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 www.whatsnext.pro/examples): 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.
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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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.