced dealing with the historically maledominated auto industry? KD: Honestly, I’ve been welcomed with open
arms. To be quite frank, my enthusiasm and desire for bottom-line results have made me both an internal and an external asset to our customers. There’s a need to be profitable and competitively focused, no matter who you are. They are open to talking with somebody who is results focused. Honestly, my role with UPS is really about helping customers in the industry understand how to optimize their supply chain for greater efficiencies and to improve customer satisfaction. Today, the demographics of the industry are changing and you find not only women executives such as (executive director of global logistics) Susanna Webber, at General Motors, but there are also women designers, engineers and logisticians like Bobbie Rooney of Mazda. Women are starting to permeate the industry and, given the influence women have in the purchasing of new and used
cars, it’s important for the whole automotive community to embrace women and the value and different approaches and thought processes that we can bring. AS: What was your biggest asset in dealing with customers from various sections of the automotive industry? KD: There are a few different things. I
think the first is really my enthusiasm for the industry. I really love what I do, and I love helping customers; having that mindset really helps customers to be open to building a relationship with you. The second is that I’m a good communicator. I have the ability to build a compelling story that ensures customers understand, first and foremost, that it’s all about strategic partnership — we’re in it for the long haul, and without their survival, there’s no UPS. The third thing that I think is nice is having a global perspective. Since the industry is becoming increasingly global, you have to bring that global perspective to your clients. AS: What are some of the most important traits a leader can have, and what are some traits that should be minimized or eliminated to be effective? KD: To me it’s really integrity. I think
employees, as well as customers, need to know you’re playing honestly; without integrity, there’s no basis for partnership. As far as what should be minimized, I think, from a woman’s perspective, we tend to speak more emotionally, and I think I’ve had to learn that we need to keep emotions at bay. Make sure you speak from a position of knowledge and limit the emotions, because sometimes it can really undermine the case for what you’re trying to do. AS: What advice would you give a woman entering into management in the automotive industry? KD: I think it would be to know your audience,
so whether you’re speaking to a dealer, a supplier or an OEM, you have to know who they are, what keeps them up at night and how to speak to them in terms of how you can help them. Given the current state of the industry, many of them are in survival mode and are wearing multiple hats; you have to understand what their key pain points are and really talk to them in terms of how you can help them and make their life easier. Kristin DeBates is a marketing manager at UPS. She can be contacted at 866.265.7114, or by e-mail at email@example.com. the #1 sales-improvement magazine for the automotive professional
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INTEGRATION MYTH BUSTER
It’s a subject that just has to be investigated, no matter who it upsets: What is integration and what does it really produce in a store or dealer group? I know that all the executives in your group want it, and all the LMT/CRM tool companies have their products out, ready to apply the solution to the problem — if there really is one.
Now, for a different look at this issue. Would it be nice to enter all your data in the same spot, and have everything — desk applications, used car evaluations, CRM activity, data mining, LMT processes — work as one and work properly? Of course it would. So it begs to be asked: Will this produce more sales and better customer experience? Of course it would, if anyone — no let’s say everyone — knew how to use it. So what’s the problem? Let’s get it done. There is a problem, though, and while lots of companies are there to solve what on the surface seems to be a simple problem, it turns out to be more complex than those who market to you will admit. Here is what will really happens when you drink the kool-aid and take the integration at all costs route: The $3,000 to $5,000 per month that these vendors are asking for, is a drop in the bucket compared to what it will really cost in the first two to three years it takes you to actually make it work in your store. Your sales staff and management staff will suffer disorientation for most of this break-in period. When reality sinks in, you will be able to run reports to figure out that the system you just spent more than a year learning is telling you that you’re not doing it right. Let me say it loudly: There are no tools in the market that will solve laziness and lack of dedication. There are no tools in the market that will actually sell more vehicles for you — I don’t care what their sales material
says. If you can’t drive the Honda in your garage, then buying a 7-series BMW with the fancy I-drive won’t make you a better driver. If you can’t manage a simple system, a more complex one will just accelerate the problem. Any dealer who is helping a vendor hock these products has a good manager who made this new system work, and they could have made the old one work, but didn’t. Put the kool-aid glass down.
Here’s what I have found actually happens for almost a year with about every tool in the market currently being offered. They do, at best, 50 percent of what it really takes to get your staff to understand it and use it. The learning curve will be 300 percent longer than you calculated or have been told would be. Your reports will work, at best, 50 percent of the time and you’ll be lucky if 50 percent of those work correctly and don’t contradict other reports in the system with the same data in them. And when this is all working correctly, you will know now what you already knew then. There is no magic bullet. Your current DMS tool will hold you hostage by making it difficult to use any other outside tool, because they want you to use their tools. The sad truth is that every DMS tool in the market right now has a poor lead management tool (LMT). And, by the way, this LMT tool is the route your new customers will be coming to you, not walking in to be managed by your CRM. Your LMT functionality should be the primary focus of your tool selection, and not a secondary thought as you drink deeply of the well-crafted sales pitches designed to tell you what you want to hear. Visual clutter, status control, process compliance reporting, and a host of other issues should be focused on to properly judge a tool. I will be focusing on this stuff in upcoming articles, so keep looking if you want my version of the truth about this stuff. If your current tool is being used to its maximum potential, and
you have really found the limits of its ability, then it may be time to switch tools. I would also seriously doubt that even 10 percent of people reading this can back up the claim that they are at this level in their store or group. In case you are wondering as you read this, what I think the solution is, and why I think this way, I will tell you. I am a trainer, and I obviously believe in training. I also don’t care if you use me — hire another company or hire someone internally to do this work. The work of training and accountability must be done first to ever properly analyze any product you have to consider, or any other product that boasts the claim of betterment. In closing, let me say that I am allergic to hype by CRM vendors. As a matter of fact, it’s just like going to a MLM presentation; they all have the same ring of “overpromising” and “under-delivering,” and skipping the important details. I don’t care how large they are, who is using them and what manufacturer is pimping them and claiming this is the reason for success; it isn’t. In a recent experience, a large vendor in the market had one of my clients sign the magicbullet contract. I asked this vendor, who had assembled a complete team to discuss this issue, how they could realistically claim to care about the dealer while selling him leadgeneration promises with his process broken so badly. The silence was loud and clear. These vendors have a job to do in selling you something. You have a job to do in pulling the truth from what is said to protect your dealership. I hope this opinion has stirred you, motivated you and helped you in some way, no matter who likes it or doesn’t like it. Someone is talking to your customers; make sure it’s you.
Bill Phillips is the president and CEO of Automotive Internet Management, Inc. He can be contacted at 866.593.7212, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
That’s a Billion Dollars in Gross Profit For Our Clients. So what? Forget about the 15 years it took us to get to a Billion. Forget about the over 300,000 vehicles we’ve helped our clients sell. Forget our proven track record of over 10,000 events. Forget all that and ask yourself...
What does that mean to YOU? If you’ve never run a staffed event, or never run one with G&A, maybe it’s time to take another look. Our clients are already earning their next billion, we just thought you might want to join in.
Back by popular demand! Email “EXAMPLE” to email@example.com for your FREE .pdf copy of G&A’s “Guide To Improving Sales Talent: Cushions, Deflections & Rescues” Please book early for remaining August and September events. Contact Matt Baker 1-800-688-1370 or firstname.lastname@example.org to see if we might be a fit for your store.
(800) 688-1370 www.gamarketing.com
OUR MISSION: To be the industry’s best at leading dealerships to achieve maximum performance through marketing, training, consulting and motivation.
LAUNCHING A POSITIVE REVIEW CAMPAIGN FOR THE SERVICE DEPARTMENT In my last article I argued why dealerships need to get online reputation management going for Service. I laid down the facts about how today’s Service shopper is overwhelmingly a search engine and review site user, how generating a high volume of positive Service reviews is essentially like establishing the most prominent “billboards” possible today and that, because so few dealers are doing reputation management for Fixed Ops, it’s a powerful market advantage. Reputation management strategies for Service share some key components with the process on the Sales side, but there are also key differences. Get Management On Board:
Because it takes time and “big-picture” thinking beyond just the short-term, “sell, sell, sell” mentality, no online reputation management campaign ever works or can be sustained unless management fully commits to its importance. Get Set Up at Review Sites/Directories:
Setting up your dealership(s) for both Sales and Service properly at the key review sites/directories is time-consuming, but critical. Each listing should include robust information about your Sales/Service/ Parts departments, including the correct toll-free numbers, addresses and Web sites for each, while detailing your Service Department’s hours and special amenities, languages spoken, etc. — preferably with accompanying photo gallery. Establish Service Team Incentives and Storewide Transparency:
• The best incentive systems mandate that Service team members generate a set number of reviews per month, and then reward them for hitting that mark. But for Service teams, unlike Sales, a “pooled” spiffing model often works best. Create teams, and then pay out $10 to $20 for each 4-star-plus review that team gathers, and for every review below 3-stars, the team gets docked $5 to $10. You can get creative…. • Individual recognition and storewide transparency are crucial. Some dealerships send out daily — some weekly — e-mails to the whole store spotlighting all positive, new reviews; make sure you cover Sales and Service. Additionally, institute a weekly management-directed e-mail, rounding-up all reviews gathered, broken down by Sales and Service departments, showing each team member’s review-gathering status. The
quicker everyone is aware of bad reviews, the faster action can be taken. • If you have weekly staff meetings, dedicate part of the meeting to reading reviews, discussing the issues, actions taken or giving congratulations. Pay out your Service team spiffs like a small awards ceremony. Focus on the Right Sites for Service:
• Dedicate a team member to monitor (at least weekly) the major review sites. These include Google Local, Citysearch, Yelp, Yahoo! Local, Edmunds, Local.com, SuperPages, Merchant Circle, Insider Pages, Dealer Rater, Judy’s Book, etc. • Kick off by organizing all your Service/ Parts/Accessories reviews into folders: the “Greats,” the “OKs,” and the “Really Bads/ Needs Action.” Deal With the Horribles:
• Call — As you constantly monitor, you’ll be able to respond nimbly to the negatives. With every recent bad Service review, have the GM or Service Manager call, sincerely apologize, and try to make it right. The service team will often be able to identify who they are based on what they posted, or their online name/e-mail, and you can grab the phone number from your CRM tool. If you honestly try to make it right, customers will often edit their review or post a new one, especially if you ask. • Respond Online — If you can’t track down the phone number, most sites let businesses respond directly. Have the GM or Service Manager do that, or have them just post a response. Responding shows you’re listening and actually care, but if a shred of arrogance, argument, defensiveness or PR-speak slips in, you will probably re-ignite the issue and make it far worse. Your response needs to be simple and sincere (thanking them for their feedback), explaining what you’re doing to fix this problem, and hoping they’ll give you another shot — and you’d personally like to make it right if they come back (provide a real name/contact). • Disputing Posts — Every review site’s policy on what counts as an “unacceptable” post differs. Read their “Terms of Service,” and if a post fits the criteria (foul language, irrelevance, etc.), formally dispute it. Getting Service Customers Writing:
• Ask — The simple, magical solution to getting a high volume of Service customers
posting is to ask. First, you establish the right to humbly ask for their review. Most likely, the customer will say “yes” – you say “Wonderful! I’ll e-mail you some links to share your experience.” Ask for their e-mail address upfront, and then promptly e-mail them (make templates for Service/Parts/ Accessories), thanking them, and providing links to diverse sites. Include Web sites with dedicated Service review areas like AutoMD. com, Driverside.com and Repairpal.com. • Timing — For Service customers, the best time to ask — if it’s either a visibly happy or repeat, loyal customer — is face-to-face, when they’re picking up their vehicle. But given the nature of Service (they don’t know they’re “happy” until they see how the car is running, etc.), you want to identify satisfied customers in your follow-up calls and ask for the review. And when a strong manufacturer survey for Service comes in, call and e-mail the customer to ask for a review. For parts customers, the best time is when they’re picking up their part(s). But don’t ask someone who bought a $5 air freshener — ask those with whom you’ve built a relationship, or those who spent hundreds. • Never bribe a customer for a review. • Never post a fake review, or have customers post reviews from your Service department/ dealership — your IP address is a red flag, and you could be blacklisted. Deploy Service Reviews
Post your positive Service reviews at Facebook, Twitter or streaming on your Web site. A very simple, effective thing: Put up a whiteboard in your Service waiting area, with your recent, positive Service reviews. It’s so obvious, but this is really the reputation management lynchpin: Deliver great service. And never let a Service customer leave visibly dissatisfied or mad. Deal with it right then and there and make it right, because they’re the most likely to write a bad review. The fantastic news: If you establish this process, you’ll see a real “mindset” sea-change overtake your Fixed Ops department, with everybody focused on (and rewarded for) better customer service. And like an amazing feedback loop, your online reputation will keep shining brighter. Richard Winch is CEO and founder of eXtéresAUTO. He can be contacted at 866.476.4389, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
WHAT ARE YOUR ONLINE ADS MISSING?
Inventory Online (IOL) Marketing Suite is a complete internet merchandising solution. Call today to see what your ads are missing. homenetauto.com firstname.lastname@example.org
MANAGE YOUR ONLINE MERCHANDISING Online Merchandising means merchandising the right items, at the right time, to the right people, and determining the best products and services in your inventory to promote to your prospects and current customers. Simply put, your goal is to increase click, hits, views, and sales by prominently displaying, in an appealing manner, the items customers are most likely to want in as few of clicks as possible. Last month, we started our list of 10 best practices for online merchandising that have helped dealers increase customer traffic and conversions. Let’s continue were we left off. 5. Long-tail SEO
The long-tail SEO strategy is one of the most effective traffic building approaches you can take to help your online merchandising. The trick to converting long tail is to make sure that every page of your site properly explains who you are, what you offer and a direct call to action. This type of dedicated online merchandising gives you complete control of marketing your vehicles, branding and services online. Control counts.
evaluate your trade, book an appointment, etc.? If you’ve cut the price on the unit, does it show immediately? Does your inventory management system help you automatically price and re-connect with your prospects? Do you have “pop behinds” to give you another opportunity to connect with customers? Does your current Web site help drive more leads?
7. Call to Action
Once you have the customer’s attention, are you making it easy for them to take the next step in the buying process? Do you have easy “one click” calls to action — finance now,
online, guessing using the “Golden Gut” approach? How many prospects do you have right now looking for that unit? How many views do you have from all of your Web sites on the specific unit? Do you track the IP addresses of your visitors? Data utilization is a big advantage in maximizing online merchandising. Do you know when they are coming back? Can they build a wish list?
8. Mobile Sites
These are Web sites designed to maximize the viewing experience from a mobile device. With the increase in mobile devices that support Internet browsing, the number of Web sites popping up geared for mobile devices will likely increase dramatically in the next few years. Why wait? Beat your competition to the punch! How many of your customers can browse your inventory from their iPhone or iPad today? Do your mobile sites make it easy to connect with the dealership? What about directions? Can you track the traffic from mobile sites?
6. Deep Linking Will Dramatically Increase Your Online Merchandising Opportunities
Deep linking is making a hyperlink that points to a specific page or image on a Web site, instead of that Web site’s main or home page. This is a must today to avoid your customer going somewhere else. Link product images to a page that gives a full product description and, if possible, a more-detailed description and image. This page can, in turn, be linked directly to your call-to-action pages, making it possible for impulse buyers to see the product, learn about it and get much closer to buying it in a total of three or four clicks.
10. Make it a Priority in Your Store
Online merchandising takes work. Even with great technology partners that leverage all of your data in an integrated fashion, it still takes a committed dealer to keep everything fresh and up-to-date. Do you pull data from all of your Web sites, inventory, ILM, CRM, desking, service, DMS, etc? It’s 100 percent worth the work when more than 85 percent of shoppers engage the Web prior to visiting a showroom! Why not generate your own leads using your database? Merchandising the bulk of your inventory is as important as promoting the big sellers. On the Web, the key to merchandising your full inventory is to make it possible for shoppers to find what they want in the fewest number of clicks. Otherwise, shoppers might become frustrated and jump your site for the competition’s. If it’s not on the Web ready to be found, it’s not going to sell. Show off your best-selling items on your home page. A large image of your hottest products, placed somewhere near the top of your main page will catch buyers’ eyes and prompt viewers to learn more. Again, make sure you are deep-linking your inventory.
9. Data Integration
Using these types of suggestions sells vehicles fast and puts money in your pocket even faster. The showroom of the future is on the Web today!
Are you maximizing all of your data sources together to create a great online merchandising experience? Are you updating your testimonials regularly? Are you posting recent customer information to increase your SEO/SEM? How are you pricing your cars
Sean Stapleton is the executive vice president of VinSolutions. He can be contacted at 866.587.7629, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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6 Before vAuto
How did the nation’s #1 Chevy dealership get even bigger?
We brought the power of the vAuto franchise to our used car operation. — Hagen Durant, General Manager Classic Chevrolet Grapevine,Texas
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Get a live demo today. Visit www.vAuto.com/nextfranchise or call 888-365-1032.
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ACTIVITY BREEDS PRODUCTIVITY
What are you going to do today that will lead to more sales? If you have a list of businessbuilding activities to complete, wonderful! If you do not, let me show you one that has worked for others for many years.
Early in my sales career, I identified activities I could do during non-client times that would eventually lead to productivity. I would try to get as many of those activities worked into each day as possible. So, even when business was slow and I didn’t have anyone to talk with that day, I had other things to do that would bring me people to talk with. Eventually, I put these activities on a chart so I could track my efforts and be able to predict my future success. I would give each of these activities a point value and set a goal to achieve a certain number of points per day. I quickly saw the difference in my success levels when I achieved 50 points in a day versus when I achieved 100.
Think of the various groups of people you know. In each group, there is likely to be at least one or two people who would have an interest or need for a new vehicle. and to ask who they’ve talked with about their vehicle. If they’re telling others about their positive experiences, these clients should be asked to provide you with referrals.
9. Referrals Received
4. Schedule Presentations or Meetings
10. Thank-You Notes Sent
Getting commitments for demonstrations is an extremely valuable activity. Be certain to send out a confirmation of the details immediately and to reconfirm everything early on the day of the meeting. 5. Distribute Product Information
Here is a list of activities you could and should be doing to build your business to the success level of your dreams: 1. Identify New Potential Clients
Think of the various groups of people you know. In each group, there is likely to be at least one or two people who would have an interest or need for a new vehicle. 2. Make Calls to Potential Clients
Prepare a short message about new vehicles or services that would entice someone to want to experience them or to learn more. If you reach them in person, close for a time to get together. If you reach a voice messaging system, leave your message, but end with when and how they can best reach you. If you do not hear back from them within 48 hours, try again at a different time of the day. 3. Contact Existing Clients for Follow Up
Commit to a regularly scheduled follow-up call or e-mail with every client. Your goals are to be certain they are still satisfied with the vehicle, to determine if they need service
Carry information with you everywhere. Always be ready to leave something in the hands of someone new. Always ask for their business card or contact information and follow up immediately with a note of appreciation for their time. 6. Prepare for Your Next Presentation
You can’t be over-prepared to give a demonstration on your vehicles. If you have nothing else to do, practice! Have a friend or associate watch you and offer suggestions for improvement — whether it’s in what you say or in your body movements. 7. Give Presentations
This is the most fun part of our days. We all love the opportunity to show our vehicles to new potential clients. Unfortunately, we don’t get too many opportunities to do this if we haven’t been busy with all the other activities listed above. 8. Close New Clients
For this one, you might give yourself a money value as points. As your selling skills improve, so should the amount of money you earn.
Give yourself a point for every referred lead you acquire every day. Referrals are like gold — but only when you do something with them. Develop a habit of sending thank-you notes to everyone you meet and talk with on a daily basis. I used to set a goal for sending 10 each day. That meant I needed to get out in the world physically or on the phone and talk with 10 people each day. I would thank past clients for their patronage. I would thank potential clients for sharing their time with me. I would send thank-you notes to anyone who provided me service. They appreciated it and would often tell others about me — generating interest and leads. 11. Attend Business Functions or Sales Meetings
If you are with a strong company that is dedicated to growth in your industry and your geographic area, attend every meeting you possibly can. They may all begin to sound the same after awhile but if you listen well, you will soon find yourself with new ideas for success. By making a game or challenge out of completing activities, I soon found myself becoming much more productive in business. If you would like to see a sample of the Daily Activity Graph I have used for my own productivity, e-mail me at address below. World-renowned master sales trainer Tom Hopkins is the chairman of Tom Hopkins International. He can be contacted at 866.347.6148, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
sales & training solution
CREDIT SCORE IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMS During these times, credit scores have been affected in many ways. Newly enacted federal laws have taken place that have affected virtually every one of us. These sweeping reforms have helped people with low credit scores, and have worsened things for those who have moderate- to poor-credit scores. FICO* scores (myfico.com) affect many areas of our lives. Those with a high FICO score have many advantages over people with low FICO scores. People with high FICO scores pay less for home and auto insurance, deposit waivers on utilities, better service packages from cell companies and a host of other advantages. Employers are increasingly looking at FICO scores in determining an applicant’s employment chances. People who pose low- to moderate-credit risk pay far less in interest rates. A person’s FICO score is determined by many factors such as payment history, available credit and amount owed, length of credit history, new credit, and types of credit used. There are additional considerations used in determining
loan approvals and interest rates, but FICO scores are the most important factor considered. There are many choices in selecting credit repair and improvement programs. One must be very careful to select the right company that is legally compliant and is properly licensed to do business. There are many companies and individuals operating these services who run afoul of the legal system. There are, however, reputable companies that can raise a person’s FICO score 30 to 80 points in only three days. Can you imagine spot delivering someone with a 620 FICO score on Saturday and by Wednesday they become a 700 score? You just went from sub-prime to prime financing and created a huge gross profit possibility. A number of stipulations would be unnecessary, and every consumer would be re-contracted at a lower rate. Deals that would not be bought could all of a sudden become sub-prime, sub-prime deals could become prime and prime could rise
to prime-plus. That would give you a huge competitive advantage. There would also be fewer conditioned approvals. Let’s look at an example financing $20,000 for 60 months at 16 percent sub-prime interest and a payment of $479.96 and being able to improve a 620 FICO score to 700. The monthly payment would drop to $416.74 with a 9.5 percent interest rate. That represents a $63.22 savings each month over 60 months. The only term that changed was interest rate from 16 percent to 9.5 percent, not to mention the savings of dealer-absorbed sub-prime bank fees. We all need to start thinking outside the box in this highly competitive market. I urge all my dealer clients to explore the credit improvement programs available in the market place. * “FICO” is a registered trademark of Fair Isaac Corporation. Results may vary. Statements represent an average score increase.
Peter Bond is the president of Automotive Resource Group. He can be contacted at 866.447.0238, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
the #1 sales-improvement magazine for the automotive professional
AUTO TRANSPORT BY RAIL SALES UP TO 30 PERCENT Auto manufacturers have known about rail transport for more than 100 years. Henry Ford, in fact, purchased his own railroad to quickly and economically rush early Model T’s to eager buyers all across the country. Today, as more used car dealers keep one eye on online auto auctions as a source for the late-model inventory they need and the other eye on their bottom line, they’re also discovering that rail transport can be a surprisingly economical, dependable and hassle-free solution. Rail Transport is Economical In an industry expected to suffer a steady decline of inventory from trade-ins, consumer lease returns, and fleet/rental cars possibly through 2011, used car dealers who don’t shop online auctions for quality, low-mileage inventory are missing a huge opportunity, as well as important added profit potential. Online auctions can significantly expand a dealer’s trading area, and car haulers who offer long-distance rail service as well as short-distance truck transport can affordably deliver the cars and trucks they buy online, wherever they are located. Because railroads now move a ton of freight nearly 410 miles for each gallon of diesel fuel used, shipping a car or truck by train for moves more than 500 miles can often lower auto transport costs by up to 30 percent. Even at a time, according to the NADA News, when the year-to-year average used vehicle retail selling price is up almost 10 percent
and average gross profit per used vehicle is up over 40 percent, every dollar saved in shipping still adds profit on the bottom line. A new generation of car haulers also makes it easy for used car dealers to place orders online, get instant price quotes and estimated transit time for door-to-door pickup and delivery anywhere in the country. Truck transport is usually recommended within a 250-mile radius of the pickup point. Rail, or a combination of truck and rail transport, is recommended to more affordably ship longer distances. Rail Transport is Dependable Over the last five years, almost 75 million import and domestic cars and trucks were sold in the United States. More than 70 percent were moved from manufacturing or assembly plants to dealerships across the country by rail transport. That’s almost 53 million factory-new vehicles shipped, and more than 99 percent arrive damage-free. So, it only makes sense for used car dealers to also consider rail transport. In most cases, the same fully-enclosed railcars that protect new vehicles from the elements and road debris are also used to ship used vehicles by rail. Speciallydesigned railcars, called auto racks, have two or three decks and can carry up to 20 vehicles, although the average is around 12 units. Vehicles purchased at auction are first transported to the nearest rail terminal by truck and then carefully loaded into the rail
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car by specially trained terminal loaders. They’re also secured inside the railcar with straps and tire chocks to help prevent damage during transit. Once the train arrives at a rail terminal near the final destination, vehicles are carefully unloaded, then placed on a transporter truck and delivered to their final destination. Rail Transport is Hassle-Free Modern car haulers make rail transport of cars and trucks purchased at auction hassle-free. They coordinate the entire move from local pick-up to final delivery. A knowledgeable and experienced operations team monitors every step of the process to ensure reliable, quality delivery. Online shipment status and ETA are also available 24/7 at the car hauler’s Web site. So, used car dealers can spend more time focusing on customer needs rather than waiting and worrying if the fresh inventory they need to fill their lots will arrive on time. If you are a used car dealer shopping auto auctions outside your usual trading area and are concerned about your bottom line, consider using a car hauler that offers affordable rail service as well as truck options. When you work with a car hauler with a solid reputation, rail transport can be a surprisingly economical, dependable and hassle-free solution. Jeff Grandstaff is the general manager of ShipCarsNow. He can be contacted at 866.834.6074, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
sales & training solution
NEGOTIATION 101: Learning the Art of the Old Give and Take Making concessions to close a sale is something that occurs at every dealership on a daily basis. The question is not whether to make the concessions, but rather how to make them so that in the end you make the customer feel good about the outcome.
you will typically only need three or four small concessions to prompt a counter offer.
There are 10 to 12 fundamental sales skills that must be mastered in order to achieve and sustain great success in sales. Some of them come naturally, while others require constant attention to improve and develop. Negotiating is a skill that we must hone.
When receiving the offer, apply the technique of “echoing.” This can be used for all types of objections and is particularly effective when responding to their offer. Simply repeat back to them what they said: “A thousand dollars, a thousand dollars, that really seems low.” Your next comment might be, “I’m sorry, you’ll have to do better than that.” Then wait for a response.
Our industry appeals to many in the sales profession because of the allure of unlimited income. The idea of being able to earn a six-figure income is a powerful attraction. To capitalize on this potential, learning some practical strategies for negotiation is essential. The first thing to remember is that negotiating the price and terms of purchase occurs at the end of the sale. After all, don’t forget there are seven or eight steps you must complete before the write-up occurs. Do most customers accept the initial figures you present them? Of course not; we know that, at best, only one in 10 buyers will be so agreeable. Does your proposal allow you to make a concession without giving away the farm? The idea here is to allow for the reality that we’re simply programmed to politely decline the first offer we are presented. This applies to more than just purchasing automobiles. The best way to start the concession is not by asking “well, then, how much?” It will be more effective to instead ask “how close?” Draw them towards you rather than you moving off your figures to start. If they do not engage in the conversation, offer small concessions to prompt them to respond. The technique is referred to as “peeling the onion.” Take $100 or $200 off the figures in question until some offer is made by your guest. For example, when discussing down payment,
It is important for you to remain calm and collected during this process. Your anxiety will only increase theirs.
is “The Take Away.” The use of this approach can be very effective when applied correctly. “Craig, I apologize. I may not have done my job correctly. We may not be on the right car.” Then, of course, please shut up. If the customer wants the vehicle they will engage. “Now wait a minute. We really like that car. Why are you saying it may not be the right car?” Explain that “with their offer of a lower down payment, the monthly payment just would not be possible. The math just would not work.”
Some may ask, “Well, how much better?” They have already moved from their position. Others will indicate they don’t have any more money available.
At this point, see if they could meet you halfway between their offer of a low monthly payment and the original figures from your manager. In the event they don’t improve their offer of monthly payment to meet you in the middle, then proceed to offer them some options:
Using the bank to help bump their offer is often effective. “What if the bank were to ask for $1,500 dollars? Could you be flexible and stretch to $1,500?” Your customer may move the full amount or at least increase their offer by a couple hundred dollars. Either way you keep the conversation moving forward.
“Craig, at this point there are two ways we can proceed. First, we can stay with a new car and select a vehicle with a little less equipment, or we can look at a pre-owned vehicle. Which option would you prefer?” Then wait for a response. The key here is that you asked them to participate in the solution.
Once completing the conversation on the down payment, you will need to transition over to the monthly payment. It is often most effective to use a visual during this transition. Drawing two arrows parallel to each other (one down and one up) representing how the decrease in down payment will impact the monthly payment helps establish the parameters for the next step in the negotiation.
The alternative is you go to the desk with their low-ball offer only to have the desk manager say you have the customer on “too much car” and that you need to put him on this other unit. You then proceed to pull up the other car and present it to your guest, only to have them look at the vehicle in disgust. Why? Because they were not involved in finding the solution.
Explain that when the down payment decreases, the monthly payment will increase. Re-engage them in a discussion about the monthly investment. Often at this stage in the conversation, your guest will offer a monthly payment that mathematically is not rooted in reality. Unfortunately, this is often difficult to communicate without alienating your customer.
Good luck and good selling.
One of the most effective techniques to apply
Kirk Manzo is the president of The Manzo Group. He can be contacted at 800.858.6903, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
OPTIMIZE YOUR MARKETING
I think I have paid enough marketing consultants in the various companies I have owned to finance a small country. I am sure you feel the same way. A few years ago, having “seen it all,” I felt I needed a marketing plan that wasn’t so complicated and costly that it took a rocket scientist (or consultant) to make it work. So after much trial and error, we ended up with S.P.A.C.E., a marketing funnel that works for virtually any business at any time — no consultants needed. I wanted to share it with you in hopes that it will help you optimize how you market to and interact with your dealership audience.
I want you to picture the customer journey as a funnel. On the left, the funnel is large. As you go from left to right, the funnel gets narrower — while your profitability goes up. Here is a quick overview of the stages in this customer journey. It all begins with the first group called Suspects. Suspects are your target audience. Let me ask you the question, “Who is the person and situation for which your dealership is always the best choice?” The answer to that question will expose your target audience. Now before you jump and say “anybody who needs a car,” take the time to really think it through. We are looking for the person and situation for which your dealership is always the best choice. When I am working one-on-one with a business owner, this question takes a minimum of 30 minutes to work through. With one food franchise, this question took two hours to work through. But that investment of time you end up making to answer this question accurately will pay massive dividends in saved marketing costs and more optimized results. When you look at this “Suspects” category, I want you to picture them as anonymous faces. They are simply members of a target audience. They fit the description of the type of consumer who would want your product/ service, but you don’t have their contact
S U S P E C T
information yet and they have yet to reach out to you. Your marketing efforts (ad campaigns, Web site, signage, social media footprint, etc.) are the only things that communicate with this Suspect group; your salespeople don’t. So the big question I always like to ask the marketing team of a business is this: “Is your marketing message and brand communication attracting the right Suspects?” Most company owners and sales managers barrage their sales team for not converting enough new business. The reality is, if the marketing team does their job right, the sales team should feel like they are shooting fish in a barrel. Now, before the marketing team thinks I am throwing them under the bus, let me also say that a marketing team can only deliver what the company brand allows them to deliver. The company brand is controlled 100 percent in the founder/CEO’s office. So, at the end of the day, that’s where I spend my time; the rest tends to take care of itself! But just so we are on the same page, there is no more important category to focus on in a marketing funnel than the Suspects category. Master this step and communicate the right things to this audience and you’ll start printing money — even in a tight economy.
P R O S P E C T
A C C O U N T
C L I E N T
E V A N G E L I S T
The next group in the marketing funnel is your Prospects. A prospect is someone who came out of the Suspect pool and raised his or her hand to say, “I am ready to talk to you.” They fill out a form on your Web site, call your toll-free number or stop by the dealership. Essentially, a series of events around their need, timing and your marketing coincided in a way where they say, “I am ready for more.” Finding Suspects and converting them to Prospects is all about having a finely tuned marketing and leadgeneration machine. Question: What systems do you have in place to find Suspects and convert them to Prospects? What resources have you placed out there that allow a suspect to get educated and informed enough to be willing to raise their hand and become a prospect of your dealership rather than the competition? Next month, we’ll complete the S.P.A.C.E. marketing plan, and describe the steps to put it into effect at your dealership.
Joe Abraham is the founder of the BOSI Performance Institute. He can be contacted at 866.461.5751, or by e-mail at at firstname.lastname@example.org.
44% of direct mail is thrown away unopened.
If you want to see the future of direct mail... Just look where TRAFFIC JAM is today. We use mail merge with variable data matching via Laser Imaging and personalized embossed credit cards on our mailers, at less cost than the same old trinket “key-mailers” you’ve seen in mailboxes for the last half-dozen years.
THERE’S A GUY ON THE LOT...WHO’S UP? Isn’t it about time we cease and desist from the 50-year-old practice of taking turns on dealing with ups? How about we stop letting newbies — unqualified and untrained salespeople — deal with any ups? Let’s start a new 50-year rule: Only the top 50 percent of salespeople are allowed to handle ups. Now, if you’re not willing to double sales, don’t try this at home. Think about this for a second: Why on earth would we allow a 4-to6er to talk to as many ups as the 15-to-20 salesperson? Why do you think the 15-to-20 is selling more than the 4-to-6er? Because he is better than the other guy. Life is not fair. Work is not fair. If your 4-to6ers want the same benefits from your multimillion outlay, lot, inventory, advertising and if you give it to them, you are the problem. New rules are good for morale. New rules based on real-life principles are really good for morale. The new rule is: Producers will be given better chances at being better than those who are just coming to work to skate by. Just change your management/leadership philosophy: At this dealership, we expect your absolute best production. We are done accepting excuses. Don’t tell us you’re in a rut. Don’t tell us how much money your spouse makes. Don’t give us the “I just don’t know what’s wrong” speech. Want to know
what’s wrong? You don’t want to work. When you finally have the guts to expect your salespeople to work, everything will change. Truth is, the bottleneck is always at the top. It’s you; you have the title, now accept the responsibility. If you tell your salespeople today that beginning today, only the top 50 percent of salespeople will be allowed to handle ups, what do you think will happen? The bottom 50 percent will quit? So what? You’ll be left with your best producers. How bad is that? What you’ll find out is that your best producers will produce more. What downside is there to that one? You will find out that they can sell twice as many cars in the same amount of time. If some of the bottom 50 percent stay, what shall they do? How about they start prospecting? How about they go find some of their own customers? How about they stop relying on you to provide a desk, phone number and all of the advantages they are not taking advantage of just to keep hanging on. Guess what? They are not going to get better unless they decide to learn, grow, change and get better. Them getting better is not your problem. Your problem is keeping them after they have decided not to get better. What you’ll also find out is that the busy work you expect the salespeople to do can
really be done by someone else. Set your best producers free to sell (selling, you know, the only place you make any money?). Let the whiners go. Let the lazy ones go. Let the ones who just look out your windows go home and look out of their own windows. How to tell the difference? Producers produce. Whiners whine. Get over your fear of trusting only your best people to sell. You do not need the salespeople who do not produce. You say you’ll be too busy? Customers won’t get waited on? Really? You have managers; they won’t be busy because they don’t spend much time with your top 50 percent anyway. Most managers are spending most of their time holding the hands of the non-producers. Have the courage to adopt a modern rule: Only the top 50 percent of salespeople are allowed to handle ups. You’ll sell more; your top 50 percent will double their income; your managers will be free to perform leadership functions; and, the best salespeople at other stores will beg to work for you. There is no downside. If you think of one, call me.
John Brentlinger is a sales and management trainer, executive coach and author. He can be contacted at 866.859.6504, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
A SMART, PRACTICAL, STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE processes, TO CRM SUCCESS “Operational fixed operations, Internet
Dealerships around the country have been bombarded by messages about CRM for years. In recent years at NADA, there have been upwards of 70 CRM vendors exhibiting. With all the technology, training, and money that have been put into retail automotive CRM success, why have so many dealerships failed to reach their CRM goals? The short answer to this question is that technology, training and money alone will not lead to CRM success. In fact, they can’t. Dealers may be able to “go live” with a CRM in a fairly short amount of time; but to truly experience results from a successful CRM strategy, the dealer and his/her staff must be committed to a practical, smart, step-by-step plan. Below is one such plan, outlining seven months to CRM greatness. Month 1: Getting Started
The first thing for a dealership to consider is what they would like to achieve with a CRM system and what CRM will mean to the dealership. Only when its business goals have been identified can a dealership begin to make good decisions on the system that will best fulfill their needs. This is the point where most dealerships will partner with a CRM vendor that can provide them with the technology and training they will need to succeed. The dealership will then need to begin adopting a CRM philosophy, of sorts, creating their own unique approach that incorporates the culture of the dealership and its people. Month 2: Basic Plays
Once the dealership has identified the technology and honed in on a winning CRM philosophy, it is time to start learning the basics. Everyone — from the salesperson to the dealer, from the GM to the BDC personnel — must be trained on the basics of the CRM. Knowledge fuels buy-in. Everyone must learn how to enter a customer, search for and find a customer, contact a customer and schedule actions for a customer. Once everyone learns how to use the system as an individual, it is time to learn to use the system as a team. Both classroom and showroom training, as well as onsite and online (on demand) training, will help make this process as painless as possible.
Month 3: Advanced Plays
The third month is critical. The basics are down and the dealership has been living in its CRM, the central nervous system for all of its customer communication. Now, it is time to learn all the cool stuff that makes dealers buy CRM systems. Too often, dealerships will try to learn to do loops and barrel roles before they have learned to take off and land. This is the source of many CRM failures. Another potential danger normally pops up around Month Three: As adoption grows elsewhere in the dealership, those that had hoped the CRM was a passing fad now show off their resistance with a bit more color. It is important to stand strong and not to accommodate. Fight this resistance with additional training, or if needed, stronger measures. We all know that it only takes one bad apple to ruin the bunch, and a dealer cannot afford to allow any one employee to derail the team from attaining their business goals. Month 4: Fine Tuning
After 90 days of hard work, the sales staff is almost there. Using the CRM has truly become easier. Keep in mind that, during those first 90 days, nothing worth having is easily achieved and a well-functioning CRM program at the dealership is well worth having. Now, it is time to take a look at what was achieved in order to reassess the dealership’s CRM goals. Are the initial goals still in play? Most are ready to raise the bar and increase the performance levels for what they hoped to achieve. Dealers should use their CRM system to review all successes and failures. Don’t miss that with a true CRM comes the ability to measure everything related to sales and marketing. Analyze the metrics. Look for opportunities. Remember CRM is not just the means to communicate with customers and ensure each opportunity is maximized; it is also a bird’s eye view into the business. Use this information and power to push the needle and increase profits month after month after month. Month 5, 6 and 7: Marketing
Over the first four months, the dealership has learned how to use its chosen CRM solution.
lead management, CRM and BDC is a serious concoction for outstanding growth but it certainly requires an ‘all hands on deck’ approach … every person in the dealership from the dealer principal down must be involved and committed to create success.” – Shaun Kniffin, Internet Sales Director for Germain Motor Co.
The sales and service teams have learned the keystrokes and how to gather, manage and use data effectively. It is now time to kick the CRM into warp drive. This is when you are finally ready to start using all the exciting features that brought you to CRM in the first place. Your CRM provider should be able to help clean up your phone and e-mail data, so you are ready to effectively reach your customers. Then, target customers with digital tools like newsletters, static e-mail, video e-mail, flash media and engaging Web ads. Utilize SMS texting. Strategically schedule automated phone calls and phone campaigns. Capture every customer with call tracking. With all the excitement and additional business you enjoy from your new marketing tools, be sure not to forget to measure everything. And always, always look for ways to improve. CRM can greatly change your business, but only when it’s well-planned and wellexecuted. To get more detail around the seven month plan explained in this article, request your free copy of the printed book, “Seven Months to CRM Greatness,” by e-mailing the address below with “Seven Months” in the subject line. Bryan Anderson is the founder and general manager of Autobase. He can be contacted at 866.667.9659, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
STEPS TO STRENGTHENING YOUR FINANCE DEPARTMENT With the onslaught of the Internet and the competition it creates, generating income from financing is more important now than ever. A lot of dealerships struggle in this area. The first element to look at in your Finance Department is the people. Having the right person is the most important factor in maximizing the potential of that department. If you have the right person, but they are still not running the numbers you think they should, I believe there are only six reasons that can bring your finance department down; I call them “The Six Common Causes of Variation.” Managing these areas should ensure you get an additional $300 per copy. 1. Psychological
When most of us think about the psychological aspect, we think of attitude. While attitude is definitely a part of the equation, the other part is the psychological approach we take with our people. What I mean by this is how you manage them. You must establish a “heat line.” A “heat line” is a measuring stick for success that is a minimum acceptable standard. When I did finance, the “heat line” was based on several things, but the main one was dollar per car. If we ran less than $1,000 per car, we were fired. That sounds harsh, but it worked. I am not saying that people need to be threatened with being fired. However, the expectations need to be talked about and understood from the beginning. It’s no different than telling a salesperson that he or she needs to average eight cars a month on a 90-day rolling average in order to work there. Once someone knows what is expected, they should perform to that standard; that is the “heat line.” In addition to the “heat line,” another key is to be coaching constantly, trying to help them get there. The most effective way to do this is to ask after a deal, “How did you do on that deal?” If they say, “Man, that was a tough deal,” or, “I didn’t get anything,” that is a good time to say, “Wow, no kidding. What did they say?” Then talk it through and give them suggestions or ideas on how to overcome that the next time.
If you do this randomly (not on every deal), then they will put the pressure on themselves to perform because they don’t know when you are going to ask. There has to be a “heat line” in order to have any great level of success. Good people will put more pressure on themselves than you ever could, but a good person still needs the accountability. 2. Presentational
The presentation is probably the one of the top three reasons people don’t run the numbers they should. There are a lot of styles of presentations out there; unfortunately, most of them are designed for time rather than to generate profit. Would you rather have a customer out of the box in 20 minutes and run $500 a car or less, or would you rather have $800 to $1,200 per car and it take 45 to 50 minutes? An effective finance turn from start to finish should take around 45 to 50 minutes. It’s not possible to do the right things to generate income and, most importantly, ensure the customer leaves protected, in only 20 minutes. Next is the actual presentation itself. Dealerships are often taught to ask some initial interview questions, bring the customer back, present the menu and then wait for objections before anything is discussed. However, you must put yourself in a “selling position.” In order to do this, the presentation must come across as educational. A customer has to be aware of what he does and doesn’t have as far as coverage goes. In life, there are only two reasons that cause us to either do or not do things: the need to avoid pain or the need to gain pleasure. These two reasons drive internal pressure to act, but we are known for driving external pressure in order to get people to act. I’m not saying we shouldn’t pressure people to act. We still need to give a little push, but it’s the way we push that makes the difference. Also, when you lay the menu out, let the customer know you put it together for them... “but for simplicity’s sake, I would like to review this.” Fold the menu so all the customer sees is the option with everything in it. Once you go through the presentation of the products, then open it up. This allows you to
guide the customer’s focus where it’s needed. 3. Deal Structure
I’m not talking about the front end of the deal, but rather how the menu is structured. What rate are you going to charge? What is the service contract profit, etc.? The reserve-to-product ratio should be a 30/70 split: 30 percent of the income should be on reserve, and the other 70 percent should be on products. If a customer is OK with the financing package, they are more likely to listen and take advantage of the products. 4. The Salespeople Don’t Love Ya
The salesperson’s perception of finance will be the customer’s perception, as well. If financing at the dealership is not a culture, it’s hard to be successful. 5. Inability to Get the Paper Bought
Relationship, relationship, relationship — that’s what it takes to get a lot of paper bought. The key is forging relationships with banks that will buy deep, building a strong portfolio with two or three banks rather than shotgunning deals to them. It takes work and strategic planning, but if done right it will increase your volume and gross. Another key to getting paper bought is not taking “no” for an answer; you must rehash everything and dig to find out what it takes to buy the deal. 6. Administratively Dysfunctional
One of the best and most essential tools in finance is a checklist. I have heard finance managers say the checklist is in their head, yet most times there are still things missing from the package. It only takes a couple of minutes before the customer leaves to complete the checklist and ensure everything is there to get it funded. If you do these things, you can increase the dollar per car by $300. Remember this: Your destiny is not assured; it’s up to you to create it. Live with passion! Hoss Devine is the president and CEO of Hoss Devine Training & Consulting. He can be contacted at 866.484.0383, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
LEGAL COMPLIANCE Who Taught You the Rules?
Back when I was a green-pea salesman, I listened carefully to everything the closers and sales managers said. These guys were good! It seemed that no matter what the customer said, they had an answer. So I listened and learned. When I got my shot and became a closer, I carefully followed my sales manager’s lead. By the time I became a GM, I knew it all, right? Well, not exactly. Any of this sound familiar? Sales manager to salesperson: “Your customer has great credit, but the bank is going to need more income. I don’t think they’ll ask for proof.” (falsifying credit information) Sales manager to finance manager: “Listen, these folks are in a hurry. Let’s make them mental owners. Just have them sign a contract real quick and we’ll get the rest of the paperwork done another time. If they leave without signing something, they won’t be back.” (improper disclosure) Sales manager to salespeople: “Guys, that ad car is a big loser. Switch your customers to something else unless we can make a ton on
the back end.” (bait and switch) Sales manager to finance manager: “Joe’s got this guy committed at $30 a month more then we need. Let’s make some money!” (payment packing) Sales manger to salesperson: “It looks like the negative equity is her hot button. Tell her that we’ll pay off her trade and get her committed at $379 a month. I’ll just add the negative equity to the price.” (failure to properly disclose negative equity) Finance manager to salesperson: “The bank may call her and ask some questions. Make sure she tells them that the car is for her and not her brother!” (straw purchase) Finance manager to sales manager: “I don’t care if you take a hold check for the down payment, but the bank isn’t going to go for a deferred down, so we need to show it as cash on the contract.” (failure to disclose deferred downpayment) Finance manager to used car manager: “We’re over-advanced on that Tahoe deal.
I need a book sheet for $15,500. Doesn’t it have premium wheels or something?” (power booking) Many long-standing dealership practices are not necessarily legal or ethical, but often staff members have no idea they are breaking the law. The vast majority of dealership employees are well-meaning, honest people just trying to earn a living. However, if they have never been properly trained in compliance matters, they may simply rely on doing business the way it’s always been done. Dealers should not assume that employees know all the rules. Education is the first and most vital step towards building an ethical organization. After all, if employees don’t know or understand the rules, how can they be expected to follow them? Jim Radogna is president of Dealer Compliance Consultants, Inc. He can be contacted at 866.704.8657, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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WHAT IS (AND ISN’T) A ONE-SOLUTION SYSTEM Over the last 10 years, dealers have invested in a myriad of technologies to help them better manage customers, marketing and inventory, to name just a few areas. As vendors present the benefits of using a particular system — say, an Internet Lead Management (ILM) — it looks pretty compelling. The dealer signs up and hopefully realizes some of those benefits. The problem is that they then get pitched on a different system — say, a Web site, a CRM or an e-mail marketing system. After a few years, the dealer looks around and finds they’ve got every kind of technology system available and none of it works together — which means, collectively, it doesn’t really work well at all. I talk to dealers all the time who are using a different system for their Internet leads and their showroom leads. They then have to enter the customer data into a different system to desk a deal. Integrated Web site with the CRM? Forget about it. So now dealers are demanding a better approach. They are demanding a unified platform for all their technology applications.
Some vendors have stepped up to meet this demand, but be careful. Just because the same logo appears on the screen for your CRM and your inventory or desking functions doesn’t mean you truly have a unified system. Many companies have taken the approach of buying companies to obtain the functionality they are lacking and branding them as a unified solution. So how do you tell if the system is actually on a unified platform? Most software applications run on top of a database. This is where the data is stored — things like customer name, address, lead status, inventory, etc. The front end of the software pulls this information from the database so that you can view and work with it in meaningful ways. The key question to ask a vendor claiming to have a unified system is “Does all my data reside in one database?” If the answer is an honest “yes,” then the system is unified. If the answer is “no,” then chances are the vendor is passing information between different systems and is arguably no better than having different systems that have some sort of data integration going on. This means the data is being passed back and forth from one system
to the next, which can often be problematic. As the competition for your technology dollar heats up, you will likely see more and more companies claiming to have a unified system. I don’t know of any company that can offer a truly unified platform if you are including the DMS functionality in the mix. That remains the biggest divide. Unfortunately, we will probably have to live with this for the foreseeable future as the DMS companies have not built out CRM and Web site functions from within their core DMS databases. However, the good news is that there are vendors who are well on their way to providing most everything else on one true unified platform. These are the vendors that will survive and thrive, so talk to them. Just keep them honest. Jock Schowalter is the president and founder of DealerPeak.com and WideStorm. He can be contacted at 866.869.1108, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
JoePollaro & ShelleyMcBride
HOW TO RULE WITH STRATEGIC MARKET LEVERAGING If you’re a dealer or an advertiser, you couldn’t help but notice a media shift in how you’ve marketed the past two years. Some dealers have invested heavily in social media with high expectations. Others have bought in and are ramping up. It’s been a couple of tough years, so it makes perfect sense for businesses to look for ways to save and survive. The downturn in sales has created a push for spending less on general market advertising, with the hope of using what is perceived to be a more cost-efficient form of media. At NADA this year, there were several “Internet Gurus” and “Smokescreen Specialists.” Some had great information and some, well…. Some were just trying to be relevant. With all the attention to new-age media and cost-saving measures, something incredible has emerged: huge opportunities with broadcast, cable, radio and even print. If your Social machine is humming, then a great opportunity could be at your fingertips:
Multimedia can multiply the impact of your communications and deliver more market share for your investment. Things have changed. So how do you know that the best possible media investment has been made? Even if sales are headed in the right direction, the first recommendation is to never be comfortable with the status quo. Always question the value of your buys. Whether you’ve had a close confidant placing your media for years or if you are just getting started, it’s important to clearly see the options of what your media dollars can deliver. Constantly changing market factors affected by demand, ratings, new media trends, the economy, political windows and the growing diversity of media alternatives are enough to make an average buyer scream. Because of this, it’s common for buyers to follow the path of least resistance for the sake of speed and sanity. They choose the path of least resistance, and you pay for it.
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A beautifully leveraged media buy can be a remarkable thing to behold. It is not uncommon for a true medialeveraging expert to double or even triple the TRP delivery of a traditional buy for the same budget or less. It’s like Guerrilla Marketing 3.0. Many medialeveraging techniques are in common practice, but only reach full potency when combined with the extraordinary, new
methodologies employed by strategic market leveraging. So how does SML work? First, it takes into consideration the entire spectrum of available media in any given market. It aligns the strengths of all media alternatives and then interweaves them into exponential potential for the advertiser. It’s strength through numbers. Likewise, when multiple media are combined, synergy takes place. Add to that ingenious leveraging systems and you’ve got exponential results. More than 25 proven leveraging methodologies are combined on the front end of the media negotiation process with SML. In traditional circles, limited leveraging techniques have been employed only after media buys are in place and don’t provide the full leveraging potential to the advertiser. With SML, it all happens on the front end as buys are placed to assure maximum media potential. SML also carefully interweaves radio, TV, newspaper, magazine, billboards and Internet into a finely knit cross-promotional fabric that brings each medium into a unified partnership creating an entirely new, free-standing media entity on behalf of the advertiser. If done effectively, the impact of a budget can be increased anywhere doubled to several times the level previously achieved with the same budget. Once you have your leveraging in place, you can maximize your investment with strong creative. Your creative should serve up your offers to a broad customer base. It’s a fact that customers buy for different reasons. To some it’s the low price, to others a low payment, low interest or how much they can get for their trade. Still to others, it’s all about being connected with technology, how they are treated and “do I look good in this ride or what?” The one thing that will encourage them to take notice and take action is high-impact graphics, great talent and a strong call to action. The media is the race car; the creative is the fuel. Jet fuel or regular? You choose.
Joe Pollaro and Shelley McBride are owners and partners in RadioVision LLP. They can be contacted at 866.842.1638, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
J&L Marketing is looking for Business Growth Strategists to sell our multi-channel direct marketing products and services. They will prospect for new customers as well as manage leads from J&L Marketingâ€™s growing national accounts. This is a full-time B2B outside sales position.
Do you want to be a part of one of the fastest growing software companies in the retail automotive market? vAutoâ€™s pricing, appraisal, stocking and merchandising tools are an evolutionary step forward for used car departments. If you have strong retail automotive and/or technology solution provider experience in the dealership industry, then we want you to be part of our tremendous growth. Send resumes to: email@example.com. Learn more at www.vAuto.com. vAuto is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
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