Page 1



New Leads. Every Day. New Sales. Every Month.

bLinked® is a revolutionary program that strategically targets customers who are in the best position to buy – today. By merging your database and inventory with manufacturer incentives, bLinked® identifies the customers you can offer deals to that are just too good to pass up. Like upgrading their vehicle and lowering their payments with $0 down. Then bLinked launches a multi-channel marketing campaign that drives these customers straight to your dealership.

Find out for yourself why dealers across the country rely on bLinked® to deliver: • More sales • Higher profits • Higher quality used vehicles • Stronger service-in-to-sales opportunities • Lower defection rate

Be Smart. Be Informed. bLinked®

Learn more now.

800-346-9117 or

Automated Virtual Assistant

You’ve Heard About Her... The Perfect Employee, Artificial Intelligence With Genuine Results

Now Meet Her

For a personal introduction call or visit her at


Booth# 1315


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

are you using video yet?

five steps to digital marketing for your dealership

what is your website hiding? Part 3

46 50 56 58

is your crm system past its expiration date?

More Ways to Harness the Full Potential of a Successful Website

celebrity branding strategy No. 1:



The oscars of the automotive industry MarkTewart

22 34 38 48 52


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

are you selling social media short because “social media doesn’t sell?”

36 42 44


how healthy is your finance department?

Brian Ankney, Account Manager

five steps to automotive inbound marketing success



we all just want a good deal



40 60 62

maybe it’s time for a bodyshop management system

Dave Davis, Editor & Creative Strategist

Lead Me to More Leads

Subscription vs. performance-based:


processes must accompany software solutions



marketing solution



can’t teach caring SusanGivens


lazy is a disease DalePollak

How to Avoid “Gotcha!” moments in used vehicle acquisitions


The Automotive Leadership Roundtable & Awards

Negotiate Like a Mega Dealer


sales & training solution



The Best Kept Secret in Auto





eight ways to create a powerful organizational community free up your sales staff DrakeBaerresen


leadership solution MattBuchanan


Thomas Williams, VP & Creative Director


Twelve Hot Digital Companies that are Helping Dealers Dramatically Improve Their Profitability.

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

Susan Givens, Publisher

feature solution


marketing solution

subscription vs.

performance-based: Lead Me to More Leads

Subscription-based lead generation sites use the power of a strong local or national brand to drive consumer traffic. They execute aggressive marketing campaigns through multiple channels, such as Web, print, television and radio to make sure the general public is familiar with their names and offerings. This market saturation results in higher traffic to the site, more vehicle searches and increases the potential for leads to dealers. Dealers who utilize subscription-based sites typically pay a flat monthly membership fee and are offered incremental merchandising options for additional fees. There are a couple items to know before signing up with subscription-based sites. First, being associated with a well-established site means you can expect to pay more per month. Second, there is typically no guaranteed lead volume promised to dealers. So, dealers are paying as much for advertising as they are for actual leads. Performance-based sites have the same goal as subscription-based sites, but have a different method of charging dealers. Dealers typically post their entire inventory for free and pay only for the leads they receive. These sites focus heavily on optimizing their sites for lead generation since they are paid on a lead-by-lead basis. Dealers can also set a spend maximum, making performance-based sites budget-friendly, low-risk investments with maximum accountability.

Performance-based sites typically do not have the same level of consumer brand recognition that large subscription-based sites do, so the traffic is often lower nationally. These sites are often competitive at the local level. In addition, because these sites charge by the lead, they usually allow dealers to “return” duplicate or bad leads. Remember, when deciding on which type of site to advertise, your goal should be getting your cars in front of every shopper in your market. Different shoppers go to different sites — one size does not fit all. In order to get the maximum amount of quality leads, you should have a balanced mix of subscription-based and performance-based partners. The most successful dealerships use both types of sites. Chris Lewis is the National Sales Manager of and Dominion He can be contacted at 866.855.5643, or by e-mail at

podcast interviewee

Most dealers would agree that, to sell the maximum amount of cars, online marketing is a must. Simply put, dealers need to have their inventory well-represented across the Internet. Advertising on lead-generation sites is an effective way for dealers to get exposure. These Websites allow dealers to post their vehicle inventory and leverage consumer traffic to drive inquiries. The two most common types of lead-generation sites are subscription-based and performance-based. There are important differences in the way these sites generate leads and charge dealers, so it’s key to evaluate both.

Is your marketing company sending your message... or theirs? If your marketing doesn’t promote your unique message and value, it’s not doing its job. Find your voice at... The Drive™ program is a fully integrated suite of communication products designed to... • Promote your dealership’s message and value—not just the manufacturer’s • Be flexible and adaptable to market changes or your dealership’s needs • Keep you in control of your marketing while we do the administration



leadership solution

negotiate like a mega dealer The Best Kept Secret in Auto As principals continue to sift through contracts for the year, it’s important to know the benefits and potential pitfalls when negotiating for goods and services. “MegaDealers” routinely negotiate better deals, with additional rooftops and better pricing than the mom and pop dealerships down the street. But all dealerships should be afforded good deals. We spoke to a former eCommerce Director at one of the MegaDealer Groups to get his secrets on how to negotiate like a MegaDealer. Here are some of his biggest negotiation secrets to level the playing field and help private dealers receive the same benefits as the big guys: Use a Request for Proposal (RFP). An RFP is important for any digital marketing purchase that requires complexity (think SEO) or agreements lasting more than 90 days, such as contracts for CRM or Website services. Using an RFP will show the vendor you’re serious about the purchase and that they’re competing for your business. Educate Your Team. MegaDealers have entire teams of experts devoted to considering the pros and cons of various technologies and solutions. But here’s the kicker — you have the same resources available. Ensure you attend seminars and conferences or even Webinars and learn from subject matter experts. In addition, frequently ask around your 20 Groups and go online to dealer forums and ask your colleagues which vendors they prefer (or dislike) and why. It’s imperative to


educate yourself and your team on the latest technologies and vendors, or you will be lost as to what is “fair” in a negotiation.

incremental dealer provides more profit than the first adopters of a technology. You hold the power.

Ask for pilot periods. This is a valuable secret straight from the conglomerates. Pilot periods are no-obligation free trials offered by many vendors. They can not only help you avoid making costly mistakes if the technology doesn’t work for your dealership, but they can also help you iron out any kinks before your “go live” date with the software or service.

Ask for “favored-nation pricing.” This could possibly be the biggest “divider” between MegaDealer negotiations and private dealers. Favored-nation pricing means if someone gets a lower price at any point during your contract period, your price drops automatically. This can save a private dealer thousands of dollars, and is used by MegaDealers all the time.

Ask for month-to-month agreements. MegaDealers routinely ask for and receive month-to-month pricing, while privatelyowned dealerships sign agreements lasting three, four or even five years.

Embrace group buying. Buy through a group like your dealer associations or 20 Groups. MegaDealers use their size to negotiate better deals; use your associations to do the same. In addition, there are member groups available now that help defray vendor costs up to 60 percent through group buying and can act as your business development arm. Seek out these services and take advantage of the benefits they afford private owners.

Demand references. The best way to determine the strength of a product — or company, for that matter — is to speak with their references. Vendors should be happy to hand over a list; if they are not, it signals a red flag. When you receive the list, look to see if a MegaDealer is listed and ask the vendor to honor the price they gave their largest dealer group. Push back on their “first pencil.” Nothing is written in stone, and it’s perfectly acceptable to negotiate, especially if the offering has no “hard costs” in association with using their product. This can be especially true with technology products where adding another dealer is relatively inexpensive on an incremental basis. Remember that an

While contract negotiations can be painful, principals can reap the rewards of a wellexecuted deal when done correctly. Follow the checklist above and negotiate like a MegaDealer for the best contract terms as we move into 2012. Matt Buchanan is co-founder of Dealers United and the principal of Sarasota Ford in Sarasota, Florida. He can be contacted at 866.239.4049, or by e-mail at

As an early user, Keith experienced the power of vAuto’s Provision™ before any of his competitors. Provision helped him locate the right used vehicles for the right price while other dealers struggled to find inventory. After just six months, Keith is on track to have his best year ever — with a 39% increase in used vehicle sales and a 72% increase in dealership net profit.


The ALR 2011 Fall Series kicked off on Sunday, September 18th, with Tony Bennett’s 85th Birthday Party Dinner Concert at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City’s Lincoln Center. The concert was chaired by President Bill Clinton and hosted by Alec Baldwin, with featured performances by Elton John, Aretha Franklin and Alejandro Sanz. Whoopi Goldberg, Robert De Niro, Katie Couric, Regis Philbin, Richard Gere, Harry Belafonte, and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton also attended along with other celebrity guests. All ALR attendees, including Bill Underriner, incoming chairman of NADA, and Mr. Yoshimi Inaba, President of Toyota, were invited to celebrate with Bennett and his wife, Susan, during the birthday concert that benefited the Exploring the Arts Foundation.

The next day, attendees gathered for the Roundtable in the penthouse ballroom of the Le Parker Meridien Hotel with 360-degree views of Central Park and Manhattan. The Roundtable featured presentations by motivational speakers and industry thought leaders who shared their best practices, including Underriner, President of Underriner Motors; Keith Watts of Facebook; Jim Dunn, Vice President of JM Lexus, the #1 selling Lexus dealership; Jack Jackintelle, President & COO of Rick Case Automotive; Courtney Cole, owner of Hare Chevrolet; Bill Holiber, President & CEO of the New York Daily News; Joni Flynn of American Honda Company; Brett David, CEO of Prestige Imports, the #1 selling Audi dealership; and Hagen Durant of Classic Chevrolet, the #1 selling Chevrolet dealership. Following the Roundtable presentations, attendees were transported to Paragon Honda in Woodside. Vice President and General Manager Brian Benstock led a tour of the facilities, sharing his best practices for growing Paragon Honda into the world’s top Honda dealer. The 2011 Fall Series was the second of two annual events hosted by the ALR organization, which gathers and connects the industry’s best and brightest leaders. It’s through a series of Automotive Leadership experiences that the country’s #1 selling dealers, top OEM executives, and industry pioneers come together to learn and share with some of the top automotive thought leaders in an intimate and interactive environment. Other notable speakers of the past include Chip Perry of Autotrader; Dale Pollack of vAuto; Grant Cardone, sales expert and author; Stephen Croix of Sony Ericsson, the leading mobile provider in North and Latin America; and the Bryan Brothers, the #1 tennis team now and in history. The event has become the industry’s most powerful think tank to date.

Brett David, Prestige Imports (#1 Audi and Lamborghini Dealer in the world) & guest at the Automotive Leadership Roundtable Awards Dinner at the world famous Versace Mansion in South Beach.

Hagen Durant, Classic Chevrolet (#1 Chevrolet Dealer in the world) & sales expert and best selling author Grant Cardone at the Automotive Leadership Roundtable Awards Dinner at the world famous Versace Mansion in South Beach.

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

Yoshimi Inaba, Toyota USA Chairman & CEO with Tony Bennett.

Whoopi Goldberg & Richard Gere watching Elton John perform.

Ken Hicks of Westchester Acura, Jay Rosenthal of the Rallye Automotive Group & Grant Cardone with ALR. attendees watching Elton John perform.

Elton John performing “RocketMan.�

Alejandro Sanz, the most Grammy-awarded Spanish artist in history, singing with Tony Bennett.

Bill Underriner, incoming NADA Chairman & Sean Wolfington. Underriner will present the awards to the #1 dealers at the ALR Awards Dinner March 20, 2012 at the world famous Versace Mansion in South Beach.

Last March, an elite group of top performing dealers, including the #1 top selling dealers from each brand, top OEM executives and other industry thought leaders, were invited to participate in this exclusive, By Invitation Only event that included a private five-star Awards Dinner at the world-famous Versace Mansion.

Sales expert and best selling author Grant Cardone kicks off the Automotive Leadership Roundtable Fall Series in New York.

Bob Murray, Director of Operational Marketing for Asbury Automotive Group, shares how Asbury streamlined the number of vendors it uses.

Dale Pollak, founder of vAuto, spoke at the ALR in Miami and attended the awards dinner at the Versace Mansion.

When guests arrived on Monday, March 21st, they attended a star-studded pool deck party with industry leaders, celebrities and professional tennis players. The party was held at the prestigious ICON Brickell, designed by the legendary Philippe Starck, featuring an incredible dinner and decadent desserts, and live entertainment from Grammy-winning artists including singer/ songwriter James Slater, The Big Bounce, Melky Jean, and the Bryan Brothers. At the party, ALR attendees interacted with some the world’s top performing tennis players who were in town to compete in the annual Sony Ericsson Open, including James Blake, Fernando Verdasco, and Robin Soderling, among others. “It was the best industry event I’ve been to,” said Sam Slaughter, owner of Bob Sellers Buick GMC, the nation’s #1 Buick dealership. On Tuesday, March 22nd, the attendees gathered for the Automotive Leadership Roundtable and a day of learning and networking. During the Roundtable, the industry’s top dealers and thought leaders exchanged best practices for growing their businesses while building lasting relationships. Among the speakers were Chip Perry, CEO of Autotrader; Dale Pollack, founder of vAuto; Brian Benstock of Paragon Honda and Acura, the #1 selling Honda and Acura dealer in the world; sales expert and author Grant Cardone; Stephan Croix of Sony Ericsson, the number one mobile provider of North and Latin America; and Sean Wolfington of Tier10 Marketing, among others. Together with James Slater, the Bryan Brothers gave a surprise performance during the Roundtable after their father and motivational speaker, Wayne Bryan, shared the inspiring story of how his twin boys became the #1 tennis team in history, professional musicians and Ivy league college graduates.

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

“I was blown away by all of the information we received,” says Jim Dunn, vice president at JM Lexus, the world’s top selling Lexus dealership. “There were a lot of heavy hitters here and people I respect in the business.” Following the Roundtable, the attendees proceeded to the world-renowned Versace Mansion in South Beach for a highly extravagant five-star Awards Dinner to celebrate the accomplishments of the #1 dealers of each brand. Incoming NADA Chairman Bill Underriner presenting at the Automotive Leadership Roundtable Fall Series in New York.

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

Chip Perry, President & CEO, AutoTrader, spoke at the ALR in Miami and attended the awards dinner at the Versace Mansion.

Former President Bill Clinton with Tony and Susan Bennett.

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

Aretha Franklin performs alongside Tony Bennett at the Tony Bennett’s 85th Birthday Party Dinner Concert.

Actor & producer Eduardo Verastegui, Alejandro Sanz, the most Grammy-awarded Spanish artist in history, Tony Bennett & Sean Wolfington.

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

Natalie Cole performs at Tony Bennett’s 85th Birthday Party attended by guests of the ALR Fall 2011 series in NYC.

Toyota USA Chairman Yoshimi Inaba with his wife, Tony & Susan Bennett, Eduardo Verastegui.

Ken Hicks (Westchester Acura), Hagen Durant (Classic Chevrolet, #1 Chevrolet Dealer), Sam Slaughter (Bob Sellers Buick GMC, #1 Buick Dealer), Jim Dunn (JM Lexus, #1 Lexus Dealer), Brian Benstock (Paragon Honda, #1 Honda Dealer).

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

Elton John & Tony Bennett performing a duet.

Serving Dom Perignon & caviar at the Versace Mansion for the 2011 ALR Awards Dinner where the #1 dealers for each brand were recognized for selling the most vehicles.

Guests of the Automotive Leadership Roundtable Awards Dinner dine al fresco by the Versace Mansion’s 10,000 Mosaic Pool lined in 24k gold.

The dinner featured live entertainment from one of Miami’s most sought after Cuban bands, a succulent gourmet dinner and desserts spread, an authentic Cuban cigar roller, a celebratory toast with Louis XIII cognac, and other treats. Guests had access to the entire villa throughout the evening, from its lavish historical suites designed by Gianni Versace for guests like Madonna and Elton John, to the rooftop terrace, Moroccan Room, and the famous Versace Lounge. Mike & Bob Bryan, #1 tennis in the world with the most wins of any team in history spoke with the #1 dealers about what it takes to stay on top.

Jack (JJ) Jackintalle, President of Rick Case Automotive Group, shares his formula & process for hiring new employees.

Brian Benstock, Paragon Honda Acura (#1 Honda & Acura Dealer & the 2011 CPO Dealer of the Year).

Cliff Banks, Director, Automotive Leadership Roundtable & Grant Cardone, noted author and sales expert.

Katie Couric & Sean Wolfington.

“I’ve got 25 years in the business,” said Ken Hicks, general manager of Westchester Acura. “It was an enlightening day, and it just shows that every day you can learn something new. And the awards dinner was first class – a great example of how we should be treating our clients.” The next Automotive Leadership Roundtable & Awards will be hosted on March 19th and 20th in Miami Beach for the primary purpose of recognizing the #1 dealers in every franchise at the Awards Dinner on the evening of the 20th. In keeping with the tradition of ALR events, attendees will gather to share their best practices for growing thriving businesses and will celebrate their accomplishments with another memorable evening at the Versace Mansion. After arriving on Monday, March 19th, invited guests will attend Tony Bennett’s dinner concert featuring Grammy-winning artists and other special guests at the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, the Italian Renaissance-style villa and formal gardens built in 1916 as the winter residence of industrialist James Deering. On Tuesday, March 20th, attendees of the Roundtable will experience a unique learning and networking opportunity as they exchange best practices along with other thought leaders that include Doug Frisbie of Facebook; Cesar Conde, President of Univision; Bill Underriner, incoming Chairman of NADA; the Bryan Brothers; and all of the top dealers who attend. The Roundtable will be followed by another highly anticipated dining experience at the Versace Mansion. Attendees will receive the “Automotive Leaders” annual coffee-table book which includes the best practices and strategies of the #1 selling dealers by brand, and leaders in other industries, including LeBron James and Steve Wynn. Participants are also given access to the Automotive Leadership Network (ALN), a password-protected online network where the #1 dealers and industry thought leaders share best practices, articles and videos highlighting cutting edge practices and industry trends to provide leading dealers with the information they need to manage and grow their businesses. Once RSVPs for this year’s event are closed, a select group of tickets will be open to dealers on a first come, first serve basis, with access to the Tony Bennett dinner concert and the next day’s Roundtable meeting, which will deliver extraordinary networking and social experiences. The organization will announce any extra space available on its website. The Awards Dinner event, however, is By Invitation Only due to capacity restrictions of the Versace Mansion’s al fresco dining space, which seats 200 alongside the 10,000 Mosaic pool that is lined in 24k gold. The Versace Mansion is Ocean Drive’s most infamous residence and the former home of Italian designer, Gianni Versace, who restored the historic home to its original glory. “It is the Oscars of the auto industry,” said Grant Cardone.

sales & training solution

how to avoid “gotcha!” moments in used vehicle acquisitions


Every dealer has had a “gotcha!” used vehicle moment. This occurs when a dealership acquires a vehicle with high hopes of seeing it perform well at retail, only to watch it age into a money-loser.

Sometimes the “gotcha” moment comes after a sudden market shift — perhaps gas prices go up, or consumer confidence crashes. More often, though, the market isn’t chiefly to blame. The “gotcha” moments that are most common and more costly typically follow an acquisition decision that wasn’t: a) fully informed by market intelligence to determine if the unit and its trim/equipment configuration was right for the dealership in the first place or, b) devoid of any objective market insights at all — in other words, someone’s gut instinct or best guess. I would submit that today’s used vehicle marketplace and dealership operating margins leave little room for “gotcha!” moments that are simply the result of ill-informed guesswork. I would also add that there’s an even greater risk for these “gotcha!” moments, given the wide variety of vehicles and their individual equipment/trim configurations that can make or break a unit’s appeal with customers. Thankfully, however, today’s technology and tools give dealers the market intelligence and ability to avoid big-dollar “gotcha!” moments before acquiring a vehicle on trade-in or at auction. Even better, these tools and market intelligence help dealers effectively sketch a retailing roadmap for every vehicle they acquire to maximize its profit potential and avoid a post-acquisition “gotcha!” moment. For example, let’s say the market intelligence indicates a 2009 Buick Enclave’s condition, equipment configuration, mileage and consumer demand rating make it a stand-out. A dealer who reviews this intelligence before acquiring the Enclave would be able to determine what to pay to acquire it and meet the store’s profit objective, and how best to play up the Enclave’s

“Thankfully, however, today’s technology and tools give dealers the market intelligence and ability to avoid big-dollar ‘gotcha!’ moments before acquiring a vehicle on trade-in or at auction. moment.”

unique “story” in the vehicle’s merchandising and pricing plan to quickly attract the biggest pool of interested buyers. This kind of holistic, technology- and market-guided acquisition decision making — part of what I call “provisioning” inventory — strikes me as much more effective and less risky than purchase decisions fueled by little more than a hunch. This acquisition intelligence should measure what I believe are the seven key indicators of a used vehicle’s profit and performance potential: 1. Demand — Thanks to keywords and clicks on vehicle classified/shopping sites and search engines, dealers can now know the number of shoppers in a given market area who are looking for a specific vehicle.

2. Interest — Today’s tools and technology are also able to sniff out genuine interest — such as the number of clicks on a Vehicle Detail Page (VDP) for a specific unit on third-party and dealership Websites.


(Automotive News 2011)


3. Volume — This indicator shows the

number of the same or similarly equipped units that have recently sold in a dealer’s specific market area.

5:11 P

AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson “said he wants AutoNation to handle all the major brands within a market”

Learn more at:

4. Market Days Supply — This indicator shows the rate that specific vehicles (with the same/similar equipment and trim) sell in a given market — a critical insight to map a unit’s merchandising and pricing plan. 5. Profitability — This indicator accounts for a vehicle’s potential acquisition price/associated costs, the retail asking price where the unit will most likely to see action and a dealer’s gross profit goals. This trifecta, like the market days supply in No. 4, is essential to know early to minimize “gotcha!” moments and adjust your retailing plan to account for a unit’s strengths and weaknesses. 6. Availability — This indicator measures the degree of difficulty a dealer would encounter trying to find a vehicle for acquisition that meets its profit/cost parameters at online/physical auctions. With today’s supply constraints, this indicator can sometimes turn a “purchase” into a “punt” —there’s no point chasing a unit if it can’t be found without significant expense or effort. 7. Experience — This indicator would assess a dealership’s past retailing experience. It’s last on the list for a reason: A store’s past “gotcha!” or a dearth of experience with specific vehicles shouldn’t preclude acquiring them if the market suggests the decision is “right” for a dealership.

It’s important to note that heeding such market-based intelligence doesn’t guarantee that “gotcha!” moments are gone for good. Today’s used vehicle marketplace is far too volatile for anyone to overlook the risk inherent in every used vehicle acquisition. I would submit, though, that dealers who pay close attention to what market intelligence tells them on every vehicle they might acquire will have far fewer “gotcha!” moments than those who don’t.

Dale Pollak is an author and the founder of vAuto. He can be contacted at 866.867.9620, or by e-mail at



podcast interviewee



leadership solution


Leverage creates the tipping point that gets you moving and taking action. Leverage can come from wants, needs, fear, love, hate and other emotional triggers. All leverage points are good if you channel them correctly, even if they start out as a negative emotion, such as anger — at least you are moving and will notice that the longer you keep moving, the more likely you are to replace your negative leverage with something more positive. Discover and get familiar with the “why.” When the “why” gets clear, the “how” gets easy. Also, remember it is okay to start with extremely small steps. Take small steps that are guaranteed to give yourself positive reinforcement. I call these points RPE’s – Recent Positive Experience. RPE leads to more thorough risk-reward behavior patterns. Most people do the opposite. Most people want the goal or success and focus solely on the goal without recognizing the steps. Each new year I witness newcomers to the gym. They usually have found a leverage point of pain — the pain of being too fat or too unhealthy. What they see in the mirror causes pain. The pain becomes unbearable and they want to remove the pain. I think it is an incredible point in their life and I am amazed at their desire. Sadly, often the burning fire of desire quickly evaporates. After a week, they don’t see the results of the hard work, and they give up. We have become an instant gratification society. We want our results and we want them now. Bailouts, drive-thru’s and video on demand are all based upon instant gratification and speed. Quickly, despair sets in and people stop taking action; it adds to their failure board as further proof that they cannot win. The sad truth is that they were just days away from beginning to see the results they wanted. They quit too soon. Most people do. Here is the lesson: At first, focus on the


action as the result. The reward is in the action. With continued and corrected action, results are guaranteed. If you knew you could play a sport and win, would you do it? Of course you would. Your life and your goals are the exact same thing. You are absolutely guaranteed success before you even start. It is undeniable and cannot be refuted. It is a given. Start off knowing you cannot lose — unless you quit. Focus on how successful each action is by itself and how each day there are more actions strung together that provides proof of success. Write down what you want and then keep a journal of your actions and success. Read that journal and create a blueprint in your brain that reinforces you, your journey and success. After all, the true reward is the journey to the goal and not the goal itself. Give your subconscious testimonial proof of success for each action. If you are too tired or lack desire to do what you need to do, just look at the journal and take one step. Just one step and then another. Eventually you have given yourself proof that, even on your bad days, you are an unstoppable force. Divide your big goal into small goals and take one section at a time. Anything is possible this way, and most things seem impossible any other way. Get yourself a reinforcement coach. We all know someone who is a positive influence who knows how to get you going. If you don’t, start looking and asking. Everyone needs a coach. If you are looking for inspiration, think of something or someone greater than yourself. It is usually harder for us to let someone else down than ourselves. Make a commitment to someone else. Make a commitment to something good that rewards someone else when you reach your goal. Most importantly, make a commitment. What do you have to gain and what do you have to lose? What is most likely? The answer is usually in between. Don’t let your subconscious grow your fear to be so large that it keeps you from taking action. Fear is paying interest on a debt not yet due. If you are lazy, it’s not a terminal condition. First of all, laziness is a label given as permanent and is nothing more than a state of mind perpetuated into reality. Change your mind to change your reality. Ask yourself, what will I be like in five years, 10 years, 20 years if I keep this laziness up? What will I be as an example? If I were being interviewed at 100 years old about my life, what would I say? Would I be proud? Here are some tips: • Start your morning differently • Write, write, and write what you want • Take one step at a time • Get a coach • Find the why • Create a new label • Focus on the good • Give yourself proof of winning • Ask yourself each day, how did I do? • Bombard your brain with positive influence – read, listen and watch good stuff • Give yourself permission to have setbacks. It’s part of the process. Remember: You are perfect for where you are supposed to be right now, because without you being who you are right now and where you are right now, there is no way you could be who you will be and where you will be in the future. Celebrate the perfection in your imperfection. To find out how to increase your business bottom line by $250,000 or more, e-mail me at the address below with the phrase “Business Makeover” in the subject line. Mark Tewart is the president of Tewart Enterprises, and the author of the best seller, How To Be A Sales Superstar. He can be contacted at 866.429.6844, or by e-mail at

podcast interviewee

Two things keep people from being successful: laziness and the lack of leverage. The good news is that neither of these are incurable diseases, but they can be if left untreated. Let’s take a look at both and how to get rid of each one.

More Leads. Less Money. “We are able to dominate page 1 of the search results in our market with postive video messages about the products and services we sell while pushing out competing dealers and 3rd party lead providers. “ Brian Benstock Paragon Honda

#1 New & Certified Pre-owned Honda Dealer


Over the last three years, as a result of the recession, our industry has experienced some growing pains. Just as demand began to rise, the industry’s economic woes were met with the wrath of Mother Nature when the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, taking a toll on the production plants that feed the inventories of dealerships across the country. Despite the difficulties, most dealers have weathered the storm, cut costs and increased efficiencies to stay afloat. The best dealers have remained strong and are now benefiting from increased demand, revenue and profits with leaner organizations that are enjoying the newfound demand in the recovering market.

Twelve Hot

After years of playing defense, signs of a recovering economy are motivating many of the top dealers to start playing offense, and it’s paying off in record profits for 2011 – setting the stage for a big 2012.

Digital Companies that are Helping

The most profitable dealers are getting more aggressive in 2012 and are utilizing innovative digital strategies to attract, sell, service and retain more of their customers in a way that is more profitable. Many of these dealers have either created new technologies or utilized other companies’ technologies to improve their business.

Dealers Dramatically Improve Their Profitability.

This feature showcases the Top 12 Companies in 2012 that are helping dealers increase their profits by driving down costs and driving up revenue.

In this feature you will learn about marketing companies combining the power of traditional and digital marketing to deliver a consistent message through all tiers of marketing, including mobile and social media marketing strategies, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Video Search Engine Optimization (VSEO). You will also learn about group buying services that are dealer friendly, ways to use an iPad to increase your dealership’s closing ratio and average gross profit, and CSI and retention strategies that increase sales and service loyalty and frequency. This article also profiles companies that help dealers monitor all their advertising, as well as their customer service practices via the phone. This is done throughout all departments of the dealership to help management improve upon best practices and close more deals.

Two leading and highly reputable data service providers announced they will be joining forces to provide unparalleled industry-leading data solutions to the automotive market: Chrome Systems Inc., a DealerTrack company, and Autodata Solutions, Inc., a division of Internet Brands. Chrome Data Solutions’ mission is to be the best-in-class automotive content provider in North America with the resources and vision to grow in the global market.

Dealers waste too much money targeting consumers who are not likely to do business with their dealership. Team Velocity uses their proprietary Perfect Prospect Technology™ to deliver custom offers via e-mail, text & mail to prospects that are statistically most likely to purchase or service now. The targeted campaigns drive customers to a campaign Website that converts prospects into e-mails, calls and traffic to the dealership, resulting in more sales and service business for less cost.

Car-mercial pioneered Video Search Engine Optimization (VSEO) strategies that help dealers appear on top of the search engines with videos that promote the dealership and the vehicles they sell. Car-mercial’s proprietary software is used to produce, distribute and optimize videos that promote all of a dealership’s profit centers and their placement on top of major search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN. Through VSEO, Car-mercial dealers dominate the search results with positive videos while also removing third-party lead providers and competing dealers from the most important Page One rankings.

OfferLogix is the pioneer and premier provider of dynamic lease and loan payment advertising for online and mobile applications. OfferLogix proprietary technology and unique Web service automatically calculates each night on all qualifying inventory and all possible lease and loan payments, with proper legal disclosures, based on a dealer’s lender guidelines. Advertising accurate payments on inventory dramatically increases click-thru rates leading to more sales.


PMS 269 + 50% Black

Social media marketing can help dealers market to thousands of in-market consumers for free, but it’s hard to manage campaigns across hundreds of networks without dedicated staff that cost too much to hire. Social Dealer is a media management tool that helps dealers create, distribute, manage and monitor their entire social media strategy and reputation through one easy-to-use platform that increases their social reach and the number of prospects they can market to with promotions and offers that drive traffic, sales and service revenue.

IntellaCar is the Mobile Platform that equips sales consultants with easy-to-use mobile tools that assist the sales process. IntellaCar’s iPad app drives sales by helping salespeople build credibility and value in themselves, the dealership and the products they sell, thus increasing their closing ratio, average gross profit, CSI and loyalty.

GroupCars works with media companies and affinity groups to provide a world-class buying program that help consumers shop on their cell phones and the Web with the help of a trusted auto advocate at the GroupCars call center who schedules appointments that have up to 50 percent closing ratios with certified dealers exclusively. In the end, dealers get exclusive access to high-quality appointments that have a high closing ratio at a fair price and gross profit.

Business Rater helps consumers find great businesses and helps dealerships build and promote their positive reputation while also identifying areas to improve their customer experience. Business Rater helps dealers attract, sell and service more customers by generating and promoting positive dealer reviews on top search engines and the dealer’s Website, social networks and blogs.

No Compre Solo.

Aprovéchese de las ventajas de comprar en grupo para conseguir el mejor precio.

Build C = 78 M = 100 Y=0 K = 40



No Compre Solo. Aprovéchese de las ventajas

PMS 269 + 50% Black

de comprar en grupo para helps dealers identify and contact the best prospects in their database conseguir el mejor precio. who can upgrade into the same car for the same or lower payment and alerts the customer by e-mail, text, mail and phone. The DrivingLoyalty alerts drive consumers to their personal Website where they can view all the advantages of upgrading into a new vehicle for the same or lower payment along with other special offers including, service reminders, equity alerts and promotions. is the creator of the most popular mobile application used by the top dealers to increase their retention, sales and service revenue. Dealers give all their customers the app for free to enhance the ownership experience and improve their ability to communicate with their customers to bring them back for service, repeat sales and referrals. The app is customized for each dealer, so Longo Toyota (No. 1 Toyota) is different from JM Lexus (No. 1 Lexus), which is different from Paragon Honda/Acura (No. 1 Honda/Acura).

Many of the most successful dealers in the country – Penske, Paragon, Hendrick, Herb Chambers and others – work with Tier 10 Marketing to implement integrated marketing strategies that promote all of their profit centers – new, used, finance, service and parts – with a consistent message delivered through all 10 tiers of marketing: traditional, digital, mobile, social, reputation management, publicity, targeted direct mail, niche marketing, merchandising and retention.

CallRevu is a full-service call monitoring system that reviews all inbound calls and alerts a dealer whenever a customer is mishandled so deals can be saved and customer concerns can be addressed right away before it’s too late. CallRevu is able to keep dealers informed as calls happen with Real-Time Alerts via text. Dealers can finally know when a call goes wrong or an opportunity is lost in time to save a deal or a customer.



V ehi c l e


S ervice s

Since most consumers use the Internet to research and shop for vehicles, now more than ever it is essential for the auto industry to provide accurate and timely information across all segments of the industry from OEMs and lenders to retail dealers and industry solution providers. Nothing is more detrimental than inaccurate data. Whether it’s incorrect financing terms or vehicle features and pricing, bad information does not sit well with consumers, and tips the “reliability scale” unfavorably for an industry that has historically struggled to improve its reputation for honest dealings, reliability and transparency.

Website: Phone: (800) 936-8906

Recently, two leading and highly reputable data service providers announced they will be joining forces to provide unparalleled industry-leading data solutions to the automotive market: Chrome Systems Inc., a DealerTrack company, and Autodata Solutions, Inc., a division of Internet Brands. Chrome Data Solutions’ mission is to be the best-in-class automotive content provider in North America with the resources and vision to grow in the global market. Both Autodata and Chrome Systems have an established trusted legacy of more than two decades of delivering high-quality offerings to all segments of the automotive

V id eo

S ea rc h

industry. The establishment of the 50/50 joint venture will leverage the best assets of both organizations to provide the automotive retail industry – including Internet portals, OEMs, lenders, dealers and solution providers – a one-stop-shop for vehicle data and content so customers reach their growth and profitability goals even faster. The new entity will have expanded alternatives and a wider selection of services and content to choose from. It will provide a broad spectrum of vehicle data and content related offerings ranging from syndicated commercial off-the-shelf products for automotive retailers to custom design-and-build engagements for large enterprise clients, while spurring future automotive data innovations and offerings. The timing of this joint venture could not be better as dealers are increasingly pressing their suppliers to deploy more content-rich online services to entice consumers and get highly qualified buyers. Greg Perrier of Autodata will be the Chief Executive Officer for Chrome Data Solutions. The current senior leadership teams of Autodata and Chrome will continue in their leadership roles, and will report directly to Perrier.

Mark e t ing

Since more than 90 percent of car buyers use search engines to shop for vehicles, dealers and car companies are spending a lot of money on Search Engine Marketing (SEM). This allows them to appear on top of the first-page search results for the most popular phrases customers are looking for on search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. To save money, many successful dealers have invested in SEO – Search Engine Optimization, a fancy phrase for the process of trying to appear on top of the search results for free. In the early days, this was a lot easier when there weren’t a lot of manufacturers, dealers and third-party lead providers competing for the top 10 search results for popular phrases like “New York Honda.” Now-adays, most dealers realize that appearing on top of Page One of Google for popular search phrases can allow you to siphon the demand out of the market at the very point when the customer wants to buy. This has caused a bidding war for top search phrases and a lot of dealer investment to optimize their Websites to appear for free. A big break came when Google announced that it would give video search results 55x the search

authority over text, because customers prefer video over text more than half the time. The first company to recognize this opportunity was Car-mercial, the pioneers of Video Search Engine Optimization (VSEO), and that is why they are a Top 12 Company to watch. In short, Car-mercial helps dealers appear on top of the search engines with positive videos that promote their dealership and the vehicles they sell. Through VSEO, Car-mercial dealers dominate the search results with positive videos while also removing third-party lead providers and competing dealers from the most important Page One rankings. These videos also protect and promote their positive reputation so customers looking for a car in their market find videos that educate them about the benefits of doing business with the dealership along with attractive offers that drive traffic to their Website, phone and showroom. “We call it ‘targeted TV’ because we deliver targeted videos directly to customers who are actively searching for the car that the video is about,” said Karry Moore, co-owner of

Website: Phone: (877) 431-5292

Targ eted

Since the majority of consumers shop online and are being divided among hundreds of television and radio stations, the value of traditional marketing has dramatically decreased in recent years, causing dealers to seek more effective ways to attract more customers for less cost. Team Velocity Marketing is one of the Top 12 because many of the top dealers are using their new 360 Sales & Service Marketing system to attract, sell and service more customers for less cost than traditional mass marketing. Team Velocity’s system helps dealers identify their “Perfect Prospects,” which they define as those consumers who have the highest statistical probability of buying and servicing now and in the future, thus generating the most lifetime revenue and return on a dealer’s advertising investment. Once a dealer identifies perfect prospects within their market each quarter, they implement an integrated campaign through search marketing, e-mail, text, calls and direct mail with custom offers that relate exactly to the customer’s needs at that moment, while also promoting all of the dealership’s profit centers: new, used, finance, service and parts. These perfect prospects receive “perfect offers” based on where they are in the ownership cycle of their vehicle, whether they

Ma r ket i ng

are eligible to upgrade into a new vehicle for the same payment, need a major service, or their warranty is about to expire. Customers are driven to a campaign Website that provides more information on the offers, captures their e-mail and drives them to call and visit the dealership. When customers arrive at the dealership, the POS merchandising validates all the marketing messaging they have received up to that point with posters, hang tags, table toppers and window clings. After they take delivery, Team Velocity communicates with the customer through a 360 communication process that starts with “Thank You for Buying” and continues through service reminders, sales promotions, lease renewals, equity alerts and custom offers that bring customers back more often to spend more money. The company has helped their dealers increase market share, profits, CSI and loyalty while also experiencing over 400 percent growth themselves. “We had four consecutive record-breaking months in a row this year, our sales are up 45 percent year to date, and we’ve moved into the top 20 for Hyundai dealers nationally” said Roosevelt May, General Manager of Huffines Hyundai of Plano, Texas. Website: Phone: (877) 832-6848

Auto mated

Website: Phone: (512) 431-5677

di g i tal

Lea se

Car buying today is much easier than it was 10 years ago, and information that was once only available to the dealer is now easily accessible to consumers on the Web. Statistics show that in 90 percent of car deals, financing is involved and the lowest possible payment is the customer’s goal. The ability to find the right car with the preferred options and knowing what is a fair deal on that car is within easy reach for consumers. With a little research, consumers can figure out what the dealer paid for the car, as well as any other rebates and specials that apply. Even with all of this information, for the customer, it all comes down to the monthly payment. Recognizing this, dealers are implementing the latest technology and services to provide consumers with information in a format they understand. Whereas most new car dealers advertise payments on their Websites, they are usually accompanied with small print, relate to a specific vehicle, and are attached a certain MSRP. OfferLogix is the pioneer and premier provider of dynamic lease and loan payment advertising for online and mobile applications and works with many different companies to deliver this functionality. With proprietary technology and a unique Web service, they automatically

an d

F i nance

Pay m ent s

calculate each night on all qualifying inventory and all possible lease and loan payments, with proper legal disclosures, based on a dealer’s lender guidelines. Dealers must eliminate the confusion, inaccuracy and disconnects that exist between the vehicle, the customer and the monthly payment. Solutions that provide accurate pricing and budget information will make it easier for consumers to make educated buying decisions. Dealers can advertise accurate payments on inventory, vehicle listings, vehicle detail pages, mobile applications from a VIN or QR Code Scans, as well as offer “search by payment” and show captive finance programs for inventory – all dramatically increasing click-thru rates and leading to more sales. Dealers also integrate this technology into their mobile apps, with some dealers allowing customers to use their smartphones to scan a vehicle’s unique serial number or a bar code on the window, giving the customer immediate price and payments, which shows transparency in the process and saves time.

The Top 12 Companies to Watch in 2012

Reputation? ur Online Reputation? nline Reputation?


So ci a l

M ed i a

Mark et ing TM

Facebook alone has more than 800 million users who spend more time online than on any other Website in history. Since the primary goal of marketing is to be where consumers are, it would be a critical error not to have a strong presence on the social networks. Dealers cannot take their time catching up with this shift in consumer behavior as they did with the Internet.

0% Make s Based eviews.

Dealers can’t just simply subscribe to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media outlets and think that is an effective social media strategy. Dealers are using social media networks like Facebook to attract, sell and service more customers by connecting with them online and communicating with them for free. Some of the best dealers have built a network of hundreds of social media sites that enable them to promote all their profit centers to thousands of customers for free.

ales volume and up 25% in our Ford sales volume Doug Davis, general manager of Kearny Pearson a, a member of the Sunroad Automotive Group. it doesn’t get any better when your sales staff is arson Kia in San Diego, ego, ed on the future of your business – the customer reputation management ment adds Davis. improving the customer mer Social Dealer’s social marketing platform helps dealers sitive , as effect on sales, as o a June 19, 2011 release from The Yotpo Team, a create, distribute, manage and monitor their entire % for Ford, by engaging ging nsumer review analytics platform, approximately 90 social media strategy and reputation through one tle friendly competition tion ales volume and up 25% in our Ford sales volume easy-to-use tool. By increasing their social reach, dealers onsumers say that reviews have an impact in their increase the number of prospects they can market to with Website: Doug Davis, general manager of Kearny Pearson Phone: (877 king process on whether to) 326-7624 buy a product or use a promotions and offers that drive traffic, sales and service ia, a member of the Sunroad Automotive Group. as much as, 60 percent say reviews are the number in our Kia sales volume and up 25% in our Ford sales volume in our sales and up 25% in our sales volume found onKia leading ding rews it doesn’t get any bettervolume when your sales staff is Ford n their decision-making process. “This is exactly YTD,” says Doug Davis, general manager of Kearny Pearson YTD,” says Doug Davis, general manager of Kearny Pearson Yahoo, as well as, social cial ed on the future of your business – the customer perative for dealers to claim their ‘online space’ Ford and Kia, a member of the Sunroad Automotive Group. Ford and Kia, a member of the Sunroad Automotive Group. witter, fast becoming ming adds are Davis. C a reputation,” r B u y i nsays g PDan r o Weik, gram their online CEO of “Asget a dealer it doesn’t better “As dealer it doesn’t any better when get yourany sales staffwhen is your sales staff is majority of aconsumers. ers., the rating and review system Kearny totally on the of your business – the customer focused the future of your business – the customer ore much as,on from oas, a trusted, June totally 19,as 2011 release The focused Yotpo Team, a future d and Kia use for online reputation management experience,” adds Davis. experience,” adds Davis. descriptions that come ome nsumer review analytics platform, approximately 90 ers are challenged with with onsumers say that reviews have an impact in their According to or a June 2011 release from According to a June 19,a2011 release from Yotpo Team, a The Yotpo Team, a online reputation. What’s at’s king process on whether to buy product use a19,The captured over 1,000 positive reviews in a relatively real-time consumer review analytics platform, approximately 90 real-time consumer review analytics platform, approximately 90 g satisfied customers to sasto much as, 60 percent say reviews are the number of time, which takes effort and a commitment to a percent of consumers say that reviews have an impact in their percent of consumers say that reviews have an impact in their customer whocomplaints who One of the biggest car buyers the hasnssatisfied their decision-making process. “Thishave is isexactly management solution, but as Kearny Pearson Ford sle of buying a car. One of the biggest complaints dealers decision-making process on whether to buy process whetherspace’ to buy a product or use a a product or use a t happy. decision-making perative for dealers to claim theiron‘online n attest, have the isoverwhelming effect that a positive the high cost of low-quality leads with low-closservice and, asCEO much as, 60are percent say reviews are the number service and, as much as, 60 Weik, percent say reviews the number their online reputation,” says Dan of ratios gross profits. is GroupCars’ new itdealership ation can ing have onand a dealership well worth – and one factor decision-making process. “This is exactly one factor in their process. “This is exactly mbrace online reputation tion, the rating and decision-making review system Kearny marketing system helps customers shop in on their their cell fun. why it’s imperative for dealers to space’ claim their ‘online space’ it’s forhelp dealers to claim their ‘online phones and theonline Web with the of amanagement trusted auto adeand staff inwhy ause review and rd and Kia forimperative reputation No Compre Solo. vocatecontrol who schedules that upsays to 50 Dan Aprovéchese de las ventajashave and control their online reputation,” says and their appointments online reputation,” Weik, CEO of Dan Weik, CEO of sstaff and management staff de comprar en grupo para conseguir el mejor precio. percent closing ratios with certified dealers exclusively., ratingKearny and review system Kearny, the rating and reviewthe system stely in a way the ultimately Pearson and Kia use for online reputation management Ford and Kia use for reputation management fter day. Pearson captured over 1,000 positive reviews inFord aonline relatively GroupCars works with media companies and affinity solutions. groups to provide a world-class buying programtothat of time, solutions. which takes effort and a commitment a directson them certified dealers who agree to treat them ms compete a todaily daily management solution, but as Kearny Pearson Ford No Compre Solo. right, rather than shotgunningAprovéchese the same lead to multiple de las ventajas de comprar1,000 en grupo para captured has over 1,000 Kearny has capturedKearny over positive reviews in a positive relativelyreviews in a relatively Spurning ning n every attest,month. the overwhelming that conseguir el mejor precio. a dealers which results in theeffect same old hassle forpositive customers How it Works: short period of time, which takes efforttoand period of time, which takes effort and a commitment a a commitment to a colleagues and greatly atly canshort ation have on a dealership is well worth it – and and dealers being limited to a price tag only. GroupCars gives certified dealers exclusive access reputation management solution, but as Pearson Ford to reputation management solution, but as Kearny Pearson Ford rience is proving to be be fun. 1. The customer usesKearny the mobile app or Website to in-market customers areKia looking an easier and canforattest, the overwhelming that a positive and Kia can attest,who the overwhelming effect that a and positive ng reputation tionour online research selecteffect their vehicle. way to buy a vehicle for a fair price without the hassle. reputation can have onworth a dealership online reputation have on a dealership is well it – and is well worth it – and onment. Without a doubt canonline oubt One of the things that customers love about GroupCars 2. The dedicated phone center advocate schedules an even a little even aup little fun. patent-pending ct that we 125% 5% appointment for the customer to meet with a program is are their top-rated auto fun. mobile app,

revenue. When handled properly, social media is a free channel of communication that can get better response rates than traditional media, but when handled poorly, it can generate a lot of negative response. Dealers are using Social Dealer to communicate with their customers in real-time, targeting in-market prospects, attracting new talent and leveraging their employees’ social media networks to communicate with their friends and family as well. The average person has 180 friends online and if a dealership has 100 employees they can reach 18,000 people for free. The only problem is that dealers don’t have the resources to have dedicated staff manage multiple social sites, manually post content and monitor all the opportunities to sell when they arise. That is why dealers are leveraging Social Dealer’s automated system to distribute, manage and monitor content and to receive alerts whenever someone interacts with one of their social sites. “The system allows a dealer to automate what a team of 20 dedicated people could not do,” said Phil Penton from Social Dealer.

Website: Phone: (901) 552-4959


CarFactor, because it helps them shop and buy from the palm of their hand. CarFactor is being rebranded as the GroupCars app and it has enhanced features including a patent-pending scanner that can deliver valuable information on any new car from the bar code on the MSRP. The Top 12 Companies to Watch in 2012

manager at a participating dealership.

3. Upon arrival to the dealership, the customer checks in and gets the fair price from the designated program manager who uses the GroupCars mobile app to get the program prices on a vehicle in stock.

The process delivers a hassle-free 60-minute purchase experience that customers love so they are more likely to spend more, return more and refer more. Dealers love the program because they get exclusive access to highquality appointments that have a high-closing ratio at a fair price and gross profit.


One of the reasons Apple is one of the most profitable companies in the world is the experience they create in their innovative retail stores where their self-described “geniuses” are available to answer any question you have, and if they can’t deliver it off the top of their head they are a few clicks away from the right answer on their iPad. Unfortunately, car buyers are using these iPads and other digital shopping tools on the Internet and their phones before they visit the dealership and too often

they know more about the product and pricing than the salesperson they are dealing with – let’s just say that this does not make them look as smart as the geniuses in the Apple store. One of today’s growing challenges for dealers is the increasing knowledge gap between customers with extensive information and high expectations, and sales personnel who are often not up to speed with facts about

Website: Phone: (805) 241-5000

Well, IntellaCar has made it into the Top 12 this year because they are turning product knowledge dummies into innovative geniuses who may not have all the answers but they know where to get them – on IntellaCar’s iPad sales tool. IntellaCar is a mobile sales platform built to equip sales consultants with easy to use iPad tools that assists them throughout the sales process by helping them gather customer information, fact find, select and present the right vehicle based on a customer’s needs. The dealers who are using Intellcar’s new iPad sales tool are touting improved closing ratios, average gross profits, CSI, and claim that customers love the new, more innovative way to quickly access accurate information at the dealership. I must say that when you walk into a store and the sales reps are actively using iPads to educate customers it’s impressive, just like the Apple store experience. certifies dealers who agree to invite their customers to tell them how they can deliver a 5-Star experience. Certified dealers use POS merchandising that says, “Help us give you 5-Star service and Win a Free Car by filling out a survey that helps us serve you better.” After customers complete the survey and review, management is alerted on their cell phone so they can immediately thank the customer and address any issues they may have before the customer leaves the dealer. If it is a 5-Stars review, it is immediately syndicated on the dealer’s Website and social networks, and is optimized

to appear on top of the search engines like Google and Yahoo for many of the most popular search phrases that consumers use to shop for a car. If a customer indicates they did not receive a 5-Star experience, management is alerted to make things right before it becomes a CSI issue. They have a 10-day grace period to address any issues before the review is public.



Since most customers are happy, this process results in a lot of positive reviews and consumer feedback reflecting a great online reputation. And to prevent fraudulent reviews, uses a patent-pending filter process that confirms the validity of every customer review to ensure it is credible before it is published. If a review fails the process it is permanently filtered in the system.

Manag ement


The reason why is one of the Top 12 Companies to watch is because they are giving businesses, including car dealers, a plan, process and tools to help them deliver a better customer experience that will improve their sales and service reviews and reputation online while also giving them reports on what advertising is working best.

T ool

the latest and greatest technology in the vehicles they are selling. To make matters worse, the high turnover of sales staff make it even harder for dealers to keep their sales teams up to date. Wouldn’t it be great if there was an app for that?

Rep utation

Dealers spend a lot of money on advertising to build their brand and, unfortunately, a lot of customers who search for the dealerships name online find negative reviews that destroy their reputation with one click of the mouse. Although that one review does not represent the opinion of most of the dealer’s satisfied customers, it unfortunately can appear that way to consumers who read negative reviews.

Sal es

As a result, dealers attract more customers who trust these reviews that appear on top of search results for your dealership name and the most popular search phrases consumers use to shop for cars, service and financing. They also enjoy a higher closing ratio and average gross because of the trust that results from an endorsement from other customers who live in their neighborhoods. Website: Phone: (619) 800-4692


The Top 12 Companies to Watch in 2012


R et en t i o n

M ark et ing

P r o g r a ms

Build = 78 = 100 Y=0 = 40

S 269 + Black



How to keep a first-time purchaser and turn them into a lifelong customer that returns more, spends more and refers more is often the elusive question on every dealers mind, and if it’s not, it should be. helps dealers identify and contact the best prospects in their database who can upgrade into the same car for the same or lower payment and alerts the customer by e-mail, text, mail and phone to bring them into the dealership. Here they can view a Vehicle Analysis that shows them the advantages of upgrading into a new or pre-owned vehicle with more features, better gas mileage, lower payment and overall cost of ownership.

of those used cars generate service revenue as part of their reconditioning process. As a result, dealers using have increased their new and used vehicle sales and profits, while also increasing service revenue and retention.

Customers receive a print and online monthly vehicle statement that provides alerts about everything their vehicle needs and qualifies for including recalls, service reminders, equity alerts, lease renewals and upgrade offers that enable them to get a new car for the same or lower payment. Participating dealers have increased their loyalty and frequency of sales to their customer base for higher gross profits because they bring customers into their dealership before they shop. This also helps them source better pre-owned vehicles for less cost than at auction, and all I n t eg r at ed

M ark et ing

Dealers spend too much money working with too many vendors on disconnected ad campaigns that are often confusing for customers and dealership staff. TV and radio commercials tout one message, and newspaper, direct mail and e-mails claim another, yet none of the above can be found on a dealership’s Website or showroom floor. Many of the most successful dealers in the country – Penske, Paragon, Hendrick and others – are working with Tier 10 Marketing to implement integrated marketing strategies that promote all of their profit centers – new, used, finance, service and parts – with a consistent message delivered through all 10 tiers of marketing: traditional, digital, mobile, social, reputation management, publicity, targeted direct mail, niche marketing, merchandising and retention. One of Tier 10’s most impressive accomplishments is that they are the ad agency that made Paragon Automotive No. 1 in every brand they represent – Honda, Acura and Certified Pre-Owned vehicles. When Paragon began working with Tier 10, their best month was 36th in the country with Acura, and 17th with Honda. Within nine months, both stores were No. 1 in combined new and CPO sales in the country and have remained on top for over a year, while also setting records for profitability, The Top 12 Companies to Watch in 2012

CSI and customer loyalty. “We were spending way too much money with 15 different companies who had completely different strategies, messages, look and feel, and now we work with one company who ties it all together with one integrated approach. I spend less, make more and it works,” said Brian Benstock, co-owner of Paragon Honda & Acura in Queens, NY. As a top 20 dealer, Paragon was far from broken, but Teddy Nissan opened after Ted Bessen bought the store when it was only selling 28 cars a month in 2009. Six months later, Teddy was selling more than 250 cars a month and had already paid off the initial investment of the store. One thing is for sure, dealers who have an integrated marketing strategy that connects their traditional advertising with the other nine tiers can spend less money to attract, sell and retain more customers. Website: Phone: (703) 552-4140

Website: Phone: (877) 553-1112


Retent i on



More than 93 percent of Americans have a mobile phone and many of the best dealers are giving their customers free mobile apps to improve their customer satisfaction and loyalty. Today, there is an app for almost everything from counting down the minutes in each day to tracking favorite sports teams and everything in between. DealerApp Vantage is a Top 12 Company to watch because they are the creators of the most popular automotive mobile application that dealers use to retain and resell their customers for very little money. Although works with many of the leading dealerships in the world, including Longo Toyota (No. 1 Toyota dealer), JM Lexus (No. 1 Lexus Dealer), Paragon Honda & Acura (No. 1 Honda & Acura dealer), and others, they are not known by consumers because they customize their application under the dealer’s brand. Dealers give their customers a free auto app that is branded for their dealership and is a unique benefit that differentiates them from their competitors. DealerApp Vantage has become popular because it includes a lot of features that customers and dealers both love. The customers love that they have an easy-to-use mobile app

that includes Roadside Assistance, Parking Meter Alert, a Car-finder to help customers find their cars in crowded parking lots and a Gas Savings Navigator that helps customers find the lowest-priced gas station. Dealers love the app because it gives them a free channel to market to customers with service reminders and sales promotions and it gives customers a faster and easier way to contact their dealer, schedule service, buy parts, get vehicle quotes, or view dealer inventory and specials. Dealers have had a lot of success with mobile marketing because a lot more customers read their text and pop-up messages on their phone rather than read e-mails. Unlike most apps, DealerAppVantage refrains from third-party advertising on your app – no competitor popup ads – and they customize the app to fit your dealership’s particular brand so your app doesn’t look like anyone else’s. Most dealers are giving these free apps to all their customers in sales and service – and some are even giving them to prospects – as a gift, because it gives them a free channel to send special offers in the future. Website: Phone: (877) 531-2777


“The phone is a blind spot in the dealership where customers and profits are lost in every department, every hour, of every business day. What is the inevitable next move for a customer who can’t get through or get answers – they call the competition and buy elsewhere,” said Chip King, owner of CallRevu and the publisher of the 2011 Phone Performance Report that reveals trends that were measured by listening to more than 1 million inbound dealership calls. According to the report, a third of all calls are forwarded to voice mail, and are too often not checked or followed up with. “When we first started measuring, we found more than 30 percent of our callers were going to voice mail and hanging up on hold,” said Steve Risso, President of Teddy Nissan. “We made the corrections and now less than 9 percent go to voice mail – it was huge!” CallRevu is one of the Top 12 Companies to watch because they are helping dealers like Rick Case, SoCal Penske, Germain and others use the phone to improve their customer experience and profits. “We save multiple deals a week from the alerts CallRevu sends to our managers whenever a customer is mishandled,” said Richard Bustillo, GM of Rick Case Honda, one of the top Honda dealers in the world. “CallRevu monitors every call that comes into a dealership with live call center operators who score all the calls, and alerts

management whenever a customer is mishandled or when someone needs training.” “We use CallRevu to improve our customer experience by using their weekly and monthly reports to track our advertising, people, processes and appointments so we can ensure that every customer call is handled correctly,” said Bustillo. “CallRevu has turned the call tracking business upside down by giving dealers free ad tracking numbers as a part of their service while providing more accurate ad tracking and alerts that help dealers save deals and improve the customer experience over the phone. My previous call tracking system gave us inaccurate information about our ad sources because many customers who see our ads then go to our Website for information and call the number on the site which gives the Website credit for the call when it was another medium that brought them there. Since CallRevu listens to each call they capture the correct ad source, as the customer refers to the specific vehicle they saw on AutoTrader or the newspaper. They also track our appointment rates by staff, store, region and nation so everyone knows where they stand. There’s no doubt that CallRevu is a game changer for 2012.”

Website: Phone: (866) 796-0227

Moni t or i ng

SEAN V. BRADLEY • Speaker at Digital Dealer

• Speaker At NADA & 20 Group

• Certified FranklinCovey Trainer

• Builds Muiltimillion Dollar Departments from Scratch

• 2 time winner of Auto Dealers Monthly's

• Speaker for JD Power Internet Round Table

Dealers Choice Award for Best Internet

• General assembly speaker for the AAISP Conference


• Created the first and ONLY Internet Sales 20 Group

• Member of the National Speakers Association

Car Dealer Social Network

• Convention Speaker for NADA 3 years in a row


• Writes for over 13 national magazines


• Trained 1,000’s of GM’s and Dealer Principals


$ 20,000 Giveaway


Booth #3312 FREE

For a chance to WIN a $ 20,000 Training, Consulting, & Digital Marketing Package


& We Have Over 12+ Years of

lerships... a e D f O s ’ 0 0 0 , 1 d e n i a r T e v ’ e W


On Site Training Phone Training Workshops Internet Sales 20 Group


Internet Sales Digital Marketing Compliances BDC Phone Skills Recruiting Operations ROI

Digital Marketing Web Design Graphic Design Search Engine Optimization Social Media Video Production Reputation Managment



leadership solution

can’t teach


While you’re at it, run and appraise a customer’s trade who is demanding payoff or he will continue shopping; pencil a deal where the customer is 6k flipped and wants to keep the same note; slap the cape on and save a

deal that is rolling out of the front door- the customers vowing to never return again; take a T.O. and thank a customer for leaving instead of staying. It’s 2 p.m., no cars out, and your newest salesperson (with three hours of solo experience) is on his fifth Up for the day; your used car inventory is over budget, your wholesale loss is at an average day’s gross… and while you’re at it, stay positive! Twelve hours later, shirt collar unbuttoned, tie at half-mast, and only seven days left to make a month, you slip into your domain of peace. Throwing your keys on the dryer as you walk through the back door, your baby girl rushes up to you, hugging your legs as if she hasn’t seen you in years. When asked how our day was, all you can muster to say is, “It was OK — nothing new.” You shrug off the day and begin to systematically change roles from work to home, slipping out of your sales slippers and into your robe of parenthood; only hours later, starting it all over again. Despite the circumstances, great leaders seem unflappable; it’s as if they are a surfer, surfing through the barrel of an immense wave of calamity that threatens to crush them at any moment. A confident leader delegates many things, but caring is not one of them. Daily, leaders sit in their employees’ shadows and embrace their pains, calm their fears, rejoice in their victories and stoop to catch their tears. They serve as teachers, cheerleaders, counselors, correctors, facilitators, stem-winders, financiers, customer service reps and mediators. They bask in each member’s highs and help them shovel out of their lows. Leaders rise and fall with the ones they serve because of one simple principle: They care. To start off this new year on the right foot, this article is written to say “thank you” to those leaders who care. You are there for your staff and keep the wheels on a maniacal business rolling and somehow you maintain your sanity. It seems the only time you are allowed to vent, expose your weaknesses and question your strength is while driving to your second job — the night shift called “home.” Your job may seem thankless, but your efforts are merited — what you say means a lot; what you do means even more. There are millions of books lining the shelves that can teach you everything, except one: You can’t teach caring. Marsh Buice is the sales manager of Mark Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep. He can be contacted at 866.535.5006, or by e-mail at

Search How easily, How well, How fast, How accurately, How competitively…

Are you being found?

Visit PCG Digital Marketing at the 2012 NADA • Februar y 3-6, 2012 • Booth 3659


podcast interviewee

Today wasn’t any different from any other — just another day. One salesperson is on the verge of divorce, another is estranged from his wife and two children he loves more than breathing; another salesperson is too weak to stand because the dialysis he is receiving while awaiting a liver transplant did not go well; one didn’t cover his draw and doesn’t know how he can pay his rent, much less buy his newborn baby enough formula to last until his next draw check; another was seen walking down the road, hitchhiking to work after his car gave out; and another can’t get yesterday’s ‘Up’ on the phone — he’ll never answer. This customer is now a guest on America’s Most Wanted, on the run from police after snapping and killing his estranged wife. The receptionist is crying after being degraded by a customer; a porter is upset because he has to wash a car for the second time; a technician doesn’t want to stop putting a transmission in a vehicle in order to perform a state inspection; the parts department quoted the wrong price to a customer we fought for months to win over as a client; a service writer advises you an angry customer is on his way to drive his truck through the showroom floor because his warranty won’t cover a repair.

YOUR own data can be YOUR greatest lead source. . .

I moved 6 months ago

My house line is disconnected

Ignite It.


Got rid of that 99 Toyota, driving a 02 Ford


marketing solution


what is your website hiding?


Earlier in this series, I explained how to review your Website design, interpret known shopping behaviors and what calls to actions convert your leads to buyers — all based on real data and cutting-edge technology. In conclusion, we should now take some time to review where the average automotive shopper lives and surfs the Internet for further insight in order to know, serve and sell more customers through trackable ROI. As previously mentioned, statistics show us that customers who come to your Website are already out shopping. The top referral site that converts to a lead is, with, DealerRater, KBB, Facebook and CARFAX close behind, and with Yahoo, Bing and Google organic searches being used as a directory following in that order. Who is your audience? They are already shoppers. TIP: I recommend that you take a careful look at your PPC (pay per click) marketing strategy. Our research shows that out of 672,477 visits to the Websites through Google PPC, less than one percent convert to an e-mail lead. My concern for you is that more than 400,000 of those paid visits arrived by typing in the name of the dealership exactly. How much money are you spending on buying your own dealership name? Another important aspect of intelligent marketing is to find out where your automotive shoppers live. Do they come from 50 miles away? 100 miles? Even 400 miles away? You can find this information by researching your Website map visits. For example, using live Website tracking technology, I watched a shopper in North Carolina search in their browser for the keywords “2009 certified land rover” and after the first three results — being that of the manufacturer, they found a dealer in San Francisco ( and viewed seven pages before submitting a lead. People come to the Internet from everywhere when your Website is being optimized. Knowing this, you can better tailor your geographical advertising and your salespeople can start asking them where they are from when on the phone and lead towards a more meaningful conversation opportunity. The visit map shows you where your shoppers live, but what you really want to look at is


your sold map. The No. 1 Chevy dealer in Norman, Oklahoma (www.marcheitzchevy. com) reveals the most populated part of their visit map equaling their sold map is at a 400-mile radius. Google maps revealed their dealership as ranked No. 1 in every one of the cities where they sold a vehicle, beating out his competition within that region. They received 1,000 more phone calls from shoppers since their Website had been built to optimize geographically and according to the guidelines set in the Google directory.



“AutoNation seeks new stores, not new markets”

Now let’s talk about using all of this (Automotive News 2011) behavioral data to convert a shopper before they leave your site within the current average of seven minutes. A proven and interactive way to do this is to use relevant coupons to get more leads from your Website. Knowing that people come to your Website from an Apple product or that a Starbucks location THIS SCARY FACT IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY sits in the middle of your most populated visit map, may be an indication that an Apple or Starbucks gift card with a test drive would increase their interest through a coupon lead form pop-up while they are browsing. If Learn more at: you know that a shopper has been looking at the inventory pages for more than five minutes without going into the details, it might be a good time to push a graphic and trusted logo offer to receive a live video, e-brochure or AutoCheck and CARFAX coupons. The ways you can use the behavior information to your advantage is only as limited as your imagination. How did they find your Website to begin with? SEO is the largest driver and has been described many ways. It is basically a process by which search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing and others, extract keywords from your Website’s text, headers, page titles, inbound links and URLs and optimizes them as customers start typing those keywords used into the engine. They will then start to display the most pertinent Websites they have catalogued and believe to be the best choices for the shopper. Being on the first page is critical, and to do that you must be within the first 10 listings through good and relevant content and by following Google Webmaster Guidelines. To find where you rank, you can do a site colon search ( Google will even tell you what keywords are typed the most. Your Website is hiding a plethora of information at your fingertips in real-time through new technology available that connects the entire life cycle of your shoppers, from the date and time of their visit to the IP address and referring site and keyword search information, to the browser and operating system being used and down to the number and specific pages viewed and the duration of time spent on each page. Never lose another customer marked as old or bad or unresponsive again; you can recapture their data upon visits to your Website for follow-up. Sales processes can be modified to take advantage of the immediate and informed opportunities! Once you have this technology, you have the competitive advantage.

Kendall Billman is the vice president of interactive marketing for VinSolutions. He can be contacted at 866.892.1447, or by e-mail at

5:11 P


leadership solution

processes must accompany

software solutions I remember all too well when we first introduced used vehicle inventory management tools to the industry a decade ago. We’d get responses like, “I don’t need a computer to tell me what a car’s worth,” or “You’ll never get a UCM to use a computer to appraise a car.” Boy, the world has changed these last few years. That said, I think we’re only starting to see the beginning of a technology revolution within the industry. It seems every day there is a new solution on the market. Many of these new tools are wonderful, but dealers must realize that you can have the best technology on the planet, but if you don’t put process around it, it will fail. Think of it like this: You could have the most powerful and fastest car on the NASCAR circuit, but if you don’t have a skilled driver and team to support and drive it, you’ll never win. The reason our industry is being inundated every day with new solutions is that it has been so far behind; it’s trying to catch up at warp speed. There are needs in just about every area because up until about 10 years ago we did

things exactly the same way as they had been done for the last 50 years. The industry shunned anything new and valued a Car Man’s “Golden Gut” as the only real way to acquire, price and merchandise inventory. Now dealers are realizing that if they can put the right tools in the hands of a skilled and experienced Car Man, he becomes worth his weight in gold. As I’m diving back into the inventory management business, I’ve been elated to see how some dealers have completely adopted new technology and put great processes around it. The results are simply off the charts. Alternatively, I have seen some dealers who are still doing things the same way their grandfathers did. Needless to say, they are struggling mightily in this new age of enlightenment in our industry. They are losing market share and money month after month. Progressive dealers are taking advantage of their reluctance to change and literally picking up the dollars that the old-school dealers can’t see dropping from their pockets. One large dealer in Houston is one of the best technology disciples I have seen. It makes me very proud because he was one of the first dealers to adopt our tools back in 2001. Today he utilizes integrated CRM and inventory management tools from two separate companies. He has also developed strict processes around every tool he has. From appraisal, acquisition, pricing and stocking to follow-up, trade walks and bucket pricing... everyone at the dealership follows the processes and rules around the technology. I glanced at his current performance right before I sat down to write this article. • • • • • •

No units more than 45 days old Average turn time of 22 days in 2011 Average profit per unit more than $2,250 Trending for 196 used vehicle sales this month Wholesale loss per unit of ($46) Over $400k in front-end gross profit made last month

I’m sure 99 percent of dealers would love to realize this kind of performance. The problem is they must have the right tool, the right folks to use them and then the right processes around it all. Most get one or two of those ingredients right but miss that all-important third. When I used to travel to dealerships back in ‘01 to ‘05 to install our systems, the first thing I would do is have a meeting with the owner and GM. I’d ask them if they were willing to put the right process around the software we were getting ready to install. It had to be a strict directive that mandated a whole new appraisal process as Step 1 — “This is how we do appraisals in this store from this day forward.” If I could get the commitment we were well on our way. If I couldn’t, we’d pack our gear and walk out. I knew it was a cancellation waiting to happen, and we’d be blamed because our software didn’t work, when it really had nothing to do with the software. It had everything to do with bad habits and an aversion to change. Here’s my advice: Whenever you buy any new technology, make sure you demand that the vendor help you install the right process to support it and make it work. If they can’t, I’d pass on the product. Find the best dealers in the country and learn their best practices. There are many great software solutions. What processes make them work the best?

Bruce Thompson is the founder and CEO of RedBumper. He can be contacted at 866.613.1344 or by e-mail at


podcast interviewee

As NADA is right around the corner you’ll be overwhelmed with all the slick new products that are on the market. Just make sure you can execute a comprehensive plan around them. Otherwise you’ll just be spending money for a product that doesn’t work for you.

sales & training solution

maybe it’s time For a bodyshop management system Standard dealership management systems (DMS) are great for general operations. They are, however, quite lacking when it comes to bodyshop operations. Just like the bodyshop has always been an afterthought to most dealers, it seems that the DMS really doesn’t do enough for the bodyshop. Most dealers think that their DMS, along with a computerized estimating system, is enough. Nothing could be further from the truth. The bodyshop has some peculiar and unique needs. The fact that 99 percent of all bodyshop transactions involve a third-party payer (insurance companies) really complicates things. The fact that the estimating database is not hard linked to the manufacturer’s parts database is also tricky. To complicate matters even more, it is important to understand that most insurance company billing takes place through a non-dealer estimatics program. Job Costing

The real benefit to a bodyshop-specific management system is real-time cost control. The better management systems allow for


a process called “real-time accounting” or “job costing.” Bodyshop jobs often take days or weeks to process. The longer a job is in process, the more potential for unrealized profit leak exists. Mechanical jobs going through your service department normally are in and out in one or two days and are easier to track. The average bodyshop ticket is well over $2,000 and takes seven to 14 days; thus, tracking of costs is very important. I have found that the managers who start monitoring job cost daily on every job are far more successful than those who do not. I insist that my managers run an in-process job cost report on every single job every day. That way if they see a job dip below our preset profit standards, they can take evasive action while the job is still alive and in our shop. Once the job is gone, it is too late to affect the profitability, which is why it requires real-time cost analysis. An additional benefit of using a real bodyshop

management system is the ability to build a database for analysis. Once you compile some data, you can determine which jobs are historically most profitable. You can see what brands you prefer better on. You can really drill down on employee profitability and efficiency. I especially enjoy being able to analyze my insurance companies’ performance on more factors than just volume. To operate a bodyshop without a real management system would be tantamount to flying an airliner by the seat of your pants using no instrumentation. Which One?

I do not endorse a specific brand of system because we do not want to sacrifice our objectivity. Most dealers want one with some interface ability with their DMS. I actually believe that interface is overrated; but, to each his own on the interface question. We perform some manual job cost analysis exercises in our classes that pretty well convince the manager of a need for a system. The management system will pay for itself faster than any piece of equipment you can imagine when properly used. Finally, you can take away my downdraft spray booths, my welders or my frame machines, but I will fight you if you ever try to take away my bodyshop management system. It is that important.

Dave Dunn is the founder of Masters School of Autobody Management. He can be contacted at 866.386.0042, or by e-mail at

podcast interviewee



marketing solution

five steps to automotive inbound marketing success

Outlined below is my five-step strategy to get you started on your way to success with inbound marketing. The first step of the inbound marketing process is the creation of content. What is content creation, you ask? It is simply the crafting of short blog posts that use keywords to drive more organic traffic to your Website, which will ultimately convert into more leads for your dealerships. Think of a Google search result as your new business card. Every day, people type exactly what they are looking for into the search engine. The goal of content creation is to ensure that your content and Webpages are found when shoppers are searching. You can literally double or even triple your Website traffic by blogging. Step two is creating the right landing pages. What are landing pages? They are Webpages that offer a very specific offer instead of generic Webpage or one that has multiple offers. An example is a page that has a specific lease offer for a 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe LS

for $399 per month. You would drive traffic to this very specific offer page by running an ad on Google, Facebook, Bing and any other source you want. The key is to drive people to something specific instead of just your homepage. Using landing pages will increase conversion and also deliver a better shopping experience by giving shoppers the specific information they are looking for instead of making them aimlessly search for it. The third step is to test your offers to see which one yields more leads. Google’s Website optimizer program — which is a free, powerful tool — will enable you to test which Webpage is more effective in converting more of your shoppers into taking the next step in the purchase funnel. Testing should be a foundational cornerstone of your online marketing initiative. For years, we have had to either guess what was working or just copied our competitors without any proof or verification that it even worked. Technology today enables us to create a continuous improvement program for our Website, helping to boost our conversion incrementally. Step four is to distribute the content you are creating across multiple platforms, including social media. The old adage of “build it and they will come” has been replaced by “write it, film it and distribute it across the Internet and people will see it.” The easiest way to do this is through your social media channels. Writing a blog post and then sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and some social bookmarking sites is step one of proper content marketing distribution. The fifth and final step is to measure your results. The Internet affords us a luxury that is almost impossible in the real world; the tracking of your content throughout the entire process. With advance Website analytics and business intelligence you can track how many people read your blog, shared it or visited a landing page and converted into a lead. The accountability and performance of your Internet marketing has never been easier to measure and manage. Start putting together your inbound marketing strategy with these key elements and you will generate more organic traffic to your Website. Over time, these inbound marketing techniques will deliver you more leads while helping you to reduce your cost per vehicle sold. Todd Smith is the co-founder of ActivEngage. He can be contacted at 866.387.9061, or by e-mail at

Secure Speed-Guardian™ 4000 U High Speed Roll-Up Door for Auto Retail You’ll enjoy its dependability. Your employees will appreciate its energy efficiency, and your customers will love its looks. Call us today and learn about the door that has an opening speed of up to 80” / second, superior R-value of 13.6, operates up to 1 million cycles plus, and has dealerships saying: “We bought two Speed-Guardian’s for the insulation value, doublepane anti-scratch windows and advanced technology... The competition doesn’t even come close!”

Hörmann Flexon LLC High Performance Doors Call us u 1-800-365-3667 / 1-724-385-9150


podcast interviewee

It is becoming increasingly important for your dealership to have an inbound marketing strategy. As inbound marketing starts to take hold in the automotive industry, you need to be prepared to take advantage of all its benefits instead of wasting time and money on typical outbound marketing that you are used to doing.


marketing solution

are you selling social media short because “social media doesn’t sell?” DUads-autoSuccessP3.pdf

More and more, I hear dealers across the country wrestling with the challenges of social media, asking themselves tough questions like: • “Can I pencil social media?” • “Does the auto industry belong in social media?” • “Why should I continue spending time and money on social media when it isn’t selling me any more cars?” From Face-to-Face to Facebook

Social media isn’t about selling cars. Or maybe I should say, social media is about much more than selling cars. It’s about the future. It’s about being where your customers — and potential customers — are. Consider these facts: • Facebook has 750 million active users, and 64 percent of them have “liked” a brand • Twitter has 100 million active users, and 33 percent of them share opinions about companies or products at least one a week Do you really want your competitors to be the ones being “liked”? Are you ready to turn a deaf ear when customers tweet well — or sometimes even more importantly, poorly — of your dealership? Not only is social media how consumers are communicating, it’s how they’re buying. Nearly half (48 percent) of consumers combine social media and search engines in the buying process. And a staggering 85 percent start shopping for an automobile online. Not by looking in the paper, not by reading billboards, not by watching TV commercials, not by listening to radio spots and not by going in the showroom. Online. What Good Is Social Media?

In a recent poll of more than 900 business leaders throughout the nation, 55 percent said they plan to increase spending on social media in 2012. Only two percent project decreases. Their responses revealed that the value of social media to their businesses is similar to its value in the auto industry.

Social media can provide many benefits to your dealership, helping you: • Build awareness of your dealership and its services • Communicate and interact with your customers and target market • Monitor comments and conversations between customers and potential customers • Increase traffic to your Website • Learn more about — and respond to — your customers and their likes and dislikes, as well as their interests and concerns • Create new business and connections • Develop targeted special offers • Become aware of — and react appropriately to — negative comments and issues that may damage your dealership’s reputation



“It’s a strategic advantage to have density in a market and have all the brands in the market” – Mike Jackson, AutoNation CEO (Automotive News 2011)

Yelp for Help

It’s important to remember that social media isn’t just a method of reaching out to customers. It’s a way of learning what people are saying about your dealership, your service, your salespeople and your special events. Social media is a powerful resource for discovering strengths and areas that may need some improvement. Because consumers aren’t just shopping the Internet for vehicles, they’re shopping for dealerships, too. It’s critical that you know — and have the opportunity to respond to — comments and criticisms.


Learn more at:

I recommend monitoring your dealership on sites such as,, DealerRater. com and Google Places, as well as encouraging satisfied customers to post reviews on these sites and your Facebook page. Does Social Media Pay?

In a recent survey of more than 200 marketing executives, only 26 percent said they can effectively measure the ROI of social media. When asked what they felt was the primary value of social media, note that driving revenue didn’t even place in the top four: • Awareness building • New customer acquisition • Building customer loyalty and retention • Expanded reach to new audiences Make sure you understand what social media does well and use it for those purposes. After all, you wouldn’t use a wrench to drive a nail — and you shouldn’t rely on social media to drive sales. There are better tools to accomplish your goal. Define Success

“Do you really want your competitors to be the ones being ‘liked’? Are you ready to turn a deaf ear when customers tweet well — or sometimes even more importantly, poorly — of your dealership?”


5:12 P

It is best to set reasonable and realistic goals for a social media program. Ask yourself what you hope to accomplish — more “likes,” more customer interaction, more traffic online and in the showroom, etc.

Because when it comes to evaluating the effectiveness of social media, success isn’t measured in sales. It’s measured in the things that lead to sales — relationships built on trust, loyalty and community. And if you’re not online communicating with consumers today, they just might not be in the dealership buying from you tomorrow. Russell Grant is the vice president of sales for J&L Marketing. He can be contacted at 866.503.8397, or by e-mail at


marketing solution

is your crm system past

its expiration date? Do you pay attention to expiration dates for the foods in your refrigerator? How about on your pantry shelf or in the food store? These dates are a reminder that when foods are left alone, they become stale, spoil and can even harm us.

When you consider how many calls and leads are being handled at your dealership, nothing is more important for your BDC or Internet sales team than a properly configured CRM system. With consumer shopping behavior constantly changing, you cannot afford to rely on workflows, rules and templates that have not been updated in a year.

Have you ever considered that your CRM has an expiration date? When was the last time you opened the door to your CRM system and did some house cleaning? Are their things in your BDC “fridge” that are harming you?

I recently asked a number of automotive professionals who have operated a BDC for their recommendations for CRM auto responders. That list included Marc McGurren, Joel Cassser, Jeff Kershner, Jerry Thibeau and Alex Snyder. You can imagine that I received a number of diverse opinions.

As I have been traveling around the county helping dealers with marketing and BDC operations, I have been amazed at how many CRM systems are set on autopilot — like a product with no expiration date, lead auto responder e-mails are being sent out each day with information that is stale. One dealer that I reviewed was appending OEM financing and rebates that were for new cars on used car leads. Another dealer was sending out e-mails that had a large Black Friday sale banner; unfortunately the sale ended two weeks prior.

Rethink Auto Responders

However, two common threads emerged from the dialogue that may be a spark to make changes in current dealership CRM processes. Auto responders, if used at all, should be short and sweet. The longer the e-mail, the less engagement one can expect. Who wants to read a long e-mail? When you consider how many consumers will get your e-mails on a mobile device, you can start to see why short e-mails are better. The group also encouraged the brief e-mail to end with a simple question that could be answered easily by the consumer. This will encourage the consumer to respond. An example could be:“We will be contacting you shortly; what is the best number and time we can reach you?” When should you send out your auto-responder? Delay the response for six to eight minutes, which will give the impression that you took time to write the reply personally. Another idea was to end the e-mail with “Sent from iPhone” or similar message to personalize the first impression. Dealers should start 2012 with a complete audit of their CRM communications and business processes. Leveraging the current functionality of existing CRM systems with a fresh update of content and business rules will deliver more profits to the bottom line. Dealers who have broken processes should not look at purchasing a new CRM system as the savior for their business. I visited a dealership recently that used an Up Logbook in their showroom. I asked what percentage of the Ups were logged into their CRM. The answer was 60 percent. Phone Ups were worse, at around 50 percent. Looking For a New CRM Platform?

Is your CRM system past its prime? You might be surprised to know that many popular CRM systems are still based on technology that is five to 10 years old. Of course, CRM functionality gets updated each year, but often within a technology framework that limits innovation and ease of customization. Changing a dealer CRM system is not a simple task, but the cost to the dealership for not updating to newer technology can be 10x the cost of the upgrade. New tools that allow for customized, intelligent responses make generic CRM workflows look as fresh as a month-old tuna fish sandwich. Take a look at the latest breed of CRM solutions that have tighter integration into your online marketing and customer communication channels. When properly configured, the latest CRM technology can make a dealer stand out from their peers, which is becoming increasingly important during the Zero Moment of Truth. Dealers who check the expiration date on their CRM systems and processes will be well rewarded in 2012 because they will stop poisoning their success. 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


No Limits. Everything I do, I do with no limits. The same holds true at Their technology creates infinite opportunities for your dealership. Find out what’s next in automotive digital marketing at NADA 2012 Booth #3301.

Scan this code for your chance to meet Jonathan at NADA 2012 Jonathan Goldsmith, the actor who portrays The Most Interesting Man in the World

AUTOMOTIVE DIGITAL MARKETING Visit or call us at 888.785.5418


leadership solution

we all just want a

good deal

Take Your Dealership Through an Oil Change Test

This is a simple market research project for you or a group of employees. Budget between $400 and $600 for 20 oil changes in order to document the strengths and weaknesses of your nearest competition. Evaluate items such as customer service, pricing, environment, what services your competition pushes, how long those services take, etc. Then, compare your dealership to what your competitors have to offer. If you don’t feel you have enough value to sell yourself, then work on a plan to add more. This test is far superior to comparison surveys that only detail prices and services offered. Price surveys help, but they don’t give you the full scope of how you exceed your competition. Build Your Value Propositions

Building the “value” part of the equation means offering more for a competitive cost. By working on both sides of the equation, you are more likely to cast a larger net of market


influence to the variety of customers you can attract. Below is a board to choose from: • Factory Service and Parts — Better quality and warranties • Staff Experts — Your people, trained technicians, vehicle and recall experts • Service Variety — Tires, mufflers, brakes, etc. • Facilities — WiFi, comfortable lounges, beverages and food • Shuttle and Waiting Plans — Mall trips, ladies’ day manicures, rental calls • Rewards Programs — Points, oil changes, 100,000-mile club • Comprehensive Records/One-Stop Shop for All • Car Wash • Convenient and Extended Service Hours • Genuine Manufacturer’s Safety Inspections on Every Vehicle • Express services — Time guarantees The Right Price

Here is where the price comparison boards come in. Find the most commonly priced services and concentrate most of your efforts there. If you are trying to determine a good deal for a CV boot replacement, then you are giving away profit because you know too much about servicing a vehicle. Offer consistent competitive prices on the most common services, and don’t feel like you need to reinvent the wheel with every communication. Develop 12 to 15 core offers and vary those according to the season. Also, be sure you communicate competitive offers for tires, brakes, oil changes and mufflers using consistency with your competitively-priced offers. This helps you battle pre-existing brands who offer similar services. Your customers may not purchase mufflers very often, but remember that you are targeting the core business model of competitors who began their companies with these types of services. Google “Midas” and you won’t see the word “muffler” in their company name or tagline anywhere. DEAL = VALUE - PRICE

The key is to develop both sides of the equation. Dealerships have so many built-in resources to attract and keep customers that they just don’t have a plan to use these resources to effectively build traffic. Once you have the right values in the right places, take the time to sell these values across all communications and creatively reveal the great deal you have to offer prospective customers. One common mistake dealers make is using the manufacturers’ programs that don’t allow you to sell the individual service department. Another challenge to communicating your unique values lies within your online presence. A customer might visit your Website and go to service tab only to find it sells nothing. As far as message consistency goes, your customers might be getting a reminder for services due from one company with only the manufacturer’s brand all over it, but then they get mailed coupons that only sell on price rather than a marketing piece that sells price, customer service, convenience and the amenities of your dealership. When dealers can go through the simple process of comparing themselves to their competition and striving to outperform them, they improve how much of a deal they offer their customers. The difficult part is managing a consistent communications plan over an entire year, with multiple solutions and multiple companies, even if your specific manufacturer dictates some of your choices in marketing services. The challenge of exclusively working with manufacturer-backed marketing programs is a story for another time. Chuck Patton is the founder and CEO of Traffic Builders, Inc. He can be contacted at 866.859.8520, or by e-mail at

podcast interviewee

Every dealer has exponentially more to offer than the aftermarket — so why does the aftermarket still manage to outpace dealerships’ service departments nearly seven out of 10 times? Do you believe that your dealership is far superior to your competition? Why is your dealership far superior to the competition? Do you feel confident in what you have to offer above your competition, and have you fully developed your service department’s unique benefits and committed to writing what sets your dealership apart? If you have your selling points written, then you have a great foundation to dominate your market. The strategy is simple — if you don’t have enough value over the competition, then develop more. If you believe your value already exceeds that of your competition, then make sure you have a plan to communicate that value and sell it to your customers in order to build more traffic. Let me take you through an easy system that will ultimately lead to a successful service department. Essentially, you will be developing the parts to “a good deal,” which is ultimately what your customers want: DEAL = VALUE - PRICE.



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


marketing solution

are you using

video yet?

If your dealership is not using video, then, you may want to reconsider — and fast. Here are some third-party statistics about online video that you may want to consider if you don’t feel that video is a valuable commodity on the Internet for your dealership: • Video will account for 90 percent of Internet traffic by 2013 (CISCO 2010) • Videos in search increases the likelihood of being found on front-page Google results by 53 times (Forrester Research 2010) • Nine out of 10 Internet users engage with online video (COMSCORE 2010) • Companies using online video see an average 20 to 40 percent lift in sales


(COMSCORE 2010) • 44 percent of Google front page search results feature video listings (Forrester Research 2010) The future is clear: Either use online video to engage with your current and potential customers, or don’t be surprised if your showroom foot traffic looks like an abandoned town out of an old western movie. Start using online video to reach your customers and engage with them. One dealership using online video in the front page search results is Gunn Automotive Group, based in San Antonio, Texas. One of their six stores, Gunn Honda, is a Ward’s 100 top dealer.  Tony Rhoades, Director of eCommerce, says ”We have been using Video SEO over the last year to effectively create first page listings in our market area.  This gives our dealerships a competitive edge to gain the exposure we need to reach local consumers in this market.” The first-page Google search listing shown is for the keyword phrase “ACCORD SAN ANTONIO” which shows three videos on the first page for Gunn Honda thereby effectively reducing other local dealers’ listings.

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

podcast interviewee

The beginning of the year is a time where most dealerships analyze the previous year’s gains and losses, and then set goals for the upcoming year. Each year, for a dealer to stay competitive in the local online market share, there are new digital marketing strategies to employ effectively to generate exposure for sales, service and reputation management. With the rapid expansion and availability of Internet access over the last few years, the majority of adult consumers are now continuously connected by mobile phone, tablet or computer. This 24/7 connection to the Internet has created a massive demand for the highest-quality content by consumers. Video is the only form of online media that engages the senses using sight, sound and motion.


leadership solution

eight ways to create a powerful organizational community DUads-autoSuccessP4.pdf

Do you work at a dealership where you feel included, empowered and supported by your peers and superiors? Do you believe in the organization’s vision and understand your role in achieving that vision? We all have times when we feel unsupported and undervalued. But, the best places to work know how to translate burnout into engagement. Leading organizations today create organizational community — a sense of the organization as an interdependent entity in which all stakeholders’ needs are taken into consideration and win-win solutions are supported. It is possible for you, your co-workers and your leaders to create and work as a powerful organizational community at your dealership if you invest in following eight basic principles. Vision Creating a sense of organizational community requires setting a clear vision. Do you have a clear roadmap, or just a general sense of direction? A clear vision serves as a source of inspiration and alignment for all employees, a daily reminder as to why they are getting out of their warm beds to head to the dealership at 6 a.m. A consensus vision also creates accountability throughout the organization, pushing everyone to fulfill his or her responsibilities and goals. But, creating the vision is only half the battle. The other half is in knowing where you are. Having an accurate understanding of current operational realities allows people to make the changes needed to move forward. Financial Security

When people feel safe and valued they can produce. Successful organizational communities create financial gains, job security and results. Financial security creates organizational stability, momentum and greater return on investments. Employee success exists in seeing the positive results of their efforts, feeling that improvement is possible, and feeling that their work matters. Shared Values

Values and respective behavior may differ from one company to the next, but those that practice organizational community model their values on a daily basis in positive ways. One organization may value individuality and seek to spur creativity and innovation by encouraging all of its employees to dress in a way that best expresses their personality. Southwest Airlines encourages its employees to develop the “Warrior Spirit.” The Google corporate culture emphasizes working together regardless of rank. To promote collaboration, Googlers share cubicles and “huddle rooms” — they have very few solo offices. Whatever


values and behaviors express your culture should be clearly articulated and shared. Leadership

Leaders are expected to embody the organization’s values. But their main role is to steer the dealership in the direction of its vision while embracing uncertainty and leading by example. Creating authentic organizational community requires leaders to rethink the way they operate. This can be difficult for leaders, as they have to let go of certainty, acknowledge limitations and commit to constant examination of their blind spots. When practicing organizational community, leadership does not begin and end with those at the top. All employees are required be proactive and innovative in their search for success — in that sense, everyone is accountable.



“As the largest car retailer in the country…AutoNation has the resources to capitalize on all forms of advertising and marketing” (Miami Herald, 12.11.11)


Information is power. Information is a tool without which we cannot effectively do our work. While this seems simple in theory, organizations struggle to develop structure for effective communication. This communication includes the way in which information is shared, how well people listen, how clearly the information is delivered. One size does not fit all when it comes to effectively communicating. Is the language free from bias? Are leaders making clear requests that everyone can understand?

5:12 P


Learn more at:


Yes, it is important to win, but leading organizations do not focus inwardly. In fact, a dealership that practices organizational community is incredibly service-oriented. Serving the customer in a caring, culturally competent way is a top priority for these organizations.

Knowledge Sharing

Organizations may practice knowledge sharing on a need-to-know basis, but those practicing organizational community are transparent with each other. Transparency between managers and employees creates trust and also allows the employee to understand how their role impacts the dealership as a whole. People who think that their work makes a difference in the organization are inherently more invested. Break down barriers that create artificial separations between people and create obstacles to productivity and success. Inclusiveness

The more leaders can share, the better. Employees are found much more likely to support their leaders’ decisions if they are included in the original decision-making process. This process creates a more engaged workforce as well as better results. Full inclusion means bringing all people together in decision making, as well as conflict resolution. Many associate having conflict as a negative thing, but constructive conflict is powerful. Discussing differences as they occur and resolving them promptly allows the organization to continue to take steps forward toward success. A final thought: Structure creates behavior. A robust organizational community requires investment not just in shifts in attitudes, but new systems, policies and procedures that ensure inclusiveness and engagement of all employees. The cultures of our organizations and the larger sense of community that we share will ultimately determine the success or failure of our organizations. How do you change a culture? Start with your commitment and then, step-by-step, move into action. Howard J. Ross is an author and the founder and chief learning officer of Cook Ross Inc. He can be contacted at 866.869.4711, or by e-mail at

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

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

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

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

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


leadership solution

free up your

sales staff

This year’s growth has left many dealerships with fewer trained and able people on staff than needed to adequately work customers and leads. With business returning to showrooms and leads to inboxes across the country, opportunities are being missed and car deals are moving up the street. Customers are moving on and buying from other dealerships because there is no one there to respond their inquiries in a timely fashion. There is no question that there are plenty of people looking for jobs who have the skill sets required to fill these positions. If you are facing these issues or see them coming around the corner, now is the time to start grabbing your share of the talent made available by this recession. The only problem is the time it takes to find them and, once found and hired, to train them to work with your customers. Technology is now allowing dealerships to fill this gap and right size their Internet sales departments immediately. Dealerships can more than double the efficiency of each person using artificial intelligence. This means you will not need to overstaff during times of growth to be sure your customer experience remains consistent. Since the beginning of the Internet, lead people have used template-driven auto responders. At first, they included the customer’s name and a few other fields to look somewhat personal. Next came stock images of the vehicle the customer was looking for and other dealership information. These canned messages no longer work. The last 12 months have seen this technology move forward light years. Today’s artificial intelligence is virtually indistinguishable from a real person. Now when Internet leads arrive, they can be engaged immediately with relevant information. Not only can it be presented, it can also be collected. Customers have a two-way interaction with what they believe to be a real person up the point where they are ready to visit or call the dealership. At this time, a person is notified with not only the appointment but all the relevant and personal information collected from the customer during the automated exchange — for instance, that they need an SUV so that mom can take her daughters to dance and still fit her son’s hockey equipment in the back. This seamless transition helps convert more leads to deliveries. Now your people can


spend more of their time face-to-face or on the phone with customers. By utilizing artificial intelligence, you can be sure that your dealership is prepared to handle increased lead volumes. Now your customers will not suffer every time someone is sick for a few days or leaves the dealership. With today’s technology, each person you have will be able to handle more than double the leads and handle them better than ever before. With greater appointment and show ratios, more sales are inevitable. Your people will save their passion and enthusiasm for those people that are ready to talk on the phone and visit the dealerships. The best way to increase sales is to keep your salespeople selling. For a free copy of, “How technology can improve my sales,” e-mail me at the address below. Drake Baerresen is the vice-president of sales and marketing at Turn-Key Events AVA. He can be contacted at 866.900.7714, or by e-mail at


marketing solution

five steps to digital marketing for your dealership

With nearly nine out of every 10 consumers going online to research vehicles before visiting a dealership, competing effectively online to reach, attract and retain customers is the “new normal,” and digital marketing is the building block in the “new normal.” But it takes more than a Website or Facebook page to stand out and actually draw online viewers to your dealership. That’s where a digital marketing strategy can point the way to “getting found” online. Here are five steps that, when taken in order, will put you well on your way to standing out from the digital crowd.

Paid Search Advertising: “Getting Found”

When it comes to “getting found” online, paid search advertising is a good first step that delivers immediate results. According to R.L. Polk, 88 percent of car shoppers use search engines like Google and Yahoo to find information. In paid search advertising, Website owners pay a fee to ensure their Website ad appears prominently near the top of the search engine results page when a user types in one of their chosen keywords. Paid search advertising also lets you control what your listings say and how they look on the search results page. Users are more likely to visit Websites that are near the top of the results page since they perceive those results to be more relevant to their search. Being found on the first page of search results is critical. Paid search is one of the best ways to land there. Search Engine Optimization: Keywords to Draw Consumers

The other way to improve your Website’s ranking is by using search engine optimization (SEO) to enhance “organic” search results. Rather than paying a fee to appear higher in search results, SEO makes use of keywords and links from your Website to naturally increase the likelihood that your site will be picked up by search engines and be ranked at the top of the search results page. The


keywords you set for your paid search advertising are useful for SEO. Paid search advertising lets you test keywords and measure their effectiveness (how often consumers use specific keywords in a search). Armed with this information, you can target the most effective keywords for SEO to help ensure your Website ranks high on search pages. A Cornell University study found that the first three listings on the search results page capture nearly 80 percent of all clicks. SEO will help you get to the top. Online Reputation Management: Knowing What Is Being Said About You

Online reviews are becoming increasingly influential with consumers. Now that you are drawing users to your Website with SEO and paid search advertising, one of the worst things would be to have poor reviews about your business posted on a review site, social media site or other forum. You should create a process to monitor online conversation about your business and to determine when and how you will react online. You should also encourage your customers to submit online reviews about their experiences with your dealership. But that invitation cuts both ways: Not every reviewer will report a positive experience. Take an unvarnished look at your dealership’s operations and improve what needs to be improved before inviting customers to comment online. Mobile Marketing: Reaching Customers Everywhere

According to Forrester’s Technographics data, nearly one out of four Americans uses a mobile phone to access the Internet. To appeal to the mobile user, you should have a mobile version of your dealership Website that’s fitted for viewing on a small screen and carries information that’s pertinent to a mobile audience, such as your address, contact information and vehicle inventory. Once a mobile Website is in place, you are ready to take it to the next level in your interactions with consumers, through texting campaigns or Web-2-Mobile widgets that let consumers send vehicle information from your Web page to their phones. And, you can integrate mobile marketing with traditional marketing, for instance, placing mobile calls-to-action in your newspaper ads. Social Media Marketing: Build a Following for Your Dealership

Social media is the No. 1 activity on the Web, but being part of social media requires more than just creating a Facebook page, Twitter account or blog for your dealership. The question is, then, what do you do? Do you have content that is appealing to your audience of consumers and do you have the staying power to continue on the social media path? The goal in social media is to interact with your customers and create engaging content that they will forward on, which will bring you more followers, traffic and exposure. The keys to using social media effectively are frequency, freshness and followers. Your pages need to be checked regularly and updated with content that’s interesting to your audience. The “new normal” of reaching, attracting and retaining customers online is really the “old normal” of interacting with customers in a meaningful way. It’s just the tools are different and the channels are different. Implementing these five digital marketing steps can help you build an online presence that draws consumers to your dealership, and ultimately generates leads that turn into sales. Nicole Case is a leader with Naked Lime Marketing. She can be contacted at 866.780.2293, or by e-mail at


marketing solution

celebrity branding

strategy no. 1: More Ways to Harness the Full Potential of a Successful Website In last month’s column, I shared with you three tips for creating a great Website. Here’s the rest of that list: 4. Provide news and information about your business

While you don’t want to have your Website dominated by boasting about your business, people want to know what you do and what you are up to. If you have a “Latest News” section on your Website, it allows you to publish this kind of information in a way that seems natural. Here, you can include information such as charitable involvement, new people joining, and important company dates and events — e.g., millionth customer, 25th anniversary, etc. You should report this information in the third person and without too much hype so that it comes across as news. You should also make sure your site has enough basic information about your business to reassure people that you are to be taken seriously. Make sure you include essential information about your business, such as when it was founded, where you are located, who the key management team is, who some of your customers are — and, of course, what you do. Try to bring the business to life with a few well-chosen photos such as your office or store, your products, key people, events you have attended (such as trade shows, symposiums or seminars) and social events featuring staff or clients. This is your chance to make a great first impression. You want to treat people as if they were walking in your door for the first time. You should give them a real sense of who you are, what you do, and what makes you special. You want to make them feel comfortable about doing business with you, even though they are only visiting your Website. Helping them feel as though they are doing business with real people goes a long way to building trust and confidence in the online world. 5. Answer Frequently Asked Questions

When people visit your Website, they may come up with reasons why they won’t do business with you. In face-to-face sales, these are known as “objections,” and you can deal with them at the time.

Online, you don’t have the opportunity to handle these objections directly, but they will still arise. People will have their own questions


but — because no one is there to answer them — they will make up their own answers. However, the reality is that the same questions will come up on a regular basis, and you can provide the answers to these using a “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ) page. Quite simply, this lists the most common questions or objections that clients have and provides the answers. Having their question answered in this way can overcome the fears and concerns about doing business with you. 6. Let Them Buy Your Products and Services

A huge percentage of purchases are now being made online as people become more comfortable with the process. Therefore, if possible, you should give people the opportunity to buy directly from your Website. It’s not possible with every facet of your business, but often it is possible to create special products or adapt existing ones so that you can deliver them online. It’s a great way to make sales around the clock and give a much wider range of people the chance to do business with you. 7. Plan Your Website Design and Layout Carefully

One of the keys to having an appealing Website is that it should be attractive and easy to use. That doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune on fancy design and gimmicks. However, you do need to take time and plan it to make sure it suits your needs. Start by gathering examples of other sites you like. Notice how they are laid out and identify what sites do well and do badly. Then you can start creating a content outline. Make a note of the key pages you will need such as: • Testimonials • About us/Contact • FAQ • Products As you build up your list of main pages, identify what will be included on each page. For example, your “About Us” page might include: • Description of what you do • Pictures of your key people • Your best testimonials • List of key products A Web designer should have a good eye for visual appearance and will be able to advise you on the best way to build your site to meet your goals.

Remember, it’s your business, and you know what you want. You should be willing to ask for advice but don’t be talked into unnecessary, expensive steps just because they look good or are the latest fad. Your Website should be an extension of how your company appears in the off-line world. It should therefore reflect your brand — including the colors, logos and typefaces you use off-line. Another Celebrity Expert Branding Story

One year, my band had written our first original song and wanted to perform it in front of the biggest crowd possible. Then the lightbulb went off again … it was close to the 4th of July, and there were two huge festivals being held locally that everyone attended. So I got the crazy idea to make a call to one of the organizers. I told him that I was the manager of a local band (that was true — Eric and I were co-managers). Then I told him they were getting ready to relocate to Atlanta to “launch their first single” (Kinda true. We were moving to Atlanta to go to music school, and we would be “launching” our single — somewhere.) Next, I told him the band wanted to debut their new single live in front of their hometown before the rest of the world heard it! Plus, if we could be grand marshals of the parade that morning, we would consider filming a live video for the song that day. He was excited and agreed. We were grand marshals in the parade, performed our song live in front of an estimated 10,000 people, plus our girlfriends did film a video for the song. While I’m not proud of the half-truths that I told to put us in the spotlight, I think the end result was worth it. I learned another valuable lesson that day. A little creativity can take your local celebrity status a long way.

Tracy Myers, C.M.D. is a noted small business marketing and branding solutions specialist, best-selling author, speaker, car dealership owner and entrepreneur. He can be contacted at 866.860.0029, or by e-mail at


this is an advertisement

i am giving away $1,000 cash...seriously I am so thankful for being a car salesman. I cannot imagine what my life would have been if I never stepped foot onto that showroom floor and took a chance selling cars. I went from being a broke college drop out to owning a multi-million dollar company in such a short time because of this business. I love it because of how successful we can all be if we applied ourselves. This business is simple: What you put into it is what you are going to get out of it. I recently have been giving cash away to my clients who have been successful, who have applied themselves and who have earned it. As a matter of fact, I recently announced a winner of $1,000 cash to an automotive Internet sales coordinator. There were no strings attached; I simply wanted to see who was the best Dealer Synergy Coordinator in the country and the winner received $1,000 cash. So, I had another idea. I spoke to AutoSuccess Publisher Susan Givens, and we have decided to create a fun Contest for AutoSuccess readers. We are going to be giving away $1,000 cash to a successful reader. Why? Because we are blessed to be in this industry, and we want you to share in the success. We are looking for ideas, thoughts, tips, secrets, best practices, examples, Websites, objections/rebuttals, mobile apps, habits, … basically, anything and everything you can think of to be successful in automotive sales. Please send your e-mails, videos, or links to sbradley@autosuccessonline. Susan and I will review the entries and choose the “Best Success Idea/Strategy.” The winner will be interviewed in the following issue of AutoSuccess, along with as their “Best Idea/ Strategy,” of course. Please remember, we’re not just trying to throw $1,000 cash away for nothing. We’re looking for ideas — amazing ideas. We all know that out of the thousands of automotive sales professionals in this country, some are truly successful and others are not so successful. We’re looking for information. Some people truly might not know how to be successful. They were never taught, they never believed they could, they were never trained, motivated, mentored, etc…. We want to help as many people as we can. So, when you submit your entry for a chance to win this contest, please remember what the end result in mind is: synergistic success. Explain what your ideas, strategies, secrets, tips, best practices, Websites, resources, mobile apps, “What If” answers or objections/ rebuttals are and why you think they are so important, and why they makes you truly successful. Please try to provide any examples and any validation you can for this. I am honesty looking forward to all of the entries. This is going to be fun and purposeful. Good luck everyone. Please call or e-mail me if you have any questions about this contest.


sales & training solution

Lazy is a

as seen on


Lazy is not a normal state of a person, but one that is educated, encouraged and allowed. Walk into any company with lazy staff and I assure you someone in the organization has been educated, encouraged or allowed the behavior. I just wrote an article on this topic at Huffington Post (“Lazy is the New Entitlement” http:// You can’t find a two-year-old child on this planet who is lazy unless, of course, there is something wrong

“It is not natural to be lazy. It’s not hard, however, to walk into a dealership and see signs of lazy everywhere. The salesperson who doesn’t approach a customer. The manager who won’t take a turn and spends his day hiding at the desk. The finance manager who won’t see the deal back into the lender who turned the customer down.” with them. It is not natural to be lazy. It’s not hard, however, to walk into a dealership and see signs of lazy everywhere. The salesperson who doesn’t approach a customer. The manager who won’t take a turn and spends his day hiding at the desk. The finance manager who won’t see the deal back into the lender who turned the customer down. Why is this tolerated? Why is it allowed? Great question. The only reason the criminal allows others to commit crimes is because he himself is committing them. Any honest person with a backbone will stand up and say “enough.” Lazy has become a contagion of epic proportions — like an insidious disease that can’t be seen, more dangerous than terrorism. Lazy will break any team, a marriage, a company and even a country. The Chinese are not lazy. If your company doesn’t have a policy against lazy, then laziness will exist. Snap and pop when you wait on a customer. Attack a phone call with urgency, intention and enthusiasm. If you aren’t hitting your targets, don’t take the day off that you feel so entitled to. Lazy is the opposite of industrious. Which do you choose to be? Grant Cardone is an author and the CEO of Cardone Training Technologies, Inc. He can be contacted at 866.865.3175, or by e-mail at



sales & training solution

How healthy is your finance department? Last month, I wrote about separating your finance department from your sales department. This time, I would like to touch on how to measure the “health” of your finance department. I call it “health” because finance is not all about making money — it is not even mostly about making money. When it comes to judging the performance of your finance department, there are six key factors on which to focus: 1. Compliance

Is your department following the current rules and regulations that are in place to protect consumers? I make reference to “current,” because it seems lately that these rules are changing almost daily. Keeping your team up to date on the current state of affairs is important because ignorance is not a defense in a courtroom. Not being compliant can land the finance manager, sales manager, general manager and the dealer principal in deep water financially — and legally. 2. Customer Service

This is especially important in new car franchises, but should be important to all dealers. A wonderful experience in a car dealership can be quickly tainted by a finance manager who is not knowledgeable about the products and services he or she is providing. Another way to ruin customer service scores is not communicating the full details of a deal to finance. When finance begins to disclose all the figures, it is imperative that the customer gets what they are expecting. Playing games with

the numbers is sure to lead to confused and, ultimately, unhappy consumers. 3. Contracts in Transit

This measurement helps in two ways. First, fewer contracts in transit means more money in the dealer’s bank account. This will also free up cash to purchase more vehicles. The second reason you should measure CITs is that it is a direct reflection on the accuracy of the paperwork being done by the finance manager. Having someone who is able to make a lot of money but is constantly having to reprint paperwork and send runners to get forms signed can be more costly in the long run. Poor paperwork will also lead to lower customer service scores. 4. Product Penetration

In today’s finance office, having multiple products to offer and spreading those products around is essential to a healthy finance department. A solid product mix will, again, make customers happy as you can fulfill more of their needs, as well as reduce chargebacks. As to how many products you should offer, that will depend on your market and the ability of your finance managers. 5. Chargeback Percentage

If your finance manager is putting up big numbers but you find that customers are coming back shortly after their purchase and canceling the products they purchased, then you have a pushy manager or he/she is uneducated on the products they are offering. The higher the chargebacks, the lower the customer service scores are — along with the customer retention rate. 6. Profit Per Retail Unit Delivered

This number will tell you how much your finance manager is averaging in profit per customer they sit with. Industry standard seems to be around $1,000 per car, but this can vary quite a bit from market to market, store to store, manager to manger and month to month. I am not a fan on judging by this statistic, as there are so many factors that can contribute to this. If you insist on judging based on this, you simply must use only that specific finance manager’s history to judge against. Never judge your finance manager based on his PRU compared to that of the dealer on the other side of the country or the other side of the street for that matter. We’ll be diving into each of these in the future in much more detail, but please feel free to contact me should you have any questions or suggestions. Chris Cochran is the finance director for Haddad Motor Group in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. He can be contacted at 866.550.2896, or by e-mail at

Develop An ROI Driven Digital Strategy The new year is quickly approaching, and its time to adjust your marketing budgets for the new year. The Digital Marketing Strategies Conference puts you in control of your marketing efforts and helps you realize the biggest bang for your buck.


Calculate the ROI of traditional vs. digital media Hands on video marketing training BDC process developement and optimization Social media engagement strategies In-store reputation management training


Tickets are selling fast. Reserve yours today.


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

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

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

103347iaa_OCOD Feb Auto Success Classified Ad_FINAL_4JAN12.indd 1/4/12 11:34 1 AM

Automated Virtual Assistant

is hiring in several regions!

• Residual Income • Excellent Compensation Call • Full Training Provided 951.291.2234 • Excellent Support or email your resume to:

Join the ActivEngage sales team! The largest automotive chat software and web analytic provider is actively seeking regional sales professionals. If you have automotive industry experience and a pre-existing account base, send your resume to to join our growing success. We offer competitive salary, great benefits, and commission plan. Learn more at

ASBURY Automotive Group

Capturing & Retaining Customers for Life! An Exclusive Interview with Bob Murray of Asbury Automotive Group

Asbury Automotive Group, Inc. (NYSE: ABG) is one of the largest automotive retailers in the U.S. Built through a combination of organic growth and strategic acquisitions, Asbury now operates 79 retail auto stores, encompassing 99 franchises for the sale and servicing of 29 different brands of American, European and Asian automobiles.

Bob Murray joined Asbury Automotive Group in 2008 to lead its operational marketing department, which includes overseeing the advertising efforts for all Asbury markets. Upon his appointment, Murray’s primary goal was to find cutting-edge technology to market all their brands while keeping their dealership and customers’ needs the first priority. He was also tasked with finding the most cost-effective and efficient ways to communicate with Asbury’s customers, while considering various lifestyle habits.

Q: When you took over operational marketing for Asbury, what were some of your goals to improve the company’s marketing strategies?

BM: Our corporate vision is to be America’s most admired automotive retailer. To achieve this, key areas of improvement were identified.

Having used several different CRM systems in the past 20 years, it was imperative to find one CRM company to be our long-term partner and work together with us to achieve our corporate-mandated goals. With today’s technology, we were looking for an innovative, proactive company that offered cost-effective products and services without sacrificing high standards and customer value. I wanted to make sure we chose a cutting-edge company. In doing my diligence on CRM companies, I looked at the quality of each company’s employees. It was important for me to ensure the company I choose had great resources, equipment and could handle growth in our business over the new few years. Asbury needed a partner that would not only share our corporate vision, but could also seamlessly integrate with our other vendor partners — most importantly, our DMS provider. Integration of our marketing strategies between the fixed and variable side of the company was extremely important. We had always operated the marketing strategies for these businesses as two separate industries, and it was crucial to find a company where we could operate them as one. We also needed better training and processes for our management and associates to improve customer communication. Customized daily work plans for associates were needed to ensure customer follow-up and regular contact. In essence, group-wide improvement was required in optimizing lead generation, including properly handling inbound and outbound calls, and customer retention, in both sales and service. It was essential to have the ability to seamlessly communicate, track and measure all customer touch points, keeping in mind the ultimate goal of retaining our customers for life. For a car dealer, measurables are key – we spend millions with TV, radio and newspaper, but we can never really measure the return on investment (ROI).

Q: Describe the benefit of having a common CRM system across all your dealerships in the last few years. BM:

After extensive research of every CRM option, Asbury chose eLEAD as our long-term CRM partner. eLEAD met all of our key metrics and we were able to drastically reduce our number of sales and service CRM vendors to one in all of Asbury’s 79 dealerships. By migrating to a single, totally integrated system, we saved thousands of dollars in overlay. We are now able to manage both variable and fixed operations, along with reducing multiple messaging and standardize our dealerships messages to align with both variable and fixed operations. We were also able to reduce the number of internal BDC centers and multiple-data mining solutions. As I mentioned previously, it was extremely important for us to find a one-source CRM partner who seamlessly integrated fixed and variable operations. This allows our dealerships the ability to dramatically improve targeted customer communications by indentifying, understanding and even predicting buying habits. We now have customized templates with a consistent message, feel and content throughout all our dealerships. Managing sales and service customers within one CRM allows Asbury total transparency to all past and current customers, and gives us the ability to ensure we’re not over-communicating — but communicating enough in a productive way.

eLEAD made it a priority to work with all of our other outside vendors to enable us to track everything inside one CRM system. When we send out a direct mail piece with an 800 number or an e-blast, we want to have them tracked and the results input into the CRM. By having this feature with eLEAD, we eliminated the need for additional vendors who wanted access to our dealer base, which is a little scary for dealers, as we are trying to keep our customer information secure. eLEAD’s automotive-only call center is a huge bonus — I have visited some good call centers and BDCs, but I’d never seen anything like this. It’s incredible! Our investment in eLEAD’s call center services has definitely increased our overall net appointments while reducing our BDC expenditure. Every customer who visits our dealerships is called for follow-up, appointment setting and feedback that integrates right to the CRM system. The call center also gathers valuable customer information, such as additional family member information and what are they driving — leadgenerating information that is valuable to a dealer group selling multiple brands. eLEAD provides Asbury with our own customer support team. A team of experienced automotive retail professionals dedicated to improve CRM utilization. They provide our top-performing dealerships training of better processes to help identify opportunities to perform above the market. The dedicated support staff is available for us 24/7, whether we pick up the phone or send an e-mail; they actually call us back day, night, weekend or holiday. As a publically traded company, it’s imperative to be able to provide consistent, customized business drivers and reporting tools, for both store and group-wide analytics. At the touch of a button, we now have access — variable management reports, lead provider return on investment (ROI) performance measurement, KPI standards reporting and tracking and fixed operations ROI and retention.

Q: How do you use your existing customer database in your marketing efforts, and how does the CRM help with that?

BM: With the ability to search our own database for leads and having a common CRM across all our dealerships, we’re able to develop targeted marketing campaigns with consistent engagement triggered by technology and information. The least expensive customer to acquire is one who’s currently doing business with us! All sales and service campaigns include live calls, in particular the defector prevention campaign, where call specialists identify and prevent defecting customers and then schedule the first service appointment based on driving patterns. We target the customers to try and sell them a vehicle, but if not, we have the ability to try and flip them to service. We are better able to pinpoint and trigger the right touch point for every customer so we know when, how and where to target communication. Targeted campaigns send customers the right message at the right time — positive equity, lower payment, end of term or lease, warranty and delivery, and defector or those customers that we have not seen in service after-the-sale or for a specific time period. By improving and customizing customer communication, we are leveraging every customer to the best ability that a company can do to increase sales in our dealerships. On a typical weekend, we used to see an Asbury dealership spending $10,000 on TV, radio, print and direct mail. Now we are able to reduce spend and pinpoint a customer for that specific make and model of car. By targeting an in-equity customer within our own database, we are able to obtain a specific vehicle that is needed for the used car lot. Not only do we know that we can sell the acquired used car, but we can also put the customer into another vehicle at, or below, their current car payment. We can also monitor service customers in any CRM situation; typically direct mail was the only advertising we ever had for the back end of the dealership. As a car dealership, that’s where most of our revenue is generated. Fixed operations are a big focus of our company, as well as customer service and satisfaction. Our philosophy is “customers for life.” We don’t just want to sell them a car; we want to sell them a multitude of cars. By monitoring customer’s daily activity and transactions, we know when we can communicate with them. The daily service appointments schedule indicates when a customer is in an equity position and notifies sales to immediate target that customer. The automated service marketing focuses on retention campaigns such as reminders, follow-up and recovery of lost customers, and gives us an ROI that we can actually measure. We try to target the ROI that we get back from this small investment at an eight-to-one ratio, but some of dealerships are getting back anywhere from 12 percent to 25 percent return on their money.

Q: After you identified the key areas of improvement, what are some surprising benefits of the changes? BM:

With our management and associates, creating group-wide buy-in was another important factor in our CRM decision. Installing new software and processes is usually very difficult. It was an easy decision once all GMs visited eLEAD’s headquarters and call center. What was surprising was that both companies were so compatible in Asbury’s overall corporate vision that we were able to work in tandem and install the new easy-to-use system into all 79 dealerships within seven months — and it went flawlessly. That’s pretty incredible! Another area that has been a great surprise is Internet lead management. Before we chose a single CRM partner, the Web leads were complex and hard to manage. There was no lead transparency and many were duplicates. We now have a lead-clearing house that centrally manages all Internet leads. The automated program submits bad leads or duplicates directly to third-party providers without requiring a manual process. We are able to provide higher-quality leads to our dealership’s managers and Internet staff. This process also ensures that we are not paying for duplicate or bad leads, and saves Asbury an estimated $25,000 per month. Most of all, it saves us the time it took to manage the billing, and the ability to get the actual amount of leads you budgeted for in that month.

Q: What one idea would you like our readers to take away with them today?

BM: I have more than one! In a nutshell:

• Choose one long-term CRM partner by reducing the number of CRM vendors to one. • Choose a CRM partner that can: – Integrate your marketing strategy between the fixed and variable sides of the dealership. – Seamlessly integrate with other vendor partners (most importantly DMS providers). • Use a call center based right here in the U.S. that contacts every sales and service customer for follow-up, appointment setting and feedback. • Effectively communicate marketing messages and measure customer touch points. • Use customized templates with a consistent message that contacts the right customer at the right time. • Leverage every customer to the best of your ability — increase sales and service retention in your dealership. • Aim for an eight to 12 percent ROI on targeted sales and service marketing campaigns. • Communicate with your customers — priceless!

about the interviewee Bob Murray has more than 22 years experience in the automotive industry and currently leads the operational marketing efforts for Asbury Automotive Group. Murray’s duties include the strategic direction and leadership of ecommerce, BDC process, all traditional and digital marketing and advertising, SEO/SEM and social marketing, along with overseeing all Website, CRM sales process and DMS integration. Since joining Asbury in 2008, Bob has received many awards: Infiniti’s highest award, The Circle of Excellence, in 2008, 2009 and 2010, Infiniti Bestin-class 20 Group Leader and in 2009, Asbury’s Top performing Dealership for YOY Financial Increase. Other achievements include Executive GM Council, Top Performing Ecommerce Domestic, Ward’s Top 100 Internet Dealer, Top 10 Parts and Service and General Motors Top Award of Achievement for Sales, Service and CSI. Bob Murray can be contacted by e-mail at For questions about eLeadCRM, contact Melissa Maxey at 888.431.6928, or by e-mail at

Sales Increase 57% in Just 6 Months at Brandon Dodge on Broadway and Service ROs Jump by an Average of 200 a Month In June, Brandon Dodge on Broadway in Littleton, Colorado, a member of the Moreland Auto Group, began a new targeted and digital marketing strategy that has steadily improved sales and service. New car sales are up an average of 57 percent over the last six months and the service department has written an average of 200 more ROs every month since switching to an integrated marketing strategy that promotes all their profit centers, new, used, finance, service and parts, to attract, sell, service and retain more

“We were averaging 107 vehicle sales a month for the first half of 2011, which wasn’t bad, but since changing-up our marketing strategy in June we’re averaging 131 vehicle sales a month – I like those numbers a lot better,” says Brandon Moreland, general manager of the Brandon Dodge store.

competitors alike, many dealers continue to struggle to maintain sales and service performance. However, Brandon Dodge sensed it was possible to do better and sought to more clearly define its local market and identify the best possible Dodge customers in the Littleton, Highland Ranch and Parker areas it serves in hopes of improving their bottom line results.

With the ongoing unpredictability of today’s economic market conditions and stiff competition from same brand and off-brand

To identify and attract the best possible customers with the highest probability of purchasing or servicing with their store,

customers for less cost.

Success Story Brandon Dodge performed a comprehensive assessment of the local market which included an exhaustive five-year historical analysis of their sales and service transactions to determine customer trends. The results were compared to leading third-party and industry data to establish consumer patterns and trends within the local market. “Our goal is simple – to find ready buyers who are in the market for a Dodge and make sure they buy and service their vehicles with us,” says Moreland. Next, Brandon Dodge worked to implement an integrated targeted and digital marketing strategy that consistently communicates to every Brandon Dodge customer

throughout the 60-month life cycle of their vehicle; targets same brand prospects, and attracts off-brand prospects that have a historical trend of crossing over to the models they sell. This cohesive system uses variable mail and email communications that include a 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 that always includes a custom service message based upon the status of the customer’s vehicle. “The ability to customize our sales messaging with variable service offers is genius – no

more over-couponing and we can customize the service offers to the customer’s frequency. Customers who regularly service with us will get a $34.95 oil and filter change, but customers who don’t will get a $24.95 oil and filter change to incent them to come back for service – and it’s working. My service department is averaging 200 more ROs a month these days,” says Moreland. Another key benefit of the strategy and market research is the data technology that enables Brandon Dodge to target 2010 and 2011 conquest Dodge owners with enticing maintenance offers that brings these late model owners into Brandon Dodge’s service bays and away from the dealerships where they originally purchased

In a Nutshell Brandon Dodge on Broadway increased new car sales 57% in just 6 months and service ROs by an average of 200 a month by implementing a new targeted and digital marketing strategy. • Conduct comprehensive market research to identify the best possible in-market customers with the highest probability of purchasing or servicing with their store. • Implement an integrated targeted marketing program across multiple mediums that includes targeted direct mail and email, a campaign offer site, banners ads and POS merchandising. • Improve gross profits by combining sales and service messaging for less cost to positively promote all profit centers, new, used, finance, service and parts. • Monitor inbound calls to ensure customers are handled with the highest quality care by properly responding to and managing customer’s expectations – creating customers for life. • Track campaign response rates to assess campaign performance and shift marketing dollars where they are most effective.

Success Story

Promotional Materials

Success Story their vehicles. “Brandon Dodge prides itself on exceptional service and competitive prices. They’re phenomenal at creating and keeping lifetime customers and active service customers are seven times more likely to buy with the dealership they service with,” says Budd Blackburn, owner of www.TeamVelocityMarketing. com, the targeted marketing company Brandon Dodge uses. “Once Brandon Dodge gets a hold of a conquest Dodge owner the chances of that customer becoming a customer for life is extremely high,” adds Blackburn. An important part of Brandon Dodge’s integrated strategy is their digital component. Every mail and email campaign directs customers to an online Campaign Offer Site, www., that not only displays the featured promotions of the direct mail or email campaign they have just received, but also displays every sales and service offer that Brandon Dodge is currently running. If a customer is not in the market for the particular offers they receive in the mail or email, they can check the Brandon Dodge Campaign Offer Site for other available offers. “We can actually ‘feel’ the customer response that’s generated from our offer site. Customers regularly come in

with the coupons they’ve printed online,” says Moreland. With sales and service up, Brandon Dodge has been able to shift away from the more expensive traditional mass media, like television and radio, while directing that money toward strategies that generate the best response like their Campaign Offer Site that is completely integrated with their targeted mail and email campaigns. Brandon Dodge also predominantly displays in-store merchandising that reflects the monthly featured campaign. If a customer happens to walk-in without having received anything via mail or email, they are immediately aware that there is a special promotion taking place and they came to the right place at the right time. “I really like the consistency of this strategy. Everything ties together, it’s professional, it builds our brand – it just makes sense,” says Moreland. “There’s no more confusion over what programs and promotions are running each month. From the mail, email and in-store merchandising, to our receptionist who answers the phone announcing our current program – the customers know what they’re getting and that’s important,” adds Moreland. Part of their integrated strategy, and equally as important as

delivering the right message to the best possible customer, is listening to the customer. Since opening its doors Brandon Dodge has maintained a solid commitment to their customers. To help ensure that customers receive exceptional service Brandon Dodge uses tollfree 800 numbers on all their advertising enabling them to monitor all inbound sales and service calls to ensure that customers are handled properly and to address any CSI concerns before they escalate. Monitoring customer calls also helps Brandon Dodge track ad response rates to better assess what campaigns and advertising generate the best results. “We definitely made the right decision in June – it’s given us a steady increase in business that I don’t think we would have seen without the focus we dedicated to changing-up our strategy,” says Moreland.

Buy Back Program

AutoSuccess January 2012  

The #1 Sales-Improvement Magazine for the Automotive Professional - featureing Team Velocity Marketing