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CARS+ Now Integrating with Kelley Blue Book ® and Black Book ® Xcelerated has developed a powerful and unique data solution for automotive marketing companies. CARS+ (Compliant Auto Resource System) provides you with a single and easy to use solution to acquire fully compliant vehicle records (Year, Make, Model) that INCLUDE the following elements: Kelley Blue Book Values Black Book Data Values Consumer Score Values CARS+ solves a complex issue for automotive marketing firms by putting all these assets into the same program. This removes all the hassle of moving your data sets from one place to another, thus reducing errors and saving time.

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©Kelley Blue Book Co., Inc. All Rights Reserved. Vehicle valuations are opinions and may vary from vehicle to vehicle. Actual valuations will vary based upon market conditions, specifications, vehicle condition or other particular circumstances pertinent to this particular vehicle or the transaction or the parties to the transaction. This pricing is intended for the use of the individual generating this pricing only and shall not be sold or transmitted to another party. Kelley Blue Book assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions. Copyright © 2012 Hearst Business Media Corp. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Black Book® is a registered trademark of Hearst Business Media Corporation. Black Book is not a participating partner in or sponsor of this event or offer. Prices are based on Black Book® (clean/average) Trade-in value and subject to adjustment for mileage and condition.

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

It’s all in the stories

advice from a 30-car guy

managing phone prospects

An Essential Part of Your 2012 Growth Strategy

getting it together:

E-Mail Marketing, Social Media and Data Analysis




52 56

How to move your ‘brick and mortar’ store where the customers are: online hub and spokes

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

Competitive Industry Analysis

putting ai on the front lines of sales

Brian Ankney, Account Manager

Forming Your dealership cia:

celebrity branding strategy No. 2:


28 30

six trends that will shape automotive marketing

36 38

getting the most out of craigslist and ebay


Taming Costs in 2012

Dave Davis, Editor & Creative Strategist



Create a Crowd-Pulling Blog



Thomas Williams, VP & Creative Director



marketing solution



A common sense approach to spending less and getting more JimmyVee & TravisMiller

gaining a competitive edge with used vehicle acquisitions DalePollak


how to deal with the price JohnBrentlinger

44 50 SeanV.Bradley

sales & training solution

12 22 34 MarkTewart

Don’t cut to the bone

quit drowning in a shallow pool JesseBiter

32 46 MarshBuice

it’s a month into 2012 – where are you with your goals? GlennPasch

five questions to answer when choosing a phone system The oscars of the car business JonStrawsburg

the elephant ChrisCochran

leadership solution

10 26 SusanGivens

48 54


Paragon sells 100 cars a month in their service lane


Paragon Service Marketing Make them the No. 1 Selling Honda & Acura Dealers

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

Susan Givens, Publisher

feature solution

Former Pr esident B ill Clinton with Tony and Susan Be nnett,

As Hollywood celebrates awards season, the car industry prepares to recognize the top-selling dealers in each franchise with the upcoming Automotive Leadership Awards Dinner in Miami Beach on March 19th and 20th. It’s that time of the year again when the industry’s top dealers and thought leaders gather to recognize the #1 dealers in each brand during the Automotive Leadership Roundtable & Awards in Miami. On Monday, March 19th, attendees and invited guests of the Automotive Leadership Roundtable (ALR) will head down to sunny Miami, where an exciting 24 hours of exclusive events await.

n n is 1 te o s t n, # B r y a w it h th e m. b o & B to r y o r ld M ik e in th e w a m in h is te a m o f a n y te s w in

on e r a ti of Op c to r G r o u p . e ir D e a y , to m o ti v Murr Bob sbury Au fo r A


rk al Ma

The By Invitation Only event begins with Tony Bennett’s Charity Dinner Concert on March 19th at the renowned Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami. The Renaissance-style villa is a Miami landmark that dates back to 1916. Located right on the bay, the venue is the perfect setting for Bennett to host the intimate moonlit concert that will be attended by Grammy Award-Winning artists, such as Alejandro Sanz, and some of the world’s top tennis players, who will be in town for the Sony Ericsson Open. Bennett will perform three songs, including one duet with Sanz, the Latin artist with the most Grammy Awards. Featuring a VIP reception, five-star dinner and desserts, and a VIP after party, the Dinner Concert will benefit Bennett’s Exploring the Arts Foundation, which aims to strengthen the role of the arts in public high school education, and Team Bryan, the charity of the Bryan Brothers.

e ti n g

The Roundtable will be held on Tuesday, March 20th, when the industry’s top-selling dealers and other business leaders will gather to exchange best practices and strategies for thriving in business. The Roundtable will be held at the Eden Roc Renaissance Hotel in Miami Beach, one of Miami’s top oceanfront luxury hotels.

der, t o T r ad t h e , Au CEO attende & and ent ion. r e s i di n M i a m i c e M a n s y, P Perr he ALR he Versa p i Ch e at t er at t spokrds dinn awa

With a history of recruiting the most influential speakers, the ALR has confirmed presentations by Doug Frisbie of Facebook; Cesar Conde, President of Univision Networks (the largest Spanish-language network in the U.S.); Bill Underriner, incoming Chairman of NADA and President of Underriner Motors; and Grant Cardone, best-selling author, sales expert, and recurring ALR attendee who dubbed the event “the Oscars of the auto industry.”

a n is h ed Sp ward m y - a e n n e tt . m a r ost G ony B th e m g w it h T anz, in d r o S to r y , s in g n ja A le t in h is a r ti s

rant or G auth ership lling ve Lead e s t i bes utomot York. A and pert s off the s in New e s ex S a l e o n e k i c kF a l l S e r i d r Ca ndtable Rou

Ana nds n h frie ngto t wit an Wolfi t e n en d Se B y an Ton

The Bryan Brothers, the #1 tennis team now and the most winning in history, will also attend the Roundtable to share anecdotes on how they became dominating forces in their sport. Last year, the two were accompanied by their father, Wayne Bryan, a motivational speaker who shared the powerful and inspiring story of how his two young twin sons grew up to fulfill their dreams. Other speakers at last year’s Roundtable included the #1 selling dealers in the following brands: Acura, Audi, Buick, Chevy, Honda, Lamborghini and Lexus. This year’s Roundtable will feature more insights and strategies from those who ranked at the top in 2011. The main event, the Automotive Leadership Awards Dinner, will be held on the evening of March 20th at the world-famous Versace Mansion in South Beach. This “6-star” Awards Dinner is hosted to recognize the #1 selling dealers in each brand and the recipient of the Automotive Leadership Legacy Award. The Awards Dinner will begin with a champagne reception in the mansion’s courtyard, where guests will toast to another day of learning and networking at the Roundtable. The champagne reception will be followed by a gourmet dinner in the garden alongside the Mansion’s 10,000-mosaic pool, which is lined with 24k gold. In true Miami fashion, the Awards Dinner will feature the sounds of Grammy Award-Winning artists and one of Miami’s most famous Cuban bands. Factor in a decadent spread of desserts,


k Ja



Toy Ton ota US y& Sus A Chai an B rma enn n Yo ett. shim i




aw ith








Brett David Lamborghin , Prestige Imports (# at the Au i Dealer in the world1 Audi and Awards Dintomotive Leadership ) & guest Mansion in ner at the world famo Roundtable South Beac us Versace h.

Jim Dunn, Vice President of JM Lexus, the world’s top selling Lexus store, outlines how the dealership increased its pre-owned sales dramatically this year.


Sean Wolfi ngton

with Alec B aldwin.

David Boice, Ron Morrison and Bob Murray, Asbury’s Director of Operational Marketing (sitting)

Bill Wo Unde the lfingto rriner, 20, #1 d n. Un incom Sou 2012 ealers derrine ing N A th B at t at r eac he w the will p DA Ch h. orld ALR rese airm fam Awa nt th an & ous rds e a Ver Din ward Sean sac ner s to eM ans March ion in

Sean Wolfington with wife Ana & Regis Philbin at Tony Bennett’s 85th Birthday party.

Brian Bens tock at the ALR Award s.

fine cigars hand-rolled on sight, and a celebratory toast with Louis XIII cognac, and it is the Oscars of the car business, indeed. The upcoming events in March are the first of two annual gatherings of the ALR. Last September, ALR attendees joined Bennett for his 85th Birthday Dinner Concert in New York City. Now they prepare to reunite with Bennett and friends in Miami. The upcoming ALR events are By Invitation Only, although this year Roundtable organizers are providing a small amount of invitations to dealers interested in attending who are not the #1 selling retailers in their brand. Once all RSVPs are collected from invited guests, a limited number of tickets may be available on a first come, first serve basis. To learn more, visit

Hagen D Chevrolet urant, Classic C and best sDealer in the world) hevrolet (#1 A u t o m o t i v e e l l i n g a u t h o r G r a n t C& s a l e s e x p e r t ardone at Leadership Dinner at the Roun i n S o u t h B t h e w o r l d f a m o u s V ed t a b l e A w a r d s each. rsace Man sion

Sean Wolfington, Eduardo Verastegui & Toyota USA Chairman Yoshimi Inaba.

Mike Roscoe, Boyd Warner, Ken Hicks, Sam Slaughter (#1 Buick Dealer), Eustace Wolfington, Jim Dunn (#1 Lexus Dealer), Dale Pollak, Chip Perry, Sean Wolfington, Jay Rosenthal, (Kneeling) Hagen Durant (#1 Chevrolet Dealer), Brian Benstock (#1 Honda Dealer), Cliff Banks, Brett David (#1 Audi & Lamborghini Dealer).

Dale Polla ALR in Miak, founder of vAuto at the Vers mi and attended the , spoke at the ace Mansio awards din ner n.

Katie Cour ic with Ana and Sean W olfington


Billy Wong, Vice Chairman, DCH Auto Group, with his wife at Tony Bennett’s 85th birthday party


sales & training solution

it’s all in

the stories

What makes you who you are? You are different from anyone else. Your life experiences, background and everything about you makes you unique. Unfortunately, if you are like most people, you think you are typical and that there is nothing exceptional or unique about yourself, and if that is what you think, you are absolutely wrong. You could tell any customer 50 things about your product and he might remember a few of them. But, if you shared with a customer five things about yourself, he will remember all of them. People buy from people — not salespeople. People don’t necessarily like salespeople but they do like people who they can relate to or who they can connect to by their story. Stories make you a real live person instead of a commoditized salesperson. A customer can get a product anywhere, but he can’t get you anywhere else. If you don’t believe that, you are doomed to sell less than you could and should. You will also be doomed to experience frustration in sales because you have relegated yourself to the position of “order taker.” Stop selling products. You do not have to dominate a conversation or talk only about you. However, you have to weave it into a conversation and eventually

how that might relate to your customer. A conversation occurs when two or more people are communicating with one another. A conversation is rarely about a product alone. The conversation more often than not includes opinions, experiences, background and a personal spin to those products. To have a true conversation, you will not only share your story but will also learn your customers’ story. A story is not only what a customer is looking for; it is the who, what and why of a customer. Imagine asking customers deeper questions rather than “what product or model are you looking for?” Dig deeper, dig deeper, dig deeper. The story is there and your customer wants to share that story. When a customer shares their story and you truly listen, you have now connected you, your product and service to them. The connection is deeper and more emotional than other salespeople will have. The following simple questions will allow a customer to share their story with you and begin a conversation and relationship. “Mr. Customer, what is the most important thing to you when you buy?” “Mr. Customer, what was the first thing that made you want to buy what you currently have?” “Mr. Customer, tell me how you plan on typically using ______.” “Mr. Customer, do you work near here? Where? How long have you worked there? What do you do? How did you get into that?” “Mr. Customer, as you have been shopping, what one thing has kept you from moving forward in making your decision?” Think about some of the best books you have read or the best movies you have seen. Did they have a compelling story? Think of the most interesting and compelling people you have ever met. Did they have a great story? Did you want to know more? Know and communicate the stories of you, your product and business. Just as importantly, you should know the story of your customer. Stories create influence and connection. Influence and connection have created more sales than any product or price ever has. Price creates commodity and lowest price wins in a commodity environment. Price cutting is a self-inflicted wound created by the salesperson with a weak and untold story. In your next three sales encounters, work on sharing your story and understanding your customers story. You will be amazed at the results. To receive the Free Special Report “Stories of the Rich Salesperson” e-mail me at the address below with the phrase “Stories of the Rich Salesperson” 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

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podcast interviewee

Facts tell and stories sell. If you want to become really good at sales, then you must know how to tell your story. People think in pictures and they can and will follow a story. People learn better from stories and become emotionally connected to stories. What is your story and can you tell your story and tell it well?

How did Paragon Honda & Acura Use Service Marketing to Become No. 1 in Sales?

Paragon’s new service marketing system delivers custom offers to Honda and Acura customers in their market via e-mail, text, mail, automated calls and live calls. The offers drive them to a service Website that converts them into e-mail and phone leads, as well as walk-in traffic. Last month 1,921 coupons were printed from their Website (

Improving paragon’s service marketing strategy

Ü Prior to becoming the No. 1 selling Honda and Acura dealership in the world, Paragon Honda’s best month was 17th in the country

Paragon Honda sells an average of 75 to 100 cars

for Honda and 36th for Acura. Shifting to a new marketing strategy that included a new service marketing program not only improved their fixed ops bottom line, but helped them become the No. 1 selling Honda and Acura dealership in the world, selling more

from their service lanes every month, more than many dealers sell out of

new and Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Hondas and Acuras than anyone else. Paragon not only increased their service retention, but also the frequency in which customers use their service department and their average dollars per RO while also selling up to 100 cars a month out of service, which fueled additional CPO vehicle sales that helped them become the No. 1 CPO Honda and Acura dealer, selling twice as many CPO Hondas and Acuras than the No. 2 Honda and Acura CPO dealers.

their entire operation.

Improving paragon’s service marketing strategy

“During the recession we focused more on our fixed operations because, while customers may not be able to buy a car, they still need service. As a result, we decided that we not only wanted to service all the Hondas that we sold, but we wanted to make sure we serviced every Honda in our market whether they bought from us or not,” said Brian Benstock, VP and General Manager for Paragon Honda and Acura. “In sales, we try to sell as many conquest Honda buyers as possible, and now we are using that same strategy in our service marketing. Paragon’s success is a result of a new, more aggressive service marketing strategy that targets both their customers and conquest consumers who






Unfortunately, more than 75 percent of customers don’t






dealer they bought from, due in large part to a lack of consistent communication with their customers throughout their ownership cycle. Paragon dramatically increased their loyalty and frequency by communicating with their customers via e-mail, text, mail and targeted phone calls thanking their customers for buying, reminding them when their vehicle

is due for service and alerting customers when

they can get a new vehicle for the same or lower

payment as their old vehicle.

In addition to their service customers, Paragon aggressively markets to conquest consumers who drive the vehicles they sell but didn’t buy from their dealership. This is very uncommon, because most dealers use their manufacturer’s service marketing programs and the rules usually limit dealers to only communicate to customers who bought from them, and prevents them from contacting conquest opportunities. This is a major problem because a store that has 30 percent market share can only communicate with 30 percent of the customers who are driving the vehicles they service and are locked out of the remaining 70 percent. A lot of Paragon’s growth is due to

“The strategy was so successful that a lot of customers who didn’t even buy a car from us actually felt that they did because we communicated with them more often than the dealership they bought from originally” Brian Benstock

VP, General Manager, Paragon Honda and Acura




are in equity or can the fact that they don’t just communicate with their customers; they market to every customer driving a Honda and Acura in their market.

upgrade into a new vehicle and keep the same payment,” said Hugh Hathcock, Owner of ELEAD ONE and




“Phone specialists notify the customer

“Customers who have an active service relationship with a dealership are seven times more likely to purchase with that dealership,” said David Boice, owner of Team Velocity Marketing and, the companies

that their vehicle is eligible for the ‘Vehicle Exchange Program’ and ask if they would like to receive a Vehicle Exchange Analysis that explains the program and the benefits of getting a new vehicle.”

Paragon uses to implement their service marketing strategy. “Paragon doesn’t wait and hope that their customers buy from them when they are ready; they proactively try to sell customers in service before they enter the market and shop their competition,” added Boice. Selling cars in service generates 75 to 100 car sales every month for Paragon, which is more sales than many stores generate from their entire dealership. “The confirmation call is key to this targeted




call center confirms every service appointment




“The confirmation call is key to this targeted marketing strategy. Our call center confirms every service appointment and customers are informed if they are in equity or can upgrade into a new vehicle and keep the same payment” Hugh Hathcock

Owner of Elead ONE and Co-Founder of Autopilotplus

Improving paragon’s service marketing strategy

How did they do it? Paragon completely changed how

over the last five years. They contact

they were marketing their service

100 percent of those customers every

department when they implemented

month with aggressive offers that

a more aggressive marketing strategy

attract conquest customers, and standard

that communicates with every single

offers that attract active customers

consumer who owns a Honda or

so they don’t cannibalize their current

Acura in their market. They communicate

margins. They make targeted phone

on a monthly basis via e-mail, text,


mail and live calls, whether they

who both need major maintenance

bought from them or not. Paragon

and are in an equity position and have


the ability to upgrade into a new











vehicle for the same or lower payment.

starting with a “thank you” for buying, introduction to service, minor and

Next, Paragon implements an integrated

major service reminders, CSI calls,

marketing campaign through e-mail,



text, direct mail, live targeted calls, as

“The strategy was so successful that a

well as search engine marketing (SEM)

lot of customers who didn’t even buy

and social media advertising that delivers

a car from us actually felt that they

custom offers based on the customer’s

did because we communicated with

activity level with the dealership and

them more often than the dealership

where they are in the ownership cycle.








Benstock said.

The campaign drives consumers to their service Website where customers

“Paragon is able to price their CPO vehicles more competitively against the market and make a healthy profit” David Boice

Owner of Team Velocity Marketing and

Paragon’s strategy starts

can view hundreds of offers that they

with identifying what

can print out or save on their phone.

they call “perfect

Last month alone, 1,921 coupons were

prospects” — Honda

printed from their Website — bringing

owners who live

those customers into their service

in the ZIP codes

department. Customers can also schedule

that have generated

their service appointment on the

80 percent of their

Website or call and e-mail the dealership

profitable revenue in

if they prefer. After an appointment

their service department

is scheduled, the call center makes

of customers

do not service with the

dealership they bought from



confirmation calls to increase the show


FACT: Paragon contacts 100 percent of customers

ratio and they notify customers of their eligibility for the Vehicle Exchange Program if they qualify.

every month with aggressive custom offers to

When the customer visits the dealership,

conquest customers, and standard offers to active

they see the point of sale merchandising for the Vehicle Exchange Program, which

customers via e-mail, mail, phone calls and text.

solidifies the program’s credibility. If the customer chooses to upgrade, the dealership




revenue in service as they perform the service work that is required to recondition the customer’s trade-in, which is $1,000 more than Paragon’s average RO. The strategy also helps the used vehicle department because Paragon is sourcing more highquality CPO inventory for less than at auctions. “The average customer buys

Improving paragon’s service marketing strategy

“Paragon’s Service marketing strategy helped grow their sales as much as their sales marketing strategy. The best customer that any dealer can find is one they already have...”

a car every six to eight

the frequency that customers by a car.

years, but with our

“Paragon’s Service marketing strategy

‘Trade-Up’ strategy,

helped grow their sales as much as

our customers are

their sales marketing strategy,” said

buying every two to

Sean Wolfington, owner of Tier10

three years — this way, Paragon’s marketing

we’re selling three cars in

company. “The best customer that any

six years as opposed to one,”

dealer can find is one they already have,

Sean Wolfington

Owner of Tier 10 Marketing

because they have the highest statistical

Benstock said.

probability of doing business with As a result, Paragon had a record profit

them and they have a higher average

year by growing their revenues in

gross profit per vehicle because these

their new car sales, CPO and service

customers have not shopped around.

profit centers. After the customer takes

In addition, Paragon is sourcing more

delivery, Paragon’s 360º marketing

CPO vehicles for less cost than at

strategy communicates from the point

auction and they trade a $200 RO for



a $1,200 RO when they recondition

messages thanking them for buying

the used vehicle for resale. In the end,

and introducing them to service via

they sell a new car, a used car and

e-mail, mail and live calls. Their

generate more revenue for service, it’s a

marketing program also promotes

winning strategy.”




accessories, delivers minor and major


service reminders, service and CSI calls, recall notices and promotions that bring customers back and increases







Integrated marketing campaigns combine service Websites, smart phones, e-mail, direct mail, banner ads and point of sale merchandising. Consistent style and message, integrated across multiple mediums, provides prospects and customers a clear understanding of the offers and your dealership with a higher response rate and greater return on investment.

Pop-up Banner

Service Website

Search Marketing

Facebook Ads Retention Mobile App

Targeted Mail

RO Jacket


sales & training solution

how to deal with

the price

It is ingrained in the brain of the American consumer to negotiate price. Every day, any garage sale item with a price of two dollars is bartered away with the offer of, “Would you take a dollar?” The majority of time, your own personal experience when buying a piece of furniture is prefaced with, “Is that your best price?” When buying a house, it is considered entirely amateurish not to offer anywhere from 50 to 75 percent of the asking price. The entire American buying experience, with some exceptions, of course, is based on some sort of negotiation strategy. Exclusions here, to forestall indignant e-mails, include good jewelry stores, the restaurant business and most high-ticket items around the world, especially those advertised in Architectural Digest magazine.

As long as you use these trite, overworked, completely ridiculous, nonsense-filled, newspapergenerated phrases, you are begging every price buyer to beat up your salespeople, your managers and your dealership. With this sort of advertising, you are allowing the weaknesses of the buying public to become a function of your dealership. Step Three:

Stop saying stupid things. Examples of this include: • “You know I want to work with you.” • “You know I want to sell a car today.” • “I want your business.” • “Let me go talk to my manager.” • “Tell me where I need to be.” • “How ‘bout I go sharpen my pencil?” • And the stupidest one of all: “What will it take for you to buy today?” As long as managers and salespeople continue to use these rotten, out-of-date, just plain stupid phrases, price buyers will control your grosses and your overall profits. Step Four:

So, how do we deal with that in the car Teach and use a proper selling system. There are only three things important to the buyer, and business? How do we maintain price, hold they are, in this order: grosses, pay the salesperson and make a fair 1. Wants profit for the dealership? That becomes the 2. Needs $64,000 dollar question, and the truth of the 3. Budget matter is, it is why managers have to desk the majority of the deals for the majority of the No matter what selling system you are using, you can incorporate these three things — in the salespeople (except for the really good ones) — right order. Here’s the secret: People will pay more for what they want, less for what they need, because we seem to be unable and much less for what they don’t want or need. to teach most of the salespeople to hold grosses. In your selling process, begin with what the buyer wants. They will tell you — if you ask the So let’s deal with that here in a few simple right questions and listen for the answers. If you do all the talking, you will never find out what steps. Really, it is not as complicated as we try they really want. Stay on their wants until you know everything they want in a vehicle, and why to make it. they want it. Step One:

Expect the buyer to negotiate price. They use statements like: • “Got to tell ya up front, I’ll be needing the lowest price.” • “Price will be the main factor here.” • “You know I have a budget.” • “I’ll be shopping your competitors.” • “You have to sharpen your pencil.” • And the granddaddy of them all, “I can get the same thing down the street for less money.”

Then make sure of their needs. Sometimes wants and needs are the same, but you have to make sure. By gentle questioning and profound listening, make sure that their needs match their wants. Why? Because in the mind of the buyer, the price they are willing to pay is based on nothing but their wants and needs. And, if you do not know their real wants and true needs, your only strategy is to reduce the price. Next, once you know clearly their real wants and true needs, you need to face the money issue directly, and you do that best by saying: “Let’s talk money.” The buyer must be aware that you are not afraid of the price. Here is the rule: The buyer will only pay for what they really want and truly need. Now, if you have not genuinely discovered real wants and true needs, you have no basis for discussing price. Your only option is to keep lowering the price until the customer says “yes.”

Go over these things with your salespeople, teach them to expect them, teach them not to be afraid of them, and teach them to deal with them.

Here’s the bottom line: If the buyer thinks the price is too high for what he wants or needs, then it is your job to help the buyer either increase what he is willing to pay, or help him change his mind on wants and needs. It is a natural law — you cannot sell the best product at the lowest price, although the buyer would like you to do that.

Step Two:

Wants, needs and budget. Discover these gently, sincerely and honestly, and price will not be an issue. Price is only an issue when we are not sure what the buyer wants and needs, and are too busy “selling” to find out.

Stop advertising stupid things. Examples include: • “Always the lowest price.” • “We’ll beat any competitor’s price.” • “Don’t buy a car anywhere till you see our prices.” • “Large volume means cheap price.” • “Best deal in the area.”


John Brentlinger is a sales and management trainer, executive coach and author. He can be contacted at 866.859.6504, or by e-mail at


marketing solution

celebrity branding

strategy no. 2: Create a Crowd-Pulling Blog Blogs have now become an extremely popular way of quickly and easily publishing your views and ideas on a wide range of relevant topics. One of the great benefits of having a blog is that it allows you to communicate directly with your customers and prospects, as they can comment on your posts and you can respond. You can have a blog that stands separate from your Website, or it can be linked to your site. A powerful advantage of having a blog as part of your Website is that search engines love them. The search engine “spiders” from Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines are software programs that “crawl” the Internet looking for new content. They rank the content based on factors such as relevance to the search topic using a complex mathematical formula. Search engines love content that is updated regularly, so when you write often on a topic, your chances of being ranked highly will increase. The content is ranked according to the “keywords” in your content. So when you write about keywords that are popular, your chances of coming up high in the search topics are increased. Therefore, the more often you blog, the greater likelihood you will appear higher on a page when someone conducts a search using keywords related to your product or service. But the real benefit of having a blog is the way it allows you to connect with real people—not just with search engines. Here are three keys to getting the best from having a blog on your site: 1. Post often 2. Post about relevant topics 3. Post using appropriate keywords Below are some ways to make sure your blog is the best it can be. • Know your target audience: Don’t try to please everyone and don’t write about material that isn’t relevant to your target audience. If your topic is warranty programs, don’t write


about music for teenagers. That might seem obvious, but it’s easy to stray off course. Choose the right language as well—if you are writing for business clients, write in a professional style. • Keep it brief: When people read online, their attention span is typically limited to about 100 to 300 words. They want useful tips and actionable answers. Over time, these short posts build credibility and interest. • Use lists and tips: People love posts that give quick, easy information such as “HowTo” guides or “Top 10” lists. It helps them identify steps they can take to apply the information in their own lives. • Position yourself as the expert: Don’t be afraid to share a few of your secrets to success. People love to hear about your success, but more importantly, they want to know how they can have it too. They will happily pay someone else to tell them what they need to do to get fast results. So make sure you tell people what they need to do to follow up with you. • Allow comments: Encourage people to leave comments on your posts. Challenge readers to share their own experiences and opinions on what you have written. This is not only establishing communication between you and your readers; it is also building extra content that makes your site more interesting to others. By the way, some people tell me they can’t blog about their business because their boss/ professional board/state law won’t allow it. Fact is, in this situation, you just need to think out of the box. If there are certain things you can’t talk about, talk about something else. There is bound to be something you can share that helps you build a distinctive celebrity expert brand. Deciding What to Write About

If you are looking for ideas on what to write about, it’s a good idea to keep up-to-date with what is happening in your market. There’s a simple, free and widely available tool that can

help you do that. It’s called Google Alerts, and you can find it at: It allows you to stay up-to-date with information on any topic that you want to keep track of. Some great uses for Google Alerts are: • Keeping track of trends and key issues in your industry • Keeping tabs on who is talking about you and your business on blogs and Web sites • Tracking where your press releases or articles are posted • Monitoring your competitors Blog Promotion

One of the best ways to promote your business and build your expert status is to syndicate your blog. There are many tools for doing this, but one of the easiest to use is www. Feedburner and similar tools turn your blog content into what is known as an RSS feed — this stands for “Really Simple Syndication.” Users can subscribe to your feed and view your content in their own RSS reader without having to go directly to your site to read your content. Google Reader is one of the most popular RSS readers and makes it easy to keep track of content from a number of sources. If you’re not already using an RSS reader to view content, subscribe to Google Reader or something similar and you’ll see why it is so valuable. To get people to subscribe to the content from your blog, you’ll need to build up their trust over time and demonstrate that you are delivering valuable content. However, when you build your celebrity expert status, you’ll start attracting a growing number of subscribers to your blog. 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

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leadership solution

five questions to answer when choosing a phone system DUads-autoSuccess2012-01a.pdf

Imagine you are a consumer calling your dealership. Was your call answered in fewer than four rings? Did the dealership employee immediately know your name? Was the employee quickly and easily able to identify the source of your call or whether you had an open repair order at the dealership? Most importantly, were your expectations met for how your call should be handled?

The telephone is the original customer relationship management (CRM) tool. A poorly handled phone call can quickly cost your dealership a customer, while, conversely, a more personal, informed interaction with the caller can help you close the sale and bring in more referrals. That can amount to thousands of dollars hinging on each and every phone call. Newer telephone communication systems for dealerships are designed specifically to help you maximize your investment in this vital business tool. Yet, communication systems are one of the most overlooked technology upgrades in the dealership, despite their potential for increasing customer satisfaction, employee efficiency and revenue. With that in mind, here are some questions to answer when evaluating a communication system for your dealership. 1. Will this communication system help my dealership meet its business goals?

Before looking for a new telephone communication system, identify your primary business goals so you can choose the system that will deliver the best results for your dealership. These goals may include: • Improving your operations by answering the phone more promptly • Capturing more sales or service revenue by being able to set more appointments • Tracking the best sources for sales leads to help you maximize the effectiveness of your advertising • Reducing expenses by not having to hire additional personnel to handle an increase in call volume 2. Does the phone system communicate with my DMS?

While this question has a simple “yes” or “no” answer, telephone systems that integrate with your dealership management system (DMS) ultimately will offer you the most features and flexibility to help you meet your business goals. 3. Does the phone system include features that help improve the customer experience and make my




employees more productive and efficient?

A communication system should enhance both your customer’s and your employee’s overall experience. Telephone systems that integrate with the DMS allow you to offer higher levels of customer service, while also improving the productivity and efficiency of your employees. Some customer-friendly and time-saving features to look for include: • On-screen alerts that increase the speed and amount of customer information available to the employee answering the call; information such as the customer’s name, the source of the call and any open transactions at your dealership, including the caller’s upcoming service appointments or open repair order or special parts order status • Voice notification software that can automatically notify customers of important transactions, such as repair order completion, upcoming service appointments or special order parts arrival • A self-service feature that permits callers to navigate through an easy-to-use menu to check the status of special order parts Learn more at: or vehicle repairs without having to speak directly with a dealership employee (but, of course, also includes the option to speak to someone if needed) • Call-routing capabilities that allow you to control how customer calls are directed so that they are answered in a timely manner by the right person or department

If you enjoy paying 3X more than the big guys for the identical product; then Dealers United is not for you.

4. What additional benefits will my dealership receive from this particular communication system?

In addition to asking about DMS integration, you should ask whether the phone system integrates with your CRM solution. Integration between the phone system and your CRM tool enables you to better plan and manage customer follow-up and allows you to track the marketing or advertising source of the call to measure campaign effectiveness. Also, phone systems that provide inbound and outbound call recording and reporting can help dealership managers track and review telephone calls to confirm dealership processes are being followed and identify any training opportunities. 5. What type of training and support will we receive with this phone system?

A large percentage of a dealership’s daily customer interactions are conducted by phone, so reliability is an absolute “must have” of any communication system. Be sure to ask your provider about the support options available and what measures are in place to keep your phone system working in the event your dealership loses power. Proper training for you and your staff will help you make the most of the features in your communication system. Ask your system provider about the training you’ll receive at the time of installation and any options for on-going training. By answering these questions, you’ll be better able to identify the best phone system for your dealership and put in place the right communication tools to maximize employee effectiveness, reduce expenses and improve the customer experience, all of which can lead to better results for your dealership. Jon Strawsburg is the vice president of product planning at The Reynolds and Reynolds Company. He can be contacted at 866.883.8254, or by e-mail at


Kelley Automotive Group has always been a market leader, and they’ve sharpened their competitive edge with Provision™. vAuto’s new inventory management system tells them what used vehicles are in high demand, and where exactly to find them. In just one month, Provision-powered recommendations have helped Tom’s used vehicle inventory generate more than a 20% increase in vehicle search results — and nearly three times as much online shopper activity than competing dealers in his market.

Watch the video at

Call for a demo



marketing solution

six trends that will shape

automotive marketing As companies embed more technology into cars, homes and everyday experiences, dealership marketers are charged with defining the value of these innovations and communicating to end users how and why to use them. New processes are emerging to drive a reshaping of the online commerce channels, integrating social media, search preferences and traditional marketing to deliver a new selling and buying experience. The next generation of customer marketing will be defined by the customer, not the marketer, and will be activated through dynamic media, communication design and data-driven decisions. These will be created with insight into behavior and context that only new technology can deliver, yet will feel more natural to customers than ever. The best dealerships and marketers will imagine the unrecognized needs of their consumers and meet them. Search Engine Optimization: Search will

be the single largest driving factor for the next three years — Being seen and getting found continues to be at the forefront of digital marketing success. Competitive dealerships must ensure all of their digital marketing platforms are optimized for search engines. Content Marketing: Learn to listen and think like your shoppers to transform your dealership into a lead magnet — Creating unique and compelling content for your dealership is becoming the single best way to drive additional organic traffic. People will continue to leverage search for research, exploring, decision-making and validation. The key is to create content that will deliver information to shoppers during their many stages of their “interest to purchase” decision funnel. Leverage Communities: Brands will be built on cultural and social missions, not commercial propositions — The use social media tools to create a network of connected prospects and customers and will continue to engage, communicate and deliver meaningful information to consumers. Leverage Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Foursquare and Instagram to listen to your shoppers and customers and to engage with your audience appropriately. Communities offer many new engagement points with your shoppers and customers alike. Mobile/Text Marketing: Moving your marketing message into your shoppers’ hands — Mobile marketing will become the fastest-growing platform in history. Enabling powerful user-friendly mobile sites with location-based marketing initiatives will have a profound effect on shoppers’ behavior and purchase intent. Text marketing will continue to be the go-to delivery method for individuals from all-age dynamics. With adoption of text messaging so high, text marketing continues to deliver a powerful platform for dealerships to communicate with shoppers as well as existing customers with time-sensitive or relevant information. Crowdsourcing: The desires and opinions of people in a group setting can redefine your brand — Never underestimate the power of a group of engaged consumers. As social media is intertwined with the fabric of communicating, people can now ask their network for opinions or advice and receive instant feedback on any product, subject or interest. Learning to listen, communicate and act on the opinions of your online audience in this new channel can have profound effects on your business. Marketing Loop: Smart businesses will look inward to create more value and deliver more results from their existing customers — The general rule is that 20 percent of your customers deliver 80 percent of your profits. Dealerships will dive deeper into their data to mine potential opportunities from people they have already done business with them in the past. Dealerships can leverage their DMS to extract and create powerful new marketing initiatives that will yield a higher rate of conversion with higher margins. As technology advances, CRM systems will also be able to deliver a more enriched automated marketing drip campaign structure that will help enable dealerships to reduce the cost per vehicle retailed while still maintaining a high level of customer satisfaction.

Todd Smith is the co-founder of ActivEngage. He can be contacted at 866.387.9061, or by e-mail at


podcast interviewee

These six powerful strategies only touch the surface of what is to come in regard to how the Internet has intertwined itself into every stich of our modern society. Successful dealerships will look to seek out new channels to improve their ability to create a higher level of inbound marketing for their dealerships to create more meaningful shopper engagement.


marketing solution

forming your

dealership CIA: Competitive Industry Analysis There is a lot of discussion surrounding best practices in social media, but one oftenoverlooked item is competitive analysis. Social media can be used to obtain information on what your competitors are doing to market themselves, both in the digital world and offline. Below are some thoughts on using social media to conduct competitive analysis. Positioning

First and foremost, social media can help determine what other dealers in your market promote online and how they position themselves. Who you should be tracking depends on your biggest competition. If you are a Ford dealer, are you most concerned with other dealers in town, or other Ford dealers in close proximity with similar vehicles (or both)? Other Ford dealers are working with the same product and OEM incentives, so look at how they use social media to differentiate themselves. What are they promoting with respect to price incentives, service specials or quality of service? Using a social media tool that monitors not just your social mentions, but also those of your competitors can be a huge time saver in tracking this information. Product Differentiators

If you are focusing on other OEM brands in your local market, you can differentiate based on product, as well, so there is a lot to work with when setting yourself apart. Tracking how these dealers market themselves in social media can provide valuable information, not just on what they are promoting, but how are they using social media to market themselves. Are they posting car-buying tips,


goofy photos, inventory, sales and service incentives or what they had for breakfast? What kind of conversation and sharing of posts are they generating with this content? What inspires their comments, likes and retweets and how can you use that to your advantage when crafting a social media strategy? Fresh Ideas

You can also watch dealers outside of your market in order to generate new ideas based on their social media campaigns. Social media strategies are still being tested and developed throughout the industry. If you see a unique dealer promotion that received a lot of response and you feel the same tactic could work in your market, try it out — of course, put your own spin on it. Determine the Best Who, What, When and Where

Look at the who, what, when and where of your competitor’s content. If you see they are posting two to three times a day and you are only posting twice a week, more than likely they will snag a potential buyer on frequency alone. If the competition posts video walk-arounds and you have limited your posts to text messages, they are reaching a possibly lucrative group of people you could be missing. Look at the “when” of their posts, too. If they always post a sale for the weekend on Friday morning, you might consider posting your weekend promotions on Thursday. This way you get your offer in ahead of theirs. Hashtag Reconnaissance

Trend posting can be a great way to conduct competitive analysis. Examples of trend-posting can be found in Twitter with the use of a “#” symbol (called a “hashtag”). Adding a hashtag before a word in a tweet makes it a trending keyword. For example, attendees of the popular technology conference South by Southwest use the hashtag #SXSW when tweeting content relevant to the event. Many of the attendees will monitor all uses of this trend and see the posts of anyone using the hashtag symbol. This enables a large group of people who may or may not be following one another to communicate and/or collaborate. You can use this same idea when following competitors in your local market. Search for hashtag keywords based on your brand, models, make, inventory and local sales. This enables you to follow anything said within the string of the conversation, whether you follow those talking about the topic or not. Activity on social media is visible, so it’s important to track your competitor’s use of this powerful marketing channel. Many dealers have found using a social media solution that lets you see your competitor’s social content can be especially helpful when tracking content. Regardless of whether you track content on your own or through a monitoring system, the time to follow your competition’s posts is now. Brent Albrecht is the director of marketing at SOCIAL DEALER. He can be contacted at 866.538.6695, or by e-mail at

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leadership solution

quit drowning in a

shallow pool

It seems hard to fathom that a person can drown in just over an inch of water. Once the lungs are blocked and the brain is starved of oxygen, cerebral hypoxia kicks in making a person delirious, eventually succumbing to death — a great tragedy can occur from something as small as the length of your fingernail.

Similarly, salespeople are drowning in a puddle of mediocrity everyday on the blacktop. Attend any [mandatory] manufacturer’s Ride and Drive or drive to another lot on your next day off, and you will quickly find how shallow the talent pool is. It’s not that our industry is deprived of talent, but more so because very few salespeople are willing to take their craft seriously and master it. Unfortunately, selling has become a lost art form. Instead of standing around with other salespeople like a herd of water buffalo, separate yourself from the herd and become the hunter instead of the hunted; let the herd stand around bickering about subjects beyond

their direct control. Most people drown as a result of panic; when panic sets in, wild, irrational behavior makes them succumb to fatigue. Our business is already illogical. Instead of showing up each day wishing the “Be-back Fairy” would sprinkle some good fortune your direction, or thrashing about wildly in hopes of getting a lay-down with a settlement check in hand to pull your month out of the depths of disparity, become a disciple to a few daily disciplines. • It’s OK to be divorced. You must break, nullify, separate and cut off all of the negative thoughts going on upstairs in your mind. Give yourself permission to succeed instead of an excuse to fail. Your thoughts are your worst customer. In sales, even the most positive person will only be successful 30 percent of the time; you don’t need any help failing by having poor self-esteem or negative thought process. In As A Man Thinketh, James B. Allen wrote, “You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.” As the saying goes, you are what you eat; each day feed your mind a bowl of “Cheer-meoh’s” — believe me, you are surrounded by enough negative news and people to fill in the gaps. • When the world gives you lemons, make orange juice. Author, trainer and speaker Mark Tewart put it best when he said, “With all things being equal, what makes you unequal?” A football receiver’s primary goal is to create separation from the defensive back, because he knows if he can, he will catch the ball and score. Your appearance will separate you from the competition. If you were about to spend $30,000, would you buy from you? Are your nails manicured? Is your hair combed; are you neatly shaven, or do you look like you just came off an all-night bender? That look may work for Ashton Kutcher, but last time I checked you weren’t making Nikon Camera commercials. Are your clothes pressed and shoes polished or do your clothes look as though you hung them on the floor and your shoes were bronzed in dirt? Are you exhaling fresh, clean breath or does it smell like you are chewing on a can of tuna fish? How you look and smell says more than what you say. Your appearance speaks not only of how you feel about yourself, but also how you feel about the industry you represent. It costs little to look like a million. • Harvard, not Hooters. It takes an investment to yield a dividend. Earl Nightingale wrote, “One hour per day of study will put you at the top of your field within three years. Within five years you’ll be a national authority. In seven years, you can be one of the best in the world at what you do.” A professional basketball player works on their footwork and fundamentals — not on their dunks. It takes years to be an overnight success; you will yield 10 times what you invest – stop winging it each day. Leave the wings to Hooters, not your paycheck. • It’s not about you. We are in the service industry; becoming interested in your clients will make them interested in doing business with you. Large commissions are earned based on the experience your customers receive. Give your clients service as if you are Ritz Carlton, not the Sunrise Motel. Stop selling off the rack, giving your customers a canned presentation, and instead give them a unique, tailor-made performance — one your customers cannot forget. Be the water, not the gas. You’re a salesperson, not a politician. Stop trying to prove your point, and instead create a solution to their transportation problem.

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

There is no such thing as extraordinary salespeople —just ordinary salespeople who take extra measures in safeguarding their career. Treat your career in sales as you would a three-year-old in a pool: attentive and alert at all times — never turning your back for a minute and be ready to spring into action at a moment’s notice. Be the hunter, not the hunted. I’ll see you next time on the Blacktop!

The first ever balanced inventory management Theapproach firsTtoever

balanced approach To invenTory managemenT

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JimmyVee & TravisMiller

sales & training solution

a common sense approach to spending less and getting more DUads-autoSuccess2012-01b.pdf

The automotive industry tends to lag on nearly everything. Frankly, the entire business model is centered on selling commodities, hit-and-run customer relationships and marketing prices, rather than focusing on solving problems. This stuff is from the Stone Age. Modern-day automotive advertising is the equivalent of clubbing our customers and dragging them back to our cave. The scary reality is that the more technology we get, the more we use it to propagate our poisonous methods on more people — and on ourselves. More power is only good when used for good. Our business has a bad reputation due to these antiquated practices, and marketing cars as commodities on the Internet only cheapens our dealerships and reduces our profit margins. This, in turn, reduces our ability to service our customers and really provides no value to the customers who have problems — the majority of the car buyers aren’t cash-paying customers — who we turn our backs on and treat like second-class citizens. A revolution needs to take place. The new economy is emerging and it’s not going to respond to the same old methods we’ve always used to market ourselves and service our customers. The new economy will not be so forgiving — dealers who don’t embrace the new rules of marketing will be left behind, and the dealers who embrace change will blaze a new trail that leaves everyone else in the dust. It’s already happening. So what’s required of dealers in the new economy to prosper and thrive? A common sense approach that will actually allow you to spend less and get more from all the marketing and advertising you do in your dealership. Somewhere along the way, selling cars became less about emotions and more about commodities. Dealers and salespeople today act like they’re selling toasters, not cars. As an industry, we’re selling on prices and features instead of selling people on the value our individual dealerships can provide above and beyond the actual piece of merchandise. Customers want value for money. But when we sell on price and compete on low price we can’t afford to deliver any true value, which leaves the customer unsatisfied and helpless.


Cars are emotional purchases, but we’ve taken the emotion out of the way we market and sell cars. Much of the value we can deliver as dealers is in the emotion of the sales process and the emotion of ownership. But we’ve completely robbed our customers of that value by reducing the transaction to the most basic existence (a widget for a price), and we do a bad job at that.

Your marketing and your dealership’s sales and service experience can be huge factor in delivering more value for money and removing yourself form the commodity game and creating happier customers who become raving fans, come back for service and refer their friends and family.



If you're convinced that you can go it alone against CarMax and the other MegaDealer groups; then Dealers United is not for you.

Another way to deliver more value is to stop selling the cars and start selling solutions. The number of Americans who want and need to upgrade their transportation but have issues with their credit or trade is increasing in the new economy, not decreasing. Barking prices, showing cars that won’t work for these people’s situation before you even know what their situation is and blabbing about vehicle features is harmful. In the medical world, it’s called malpractice.

Learn more at:

Your message is irrelevant and annoying to these people, and you aren’t addressing their needs or concerns. Ultimately, you’re not proving any value by doing that. If you want to market to attract the “high-quality,” cash-paying customer, then you’re doomed for failure. There are not enough of them, and they are only interested in paying the absolute lowest price and they are more discerning, which means they want more service, not less. Not to mention, they’ve already done all the research and don’t need you to do anything but wash the car, fill the tank and hand over the keys. Unfortunately, none of this is good news. But hey, we have to deal with reality and with what is, not with what we want. Here’s the good news: It’s doesn’t have to be this way. Just because it’s how you’ve “always done it” or the way “everyone else does it” doesn’t mean it’s the only way. Believe it or not, there are masses of people who make up the new “high-quality customer” — and these people are easier to work with, are less price conscious, more grateful for your professional service, and more likely to come back and tell others. The car business is better when you avoid the grinders and the chiselers and the people who make life miserable just for you to eek out a buck or two, and instead start working with people who truly appreciate what you have to offer. And that’s just common sense. To request a free market rater analysis for your store, contact us at the address below. Jimmy Vee and Travis Miller are founders of the Rich Dealers Institute. They can be contacted at 866.867.9618, or by e-mail at



marketing solution

getting the most out of craigslist and ebay Everybody knows a guy who knows a guy who sold 100 cars a month with eBay and Craigslist — but if you were hoping all you had to do is throw a bunch of inventory online and wait for urban-legend greatness to immortalize you, I’ve got bad news. We know a guy who talked to that guy, and he said there are no silver bullets. Forget about “set it and forget it.” “Plug and play” is a loser’s game. You need your own plan, starting with asking yourself the hard questions: Do you have a method that works on eBay? What is your Craigslist strategy? Have you tested your strategies recently to see if they could work better? Do you understand the latest rules/TOS (terms of service) for the sites you’re posting to? Bottom line: Have you done your homework? Getting the Most Out of eBay

Having a strategy for eBay is even more important because of the advertising costs associated with each posting. The buckshot days of listing and waiting are over. Taking time to research before you post will save time, money and reputation. Unsure how a vehicle will perform on eBay? Look it up. Check out the volume, the prices, the packages and the bids. Review the activity and then make a decision to list. Creating and tailoring your own listing strategy is just as important. What time of day should you be listing? Standard auction or fixed price? How long — three, five, seven, 10, 21 days? Have you tested any new methods to produce the top results? Answer these questions before you post — not after your listings are paid for and you’re wondering what went wrong. Getting the Most Out of Craigslist

Craigslist is a magical free advertising site where the Lead Fairy puts customers directly into


your inbox, right? Well…. While there is no denying that Craigslist can sell cars, cars are more likely to magically disappear when you ask those tough questions: Are you using Craigslist effectively? Are you driving those customers back to your Website? Do you even know if your ads are live? Are you breaking any rules? It’s time to throw out what you think you know about Craigslist and analyze what’s really working and what isn’t. Variables such as the time of day you post a vehicle or which geographic region you use are within your control and could dramatically improve sales. And, yes, you need to accurately measure growth and validate that you can reproduce those results month after month. Fact: Craigslist and eBay Both Sell Cars

The question is, how successful do you want to be at it? We work with dealers every day who fully understand their approach. The days of “this is the way we do it because this is the way we have always done it” must go. Take the time to understand why things are happening; don’t just accept your results as status quo. Too many of your competitors are successfully using these platforms to create new business. Bill Berry is the vice president of sales for AutoRevo. He can be contacted at 866.886.9493, or by e-mail at


marketing solution

Managing phone

prospects An Essential Part of Your 2012 Growth Strategy Which dealership do customers choose? • 97 percent choose one with professional, friendly sales staff and competitive pricing. • Three percent choose one with unprofessional sales staff and very low pricing. We’ve all seen the studies. Customers tend to make their buying decisions based on the overall experience they have at your dealership, rather than on the price points you offer. The customer experience consists of some basics such as: Customer Service

Customer service begins with the very first phone call, visit to your dealership or interaction with a salesperson or call handler. As you can see from the percentages above, on overwhelming majority of people rank a professional, friendly sales staff as a top priority when choosing a dealership. Customer Satisfaction

If they do buy from you and their experience was an easy and a pleasant one, the door is open for continued communication and contact. When a customer is satisfied with their buying experience, there is a good chance they will recommend you to others or purchase a vehicle from you again. Customer Incentives

Loyal customers should be rewarded. People like incentives. Many dealers have loyalty programs, referral fees or offer customer discounts. Even a free oil change, car wash or service coupon goes a long way in showing good customers that you appreciate their business and referrals. Customer Value

A potential customer lead, even one who may not be ready to buy yet, is invaluable. It means they are interested and will most likely purchase in the near future. Staying in touch with leads of this kind is key, and the earlier


you can start developing a relationship with them the more valuable they become. One of the surest ways to grow your business is by maintaining relationships with your current customer base while also nurturing new ones. It can only benefit your dealership when your customers, new and old, have experiences that are positive ones. Where does it all begin? What is the most important and most common first point of contact with a potential customer? Nine times out of 10, it starts with a simple phone call. Even in this digital, mobile age, the phone is still one of your most important sources of leads. Even the majority of e-mail leads will eventually revert to a phone call as the prospect moves closer to a buying decision. This makes managing the phone lead process that much more imperative. NADA studies indicate that 75 percent of all car purchases initiate from a phone call. Combined with the fact that the average dealer loses 80 percent of their incoming phone leads explains why the phone is the single largest profit leak and source of customer dissatisfaction in a dealership today. Countless times on a daily basis, sales are lost, customers are mishandled and CSI and SSI issues go unresolved. This is why tracking and managing all incoming calls and determining the quality of leads generated is so important. Most dealership personnel use the initial phone call as a chance to focus on setting an appointment with a potential customer. Getting a caller into the showroom is the best way to convert a caller to a customer. However, 2011 studies show that out of one million incoming customer calls, less than eight percent of those resulted in an appointment. It’s safe to say that with less than 10 percent call-to-appointment ratios as the norm, it is obvious that a key opportunity lies in increasing the phone handling skills of your sales team. Managing phone prospects should become an essential part of your growth strategy for 2012. When you consider that the average dealership is spending at least $55,000 per month in advertising and marketing to get the phone to ring, and that a single phone prospect converted to a customer can potentially be worth over $300,000 in revenue over the life of the customer, the perceived value of this lead source changes dramatically. The best way to manage the phone lead process is to monitor what’s happening during the phone call and to place more emphasis on setting appointments. Setting a benchmark for call-toappointment ratios for the dealership and at the individual call handler level is a great start. Most dealerships have a call-tracking tool in place that also allow then the opportunity to record each incoming call. Assigning managers to listen to these calls will help determine where improvement is needed. This is another vital step in this process. The recorded calls can also be a great coaching tool for your sales team. There’s nothing like hearing and reviewing your own performance to maximize the learning curve. It’s why all great athletes review game films. By better managing phone prospects, you begin the process of the positive customer experience. Pogo Parr is the vice president of sales for the auto division of CallSource. He can be contacted at 866.690.2139, or by e-mail at

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Getting it


E-Mail Marketing, Social Media and Data Analysis The other day I was talking to a dealer who said, “We’ve tried some e-mail marketing. One of my salespeople is doing our Facebook page and another one is Tweeting. I think together that’s about all the e-mail marketing and social media I want to do for right now.” That would be fine — if the e-mail marketing and social media were working together, and if the marketing efforts were data driven. Unfortunately, for that dealer, they weren’t. And the same is true for many dealers I meet. More or Less: E-mail Marketing and Social Media

Business leaders throughout the nation understand the importance of having a strong e-presence — and a recent poll of more than 900 executives found that: • 60 percent are increasing their e-mail marketing budget • 55 percent are increasing their social media budget Now is not the time to cut spending on e-mail

“Now is not the time to cut spending

on e-mail marketing and social media. If you’ve trimmed your budget in these areas, you might want to rethink your strategy. Remember, nearly half (48 percent) of consumers combine social media and search engines in the buying process, and a staggering 85 percent start shopping for a vehicle online.” marketing and social media. If you’ve trimmed your budget in these areas, you might want to rethink your strategy. Remember, nearly half (48 percent) of consumers combine social media and search engines in the buying process, and a staggering 85 percent start shopping for a vehicle online. Add to that, 90 percent of consumers say they trust recommendations from people they know and 70 percent say they trust consumer opinions posted online. Suddenly, both positive and negative comments about your dealership on Facebook,,, and Google Places take on a whole new significance. Integration: Socially — and Financially — Rewarding

In this same study referred to above, more than two-thirds (68 percent) of the business leaders said they plan to integrate social media with their e-mail marketing, and 47 percent plan to use e-mail marketing to drive growth in social media — especially corporate Facebook and Twitter pages. It’s clear why this is such a vital — and profitable — goal. In a survey of e-mail and online marketers, 54 percent said results were “somewhat” to “significantly better” after integrating social media and e-mail marketing. These marketing professionals rated social media as the online marketing channel with the greatest positive effect when combined with e-mail. Put Your Money Where Your ROI Is

There’s more good news when it comes to e-mail marketing. In a recent survey of more than 200 marketing executives, 82 percent said they expect campaigns to be measured. But these same professionals admitted it is difficult to effectively evaluate ROI. They agreed, however, that overall the most success was had in measuring e-mail campaigns — 47 percent. You may also want to consider adding direct marketing to your media mix, because that followed at a close 41 percent.

Data Analytics: A Key to Success

In the poll referred to earlier, business leaders stated that their top e-mail marketing initiatives for 2012 are: • Improving subscriber engagement (48 percent) • Improving segmentation and targeting (44 percent) • Growing opt-in e-mail lists (32 percent) Data integration is critical to achieving each of these priorities, but it was also identified as the primary e-mail marketing challenge by 45 percent of the respondents. Lack of resources followed at 43 percent. When dealers tell me they don’t have the expertise or the resources to devote to developing data-driven analytics and strategies, I suggest that they may want to consider partnering with a vendor who does; if the dealer’s e-mail marketing and social media aren’t integrated and targeting customers consistently and concisely, you can bet their competition’s communications are. Russell Grant is the vice president of sales for J&L Marketing. He can be contacted at 866.503.8397, or by e-mail at



marketing solution

how to move your ‘brick and mortar’ store where the customers are: online

as seen on


Dealerships in states with Blue Laws see their lots teeming with customers on most Sundays; these guests love it. They can cruise around and look at cars all day and no one “slows them down.” In these states, it’s illegal to sell a car on Sunday, so it makes sense not to pursue this traffic. On the Internet, though, it is perfectly legal — so why are dealers letting customers take a Sunday stroll across their Website, and not doing what they do best: “Slow the customer down”? There are several types of messages you can deliver online. Too often, dealerships rely on either strictly informational messages, or completely on sales messages. There is nothing new about either of them in the eyes of a prospect. The first thing about effectively communicating your brand online is understanding what types of messages are available to you, so that you can understand what each type is intended to do, and even how they can work together. Here are six different types of videos or messages that you can deliver for you customer (examples can be found at   1. Testimonials

Testimonials should be specific. You should search for things that are specific about each deal (location, vehicle chosen, credit situation, trade amount given) and turn each customer statement into both a “vote of confidence.” Start your questions to the customer saying things like: “Talk a little bit about the car, and why you picked it,” rather than, “What do you like about the car?” Get the customer talking, and smile at them while they are giving the testimony — they will do the same. There is often no one better to speak for your business then a previous customer. 2. Brand Statements

Brand statements are often given by the leader of the dealership but could be anybody from the lot guy to the receptionist to customers. These statements are specific to your dealership and are the practices that you feel separate you best from other stores in your marketplace. These could be things like the history of the dealership, condition of used vehicles, experience of staff, volume of inventory, history in the community, etc. These statements are important for customers trying to decide where to do business.

to give the best demonstration of the products that you sell. These videos do not aim to tell everything about the product — just a few things that are useful and specific, attempting to lend the impression that we have these products and we know more about them than our competition. 4. Department Statements

Department statements are made by the manager of each department. They address what that manager believes are the concerns of their customers: speed of service, price and quality of service department, loaner cars, relationships to banks in the finance department, ease of pricing, cleanliness, size of the inventory and amount for trades and pricing structure in the used department, etc. These videos show the customer three things: your staff, your store, and hopefully what to expect out of their next car buying experience.



If you're happy signing long-term contracts with no guarantees of service; then Dealers United is not for you.

5. Event/Charity Coverage

Event videos cover any charitable contributions the dealership has made, any unique events that involve customers, or activities the dealership is doing for customers. Charity videos should be produced so that the charity can use the video for their own site and publicity after the event, with the dealer’s logo on the video.

Learn more at:

6. Top Salesperson Bios

After the sale of a car, most customers admit that the salesperson was the No. 1 factor for deciding where they bought their new car. Every customer has an ideal salesperson. Letting a customer pick the person that they think they would mesh with before they pick out a car will set more appointments for the dealership, funnel more customers to your best salespeople, and sell more cars — for more gross. The trick to understanding effective messaging is combining these video types into one message. For example: • A message about a local golf event with a Hole-in-one giveaway for a new car — This video can feature the charity that you are helping and get publicity for the dealership, can feature the product that you are giving away, can introduce a manager to the public, and can have a testimonial mixed in about how your company helps the community, which helps your reputation management efforts. • A message about your used car department, as an intro to go with every used car online — This video can show your customers what to expect when dealing with your company, show them why you are a better place to shop than your competitors and includes a testimonial about fair pricing.   There is no shortage of ways to broadcast these messages once they are produced. This distribution is FREE online. You can use your own sites, YouTube, Facebook, Google+, Vehix, Autotrader, CarFolks, Google, CarWoo, review sites, etc. When it comes to building value online, make sure your focus is on the right thing: building value in your store, your process and your product. Don’t expect your cars to sell themselves online — slow the customer down and allow your store to make the difference for every customer.

3. Product Features

Product features are videos made using the people at your dealership or a spokesperson


Andrew Myers is the co-founder of What’s Next Media. He can be contacted at 866.408.3305, or by e-mail at



sales & training solution

Advice from a

30-car guy

I’m often asked what was the highest number of units I’ve ever sold off the showroom floor in a month. The highest number is 33, but I consistently sold 30 units per month. I know there are people who sell more than that; I have met sales professionals who have sold 40 units and even 50 units per month. They are far and few, but they do exist in our industry. So the question is how does someone sell 30+ units per month? They have a plan. I’ve never met someone who walked into a dealership with no idea about how to sell cars, but moved 30 vehicles by the end of the month. But before we get into the plan, you have to want it — you truly have to want to be successful. Not because your manager chewed you out at the sales meeting, and not because you are all amped up from an article, but because you truly want it inside — just as much as you want to breathe. You want it so much you are willing to do anything to be successful (legally, ethically and morally of course). You have to be willing to sacrifice television time, videogame time and time hanging out with the other salespeople who are selling 10 or 12 units per month. You have to stop complaining about things you have absolutely no control over, like politics, the economy, the weather, your OEM, your managers, your competition and even your prospects. You have got to stop focusing on everything else and start to focus on yourself. Stephen Covey, author of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People calls this the “circle of influence versus the circle of concern.” Let’s be serious about what we are talking about. If you are delivering 30 units per month, then you are making more than $100,000 a year. Depending on what your pay-plan is, what kind of bonuses, spiffs, OEM spins, etc., you can possibly be making $120,000 to $150,000 — especially, if you know how to work your pay-plan the right way. Think about what I am saying here: $150K, in this economy, working at a car dealership. It is real, and people are doing it all over this country. It doesn’t matter if you are in a city like New

Give 44

York or Los Angeles, or if you are down south in Nashville or Atlanta. It doesn’t matter if you are selling Toyotas or Fords, imports or domestics, new or pre-owned. There are people selling 30+ units per month. As a matter of fact, a couple of years ago, I wrote a threepart article where I interviewed a salesperson who was making more than $200,000 selling Toyotas on the showroom floor at Peruzzi Toyota. And that was in the recession; normally, he made $250,000. OK, now that I have your full attention, how do you do it? How do you actually sell 30 units per month and make more than $100,000 per year? The first step is to begin with the end in mind. You have to have a plan; you cannot just tell yourself that you are going to work hard and sell cars. It is not as simple as that. You need a real plan with GPS precision on getting you to your destination of success.

So, let’s break it down: • To deliver 30 units, you are going to need to have at least 60 people to present to. • To have 60 people to present to, you are going to need to make 120 appointments. • That is a 50/50/50 ratio — 120 appointment, 60 appointments showed to deliver 30 units. This is good; now you know what you need to do to sell 30 units. • You must break it down from here even further, though. To make 120 appointments in a month, you need to make 30 appointments per week. Breaking it down even further is making six appointments per day (assuming a five-day work week). At most, dealership salespeople are working eight to nine hours per day. and some even are doing 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. “Bell to Bells” 12hour shift. You should have plenty of time in between meeting with prospects, doing product presentations, demo drives and deliveries to hit those numbers. • Another way of looking at it is that you need to have three people a day to show up, 15 people per week or 60 people per month in order to hit your goal. • Or in order to sell 30 units per month, that means selling seven to eight units per week,


or one to two units per day.

You are not going to be able to accomplish your goal of 30 units per month by waiting for “ups” to walk into the showroom, either. You need to be proactive, not reactive. So, you need to know that there are six other ways to sell a car besides walk-in traffic. They are: • Internet leads • Phone-ups • Referrals • Prior customers • Service conversions • Prospecting (Ah, the “lost art”) You need to create a plan on how you are going to maximize all seven areas within a dealership to sell 30+ units per month. For the dealer principals, GMs and GSMs who are reading this article: If your dealership is not training your entire sales team on these ways to sell cars, or if your dealership is mostly selling from fresh ups, Internet and the phone, then you are leaving a lot of money on the table — especially knowing that a referral closes at 50 percent or more and has a higher gross profit. Dealers spend about $50,000 per month in advertising to bring traffic to the dealership. How much time, money or skill is being used by salespeople in prospecting? In actually creating your own opportunity for yourself and the dealership? It seems that “prospecting” is dying a slow death. Why is that? This is, in fact, “your own business.” If you have any questions about this article, or would like some free ideas on how you can sell 30 units per month, or would like to know how you can “save prospecting” from becoming an endangered species, contact me at the number or e-mail below. 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

a Look On Z


leadership solution

don’t cut

to the bone Taming Costs in 2012 The beginning of this year has brought plenty of good news. By all accounts, 2012 looks to be a banner year for automotive. We seem to be shrugging off some of the inertia that has plagued the industry over the last three years and are finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. While this year has started with positive declarations of gains in the industry, we’re not out of the woods yet. If this latest recession and the closure of hundreds of dealerships across the nation has taught us anything, it’s that the cost-cutting measures are now a part of the fabric of our industry. The dealerships able to take the lessons we’ve learned from the downturn and carry them into the upswing will be better aligned to increase their bottom line in the future. Here are a few lessons we can all take into this new business environment: 1. Cut Costs Without Cutting to the Bone

The old adage “work smarter, not harder” is

especially true when it comes to technology budgets this year. Dealers should be looking for ways to continue to cut costs, but not at the expense of technology that’s working. How much of a certain software or CRM program do you actually use on a daily basis? Are there ways to cut certain elements of a technology program and keep the ones that are performing? Are there any tools not performing as promised and, if so, are you able to get either a discount on future payments or refunds from the vendor? Take stock of your technology and marketing investments this year and dump the low-performing management tools in favor of the tools bringing in the most customers and profit. On the reverse side, if you find a technology product that will work well in your dealership, don’t be afraid to spend the money it takes to test it out. Perhaps the vendor will allow you to beta test the product or offer a month-to-month contract with no requirements attached? It can’t hurt to ask. 2. The Market is Expected to Grow, but Margins are Expected to Shrink Even Further

While the overall market looks like it’s shaking off some of the worst of the recession, dealership margins continue to shrink. This is particularly true in used vehicles where a shortage created by drivers holding onto their vehicles longer has created a drought in supply. Ways to promote greater efficiencies throughout the dealership — in parts, service, operations, fixed operations, labor and other areas — will become more important as we move into the year. Pace will trump large profit margins. Look to areas in the dealership where you can increase the tempo and efficiency. Where are your bottlenecks? What systems are encouraging poor performers? Ferret out these systems and processes and make the word “efficiency” your new mantra for 2012. 3. Eventually, Only the Most Efficient Dealers Will be in Business

While cost cutting is effective, only those dealerships that partner belt-tightening with efficiency will win the race. As an industry, we’ve traditionally thought of the dealers in our local market as competitors, but it’s time to look at how we can band together to weather the storm. How can multiple dealerships pool marketing dollars and advertising to enjoy lower pricing? Can we share some technology or resources to make both stores work more efficiently? Let’s look to multi-location pricing by gathering disparate stores in the same location together and compete against megadealers. It’s time to get creative and lower some of the most costly areas of our dealerships: CRM systems, technology tools and advertising. 4. Cutting Costs the Right Way Gives You More for Less, not Less for Less

Cutting costs doesn’t always have to mean getting rid of something. Cutting costs could be as easy as making vendors account for their services. Demand month-to-month contracts, rather than expensive upfront annual fees. Gather your local dealers and buy as a group, driving down the cost. Ask for the same pricing as the company’s largest dealer group. Think of cutting costs as way to help you better determine what works for your dealership with no strings attached.

Jesse Biter is co-founder of Dealers United. He can be contacted at 866.239.4049, or by e-mail at


podcast interviewee

It’s been a tough couple of years for our industry, but I think the lessons we’ve learned will only help make us stronger moving forward. Negotiate hard, look for efficiencies and cut costs; these will be the ways we increase our profit margins as we slowly shake off the worst of this recession.

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leadership solution

the elephant

I am going to touch a bit on the elephant in the room — compliance and ethics. First, I would like to distinguish between being “compliant” and being “ethical.” Is there a difference? Compliance is defined as “conformity in fulfilling official requirements,” according to Webster’s Dictionary. Ethics is defined as “a set of moral principles.” The question is, can you be one without the other? To answer that question I will pose two scenarios. Scenario One

A customer is signing for their new car and is presented a menu with all of the aftermarket products available. After the presentation, the customer objects to the price and is told, “we normally don’t do this, but… I am going to give you the ‘friends and family’ discount on the warranty,” upon which the customer feels like they are getting a great deal and decide to purchase the products. The next customer comes into the office buying the exact same car but because there were no objections during the presentation of the menu, no such discount is offered. This action is not illegal, just like

when selling a car we can price each car however we see fit, as long as the price is not based on a discriminatory factor. Scenario Two

A customer is signing for their new car. This customer has had some credit issues in the past and the bank capped the advance. The finance manager determines that the path to highest gross is to sell a warranty and the approval won’t allow for any other products. The finance manager shows the customer the bank contract with the warranty already built in and politely explains that the bank would allow them to finance a warranty. I am sure we can all agree this is not compliant at all, but is it unethical? I would argue no. You will not go to jail for being unethical; you just need to make sure you can sleep at night. The latter, however, could get you in trouble. Legally, you cannot offer a product to one customer who qualifies and not to another; that is discrimination. Other compliance no no’s would include not running the red flag on every customer who finances with you, not running OFAC checks on every customer who purchases a service or good from you, not handing out Risk-Based Pricing Notices, not explaining the factors used to determine a quoted payment…. There are plenty more. A healthy finance department will understand that the most important role they play is in making sure that their dealership is fully compliant. This takes coordination with the sales department, as they are the first ones to see the customer and many of the compliance issues begin in sales. Consider holding monthly compliance meetings to discuss what steps should or need to be taken to be more pro-active about compliance. Chris Cochran is the finance director for Haddad Motor Group in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. He can be contacted at 866.550.2896, or by e-mail at

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sales & training solution

gaining a competitive edge with used vehicle acquisitions


It doesn’t look like we’ll see the job of acquiring the “right” used vehicles for a dealership getting any less challenging in 2012. In fact, for some dealers, the coming year may be even more challenging. Forecasts say we’ll continue to see tight competition among dealers for wholesale vehicles, as more turn to auctions to build used vehicle sales volumes, cash flow and dealership net profits. This means there will be greater pressure to find the “right” cars at the “right” price and more temptation to “raise the hand” at auction, even though a unit may not make financial sense for a dealership. In this environment, it’s super-critical to have an edge over the other guy — to know exactly which cars to pursue, where to find them and what wholesale price to pay that will yield sufficient margin to ensure acceptable profitability at retail. In addition, the dealers who become more efficient and proficient at honing and sustaining this competitive edge — what I refer to as provisioning inventory — will fare better than others. The following are some of the best practices for provisioning inventory that I’ve seen from dealers who have committed themselves to working smarter (not necessarily harder) to acquire the “right” used vehicles and sharpen their competitive advantage as retailers: Understand Supply and Demand Dynamics for Every Vehicle on Your Buy List

It’s still common for dealers to look at their store’s past history to determine the type of vehicles they should acquire to replenish their inventories. This analysis is useful, but only to a point: What if a unit has lost its allure with buyers? What if there’s a different vehicle that sells faster or has seen a recent surge in demand? What if that black 2009 Chevy Malibu is a dud unless it has leather seats and Bluetooth? These are the questions dealers should be asking as they build their buy lists. To obtain the answers, dealers are turning to technology and tools that accurately detail the supply and demand characteristics of every vehicle they might acquire, down to equipment and trim. In some instances, the technology and tools can also map a retailing strategy that complements the supply and demand characteristics for a specific vehicle. Know Your Margin Before You Acquire

There’s a direct correlation between the


supply and demand characteristics for a specific vehicle and its gross profit potential. For example, if there are a lot of the same, identically equipped units for sale in a market, chances are its gross profit potential is lower than units with greater scarcity. A unit’s retail profit potential is a critical component of a smart inventory acquisition strategy — how else to know the maximum amount to pay at wholesale to acquire a unit? Here again, technology and tools offer the insights dealers should be using to avoid over-paying for a unit and ensuring they follow the age-old “you make your money when you acquire a vehicle” axiom. This insight is especially critical in today’s marketplace, where the pressure to acquire inventory can translate to “raising your hand” and paying too much.



If you're convinced that you can go it alone against CarMax and the other MegaDealer groups; then Dealers United is not for you.

Avoid Fishing Trips

In past years, it was OK to go to an auction with a buy list and look for the vehicles that fit. In today’s environment, that’s almost guaranteed to be a waste of time, especially when other dealers have already scouted auction run lists from their stores to determine if it’s worth a buyer’s time to show up on a given day. When they do go, these buyers know the specific vehicles and run times, and they’ve already researched the cars and determined if it’s worth their time and effort by the time the bell rings.

Learn more at:

Acquire Online

This is a corollary to the best practice above. Many dealers today now employ in-store inventory specialists/buyers who spend their days finding, bidding on and buying vehicles via online auctions. In fact, for some dealers, these online outlets have completely replaced physical auctions as a more efficient way to source used inventory. A benchmark: Most dealers should be acquiring at least 30 percent of their used vehicle inventory through online outlets to drive acquisition efficiency. Map Your Exit Strategy

In the past, when dealers acquired a used vehicle their exit strategy was simple: Apply a standard mark-up and wait for the right buyer to show up. Many dealers today have recognized this is too ham-handed for a marketplace that requires more precision. These dealers, armed with data that help them understand supply, demand and profitability potential on specific units, know exactly how they plan to price and retail a unit before they’ve even acquired it. Further, they even know the kind of action they can expect on a vehicle, such as average daily vehicle details page views (VDPs) to monitor whether the unit’s performance meets their expectations. If it doesn’t, these dealers can quickly adjust elements of their exit strategy (e.g., asking price, descriptions, photos, etc.) to respond to the market feedback. In a future column, I’ll address the best practices dealers deploy in their dealerships to sustain their competitive advantage from post-acquisition to vehicle delivery. In the meantime, the words of former General Electric CEO Jack Welch offer a fitting close: “If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete.” Dale Pollak is an author and the founder of vAuto. He can be contacted at 866.867.9620, or by e-mail at

podcast interviewee



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Hub and


How dealers are using mobile marketing to dramatically



Your Website is the hub in the wheel where you want to direct your online traffic. If you’re like most dealers, your Website has the most current information for local consumers regarding your specials, inventory, company history, service coupons and so on. Your Website alone, however, cannot be everywhere on the Internet for every search term consumers are typing in related to the products and services you sell. Today’s dealer has to have a more complete approach of helping generate traffic by integrating numerous spokes that lead back to the hub. These spokes are digital marketing techniques such as SEM, social media, review sites, business map listings, microsites, press releases, syndicated content, RSS feeds, e-mail marketing, portal sites, podcasts, Video SEO, etc. To be competitive, today’s dealer has to implement many of these digital marketing techniques into a consistent monthly marketing strategy and stick to it for longer than 30 days to see real results.

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marketing solution

One of these techniques is Video SEO, and it is a quick way to generate first page exposure for your dealership on engines like Google for keyword phrases your Website may not be optimized for. What is Video SEO? This is the technique of making videos act like Websites to show up in the organic first page search listings for popular keyword phrases that your business needs to be found. This digital marketing technique has to be done consistently every month to be effective. The process is to make numerous unique videos, properly keyword tag each video for the targeted keyword phrases you want to show up in the first page search results, upload and distribute these videos to as many video search engine sites as possible and then manage each video each month to increase the effectiveness of your dealership’s exposure. The videos can be thought of extensions of your Website with a message that drives consumers back to your Website to find more information and set an appointment for sales or service. Videos can include vehicle walkarounds, sales and service specials, community events, customer testimonials, dealership awards, dealership history, unique amenities and so on. Using Video SEO can be


a quick and effective method of gaining that valuable first page exposure when consumers are actually searching online for products or services you offer. Video SEO can give you an edge over the competition if done properly and on a consistent basis. One dealership using Video SEO is Anthony Buick GMC, located in the northeastern part of Illinois. Service Director Dave Mundt said, “We have seen a marked increase in online service appointments since we changed our SEO strategy. Video SEO has helped us to own page one of Google in our area.” Vice President Trent Tobias said, “We have been a strong believer in Search Engine Optimization since the early days of Google, but Video SEO has helped propel us to the next level.” The screenshot shown above is for the keyword search phrase “GMC REPAIR GURNEE,” which has six videos on the first page Google search results for Anthony’s Buick GMC. This effectively reduces the exposure of other local competing dealers, big box retail service chains, and other local auto repair shops. Start using Video SEO today.

AJ LeBlanc is the co-founder of He can be contacted at 866.795.9094, or by e-mail at


podcast interviewee




leadership solution

it’s a month into 2012 – where are you with your goals?

One of the hardest things for most people to accomplish is to change. We spend the last few weeks of a year analyzing what we accomplished and also what we did not. We plot out the big changes we are going to make and we start in earnest January 1. So why is it that most people fall off of their plans so quickly? My feeling is they have not been specific enough and are looking at the results, not the steps they took to get there.

Example: You want to lose 10 pounds. You buy the new workout tape and promise yourself that you’ll work out five days a week. As soon as you are a bit sore or something comes up, you begin to negotiate with yourself and postpone your plan. “Just for today; I will catch up tomorrow,” you tell yourself. The problem is that you have begun to give yourself permission to postpone and lessen your game plan’s daily importance. One other problem is that people also try to change everything at once. They feel that if they are only changing one thing, it may not be enough. My feeling is that focusing on one thing in a very committed way will have an effect on your whole life without you even knowing it, so in reality, you are changing more than one thing.

1. Plan out the monthly increases each month throughout the year, instead of just telling everyone 50 percent increase each month. You should know what month’s surge for service — before summer, before winter, etc. Set goals for the team for each month; some may be higher than others. 2. Set individual goals, as well. Depend on your top salespeople to help bring in a few extra sales to help the newer employees. This sets up a good team atmosphere, as long as you set each goal based on each person’s capabilities. 3. List the type of services that could be upsold during a visit. Make sure that each service advisor understands what the recommended services are for each visit and that if someone is coming in between scheduled visits, they are caught up with everything their car needs. 4. Have weekly updates to keep everyone informed. One of the biggest mistakes is that everyone is pumped up the first week or so, but if upper management does not make this a consistent focus, enthusiasm drains and another focus takes priority.

I want to focus a bit more on No. 4. Every successful team or individual goal has been achieved due to a leader who helps keep everyone focused. It may be a personal coach or friend who you work out with that keeps you focused on your health goals. It could be a sales manager who keeps the focus on where the team is at in terms of their goals and makes the necessary adjustments on a weekly basis. What this cannot be is a top executive or manager who just tells the team to sell more or yells when they are not hitting goals. That is discouraging and eventually you will be tuned out. Working side by side with the team each day will ensure that at the end of the time period you are focused on, you will have achieved your goals. It takes work to change behavior and it cannot be expected to happen over night. Change has to come in small steps along the way to reach your goal.

Let’s say you want to increase sales 50 percent in your service department. How can you make this happen throughout the year?


Glenn Pasch is the COO of PCG Digital Marketing and the president of Improved Performance Solutions. He can be contacted at 866.611.0998, or by e-mail at

podcast interviewee

So how does this translate into the workplace?

The Choice.

VS You can choose a bold, new approach with consistently profitable results.

Or… you can continue using ordinary marketing with frustrating, inconsistent results.

Only A Bold, New Approach Can Rapidly Increase Sales Without Cutting Prices Issue

Rich Dealers

Ordinary Marketing


Constant flow of internet leads, phone calls and floor traffic. More traffic in a weekend than most dealers get all month.

Dribs and drabs. Starts and stops. Some busy spurts, a lot of waiting around for customers to show up.

Price Sensitivity

Customers want a car. They don’t care what the price is. They are seeking you out and looking for your help. They gladly pay asking price.

It seems like every customer is a chiseler. Customers think they know your cost, and don’t want to pay a dollar over.


Feels like you’re just scratching the surface. There’s so much opportunity because potential customer base is 34 times larger. More sales and more profit are available at your discretion.

Feels like you’re at the limit. When you’re succeeding, you’re getting every last sale there is to get. Growth is a problem because there are no more customers to get, without completely giving up your profit.

Ease Of Transaction

Buyers are eager to do business and actually want to buy today.

Like pulling teeth. Fighting for every deal, haggling over every detail.


Everyone in town knows you and talks about you. You’re considered a giver, not a taker. A helper, not a huckster.

You’re lumped in with every other dealer. You’re generally unknown, but untrusted anyway.

Time Commitment

The hard work and difficult thinking is done for you. In just a couple of hours each month you can implement a proven system, and be confident you're doing the right thing. Overall an extremely valuable use of time.

Can take many frustrating hours every month. Because the path is very unclear you have a constant nagging sense of uncertainty with everything you try. You invest countless hours and get the same, lackluster results.

Frustration Level

It’s simple because you’re connected with other dealers who have already succeeded and are willing to share how they did it.

It drives you crazy. You feel like you’re all alone and trying to figure things out for the first time.

Rich Dealers offers a clear plan for you to increase traffic and sell more cars without decreasing prices. You’ll sell more cars and make more profit than you ever thought possible.

Does all this sound too good to be true? Don’t take our word for it. Try it yourself. With Rich Dealers, there’s never a commitment, so there’s no risk. Contracts aren’t necessary because our members stay with us for years… because it works.

Please don’t delay. Our bold, unique approach can only allow for one dealer per market, so space is truly limited.

Find out if your market is available and learn more about how Rich Dealers can rapidly transform your business. The first step is our complimentary Market Rater Analysis. Call today to schedule your private tour.

Call 407-275-8667 or visit


marketing solution

putting ai on the front lines of sales

This year at NADA, dealers and managers were exposed to many new technologies and new techniques to help them generate more new business and improve efficiencies throughout the dealership. With more than 500 exhibitors this year, there are plenty of ideas to choose from. One of the most ground-breaking new technologies for dealerships this year is improved artificial intelligence for sales. Military-level artificial intelligence is now being used by dealerships nationwide to drive more

customers into the dealership, resulting in more sales. Customers are spending more and more time shopping online before they visit the dealership. Ten years ago, we saw this trend starting and braced for change. While that change seemed to take longer than expected, now with the plethora of mobile devices and tablets, the change is here. Customers want instant responses to their questions and inquiries. Often, their shopping process can take nearly a year. Even the best most tenacious salespeople can become less than enthusiastic as the sales cycle is stretched. This is where artificial intelligence fits into existing sales processes to improve the customer experience and sell more cars. When customers send an e-mail, Internet lead or inquiry, the artificial intelligence takes over. Customers get a response nearly immediately that appears to be from a real person. As the customer asks more questions, the AI sends back answers and relevant information. The technology really has come this far. The customer feels they are getting the best possible customer service and has all of their questions answered. Meanwhile, the AI is collecting valuable information about the customer, such as their need for an SUV to tow their boat and still fit the whole family. When the customer is ready to speak by phone or to visit the dealership, the AI will turn this buyer over to a salesperson. With this TO comes all the information collected so that the salesperson can continue with the rapport the AI has already started. This automation of the initial contacts helps sales in two ways. First, customers get their questions answered more quickly, and with accurate information every time. This results in more sales opportunities at the dealership and a better online reputation. Second, it frees up tons of time for salespeople to do what they do best. Now they can focus on the customers who are on the phone and at the dealership, all while knowing that every online opportunity is being worked perfectly. Salespeople can now have a steady flow of buyers ready to visit the dealership delivered to their PC or cell phone daily. Technology like this was only seen in movies 10 years ago. Today, it is in dealerships in every major city. Increased processor speed has made it inexpensive and effective to automate the initial steps in the sales process. For a free copy of “Eight Ways Artificial Intelligence can Increase Sales,� e-mail 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


J&L Marketing is looking for Business Growth Strategists to sell our multi-channel direct marketing products and services. They will prospect for new customers as well as manage leads from J&L Marketing’s growing national accounts. This is a full-time B2B outside sales position.

Wanted: Regional Sales Manager for New Mobile Platform Product Launch IntellaCar is looking for a tech-savvy professional regional sales manager with earned relationships and hands-on experience in the retail auto industry. Responsibilities include direct dealer sales, product installation and ongoing support. Potential six figure income. Email resume to

Join us in making a difference one car at a time.

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Manager Speaks Out and Reveals the Raw Truth about That “Consultant – Trainer,” Mark Tewart

This guy, Mark Tewart promises all sort of things to us car dealers – sales, management and marketing strategies for our dealerships that he “promises” really pay off. Such as strategies that will increase sales without increasing your advertising. Ways to increase gross profit by $200 a car minimum. How to reduce and eliminate water in used cars and so on. Every time I read one of his ads, I thought, “Who could be dumb enough to fall for this guy’s rap?” Now, I’m going to tell you the raw truth about this guy and his ‘success secrets.’

My name is John Flynn; I live in Ohio with my wife and kids. I went to college here and became a salesperson at a car dealership. I was a struggling salesperson with little direction and not much of a future if my results stayed the same. I didn’t know what I was doing and was frustrated everyday with the business. I needed a change and I needed it quick. One day our dealer hired a consultant and trainer named Mark Tewart who ran all these ads with these big claims. However, our dealer told us he had known this Mark Tewart guy for several years going back to when he was a new manager at another dealership. Our General Manager told us to hang on to our hats because this guy Tewart was a fireball with more real valid information on success in the car business than anyone he had ever seen. But, I had every intention of not learning anything and finding out that this guy would be full of baloney. What I discovered scared me. Most of what he taught us was so different from what we had ever seen, heard or been taught by other so-called experts. As we listened to Mark’s information, we saw a whole different way to develop a high income career rather than just make a sale here and there. We heard sales skills, people skills, life skills, marketing skills and found freedom from the cheapest price, roll around in the mud, bait-n-switch ugliness. Best of all we learned actual skills to reengineer our business (managers and dealer as well as salespeople). I even looked in the mirror and saw John Flynn differently. So, skeptical and grateful at the same time, we left the workshop with a workbook and CD’s full of ideas. The next day I began to implement 10 different Mark Tewart strategies. Over the next couple of weeks, as I got them up and running, they all surpassed my greatest expectations. Let me give you an idea of what I am talking about. My first year of implementing Mark’s strategies, my production soared. That wasn’t all though. I began to get my life in order as well. Every time Mark came to the dealership he taught me lessons that made my whole life change for the better. After a period of big increases, I was promoted to Manager and attended Mark’s Management workshops. Once again, I was amazed at how much incredible information I got and how much it improved our dealerships sales and profits. Our dealership, located in an economically challenged area had improved to over 350 units and we had become on many months the largest dealer of our brand in the state! At the same time we improved our F&I and service numbers as well.. Everything went up! Personally, I went from struggling to winning. I became a manager and watched our dealership take off using the information. How you ask, could such a thing happen? The answer simply, is learning how real proven and effective sales, management and marketing systems work, from

the “master”, Mark Tewart. In spite of everything you hear about business being slower and tougher, my business is booming. Just a couple of Mark’s strategies alone have allowed us to increase F&I by over $100 and increase our dollars per RO in service! Thanks to Mark’s ideas, systems, inspiration and encouragement I have watched our dealership grow and prosper while my check keeps getting bigger. What is important is that our dealership can sell a ton of vehicles, get plenty of referrals, is unaffected by competition and has ‘real’ systems in place to realize a huge profit every month. I knew Mark had it figured out when after one consulting session he showed me over 40 ways to grow my business and make more profit. He is brilliant. So here’s the raw truth about this Mark Tewart guy: Unlike most of the ‘pretend’ experts, he is a bona fide trainer-consultant and money making genius, who can do anything from tweaking to transforming your business, so you not only make a lot of money, but you can make it a lot easier and more enjoyable than you can imagine. And, in my opinion, you’re a fool to ignore him. Just like me, you’ve seen his ads in this magazine month after month. If you haven’t responded, I don’t know why. Maybe you think you are too smart and know it all like I did… but if you are so smart, why aren’t you getting the results you want? Maybe you are already doing well – but you could do better (some of Mark’s most ardent students make many millions per year). Maybe you just don’t want to be sold something that’ll be a waste of your hard-earned money. About that you can relax. Mark guarantees his stuff. I’ve got over $1,000,000 reasons why you ought to investigate what Mark has to offer. What reasons do you have NOT to look at this? And here’s how easy it is: Mark has prepared a straight-talk, detailed report – “HOW TO INCREASE YOUR BOTTOM LINE BY $250,000 or more,” which you can have absolutely FREE of cost or obligation. Get it, read it and decide for yourself whether or not you want to get in on Mark’s information. It’s that simple. To get your FREE Report, just dial the 24/7 hotline at 888 612 5884 ext 90001 or go to - Either way, you will get his eye opening report rushed to you, free. By the way, I wasn’t paid even a penny or given anything to write this about Mark. I am a car guy just like you. I did this just as a way of saying thanks to Mark for everything he’s done for me. And I am not the only person who feels this way. With your report, you’ll get a book of actual comments from some of the thousands of other salespeople, managers and dealers he has helped. Most like me, are now making more money, with less hassle than ever before. More business that we handle flows in everyday… profitably. All we can say is this, “don’t envy us. Join us”.

John Flynn - Honda of Mentor, Cleveland, Ohio P.S. Please don’t get my number and call me. The last thing I need is a zillion phone calls asking me about Mark. I’ve said what I have to say right here. What else could you possibly need to know? Instead, call the 24/7 Hotline at 888 612-5884 ext 90001 or go to to get your FREE SPECIAL REPORT today. You owe it to your business.



Š 2012 Insurance Auto Auctions, Inc. All rights reserved.


Subaru of Keene Ends 2011 with Record-Breaking Sales Month, and Outpaces Subaru Nationally for the Year Kicking-off 2012 by celebrating the Grand Opening of their new state-of-the-art store, Subaru of Keene ended 2011 with a bang – selling 135 new vehicles, beating their previous 2010 December sales by fifty new vehicles. A member of the Fenton Family of dealerships serving the greater New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maine markets, Subaru of Keene saw a steady increase in sales for

2011, averaging an eight percent increase over 2010, and as much as a 25 percent increase for the month of May alone, while Subaru was up one percent nationally for the year. A shift in their marketing strategy early in 2011 brought steady improvement to Keene’s sales and service departments throughout 2011 and has enabled them to attract, sell, service and retain more customers for less

cost while positively affecting all their profit centers: new, used, finance, service and parts. Like many dealers, Subaru of Keene faced the ongoing challenge of how to reach the right customers with the right message, bring those customers into their showroom and service bays, and keep them coming back again and again. Dealers often struggle to deliver an affordable consistent message

Success Story 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 the vehicles they sell. Thus, Keene’s unique multimarket New England region prompted them to reevaluate and more clearly define their primary marketing area. Keene began with a comprehensive five-year historical analysis of their sales and service transactions to determine customer trends. Those findings were then compared to leading third-party

and industry data to establish consumer patterns within the local market. The results enabled Keene to identify vehicle owners with the greatest probability of buying or servicing with their dealership, as well as identify same-brand owners who had never visited Subaru of Keene, and off-brand owners with a historical pattern of crossing over to Subaru. “Instead of spending advertising dollars to reach everyone throughout the New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Maine markets we serve, we can

now target ready Subaru buyers and speak to them consistently,” says Mike Perry, General Manager for Subaru of Keene. “Not only is this more effective marketing to the customer, it’s also more cost effective for us.” After defining their ideal market, Keene implemented a comprehensive targeted and digital marketing strategy using variable direct mail and email campaigns that consistently speak to customers throughout the 60-month life cycle of their vehicle with custom messaging that includes a thank you and

In a Nutshell Subaru of Keene Ends 2011 with Record-Breaking Sales Month, and Outpaces Subaru Nationally by 7% for the Year • Conduct comprehensive market research to determine their perfect primary marketing

area and identify ready in-market consumers with the greatest statistical probability of purchasing or servicing with their store.

• Implement a targeted and digital marketing strategy using variable direct mail and email

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.

• Successfully attract, sell, service and retain more customers for less cost while positively

promoting all their profit centers: new, used, finance, service and parts.

• Work with a targeted and digital marketing partner like to

implement an integrated strategy that works for your dealership.

Success Story

Promotional Materials

Success Story welcome message for recent purchasers, maintenance reminders for newer vehicles not yet in-equity but that may be due for recommended maintenance, and ongoing targeted mail and email sales communications to customers in an equity position. Using high-end creative campaigns, Keene promotes its best sales offers with combination messaging that always includes relevant service offers that reflect the status of the customer’s vehicle with the dealership. For example, active service customers who routinely come in for service receive a $19.95 oil change coupon, but customers who are categorized as lost, or who do not regularly service with Keene, receive a coupon for a $14.95 oil change to encourage them to back. “We’ve serviced 510 more vehicles this year than in 2010,” says Perry. “We have reduced our reliance on the manufacturer’s service program and use our combination sales and service marketing strategy to target the right customers – it seems to be working. Our active customer database has increased by 322 customers since we started on the program.”

“Active customers are the lifeline of any dealership. Active customers are loyal and frequent and active customers are seven times more likely to buy with the dealership they service with,” says Budd Blackburn, owner of www.TeamVelocityMarketing. com, the targeted and digital marketing company that Subaru of Keene uses for their marketing strategy.

received anything via mail or email, they are immediately aware that there is an event taking place at the dealership and that they came to the right place at the right time.

Healthier trade patterns have also emerged as a result of their steady trade-in promotions like their Express Trade Program and BuyBack Vehicle Purchase Program. Previously, Keene’s top trades were older models.

“There’s no more confusion over what programs and promotions are running each month. From the mail, email and in-store merchandising – the customers know what they’re getting and that’s important,” adds Carey.

“The consistency of this strategy is very effective. Everything ties together, it’s professional, it builds our brand – it just makes sense,” says Mark Carey, Internet Manager for the Subaru of Keene store.

Today their dominant tradeins are 2008, 2007 and 2006 models, helping their used car department and providing a much better return on resale – plus they buy fewer vehicles at auction which saves them money. In-store merchandising is also an important component of Keene’s strategy. Each month the store displays point-of-sale materials throughout the dealership that reflects their current monthly campaign. If a customer happens to walk in without having

Grand Opening Event

AutoSuccess February 2012  

The #1 Sales-Improvement Magazine for the Automotive Professional - featuring Tier10 Marketing

AutoSuccess February 2012  

The #1 Sales-Improvement Magazine for the Automotive Professional - featuring Tier10 Marketing