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By SteveLausch


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

sales & training solution

marketing solution

matching your expertise to your perfect market

14 18 22 34 36

marketing lessons learned from a lot of testing




grow service and sales by helping your customers make good decisions

internet leads - are you closing every opportunity?

special finance online

Susie Horne, Account Manager John Warner, Sales-Improvement Strategist

Questions to Use in Choosing the Right Marketing Company, Part 1


Brian Ankney, Account Manager

2300 Hurstbourne Village Dr, Suite 1200 Louisville, KY 40299 | p 877.818.6620 / f 502.588.3170 | |

leadership solution

Dave Davis, Editor & Creative Strategist

who is craig and what’s with the list? TracyMyers



excite the right people and bring them in Google+ Could Change Automotive Marketing Forever


40 42


don’t neglect the ‘googlized’ consumer



shorten the selling process, educate your buyer and make more money

16 RonSchornstein

Understanding Your Market and What They Want



7 steps to immediately increase your sales by 20 percent or more

30 GrantCardone

bodyshop production management DaveDunn


familiarity is as a dog returning to its own vomit MarkTewart

don’t fight it, just write it TonyProvost

16 24 MarshBuice

dealerships petri dishes for sexual harassment JimLeman

20 26 28 38

a simple game plan for management success RichardF.Libin

Thomas Williams, VP & Creative Director


Susan Givens, Publisher

feature solution


marketing solution

Google+ Could Change Automotive Marketing Forever

The brand of a dealership is affected by the brand of its dealer, and vice versa. In a social networking-driven world, it is important to stay connected — and in positive light — with customers, industry colleagues, employees and any others who are responsive of your role in the business.

Recently, Google caused a stir when it launched Google+, the new social sharing service that’s currently available only to those lucky members who receive an invitation; however, unlike other social sharing sites (Facebook being the first that comes to mind), the all-new Google+ begs its users to practice “sharing decorum.” First Things First

The only way to use Google+ right now is by invitation, and due to the high amount of traffic the site has generated, invitations have slowed down. Before you even get to that step, however, there are some prerequisites to fulfill before one can start sharing. The first is creating and/or updating your Google Profile. In addition to its functionality in Google+, your Google Profile helps you manage your online reputation. Unlike customer reviews, a Google Profile gives the dealer the opportunity to control the information about them that is available on the Web. To do so, follow these steps: • Log in to Google: accounts/ServiceLogin; if you don’t have an account, create one. This account will be used to connect your Gmail, Google Docs, Picasa and any other Google services you use. • Once logged in, create your Google Profile here:; fill your profile with photos, a short biography, awards received, industry events attended, links to positive articles published, links to your business’s Website and any other positive content you have available. • It’s just as important to make the profile “public.” To do so, visit com/accounts/ManageAccount. • If you have existing Picasa albums, review them and the sharing settings you previously established, as these will be shared with your Google+ circles.


Your Google+ Circles

The difference between Google+ and other social networking sites is who you choose to share your information with — your audience. In Google+ terminology, these are your “Circles,” and your means for categorizing your contacts. To create your set of Circles: • Review the set of group Google+ has already established: “Friends,” “Family,” “Acquaintances” and “Following.” • Modify these to match the groups of people you are interested in sharing information with, be it “Industry Colleagues” or “Employees” or even “Customers.” Note: When you assign someone to a circle, they will be notified, although they will not be aware of the name of the circle they were assigned to. Mind Your Settings

Each circle has its own settings; therefore, it’s important that you carefully read the fine print pertaining to each. This is especially important if you have several different circles and wish to share things differently according to each. Adding to Your Circles

Your circles aren’t circles without some contacts in them, so here is how to start adding them: • Browse Google’s suggestions for who to add to your circles; these are derived from your most frequent Gmail and address book contacts. • Because Google+ isn’t integrated with other social networking sites, you will have to search for your friends’ contact information. • Rest-assured, Google is bound to deliver on integration, but for the time being, updating your Google contacts is the best way to go. To update: Log in to Google, go to com and click “Contacts.” Initiate a Huddle

Google+ refers to private conversations within a group as the “Huddle.” To use this feature: • Test it out first. Choose a circle, preferably one that you are comfortable testing the waters with; I suggest your friends. As you catch on to which circle receives your conversations — and while Google works out its own glitches — you’ll want to keep the conversation light-hearted. Hanging out in Google+

Google+’s most interesting feature is the Hangout, where Webcam conferencing simulates the activity of socializing face to face. To Hangout: • Click the green “Hangout” button on the right panel. A preview dialog box will appear allowing you to preview what your live image looks like. • Next, add individuals or entire Circles to your dialog box – you can also indicate to your contacts that they are invited to join if they wish. • As with the Huddle, it’s best to start small and with those you are most comfortable with. • Be warned: it is possible to mute someone, although that person — and everyone else in the Hangout, for that matter — will know who muted who. So be polite. Mix it Up

There is plenty to do on Google+ in addition to Huddling and Hanging Out, including: • Google+ features a sports utilities for photo sharing • Google+ is equipped with an automated content discovery tool Stay up to date on new Google+ developments, experiment and gain an edge by checking in periodically with sites such as,, Google’s YouTube page, and other industry blogs. Sean Wolfington is an automotive entrepreneur in digital marketing. He can be contacted at 866.802.5753, or by e-mail at


marketing solution

matching your expertise to your perfect market Understanding Your Market and What They Want

Last month, I examined why you should understand yourself and your offer, which is the first part of a three-step process in becoming the “go-to” expert in your highly profitable marketplace. Of course, knowing yourself is only part of the story. It’s even more important to get to know your target market. If you don’t know who is in your market, you won’t be able to reach them, and you won’t make money. If you don’t know what they want, you’ll have no chance of satisfying their needs.

that it should be small enough for you to become recognized as a specialist, but it should be large enough to enable you to make a lot of money. The next step in understanding your market is being clear about what they are looking for. People always buy something for one of the following reasons: 1. To get pleasure or make their life better in some way 2. To avoid/reduce pain or solve a problem Most products or services do one or the other — some do both. Ideally, you should be able to present what you do in both categories. The following exercises will help. 1. List the biggest problems your target market faces. 2. Identify why they still haven’t solved the problem. 3. Describe how your product or service makes their life better.

The better you get to know your market, the more chance you will have of becoming special to them and of building a successful business. The first part of this process is to define your ideal customer.

As always, it’s a good idea to get someone else to give you feedback in this process. You could even ask your customers directly.

• Identify the key characteristics of your ideal customer — details such as age, gender, hobbies and geographic location.

It’s crucial to understand the difference between benefits and features. Features are simply the facts about your product or service. Your customers and prospects want to know what you can do for them to make their lives easier, better, more fun or more profitable, so make sure you take time to identify what your clients are really looking for from your services and present this in the form of benefits.

• Define the most important psychological factors of your ideal customer — what’s important to them, what motivates them, and what they want to achieve. • Describe why you like working with your ideal customers. • Identify where your ideal customers hang out and where you can connect with them — both online and off-line. The key to having the right target market is

The key to promoting yourself as the “expert brand” is ensuring that you talk to your market in terms of benefits. Focus on how what you do makes their life different.

There is nothing wrong with being able to list features of your product or service, but you need to be able to turn those into something that has a benefit for your customer. The key question is “what does that mean for me?” So, are you still with me? Hang in there, review the past two months’ columns, and get ready for next month when I share step three: “Matching Your Offer With What The Market Wants.” Tracy Myers, C.M.D. is a noted small business marketing and branding solutions specialist, best-selling author, speaker, car dealership owner and entrepreneur. He can be contacted at 866.860.0029, or by e-mail at

And The Winner Is… Find out on October 9, 2011 The 2011 Automotive Website Awards will be presented at the 2011 DrivingSales Executive Summit We invite you to the Bellagio Hotel, Las Vegas to find out all of this years award winners. Limited numer of VIP Tickets Available. Contact us today 732-450-8200 x2 The AWA - The industry’s most influential technology awards. Event information and tickets:


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“Leave Your Wallets at Home”

At first, this sounds a bit backwards from what most dealers would say when reaching out to their customers. It is especially backwards in the days of economic strain for the consumer, interrupted supply from the manufacturer and struggling profits for the dealer. Still, more and more dealers are trading the standard “happy birthday” call (and other forced conversations) for this surprisingly different script; and, as it plays out, the new approach has been responsible for some astonishing results: • A South Carolina dealer sold 71 vehicles off of a single campaign. • An Illinois dealer grossed $135,000 in an initial effort with this selling strategy. • A Georgia dealer now earns 46 percent higher gross with this process over standard showroom traffic. • An Ohio dealer averages more than $500 in lift per vehicle on new sales and $1,000 on pre-owned sales. • A Florida dealer is seeing 14 percent of all monthly sales attributed to this approach. What Are They Doing Differently?

Due in part to good practice, and part to strategic response to the downturn of the past years, these dealers have made reselling current customers a primary focus. Most dealers, with any good business sense, would agree: Repeat business is important. These dealers, however, are taking it to a whole new level. Each day, these stores sort through the data from all finance deals over the past few years. The goal: Find all qualified customers who, with no money down, could lower their current payment and get into a newer vehicle. To do it right, they carefully research each deal by: • determining the current value for each vehicle by model, mileage and market info, among other factors • calculating payoff while considering refundable items like credit life, disability, GAP and roadside assistance • identifying a specific term, based on buyer preferences and a specific rate based on buyer history • factoring in all current manufacturer rebates and incentives • running the buyer’s vehicle preferences and present vehicle against current inventory • aligning within the dealer’s acceptable profit structure for any model or vehicle type The finished product is a daily list of opportunities simply waiting to close: customers who can “leave their wallet at home” and get into a new or newer vehicle, with a new warranty, with little to no money down. Engaging the Right Buyers

With list in hand, these dealers turn to high-powered, multi-touch, multi-channel marketing campaigns to engage their customers. From high-quality, first-class mailers to permission-based digital campaigns with video, pre-qualified buyers are invited to the showroom to save money, not spend it. Once with a sales professional, the structure of the current deal is quickly and easily accessed. Lease and purchase options are served up for all recommended vehicles in inventory. The conversation immediately fast-forwards from if the customer will purchase to how the customer will purchase.

Everybody Wins

Tell the average consumer they can get into a new or newer vehicle, lower their monthly payments and do so with little to no money down, and then note what they don’t do. Answer? In the vast majority of occasions, the consumer doesn’t shop and the consumer doesn’t haggle. Why? The customer believes he has already achieved what anyone hopes for in the process of buying a new or newer vehicle: a good deal. But the real win is for the dealer on at least two fronts: Gross – As stated, consumers are unlikely to haggle when they’ve already found the “killer deal.” This means with less negotiation, you close the deal faster and at higher gross. In fact, many dealers are generating an additional $500-1,000 gross per vehicle sold by using this equity strategy. And that doesn’t count the second-generation sale from acquired trades. Inventory – Consumer behavior has driven supply down and pricing up for preowned vehicles in many markets. And with vehicles commanding a premium pricepoint at the auction, dealers must do a better job at finding quality trades to build a strong inventory. And speaking of inventory, our five dealers (and many others like them) are increasing their average turn by saying good-bye to aged vehicles on the lot. If they can use

customer data to identify inventory for qualified buyers, there is nothing stopping them from identifying qualified buyers for specific inventory. The process is simply turned inside out, and customer lists are generated of people who will happily take that unit off your hands if it means getting into a newer vehicle with little to no money down. Better Than a Cup of Coffee

We were always coached that some of our best opportunities were not on the lot, but in the service drive. We were told that offering a cup of coffee was the perfect entrée to a conversation of if and when the consumer would be in the market for the next vehicle. Unfortunately, like the traditional “happy birthday” call (which, by the way, is still a good customer touch), most patrons smell the sales pitch along with their complimentary cup of French roast. There’s a better approach. Because the information used to generate equity leads flows right from the CRM, dealers can quickly and easily identify which of their customers are scheduled for service that day. Even better, they can use the same methods to look a day or even a week into the future, make the proactive call and look like a hero to the customer about to spend $100, $300, $500 or more in the service drive. This is a huge win for the consumer. Real Dealers. Real Results.

While some of these dealers are single-point stores, others are large dealer groups. While some own domestic franchises, others sell imports. But as you will read, they all are finding success in accelerating turn, maximizing gross, and driving repeat business in the showroom and conquest business in the service drive – all by using DealActivator, the equity management solution from Autobase.

Who & Where Resnick Auto Group (Schaumburg, IL)


Robert Koreman, Interactive Marketing Director

“In today’s economic climate, we had to begin focusing more on building loyal owners, and not just on conquest business,” said Robert Koreman. “The doors aren’t swinging anymore, so we needed to utilize customer data in a way that entices our owners to buy and gives our staff a purpose in contacting them.” Koreman and the Resnick Auto Group recorded immediate results from their use of DealActivator, with more than 70 vehicles delivered from their first campaign. “Between Toyota and Lexus sales, we are seeing a combined gross of more than $135,000 and counting from one campaign,” he said. Gross per unit also increased as compared to standard deals. “We average 45 percent higher gross on sales from in equity customers,” Koreman said. “My managers all agree: This is the best lead generation tool they have ever seen.”

Who & Where


Don Asher, General Sales Manager College Hills Honda (Wooster, OH)

“I used to get the service appointment list for the next business day, pull old deals, run trade values, call for payoffs, outline deals and make the customer contact,” said Don Asher. “It would take me five hours to dig up five deals. Now I can look at 50 deals in five minutes because of DealActivator.” In the first few weeks, College Hills Honda witnessed an immediate boost in sales with this campaign, “but what many [dealers] don’t account for is the fact that they are also improving fixed ops income,” Asher said. “The recon work collected from these deals generates more income for parts and service. Plus, on every trade we are able to build a ton of value because we have every service record on file to share with the new owner. This is a huge selling point.” Fixed ops aren’t the only areas of improvement, however. The dealership is now averaging an additional $500 per vehicle on new sales and $1,000 on pre-owned sales. Based on their return to market report they are at 82 percent, 28th in the nation. “Our customers are so excited, because they are saving money on monthly payments. They don’t even think about shopping,” Asher said. “Not a single deal from this campaign has shopped! They value our honesty and appreciate our initiative to save them money.”

Who & Where


Larry Oblinger, General Sales Manager BMW of Naples (Naples, FL)


“Valid information regarding the upgrades to an existing vehicle is now included in our sales calls,” said Larry Oblinger. “[DealActivator] has motivated our salespeople because these calls are easy to make and result in success.” Beyond the advantages of moving clients into newer vehicles is the unrealized wealth of pre-owned inventory that results from this equity cycle. “This has become an outstanding source of pre-owned inventory,” Oblinger said. “We receive better trades, and so the money spent on pre-owned inventory is primarily for reconditioning, not for transport and auction fees. Ultimately, we are able to present a better product at a lower cost.” Client retention is a natural byproduct with this program. “We have fewer missed opportunities regarding client retention, resulting in more sales and increased profitability,” Oblinger said. The impact of using this campaign was instant for BMW of Naples. In a few short weeks, the store was seeing 14 percent of all sales attributed to the new program and with significantly higher gross. “Any tool that can produce immediate results is worth the money, and we couldn’t be more satisfied,” Oblinger said.

“It’s a creative and effective way for us to engage with the sold customers in our database,” said Craig Hooten. The use of DealActivator at Gwinnett Place Ford has skyrocketed gross profit. Gross on these deals was measured to be 46 percent higher than that of standard deals. “We’re averaging close to double our profit margin on deals that have been generated by this campaign in comparison to walk-in-traffic and Internet traffic,” Hooten said. The impact on sales happened almost overnight. In fact, due to the return seen from these new leads, the sales team is now seeking them out. As much as 13 percent of all sales have come from this program. “When customers feel they are getting a good deal, they’re excited,” Hooten said, “and most importantly, will become loyal. We are able to tally a victory in both categories.”

When a solution is available that not only increases the profit margin on sales and increases valuable pre-owned stock, but also makes the consumer glad to hear what you can do for them, it is one of those rare win-win situations that salespeople from any area would love to be a part of. Perhaps even more valuable than the immediate reward, however, is the feeling you’ve engendered in the customer who feels that you’ve helped them; they’ll tell their family and friends, and you’ve made a customer for life.

Who & Where East Coast Honda (South Myrtle Beach, SC)


Kirt Cahill, CFO

“We are able to keep loyal customers, because the information is factual. Customers see that this isn’t a gimmick,” said Kirt Cahill. As with any dealership using DealActivator, East Coast Honda customizes the profit structure for their leads as well as the design of their equity campaigns each month. “We have flexibility now that we never had before,” Cahill said. “That is important. We should be in control, not the product.” Out of the gate, East Coast Honda averaged 22 sales per month from this program alone, and sold 71 vehicles from a single campaign. The quality and quantity of their pre-owned inventory increased dramatically through trades with equity customers, paving the way toward second-generation sales. “If a dealer can’t sell 10 cars a month from this, they need to reevaluate their process,” Cahill said. “The product practically does all of the work for you.”

Who & Where Gwinnett Place Ford (Duluth, GA)

Craig Hooten, Internet Sales Director

Steve Lausch is the director of marketing for Autobase. He can be contacted at 866.626.7128, or by e-mail at


marketing solution

marketing lessons learned from a lot of testing I am frequently asked to evaluate the effectiveness of advertising. Most of the requests come from individuals who read our blogs and articles on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. When people e-mail me, they often attach copies of their ads and promotional materials, along with questions like these: “Scott, can you suggest a way to improve this e-mail?” “Is the headline on this ad strong enough?”

“Do you think this direct mail piece has sales appeal?” “Can you suggest any improvements?” I do my best to answer them all, but time can be in short supply. In this month’s article I want to share a few of the critiques that seem to come up most often. I want to remind you, once again, that no ad will bring you business unless it convincingly answers these two questions: • What can you do for me? • How do I know you can do it? Answering those questions is your advertising challenge in a nutshell. To write ads that “pull,” you should headline the strongest benefit you can offer a customer; and then follow up with proof of your ability to deliver that benefit. When you do both of those things, you are doing a super job of selling. And remember: Advertising is nothing more than salesmanship in print, an e-mail — or in your mailbox. Everybody wants a better deal. Everybody wants to be special. Sell people what they want and give them what they need. Make sure the benefits of the product or deal you are selling are ones that your customers and prospects regard as most important to them — not you. You may have lease specials that are better than anything you or your customers have seen in years. But what happens if the person buying only cares about the selling price or their trade value? So, for that customer, make sure in your ads that you explain how and why your sales price and/or trade value is better than anywhere else in town. Today, a data analytic team with the right skill set can identify what matters most to your prospective customers. In addition, technology allows you to create a unique offer to each individual you are advertising to based on their buying behaviors and profile. In the new economy, if you are not marketing this way you will never maximize your advertising potential. It goes right back to making sure that you have the right message and the right audience for that message. Make sure, too, that what you place before the buying public is perceived as believable. Sometimes, in an effort to make an offer or deal sound great, you can cross that fine line where a person no longer believes what you are saying or selling. Always be truthful. So, are your ads effective? I’ll examine the ads sent in by the first 20 readers of this article for free and give you my opinion. Just send them to the e-mail address below. Scott Joseph is the president of J&L Marketing, Inc. He can be contacted at 888.835.1689, or by e-mail at



sales & training solution

familiarity is as a dog returning to its own vomit

Are you tired, frustrated, and had enough? Are you thinking about throwing in the towel? Before you cry out “No mas!” or begin whistling “The Thrill is Gone,” go into the bathroom and look in the mirror. What you see is the sum of your past decisions and actions or lack thereof. When you walk out of the bathroom, the direction you go begins your future. The one thing that is good about the past is the lessons learned. Often we return to our past like a dog returns to its own vomit — it is familiar, and because of its familiarity, as vile as it may be, it always goes back. What got you “here” will not take you “there.” The reason why you might be frustrated and not seeing the results you once did is because you are returning to familiarity instead of venturing into the unknown; you are playing it safe. When you play it safe, you are comfortable and become complacent; complacency robs action; lack of action leads to erosion; erosion

leads to unemployment. The cycle of “leap-frog” then begins jumping from job to job; swinging like a blind fighter into the darkness of self-confidence and doubt-hoping to find the person you once were. Your DNA has not changed, you are no less talented than you once were, but I’ve got news for you: Yesterday ended last night. If you were a computer, what operating version are you running? Are you operating Me 1.0 or a newly updated version Me 5.1? New updates replace the older ones, causing your operating system to run faster, stronger and more efficiently. Technology is ever advancing. Apple did not rest on its laurels when they introduced the iPod. They turned technology on its head, breaking conformists’ views of how things are and mandated how things are now going to be. They crushed the way music is sold, and with the introduction of iPad, will likely make laptops obsolete. Like every company, Apple must constantly tweak, poke, prod and probe because they realize today’s invention will quickly become yesterday’s news. Introduction is re-invention; your problem is not the economy, it is your lack of invention. Think of this recession as a reset-tion, a blank canvas of sorts. Every industry, every person gets a mulligan; we each get to start over. It is one big reset button. If you think about it, we are all on the same ship, just on different decks. Now standing before you is opportunity and invention. It is now time to reinvent yourself and seize your opportunities. If you are selling cars the same way you have always sold them, update your version. New updates are tweaks to older, outdated versions; some systems may need to be scrapped all together. Every two years, most vehicles are “refreshed;” they are not total makeovers, just tweaks such as new technology and softer bodylines. They change due to consumers’ demands. Every four to five years a new body style replaces the older version — even if it is a hit, the manufacturer reinvents a better version. If the buying public demands newer versions of what you are selling, don’t you think they expect the same from you? At the core of effective selling is reinvention. We all have “hit the wall” moments in our lives. These are moments, experiences such as the loss of a loved one or job, foreclosure, divorce, bankruptcy and obesity. These moments are bookmarks in our book titled Life; it is at these points where we have to make a choice to reinvent our lives for the better. Some learn from experience, while others never recover. If you don’t like the direction your life is heading, change it. Your life doesn’t have to be that of a train forging ahead on the tracks someone else laid. You have the ability to derail at any moment and go a different direction — a direction in which you chart the course of these un-chartered waters. We have a rare opportunity in our lives where everyone gets to begin again; now marks your new beginning. It is your time to reinvent yourself in order to reach your full potential. The opportunity for reinvention exists for everyone willing to venture from the known into the unknown; some will take the leap, others will return to familiarity as a dog to its own vomit, blaming everyone and everything else besides themselves.

Marsh Buice is the sales manager of Mark Dodge Chrysler, Jeep. He can be contacted at 866.535.5006, or by e-mail at


podcast interviewee

As Max Dupree wrote, “We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.” There are no more Mondays in which to begin something; begin it now and do not stop until you end up with now spelled backwards… won. I will see you next time on the newly paved black top.


marketing solution

don’t neglect the ‘googlized’ consumer

Dealers need to look at the value of their customer base in terms of the new power given to “Googlized” consumers. The consumer that we need to identify has an e-mail account associated with Google services. It might be a Gmail account, or no ; you don’t know unless you ask. The message of this article is that you cannot afford not to ask. Delaying impacts all of your digital marketing investments. Business owners need to implement processes to ask and identify consumers with Google accounts. Why? Recent changes in how Google displays search results give your customers who have Google accounts unprecedented power. Google Consumers and Reviews

These Googlized consumers can place a review directly on Google Places, which impacts your business every day. For many businesses, Google Places is the No. 1 source of free referring traffic to their Website.


Reviews posted on Google Places are extremely visible. Every month, a dealer’s business name is searched thousands of times. Each time, Google Places and consumer reviews are displayed on Page One. You can’t hide any longer from your online reputation scores now that Google Places consolidates reviews from multiple Websites. However, the Googlized customer has a special perk. Reviews posted by Googlized consumers can also be used in Google Boost advertising to make your PPC ads stand out from local boring text ads. Google Boost does not include reviews posted on third-party review sites. This is a game changer for dealers operating in markets where their competition is using Google Adwords. Google Boost creates ads that are more compelling to the eye and increase click traffic. Best of all, in most cases they are cheaper than the Adwords per click costs. Google Consumers Can Now +1 Your Website Pages

Googlized consumers can now “+1” your

Website pages, videos, press releases, testimonials, etc. The “+1” click is a positive vote for your Website assets. These votes will eventually influence search position much like links from other Websites. Once an empowered consumer decides to “+1” your digital assets, their thumbnail profile photo will appear to their network of friends. These thumbnails will catch the eye of consumers and increase click activity. Why? Their photo under your listing is their stamp of approval. If you compare the power of Googlized consumers to increase brand awareness, click traffic and enhance your digital advertising every day, their worth soars over a non-Googlized consumer who sends you a notecard of thanks. 550,000 Google Accounts a Day

When businesses realize that 550,000 Android mobile devices are activated per day and that each has a Google account, the tsunami of influential Googlized consumers will grow. Are you ready for the tidal wave of power? The boring SERP of years past is now a technicolor quilt of thumbnails and stars. Brian Pasch, is CEO of PCG Digital Marketing and the founder of the Automotive Internship Program. He can be contacted at 866.849.1560, or by e-mail at

TD Auto Finance

Chrysler Financial and TD Bank Group have joined forces to become TD Auto Finance.

Introducing TD Auto Finance TD Auto Finance is a North American, top-5 bank-owned auto finance company that combines more than 45 years of automotive financing expertise from Chrysler Financial with the financial stability of TD Bank Group. All of which means we understand your business and are committed to helping it grow, today, and into the future.

We’re ready for your business. Call TD Auto Finance today at 1-800-200-1513 or visit us online at

Part of the TD Bank Group, a Aaa-rated bank ranked as one of the safest banks in North America.

TD Auto Finance LLC, is a subsidiary of TD Bank, N.A. TD Bank Group is a trade name for The Toronto-Dominion Bank. Used with permission. For detailed credit ratings for The Toronto-Dominion Bank and TD Bank, N.A. visit Credit Ratings are not recommendations to purchase, sell, or hold a financial obligation inasmuch as they do not comment on market price or suitability for a particular investor. Ratings are subject to revision or withdrawal at any time by the rating organization.

leadership solution

a simple game plan for management success Apathy can permeate the automotive sales industry even in a down economy. Managers, not knowing what else to do, simply throw more resources at the problem in an effort to help their people “improve” — courses, books, tapes, DVDs, blogs, portals, lectures, podcasts and many more — you name it. There’s probably even an “app” for that. When managers look for the “quick fix,” or “magic pixie dust” or the hottest trend, they lose sight of their direction and goals. Instead of jumping on the bandwagon of the latest trend, managers should step back and develop and execute a plan of ongoing, consistent training and education, a program that addresses the needs of the entire team as well as individuals. Tuned-in managers use this plan to guide and give direction. They focus their energy on moving forward by coaching and developing their people to perform more effectively. They offer support and pass on information and expertise. In doing so, managers put their people in a position to succeed, whether it’s selling one more vehicle a month, increasing service opportunities or building a database of prospects. Before successful training and educational programs can be implemented, managers must complete three basic steps: Define “success” by creating an overall goal for the business. In an ideal world, what would the dealership be and how would it function? This should encompass the dealership’s brand

image and awareness in the community, customer loyalty, the organization’s culture, sales execution, employee performance and turn-over in every department. Set personal and professional goals. As a manager, what is your vision for your role in the organization? What are your weaknesses? How will you measure your effectiveness as a leader, coach and manager? What path will you take to achieve these goals and to ensure the dealership is on track to achieve the overall business goal? Secure, analyze and understand performance data for the dealership as a unit, for each department and for each individual and monitor it on a continual basis. This is crucial in developing an effective and relevant training and education program that will help people improve and focus on achieving the overall business goal. Only by identifying areas that need improvement can a manager seek to address their own weaknesses and coach their people toward success. On a micro level, consider what would happen if a manager coached his salespeople so they could effectively close one more sale a month. If a dealership has 20 salespeople and each delivers one more vehicle each month, that’s 20 deliveries a month, 240 deliveries each year. By capitalizing on existing resources, the dealer will have to spend less time and money to bring in new prospects. In addition, the salespeople will be happier as they reap the financial benefits of focusing on a realistic goal.

All around, it makes good business sense. The salespeople succeed and the manager succeeds. Consider how successful the dealership would be if this same effort was applied toward achieving the overall business goal. A Manager’s Job

A manager’s primary job is to develop the abilities of others to perform and produce stated outcomes. Managers must help each individual establish attainable goals and objectives that are aligned with the needs of the dealership. They should help each person define the expected outcomes of what success looks like. Then, they can step back and let their people work, providing coaching, guidance and additional training and education along the way to help them continuously improve. But, what does “improving” mean? That depends on each person’s circumstance, goals and challenges. For example, it can mean building better relationships with colleagues and customers. It can mean closing more sales at higher profits. It can mean learning to prospect. It can mean developing people to grow or any number of things. Performance data will help identify exactly what this means for each individual. While straightforward, many managers in the rush of everyday business overlook some basic steps that are imperative in helping their people develop action plans for improvement. Next month, we’ll take a look at these steps and how you can use them to benefit your employees, customers and your bottom line. Richard F. Libin is president of APB-Automotive Profit Builders, Inc. He can be contacted at 866.450.6853, or by e-mail at

Losing sales in your service drive? On average at least one needed fluid service goes unidentified per car. Give your service department the tools to show customers what they need on the spot.



Ask your Fluid / Equipment supplier for Fluid Rx Diagnostics ®



podcast interviewee


Automotive Internet Sales DEALERSHIP OF THE MONTH Sam Avila

Outbound Coordinator



Jordan Hunter

Internet Coordinator

Jenna White

Internet Coordinator

Brittany Dietzman Internet Coordinator

Whitney Newsome Internet Coordinator



FROM 55 TO Kristi Alguire

Internet Director



Michelle Sosa

Internet Coordinator



“This is the 2nd Dealer Group that Dealer Synergy built for me from scratch, both times they hit Home Runs” - MIKE UDELL

If you want to be as successful as Preferred Automotive Collection



Newspaper, Radio & TV are a WASTE of Your TIME & MONEY

We can Help You Sell More Cars We Specialize in:

CHEAPER! Sean V Bradley

Founder / CEO




marketing solution

excite the right people and bring them in

1. Take Out All the Gifts and Gimmicks

Yes, they will drive traffic, if you call people traffic. People looking for cameras and steak knives are not going to make your month. These people can be difficult to sift through, and the confusion and frustration they cause hurt the experience for your real buyers. As a GM or an owner it is easy to get blinded by the big traffic that gift mail brings in. However, what most

salesman and managers will say is this: Too much work and too much hassle! Trying to convert Walmart gift card gifties and people who want a tool set into a deal is not what your professional sales staff want to do. They hate it. They understandably want to talk to people who want to buy cars. If your message drives in those who are interested in buying cars, buyers will come and the others will not. The closing ratio will be high enough on the traffic you bring that you won’t miss the extra traffic. 2. Use a Theme That’s Hard Hitting and All About Buying Cars

“Summer Sizzler Sales Event” means nothing to a customer. If you are working with a company or doing it in-house, be careful of great-looking logos and pretty artwork. The message has to be clear, time sensitive and hard hitting. People are presented with marketing offers all day every day and have become immune to crazy headlines and pretty pictures. Your marketing needs to be clear and direct those who have a genuine interest in buying a new vehicle to your store. 3. Do it Big

Direct mail works it magic best as event-style marketing. When you are looking for a big event, do not think anything but big. Do it right, buy behind it and saturate the market as much as you can. When buyers are driving on the lot and see other buyers “buying cars” it creates the “bandwagon effect.” Closing ratios go up when you are busy. Make sure you are busy and capitalize on it. So really simply put, no gifts and gimmicks, a strong theme about buying cars (no ambiguous themes that mean nothing) and do it big! The next time you are scheduling an event, apply these principles and watch the beauty of a great process in action. For your free copy of, “How to drive buyers to your store,” e-mail me at the address below. Troy Spring is the president of Dealer World. He can be contacted at 866.906.7884, or by e-mail at

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podcast interviewee

There are many ways to drive traffic into a dealership. Direct mail remains the best at driving in traffic now. SEO, craigslist, Websites and other online marketing are getting the most attention these days, but don’t neglect the marketing gem that continues to push dozens of cars over the curb for dealers everywhere every weekend. Nothing pumps up a sales team like the day when mail hits, the phones light up and the showroom fills with buyers. Whether you are looking to kick off a month the right way or close it with a bang, direct mail provides the best opportunity to push the needle and deliver more cars than any other method of marketing. Direct mail works better if you follow this “1-2-3” formula.


sales & training solution

7 steps to immediately increase your sales by 20 percent or more

Step 1: Change the Environment

Step 3: Get Incremental Buy-in From Your Customers

To sell, you must get out of your own way. Often, salespeople are the biggest hindrance in creating a sale. You must first create trust with your customers. To create trust, you must have a mindset of TLC – Think Like a Customer. You must release the mentality of a salesperson to slow the process and bring incremental buy-in from your customer.

The military uses boot camp. Baseball has spring training. Football has training camp. The easiest way to bring about rapid change is to change environment. When you change environment, you change behavior. People tend to hold onto limiting beliefs and behaviors as long as they stay in their normal environment.

It is not a mistake that the symbol for questions is shaped like a hook. The right questions asked correctly are the hooks that make the sale come together. Questions should be asked in incremental order so as not to scare the customer. Sequential questioning will establish a fluid process of discovery for the customer. This will create rapport and establish feelings of reciprocation and obligation from the customer. Most salespeople violate the customers trust by asking financial data questions too quickly. This also interrupts the natural pace of communications and creates apprehension in the customer. Remember that selling is like tuning in a radio dial to the right frequency. You must take your time and listen.

Regular training sessions should be done outside of the dealership environment. It is easier to create a sense of team and discuss goals and ideas and get input if you are outside of your normal environment. It’s also important to eliminate distractions to supercharge the learning that takes place in the new environment — no cell phones, no interruptions.

Step 4: Facts Tell, Stories Sell

Step 2: Change Appearances

First appearances greatly influence the decision-making process of people. Change the appearance of your dealership and your people and it can make a huge difference. Walk across the street from your dealership and look back. Ask yourself, what do your customers see? Drive by your dealership at different angles of view and ask the same question. Small changes can make give your customers much greater curb appeal and catch the attention of others. When your customers pull into your dealership, what do they see? Your vehicles should create a sensation of “WOW” for your customers. Make your dealership clean, visually appealing and easy to navigate. Confusion breeds indecision. What do your employees look like? People buy from people they feel most comfortable with in appearance, beliefs and values. As a rule of thumb, your salespeople should be dressed slightly above your customers. This will allow your customers to be comfortable and respect your employees at the same time.


People need to combine verbal, visual and emotional evidence. All this can be accomplished with “similar situation” stories. People don’t buy vehicles; they buy emotional solutions to problems that they can see in their mind’s eye and feel in their hearts. Features are like the scenes of the movie. Benefits are the underlining storyline and stories are the emotions that tie everything together. Personalize everything you do with true and relatable stories and visualizations. Step 5: Be Unforgettable

What is your “WOW” factor? Have an SDP – Specific Defining Proposition. You must make your claim of why you, your dealership and your product are the best for the customer. Don’t be shy about differentiating from your competitors. Make the largest truthful claims possible. Create the brand of your dealership. What makes you, your employees and your dealership stand out and become remarkable? What will your customers not forget about their experience with your people, process, product or market position? Step 6: Use Testimonial Selling

When someone else toots your horn, it will be heard twice as far and twice as long. Customer testimonials and evidence of trust are a massive sales builder and marketing tool. Utilize the people who like and trust you to convince others. Letters, videos, audio testimonials, pictures and direct testimonials create the strongest form of social acceptance available. Step 7 - Dance With the One You Came With

Your best source of success for now and the future are the customers who like you, trust you and have done business with you. Before you spend one dollar on advertising for new customers, determine your process and actions in maintaining your current customers and how they can provide you more customers. These seven steps are universal and undeniable. If followed, they will provide you with increased sales and profits. If you would like what I call the “8th Wonder of the World” step, e-mail me at the address below with “8th Wonder” 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

podcast interviewee

There are seven steps to make immediate change. These steps can be used to quickly increase sales by a more significant amount than you have ever experienced.


leadership solution

Dealerships Petri Dishes for sexual harassment The car dealership remains a rich environment for sexual harassment — a real risk against which dealers should build hedges of protection. Where the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) gets involved the compensatory and punitive damages can reach upwards of $1 million; a quick Google search will reveal numerous examples. Investing in hedges against this costly wrongdoing is probably prudent for many dealerships. The best hedges, experts say, are staff discrimination training and employment practices insurance.

Dealerships are ripe places for harassment to occur, experts say. “It’s a huge problem,” said dealership compliance expert Terry Dortch. “The business is still male dominated, and due to the time staff spends together it can often feel OK to become too familiar with others in what we say and how we might touch them. Most times these comments or this contact isn’t meant to be malicious but can be construed that way by the recipient.” Liz Olsson, senior vice president for Wells Fargo’s Strategic Executive Risk Team, agrees. “Car dealerships are considered a high risk for this activity given their sales-y, almost fraternity-like environment,” she said. “Plus, a traditional high turnover means issues of harassment and discrimination training can be more difficult to address.” Any harassment and discrimination activity can create problems for the dealership. Dortch relays a story about how one dealership’s sales staff placed camel-shaped crackers around the workspace of one of their colleagues, a man of from the Middle East. “They were trying to be cute, but they were being stupid,” said Dortch. How can you protect your business from others’ bad or egregious behaviors? The boss prays this behavior will go away, but the right attitude about compliance must come down from the top. Investment in harassment and discrimination training can help raise awareness among staff. However, training itself can’t protect against an employee who wants to be malicious. Dortch said dealers can ferret out troublemakers by conducting thorough background checks. “And if you do have someone on staff like this now, get rid of them,” he advises. Olsson said dealers can add another hedge of protection against the result of harassment. She suggests dealers consider buying employment practices liability insurance, as a stand-alone policy or rider to an existing Directors and Officers Liability policy. “We hear objections that employment practices liability is expensive, but without a doubt a business is going to have claims against it for harassment. While most are settled, a big suit or a class-action suit can cause defense and punitive expenses to skyrocket,” she said. “As further risk control, many of these policies also provide the dealer with discrimination training materials, 800-numbers for legal and employment practices advice, and other tools. Jim Leman is the owner of Leman Public Relations. He can be contacted at 866.314.1735, or by e-mail at



percent increase in used car gross profit 2011 year to date


percent increase in used car sales 2009 to 2010


used inventory retail returns 2010



TO MASTER THE MARKET When Andrew Walser took over the family business from his father, Jack, he knew he had some big shoes to fill. Walser Automotive Group had a history of success that went back decades. Andrew started using vAuto’s Live Market suite of tools at his 13 dealerships in 2008, and their sales and used gross profit continue to exceed expectations. “vAuto is part of the Walser Way of doing business. Our customers appreciate our haggle-free pricing, and it kept us in business these past few years when other dealerships closed around us. I can’t imagine selling cars without vAuto.” With vAuto, Andrew has mastered his market. Visit or call 877-828-8617 to learn how.

Andrew Walser, President Walser Automotive Group Bloomington, Minnesota


leadership solution

don’t fight it, just write it

How do you desk your deals? Do you even desk deals? Either way, it is inevitable that you get to a point in the sale where you have to talk about the deal and the make-up of the deal. If your process is set up where you send a salesperson back and forth two and three times, ask yourself why. Does it make you feel good after the third time to come out from behind the desk, go in the deal, talk with the customer, save the customer another $100, $200 or $300, then ask the salesperson “Why couldn’t you do that?” Here’s a better one: “In a couple of years, with experience, you will learn how to close like me.” Does this process sound familiar? If so, wake up. You’re a dinosaur, and this type of sales process is extinct. Salespeople deserve all the credit. They deserve to be trained to think, help make decisions and close deals with knowledge. They need to understand every aspect of the sales process. In most cases today, the

as seen on

customer has more knowledge of the product then the managers do, and in almost every case, the salespeople know 100 percent more about the product than management. But, in some twisted way, they take direction from someone that knows less about the product, and gives the product away. In any other business, this would not happen. So, let’s get ready to rumble. Clear the air and start fresh. Managers and sales staff, you are now one in the same. Two heads are better than one. Let’s put it together. Sales staff meets and greets. Management meets and greets. Explain to the customer that everyone is here to make their visit a pleasant experience. Find out up front if they have a trade. Don’t be afraid. Walk with the salespeople, show them service and explain how that department works. Manager, customer and salespeople, go over the trade. Drive with the customer. It’s called bonding. A great manager will have all the ingredients to make the sale. Now, everyone can get involved in the walk-around. Let the salespeople go for the demo ride. What impression do you think this will have on your customer? I guarantee you, they’ll love you already. By the way, that whole process takes 15 minutes, tops, and everyone gets to experience the road to the close. Managers, I promise you that this will be the game changer. You put the customer in an Altima. Write the deal-price of your car and subtract the trade and any incentives for the car they are interested in. Now, the trade is what you want to take it in for. Give the customer several down payment options — $2,500, $3,500, $4,500, etc. Give the customer terms for 24, 30, 36, 42, 48, 54, 60, 66 and 72 months on each down payment. You love to pencil deals; start using the lead. Also, if they are on a new vehicle, give them a lease option. The more you write, the better the close. Your energy and enthusiasm will make the deal. This next step is huge. Take the vehicle you are on and go down a model with the same equipment. If it is a used car, have a vehicle about $2,000 or $3,000 with similar equipment. Pencil five different down payments and 10 choices for payments. You will never lose the deal over money. Why? You have an alternative vehicle. We are no longer discounting vehicles to no profit, then staying in the close for 20 minutes to close a no-profit deal. We are now closing on the customer’s affordability and the store’s profitability. Yes, we are writing more. But now we have total purpose behind the pencil. Think about it. If you were hungry and I had six sandwiches, all peanut butter and jelly, but you were allergic to peanuts, you wouldn’t take a sandwich. Now, if I had six different types of sandwiches, you would not only take one, but maybe even two. Payments and down payments work the same way. Sometimes the customers will like a couple of the choices you will give them, and ask your opinion on which way to go. Now, that’s a power pencil, one that closes the deal. Your people will love this process — and so will the customers. Oh, by the way, you do not spend as much time on your price or the trade. The store will sell more cars, make a lot more gross and have fun doing it. In closing, when managers and salespeople work together like this, salespeople come to work pumped up. Salespeople will help management out all the time. They will run through walls for you. Managers now are totally involved in the process; this prevents any type of controversy with the sales staff. Your involvement keeps you sharp.

Tony Provost is the president, GM, and trainer of Nissan of Bourne in Buzzards Bay, MA. He can be contacted at 866.296.4098, or by e-mail at


“bLinkedSM is the best tool I have seen in 15 years.”



Be Smart. Be Informed. bLinkedSM. This is the program that is changing everything. bLinkedSM is a data analytic service that marries your customer database, inventory, and manufacturer incentives to deliver more high-quality leads straight to your showroom floor.

• Attract more customers with offers too good to refuse — offers to upgrade their vehicles for lower monthly payments and no money down.

• Set your own margins to meet and exceed the profit levels you want.

• Convert more service appointments into sales with incredibly accurate information for your sales team and perfectly matched offers for your customers.

With email, direct mail, and microsite marketing included at no extra cost, bLinkedSM is the complete turnkey package poised to give your dealership an unmistakable sales advantage.

Welcome to bLinkedSM — the next generation of direct marketing. Learn more today. Contact J&L Marketing at 800.346.9117 or email: for more information. Bill Cafarella General Manager West County Honda Ellisville, Missouri


sales & training solution

shorten the selling, process, educate your buyer and make money

The automotive buyer is no longer willing to spend hours buying a car. And the reality is the longer you spend with them, the less likely they are to pay you a profit or even close at all. Case studies confirm that negotiations taking longer than 30 minutes result in 50 percent lower grosses. Getting the consumer on your side to streamline the process can help you both get what you want — higher gross for you and a quicker process for them. So, to get the consumer and you on the same page, I’ve written steps to provide car dealers with positive propaganda you can disseminate to your community to differentiate yourself in the marketplace and change

the perception of the experience you hope to deliver to buyers. 6 Steps To Buying A Car Made Quick and Easy 1. Approach the auto dealer as a buyer. Your best strategy when buying a car is to identify yourself as a buyer, not a shopper. Don’t be defensive; present yourself as an easy buyer to deal with. The customer who approaches a car dealer defensively tends to cause the salesperson to respond in the same way. 2. Price is not your greatest concern. Let the salesperson know that the car is your main focus. This will be music to their ears and make them butter in your hands. Let them know that you know price is easy once the car is right. This is going to make the sales process quicker by reducing confrontation and later make getting your best terms even easier. 3. Determining right car for you. Contrary to outdated strategies, the best way to determine the right unit is not online or on the phone, but at the dealership. A trick to make sure you are on the right vehicle is to look at the vehicles just above and below what you think you want. Any interest in either of these means you are not yet on the perfect product for you. 4. Test drive the vehicle. Driving the vehicle will actually save you time negotiating, and provides the dealership with more confidence in giving you their best price. 5. Request computer-documented proposal. Ask the dealership to present their offer to you electronically. The most progressive, customer satisfaction-driven dealers today utilize technology to provide the buyer with full-disclosure proposals that include price, trade figures, purchase/lease payments, down payments and interest rates all at one time. These documents avoid wasted time in the negotiations and unnecessary games. 6. Determine a fair price. Franchised automotive dealers in the U.S. operate on about the same net margins as a grocery store — about a two-percent net. A typical car sale will generate more money to state and local taxes than total profits to the dealer. Use your own logic to make sense of what a fair price to offer the dealer is, based on the taxes you pay. Your dealer will love this logic and remove time and pain from the process.

The next time you are ready to roll in something new, just follow these six steps and let your local dealer know you have been trained how to buy a car from automotive sales training expert Grant Cardone — I guarantee you will get a great deal and it will be easy. Grant Cardone is an author and the CEO of Cardone Training Technologies, Inc. He can be contacted at 866.402.1675, or by e-mail at



sales & training solution

grow service and sales by helping your customers make good decisions In the past, it was common practice to base service recommendations only on OE recommendations. Vehicle owner’s manuals provide oil and fluid change recommendations based on time or mileage and commonly assumed driving conditions. One schedule is for normal driving conditions and a much shorter change recommendation is made for severe driving conditions. It is left to the consumer to judge which schedule should be followed. But think about it for a moment: The useful service life of engine oil and vehicle fluids is affected by many variables including city or highway driving, heavy loads, road conditions, terrain, weather, air quality, vehicle condition, maintenance programs, the driver, and the type and quality of the fuel, lubricants, oil and filters being used. Even for a qualified professional, it is difficult to predict when a car’s oil and fluids should be serviced. Additionally, car manufacturer’s oil change indicator lights are triggered by an algorithmic program that doesn’t monitor the actual condition of the oil. Instead, sensor information from the engine — including temperature, speed and duration — are combined to create probability factors that predict when the oil may need to be serviced. This is not an analysis of the oil’s condition, and there is no change indicator or idiot light for transmission, power steering, brake fluid or gear oils. Either way, the consumer has no assurance or guarantees that their vehicle isn’t being damaged by operating with dirty oil or depleted fluids. Why are these OE recommendations in place? They are designed to prevent premature wear or failure due to operating the vehicle on depleted fluids. And here is the stunner; although most fluid service recommendations are correctly based on severe driving conditions, the fact is as much as 20 to 30 percent of the time these fluids become depleted prematurely — before time and mileage recommendations kick in. Degraded fluids affect lubrication regimes, reducing clearances or plugging passageways, thus increasing friction heat and wear. The increase in friction


results in higher energy requirements or malfunctions. The resulting increase in operating temperatures causes autocatalytic effects on the oils ability to prevent sludge and accelerates acid buildup promoting corrosion. The net result is an increase in maintenance and operating costs and shorter component life. So what’s in it for the vehicle owner to change fluids before they become depleted? Proper fluid preventative maintenance is a key factor in prolonging the vehicle’s service life and helps to maintain the vehicles performance and operating efficiency. Properly maintained vehicles are more reliable, suffer fewer breakdowns and cost less to operate and maintain over the life of the vehicle. The use of diagnostic tools to identify needed fluid services is a key component to perform proper preventative maintenance services. They also allow the tech to identify needed services that would otherwise be missed. Showing your customer test results makes them an informed participant in the fluid preventative maintenance of their vehicle. This engagement instills trust and confidence in your service recommendations and makes it easy for them to say “yes” to needed services. It also keeps them coming back with higher levels of loyalty and retention. Your customers will return for clear and consistent information that makes them feel like they have been dealt with honestly and fairly. Your doctor doesn’t make a diagnosis and give a prescription after putting his hand on your forehead and looking into your ears and mouth. Tests are performed including pulse and blood pressure, your temperature is taken and perhaps a blood test is needed before a diagnosis can be made. Your customers want and expect to see tests results that help them make good decisions. It doesn’t take an increase in your car count to increase your sales opportunities. This same educational and discovery process, “instant fluid diagnostics,” also helps you identify depleted fluids that would otherwise go undetected. On average, at least one needed fluid service goes unidentified in every single car that passes through your service drive. In other words, every service invoice you write is missing sell of a needed fluid service. And when that car drives away, it does so with under-performed service — and revenue your dealership just lost that could have been generated that day. One additional fluid service per car really adds up. Market research shows that increasing your service customer retention by just five percent can, over time, increase your profits by almost 100 percent. The fact is that service departments that engage their customers outperform their competition by 26 percent in gross margins and 85 percent in sales growth. Engaging your customer and instilling trust and confidence in your service recommendations is as simple as implementing the use of fluid diagnostic tools and presenting the results to your customers. With this process in place, you are guaranteed that your customers will be shown all needed fluid services each and every visit no matter who the tech or service writer is. It’s no secret that your fixed operations contribution to profits is critical to the long-term health and success of your dealership. And it’s clear that educating your customers and techs alike with a quick show-and-tell fluid diagnostics program will identify and sell more needed fluid services and there will be fewer declined services. So kick your game up several notches. Distinguish real service needs from suspected needs. Increase your ticket averages and profits. Engage your customers by giving your service department “instant lubricant diagnostic tools” that show when fluid services are needed — right on the spot. Ron Schornstein is the CEO of Fluid Rx, Inc. He can be contacted at 866.386.5318, or by e-mail at


marketing solution

who is craig and what’s with the list?

Craigslist is an online classified community, and has been dubbed the “newspaper killer” for its dominance over traditional print media. If you’re a dealer who has had any experience posting vehicles on Craigslist with dealer software, then you have experienced the pains and joys of listing and selling vehicles there. The biggest misunderstanding that dealers have when posting is craigslist simply doesn’t care that you are there — period. The site deems itself a “community service” for individuals, not companies. So as a dealer and businessperson, how do you conduct commerce on a Website that does not want you there in the first place? Here are 12 key practices in listing on craigslist that will help you be more successful:

will be able to post. To avoid this, it is a good practice to post some vehicles from the dealership, some from home, some from your iPad, or some from your Internet air card (if you have one).

1. Post to craigslist Every Day

As a dealer selling on craigslist, you must take every opportunity to establish trust with a craigslist customer. With all the craigslist scams and wide media coverage of the issues, it is imperative to set the consumer at ease in initiating that first contact with your dealership. Craigslist is also a free market Website, so there are no barriers to entry when listing. Differentiating your dealership with One-Owner vehicles is an opportunity you don’t want to miss.

2. Do Not Post Multiple Listings Inside of 20 Minutes

Craigslist will ban you for over posting, and they have checkpoints built into the system to monitor your listing volume. 3. Less is More

Craigslist has a set limit of 30,000 characters. If your template goes over the character limit, then sirens go off at the craigslist offices and it will trigger an error. Keep your posting under 30,000 characters. 4. Post from Multiple Computers

As of the April 22, 2011 release, it looks like craigslist is factoring in the media access control (MAC) address of your computer. Previously, they focused their attention on the IP address and would ban your IP for over-posting. An IP address (example: is a numerical label assigned to each network device (i.e. computer) and is used for communication on the network. A MAC address is a unique identifier assigned to your computer for communications on a network. While IP addresses can be changed, the MAC address of a computer will always remain the same. 5. Post from Multiple IP Addresses

In most cases, your dealership will have a single outside IP address. That means that to the Internet, anyone from inside your dealership who is surfing the Web will have the same IP address. If your IP address gets banned or blocked, then no computer at the dealership


Craigslist has automated systems in place to recognize what they deem “duplicate listings.” When your listings contain similar HTML, repeated words (i.e. dealership name), repeated photo URLs, similar listing titles and so on, your listing kicks off the duplicate listings sensor on Craig’s chair. Many providers have added random text or sentences below the listing template to ward off the Bayesian filters of craigslist, such as “The red boy bounced ball on the ceiling” or “bounced on the red ceiling by the boy.” Bayesian filtering is a technique used to recognize spam, and it works by correlating words and internal code to calculate the probability that a listing is spam or legitimate. 7. Post at Least 20 Photos

Including photos is vital, since the search results on craigslist have an orange “img” icon next to listings that feature photos. Make sure to include interior photos — interior photos are a must to get the phone to ring. Otherwise, people perceive that there is something to hide on the interior of the car. 8. Display a Carfax One-Owner and/or Vehicle History Report Link

9. Use a Dedicated Phone Number for craigslist

As with any marketing channel, you must track your campaign’s performance and results. Part of monitoring craigslist results is tracking the volume of leads through the phone calls. Assign a dedicated phone number to the craigslist marketing channel and track the progression of converting those leads. 10. Use Lead Conversion Forms

Seek out providers that deliver a lead conversion form for craigslist. Surprisingly, most providers do not offer this feature. Just like phone traffic, you’ll want to track e-mail lead volume for the craigslist marketing channel. 11. Display Your E-mail Address as an Image

Nothing is more important than a repeat customer. If the craigslist customer only knows you by the e-mail alias that craigslist provides, then that relationship will be short-lived because that e-mail alias has a life span, and will soon die. Displaying your direct e-mail address increases your chances that the consumer will contact you again, and it also establishes more trust to initiate contact in the first place. 12. Link back to the vehicle on your dealership Website

In many instances, craigslist can provide higher volume referral traffic to your dealer Website than any other source, depending on your listing volume. You want those eyeballs on your Website, and you want the customer to research your dealership to establish trust. Avoid providers who create a landing page separate from your dealership Website when linking from craigslist. Stick with these best practices when posting on craigslist. Some dealers may try to game the system by listing in multiple cities, creating multiple accounts, posting from every computer they can get access to, and much more, but understand that when you are trying to beat the system, it will ultimately beat you. Trust me, I’ve seen it happen to dealers that lived off the sales from craigslist. It’s like juggling knives — there are people who do it, but it doesn’t mean that you should. Craigslist is a great source of leads, but you have to remember who you’re dealing with. This Website is a “community service” and not an ecommerce site. I highly recommend getting your inventory on craigslist, and if you’re already are on the site, apply these best practices to your dealership’s listing practices for continued success. Chad Polk is the CEO of AutoRevo. He can be contacted at 866.873.0031, or by e-mail a

podcast interviewee

Listings on the site are really only relevant for three days. The search results are indistinguishable from listing to listing, and user behavior on craigslist is much like Google, where more than 95 percent of users never go past the first page.

6. Randomize Your Craigslist Templates

marketing solution

questions to use in choosing the right marketing company

If you search Google for “automotive marketing,” there are 171,000,000 listings. With this amount of data to wade through, how would a dealership go about finding a reputable marketing company to help boost traffic and increase sales? Who hasn’t heard of the horror stories? Since bad news travels both faster and further than good news, we all have. However, if we take the time up front to research who we’re working with, hopefully you won’t be the topic of the next horror story. Before signing or committing with a “new to you” marketing company, it’s important to ask some questions. This month and next, we’ll be looking at what to ask them, and why to ask. This month, let’s start with some basics: 1. How long have they been in business? 2. Can they give you three referrals from customers who have done business with them for three or more years? 3. Have they attended NADA? 4. Where is their support team located? Can they tell you about their support staff? Are


they easy to reach?

5. For direct mail, ask who provides their list.

Do they offer a postal receipt?

Simple, but not always asked and answered. Here’s why the answers are so important: 1. Length in business can help you determine their stability. If you are doing a $10,000 direct mail event and you are faxing or mailing a check, you want to make sure the mail will really be delivered. 2. Three referrals, spoken to over the phone, can reassure you that they have satisfied customers — that you can look forward to being a happy customer, as well. Long-term customers show stability and integrity. 3. With the NADA Convention being our industry’s largest annual gathering, any automotive marketer worth their salt has been there. It’s not necessarily to be there every year, but they should know how important it is to new and used dealerships, affiliates, lenders, marketers and others. 4. What is their support staff policy? If you have a problem, it is a fair expectation that you can reach someone 24/7. If an



insurance board for a mail promotion didn’t arrive on Saturday, who would you get to speak to for a solution? Is there a toll-free hotline for help? How long does it take for you to get an answer? 5. The list provider can make or break a direct mail event. Example: Mailershaven is one of the largest list providers with the most personable customer service and easy-to-use online count system. If a dealership needs a “count” or a “list,” it can be ran and back in 30 minutes. Mailershaven offers a guarantee on their accuracy, as well. Not all list companies provide this – and a marketing company must take responsibility if the list isn’t what the dealer was expecting. Next month, we’ll finish up our list so you can start to build a foundation of trust with those who get your message in front of customers. Marlena Smith is the CEO of Automotive Marketing Promotions. She can be contacted at 866.386.5941, or by e-mail at


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leadership solution

bodyshop production management

Reasons to Manage Production 1. Customer Satisfaction

The No. 1 complaint that car owners have regarding body shop repair experiences is that their car was not ready when promised. The reason the car is rarely ready when promised is because the repair time was not managed at all. The technician will often have multiple cars that he is working on and will usually bounce back and forth between cars so as to maximize his own hours of commission with little regard to timelines for delivery. The customer is often forced to constantly call the shop asking if his car is ready or not. If the phone is ringing at your shop daily with the question of whether or not the car is ready, you have poor production management. In fact, the phone should never ring with that question. We recommend a system of proactive communication so that the customer never feels ignored or treated indifferently. Tip: When the car is dropped off, try to get a preset mid-progress notification time where

“If the phone is ringing at your shop daily with the question of whether or not the car is ready, you have poor production management. In fact, the phone should never ring with that question.” the estimator can proactively call the customer with an update. I don’t want a customer to ever call me; I want to call him: “Mr. Customer, how about I call you Tuesday afternoon and let you know how things are progressing?” Basically I have said, “don’t call me, I’ll call you.” The Mitchell Summit a few years back revealed that a shop can maintain the relationship with the customer more effectively so long as there is proactive communication. The customer will even forgive minor quality issues as long as the shop is proactively communicating with the customer. 2. Metric Management

The No. 1 metric that shops fail in is cycle time keys to keys. The insurance industry wants the cycle time to be fast. My shop has a keys to keys cycle time of between 3.2 to 5.5 days. Our competitors are somewhere around 14 days. We perform as a leader in the nation regarding cycle time. The production manager sets time-related goals for every technician. It is never enough to tell the metal technician that the car has to go Friday or whatever day. Our production manager sets at the very least an intermediate target. He will tell the metal man that the car has got to be out of his stall and into the paint shop by Tuesday at 2 p.m., for instance. This one little tip of setting a metal shop out time has made a big difference on our cycle time performance. The added beauty of delivering cars to the paint shop on schedule is that it also tends to reduce the bottleneck in the paint department. Most shops think they have a bottleneck in the paint shop when what they really have is a non-managed or poorly managed metal shop. Of course there is much more to production management than proactive communication and setting a metal shop out-time. But I can also assure you that you will see improvement in CSI as well as better flow if you do these two things. Feel free to call me for a free 15 minute consultation if I can help you solve a problem. Dave Dunn is the founder of Masters School of Autobody Management. He can be contacted at 866.386.0042, or by e-mail at

podcast interviewee

The phrase “production management” is an oxymoron in most body shops. Production is rarely managed; it is mostly reacted to. Since most body shops pay technicians based on flat rate or commission pay, there has been little thought given to production management. The body shop manager may reason that the pay plan is the production manager. Technicians, however, do not manage production — they manage their own paychecks.

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You Are GUARANTEED to Increase Your Bottom Line in 1 Year by $250,000 or More...

or I’ll Pay You $10,000! Hi, my name is Mark Tewart. I may have had the honor of coming into contact with you through my seminars, association meetings, NADA or NIADA conventions, articles in AutoSuccess or other magazines, my old Automotive Satellite Training Network shows or you may have read my best-selling book How To Be A Sales Superstar. Whether you know me or not, you may be wondering what allows me to be able to make such an outrageous claim. The answer is simple: If a client follows my no gimmick, no BS, full-proof and proven methods, the results are as predictable as the sun coming up every day. That may sound arrogant to some of you, but to me and my select clients it’s just reality. Every year I have many dealers who ask me to work with them to help improve their sales and profits. I reject most of them. I only choose a few each year to work with on such a large scale. There are a few reasons why I carefully hand pick who to work with. The first reason is that it’s easy for you to say you want to improve but most people don’t want to do the things necessary to make it happen. This isn’t some magic-button, pie-in-sky fad. These are real-world and proven methods for massive profit improvements. It takes hard work and lots of commitment.

Mark Tewart, President of Tewart Enterprises, Inc. Author of the Best-Seller ‘How to be a Sales Superstar’

The second reason for me being picky about who I work with on these projects is that frankly I don’t have the time. To create the massive results that you and I are looking for requires a great deal of my time and effort. Because of my time restraints, I refuse to spend time and effort with uncommitted dealers. I only align myself with passionate people committed to winning. The third and final reason for me being selective is my reputation. I can’t write ads like this and make such incredible guarantees unless I can bring the results. My reputation is beyond solid. By the way, the $250,000 bottom line improvement is just an example. I have had some dealers increase their bottom lines by more than $1,000,000. Look at it this way; I don’t take $10,000 guarantees lightly. I put my money where my mouth is.

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marketing solution

internet leads – are you closing every opportunity? It is in sales as it is in nature, the lowest hanging fruit is always first to be picked. Internet leads are no different than showroom ups in this respect. Salespeople are motivated to sell the customer who is in front of them now, on the showroom floor, as well as in their inbox. Today’s salespeople have leads coming from many sources daily, and often customers are several months from a purchase. Too often salespeople are onto the next one, or next 100, before a potential customer makes a purchase. These missed opportunities are just part of the business for many dealerships. Others are utilizing cutting-edge technology to stay in touch with these customers and are closing more deals monthly.

Is Business Falling Through the


Now that 80 percent of vehicle buyers start their search online, it is important that dealerships arm their people with the tools to maintain contact with these buyers until they buy. The buying cycle can often take several months. In the past, many dealerships would set up a string of automated e-mails to stay in touch with customers. These messages would be very bland and general with no direct reference to the customer’s personal requests or desires. They were a “one size fits all” solution with the occasional field that was personalized, similar to those annoying recorded phone calls you get telling you that you won a cruise. This was better than nothing and was an attempt at helping Internet salespeople manage hundreds of older leads, but was never as effective as sending a personal e-mail. Today’s Internet shoppers have become very good at reading through canned messages that are irrelevant to their searches and requests. In fact, many customers will stop reading correspondences from those they feel are “spamming” them with template bologna. Customers expect a response that addresses their wants and desires. They are seeking to do business with a dealership that values them and their business enough to answer their questions, not just send a multipage cookie-cutter e-mail. Technology now exists that can follow-up with past and present leads automatically in a way that is engaging and personal. This goes way beyond the auto-responders of the past. Think of it as an individual virtual sales assistant for every Internet salesperson at your dealership. Finally, military-grade technology has reached the retail automotive industry at a level where this can be done for a dealership’s Internet sales staff. Customer communications can now be professional and relevant. Even better, customers will have no idea that they are communicating with an intelligent computer rather than a person.


877-319-9035 40

Dealerships that choose to embrace the use of a modern lead engagement system should consider this technology to drive more appointments for their sales staff. This way as soon as the customer is ready to move beyond e-mail, a personal relationship with the dealership already exists. A good relationship and a positive emotional experience are still what sell cars. Unfortunately, artificial intelligence can’t do walk-arounds — just yet. For a free copy of, “Ten things you need to consider while looking for a virtual sales assistant,” send an e-mail to me at the address below. Drake Baerresen is the vice-president of sales and marketing at Turn-Key Events AVA. He can be contacted at 866.900.7714, or by e-mail at

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marketing solution

special finance online

Special finance is back — I am seeing all over the country that sub-prime sales are up. More and more banks are approving people with bad credit and no credit. Special finance is not just for used car dealerships and buyhere pay-here dealerships. Special finance is for every dealership, even highline stores can benefit from sub-prime deals. More than 50 percent of the United States has less-thanperfect credit. So, if you are not actively and proactively taking advantage of special finance, you are missing the boat. Dealerships that are successful with special finance boast grosses averaging of more than $3,000 per copy. Now that I have your attention, let’s focus on something very special — “special finance online,” where special finance meets the Internet. We know that more than 89 percent of Americans go online before they ever step into the dealership for some type of research. That goes for people looking for a bad credit/ no credit car loan. Most dealerships in 2011 are doing unsatisfactory in their Internet departments; most dealerships’ Internet sales departments or BDCs are non-functioning or unprofitable. The bottom line is that most dealers are still struggling with automotive Internet sales, so it would seem absurd for most dealerships to worry about any other form of Internet sales. That fact, however, is in your best interest. There is a huge opportunity with “special finance online.” It is like the Wild Wild West. Since no one really has dominated special finance online, which means the door is wide open for you and your dealership. Here is what you need to do to dominate special finance online: • First, create a “special finance” Website like – Make sure it is NOT / we do bad


credit / no credit. You want to make it a complete separate entity, as if you have your own special finance lead source provider site. • Make sure that you have the proper “onsite” SEO done to your site. Title tags, descriptions, anchor text, alt tags, keywords, site map and so on. • Make sure you set up a separate Google Places page for your new special finance company, fully set up with unique content. • Set up Google Alerts. • Create an online reputation strategy for your sub-prime site. Google Reviews, Dealer Review Boost, Dealer Rater, CarFolks, Edmund Reviews, Yelp, etc. • Create a campaign of “focus” (microsites) — one site for each relevant category. • Create a Video Search Engine Optimization (VSEO) campaign. • Set up a full special finance social media campaign/strategy (along with social media SEO) • Facebook • Twitter • Tumblr • Flickr • YouTube • MySpace • WordPress blog • Create a powerful search engine marketing campaign (Pay Per Click). Basically, you are going to build a special finance site and think of it as a brand new dealership. In the same way that you are going to dominate automotive Internet sales, you are going to dominate special finance online. The idea is to make sure that when anyone searches for anything at all related to bad credit/no credit auto loan in your area (and surrounding areas) they will find your sub-prime site. You are going to be the “Autotrader” or the “” for special finance online in your area. You might be asking how is this possible? It’s simple: Everyone is asleep at the wheel. Again, most dealerships are struggling on how to simply survive with automotive Internet sales; special finance online is not even on their radar. If you have any questions about this article or you would like me to assist you for free in starting your special finance online campaign, please call or e-mail me. Sean V. Bradley is the founder and CEO of Dealer Synergy, a nationally recognized training and consulting company in the automotive industry. He can be contacted at 866.648.7400, or by e-mail at

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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 Automotive News Advertising J&L Marketing’s growing national accounts. This is a full-time B2B outside sales position. File name: 1978_AutoNews_Ad_5.125x3.875_FNL.indd Trim: 5.125” x 3.875” Bleed: 5.375” x 4.125” Live: 4.625” x 3.375” Inks: 4cp File built at 100% 10/09/09

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ng some PA, enjoyi in Easton, a Saturday. ia K b au D n Brown ter… o , owner of use with his daugh Tom Ring lake ho ew n is h ESP at

How could I have known the car business would try to take my life? Maybe you’re a lot like me. Or at least how I used to be. I was working endlessly in the dealership. I had my life’s savings wrapped up in the business, and when “the crash” came it nearly ruined everything. My kids, my wife, my mortgage, my life…it all passed before my eyes as I watched sales get cut in half and profit all but disappear completely. I was frozen in fear for a while, then got moving, when a Google search led me to a couple of guys you may have heard of before – Jimmy Vee & Travis Miller from Rich Dealers. Of course, I’d heard it all before…increase traffic, increase sales, over promise, under deliver. What else is new? Frankly, I didn’t believe there was anything out there I hadn’t already tried. But I didn’t have much to risk, so I gave it a shot. “Prove me wrong, guys,” I said. Reluctantly, I got involved. I gotta say…they were talking about things nobody else was talking about. In fact, they seemed to be telling me the opposite of what most people were telling me I should do. It was anything but “common knowledge” and I was even more skeptical at this point. How could these two guys know something nobody else did? Seemed unlikely. But keep reading… So, back at the dealership, I figured why not try some of what they were suggesting. So, I ran the ad they gave me, I followed their strategy and I made some simple changes to the way we positioned our dealership to the customers. They showed me how to be in command of the actions of potential buyers by speaking to their subconscious mind. My expectations were low. What happened next? Well, I could hardly believe it. It was like someone turned on the lights. It was a complete and rapid reinvention of our business. The energy in the sales department went through the roof. People were excited to come to work again. The phones were ringing, the showroom was busy, leads

It Damn Near Killed Me...

were pouring in. Money was flowing. But how long would it last? I’m happy to report that it’s been nearly three years since I first found these guys. And every year has gotten better. 2009 was a record profit year, until 2010 shattered the record. And we netted more by June 2011 than we had in all of 2010. The only thing I can say is “hold on tight” because it’s the ride of your life. The best part is, not only did they help me increase sales (from about 80 new and used per month to over 250 new and used per month now) but they convinced me to slow down and appreciate life more. I’ve never felt more alive…and my family has never really known me before now. I’ve been able to rebuild cars with my boys and be there when my daughter left for her first date. My wife thinks she married a new man. Jim & Travis call it ESP – Enjoyable, Simple & Prosperous. It’s the ultimate goal of being a Rich Dealer. And it’s real, very real. Since then, my experience has convinced numerous other dealers around the country and in Canada to check out the program. Over the past few years I’ve seen a lot of different people join the program. I’ve seen a small independent dealer from Kentucky (Tony) start taking Saturdays off while grossing $500k per month. I’ve seen a big mid-west Chevy dealer (Courtney) go from 250 cars per month to 400 cars per month by doing what I did. I’ve seen Hyundai dealers, Dodge Chrysler dealers, Kia dealers, and everything in between come in and turn everything around by doing things differently than all the other “gurus” recommend. It’s refreshing. And it’s fun to double your business, take more dough home and spend more time with your family at the same time. How does it work? Jim & Travis say, “Stop selling cars, start selling solutions.” And they’re right! They recognized what so many others have missed: only a tiny part of the population are actively, consciously shopping for a nicer, newer car…while the vast majority

of people are sitting it out because some problem is keeping them from what they really want. But that inner desire among most people has power that overcomes logic. That craving remains, untouched, in the unconscious pleasure center of our brains, where typical advertising messages never reach. Jim & Travis knew that the most powerful part of the human brain was the unconscious “lizard brain.” So they began crafting messages that subtly speak to the subconscious mind and virtually hypnotize customers into buying from you—and loving the experience. They’ve sold more than 2,000,000 cars this way, and as you read this, every two minutes another car is sold. What makes their program so much more effective than other ordinary solutions? First, they write the creative for you. They don’t ask you to come up with the ideas. Every month they develop a fresh, new, winning campaign based on their formula. What a relief! I was so glad not to have to come up with the ideas myself anymore. The other high impact portion of their program is the interaction with their other members. Jim & Travis host a private meeting four times per year. I’ve learned more (and shared more) in those meetings than I have in any other group or seminar I’ve ever attended. Plus, all the members are connected online 24/7 through the Internet. Got a question? Some other member has the answer. And since there’s only one dealer per market area, people are always willing to share their best ideas and secrets. The first step toward becoming a member yourself is the free Market Rater Analysis. A Rich Dealers Advisor will analyze your market to determine how much untapped opportunity exists. Then they’ll answer your questions about the program and explain how you can try it yourself, risk free. To schedule, call 866.852.0145 and ask for Wayne Harris or visit ®

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How Cerritos Dodge Increased Sales by 75% and Service by 410% Cerritos Dodge Chrysler Jeep in Cerritos, CA, has been a successful part of the Browning Automotive Group for the last 25 years. Lately their sales and service activity is soaring with sales up 75%, 50% over the same period in 2010; and vehicles serviced increasing 410%, with ROs for vehicles in Cerritos’ primary marketing area jumping 210% over the same period last year. A recent shift in marketing strategy is helping Cerritos Dodge

positively affect all its profit centers to attract, sell, service and retain customers more profitably for less.

Many automotive dealers face the ongoing challenge of how to purposefully reach the right customers with the right message, bring those customers into their showroom or their service bays, and keep them coming back again and again. With the high cost of traditional mass media

advertising, like television and radio, it’s not easy for dealers to deliver an affordable consistent message to their primary marketing area without also having to spend a lot of money soliciting the greater population who are not in the market for a vehicle or are not conveniently located to the dealership, so servicing is out of the question. “We recognize the value of effective advertising and have always

Success Story invested in marketing, but we felt we weren’t reaching the right customers,” says Jack Ameen, general manager of the Cerritos store. “There are well over a quarter of a million consumers in our immediate market, but obviously not everyone is a potential customer, so earlier this year we decided to invest in research that would help us more clearly define our local market.” First, Cerritos Dodge Chrysler Jeep completed a comprehensive five-year historical analysis of its

sales and service transactions to determine customer trends. Those findings were compared to leading third-party and industry data to establish consumer patterns within their local market making it possible for Cerritos to identify vehicle owners with the greatest probability of buying or servicing with their dealership. The research also isolated samebrand owners who had never visited the dealership, as well as, off-brand owners with a historical trend of crossing over to the brands they sell.

“Within a few months we were up 5.3% in market share over last year – more than anyone else in our market,” says Ameen. “While Dodge and several of our competitors’ market share was down. This research data is empowering. We know exactly who to target.” With their ideal market identified, Cerritos implemented a comprehensive targeted marketing strategy using mail and email campaigns that consistently speak to both customers and prospects with effective custom messaging.

In a Nutshell Cerritos Dodge Chrysler Jeep increased sales 75% and service 410% by changing their existing marketing strategy and implementing a targeted digital marketing strategy to attract, sell, service and retain more customers for less cost. • Conduct in-depth market research to determine their perfect primary marketing area and identify inmarket consumers with the greatest statistical probability of purchasing or servicing with their store. • Implement a targeted marketing strategy using to implement direct mail and email campaigns that contain custom sales and service messaging relevant to a vehicle’s service status with the dealership. • Consistently speak to in-market same-brand prospects, and consumers who drive off-brands with a historical trend of crossing over to the brands they sell. • Establish best practices that include campaign kick-off meetings with all sales associates for every campaign and provide phone scripts to help sales members improve appointment ratios. • Successfully attract, sell, service and retain more customers for less cost while positively promoting all their prot centers: new, used, nance, service and parts.

Success Story

Marketing Materials

Success Story Cerritos sends high-end campaigns promoting its best sales offers. The campaigns always include service messaging that is relevant to the vehicle’s service status with the dealership. For example, customers who are active with their dealership and come in for regular service receive $24.95 oil change coupons. Customers who are categorized as lost, or who do not return to the dealership for service regularly, receive a coupon for a $14.95 oil change. The same goes for Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep owners who have never been to Cerritos. “My service department has seen a 522% increase in ROs from the customers in our immediate market, and our total service units are up 410% from the previous three months before starting this program,” Ameen says. “Cerritos’ sales inside their primary marketing area increased 153%, up 50% from the same three-month period in 2010 because they are targeting the right customers and prospects in their own backyard,” says Budd Blackburn, owner of, the target-

ed marketing company Cerritos uses. “Cerritos also does a great job of consistently communicating with their customers which helps keep customers active and creates customers for life.” Not only are sales and service up significantly, Cerritos has been able to shift away from the more expensive traditional mass media, like television and radio, while directing that money toward strategies that generate the best response. In order to sustain the level of excellence and customer service Cerritos is known for, the store regularly trains and communicates with its employees so they are fully knowledgeable when customers call or visit the dealership. The training includes having the entire sales team participate in monthly campaign kick-off meetings where all the details, offers, and promotions are thoroughly explained. Cerritos also provides phone scripts for each campaign to help improve appointment ratios. Even the receptionist is instructed to always answer the phone with the appropriate campaign greeting;

“Good afternoon and thank you for calling Cerritos Dodge Chrysler Jeep. Are you calling about our Let’s Trade Keys Program?” “It’s important that we have an infrastructure in place to properly handle every customer for both sales and service,” says Ameen. “A knowledgeable and informed staff is a great asset that instills confidence in our customers. We don’t want to miss a single opportunity.” Top-notch staff also fosters an environment that keeps customers coming back again and again.

Targeted Custom Campaigns

AutoSuccess August 2011  
AutoSuccess August 2011  

The #1 Sales-Improvement Magazine for the Automotive Professional