the game has changed.
Keeps us on top. — Alison Spitzer, Spitzer Automotive Group, Cleveland, Ohio
Once it was clear that the used car buying world was undergoing a radical transformation, dealerships faced a dilemma. Either continue to cling to the old ways or evolve to face the new reality. To remain competitive, Alison and the team at the Spitzer Automotive Group chose to approach the challenge head-on with Provision®. Now, today’s readily available information is actually their greatest competitive advantage. Provision has planted Spitzer’s used inventory right where consumers are searching, and the results don’t lie. Over the last two years, gross revenue is up 36%, while group sales volume has seen a 32% jump across Spitzer’s 15 locations.
Just another example of how the best dealerships run better. Get your personalized demo at vAuto.com/demo or call 888-365-1032.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Subscription rate is $69 per year. AutoSuccess welcomes unsolicited editorials and graphics (not responsible for their return). All submitted editorials and graphics are subject to editing for grammar, content and page length. AutoSuccess provides its contributing writers latitude in expressing advice and solutions; views expressed are not necessarily those of AutoSuccess and by no means reflect any guarantees. AutoSuccess accepts no liability in respect of the content of any third party material appearing in this magazine or in respect of the content of any other magazine to which this magazine may be linked from time to time. Always confer with legal counsel before implementing changes in procedures.© All contents copyrighted by AutoSuccess Magazine, a Division of Systems Marketing, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part is prohibited without express written consent from AutoSuccess. AutoSuccess may occasionally make readers’ names available to other companies whose products and/or services may be of interest; readers may request that names be removed by calling 877.818.6620. Printed in the USA. Postmaster: Send address changes to AutoSuccess Magazine, 2300 Hurstbourne Village Dr, Suite 1200 Louisville, KY 40299.
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getting ‘above the fold’ with seo
sometimes it does pay to put all your eggs in one basket
why are the right crm processes so hard to implement?
Hannah Philpott, Media Director Susie Horne, Account Manager John Warner, Sales-Improvement Strategist email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
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adjust your attitude
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attention dealer principals, gms & GSMs SeanV.Bradley
when your customer hits the internet, they’re no longer your customer who are you (and what do you want)?
did you hire them dead, or kill them after you got them? creating traction with the right tools
44 46 48 JohnTraver
Incorporate Mobile Technology Into the Sales Process
three take-aways from carmax’s used vehicle playbook DalePollak
teaching an old dog new tricks: MarkTewart
disaster preparation, Part 2 tip the scales
32 38 42 MarshBuice
coming off the floor
redefining your competition and understanding online buying behavior
how to use inventory shortages as an opportunity for expansion JimmyVee & TravisMiller
sell 20 units per month with 10 quality conversations per day
Time to Market: Reconditioning at DePaula Chevrolet DennisMcGinn
08 24 30
leadership solution the seeds of true success SeanWolfington
Susan Givens, Publisher firstname.lastname@example.org
Everything you believe
about LOW PRICE is WRONG? Perhaps the most important book you may ever own on SELLING CARS. Delivers vital information that every dealer needs to know about attracting customers, selling cars and making a profit in the car business. Loaded with real world tactics and strategies that are being successfully used to naturally attract tens of thousands of buyers every month.
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the seeds of true success When a single seed is planted and nurtured, an amazing process begins within. So it goes with servant leadership. I’m not talking about growing plants; I’m talking about growing people. When a person has a genuine concern for the good of those around him, a natural course of action begins. It is the birth of servant leadership. Leadership is not a position; it is a process. A servant leader does not aspire to lead, but desires to serve. Such service comes from inside all of us by nature of our very being. We are born for that purpose; we are made for the service of others. It is through service and the investment into the common good of others that bring forth fruit in our own lives and in the lives of those whom we serve. In order for a seed to grow, it must be watered and fertilized, and so must a person. Servant leadership exemplifies and feeds the moral fiber of those exposed to it. Just as a gardener nurtures and prunes a plant to maximize growth, we, too, must feed the needs of those in our care with encouragement, direction and, sometimes, correction, in order to facilitate and enhance development and growth. Whether you are leading a family or a dealership, what matters is the people. If you are trying to accomplish goals, don’t just look at the metrics to measure success. Performance is important, but to cultivate the most desired results, it is necessary to focus on the roots. Focusing on serving the needs of others around you will yield a fine crop of individuals who, through mutual humility and respect, become the best that they can be and the best at what they do. What more could you ask for?
We can all easily wrap ourselves around resultgenerating techniques and automotive best practices, but the most valuable investment that we can make is in the people around us. For the greatest return on your investment, integrate principles of honesty, integrity and service of others at the core of your management level. Once this permeates through the vines of your organization, every department will begin to realize that all things are possible and true success comes through helping each other and working together. Servant leadership isn’t about power or stature — it’s about sacrificial love. It’s about responding to the needs of those around you. Vince Lombardi said it best: “Leadership lies in sacrifice, self-denial, love, fearlessness and humility. That is the difference between great and little men.” This truth applies to any field of play — in sports, at home, or on a showroom floor. The reality is that anyone can answer the call to be of service to others. Don’t hesitate today to plant seeds through serving someone around you. See what positive difference you can make in someone’s life, and the awesome results it will cultivate. You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.
Sean Wolfington is an auto industry expert and partner with Tier 10 Marketing. He can be contacted at 866.802.5753, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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redefining your competition and understanding online buying behavior The way in which dealerships respond to Internet leads (and specifically third-party leads) is the key to getting a high closing rate and positive ROI. Most dealerships’ processes, however, may not be in line with the actual buying behaviors of today’s online consumer. While everyone agrees that a quick response is the first step in getting the deal, followed by various processes, ranging from an immediate phone call to a quick series of e-mails culminating in a phone call, what else can dealerships do to get the consumer into the showroom? Looking at actual sales results from R.L. Polk & Co. (who matches Autobytel Inc. leads to state registration records), we see a pattern that is not aligned with traditional Internet sales processes. There are two key elements at play: 1. The average consumer who submits a new car lead will buy a different brand more than 50 percent of the time. As the Gen X and Gen Y population replace Baby Boomers as the majority of in-market consumers, brand and product parity has
risen, while brand loyalty has fallen. Most dealers assume that their competition for the sale to an Internet customer are the same-brand dealers in their area, but this data tells us the competition is every dealership, regardless of brand in their market area. Dealerships responding to Internet leads need to not only have a “Why Buy from Me” message, but they also need to re-enforce the brand. For example, congratulate the consumer on their selection of Brand X, because Brand X has been named the “Car of the Year” by site.com. In addition, it is important to state and describe the product and service benefits of the selected brand vs. competing brands. This does not just apply to new car leads. Even with a used car lead, where the consumer is asking about a specific VIN, the data shows that they ultimately purchase a different brand more than 50 percent of the time. Shockingly, the consumer not only doesn’t buy Brand X VIN 123, but more than half the time they don’t even buy a different VIN of Brand X. How many dealers respond to a used car lead by also mentioning other vehicles on their lot, including other brands? 2. The other behavior at play is the switch between a new car lead buying a used car and a
used car lead buying a new car. More than 20 percent of used car leads actually buy a new car. There are numerous factors that can be attributed to this, but when responding to a used VINspecific lead, how many dealers also speak about new car incentives or specials available?
On the flip side, more than 40 percent of new car intenders wind up buying a used car. This is not surprising, with the continued emphasis by OEMs on their CPO programs, or when you consider consumers who really want that new vehicle but just can’t make the numbers work. Most dealers know to mention a used or CPO option in responding to a new car request, but the interesting fact is that this new-to-used switch accelerates as the lead ages. This implies that, as the leads are followed up on, more emphasis should be placed on used car options after 30 days. So, how can dealers capitalize on this buying behavior? New Car 1. Sell the brand on all communications (phone scripts and templates),
then “Why Buy from Me,” then the vehicle requested, followed by used or CPO options. 2. Modify scripts and templates as the lead ages when following up on leads older than 30 days with a greater emphasis on used vehicles. Don’t forget the original new car request — just beef up the used alternatives. Used Car 1. Respond to the specific VIN in the lead, but add alternatives — not
only the same brand, but also the other used brands on your lot.
2. Mention new car alternatives, as well — perhaps a lower trim or
model in the price range — with strong incentives. Consumers are not always aware that with rising used car prices, a new car is not a huge stretch.
Finally, consider how your dealership’s Website is designed. Can consumers see all the dealership’s inventory (new and used) in one place, or, if not, is it easy to navigate between the two? Consumers are buying cars, but the buying behaviors may not align to traditional Internet sales processes, so get on board and drive more consumers into your showroom. Scott Pechstein is the senior director of national sales at Autobytel. He can be contacted at 866.423.9019, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“ We increased $150 profit per vehicle.” Part of Reynolds Retail Management System… transforming the way consumers experience your dealership.
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Mylas Copeland General Manager Green Toyota, Scion, Audi, Volkswagen Springfield, IL
â€œUnivision is extraordinarily excited to be partnered in this launch of AutoAmigo, which is going to be the first-ever Hispanic auto buying program. It is going to be a unique service because it is going to be able to help Latino consumers on the one hand, but at the same time help auto retailers better serve the Hispanic community.â€? Cesar Conde President of Univision Networks
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when your customer hits the internet, they’re no longer your customer When I was at NADA, a dealer came up to me and said, “The thing I really like about your product is that when my customers get the e-mails, letters and microsites, they’re still my customers. I haven’t lost them to the Internet yet.”
Week of August 25 Honda - WA Kia - OH Chevy - MO Buick - IL Chevy - NY
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$109,973 $134,304 $136,316 $ 91,341 $168,213
Week of September 1 Chevy - CAN Nissan - CO Hyundai - OH Chevy - MO
5 6 5 5
20 40 50 25
$104,421 $201,339 $160,821 $130,221
Week of September 8 Chrysler - OH Subaru - WA Chevy - MI Indep - IN
5 5 5 5
38 35 25 31
$204,188 $224,762 $119,893 $172,113
We’re probably the only company that will tell you that every event we do isn’t perfect. 81% of our clients are very excited about the results we generate for them. The other 19% aren’t great, but our clients don’t lose money!
NOTE: We value our clients’ privacy. If you are serious about putting G&A to work for you, we are happy to provide all the references and details you can handle.
Get to Your Customers Before They Get to the Internet
The dealer’s point is a critical one. Your owner marketing campaigns need to target your customers before they hit the Internet. Why? Because, when your customers log onto their computers and begin shopping, they’re no longer your customers. Once they hit “Search,” they’re up for grabs. Your competitive advantage is gone because, for your customers, it’s no longer about loyalty. It’s about price, availability, who interacts with them first and who can gain their trust the fastest. Unfortunately, a staggering 85 percent of consumers start the car buying process online — and they can shop five, eight, 10 dealerships with the click of a button from the convenience of their home. That means your dealership is fighting to keep its customers before they walk in the door — if they walk in your door. Bottom line: You’re left in the unenviable position of having to conquest your own customers.
What’s Your Strategy?
You should connect with your customers before they go online; which means you actually have to reach out prior to them even thinking about purchasing a vehicle. But not too soon. Otherwise they’ll ignore you — or you’ll annoy them. It’s a fine line — one you have to navigate carefully. Your dealership needs an owner marketing program, one that is strategic and data driven. Remember, you are the one who has and holds important data about your customers — not your competition. You have information about your customers’ service, sales and F&I history. So use it. Develop offers and multi-channel campaigns that draw upon this data and target your customers who are most likely to respond, or partner with a vendor who specializes in automotive direct marketing solutions and multi-channel communications. It’s crucial that your owner marketing program is consistent, systematic and strategic, because your data — and what you do with it — just might be the only thing standing between your customers and the Internet.
How Owner Marketing Programs Pay Off
So what are the benefits of intercepting your customers before they reach the Internet? • More profit per deal because customers haven’t shopped you out • Greater purchase frequency because you’re jump-starting the buying process • Decreased defection rate • Improved quality of used vehicles due to trade-ins, with less time, money and hassle spent purchasing autos at auctions • Increased referrals from satisfied customers — up to 50 percent of purchasing decisions are based primarily on the advice of friends and family
Think Long-Term and Diversify
CONTACT MATT BAKER 800-688-1370 email@example.com
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An owner marketing program should feature a diverse, yet highly integrated, set of solutions. For a strategy to be truly effective, it must take into account that different customers are motivated by different offers. What works for a loyal service customer is probably not the best approach for one who has become inactive. Data should drive the multi-channel campaigns and offers that you, or the vendor(s) you partner with, communicate to customers. The type of customer — previous, conquest, inactive, at-risk or lost — will have a strong influence, as well. Data analytics should be employed to reveal which customers are motivated by which types of events. For instance, some are more likely to respond to sales events, while others, customer pay clinics. That’s why a dealership should diversify, with an owner marketing program that incorporates a number of approaches that spans the lifecycle of its customers. As the dealer at NADA said, “Once a customer goes to the Internet, they’re no longer my customer.” My advice is, fight for each and every one of your customers with the best weapon you’ve got — an aggressive owner marketing program. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The Best Lesson to Learn From Super Bowl XLVII
A lot of emphasis will be put on Joe Flacco’s performance in the Super Bowl but let’s look at Joe’s history for the real lesson. Coming out of high school, Joe was a three-star recruit and was rated the 39th best high school quarterback in the country. Being a three-star recruit isn’t shabby, but those kids don’t get the attention of the four- and five-star recruits. In last year’s Super Bowl, somebody did a review of each player participating and came up with only a couple of players who were four- or five-star recruits out of high school. The rest of the players were one-, two-, three- or even no-star recruits. The bottom line is this: A whole lot of people will spend a whole lot of time judging you and they will often be wrong. Joe Flacco did not listen to people judging him as a threestar recruit. He persevered and used the one judgment that mattered in the end: his own. Joe Flacco was offered and accepted a scholarship to play football at Pitt. His freshman year he was redshirted and did not play. The next year he saw limited playing time and was beat out by another quarterback, Tyler Palko. Palko wound up with a good, but not
great, college career at Pitt and today is a back-up quarterback in the NFL. Joe Flacco was once again judged as inferior but, as disappointing as that had to be, he once again persevered. Joe Flacco decided to transfer to Delaware to play football. Delaware is not exactly a hot bed of football. Delaware is in the College Football Sub-Championship Series, which means they are not a big-time program in a big-time conference. Joe Flacco was relegated to a lower level once again. Once again, though, he persevered. Joe set many records at Delaware and had an outstanding football career. At the NFL combine for the 2008 draft where the top college football players are put through numerous physical and mental drills and tests, Joe Flacco had an impressive performance. The Baltimore Ravens drafted Joe Flacco in the first round. Joe was the 18th player taken and was the second quarterback taken in the draft. His star had risen but he was still judged as second best, but once again persevered. In his first year with the Ravens, Joe was third on the depth chart behind two other quarterbacks. By chance, the starting quarterback went down with an injury and the back-up quarterback was ill. This opportunity elevated him to a starting position. Joe Flacco once again had persevered. In six seasons, Joe Flacco has set records and is the only quarterback to lead his team to the playoffs in each of six seasons. However, there always was a contingent of fans and media who said Joe wasn’t good enough. They said Baltimore would not win a Super Bowl with Joe Flacco. Joe Flacco is now a Super Bowl winner and the MVP of Super Bowl XLVII. On Joe’s journey, he has been constantly judged and usually was declared not quite good enough. The bottom line is that all of those so-called experts were wrong — only one expert was qualified to make the final judgment: Joe Flacco. He persevered and refused to quit. The next time you are being judged or are a little down on yourself, remember Joe Flacco. The story behind the story of Joe Flacco is by far the best story and lesson of Super Bowl XVII. For a free special report titled “10 Things You Must Do At Your Dealership To Be Successful” e-mail me at the address below with “10 Things” in the subject line. podcast interviewee
The day after the Super Bowl, it seems like everyone reviews the commercials and decides which one was best. The sports channels review every detail from the game and the players who made the big plays. The news focuses on the weird blackout at the Superdome. However, the best lesson to be learned from the Super Bowl is in the story behind the story of Baltimore Ravens’ Quarterback Joe Flacco.
Mark Tewart is the president of Tewart Enterprises, and the author of the best seller, How To Be A Sales Superstar. He can be contacted at 866.429.6844, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Peel back the outermost layer of your dealership and reveal the critical success/fail and profit/loss and people/technology issues.
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Our team will provide you with extensive marketing analysis, BDC and Internet department optimization, on-site training, vendor meetings, assistance with project management and client communications, analytics and reporting, and much more to help you effectively implement your campaigns, ultimately sell more cars and maintain a loyal customer base. We’ll help you apply the best dealership practices. Call for an assessment today 732-450-8200.
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who are you (and what do you want)?
First things first: goals. What are your goals? What are you looking to accomplish with your brand? Of course you want to sell a lot of cars — there are a million ways to sell a lot of cars without committing to investing a large chunk of your time and money into a personal brand. My goal, however, is to be the name in my area (target marketplace) that people think of when they hear words like “Hyundai,” “new car,” “great customer service,” “educational,” “quick and hassle-free,” “car-shopping experience,” etc. They have no choice but to think of me. I want my brand to be stamped into their brain from either an exceptional experience they personally had with me or from someone they know telling them about an experience they had with me. They could have read about great experiences with me on the Internet or on social media platforms. I want my name — my brand — to be everywhere that those key topics are discussed. Next: audience. Figure out who and where your audience is. This is also called your target marketplace. Where do the people live to whom you are selling yourself as a brand? What are they looking or shopping for? Who are these people? What is their age range? Are they male or female? All of these answers should be readily available to you with little effort. This should be pretty self-explanatory. If you know your product and know what you are selling, then obviously you know who you are selling to. We’re in the car business, people; our manufacturers spend ridiculous amounts of money and consult experts in this field to figure out the majority of our target marketplace for us. Tap into these resources. This one is kind of
a no-brainer. In order to sell your brand to the right kind of people, you need to know your brand and yourself. Which brings me to number three: Know who you are. What makes you unique? What do you bring to the table (or what can you bring) that is going to set you apart from the rest of the sales associates in your area? Lyndon B. Johnson once said, “What convinces is conviction.” You have to believe in yourself, your goals and, most importantly, your product. You can’t be the milkman delivering pizzas. Be real. If you’re not driving what you’re selling, I’m not sure who you’re trying to fool. Wake up. If you don’t personally want to own what you’re selling, you’re in the wrong business and you definitely can’t be the expert. If you can’t close yourself on a payment that you supposedly can’t afford, how do you ever expect to convince your customers to do the same thing? If you truly believed that your product was the best overall value, you and your entire family would have one in your garage. Why are people going to come to you, across town, instead of someone who is right across the street? You need to know exactly what you are offering. Sit down and make a list. What can you consistently deliver over and over again that will set the bar just a little bit higher? Most importantly, you have to be genuine and real. Once you set your goals — know who you are selling to and what you truly are selling — you need to build your personal visual identity. Some of you may refer to this as a logo. As I mentioned before, logos are not necessarily imperative; however, they are strongly recommended. What is the first thing that you see in your head when I say “Apple?” The logo. If you can successfully and consistently complete the previous steps, then you need a visual aid to add to the value of your consistent and genuine brand name. Like I said before, know who you are. What is a symbol of who you are? It can be simple, or it can be complex. All that matters is that it represents you and your commitment to being the brand that you have made for yourself. For example: Look at my stunningly handsome headshot above. I wear glasses. I make them look good. I have several different shades, shapes, brands and styles of geeky, thick-framed glasses that are as much a part of me as the service that I offer to my customers. When anyone sees the logo on my cards, mailers, pens, brochures, Websites, stickers, magnets, etc., they always make a comment about how amusingly it reflects who I truly am. Nobody knows the real you better than you (or at least they shouldn’t). Spend some time thinking or consulting with others (who know you well and whose opinions are valued) before you decide on a logo, should you decide to embrace this part of your own brand. OK, I know this all sounds like a lot of work (and I’m not gonna lie to you — it is). Keep chasing pavement on that lot, if that’s your choice. If all of this sounds overwhelming, you haven’t seen anything yet — I’m just getting started. We haven’t even touched on how you market this brand that is essentially, basically and most importantly, you.
Robert Wiesman is an automotive professional at Massey Hyundai, in Hagerstown, MD. He can be contacted at 866.667.0919, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last month, my focus for the article was on why today’s automotive professional needs to build a personal brand. Now that I’ve convinced you that it’s an amazing idea that will help you dominate your marketplace, I’m going to go into more detail on how to develop yourself into the recognizable, reliable name that people can count on.
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sell 20 units per month with 10 quality conversations per day There are six distinct sources of business: floor traffic, phone-ups, Internet leads, referrals, repeat and new business. The first three are reactive and the last three are proactive. Reactive opportunities are outside of a salesperson’s control and, on average, are harder to sell, close at a lower ratio and have lower grosses. Reactive salespeople can sell eight to 10 units per month. It takes a proactive salesperson to sell 20. To sell 20, you have to learn to sell cars — not just wait for people to buy them. For the most part, proactive opportunities are unlimited and close easier for higher grosses. Around 95 percent of salespeople spend 95 percent of their time working and depending on the wrong opportunities. Anyone who doesn’t sell 20 (or even 10) units per month either doesn’t want to or doesn’t know how. In order to sell 20 units a month, one must understand what a quality conversation means. A quality conversation is a discussion based on specific questions. These questions are: 1. How many drivers reside at a household? 2. How many vehicles do they own? 3. What type of vehicles they own? 4. Who is most likely to be in the market next? The conversation from these questions will lead to some follow-up questions and will conclude with a date and a plan of action. Once this information has been collected, it must be immediately put into your CRM system. Use the tools at your disposal to create a plan and, most importantly, work your plan. Every day, you should come to work prepared to succeed. Give yourself a reason to sell 20 units per month. What would you do with the extra money that those additional sales would provide? If you don’t have a reason to make the extra money each month, then you have no reason to modify your daily routine to sell those extra units. Money doesn’t motivate people; if it did, you’d sell more units. Money is the means, not the end. Only ends can motivate you: a new boat, a new car, travel, elimination of debt, etc. Those are the things that motivate you. Find your reason, and use it motivate yourself to do more than those around you. Start every day with at least three people that you have a chance to sell that day. Learn and master your CRM system inside and out. You must be able to record multiple contact points and, most importantly, be able to record how many drivers, how many vehicles, who drives what, who’s next to purchase, their interest, your plan or action and a follow-up date. If you can’t do this — or don’t do this — your odds of selling 20 decrease dramatically. Most CRMs are not prospecting-friendly. You may have to manipulate the notes section. Here’s the Formula: In the next 12 weeks, enter 50 complete household profiles per week, for a total of 600 households. Include your walk-ins, phone-ups, Internet leads, orphan-ups, orphan owners, service customers and your circle of influence. Be vigilant — 50 a week for 12 weeks is completely possible. Your results will improve every week as you continue to do this. Make your 600 profiles a purified number; don’t just create a mailing list. These should be people who live in your market and are likely to do business with you or, at the minimum, send you customers. These 600 households own about 1,200 vehicles collectively. When averaging new and used vehicles combined, the average trade cycle is four years. That’s 1,200 owners trading every four years, which produces 300 sales a year, or 25 per month — not prospects, but sales. No one will sell all 25, but you have the best chance to sell the most. You’ve done your homework, you’ve prepared in advance, you have a relationship already built, and people prefer to do business with a familiar face. Combine these opportunities with referrals and new business, and you are on your way. To guarantee yourself 20+ units per month, you have to spend most of your day talking to your selfgenerated opportunities, either on the phone, through e-mail, face to face or selling them at your dealership. 20 units a month is a choice. Program yourself for that number today! Tom Stuker is the president of Stuker and Associates and the author of Guaranteed Sales Success. He can be contacted at 866.481.8812, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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adjust your attitude
Don’t get me wrong — I know what its like. Monday morning: another week of strokes, bad ups, tire kicking and on and on, week after week, ad nausea. They don’t know what they want, or worse yet, they know what they want and they are the experts. “Great,” you think. “They are going to beat me down to a mini gross, not enough to cover the grocery bill today. Gee, I gotta get in another business. The Internet makes them an expert; how can I sell them anything? Last month, I sold more cars, but my grosses dropped like a rock. I swear I can’t look another up in the face the rest of my life.” Well, I might have an answer for you; after all, I’m not new to the selling game. Story Time: I used to sell vacation lots for second-home clientel. It was a lake project and, of course, some wanted lakefront, lake view, access to the lake, wooded lots, court lots, cheapest lot to get lake privilege, etc. There were more than 1,000 lots available. While taking “ups” on a tour in my car, I had an inventory of lots to offer my clients. And how many lots did I have in my notebook? For 1,000 lots, must be hundreds right? I had a total of 10. What’s the deal? I showed the best waterfront, regardless of price, and the cheapest waterfront, no matter how bad it was. I also had the best lake view, the cheapest lake view, the best wooded lot and the cheapest wooded lot, the best interior lot, the
Now, the product in sales is incidental — cars, boats, golf clubs, shoes, potatoes, tomatoes, whatever. What is consistent with sales presentation is planning, product knowledge and most of all, enthusiasm for what you are selling.
cheapest interior lot, and the best golf course lot and the cheapest golf course lot in my notebook. Now, the product in sales is incidental — cars, boats, golf clubs, shoes, potatoes, tomatoes, whatever. What is consistent with sales presentation is planning, product knowledge and most of all, enthusiasm for what you are selling. Let’s get back to Monday morning. It’s a new beginning — a chance to meet some great new people who, if they buy, will provide my family with a great living. These are customers, sure, but they are moms, dads, kids, grandkids and so on. A good attitude and a great smile will break down their fear of being sold. Take your time. A good firm handshake will go a long way (be careful, though; hard handshakes can hurt older people for whom arthritis is an issue). From the first minute, the bonding should start. Take some time to listen to their issues and wants. After assembling necessary information, go to your inventory. Remember, your personal select inventory has only cool cars in great colors with great options, or the cheapest model (but in good color combos). Do you get it? Groom your inventory and respect your ups. Stop telling jokes about ups with the other salesmen. Customers pick up on insincerity. Clean up your act. Switching jobs won’t change anything — the problem is between your ears. It’s a good profession and it is important to the economy. Every office job, every manufacturing job, every white collar job and, in fact, almost all jobs cease without the “sale.”
Jason Hauk is the owner of Sharp Cars and Dealer Marketing Concepts. He can be contacted at 866.388.4503, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Well, here I am again, and I might add “second verse same as the first.” I’m still lecturing on “down with the old, up with the new.” We’ll be looking at a new attitude towards customers this month.
time to market:
Reconditioning At DePaula Chevrolet
We talked about the state of the used car business, which eventfully led to a discussion of how to convince dealers to change processes for better results. One point I well remember is Dale’s comment about where best to spend our time when getting our new business off the ground. He said, “In my experience, it is always the best dealers who want to get even better, so work with dealers who are already performing well.” When our company was started, Dale’s sound advice was foremost in our minds when it came time to focus in on our energy and resources. Our initial customers and early adopters were from well-performing dealerships with strong management teams. They were just plain tired of not knowing what was going on in their reconditioning departments. They knew things were not working, and were not afraid to try something totally new in order to fix their problems. The first few systems we put in place were basic, with only five or six steps to track cars from Received to the Front Line — basically, keeping better track of what was already being done. Our primary objective was measuring actual recon cycle time at each step. Once the data was captured for two to three months in each dealership, average days in recon were universally two to three times longer than what they had previously assumed about their own numbers. The range was between a low of 8.5 days to as high as 18 days. By the end of our pilot year, we had collected data on 50,000 cars and I was convinced that a best-case scenario for any dealer to sustain was in the range of five or six days, taking into account any problem cars along with the clean ones. However, by mid-2012, the recon workflow software had evolved to the point where it was highly automated. It keeps all necessary
dealership and recon personnel (including significant outside vendors) informed as to what they own, and displays each car and person at every step from start to finish in real time. It also enables management to quickly make changes in priorities and minimize any bottlenecks. By this time, we were seeing significant reductions in the averages, and it seemed that three to five days was an attainable target. Then along came DePaula Chevrolet in Albany, New York. When I first talked to Tom Restino, vice president of operations, and Paul Lynch, general sales manager, they explained that they needed to recondition 150 to 200 cars each month and were committed to a 24-hour turn from Received to the Front Line. At first, I thought he was just setting the bar too high, but after three months of measuring and monitoring his real-time workflow process, they are, in fact, meeting the 24-hour objective. Their process consists of the 18 Steps and their “time to market” metric (see below) starts with “Purchases or Cleared Trades” and ends at “Market Ready.” It is also notable that DePaula ranks in vAuto’s “Top-20 Dealers,” so Dale’s insight about the best getting better certainly applies. To be clear, achieving and maintaining a 24-hour recon cycle time means you have to structure your processes such that it works more like a pit crew. The results, however, are that everything works better — sales are accelerated and the bottom line is what dealers dream about. In the specific case of DePaula, they do try to buy clean cars to complement the clean trades. They have dedicated techs and detail teams. Seven photos are taken and uploaded when the car is received, followed immediately by the service evaluation and the UCM’s decision regarding which repairs he is willing to approve. All this takes one or two hours, and is all linked with text messages so no actual meetings or discussions are needed. This allows the UCM to multitask and the service repairs to be done without delay. If parts are not on the shelf, the parts manager has the hot potato. To get to this level, you have to commit your recon process and resources to this end. Also, making sure the recon manager is financially rewarded is an essential part of their success. Uploading photos has typically been the final step in the reconditioning process, but all that appears to be changing. The Internet has driven dealers to photograph and upload each car in the beginning steps to maximize the number of selling days. DePaula takes seven photos when the cars come off the transport or the trades are cleared (as shown here in Step 4) to get a jump start online, followed by a full set of 39 photos 24 hours later. If there is inconsistency and lack of accountability in your recon numbers, perhaps it is time to ask how much time and money is your dealership leaving on the table. There is an easy solution which takes little time to get your dealership up and running that gives clear insight into your entire recon process. I can help you calculate a number, or you can do it yourself by adding another used car turn per year just as a starting point. And then, it just gets better from there.
# Step 1 In-Transit 2 Trades 3 Received 4 7 Photos 5 E Test 6 Evaluation 7 UCM Approval 8 Service Repair 9 Parts Hold 10 Body Shop 11 Sublet 12 Detail 13 39 Photos 14 Market Ready 15 Front Line Certified 16 Front Line 17 Double DOT 18 Wholesale
Dennis McGinn is the founder and CEO of Rapid Recon. He can be contacted at 866.268.3582, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Several years ago, I attended a 20 Group meeting hosted by Rydell Chevrolet in Grand Forks, North Dakota. At that meeting, Dale Pollak had been a guest speaker and, on the flight out, I had the chance opportunity to be seated next to him.
getting ‘above the fold’ with seo AJ LeBlanc: Can you give us a brief overview of your basic marketing strategy and philosophy? Dave Sohier: We believe in following the
basic rules of marketing: Talk to the people who matter the most (the people most likely to buy), use a motivating message and deliver that message using high, high frequency. AJ: What type of marketing efforts do you implement in the stores on a consistent monthly basis? DS: Apart from traditional TV and radio, we
use a lot of digital marketing, with a special emphasis on getting people to visit our Website, which is where we get our best leads. For this reason, we do a lot of paid search, SEO, social media and reputation management. AJ: Why is it important for a dealership to have Video SEO as part of an overall marketing strategy? DS: Ever since Google purchased YouTube and
changed their formula to promote variety in their search results, a lot of the old SEO methods don’t work as well. VSEO is a big exception, and we find videos, when properly optimized, often display high on Page One results. AJ: Can you explain what Video SEO does for your dealership? DS: Video SEO helps us gain a lot of Page One real estate we otherwise
might not get. It helps our profile and promotes our positioning and promotions.
AJ: How has Video SEO affected your Websites’ visibility on search engines? DS: Our Websites have traditionally done well in the search results, but VSEO gives us more
search entries. It helps us dominate “above the fold” in a way that cannot otherwise be purchased. AJ: How do you measure the effectiveness of your Video SEO strategy? DS: We routinely conduct searches to determine if we are gaining traction in key model and fixed
ops searches. So far, it has helped us compete with bigger dealerships in key metros.
AJ: Lastly, when did your dealerships implement a Video SEO strategy and what is the average increase your group’s stores have seen in sales/market share since implementing this strategy into your overall marketing plan? DS: We started in October 2012. It is difficult to assign gains to any one vendor, but there is
no denying the positive effect VSEO has provided our search results. For instance, with VSEO, searching for a specific model in a neighboring metro now shows our store pushing the native dealer down below the fold. We are seeing similar results for fixed ops searches related to our brand. AJ LeBlanc is the co-founder of Car-Mercial.com. He can be contacted at 866.795.9094, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This month, I’ve interviewed Dave Sohier, eBusiness manager of the Anderson Automotive Group, which has seven new car franchise locations in North and South Carolina.
why are the right crm processes so hard to implement?
Some sales professionals said that the CRM system was too complicated, while others said that it was easier for them to keep manual notes using their own “system.” The majority had no good reason. They were not using the CRM system for every sales lead simply because they were not held accountable. With a majority of the sales professionals indicating that less than half of the opportunities were logged into the CRM, it was clear that they did not believe that the CRM would help them sell more cars. After further discussion, I found that many were not using phone scripts or word tracts to obtain the customer’s e-mail address and/or phone number to use in the CRM. Does this sound familiar? You can point the finger of blame, but that will do nothing to change the culture at a dealership that has low CRM utilization. Poor CRM utilization is a leadership problem. If your dealership is not leveraging the power of today’s CRM technology, it is time to get serious about redefining the job description of senior management. General managers and sales managers have to lead their teams in all areas of retail sales — if they plan to stay ahead of their competitors. This leadership requires managers to be strong users and advocates of the dealership’s CRM software. If sales professionals see their managers living inside the CRM, they will take notice. Living in the CRM will require managers to hold their sales team accountable for e-mail communications and adherence to predefined lead handling work plans. It means that every sales meeting involves using the CRM to review new lead opportunities, appointmentsetting trends and follow-up with unsold showroom ups. When managers live in the CRM, they will inspect that all phone ups and showroom ups are in the CRM daily. They will review the data quality for each new customer record. Managers will check to see that their sales professionals are leaving comments in the
customer record based on their phone calls. If managers spot poor data quality, they will retrain the sales professional on the use of phone scripts, CRM process and in-store sales process. CRM systems are not perfect. I don’t want to sound like a CRM zealot who believes these systems do not have limitations. Leads need to be worked by passionate sales professionals — especially in the first 72 hours — to get the customer on the phone and in the dealership. If sales professionals are able to connect and speak with the customer, the odds of setting the appointment are exponentially higher. Connection is essential, as the phone call sets the appointment. However, there comes a time when the consumer does not respond. So what should the dealer do? Keep sending e-mails and phone calls? The answer could be “yes,” but the good news is that there is a new breed of software on the market to nurture leads after your staff has marked them “dead” or “inactive.” Dealers who do not have a solid, long-term follow-up process could find that an automated system that nurtures unresponsive, inactive or dead deals will yield a greater return on their investment, bring a higher closing ratio and, ultimately, be able to sell more cars. How? No more cherry picking. Dealers know that many Internet sales professionals will “cherry pick” new leads rather that work leads that are more than 30 days old. So, instead of allowing the idea of cherry picking to continue, dealers need to consider a twotiered lead follow-up lifecycle. Tier One is the activity where sales professionals must follow a stringent, but pleasantly persistent, process for a set amount of time. After this window of opportunity to connect with the customer, Tier Two follow-up kicks in. This is all automated, and continues until engagement from the consumer is received. Then, the lead is reactivated in the CRM for a sales professional to close. This two-tier system frees up your sales professionals to do what they do best: connect with customers and sell cars. The automation allows the dealers to stay in front of the customer on a long-term basis. Once a customer is re-engaged, the sales professional then is forced back into the follow-up process. Regardless if dealers take this two-tiered approach, dealers must learn to adapt and use their CRM. CRMs will be the backbone of any dealership and GMs and dealer principles can no longer afford to have managers who are not holding their team accountable through their CRM. The CRM is the manager’s tool to increase the ROI of marketing investments made by the dealer principal. Creating a new role in the dealership, called the CRM manager, is not effective because this person does not have authority to hold sales professionals accountable. We should not insert another level of accountability in the leadership structure of the dealership. When dealers hire general managers and sales managers who have a work ethic that includes living inside the CRM, dramatic changes occur. It is not uncommon to see Internet sales ratios increase 50 to 100 percent when managers live in the CRM. If you could double the sales from Internet-based leads at your dealership, what would that do to your annual bottom-line? The right CRM processes are not hard to implement if you have the right job description in place for managers. It is time to raise the standards of excellence for dealership managers; they should be the experts at using the CRM to manage business opportunities. Dealers also need to supplement CRM software with lead-nurturing software to squeeze every last dollar from their marketing investments. Dealers looking for a blueprint for CRM structure and process should pick up a copy of my latest book, Selling Cars in the Digital Age. This book, a collaboration with Marc McGurren, Ed Shaffer and Glenn Pasch, gives dealers the structure, processes and training guidelines needed to create a CRM-centric dealership. Brian Pasch, is CEO of PCG Digital Marketing and the founder of the Automotive Internship Program. He can be contacted at 866.849.1560, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
At a recent dealership meeting, I asked the sales team a few questions to investigate how well the staff was utilizing their CRM system. Specifically, I asked them, “What percentage of phone ups and showroom ups were logged into the CRM?” The answers ranged from 20 percent to 80 percent, which started a lively conversation of why there was such a range of compliance.
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Dave An derson, Pastor Tim Cha mbers, Tracy My ers, Jerry Thibeau, Craig Lockerd, Dav id Joh nso n, Tom Wie gan d, Troy Spring, Jim Bernardi, Na ncy Sim mon s, Bra d Alexan der, Chris Patton, Ern ie Kas prowicz, Fran Tay lor, Jim Ra dog na, Kim berly Olso n, Ma rsh Buice, Ma rty Ra ym ond, Micah Kirk holz, Ra che l Ha ro, Ric McCoy, Rob by Dilm ore, Robert B Dilm ore Sr, Rod Thu rley, Sally Whites ell, Tim Byrd & Tom Gorha m No Preaching, Just the fact s!
JimmyVee & TravisMiller
how to use inventory shortages as an opportunity for expansion These days, dealers and managers are facing significant inventory challenges — such as inflated used car prices and dwindling new car supply. When cars are hard to find, the last thing most dealers think about is marketing to attract more customers. Who needs more customers when you’re out of inventory, right? Hit The Breaks!
Though all of that seems to make perfect sense, it’s completely wrong. Here’s why:
ability to pay more for cars and still turn an excellent profit is a secret weapon and a tremendous competitive advantage that nobody is talking about. See, you can’t control inventory allocation from the factory. You can’t control prices at the auction. You can’t control the economy, gas prices or unemployment. But you can control your own marketing message and your own marketing strategy. The most profitable dealers harness this reality and, when other dealers are facing inventory problems, they leverage the problem into an opportunity to scoop up more market share by aggressively promoting a solutions-based message, which attracts a much higher number of customers, including many buyers who are less price-conscious — allowing them to sell cars at higher prices. This creates a cycle of growth and profitability, in a time when other dealers are struggling, and releases the dealer from the typical burden of inventory challenges.
When inventory is tight, most dealers cut back their marketing. This is exactly the right time to capture market share, when other dealers aren’t Always remember: Doing things the way everyone does things is a sure way to get what everyone gets. Approaching common problems from an uncommon perspective allows you to create focused on attracting customers. solutions that most dealers will never experience. What’s more, when you advertise using a Request your free copy of our book Invasion Of The Profit Snatchers, go to www. solution-based message, instead of a low-price message, you’ll automatically attract customers ProfitSnatchersBook.com and use the coupon code ASM1302. who are far less price-conscious, allowing you to charge more for the vehicles. It’s simple Jimmy Vee and Travis Miller are founders of The Rich Dealers Institute and the math — if you can sell cars for more money authors of Gravitational Marketing: The Science of Attracting Customers and than other dealers, you can afford to buy Invasion of the Profit Snatchers. They can be contacted at 866.867.9618, or by cars for more money than other dealers. The e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
tip the scales
In the art of selling, we’re taught to create imbalance — when the scale is tipped and value outweighs the price, a customer is more prone to buy. “Is it worth it?” Shoppers aren’t the only ones uttering those familiar words — your employees are, as well. When their valued efforts no longer outweigh the price they are willing to pay — the long hours and constant rejection, tied together with sub-par commissions — we, as leaders, lose our most valuable assets: our employees. It is estimated that 65 percent of those in the workplace received no recognition last year — the price they paid far exceeded the value received. With nothing left to give, hopeless and dejected, demoralized and desperate, feeling as though all of their options are exhausted, employees walk away — not from their profession, but, instead, from their leadership. It is our job as leaders to tip the scales — our employees must receive more value than what they pay for. See When They Can’t
Work may be the only bright spot for some of your employees. Their marriage may be in shambles, child in rehab or they’re facing foreclosure, coming to work may currently be the only positive moment in their lives. The old saying is true, “When you are going through hell, keep going.” You, as a leader, must help them see a better tomorrow when they’re blinded by today. Help them see a
better future; they may be down, but assure them rock bottom is now the platform for building their future success. At this critical time, with the arteries of their hopes severed, your people need you to apply the much-needed pressure in order to stop the bleeding. They need to know you believe in them at a time when they don’t believe in themselves. Let them know the work they are performing has significance — as if the future of the store, the difference between a good month and a great month, hinges on the customer they are currently with — they have the game-winning shot. Instead of reacting to their problems, they can, instead, rely on your leadership, drawing from your strength when they have nothing left in reserve. Their better tomorrows begin today. Molded, Not Melted
Author David Horsager advised, “What is expected of a person is what they will aspire to become.” Unfortunately, many people’s dream careers melt into nightmare job entrapments, because they never knew what was expected of them. Promising to change their lives, we snatch new recruits from their present employer. As we whisper commissioned promises of “Up to” and “As much as” in their ears, they lift their eyes toward the heavens — anticipating a new beginning. With no guidance or direction, their eyes fall. Confused, hurt and scared, their eyes stare at the ground wondering how much longer they can hold on. The unfinished statue remained neglected for 25 years; commissioned by several sculptors, it was a young Michelangelo who transformed a hacked up block of marble into the beautiful statue called David. Whether they were recruited or inherited, you must chisel, mold and shape your people into the statue called Potential. Set the expectations; give them the tools needed to succeed and follow through by holding them accountable. Just because you work alongside managers who want to just work deals and go home doesn’t mean you have to adhere to that theology. You become the change agent — you become the one your people go to when they need advice, guidance and help. Go home each night exhausted yet satisfied because you took the time to knead their efforts — pressing, folding and stretching them into becoming the best possible Them they can be. Cultivate, Don’t Annihilate
Seeds of belief have been sown and the sails of expectations have been set; now you’ve got to develop your future. The fruits of your success begin in the gardens of your people. It is unfortunate to say, but many managers do not want to cultivate their talent, annihilating their people’s hopes of being promoted, for fear of becoming replaced. The reason why some managers feel threatened by new, bright, up-coming talent is because they’ve ceased to grow once they’ve received the promo. Feeling as though they’d arrived, many managers have no ambition for new destinations. Growth is recyclable; pouring out what you know leaves room for you to receive more. There are many managers out there who have a wealth of talent and knowledge, yet instead choose to hoard their contributions — their gifts to others remain locked away forever. Help cultivate your people’s talents by using teachable moments. When a teachable situation arises, take a moment to coach them through a certain situation. If something needs corrected, don’t throw that moment into the pile of discrepancies; instead, take a few minutes to show them a better way to handle the situation the next time around. Often, we, as leaders, don’t feel we have enough time — if you had twice as many managers, you still would complain that you had no time. It only takes a pinch of yeast to make the dough rise. There are pockets of opportunities, find them and coach your people to the next level. Although we may look like we have it all together, you and I are all still children inside. At times, we are all that five-year-old holding up the piece of paper — what we do is important; how you make us feel is imperative. I’ll see you next time on the blacktop.
Marsh Buice is the sales manager of Mark Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep. He can be contacted at 866.535.5006, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
This day didn’t seem much different than the other 196 school days. I walked my five-yearold daughter to class, stooped down to kiss her goodbye and turned to walk away until one of her classmates called out to me, “Look what I drew!” Grinning from ear to ear, she proudly showed me her drawing — a drawing that only the artist could interpret. Giggling as I marveled at her masterpiece, Lacy proceeded to grab a clean sheet of paper and move on to her next work of art. What she created on that piece of paper wasn’t so special; after all, she’ll create thousands of pictures, some of which will be prominently displayed in her home’s art gallery (AKA the refrigerator). What was special for her was how I made her feel once she completed her picture. The table and chairs may be taller, crayons have been replaced with felt tips and, with the rent and car note due, “play” was dropped from the word “dough” years ago, but one thing remains certain: What people do is directly correlated to how we make them feel. Affirmation is ageless.
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coming off the floor
Steve came into the car business 25 years ago after closing his own business. A friend from Rotary was the business manager at a dealership, and invited Steve to come sell cars. At first, Steve was not enthusiastic about the opportunity. The community they live in has only 100,000 people, and the surrounding areas, when combined, total less than 250,000. Steve needed a new start, however, and decided to give it a shot. He’s been selling cars in the Wichita Falls market ever since. Fran Taylor: How important is prospecting to your business? Share with us some of your best prospecting tools. Steve Garner: As you know all too well,
prospecting separates the average salespeople from the producers. I worked with an outside trainer hired by my dealer who helped me with the processes. Contacting prospects by whatever medium you choose will dramatically increase your delivery ratio. Every prospect you get into a closing or delivering situation is easier, takes less time and yields larger profit margins than fresh traffic from the lot or showroom. I continuously mine my customer base for referrals and the service drive for warm leads. I also like to go out one or two afternoons each week and visit my friends in their offices. The warm reception I receive from total strangers is surprising. FT: How frequently do you followup with your customers, and what percentage of your business is repeat and referral? SG: My repeat and referral business
accounts for 75 percent of my business, and I supplement that with another 20 percent
from fresh prospecting each month. The remaining five percent comes from floor traffic or sales calls. I spend January and February each year making personal phone calls and visits to all of my current customers. This puts my voice or my face in front of them to remind them that I value them and am here to serve their needs. I don’t try to sell anything on this contact — just catch up with them and their lives, families and businesses. If they bring up vehicles, though, I will always accommodate them. I contact them again twice during the year with current offers, and I send out Thanksgiving cards. Handwritten correspondence has been a hallmark of my career, and I continue it to this day. FT: Steve, you mentioned that you were involved in the community, and that staying visible in the community has helped your business. Please elaborate. SG: I have been involved in youth club sports, community politics, organized faith activities,
non-profit organizations and many other things I have a passion for. This allows me to give back to the community that has supported my career for so long. When I am involved with these, it is always as a working member of the team — not as a car salesman. The dividends have been incredible, and the work has been rewarding. FT: Steve, how long ago did you come completely off the floor? What types of customers do you work with now? SG: I have been off the floor for the last five years. It was scary at first, but I could not be happier
about the ability to work with friends and clients who know me and trust me. They continue to compare my prices, but usually allow me to provide them with a great service for a little more money. I believe my business is growing because I have been able to focus on their needs as well as the needs of their friends and associates.
FT: How has leaving the floor and working appointment-only improved your life? SG: As I listen more intensely to God’s urgings in my life, I realize how much more important
other things are to me. On Thursday mornings, I take off and take my grandchildren to breakfast and then to school. Leaving the floor forces you to focus like a laser while you are at work, and allows you to play as hard as you want when you’re off. FT: Steve, how do you use online tools to sell more cars? SG: I avoided the social media giant for years, but succumbed to the beast in 2011. I got
a Facebook and LinkedIn presence. Within 30 days, I was selling vehicles from those two exposures. The posts I place are sparing and selective, and both media are excellent ways to connect with friends and customers instantly and free. There are numerous services for contact management. And I highly encourage you to find one that you are comfortable using. These electronic secretaries are invaluable in generating daily activities, such as birthdays, anniversaries, future prospecting and more. I encourage your readers to embrace change by implementing proven techniques from others. Everything I do was learned from someone else, and tailored to my personality.
Fran Taylor is the president and CEO of Taylor Techniques. He can be contacted at 866.848.9864, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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For many years, Steve Garner has averaged selling 25 to 30 cars per month. He has hit 42 units in a single month twice and does not work the floor. I sat down with Steve to discuss how he has been able to achieve this sustained success for so long.
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Investopedia.com defines a “one-stop shop” as “a company that offers a multitude of services to a client or customer.” Most auto dealerships are a one-stop shop, as they offer sales, finance, auto service and, in some cases, auto body repair at one location. If you think about how this benefits your customers, you can see the benefit in having a one-stop shop for your dealership management tools. Most dealerships have different vendors to handle each part of their dealership management. One company builds your Website, another company handles your marketing, another company provides your inventory management tools and so on. Now, imagine having the convenience of a one-stop shop for your all your dealership management tools. This can allow you to save time, money and ensure you are promoting your brand effectively and consistently. Save Valuable Time
Having a one-stop shop to handle your dealership management tools is an easy way to not only help you save money, but time as well. Think of the last time you had a question or concern about one of your dealership management tools. Chances are that you had to spend some time determining whom to contact, and, if the problem or concern was not something they could handle, you had to contact someone else. What you thought would be a simple process suddenly turns into multiple phone calls or e-mails and time wasted that you could have spent doing something profitable. By using a one-stop shop for your dealership’s management tools, you would know exactly who to contact, and it would be the only person you need to contact. Whether it is an issue with your inventory, Website, CRM, SEO or SEM, you only have to contact one person. This also helps to build a more solid working relationship between the client and vendor. Save Money
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Without a one-stop shop for your dealership management tools, not only are you contacting multiple businesses, you are paying multiple businesses, as well. While it may seem like you are saving money by finding the best deal for each dealership management tool you use, the reality is that you can save approximately two to three times by using a one-stop shop. You are more than likely paying a set monthly fee to each of them for each service, and probably paying an account maintenance fee for each, as well. A one-stop shop means you pay one company and one account maintenance fee, which by itself can save your dealership a lot of money. Another benefit is onestop shops usually offer packages that help you bundle all the services you want at a set price. Using a one-stop shop also eliminates the problem of having tools provided by different vendors that are not compatible with one another. If your vendors cannot or will not provide you with tools that integrate with other systems, you risk the additional cost of hiring another vendor to solve the issue. A one-stop shop guarantees that all parts of your dealership management tools work together as one cohesive package.
While every person has a different way of doing something, the same can be said about your dealership management tool vendors. Effective branding is the key to driving leads and making sales; if there is no consistency in how your product is being branded, obviously it is not effective. A major benefit of a one-stop shop is that you are employing a company that has a group of people who work as a team. This means that all members of the team work together to determine the best strategy for effective branding, and each member uses that strategy when developing each part of your dealership management package. While each part of your dealership management package is created by an individual department, these individual departments come together to create a completely integrated package that is unique to your dealership. As you can see, using a one-stop shop for your dealer management tools has many benefits. Every dealership knows how important it is to have an effective program in place to make sure that they are drawing the level of traffic they need to be successful. The time and money a dealership can save by allowing one vendor to handle all their dealership management tools can be used for any number of other things to help drive leads and attract customers. If you add up the cost of using multiple vendors and programs to manage your dealership, you will see that a one-stop shop is an affordable, effective option. Rick McLey is the founder and CEO of Interactive 360, Inc. He can be contacted at 866.438.9808, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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Chris Saraceno Tony Provost Jim Evans Brian Benst ock Part 2
Disaster Preparation Last month, for the AutoSuccess and DealerELITE.net Dealer’s Panel, we took a look at how dealers can best prepare for natural disasters that affect their dealerships. This month, we’ll look at problems of a more man-made variety, as well as dealing with the aftermath.
know this. Therefore, our customers get to know this. We have total preparation daily, and hopefully, in a disaster, this would be a non-target location. Our back-up is battery powered; we can get four days viewing before the back-up goes to failure.
For this installment of our panel, we spoke with Jim Evans, owner and president of Evans Motorworks in Dayton, Ohio; Chris Saraceno, vice president and partner of Kelly Automotive Group in Pennsylvania and Florida; Brian Benstock, vice president and general manager of Paragon Honda and Acura in New York City; and Tony Provost, president and dealer principal for Nissan of Bourne in Massachusetts.
AutoSuccess: How would you suggest a dealer to prepare to deal with insurance companies? Jim Evans: First, you’ve got to have all your records in hand, and part
AutoSuccess: How much of a threat is theft or vandalism, and what steps do you take to prevent that? Jim Evans: We’ve been fortunate that it hasn’t been an issue here. We
do have a camera surveillance system on the property; maybe that’s why we haven’t had problems, but it’s not been an issue for us. Chris Saraceno: We have a minimal threat of theft, and here’s what we do to avoid it: At all of our dealerships, the employees park a minimum of 50 yards from the dealership. We believe that most theft walks on two feet, and if you can keep their cars a minimum of 50 to 100 yards from the actual building, it doesn’t make it easy to sneak something out the back door. It keeps honest people honest and takes away any temptation they might have. As far as vandalism, we have very little. With customer cars, if they have some after-market parts that can be taken out and be kept at their house, we ask them to do that; if not, we park their vehicle inside. Fortunately, every one of our locations is in a nice area, where crime isn’t high. We are thinking about putting cameras around each of our locations — more for a head count of how many people are walking in the door, instead of guessing — so it’ll serve a dual purpose. Brian Benstock: It is always there. Again, if it happens, what is your protection, and what processes are in play at the dealership to stop it before it happens? You certainly are not going to stop all of it. When people want to steal or vandalize, they will. Filling in gaps in process and security at the store is typically where you can stop things before they happen. We review our processes every quarter with our insurance company to ensure we are not missing anything. Having a third party evaluate your businesses risk is a very important exercise that can save you a lot in the long run. Tony Provost: Vandalism and theft is something we prepare for daily.
We have 35 cameras inside and outside of our dealership. They are all day/night vision, and set up so we can see from home. Also, all windows and entrances are fully alarmed. Excluding bathrooms, we have every area of the dealership covered. The best part is that all of our employees
of that is keeping clean accounting books all the time, so when you have to demonstrate proof of a loss, it’s easy and accessible. We also notify the insurance company when we make major improvements or remodels to our property. For instance, this year we spent $87,000 upgrading the lot lighting system and going to LED, so we notified the insurance company to make sure they have it in their records. Chris Saraceno: You could choose a subject matter expert at your store; in our case, we’ve designated our CFO as the person to go to. What he typically does is make sure he understands all the facts, and reviews insurance information in detail with our managers. Each year, we discuss if we need to step it up, based on what natural disaster has happened — we have stores in Florida and Pennsylvania. We’re always updating it and we’re always reviewing it, making sure we have the actual proof needed before making a claim. You need a subject matter expert who shares all the information and is constantly reviewing and getting the team involved. Brian Benstock: I believe that your insurance company should be a partner. They insure your assets and are there to protect your investments. I believe being transparent and detail oriented with the insurance company is extremely important. In the case of a natural disaster, an insurance company gets very busy. Typically, you are not the only one calling them if a natural disaster has occurred, so making sure you fully understand your coverage and documentation needed to process claims is a must. I also recommend to have everything in writing, and to over communicate. Tony Provost: With all of the previous steps, the last step is actual
footage. Get as much on camera from the event’s destruction as possible. Pass it on to your provider. Get the provider to visit your location immediately. We always use a video camera we have on site for any incident. Before an event, we would take videos both inside and outside of the property. After the event, we would do the same. This involvement makes both us and the insurance company feel more comfortable.
If you have questions or are a dealer who would like to be considered for the panel, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Teaching an old dog new tricks: Incorporate Mobile Technology Into the Sales Process
Mobile technology is a “must have” for every cutting-edge dealership that wants to equip the sales team to meet the needs of today’s highly informed consumers. The JD Power & Associates 2012 Mobile Site Study found that 31 percent of in-market vehicle shoppers have visited automotive Websites via their smartphone, and more than half of those accessed automotive content while physically at the dealership. However, it can be a challenge for older sales consultants to master the best way to use mobile technology during the sales process, especially if they have been successful using more conventional methods. Gen Y sales consultants have greater ease and familiarity with today’s technology, which gives them an edge when selling to younger, tech-savvy customers. Experience shows that the benefits of an iPad selling system, such as increased customer engagement and instant access to information, can boost the performance of even the top sales consultants. However, just because the technology is available to the sales team doesn’t mean that it will necessarily be embraced by the intended users. To overcome resistance to a new way of doing things, you need to make it easy to change entrenched habits. The following techniques can increase the odds that your new technology will actually get used the way it was intended: • Demonstration — A new iPad can be exciting, but also intimidating to those who are not familiar with how it works and what it can do. Don’t overwhelm new users by demonstrating all of the functions at once. Explain the most important features to enhance understanding and encourage familiarity. Focus on a few key things that can help to establish a record of success. • Visualizations — During weekly sales meetings, role play how and when to use mobile technology in the sales process. Practice helps to establish new habits.
• Mandated usage — Ensure that your mobile technology must be used to complete an essential step of the sale, such as delivery. When there are critical processes that can’t be performed any other way, using the new technology becomes essential for everyone. • Reinforcement — Set expectations, and provide incentives and rewards for meeting the stated goals. You probably already have a spiff system in place; broaden the criteria to include use of mobile technology, to send a strong message about how important this is for your store. Management buy-in and involvement in all phases of the integration is critical. Sam Weaver, GM at Chevy Chase Acura, said, “Our customers use this technology and expect us to use it. Management is committed to using this to the fullest extent. It’s the wave of the future.” Jim Hughes, co-founder of IntellaCar, the iPad selling system used by Chevy Chase Acura, said, “When your sales team has the knowhow and confidence to use today’s mobile technology in the sales process, your store has a huge competitive advantage.”
Susan Givens is the publisher of AutoSuccess. She can be contacted at 877.818.6620, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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three take-aways from carmax’s used vehicle playbook
Just before Christmas, CarMax released results for its third quarter of fiscal year 2013. The company, like many velocity dealers, saw positive results in used vehicles — total unit sales were up 16 percent for the quarter compared to the prior year, an increase that included a 12 percent gain in same-store sales volumes. As I reviewed the company’s financials and earnings call transcript, I found three shareworthy nuggets for all dealers who seek to maximize their used vehicle return on investment (ROI), sales and profitability:
Folliard offered a “total gross”-minded response: “We’ve operated in depreciating environments before and have been able to manage our margins pretty good. I would take lower margins for much higher sales. It really just depends what’s going on in the overall marketplace including wholesale, including finance and including demand and supply.” As I note in my book, the “total gross” mindset also typically spurs a greater degree of collaboration and cooperation between dealership departments as managers and employees focus on the bigger picture of dealership-wide profitability, in addition to the deal at hand. These efforts also include compensation packages that provide incentives to encourage everyone’s focus on “total gross.” • Self-Discovery for Buyers CarMax is testing the concepts of unlocking all doors on its vehicles and allowing customers to take salesperson-free test drives. The initiatives are underway at CarMax’s “next generation” stores and may be extended to its other retail outlets. In addition, the company noted the launch of a mobile app for customers, which currently accounts for five percent of the company’s Website traffic.
• An Emphasis on “Total Gross” In my new book, Velocity Overdrive: The Road to Reinvention, I share how some In recent years, industry surveys indicate today’s buyers want a more self-directed car-buying velocity dealers have ditched the traditional experience. They are also likely to tell their family and friends about such positive experiences focus on “average front-end gross” in favor of when they occur, and use social media to relay them. a more holistic “total gross” mindset to guide their used vehicle operations. The rationale: This backdrop makes the CarMax efforts all the more instructive for other dealers. The lesson: A “total gross” approach minimizes the It’s time to reinvent traditional sales practices to better embrace consumer expectations for a pricing and inventory age problems that different in-store experience. occur when dealers focus solely on “average front-end gross.” • Know When to Hold ‘em, Know When to Fold ‘em During an earnings call, an analyst asked CarMax reported a 10 percent gain in its wholesale unit sales for the quarter — due to more CarMax President Tom Folliard if he thought customers seeking appraisals for their cars, which often did not meet the company’s retailing a slight decline in the company’s average standards. On average, CarMax buys three out of every 10 cars it appraises and it generates an front-end gross profit (it dropped $25 to average $923 gross profit when it wholesales the cars it acquires. $2,146/car for the quarter) would continue as the company increased its sales volumes These stats suggest two useful reminders for dealers who are aggressively sourcing inventory and market conditions put downward from customers. First, there is a market for vehicles that might not meet your dealership’s pressure on retail asking prices. mileage/condition standards as a retail unit. Second, if you appraise the vehicles correctly and buy them right, you can still earn a profit via wholesale channels — and potentially close a deal on a different unit with the customer.
It’s time to reinvent traditional sales practices to better embrace consumer expectations for a different in-store experience.
Some dealers may believe CarMax is an entirely different type of retailer than a franchised car dealer and dismiss any insights or lessons its retailing model may offer. I would encourage these dealers to revisit their thinking, particularly in light of the company’s ongoing expansion plans and its efforts to shape used vehicle buyer expectations through national advertising. In the coming year, CarMax plans new stores in smaller markets such as St. Louis, Jackson, Tennessee, and Harrisonburg, Virginia. The expansion plans will mean a greater degree of competition for dealers, as CarMax CEO Foillard said the company is “basically trying to go everywhere we’re not.” Dale Pollak is the founder of vAuto and a best selling author. He can be contacted at 866.867.9620, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
creating traction with the right tools For many years, while educating dealerships on how to strategically embrace CRM, my favorite analogy was to remind them that “their swing” was more important than “their club.” It was my way of saying they shouldn’t get lost in the many CRM software options that were in front of them; instead, they needed to remain focused on using that software to help them sell more vehicles profitably.
left in the 1990 season. Wolf traveled with the team so he could assess the culture and makeup of that Packer team. It was while observing the team that he saw the core challenge facing the organization. It became crystal clear following a loss to the Atlanta Falcons of how easy losing had become; it didn’t hurt enough. And that’s where the pieces of the puzzle were going to be defined. That’s how he started where he started.
There is a similar dilemma here in 2013. There are so many choices on how to create profitable opportunities to do business — which one is best for your dealership?
Herman Miller of Miller Furniture, the largest privately owned furniture store in the world, began with the same philosophy. John Maxwell says the same thing. Steven Covey recognized the same principle when he said, “Start with the end in mind.”
With NADA fresh in our minds, this may be a good time to remind ourselves as dealers, GMs, sales and service managers that the main thing is still the main thing — and that is getting positive traction from these tools. Before purchasing a tool or a solution, though, have a strategy in place, so that finding the right tool a lot easier. Measure First
I met Ron Wolf, the former GM of the Green Bay Packers, back in 2001. He had just written a book called The Packer Way. It was the chronology of how he engineered the turnaround of the Green Bay Packers. Most sports fans remember the names of the football greats that Ron Wolf brought in, such as Reggie White, Brett Favre and Mike Holmgren. Those people were huge pieces of Ron Wolf ’s success, but they were not his strategy. You’d have to look deeper to understand his strategy. The Packers hired Wolf with a few games
At season’s end, he dismissed the coaching staff and devised a plan that would attract players who hated losing and knew what it took to win. He had one goal in mind: to create a culture of winning. Ron Wolf started by identifying “what was broke” first.
My recommendation for you is to define what’s not working in your dealership. Then, define what you intend to build. It’s at this point you will know what tools and solutions will best fit your needs. The Main Thing
Keeping it simple, I have learned there are really only two problems in business: 1. Knowing Problems: These usually reveal the need for employee training. 2. Doing Problems: These usually reveal an issue in execution or management. Assuming your long-term strategy (let’s say, for customer retention) has been defined, to solve a “knowing” problem, your dealership should be looking at solutions that drive retention. However, if your dealership’s primary issue is currently a “doing” problem, then it’s time to determine whether you have the wrong people involved (this assumes that all training needs have been properly addressed) or if it will be better to outsource that function entirely. I see outsourcing as a valuable option for many dealerships. There are many examples to mention that are working, but the most important advice is to get traction with the tools you have or make change that will allow you to grow profitably.
John Traver is the CEO of Traver Connect. He can be contacted at 866.685.5725, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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did you hire them dead, or kill them after you got them? ...our outcome should be “have to as many people as
The way many dealerships make the decision when to bring on more salespeople or replace underperforming salespeople has always baffled me. I have seen countless formulas, statistical data, seasonal hiring decisions … you name it. We have had managers tell us they need four salespeople. Why four? “That’s how many desks we have open.” Or, a new manager starts at a store and brings his “team” with him. Or, we have the extremely exact: “A salesperson can properly wait on 2.25 clients per day X a six-day work week = 13.5 clients a week X 4.2 weeks per month = 56.7 clients per month, so we are ‘logging’ 425 clients a month, which would mean we need 7.49 salespeople on our floor.” Or, of course, “It’s the first of the year — out with the old, in with the new.” I know none of you make your decisions like this, but you know what I’m getting at. Law of Diminishing Return
The reasoning behind the law of diminishing returns from a dealer’s point of view in terms of hiring employees can be simplified into three stages: • In the first stage, the addition of more workers allows for specialization of job responsibilities and increased production efficiency. The result is a larger output return for each additional unit of input. • The second stage is where inputs equal outputs. Each new employee added will continue to increase production, but only at the same rate as the increased input of labor. • The third stage is when additional workers will start to decrease production efficiency because the work environment is fixed in the short-run. This results in returns that are less than the labor input. Imagine this situation: You have hired a teenager to tend to your garden. He plants four saplings in an area of 1,000 square feet in four hours. The next day, he brings another friend along and you decide to hire him as well. The given time and the area doesn’t increase, but the number of saplings planted increases to eight.
Now you hire another teen. Again, the area and the time limit is the same. But the number of workers is now three. And the number of total saplings planted is now nine. If you hire another boy and maintain the same conditions, you will notice that the number of saplings planted may increase overall, but the number of saplings planted by each boy will reduce, until eventually it will be zero. This situation is a classic law of diminishing returns example.
possible buy our products and services at the highest possible profit margins with 100 percent customer satisfaction. We can’t do that unless we have pushed the envelope with a quantity of quality, properly recruited, screened, interviewed and trained salespeople.
My question is, do we have any idea where that third stage begins? We are in the car business; our outcome should be to have as many people as possible buy our products and services at the highest possible profit margins with 100 percent customer satisfaction. We can’t do that unless we have pushed the envelope with a quantity of quality, properly recruited, screened, interviewed and trained salespeople.
“I Don’t Want to Flood My Floor”
That’s admirable and I applaud your moral judgment in trying to make sure your salespeople all make a good living, but how many times have you invested in having a special sale or event, or your product is super hot and huge new incentives came out, or you invested millions in your facility and you look around and several of your salespeople decided to come in late, stay home or move on to the next “hot store?” The law of diminishing returns is a bit different in our business. How many hours are your salespeople currently scheduled to work at the dealership? Wouldn’t an additional shift or team allow them to work fewer hours, be more effective and, in turn, more productive and actually have lives outside of work as well? Couldn’t that also solve the problem of talented person at your store who has “manageritis,” meaning if you don’t move him or her up or make them a team captain, they are going to leave you? How much real time do your salespeople have to truly prospect, develop their own client base, properly handle all the Internet leads, take vehicles to people’s homes or businesses and be involved in the community to create more business when they are at the dealership bell to bell? Simple question: Did you or did you not sell more cars when you had more salespeople? Why are some dealers in the middle of nowhere selling five to 10 times the number of cars as dealerships in major metro areas? Marketing and proper use of the Internet, for sure, but at this point in our industry, our property goes well beyond the amount of acreage you own. Take advantage of that opportunity and dominate your competition. To do that, you need better-recruited and bettertrained people. Now, of course, at some point, too many really is too many, bringing morale down and damaging productivity, but I’ll bet few if any who are reading this have ever come close to that point.
Craig Lockerd is the founder and CEO of The AutoMax Marketing Company, and president of AutoMax Recruiting & Training. He can be contacted at 866.617.5924, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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principals, gms & GsMs 92 percent of people go online before they ever step foot inside the showroom. So, your “sales What are you doing to help your dealership and professionals” — not just your Internet or BDC — must be training on Internet sales. sales team be successful? Do you truly believe that being an automotive sales professional • Reputation Management — With Google’s “Zero Moment of Truth” (ZMOT), and the fact is “like” owning your own business? Have that everyone checks and looks for reviews before they purchase, it is important for your sales you said those words to a salesperson? If so, professionals to understand that online reputation matters. They also need both proactive and what have you done to show them how to be a reactive plans when it comes to their reputation, reviews and testimonials (or lack thereof). business owner? What have you showed them about being an entrepreneur? • Social Media — Social media is the No. 1 form of communication on the planet. If you want to communicate with people — not just your current and past clients, but also to your prospects Don’t feel bad; most dealerships haven’t done — then you need to understand, create and implement a social media strategy. anything, either. It blows my mind when I walk into dealerships all over the country and still • Business Plan — The actual business model is one of the most basic and most important see salespeople (not sales professionals) sitting aspects of any business — the “who, what, where, when and why” road map with GPS guidance around, whining, complaining and oblivious on how to get there. If your salesperson (not a pro) wants to sell 20, 30, 40 or 50 units per to their state of mediocrity. What disturbs month, how will they? I bet they have no idea. They need to have an exact goal. Next, they need me even more is the fact that we have sales to know where they are getting those opportunities. They need to realize there are more ways managers, GSMs, GMs and even dealers who other than fresh walk ins. There are eight ways they can sell an automobile: allow this to continue. They make excuses for • Be-backs • Walk ins • Internet why this is acceptable. • Referrals • Prior customers • Phone ups • Prospecting • Service conversions Bottom line: It all rests on the managers and ownership of the organization — especially if you • Time Management and Organization – This is huge, especially in a car dealership. You must are one of those managers or owners who goes be careful of distractions disguised as opportunities. Your people need to know how to “put around saying how awesome the automotive first things first.” industry is, how much money you can make, how if you work really hard and treat it like your • Skills — They need skills to pay the bills, which include: own business you can sell 25 to 30 units per • Objections/rebuttals • Communication • Qualifying month and earn more than $100,000 per year. • Closing • Persuasion • Creating urgency That all sounds great. Why, then, does NADA • Prospecting • Internet knowledge • Creating excitement say that the average salesperson only sells 10 • Speaking abilities • Time management • Product knowledge units per month and earns $50,000 per year? • Software and Technology • Video/photo • Organization • Digital marketing • Money • Investments I believe it has to do with leadership, culture, training and more training. There is too much to put into one article, but I assure you that there is a tremendous amount of information, strategy and skills that are involved in owning your own business. Let’s go back to the most overused phrase in our industry: “This is like owning your own business.” What does that really mean? I know, The question is, what are you doing to provide your sales team these skills? Are you relying on the OEM or on some old-school training DVDs, or are you hoping they will just figure it out? I know — “You can make as much money as you can earn.” Here are a couple ideas that you should really think about — for free: Every single person in the dealership should be signed up for www.automotiveinternetsales.com. But here’s the real question: How? Seriously, It’s a free social community with all of the things I have mentioned in this article — training, how can these people — your people — videos, interviews, Webinars and more. magically run their own business? Some dealerships might provide basic “road to the sale” training. Dealers will have their people go through OEM product training and that’s about it. Here is the problem: There is a lot more to being a 25, 30 or 40+ automotive sales professional than just “road to the sale” or product knowledge. Sales professionals who want to drink the KoolAid of “this is like your own business” should also know and become fluent in these other areas: • Internet Sales — You cannot rely on the OEM alone to provide information on Internet sales tactics and strategy. More than
If you need more advanced training, there are automotive “online universities,” video on demand training, tracking, testing and certification for showroom sales, sales management, F&I, phone sales, Internet sales, BDC and more at www.automotivedigitaltraining.com. Don’t forget 20 Groups. I love 20 Groups, and have been a speaker for more than 85 NADA, NCM and IS 20 Groups. For more information about 20 Groups, go to www.internetsales20group.com. In this industry, there are a ton of options; what’s not an option is not training your people. Please contact me if you have any questions about this article or if you would like some advice on specific resources for you or your sales team. 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 email@example.com.
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Jersey City Ford 2012 Sales Up 47% YOY for Jersey City Ford, Clinching No. 2 Spot in Northeast Region for December Many dealers face the ongoing challenge of how to effectively 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. As consumer shopping habits continue to shift away from traditional mass media platforms like TV, print and radio, toward more targeted and digital mediums that include targeted direct email and mail, internet and mobile, dealerships must also shift their marketing practices.
Todayâ€™s most successful dealers use targeted and digital mediums that are less expensive, more measurable and give a better return on investment than traditional mass marketing. Dealers that fail to recognize and embrace the changes of these new ad mediums and consumer habits will continue to see diminishing returns with traditional mass marketing. Jersey City Ford has always seen challenges as opportunities, but was dealt the ultimate challenge late last fall when Hurricane Sandy barreled down on the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut wreaking havoc on everything in its path. Like many in the northeast Jersey City Ford was hit hard by the storm.
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Success Story Ä CONTINUED FROM THE COVER
“Super Storm Sandy hit us hard at the end of the year, but we were able to bounce back and finish No. 2 in our region for December – which is an amazing testament to our team. Everyone dug-in and stepped up to the challenge,” said Alex Maglio, Dealer Principal of the Jersey City Ford store. Overall, Jersey City Ford was having a good year, trending up steadily with a 47 percent increase in sales YOY for 2012, while Ford was up only 5 percent nationally. They even outpaced themselves in December clinching the No. 2 spot in the Northeast region. Jersey City Ford has steadily gone from No. 47 in 2010 to No. 11 in its region for 2012. For Jersey City Ford to continue to keep pace when the chips were down begs for a deeper look into their overall strategy. In late 2010 Jersey City Ford began implementing a targeted and digital marketing strategy across multiple mediums that enables them to attract, sell, service and retain more customers. Their integrated strategy combines mediums that are less expensive, more measurable and give a better return on investment than traditional mass marketing. Jersey City Ford 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 Jersey City Ford to identify vehicle owners with the greatest probability of buying or servicing with their dealership, as well as identify samebrand owners who had never visited Jersey City Ford, and off-brand owners with a historical pattern of crossing over to Ford.
Once Jersey City Ford had more clearly defined their market, they 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 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, Jersey City Ford promotes its best sales offers with custom service offers that reflect the service status of the customer’s vehicle. For example, active service customers who routinely come in for service receive a $39.95 “The Works Oil Change” coupon, but customers who are categorized as lost, or who do not regularly service with Jersey City Ford, receive the same offer but for $29.95 to encourage them to come back.
“Super Storm Sandy hit us hard at the end of the year, but we were able to bounce back and finish No. 2 in our region for December – which is an amazing testament to our team. Everyone dug-in and stepped up to the challenge.” ALEX MAGLIO Dealer Principal
JERSEY CITY FORD STORE
Jersey City Ford also aggressively targets conquest service customers within their primary marketing area who own Fords but did not buy from them. This is unique because most dealers use the manufacturer’s service marketing program which often limits a dealer to only communicate with customers that have purchased directly from their store, but also limits the dealer from contacting numerous conquest opportunities within their market. If a dealer only has 30 percent market share, they are essentially missing out on an additional 70 percent of the area’s service market. Jersey City Ford recognized the opportunity to broaden its service marketing program with conquest and has greatly expanded their reach of potential service customers. Another component to Jersey City Ford’s strategy is that every outbound targeted mail and email campaign directs customers to an online Campaign Conversion Site that not only displays the featured promotions of the mail or email campaign they have just received, but also shows them every sales and service offer that Jersey City Ford is currently running. If a customer is not in the market for the specific offers they receive in the mail or by email, they can check Jersey City Ford’s campaign site, www.JerseyCityFordOffers.com, for other available offers. “Our targeted marketing helped us to keep our momentum going without missing a beat. We were able to target customers and prospects with Sandy-related special offers to help folks get their storm damaged vehicles back on the road,” said Rudy Tremenio, General Manager of Jersey City Ford. “We offered $1,000 Dealer Assistance vouchers toward any new or used vehicle – and we provided free towing and pick-up services.”
Jersey City Ford
In addition to their targeted and digital campaigns, Jersey City also implemented a unique strategy that specifically targets vehicle sales within their service lanes. This program, the “Vehicle Exchange Program” is integrated across Jersey City’s web site, campaign conversion site, the showroom and service lanes, as well as their direct mail. “The key to this program is the confirmation call to confirm the customer’s service appointment. If a customer is in an equity position, our team informs them that they are eligible to upgrade into a new vehicle for the same payment as their old vehicle,” explained Tremenio.
“So rather than wait and hope that the customer will buy from us when they’re ready, we proactively try to sell the customers in service before they enter the market and shop our competition.” “The real value with their strategy is that it generates revenue for three of their major profit centers. It increases new car volume and service revenue because of the reconditioning required to turn a tradein into a resale, and it has a big impact on their used car business because it allows them to take in hard-to-find used cars for less than what the competition pays at auction,” says Budd Blackburn, owner of Team Velocity Marketing, the company
that Jersey City Ford uses for their sales and service marketing. To measure the effectiveness of all their marketing strategies and ensure quality customer care, Jersey City Ford uses a call-monitoring system to track their advertising, employees, and how their customers are treated by listening to every call that comes into their dealership. They receive daily, weekly and monthly reports that enables them to see which ad campaigns generate the best response and pre-empt any potential customer concerns before they escalate – which improves their overall CSI and helps create lifelong satisfied customers.
Success Story “Our targeted marketing helped us to keep our momentum going without missing a beat. We were able to target customers and prospects with Sandy-related special offers to help folks get their storm damaged vehicles back on the road. We offered $1,000 Dealer Assistance vouchers toward any new or used vehicle – and we provided free towing and pick-up services.”
Jersey City Ford
STEADILY RAISES TOWARDS THE TOP
RUDY TREMENIO GENERAL MANAGER OF JERSEY CITY FORD
#11 IN THE
#47 IN THE REGION
IN A NUTSHELL 2012 Sales Up 47% YOY for Jersey City Ford, Clinching No. 2 Spot in Northeast Region for December • Define their ideal local market by finding customers and prospects with the highest statistical probability of buying and/or servicing with their dealership now and in the future. • Implement an integrated targeted and digital marketing strategy across multiple mediums that promote all their profit centers, new, used, finance, service and parts. • Create dynamic, cohesive campaigns that consistently speak to their customers throughout the 60-month lifecycle of their vehicle. • Consistently target in-market same-brand prospects, and consumers who drive off-brands with a historical trend of crossing over to the brands they sell. • Establish a sales-in-service program to sell vehicles from their own service bays for your in-equity customers before they shop the competition. • Monitor inbound calls so they know what ads are generating better response rates and pre-empt CSI issues before they escalate.
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