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The Pre-Owned Price Check

The Pre-Owned Price Check

Customers trust the RealDeal Ref to show them a fair price.

RealDeal from vAuto helps us make deals,

not concessions. — Randy Wise, President Randy Wise Auto Team Flint, Michigan

RealDeal is the industry’s first pre-owned price check for dealers. Show your customers how your price compares in your live market. Prove you have a fair price and protect your margins. With RealDeal, the latest innovation from vAuto, negotiate less and close more sales.

Call 1.877.988.7648 today or visit to schedule a live demo.

AutoSuccess Magazine is published monthly at 3834 Taylorsville Rd., Building A, Ste. 1B Louisville, KY 40220; 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, 3834 Taylorsville Rd., Building A, Ste. 1B Louisville, KY 40220.


Accelerate Your Sales Success


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internet star alignment determines the success of your business



leveraging the voice of the customer to gain competitive advantage

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

car dealer promotions: SusanGivens


more than angry birds

10 20

craigslist top 10 faqs for car dealers

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matching your expertise to your perfect market



how to get the feedback you didn’t want to hear (but really need to know)

Brian Ankney, Account Manager

Understanding the New eCommerce Model



Dave Davis, Editor & Creative Strategist

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Thomas Williams, VP & Creative Director



marketing solution 38


how many phone calls can and should your internet department make?

the ‘pr’s’ of great salespeople


How Closing Your Mouth Can Help Close More Sales



sales & training solution 24 32 MarshBuice

5 steps to stop “under delivering” in the service department JohnCarpenter


7 tips to handle the issue of price


social media in the workplace: are you protected? LonLeneve

14 18 MarkTewart

leadership solution 16 30 34

beware of the drp trap DaveDunn

Dealers Find Mobile Apps Help Capture and Retain Customers

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

An Interview With NickiAllen

Susan Givens, Publisher

feature solution


marketing solution

More than Angry Birds

Dealers Find Mobile Apps Help Capture and Retain Customers A mere 12 months ago, if your dealership had a mobile Website designed for multiple technology platforms such as iPhone, Android and Blackberry, and if your dealership employed texting in its marketing, you confidently could say your store was cutting edge. But if that’s all you got today, you’re already behind. Mobile Websites and texting are yesterday’s news when it comes to mobile strategies. The latest technology development dealers should jump all over is mobile apps. Mobile apps are compact software downloaded to the smartphone that perform specific tasks. Why are mobile apps important to your dealership? Because they are becoming more important to your customer. App usage jumped a whopping 90 percent in 2010, and as of the fourth quarter of last year, 68 percent of smartphone owners used apps.


As more people continue to migrate from a standard mobile phone to a smartphone (40 percent of the U.S. population owned at least one smartphone by the end of 2010), app usage will continue to skyrocket. It’s not just Angry Birds or other popular games designed for smartphones driving app usage. At least 78 percent of smartphone owners use their device for shopping, according to an Ipsos Study at the end of last year conducted for Google. “It’s happening faster than all of our internal projections,” Google Chairman Eric Schmidt noted at the Interactive Advertisers Bureau Leadership Conference in April of this year. By 2015, more than $119 billion in commerce will be conducted over mobile devices, says investment firm Morgan Stanley. Several studies show much of that commerce will happen in automotive.

Approximately 78 percent of people planning to buy a vehicle in the next 12 months will use some sort of touch smart Web device (iPhone, iPod Touch, Android) during the purchase process, according to a recent study by mobile ad platform GreyStripe. The study also shows 48 percent of people who say they will use a mobile Web-enabled device in their vehicle search will use them to conduct initial research into vehicles, 44 percent will compare prices of different dealerships while on the lot, 32 percent will find a dealership using their mobile device and 23 percent will actually use their mobile device to contact a dealership., which developed a mobile application four years ago, gets 18 percent of its traffic today from mobile devices – and much of that on the weekends, which indicates people are using the application for actual car shopping., meanwhile, is getting

Salespeople quickly can access product benefits that are tailored to the customers’ hot buttons (safety, performance, comfort, convenience, etc.), walk-around videos, pictures, videos about the dealership, certified programs, leasing, finance products and accessories, along with introducing the customer to the service department. “When used properly in the sales process, these showroom apps help salespeople increase their closing ratios, average gross profits and CSI because they can answer questions quickly while also building value in the dealership and the products they sell,” said Bruce Polkes, Hughes’ partner at IntellaCar.

nearly a million hits a month with its mobile application. Mobile users are most interested in finding vehicles for sale and locating a dealer, versus some of the more in-depth auto reviews and “research and compare” functionality. Like, much of its traffic occurs on the weekends. “Industry studies show approximately 17 percent of the U.S. mobile audience are “auto-intenders” — people who will buy a new car over the next six months,” said Sean Wolfington, owner of www.Tier10Marketing. com. “With 20 million auto-intenders in the mobile universe, and one of three of them using a mobile device at some point during their vehicle search process, car dealers need to capture this market.” A well-designed mobile app can help dealers capture those customers using their phones in their shopping process. Hundreds of dealers have started providing apps to their customers following the purchase or service of a vehicle in the last few months. DealerAppVantage has created an app that’s been downloaded by more than 160,000 customers since last year. Using the app, customers can schedule appointments, get roadside assistance, find gas stations with the cheapest gas, buy accessories, view their owner’s manual, find their vehicle in a crowded parking lot and receive alerts when the parking meter expires or when their kids are going beyond the speed limit. Savvy dealers found the app improves customer satisfaction and loyalty because it

enhances the ownership experience. They use the app to deliver service reminders, recall notices, lease end tutorials, equity alerts and specials that bring the customer in more often for service, repeat sales and referrals. By far, the most popular tool on DealerAppVantage’s app is the ability to schedule service, says Ed Louis, co-founder of the company. “It’s also easier for the customer to get to the dealer’s mobile site,” he says. “Customers aren’t typing the dealer’s URL into the mobile browser anymore. Instead, they’re using the app to get there.” Selling customers on the advantages of downloading a dealership app to their mobile device is easier than it was trying to obtain e-mail addresses a few years ago, Louis says. “One, you can put signs up all over the dealership promoting the app,” he says. “Service advisors can promote it, or the new car delivery person can do it. There are a number of ways. You can even promote it to people who visit the dealership but aren’t ready to purchase by showing them how it can help them in the shopping process.” IntellaCar, meanwhile, developed an app for the iPad and other mobile apps to help salespeople promote the dealership, vehicles, finance, accessories and service. “Since most customers research online before visiting a dealership, they often know more than most salespeople about the vehicle they are considering, and this knowledge gap can hurt a salesperson’s credibility,” says Jim Hughes, co-founder of IntellaCar.

At one dealership, sales consultants using IntellaCar’s app sold at least four more vehicles per month while averaging 30 percent higher monthly gross. The team of five sales consultants return on investment was 2,676 percent. Not only did sales and profit increase, their CSI jumped 47 percent. Dealers are also giving service customers access to these apps on iPads in the service lounge where they can view videos about additional services like car detailing, dent removal and even new and used vehicle specials. Consumer Driven Solutions developed two apps that help customers in the shopping process — Car Factor and Using Car Factor, consumers can build and compare vehicles, view vehicle reviews and obtain pricing. It’s proving to be popular with customers. Car Factor is the No. 1 most downloaded automotive app in the world and has a four-star user rating, the highest consumer rating of any automotive app in the App Store., lets consumers scan the bar code on a vehicle’s MSRP sticker to obtain an immediate guaranteed low price on every vehicle in the dealer’s inventory. “Dealers can advertise that they can provide Instant Guaranteed Low Price quotes in 60 seconds or less,” said Chad Collier, president of Consumer Driven Solutions. The app will be available to the 60+ million Costco, AAA and Navy Federal Credit Union members through their auto buying programs that sold more than 300,000 vehicles last year.

Susan Givens is the publisher of AutoSuccess. She can be contacted at 877.818.6620, or by e-mail at

the #1 sales-improvement magazine for the automotive professional



marketing solution

craigslist top 10 faqs for car dealers Craigslist has been an incredible source of leads and revenue for car dealers, but doing business with the site hasn’t come without peril. There are a multitude of posting issues: over-posting, posting too quickly, listings get flagged, accounts get banned, certain computers get blocked, entire dealerships get banned from posting… and the list goes on and on. The bottom line is that craigslist was not created for commercialization, but instead as a community service — so they have absolutely no desire to cater to businesses using their Website. So how do you conduct regular business on craigslist? I’ve unpacked the top 10 Frequently Asked Questions about craigslist from our dealers to help you make craigslist a successful part of your marketing efforts (and ideally, drastically increase your sales). 1. How come I can post from home, but not from my dealership?

4. I’ve been banned from craigslist. How can I continue listing on the site?

Assuming you have been banned in every way (IP Address, MAC Address, craigslist account, and duplicate content), you will need to create a new craigslist account with a new e-mail address and then post from a different location (a different computer on a different network). 5. Can I post my cars directly to the site without a template?

Yes. In fact, it is a good practice to vary your listings so you don’t get flagged for “duplicate listings.” After logging in, simply click the “post to classifieds” link and follow the wizard. It is a bit more work to copy and paste content and then upload photos, but it’s well worth the diversification of listing templates. 6. How can I post to multiple cities on craigslist?

Craigslist has either blocked your dealership’s IP address or MAC address. An IP address is a numerical label assigned to any network device (a computer or network router, for example) and is used for communication on the Internet. Generally speaking, every computer inside your dealership network goes out to the Internet with the same external IP Address. If your IP address has been blocked, then any computer using that IP address will be unable to post to craigslist.

We get this question all the time from dealers, but even still, we do not recommend this strategy. The best strategy is to post in your specific (or nearest) city and play within the policies of craigslist. If you want to try to beat the system and try multi-city posting, then you’ll need to use a unique e-mail address for each account. Make sure that each account is always tied to the specific e-mail address associated with it. You’ll also be better off posting to each city from different IP addresses.

A MAC address is a unique identifier assigned to your computer for communication on a network. If your MAC address has been blocked, then that specific computer is banned from craigslist. The monitoring technology used by craigslist can detect abuse and block either (or both) options.

(Note: Multi-city posting is the fastest way to get banned from craigslist. They do record the location of your IP Address for each post, so eventually they will detect the over-posting. It’s like playing a clam shell game — you might get lucky a few times, but in the end, you’ll lose.)

2. I could post earlier today, but now I can’t post. Why?

7. Why are my listings getting flagged?

Craigslist issues temporary bans on accounts without notice. They don’t send you an e-mail or call you; you’ll just suddenly wonder why you can’t post listings. In many cases, this is brought on by over-posting or posting too frequently. 3. Why aren’t my listings showing up on craigslist?

In most cases, craigslist will take 15 to 20 minutes to add a new listing to the site. If your listings don’t appear after 20 minutes, then something is going on. They’ve probably placed a temporary ban on your account, but they continue to let you post on the site. Our recommendation is to take a break from listing today and try again tomorrow.


Several conditions can contribute to your listings getting flagged, but the two main contributors are most likely other community members flagging your listings (because they’re trying to keep companies off the “community” Website) or a competitor is probably flagging your listings to reduce competition. Best practices to avoid flagged listings are to not post the same vehicle twice in less than seven days, randomize your posting template, and not to post 100 percent of your inventory every day. Your best option is to post less than 15 percent of your inventory each day, with no more than 10 cars posted daily. 8. How does craigslist know what city I’m in?

Whenever you post, craiglist records your

IP address. Your IP address can provide the geolocation of your network. Now that craigslist knows your geolocation information, it can serve up the nearest city and know pretty accurately where you’re located. Don’t believe me? Go to and see for yourself. 9. Who can I call at craigslist to talk about my issues?

Nobody. Amazingly enough, there aren’t any service agents for you to speak with. Earlier this year, I tried calling the phone number listed on their WHOIS information for After navigating the auto attendant for an hour, I finally got a billing person on the phone, who then sent me to “some guy” who told me exactly “we have less than 30 people working here and don’t have time for this phone call. Click.” True story. 10. Is there a better time of day to post?

No one has reliable data to show that certain times of day are better to post. Prior to the April 22, 2011, changes made by craigslist, much of the monitoring of the site was manual or done by the community. The theory was that posting earlier in the morning was advantageous, because most of the site police volunteers were on the west coast. As of the update on April 22, we now believe that many of the monitoring and security measures have been automated, so posting at certain times to avoid manual detection is no longer relevant. Our recommendation is to diversify your listing times (morning, afternoon and night). I can sum up all of these issues with one question: “Why is it so difficult to work with craigslist?” The answer: craigslist is an online classified community. The biggest misunderstanding that dealers have about posting is that craigslist simply doesn’t care that you are there — period. The site deems itself a “community service” for individuals, not companies, so they don’t care about making it easy for you to post. If you’re already using craigslist, these guidelines will help you improve your listing strategy, and if you’re not using craigslist, this list will help you drastically boost your sales.

Chad Polk is the CEO of AutoRevo. He can be contacted at 866.873.0031, or by e-mail at

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“Serious buyers don’t just drive to car lots to randomly look anymore. They know what’s there before they go. Your online Web presence is critical to your dealership’s success.” Nicki Allen, of Classic Mazda and Classic Chrysler Dodge Jeep of Denton, Texas (in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area), knows that the behavior of the car-buying public has changed; those who are willing to adapt and stay ahead of the game will reap the rewards, while those who continue to do “what’s always worked in the past” will find themselves irrelevant or even extinct in the near future. “I think that 100 percent of my Mazda customers have had some contact with us online,” Allen said. “From the information we track, I’d say close to 70 percent of my overall sales come from Internet sources monthly.” Classic has a strong Internet presence and Nicki understands the key to success is the sales processes. “I believe we’re currently fifth highest in the nation for our Mazda close ratio with between 32 and 37 percent closing average. We put a lot of focus on using our technology to provide a consistent message.” While the Internet numbers from her Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge dealership don’t currently add up to that level because of the consumer target audience of those models (“Dodge customers will still pick up a newspaper,” she said), it still makes up about 40 percent of total sales with this number climbing. “Our used sales are about 30 to 35 percent Internet driven, but again, I’d say that 100 percent of those had at least touched us online in some way, shape or form,” she said. While Allen has only been in the industry full-time since 2006, she’s seen how it has evolved through her entire life. “I grew up in the automotive industry,” she said. “My grandfather was a dealer and my father has been very successful as a dealer, winning several Presidents’ awards along with serving on dealer councils. I swore I would never join the business, I hated the hours, the stresses and the ups and downs I saw my family go through for so many years.” Nicki and her father discussed the changes in the industry and how technology was going to be the key. “He basically said, ‘This is your opportunity if you want to get in the car industry and make a difference.’ I was determined to make car selling and buying an easier, more efficient road to navigate and endure. I started in finance, and I’ve done a little bit of everything throughout the store since then.” The Classic Auto Group has been in a state of change ever since. “We built the Mazda building in October of 2006, and were the first ‘Retail Revolution’ store (a Mazdaled program that empowers the customer) in Dallas/Ft. Worth,” she said. “We also revamped and remodeled our Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Ram building that added 4,000 square feet, which we completed this February.” It wasn’t long after Nicki got into the business that the global recession chilled the entire industry. Fortunately, she said, her auto group rode out the storm. “The market is turning back around and everything is falling back into the normalcy of what it used to be,” she said. “We are doing about 175 to 200 a month between all three buildings.” While sales might be returning to “normal,” the way those sales are conducted are different from the way it was done in past generations. The Internet has been a game changer, and the customers coming to the dealership now are a different breed from those who came before. “When I first got into the automobile industry, it kind of amazed me that the industry, as a

whole, seemed to be about seven years behind the trends of other retail verticals,” Allen said, “There really was this ‘good ol’ boys’ club that everyone refers to. So many times people do things just because it used to work. When I came in and started to take a closer look at things, we began to make decisions based on return on investment and managed what it was actually costing us to sell vehicles. We started to base it on what makes sense, and busted up that ‘good ol’ boys just doing stuff to do it’ attitude. Being a female and being a dealer, I have two huge targets on my back, so it’s been interesting to dig in deep and get to know people and see how they think with the goal of changing those perceptions and bringing them up to speed where needed in catching up our processes.” Leveraging technology and the Internet as a tool to its fullest was one of the key ingredients of stepping into the modern retail age, Allen noted. “Our Website is strong,” she said. “We dominate our area with SEO, but our presence is also felt in surrounding states. In the past year our Internet traffic has more than quadrupled and we are continually monitoring the behaviors to improve the shoppers’ experience. We do SEM along with social media and online reputation management, and leverage what’s currently going on out there with the market, customers and the manufacturers. It’s about providing a good experience and building a relationship with customers through e-mail, video or text messaging as their preferred method of contact — the same way you would if they were right there in front of you.” Both streamlining what did work and dropping what no longer worked proved to be an effective combination. “I stopped advertising for Mazda in the newspaper — that saved me $50,000 a month and our cost per sale decreased 38 percent,” Allen said. Finding the right digital provider was key for getting their online operations smoothed out, and Classic went with VinSolutions. “When we brought in VinSolutions and their one-source integration for CRM, and were able to eliminate so many other products we were using — that was a huge win,” she said. “We had one person doing one thing and another doing another in the sales process. After Vin came in, we were able to set those up automatically to make sure that customers got the same experience every time.” “Customer experience,” Allen said, “is crucial to building a sustainable business.” Classic’s tag line — “Relax and Enjoy the Difference” has been changing the way people buy cars in the Dallas/Fort Worth area for around two decades and sums up that philosophy. “(That phrase) means everything to our employees and to me,” she said. “We really do business in a different way and we carry a very good reputation. About 80 percent of our customers are return customers.” Eliminating high-pressure pitches was one of the first things done to bring their motto to life in the dealership. “When people come in, our salespeople don’t work interest rates on the floor, and they don’t work payments on the floor — none of that,” she said. “When a customer comes in, the salesperson’s responsibility is to provide them with product knowledge on the vehicle, to find the right vehicle for the customer that fits their needs and to listen to the buyer to ensure they’re making the right choices. The finance department then takes care of payments. It’s a

completely different experience from what most customers have, and that’s why they always come back to us.” Really understanding what customers are looking for has proven to be vital to the dealership’s sales process. “Everyone thinks that customers are just looking for the bottom price,” Allen said. “They don’t necessarily do that — they will pay for a better experience. The online experience, especially with Mazda, is just enormous. Customers want to communicate in the way most convenient and relevant to them, and trying to fight that just doesn’t work the way that it used to. Customers are taking control of the situation, and that’s good — it’s the second largest purchase they’ll probably make.” Allen found that one way to make sure that customers are treated well, and treated consistently, was to make sure the sales process was smooth and uniform and their digital system helped that to be the case. “Everything goes into our CRM; it’s the backbone of the entire company,” she said. “Every call gets logged. We do Website tracking, leads, service, appointment scheduling, all the reporting…. It’s literally the pulse of everything we do. It takes out so much of the clutter and the way we used to do things. Removing that waste gives us the time to actually produce an amazing experience for our customers and really make us stand out. We’re not running around scatterbrained — we know everything about a customer right there. It’s an enormous help.” This low-pressure culture works on both sides of the table; a casual dress code and lack of unnecessary drama help Classic’s staff work the system the way it’s designed to be worked — to help the customer. “Customers just feel more at home with us,” Allen said. “They choose to service with us because of that. We sell so much out of our market into our competitor’s markets because we make a huge difference with the experience. We put the customer first and take care of them. We’re not worried about how much money we’re going to make or anything like that; we want to build a repeat customer for life, not just focus on the one-time car purchase. I like to tell dealers that and they kind of laugh at me, but our closing percentages have gone from the traditional levels to 26 percent on average.”

For more information about Nicki Allen or Classic Mazda and Classic Dodge, visit For more information about VinSolutions, contact the CSO, Sean Stapleton. He can be contacted at 866.240.1996, or by e-mail at


sales & training solution

7 tips to handle the issue of price

Tip No. 1: Avoid the Myth — “Salespeople

create numbers and managers create gross.” This statement is a myth. How well a salesperson establishes a relationship with a customer and asks questions that uncover wants, needs, emotions, previous buying patterns, communication styles, the customers HFG (hope for gain) and more will determine gross profit more than anything a manager can ever do. A salesperson must create a buying environment and experience that transcends price. The price pendulum works. When value exceeds price, people buy. The value can be perceived in many forms and channels. Value can be perceived in the 3M’s: Money, Me and Machine. Value can be communicated emotionally, logically, experientially, conceptually, fear based, happy based, product based, salesperson based and more.

Tip No. 2: Sell Apples to Oranges — What is different about your sales process that creates “WOW?” What makes your process so much better that price becomes less of an issue? Create “apples to oranges” choices and distinctions on Money, Me and Machine. Example: Use a different meet and greet such, as “Hi, folks, welcome to ABC Motors. Are you out beginning to look and shop around?” This takes the traditional response of “I’m just looking” away but does so in a positive manner. If you receive an e-mail contact, then use video e-mail to contact the customer back. You will be unique from all other dealerships who reply back to the customer. First impressions count. Tip No. 3: Walk the Wheel — Draw a circle

and draw a series of lines coming out of the circle all around the circle. On one side of the line, you have one option. As an example, you could have “financing,” and then on the other side “leasing.” You could have a line with “long-term financing” and then “shortterm” on the other. Keep doing this until you exhaust every possible scenario you can think of. When you think of better options, the issue of price will become lesser in consideration. Your competition will often be very narrow in their focus.


Tip No. 4: Set the Stage — How do you address price? Are you practicing stone-age sales techniques? Do you actually believe, as many sales trainers teach, that you can avoid the issue of price? Notice I said the “issue.” You would not stand for old-school “avoid and evade” techniques, and neither will your customers. Try setting the stage for price by addressing how you and your dealership handles price. There’s an old saying that “You can’t sweep crap under the rug and expect the stink to go away.” Address the issue of price up front and with confidence. You will notice the trust and comfort you create with customers because of this. Tip No. 5: What do you say? — Don’t wing

it. Know exactly what to say to a customer when the customer asks you what your best price is. Competence = Confidence. When you are competent in handling the question, your confidence goes up and the customer will follow you anywhere and do anything. Example: “Absolutely! I will get you pricing on anything you want. The price on every vehicle on the lot will vary somewhat because of the following: Time in inventory, supply and demand of the vehicle, current factory programs and dealership promotions. Let me get you the correct price based upon on those factors. By the way, so I can get you the best price, let me ask you…”

Step 1 – Listen Step 2 – Agree (“Absolutely!” “Sure!” “You


Step 3 – Address (use a word track like the

one above)

Step 4 – Segue (bridge from the addressing of

the question to redirecting using a phrase, such as “By the way...”) Step 5 – Redirect (ask questions about car buying and car trading) Tip No. 6: Dig Deeper, Dig Deeper, Dig Deeper — Most salespeople go skin deep with customers, but you could and should dig deeper. Go deeper by going to their tradein first. When you go to the trade-in first, you are going to their comfort zone. When you go to the trade-in first, you unlock their

buying patterns and preferences. You will create role reversal in the selling process and discover how the customer communicates. The customer will explain what their “hope for gain” is by communicating their dominant keywords. About 95 percent of your customers will have one or two keywords that they repeat over and over that will communicate what is most important to them. After you first greet a customer and begin to communicate, tell them the following, “Let’s walk over to your vehicle for a quick second for two reasons. One reason is I can get all the information about your vehicle so when the market value is being determined I will have all the information necessary and that will save you a bunch of time. Secondly, as I am getting the information I want to ask you a couple of questions about the vehicle and from this I usually come up with a few ideas to save you some money, fair enough?” Notice I am anchoring in two things: saving time and saving money. Your customers all want to save time and money. Perception is reality. You are setting the perception of reality to save time and money. You are talking the language of the buyer. Tip No. 7: Practice Give/Get — Never give something without asking to get something in return. This establishes value in your price, your proposal of the price and you. You are also establishing some pain to the practice of the customer asking. If you give without asking for something in return then you are rewarding the act and associating the emotion of pleasure to the act of asking. Like Pavlov’s dog, what gets rewarded gets repeated.

To receive the free special report “Increasing Sales and Profits by Handling Objections” e-mail me at the address below with the word “Objections” 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


leadership solution

beware of the drp trap All too often, dealer bodyshops think that the answer to their problems is chasing and signing up as many DRPs (direct repair programs) as possible. Certainly there can be some positives that come from having work directed or referred to your shop. For one, the average consumer is fairly easy to steer or intimidate into going wherever the insurance company recommends. Since the average consumer only visits a bodyshop once every seven or eight years, they are often ambivalent as to whom they choose for crash repairs. The upside for the dealer shop is more

Is Business Falling Through the


work in the door, plus exposure to customers they previously had no relationship with. The Down Side

There is, however, a real downside to consider. Once the insurance company starts directing large amounts of work to you, they inevitably start exercising some control over pricing and operations, as well. The pricing pressure can be severe, and all of a sudden your margins suffer. Additionally, employee morale can be affected as the insurance directions may not always be the best way to properly repair a car in the eyes of your technicians. The pressure to use generic parts rather than OEM parts is a real source of frustration to many on the repair side of things. The dealer should be selling their own parts, rather than chasing all over the country for used or aftermarket parts. The Real Issues

The aforementioned issues are real and almost always are debated when deciding on getting into bed with insurance companies. The real issues are more subtle, but perhaps more impactful. Bodyshop estimators must see themselves as salespeople and not simply technicians or order takers. All too often, the sales acumen of the estimators in a DRP shop becomes soft. The salesman may start feeling entitled to the business and be less inclined to improve their closing ability. Once this attitude creeps in, it is difficult to get the estimator to act like a professional salesperson. They often stop tracking key performance indicators like traffic, new sales and batting average. Should the DRP drop you for some reason, you also risk losing a large chunk of business in one fell swoop. What I see as an even bigger danger, however, is when the bodyshop manager pays more attention to the demands of the DRPrelated customer and takes his proverbial eye off of the current relational customer who your dealership sells cars to. The current relational customer should never feel as if he or she is being treated as if they were a second fiddle. The Decision to DRP or Not


877-319-9035 16

I am not anti DRP. I am, however, concerned at the lost good will and brand damage your bodyshop can do to the dealership if these priorities are not kept in order. Remember to reinforce the importance of salesmanship constantly to your bodyshop manager. Above all, keep score. Track your traffic, new sales and batting average. If you respond to this article with full contact information at the address below, I will send you an electronic sales scoreboard which will help you track your sales performance. Dave Dunn is the founder of Masters School of Autobody Management. He can be contacted at 866.386.0042, or by e-mail at


sales & training solution

how many phone calls can and should your internet department make? Here’s a question I hear a lot at my Internet Sales 20 Groups: “How many phone calls should my department make per day?” This question is huge, because simply dialing the phone can dramatically change the outcome of your dealership’s Internet Sales. Your dealership’s Internet Department and BDC are, after all, a number’s game. Let me break it down for you: • The more people you dial, the more people you get on the phone. • The more people you get on the phone, the more time you can execute your phone process or sales script. • The more people you engage on the phone, the more appointments you can set. • The more appointments you set, the more appointments you can confirm. • The more appointments you can confirm, the more people show up. • The more people show up, the more people will buy vehicles. • More vehicle sales equals more money for everyone — both the dealership and you.

The average Internet prospect is searching five to seven other dealerships and or Websites (this can be same franchise or other franchises). That means five to seven other dealerships are following up sending e-mails and leaving voicemails.

I know that this might sound too easy to be true, but it really is this simple: If you dial phones more, you will sell more vehicles. I have been doing automotive Internet sales and business development for more than 12 years now, and that has proven to be the case over and over again all over the country. It doesn’t matter what type of franchise you have or how big your organization is — math is math.

Let’s just use a safe and realistic 50/50/50 closing ratio. If you make two appointments per day, five days per week, that’s 10 appointments per week, or 40 appointments per month. Out of 40 appointments per month, about 20 people will show up and about 10 people will buy vehicles.

Let’s go a little deeper. I have dealers who tell me over and over that their Internet sales coordinators, BDC reps and appointment setters are only making 50 to 60 calls per day, and that is like pulling teeth from them. They complain that they can’t make any more calls — it’s impossible. Or, they don’t have anyone to call, or they are worried that they are calling too much, or that people are mad at them for calling too much, or countless other excuses for mediocrity. Here are some important statistics: • 55 percent of communication is visual perception and body language • 38 percent of communication is tone and inflection • Only seven percent of communication is text or the words that we use This means with Internet prospects, it makes a lot of sense to escalate the e-mail to the phone call and the phone call to the appointment. The appointment builds the relationship, product presentation and demo drive, and all this builds value.


The average connection on a phone call attempt is 11 to 14 percent. That means if you dial 50 attempts you are only going to reach five to seven people. Think about that for a moment: If you have full-time appointment setters, BDC reps and Internet coordinators and they work an eight to nine hour day, they are only connecting with five to seven people? That is not enough at all. On average, you will close 25 to 33 percent of the people you actually get on the phone. That means if you attempt to call 50 people, you will get five to seven people on the phone, and from those you can expect to make about one or two appointments. That is nowhere close to being enough.

Our clients are making 120 phone calls per day per rep. Out of the 120 attempts, they are connecting 11 to 14 percent, which means they speak with 14 to 17 people. They are converting 25 to 33 percent to appointments, which gives us between four and six appointments per day per rep. Let’s say they make five appointment per day, five days a week, for 25 appointments per week or 100 appointments per month. Of those, 50 people will show up for the appointment and they will deliver 25 units. Now that I have your attention, how do you get your department to actually make these phone calls? Its simple: accountability. Do not let them accept mediocrity. They will give you every reason, why they can’t do it. You have to encourage them they can and they will. For a sure-fire way to prove it to them, however, have them go through the “Power Hour.” The “Power Hour” is a contest you will have with your team. Put some type of bonus, prize, or gift up for the winner. Here are the rules: For one straight hour, your people are going to make as many Internet sales calls as possible. Whoever makes the most Internet Sales phone calls wins the bonus. At the end of the “Power

Hour,” you calculate how many phone call attempts everybody made, and then add them together and divide them by the number of people who participated. For example, I just did this very exercise today at a Ford / Mazda dealership in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A couple of weeks ago, they were kicking and screaming that they couldn’t make more than 50 calls per day, per rep. I put out a $100 bill for a “Power Hour” prize. They have four appointment setters and an Internet director. Here are the results: 1. 20 Calls 2. 28 Calls 3. 36 Calls 4. 42 Calls 5. 53 Calls They made 179 calls in one hour, for an average of 35.8 calls per rep. Now, multiply 35.8 phone calls times 6.5 working hours in a day (that’s taking out breaks and lunches), and you get 232.7 calls in a day. Now, that might seem crazy, but the math doesn’t lie. I’m not suggesting that they should be making 230+ calls per day per person, but I am saying that they can sure as heck make a lot more than 50 calls per day. The reality is that they were killing themselves making phone calls because they wanted to win that $100 bill. They had the desire, the want and the need to make a lot of calls. The end result for this dealership was that they all were floored at the end of the exercise when I broke down the math to them. They could not believe how many calls they were able to make in one hour. I have been doing the “Power Hour” exercise for more than seven years now and it works every time. If you have any questions about this article, or you would like me to e-mail you the video of this exercise and the exit interview of this exercise, please e-mail or call me and it would be my pleasure to send it to you. In conclusion, you need to make sure that your team is dialing the phone. An Internet sale is predominately a phone sale. Just think about the math. Remember you only have a 11 to 14 percent connection ratio. Everyone will tell you the hardest part of Internet sales is simply getting the prospect on the phone. Sean V. Bradley is the founder and CEO of Dealer Synergy, a nationally recognized training and consulting company in the automotive industry. He can be contacted at 866.648.7400, or by e-mail at


marketing solution

the new digital paradigm: three equals one Understanding the New eCommerce Model

New data exchange methodologies and systems integration techniques now make possible collaborative e-commerce that delivers more powerful and more useable digital marketing and merchandising for auto dealers. The merging of these technologies into a unified digital marketing solution drives one central goal: If you want to sell more cars online, your online listings must be compelling, current and consistently merchandised across all online sites in which you list inventory, especially the dealership Website — potentially the dealership’s most powerful inventory sales tool.

By combining the functionality of digital marketing technologies through a single, unified user login, this new model greatly simplifies for dealers: • How online inventory is listed processed and managed • How online inventory is kept current and fresh across all online inventory listing sites • How resulting leads are captured and pursued to increase lead conversion to sales Most dealerships using separate systems to achieve an optimal digital marketing effort waste too much time logging into and then switching between multiple systems and screens and managing and handling inventory changes/ updates and data integration across all systems and all online marketing sites. Not only is all this busyness time consuming for already-busy managers and staff, but also the efforts often result in less-than-ideal online presentations prone to listing and pricing errors. That the new paradigm in e-commerce focus intensely on improving inventory merchandising on the dealership Website cannot be overstated. Most online buyers visit a dealership Website when they’re close to making a final vehicle and dealership decision. Nothing will send them scurrying off your Website faster than Website inventory that’s presented, described and/or priced differently from the third-party listing sites versus your dealership Website. Technology currently exists to solve this situation, however. Having an integrated solution to digital marketing challenges is crucial, and by using data exchange and systems integration, key benefits to dealers include: • Single login simplicity for the traditionally separate and independent systems used to manage the dealer Website, online inventory listings, and leads • Integrated, multi-system ecommerce that attracts and holds eyeballs and guides visitors with one-click ease to the dealership’s key profit centers to drive more leads • Greater lead conversion from improved lead and customer pursuit and follow up that converts to more sold deals and greater return on the marketing dollar • Real-time data exchange between these key systems to ensure fresh and accurate inventory postings, prices and content descriptions across all inventory listings, including the dealership Website inventory pages This new online listing data exchange technology adds a new dimension to online vehicle inventory merchandising, presentation and lead follow up. The new ecommerce paradigm will deliver new economies of effectiveness and simplicity to the dealership — a new model where three equals one for online marketing results like never before. Skip Murphy is a director at Trinity Suite. He can be contacted at 866.295.9491, or by e-mail at



sales & training solution

the ‘Pr’s’ of Great Salespeople

“Pr’s” are the verbs resulting in outstanding results for great salespeople: Preparation, Practice and Production. These three traits are found in the consummate professionals: Preparation

Preparation is the process of knowing how to perform a specific skill. Begin with the end in mind; the measurements of preparation are visualization and planning. High-stakes professions visualize their desired ending before they have even acted. The Navy’s Blue Angels visualize their death-defying maneuvers, public speakers receive a standing ovation and even athletes make the gamewinning shot in front of millions. These high-stakes professions begin with the end in mind. The good news is all sales consultants practice visualization; the only problem is that we visualize the wrong outcome. Why do we visualize worst-case scenarios instead of “Holy Cow!” moments? When a customer drives up in an old beater or another is not wearing clothing conducive to a dealerships “culture,” we visualize not making a sale. Whatever you

visualize, your subconscious mind accepts it as truth; your subconscious cannot distinguish reality from fiction — so trick it by visualizing handing the keys over to your new customer. Pessimistic minds reap puny wages; optimistic ones reap a harvest of commissions.

The second measurement of preparation is planning. We love to plan; we plan lunch, ice cream runs and after-hour drinking spots. We also plan to do better from the 15th until the end of the month, vowing to work bell to bell to catch up. We spend more time planning events that cost us money and little toward the skills that will make us rich. Planning is the blueprint of your career; it is the written results of what you have visualized. Do contractors begin building a house without a blueprint? Then why are we building our careers like a house of cards, insisting on “winging it” out on the lot? Winging it is why customers say “salespeople are all just alike.” Few salespeople take the time to work on planning, such as calculating the number of ups required to reach your monthly goal or strengthening product knowledge or negotiating skills. Don’t build your career as a house of cards; the winds of circumstances will always blow IMN Spotlight™ reports enable you to create down your efforts. lists of your most engaged subscribers Visualization and blueprints are the and target those ready to buy roadmaps taking from your dealership. you from mediocre Ready to sell? to becoming great.

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Practicing is the art of putting all of your preparation into action. Just as PBS artist Bob Ross (the painter with the afro) dabbed different colors of paint onto a blank canvas, so too do great salespeople. When Bob was painting, he had already visualized and planned the outcome of the painting; the audience watched as paints went from globs to recognizable

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images. Great salespeople artfully put their preparation into practice — they transform from thinkers to doers. Practice makes the actual game look easy, but not just any practice; you must practice with purpose. Deliberately practice answering objections correctly or performing a great walk around. Whatever needs work in your career, deliberately work on it. NFL receiver Jerry Rice played for 20 seasons due to his relentless pursuit to perfection. Undersized and overlooked, he put 80 percent of his efforts into his preparation and practices, and the other 20 percent, known as “games,” got him a first ballot hall of fame spot. Golfers are known for burying golf balls in a sand trap and then begin the purposeful practice of hitting them out. They may practice the shot hundreds of times only to have it occur once in a tournament. Researcher Steve Kerr explained we operate out of one of three zones: comfort, learning or panic. We migrate toward things that are familiar, affectionately known as the “comfort zone.” True growth occurs in the learning zone — our month, however, normally goes from the comfort to the panic zone as we begin to run out of month, thus leaving no time for the learning zone. Production

Production is the tangible, measurable, cashable results of all of the preparation and practicing. Actors don’t win Academy Awards by wanting to be good actors, nor do athletes win a championship only by practicing; the results are measured in your production. If you want to be known as a great salesperson, you have to blend of the right mixture of preparation and practice in order to drink from the fountain of success. Farmers don’t believe in miracles of agricultural production; it takes preparation and practice to produce a bountiful crop. Battleships are not made to be dry-docked; they are built to receive punishment yet have to remain unsinkable to produce a victory. The USS You is prepared with the best technology, trained to practice maneuvering through stormy seas and handle an onslaught of enemy fire, and is now waiting to be known as unsinkable producing victory after victory (or sale after sale). It’s time to get out of dry-dock and become the final “Pr”; a Pro. See you on the black top. Marsh Buice is the sales manager of Mark Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep. He can be contacted at 866.535.5006, or by e-mail at


marketing solution

matching your expertise to your perfect market I know you want to get straight into the exciting, fun parts of building an expert brand — And don’t worry; that’s not too far away. But time and again, I’ve seen people making the big mistake of rushing in without thinking through the important steps of defining a clear market and understanding how their own expertise fits with that market. Missing these steps means they end up being an expert in something that nobody is really interested in. Or they find they are trying to position themselves in a field where they don’t have the credibility required. I can assure you that taking a bit of time to work through these steps will make the later steps much easier and more rewarding. If you take time to get to know your market, and then make the effort to clearly understand the benefits of what you offer, you can certainly find a market where you become the celebrity expert. When you reach that stage, you’ll find you’ll attract the right customers and clients much

more easily. Your business and career will grow to new levels of success, and your lifestyle will be transformed. So, are you ready to become the “go-to” expert in your highly profitable marketplace? This part of the process requires three steps: 1. Understanding yourself and your offer 2. Understanding your market and what they want 3. Matching your offer with what your market wants So this month, let’s examine step one, with steps two and three to follow in the months ahead. Understanding Yourself and Your Offer

The first step in the process of building your expert brand is getting to know yourself and what makes you special. This is the core around which you will build your business proposition.

Over time, this will evolve and grow as you build your expert brand, but you need some key starting points. There is a lot of self-reflection in this step, but you’ll find it helps to involve others in the process. For example, you can ask people who know you well for their feedback. You may feel that you have particular strengths, but others may notice something else that seems more important. In fact, we often overlook our biggest strengths because they are what come naturally to us. But these can be extremely important as they often reflect what makes us special. Another way to get


“Missing these steps means they end up being an expert in something that nobody is really interested in. Or they find they are trying to position themselves in a field where they don’t have the credibility required.” help from someone else during the process is to have them ask you some key questions so that you can discuss your answers. Here are some exercises for you to kick off this process: • List your strongest skills • Identify the top reasons people come to you for help and advice, rather than go to someone else • List the keywords your friends, colleagues, and clients say about you to others • Identify at least one thing you do better than most other people • Identify the top three reasons most of your customers or clients come to you • Identify at least one thing that makes you different from your main competitors Treat this process as a brainstorming — don’t question your ideas at this stage. Take a note of everything that comes to your mind. Something that may seem quite unimportant to you may be very significant to your potential clients. Remember that it’s a great idea to consult with others as part of this process. At this stage in the game, lots of folks panic. Please don’t. I know this all may be new to you, but I’m here to walk you through every step of this money-making process. You’ve got until next month’s issue to get caught up on your tasks so far. Good luck. Tracy Myers, C.M.D. is a noted small business marketing and branding solutions specialist, best-selling author, speaker, car dealership owner and entrepreneur. He can be contacted at 866.860.0029, or by e-mail at

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marketing solution

car dealer promotions:

by incorporating insured prize promotions into direct mail and other marketing activities.

Steven Ray, account executive at a national contest insurance company, sees dealers tapping a variety of prize promotions to stand out. “By offering the opportunity to win a Accelerate Your Sales Success car, cash or other prizes, dealers are getting It’s summer, and across the country dealers are working hard to drive traffic and boost sales. Many buyers into their showrooms and away from showrooms down the street,” he said. are finding success with prize promotions tied to a favorite summer past-time — golf. Dealers and their marketing and insurance company partners have put together hole-in-one and other golf Most popular among dealers he works with is a prize promotions for charitable, corporate and other events. They’re generating buzz, bolstering “lucky number” direct mail promotion. “In this, relationships and driving more showroom traffic. a dealer might mail 10,000 pieces, each with a But as successful as golf promotions are, not everyone has a set of clubs. Everyone does, however, unique number,” Ray said. “The number of the have a mailbox. More and more, dealers are differentiating themselves — and their messages — winning piece, which was identified upfront, is displayed in the showroom throughout the sale, typically from three to five days.” Recipients are invited to the showroom to see if their number matches the one on display. “If it matches,” Ray explains, “they win the car or some other prize. This promotion works best when it features several prize levels — including smaller ones, like lottery tickets, paid for by the dealership as part of the promotion.” Large prizes are covered by insurance.

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Another popular promotion—one that incorporates direct mail, radio, newspaper and/or any other kind of advertising—is a safecracker game. “We’ll provide a ‘safe’ — actually, it’s a prop that looks like a safe — with an interactive touch screen,” Ray said. “People come to the show room and enter a four-, five- or six-digit number, depending on what the dealer wants to do with the odds. If the number entered matches a predetermined one programmed into the safe, you’ve got a winner. It’s like playing the lottery.” A similar multi-channel prize promotion one where shoppers select one or more envelopes to win a prize. “This is, I’d say, the most versatile promotion,” Ray said. “It often features a game board, where contestants select from a number of envelopes, each containing a different prize message. Or for a casino theme, there could be 20 envelopes, each containing a playing card, and contestants choose five. If they pull a royal flush, they might win a car. A lower hand wins a smaller prize.” Other prize promotions — including conditional rebates based on sporting events, weather and even election results — are also popular at this time of year, and actually throughout the endof-year buying season, Ray said, adding, “We’re working with dealers every day to find the right fit and to make their promotions successful.”


A twist on this is a mailer where consumers receive an actual key to bring to the dealership. “These get a little higher response rate than number matches,” Ray said, “because of the physical key. Shoppers bring it in to see if it unlocks a lock.”


Doug Burkert is the president of the National Hole-In-One Association. He can be contacted at 866.859.6407, or by e-mail at


leadership solution

social media in the workplace: are you protected?

Today it’s no longer possible to regard social media as something confined to our personal lives — something that happens only outside the workplace. For one thing, many dealerships are now using social media channels as an integral part of marketing and sales initiatives. It is crucial for all dealerships, even those not currently engaged in social media, to pay close attention. No matter what kind of organization you have, your employees are likely using social networks every day. Consider these numbers: • In July 2010, Facebook announced it had passed the 500 million member mark. • In March 2011, Twitter announced that it had surpassed 200 million accounts, with more than 500,000 accounts created in a single day. • Both networks are projected to grow at double-digit rates in the coming year. And don’t be fooled into thinking social networking is only for the young. As far back as February and March 2009, the fastestgrowing Facebook demographic was the 35 to 44 age group, and a more recent Pew Research Center report says social media growth is fastest among those ages 50 and over. Now, think about all the information people are sharing on these sites. They’re sharing information not only about their personal lives, but also about their work lives. The combination of these two types of information can create problems for employers, because suddenly information that, traditionally, employers have not wanted to know about is being communicated in an essentially public forum. For example, people on these sites are likely to talk about fellow employees, or candidates for employment, in terms of very sensitive topics such as gender, relationship status, sexual orientation, national origin, political views and religion — not to mention things like salaries and supervisors. They may also be talking about the business activities of the dealership they work for. These are subjects that can create significant issues for employers down the line.


The fact is, social networks are here to stay, and they’re blurring the line between personal and professional activity. Employers can’t hide from the issue any longer. How to Begin?

We recommend that dealerships take a formal approach by initiating a four-part process: analyze, adopt, implement and educate. First, analyze the use of social media in your workplace and in terms of your dealership’s particular needs. Figure out what you need to do and why you’re doing it. Is your dealership the type of organization that should ban social networking for personal use? Or are you going to regulate it? Think about how you’re going to align your personal e-mail policy to a social networking policy if productivity issues arise. If you do decide to ban it, is it enforceable? Can it actually be done? Many times you’ll find the answer is “no.” Adopt written policies that specifically cover social media use both inside and outside of the workplace, and before and after working hours. Be sure to define social media broadly to include not only the obvious examples of Facebook, Myspace and Twitter, but also professional networking sites like LinkedIn as well as blogs and personal Websites. Why are written policies important? More than half of employees think that whatever they post on a social networking site should not be their boss’s concern; on the flip side, 60 percent of executives think they have the right to know how they’re being portrayed. That suggests there are conflicting perceptions from these two sides about what expectations are reasonable. The best way to address this is to create policies that state your explicit expectations, as the employer, about what’s reasonable. An employee can only have a privacy claim if there’s a reasonable expectation of privacy in the information they post. A written policy can go a long way toward reminding employees to assume anything they post to a social network is for public consumption. Implement those policies, preferably through

“The fact is, social networks are here to stay, and they’re blurring the line between personal and professional activity. Employers can’t hide from the issue any longer.”

a formal rollout that’s documented and provable. HR and compliance management systems make it easy to automate the entire process, from distribution of the policy to the automatic electronic signature that verifies that employees have read and reviewed the policy and agreed to abide by it.

Finally, educate employees regarding the legal risk of inappropriate postings, which can lead to unlawful harassment and discrimination claims or violate a dealership’s proprietary confidential information agreement. The rule of thumb is that you have to treat everything as if it’s on the record. Typically, people don’t apply the same level of care and scrutiny when they communicate via social media that they would apply to a hand-written or typed letter, or even to an e-mail to a colleague. It’s important to ensure employees know that each one of these communications is actually a significant event — an item for the public record. All the issues discussed in this article are addressed in the “Social Media in the Workplace — Are You Protected” Webinar. To watch for free, visit: Lon Leneve is the president and CEO of Compli. He can be contacted at 866.265.8516, or by e-mail at

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sales & training solution

hoW to get the feedback you didn’t want to hear (but really need to know)

What if there are things you are doing — or not doing — that are sabotaging your success? What if there are a few key things you’re missing that could help you get even better results? There’s only one way to find out, and that’s by getting feedback.

Unfortunately, feedback is sometimes given a bad rap. Poorly conducted performance reviews, harsh criticisms by thoughtless colleagues and bad experiences with multi-rater feedback systems all contribute to the temptation to steer clear of feedback when possible. Feedback, however, is how we learn. Without feedback and reflection, you have no way to know how you’re doing. You don’t know what others think of you or how you might be holding yourself back. What you don’t know can hurt you. A lack of self-knowledge can limit your opportunities and even stall your career. On the other hand, when you seek feedback, you open yourself up to reflection. You become much more thoughtful about what you’re doing and why, how you can improve and how you can maximize your efforts and get better, more predictable results. When you get high-quality feedback, you gain a tremendous advantage. By seeing yourself as others see you, suddenly you realize where, why and how you can improve. You understand where you’re holding yourself back and where you have the opportunity to surge ahead. Asking for feedback can benefit you in the following ways: Identifying Your Strengths

Feedback helps you maximize your natural strengths and reach your full potential. This is a good idea anytime, but especially when you’re secure in your skills and competence and want to truly excel. Seeing Into Your Blind Spots

You might want feedback because you want to improve your leadership and see into your blind spots. This is particularly important when you have been newly promoted or are in the throes of a new endeavor. Meeting Your Goals

Feedback gives you specific direction on how to meet your goals. This approach works best when you are already clear on what your goals are. You don’t need information about what to do, but rather how you are to do it. Preparing for Advancement

You might want feedback to prepare yourself


for advancement. This method is best when you are seeking less self-awareness and more advice and direction. Becoming More Effective

Feedback can help you become more effective in your current job, which is helpful at any time and in fact is a strategy you might want to use over and over. Feedback can even give you a sense of what your clients want and need. By asking questions not just about yourself, but about your clients and customers, you can better serve their needs and therefore increase your value to them. What are your reasons for seeking feedback? What results do you want to achieve? Think about your reasons for feedback in advance to take the fullest advantage of the learning it has to offer. Then, before you actually get the feedback, give careful thought to what will happen when you receive it. Leaders all react to feedback differently. Reactions range from tears to elation. Are you interpreting the feedback in the way that will be most helpful to you? Here are 10 dos and don’ts that will help you make the most of the feedback you receive. 1. Do choose one or two areas to work on. Use your feedback as a jumping-off point for an action plan. Choose one most impactful area to master. Make some decisions about what it will take to improve in that area, and find a commitment you can get started on right away. You can always come back for more later. 2. Do focus as much on your strengths as your weaknesses. As you read your feedback, remember to focus on what’s right, not just what’s wrong. It’s just as important to build on what’s working as it is to improve what’s not. 3. Do save your feedback for a specific time set aside for review and reflection. Give yourself the chance to absorb the feedback. Take the time to get in the right mindset to hear both good and bad news, and be sure you have enough time to work with the information productively. 4. Do seek further detail and clarification as needed. You may come across feedback you don’t really understand. Don’t just speculate; go find out. While you’re at it, thank the people who gave you feedback for their time and thoughts. Giving feedback can be just as risky as receiving it. 5. Do take notes and explore your

observations. Your feedback isn’t the final word on you. It’s just a place to start. Add your own insights to what you learn in order to make sense of it and find the real learning.

6. Don’t choose too many areas to work on. Feedback can be overwhelming. Every comment, good or bad, can be a place to look for improvement. Be careful not to get caught in “analysis paralysis.” 7. Don’t focus on the “bad stuff.” It’s easy to get sidetracked by fixating on what’s not going well. Feedback is important, but it’s not everything. Even when you get harsh feedback, learn to put it in perspective. 8. Don’t just skim the feedback. Slow down and analyze it well. You might even want to read or review your feedback several times to really understand the message. 9. Don’t hold feedback against the people

who gave it to you. Every single person who gets feedback feels the same way: exposed. You might feel a little defensive, or even angry. Learn to connect with others over the experience for support. Don’t shoot the messenger.

10. Don’t put the feedback in a drawer. Feedback is a message given to you by others who care enough to tell you the truth. If all you do is throw it in a drawer and forget about it, it’s not worth going through the process at all.

If you adhere to these suggestions, you will be in a much stronger place to capitalize on the learning available in the feedback you receive. Of course, feedback isn’t the only way to learn about yourself. It’s also helpful to round out the feedback you get from others with the reflection you do on your own, by taking psychological or scientific assessments, and having good oldfashioned one-on-one conversations with people who can help you be a better you. But feedback is a powerful tool. Like all tools, it serves a particular purpose. The more you learn about how to use feedback for what it can and can’t do, the more productive the experience will be. The process of receiving feedback is a vulnerable one, but ironically the feedback can strengthen you as a leader. Follow these dos and don’ts to be sure you make the most of the opportunity. Dr. Joelle K. Jay, Ph. D., is an executive coach and the senior managing partner of the leadership development firm, Pillar Consulting. She can be contacted at 775.324.5377, or by e-mail at

Automotive Internet Sales DEALERSHIP OF THE MONTH






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5 steps to stop “under delivering” in the service department

Most Service Departments strive to maintain high CSI scores and retain longterm customers. Yet all too often, Service Departments fail to recognize where they “overpromise” on what can actually be delivered. Over time, this leads to the Service Department regularly missing its goals and habitually falling short in meeting customer expectations. I call this “under delivering.”

2. Set the Right Expectations

As a retail business consultant, I can usually tell where Service Departments are “under delivering” by reviewing their CSI surveys. Here are a few of the common complaints that I see: • “Car not ready when promised.” • “Car not fixed right the first time.” • “Bill higher than expected.” • “Confusion about extended warranty co-pay.”

Service advisors who routinely set the right expectations are able to ask the right questions and anticipate customers’ needs beyond the initial complaint. Some examples of good questions include: • “Will you be waiting on the vehicle to be repaired?” • “Can we offer you a ride somewhere (or, better...a loaner or rental)”? • “Have you had this problem diagnosed or fixed before? What was the result?” • “What is the best way to communicate progress: your cell phone or e-mail?” • “Are there any other problems with your vehicle that you would like us to look at while your vehicle is in our Service Department?”

Comments like these are often a symptom of poor execution, miscommunication or both. All can lead to poor CSI scores and diminished customer retention. And, while there are many causes for “underdelivery,” the important thing to remember is that it’s the customer’s perception that defines the delivery. With this in mind, here are five ways to help your staff better meet customer expectations and stop “under delivering” in the Service Department. 1. Adopt a “Service Advisor” Mentality

How your Service employees view their role impacts the quality and quantity of the time they spend understanding the customer’s automotive needs — and that directly affects whether your Service Department is “under delivering.” Employees with only a “service writer” mindset see themselves as “order takers,” simply writing up the customer’s request and nothing more. Another order in; another order out. In contrast, employees with a “service advisor” mentality take more time listening to customers’ concerns, documenting vehicle issues and suggesting recommended maintenance. They are more focused on the quality of the customer interaction and in helping customers make the best decision for their situation. The service advisor mentality can help your shop increase first-time fixes and reduce followup calls to customers to clarify complaints. It also can help build trust between the customer and your Service Department and differentiate you from other dealerships and independent repair shops — helping your dealership attract and retain more Service customers.


Service advisors play an active role in setting realistic expectations with customers about the repair process. The best advisors can forecast how the repair process is expected to go ahead of time and anticipate potential issues. They also are skilled at thoroughly documenting customers’ concerns and explaining the steps of the repair process clearly and correctly to customers.

Setting the right expectations — from customer pay quotes and warranty co-pays to promise times and more — can go a long way in improving Service delivery. 3. Schedule Real Appointments at Real Times

How you load your shop can have a significant impact on whether customers perceive your Service Department as “under delivering.” Loading up on appointments at the beginning of the day and scheduling all vehicle pick-ups at the end causes undue waiting and stress for customers and your Service team. This type of scheduling also encourages “service writer” behavior rather than the “service advisor” mentality, which works against the goal of customer retention. When service advisors schedule what I call “real appointments at real times,” your Service Department is demonstrating how you value your customers’ time and how you are able and prepared to serve your customers’ unique needs. Service advisors also should be entering these firm appointment times into the DMS so that you can more quickly and easily monitor planned and actual workflow, control shop capacity and plan ahead for parts stocking. 4. Full Disclosure

Many Service requests are fairly straightforward

— especially when a vehicle is under warranty. However, now that customers are driving their cars for longer times than ever before, more complex, time-consuming and parts-intensive repairs are becoming more common. Be upfront that you may not be able to diagnose the full extent of the problem from the Service drive. Let the customer know that the “unknown” may affect the promise time or estimate. Then, be sure to keep the customer informed of the problems you’ve found and what the options are for fixing them. Full disclosure can be an important step in managing expectations with customers and avoiding “under delivering.” 5. Deliver at the Promised Time

Most customers are short on time and patience; they expect your Service Department to value their time accordingly. That’s why setting the right promise time expectation — and meeting that promise time — is so important. Missing the promise time creates frustration for the customer and can result in your losing that customer’s business, not to mention the accompanying poor customer reviews, both word-of-mouth and online. Of course, there are a number of operating problems that can lead to missed promised times: failing to load the shop correctly, neglecting pre-appointment parts planning and failing to make smooth transitions between pickup and delivery of the vehicle, to name a few. It may take a deep review of your Service processes to fully identify why you’re “under delivering” on promise times, but it will be time well spent in helping you determine where your Service Department can become more efficient and productive. Implementing the Steps

While these five steps to stop “under delivering” are not extremely difficult to put into practice, they can make a big impact in improving your Service operation and your customers’ perceptions of your Service delivery. As you begin to implement these steps, old habits combined with process gaps or deficiencies can create barriers to change. You may need to work with a role coach or business consultant to help you improve your processes and reach your goals. I think you’ll find it worth the investment. John Carpenter is a retail business consultant with Reynolds Consulting Services from The Reynolds and Reynolds Company. He can be contacted at 866.900.8351, or by e-mail at

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what everybody ought to know about e-mail, direct mail, texting, telemarketing and any other direct marketing strategy

What happens with your database to make sure you get the right message to the right person at the right time? Do you or your agency really have the skill set that allows you to target the highest-quality customers with pinpoint accuracy? The most critical component to effective direct response marketing is data analysis, and if you do it right, you will have a distinct advantage in realizing the full potential of your program’s success.

Mastering the art of forecasting customer behavior as a way of selecting the best targets for receiving dealer communications is not an easy task. While many direct marketing companies offer direct mail and or e-mail services, how many are capable of creating custom analytic models on the dealership level? What has worked in the past just does not cut it today. The ability to track ROI or the accuracy of a direct marketing list is forcing the evolution of database marketing. Today, you must go beyond simple data cleansing, or targeting customers based on simple segmentation such as the year, make and model of their vehicles, or their last visit to your store. Instead, real data analytics uses data trends derived from customer profiles and past behaviors to direct and enhance the overall marketing strategy. In addition, to be effective you must continuously measure performance, examine response rates and let the data suggest


changes within ongoing marketing programs.

Recognizing the Patterns — Seeing the Opportunities

Marketing communication is moving away from mass media and toward an approach driven by integrated customer data and analysis. To really move the needle, firms must have deep customer insight and the skills to translate that insight into profit, differentiation and a competitive advantage. Advanced analytics not only keep active customers engaged with you and your brand, but also help resell inactive customers — those who have defected, for whatever reason, to your competition. Take a second and imagine what would happen to your advertising budget, your marketing focus and, more importantly, your total sales and bottom line if your dealership or direct marketing agency could do the following. Let’s say you did a basic segmentation and identified your inactive customers. Analytical algorithms are then created by recognizing key behavior patterns and combining information on past circumstances and present events to predict which of those inactive customers have the highest propensity to respond to your offer and, more importantly, re-buy or service with you. Identifying these inactive customers rather

than targeting the entire segment saves you an incredible amount of money up front and produces a much stronger ROI. What good is getting a good price per mail piece or e-mail send if you are sending out two to three times as many communications? It actually costs you more. More importantly, every time you communicate with a customer where the message is not relevant, you begin to alienate yourself from the customer, and soon they will become callous to all your communication efforts regardless of the message. A firm with a strong data analytic team should be able to pinpoint key factors that may have led to those customers’ inactivity. All of this information is combined to develop predictive models that can identify your active customers who are “at risk” or have likelihood to leave you in the future, thereby giving you the chance to rebuild those bridges. In order to achieve the type of direct marketing results you really want, you must apply the right analytics to identify your opportunities and then measure your results. A good analytic team can transform good marketing strategies into great marketing strategies by ensuring that your audience is all ears. Scott Joseph is the president of J&L Marketing, Inc. He can be contacted at 888.835.1689, or by e-mail at


sales & training solution

silence pays How Closing Your Mouth Can Help Close More Sales

Ever heard someone say, “That guy should be in sales — he sure loves to talk”? The general public tends to believe that a good salesperson is a good talker. However public expectations can be deceiving. It’s no coincidence that we were given two eyes, two ears and one mouth. Take inventory of your fellow salespeople or the sales team you manage. Who chats a lot? Who doesn’t? Is your most productive salesperson also the one who tends to gab? Chances are probably not. There’s something to be said for a silent salesperson. The value they bring to the dealership is often reflected in the size of their commission check — not to mention the positive impact on overall sales volume that directly benefits team members, managers and dealers alike. Wish you could reap these benefits? The solution is easy: Learn to listen, not to speak. But beware: The concept of silence in selling can be hard for many to grasp. This article covers a few of the reasons why salespeople struggle with this technique, and offers some solutions to improve you or your team’s ability to embrace your quiet side. Disclosure: Silence is a hard concept to describe and teach. This is an advanced technique for advanced salespeople, or those looking to take themselves to the next level. This isn’t for everyone. Understanding the Problem and the Solution

A salesperson who doesn’t talk almost seems unnatural. Think about the basics of feature and benefit selling. Many who have been raised to utilize this technique tend to fall under the assumption that talking about themselves, their company or their product will convince the buyer to make the purchase. This is not the case.

customer about a compact car on the lot. The customer likes the vehicle but suspects the monthly payment amount will pose a problem. This salesperson has been trained on multiple ways to defuse price objections. So what do you think that salesperson will do? Option A: Will he anxiously interject the fact that monthly payment amount can be decreased with changes to down payment, etc? Or option B: Will he let the customer continue talking about their concerns with the price? Most salespeople will instinctively resort to option A. Why? Because it’s a reaction to a problem that makes the salesperson feel more in control. Letting the customer vent their concerns at length will only entice a lost sales opportunity — or so it seems to the untrained eye. In reality, however, option B allows the customer to talk themselves out of their objections and/or offers opportunity for them to tell the salesperson how they prefer to be sold. Many times by staying silent, the customer can overcome their own objection by themselves. The main problem preventing many salespeople from utilizing the silent tactic is fear. Overcoming this fear is no easy task. However with a little guidance and a lot of discipline, mastering the silent technique (and reaping its rewards) can be done. Using Silence in Car Sales

Using silence successfully requires quite a bit of practice. Become more familiar with this technique and its outcomes by testing it out on the phone. Internet lead follow up is a great avenue for this. Here’s what an Internet lead conversation involving the silent technique might sound like:

Salesperson: “Hello Mr. Smith. My name is Joe Jones and I am calling about the 2006 Hyundai Sonata you expressed interest in online. Is this still a good time to talk?” Customer: “Yes.” Salesperson: “The car is still available, but it’s been a popular selection. Can you tell me what Salespeople are often intimidated by silence. you like about this car in particular?” They feel an overwhelming need to fill the void — despite the damage their comments can Customer: “I like that it only had 60,000 miles, that it was a four door and that it was do to the progress of a sale. To many, silence blue. How much are you asking for it?” signifies loss. Be it loss of customer interest or loss of a sale; both are worrisome outcomes Salesperson stays silent for 20 seconds. for anyone in a selling environment. When salesperson worry manifests into panic, urges to speak become hard to ignore. Customer: “Hello? Are you still there?” Salesperson: “Yes Mr. Smith. I’m still here. I was listening to what you liked about the Let’s say a salesperson has been talking with a


car and was jotting down a few notes. Please tell me more about how you will be using this vehicle so we can make sure it’s the right fit for your needs.” The goal is to get the customer to ask if you’re still on the line. Training like this helps the salesperson better control the urge to defend the price of the car, or any other objection for that matter. Likewise, it proves to the customer that you are listening, and have a sincere interest in helping them get what they want. At the point where the salesperson bounces back with a question, the customer has been given a platform to talk for one to 30 minutes about what features he or she thinks are important. In the meantime, a couple of things happen. First, you start to build rapport with the customer. This is because you let them talk about what they want versus forcing them to listen to yet another sales spiel. Second, you learn how to sell that person. For example, when they are done explaining those features they find to be important, they may realize what they really need is a small SUV. Many people don’t realize what they really need until they talk out loud about it. Not all situations will be this simple. Sometimes the silence will be initiated by the customer as opposed to you. Circumstances like these tend to be more difficult to approach, mostly because customer-initiated silence evokes a stronger sense of fear. When customers pause to contemplate the purchase, let them go. Breaking the silence at this point can be detrimental to the outcome of the deal. Customers can sell themselves faster than any salesperson. Allowing them to mentally weigh their options uninterrupted can position you closer to a sale, with less work. As I stated before, silence is no easy task. This technique in a sense is an art. It takes practice and determination to master something so unnatural. If you are interested in learning more tips to help you overcome concerns and sharpen your silent sales skill, please e-mail me with subject line SILENCE for a copy of G&A’s “Guide to Improving Sales Talent: Silent Selling.” Matt Baker is the vice president of sales for G&A Marketing. He can be contacted at 866.618.8248, or by e-mail at


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marketing solution

internet star alignment determines the success of your business

Today, I was reminded how important Internet Star Alignment (ISA) is becoming for any business marketing and branding strategy.

ads shown on the right column are e-commerce vendors who are proud of their star alignment.

In fact, you could say that, from the viewpoint of an Internet astrologist, the ISA for some businesses are aligned to grow their profits, while others are aligned to bring them pain. So, how is your Internet Star Alignment?

The Web has gone to the stars! In the screenshot below, there are five sections of the page that are integrated with consumer review stars.

Before you think that I lost my mind and have jumped into metaphysical search engine optimization (MSEO), read on. Google Socializing The Web Using Stars

Compelling arguments have been made supporting the new requirements for business owners to have an active Internet reputation management (IRM) process. This post includes a visual confirmation as well. Today, my search engine results page (SERP) for a local business name was filled with “stars.” These stars are not there by accident; Google is socializing search results. Google is rewarding consumers who volunteer their time to post reviews. It created the Google Places App to make it easy to post a review. Google empowers consumers by giving them the ability to associate star counts for any business. (As a side note, all business owners should be using Google Places App when their customers are visiting their place of business.  It’s much easier to get a review when you are face to face with a satisfied customer who already has a Google or YouTube account.  The review process takes less than 60 seconds.) Google is also rewarding business owners who encourage customer reviews with Google Boost.  Business owners can use Google Boost to create pay-per-click ads with their “star” counts prominently displayed. Google Marketplace includes stars showing for e-commerce vendors who advertise their products using Adwords.  The two Adwords


Google Page One Is Star Struck

How does your Google Page One look when you type in your business name? (see graphic) Your ISA Impacts All Advertising Dollars

I’ve said this in the past, and it is worth repeating: Your online reviews impact your past, current and future advertising dollars.

Since your business name is a popular search that brings consumers to your Website every day, what appears on Google Page One is doing one of two things. It’s either reinforcing a positive brand message or it’s negatively impacting new customers who are considering your brand. For some business owners, what appears on Page One is helping their competitors. If the reviews are bad, they will quickly move to the next business shown on the SERP. So whether these reviews are displayed on Google Places, or on dedicated review Websites, reviews are influencing your local market.  Your stars are either attracting new customers or making them run to your competitors.

“Since your business name is a popular search that brings consumers to your Website every day, what appears on Google Page One is doing one of two things. It’s either reinforcing a positive brand message or it’s negatively impacting new customers who are considering your brand.”

In the case of Circle BMW, these reviews are very positive and consumers seeing 143 reviews on DealerRater with a five-star rating is a strong statement. When businesses have strong online reviews posted on Google, I encourage them to start testing Google Boost, which can advertise their business and include positive reviews on Google Places. So, take a minute today to Google your exact business name and sit back and play the role of an undecided consumer. Would they call you or visit your business based on your Internet Star Alignment? If you need help with your online review strategy, give us a call or send an e-mail to the address below. 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


marketing solution

leveraging the voice of the customer to gain competitive advantage

Your customers have a loud and clear voice. They openly share thoughts and perceptions, as well as problems about sales and service experiences across an ever-widening multimedia landscape. Whether by tweet, blog entry, Facebook or posting on consumer review Web sites, customers are able to instantly voice their opinions with a few keystrokes. Additionally, gone are the days where your customer has to exclusively rely on the salesperson to persuade her to do business at your dealership. Today’s most successful form of advertising and business closing tool is the opportunity for your prospective customers to hear the voice of other people who have already chosen to purchase or service their car at your dealership. Nonetheless, many dealers are not leveraging the voice of the customer for competitive advantage. Do you know what existing and potential customers are reading and writing online about your dealership? Start by doing a simple Google search on your dealership name. You will see your dealership displayed alongside a map. Note how many online reviews you have, which are featured just below the dealer contact information. These third-party testimonials represent a powerful and influential voice that auto consumers rely on. Dealers can influence their online reputation and start leveraging customer reviews for business gain with only a few simple steps: Step 1: Ask your happy customers to write reviews What better place is there to start building your dealership’s online reputation than with your happy customers? Start with a verbal commitment and then follow-up with an e-mail to again request a review and thank the customer for their business. Requests start establishing the voice of the customer and a history of online reviews. It doesn’t take long before positive reviews start showing up on the first page of organic search results when people are searching for keywords relevant to your market. Dealers such as Acton Toyota in


Massachusetts have been actively encouraging happy customers to share their opinions on consumer review sites since 2006, resulting in a powerful 1,301 reviews to-date. Many, including Molle Toyota in Kansas City, set a monthly goal for obtaining reviews, which will result in 500 reviews for Molle Toyota through 2011.

Step 2: Set up electronic alerts Set up electronic alerts that enable you to know when a review is posted about the dealership and proactively respond to any customers in the case of an unfavorable review. In addition, consider following-up on positive reviews by contacting the customer and requesting that they share the review on Facebook. Step 3: Manage unfavorable reviews Understand that negative reviews are not always bad. As long as you have nine positive reviews to one negative, the unfavorable review is overshadowed and actually adds to the credibility of your review rating. Even so, be sure to take immediate action to address an unfavorable review. Making something “right” with a customer can have more impact than an original positive review. In addition, have a definitive response plan in place, as an unprofessional response can be more detrimental to the relationship and your overall dealer reputation than the negative review itself. Step 4: Leverage and tag positive reviews

— everywhere. Car-buyers and consumers looking to service a vehicle are typically shopping multiple dealers. With legitimate, third-party information available to them, consumers can rely on this information as a true research tool. Once you start building the number of online reviews for your dealership, you need to leverage these positive reviews when working with prospects. Encourage comparison and promote the voice of your customer in e-mail communications, in phone conversations and as a powerful closing tool in the showroom. In addition, showcase reviews on the dealership’s Website and Facebook fan page, display reviews in the showroom and include testimonials in both online and offline marketing materials. As an example, Hyundai of St. Augustine in

Florida integrates its online reputation into its selling proposition when working with all prospects — whether by phone, e-mail communication or in the showroom. In addition, each sales representative maintains a comprehensive employee-specific review page and has their signatures for all e-mail correspondence include a link back to their review page. By showcasing the large number of reviews, encouraging customers to visit its Website to read reviews, and providing actual examples of employee-specific reviews to prospects, Hyundai of St. Augustine is able to substantiate that it is a top dealer committed to customer service and leverage the voice of its customers for competitive advantage. As you begin monitoring the voice of your customers and leveraging reviews for business gain with a defined online reputation management strategy, recognize that you can certainly influence but not control the process. Dealers who attempt to “game” the system of online reviews by making customer reviews appear better than they actually are or by relying on third-party marketing companies to post reviews can expect to severely damage both their online and general dealer reputation. Most consumer review sites take fraudulent reviews very seriously and do not tolerate fake or false reviews. Dealers risk being blacklisted — which places a note for a six-month period on the dealer’s main review page noting that the dealer has submitted fraudulent reviews. Blacklisting is a significant red-flag for consumers regarding a dealership’s integrity and credibility. At the foundation of any successful strategy to pursue and influence the voice of your customer for competitive advantage is a dealership’s commitment to quality customer service. When buying or servicing a car, consistently give your customers good reason to comment on how positive their experience was, and rest assured, these very customers will be your biggest advocates and most lucrative form of advertising in return.

Matt Lamoureux is vice president of business development and strategy at DealerRater. He can be reached at 866.894.4740, or by e-mail at

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Fast Start, Staying Strong Nissan of Chantilly builds dealership in tough market; sales up 40 percent and 3,500 more ROs written over same period last year Since opening its doors in early 2008 Virginia’s newest Nissan dealership, Nissan of Chantilly, has been paving the way with innovative strategies for growth and success. Most recently the dealership implemented a new targeted marketing strategy that has boosted sales 40 percent and increased service revenue by over half a million dollars for the same period last year

by using an integrated marketing program that combines sales and service messaging to positively promote and affect all its profit centers, new, used, finance, service and parts, for less cost.

time during one of the toughest periods for the automotive industry, and consistently ranks in the top 5 for the state of Virginia. This article highlights some of their strategies for success.

Like many dealers, Nissan of Chantilly faces ongoing challenges of how to grow its sales and service business in a recovering economy surrounded by tough competitors. A family owned and operated business, Nissan of Chantilly has taken great strides to build a successful dealership in a short amount of

Nissan of Chantilly set their plan in motion with a comprehensive 5-year historical analysis of their sales and service transactions to determine customer trends. The findings were then compared to leading third-party and industry data to determine consumer patterns within the local market to help

Success Story identify consumers with the greatest probability of purchasing or servicing a vehicle with their dealership, including off-brands with a pattern of crossing-over to Nissan.

Chantilly’s sales increased 40 percent in 2010, their active customer database doubled in the last calendar year and their customer sales retention is up over 107 percent.

“Our goal is to reach consumers who are most likely to buy or service with us before our competitors do, and then take them off the market before they buy or service elsewhere,” says Kim Danchulis, General Manager of Nissan of Chantilly. “We also focus a lot of attention on owners driving off-brand vehicles that have a historical trend of crossing over to Nissan,” says Danchulis. The results are apparent. Nissan of

“With a clear picture of our market, we are able to dedicate more of our marketing dollars where it really counts, and spend less on expensive mass marketing, like radio and television. We’ve found that targeted marketing generates better results and is more cost-effective,” says Danchulis. Nissan of Chantilly’s service business has also steadily grown, and

last year they wrote over 3500 more ROs than the previous year, generating close to $700,000 in additional revenue. “We improved our service department customer retention by 44 percent over the previous year, and we’re already on track to beat that for this year,” he notes. “Early on, we offered unbeatable service offers like $1.99 Oil Change Coupons to same-brand owners driving Nissans,” says Danchulis. “We knew if we could get customers here, they would be customers for life because we pride ourselves on our attention to detail and honest, reliable customer service.”

In a Nutshell Nissan of Chantilly builds dealership in tough market; sales up 40 percent and 3,500 more ROs written over same period last year. • Nissan of Chantilly conducted in-depth market research that included a 5-year historical analysis of their sales and service transactions, the local area market and emerging industry and market trends to identify their perfect market. • Nissan of Chantilly works with targeted marketing company,, to target customers who have the highest statistical probability of purchasing or servicing with their dealership. • Nissan of Chantilly sends quality mail and email campaigns with custom offers and messaging that positively cross-promote all their prot centers. • Nissan of Chantilly consistently speaks to in-market same-brand prospects, and consumers who drive offbrands with a historical trend of crossing over to Nissan. • Nissan of Chantilly uses 800 numbers on all their advertising to track and monitor their in-bound calls to ensure leads are handled properly by staff and customers receive quality care and service. • Nissan of Chantilly successfully attracts, sells, services and retains more customers for less cost while positively promoting all their prot centers, new, used, nance, service and parts.

Success Story

Marketing Materials

Success Story “Nissan of Chantilly does a great job of consistently communicating with their customers which helps keep customers active,” says Budd Blackburn, owner of the marketing company Nissan of Chantilly uses.

banking institutions and lenders to help consumers who may not have Tier-1credit have the chance to buy a new car that’s affordable,” Danchulis says. “This program has been very successful and customers really appreciate the extra effort we take to help them buy a car.”

“They send Thank You and Welcome messaging to recent purchasers, regular maintenance reminders to customers for the first 24 months of ownership, and then once a customer’s vehicle is in an equity position they send combination messaging that includes a sales message, as well as a service message that fits the service status of the customer’s vehicle,” explains Blackburn.

“We are very mindful of our image. Whether it’s our New Start Program, or a BuyBack Program offering above fair market value for trades, we keep the look and feel of our advertising consistent. We want customers to think of us as their Nissan dealer,” says Danchulis.

“By combining our sales and service campaigns with custom messaging, we are able to reach more customers with the right message; bringing a greater return on investment for both sales and service,” said Danchulis. “I like knowing we’re not over-couponing our customers and we can customize coupon pricing which really helps us entice the not-so-frequent service customer back into the shop,” explained Danchulis. Nissan of Chantilly promotes unique ad campaigns like the New Start Program. “We reach out to credit-challenged consumers by offering a special ‘New Start Program’. We work closely with local

“In the early days, we used different vendors for mail, email, and merchandising because we didn’t have one solution, but quickly realized we were confusing the customer and even our own staff because the messaging was not consistent,” explains Danchulis. “Today we make sure that everything we send is clear, consistent, and builds our brand image.

the customers to ensure that inbound calls are handled properly. Industry estimates show that the average dealer invests approximately $150 to generate one lead. To make sure that their marketing and advertising efforts turn into results, Nissan of Chantilly uses toll-free 800 numbers on all their advertising to monitor and track in-bound calls to make certain that every customer is handled with the attention to detail and honest, reliable customer service that they pride themselves on. “If we get them through the door we want them to be customers for life,” says Danchulis. “The customer is our lifeline. We can do all the advertising and special promotions to get them here, but if we can’t provide exceptional products and services we won’t keep them.”

Our materials have a cohesive look and feel that helps to build recognition and credibility with our customers.” Implementing the right strategy has had a significant impact on Nissan of Chantilly’s growth and success. Equally as important as delivering the right message is tracking the response and listening to

New Start Campaign

AutoSuccess July 2011 - featuring VinSolutions  

The #1 Sales-Improvement Magazine for the Automotive Professional

AutoSuccess July 2011 - featuring VinSolutions  

The #1 Sales-Improvement Magazine for the Automotive Professional