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Three of the Nation’s Top Dealerships Discuss Best Practices for Capturing Digital Market Share




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IS NOT AN OPTION. IT’S A NECESSITY. — Ed Tonkin, VicePresidentoftheRonTonkinFamilyofDealerships, Portland,Oregon

When Ed Tonkin made the decision to look for a new inventory management system, he wanted something powerful enough to support and optimize his greatest asset —  his people. Provision® was the only tool that delivered a consistent methodology his whole team could uphold. Now Ed and his 10 used vehicle managers use Provision to find, appraise, price and merchandise their inventory across every location. In about two years, they saw a 15% increase in used vehicle sales volume across all 10 rooftops, and an 8% increase in profit per used vehicle sale. With Provision, the Tonkin group is making consistent, proper appraisals, turning faster than ever — and closing more deals.

in used vehicle sales volume

Just another example of how the best dealerships run better. Get your personalized demo at or call 877-828-8614.


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November 12th, 13th and 14th, 2013 “As the Publisher of AutoSuccess, I am invited to, and support many events in our industry. After attending the last Internet Sales 20 Group in Dallas, I was blown away with the information, discussions and knowledge that was packed into one room. It truly was a 20 Group packed with the highly skilled industry leaders who enlightened us with cutting edge information. The next one is scheduled! If you have not signed up, do so now before seats fill up. You can get an incredible discount by using the code below. If you have questions about the event, please contact me personally. My email is�




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leadership solution 14

JohnTschohl build your dream team: educate, motivate, stimulate, evaluate and terminate

DealerPanel it’s that time of the year, part 2

MarshBuice “how” determines “what”

Hannah Philpott, Media Director

JimmyVee & TravisMiller sell your customers before they show up

SeanV.Bradley are you conquesting? you better be, before you get conquested

who moved my business to this “social” town?


JimMcTighe smart use of media to leverage your marketing effectiveness

JodyDeVere getting more from your social media efforts with women

Brian Ankney, Account Manager

SusanGivens how to create a culture for mobile sales success: a case study

Dave Davis, Editor & Creative Strategist

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

Thomas Williams, VP & Creative Director



Empower Yourself KettyColom

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

AJLeBlanc using video for seo domination

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RobertWiesman how to sell “you” on video


marketing solution

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JohnTraver creating an appointment system for phone and web leads

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five pointers to improve your used vehicle reconditioning process

Susan Givens, Publisher

TracyMyers five keys to choosing the right digital marketing consultant for your dealership, part 2


sales & training solution 08

DennisMcGinn when to fix reconditioning for the long haul?

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MarkTewart why dealerships struggle? part 1


12 feature solution


sales & training solution

how to create a culture for mobile sales success: a case study Mobile technology is now the new norm for both customers and sales consultants. But while dealerships are increasingly incorporating mobile devices into their sales process, it is not always a smooth transition. One store that is doing it right is Daniels Long Chevrolet, located in a busy auto mall in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The dealership is near three big military bases that feed the store with young, technically savvy customers, and management wanted the sales staff equipped to operate on the same level. From the outset, the decision to go mobile was integrated throughout the store, and has since been embraced on every level, contributing to its measurable success. The process they used to create a strong mobile culture — which features an iPad sales system —included a number of key elements: • Ownership: The store purchased 20 iPads and set all of the sales consultants up with a monthly deduction to pay for them. “The sales consultants put their own money into it, so they were invested in the process,” said General Manager Mark Barton. “It’s a great deal for them, and when they hit a certain number of cars, it pays for itself.” • Training: Anticipation was built around the initial training, which was provided through an easy and quick online program. “We had a lot of meetings with the sales team, so they knew something great was coming,” Barton said. • Usage: Management took all computers out of the showroom, so the sales consultants had no option other than to use the iPad.


“The sales force got up to speed very quickly — they had to, because they couldn’t work a deal without it,” Barton said. • Electronic Resources: All of the new factory information was downloaded onto everyone’s iPad so they had the most up-to-date resources, including ordering guides, eBrochures, service guides and more in their special app. “At the auto show, our competition ran out of their expensive brochures, but our guys were able to continue to e-mail the information right to prospects, which helped with follow-up as well,” Barton said. • Ongoing Focus: Daily sales meetings included a 10-minute role play with the iPad sales system, so the whole sales team stayed involved and up to speed. “They feel more comfortable, and can talk to any customer about any vehicle,” Barton said. • Customization: Sales consultants made their own personal videos and uploaded them to the iPad so they could e-mail customers with welcome and follow-up information. “When they customize it, they really make it their own,” Barton said. The results have been spectacular. CSI at the dealership has increased by about six points. A 20-year-old sales consultant who had previously been intimidated by older, affluent clients used the iPad to grow from selling six cars a month to 10 cars a month. On the other end of the spectrum, a 60-year-old non-tech-savvy sales consultant is now able to sell more effectively to young soldiers because he can use the iPad to speak to them on their level. Customers are more engaged and getting more information about the product. “It creates product presenters, rather than car salesmen, and takes all the guesswork out of buying a car,” Barton said. “Having thirdparty information right there on the iPad gives the whole sales team more confidence. We’re able to give the Ritz Carlton treatment in a Chevrolet store.” “Mobile selling really works with a commitment to a new way of doing business throughout the dealership,” said Jim Hughes, co-founder of IntellaCar, the iPad selling system used by Daniels Long Chevrolet. “When there’s a culture shift, that’s when the magic happens; it’s not just the program of the month.” “Everyone in our store needed to embrace and learn it; it had to be the decision of the whole dealership to join the party,” Barton said. “But once onboard, it takes the customer experience from a bronze- or silver-medal dealership to a gold-medal dealership, from dealing with a car salesman who is just winging it to dealing with a knowledgeable product presenter who can deliver all the information a customer needs to make a good decision.” Susan Givens is the publisher of AutoSuccess. She can be contacted at 877.818.6620, or by e-mail at


leadership solution

part 1

why dealerships struggle?

In what now can be considered a good selling market — and what many predict will soon be a booming market — there are many dealerships underperforming, and some mightily struggling. Why? Although there can be many reasons for dealerships that struggle, after two decades of consulting, coaching and training dealerships, I found consistent themes for the struggles. Let’s start with common theme No. 1: the wrong people.

a plan for assembling a team. There is no strategy or action plan with the end result in mind. Struggling dealerships continue to spin their wheels and eventually gain a reputation as a bad place to work with bad people (“birds of a feather flock together”). The struggling dealership perpetuates the struggle, and a victim mentality begins to set in about how it is impossible to get good people these days.

There are four elements to any dealership. I call these the 4Ps – People, Process, Product and Positioning. Without the right people, it is impossible to make the other P’s work. Struggling dealerships hire the wrong people, keep the wrong people and allow the wrong people to damage their business.

You must utilize as many resources as possible, such as Career Builder, Monster, your Website, LinkedIn, all of your social media sites, industry social forums, referral programs, job fairs, college and technical school recruiting, online and offline newsletters, other industry forums, recruiting military, other industries and businesses you frequent.

First of all, you must determine who you are looking for and what you want in a candidate. You must take the time and write down the qualities of what I refer to as your “ideal candidate.” If you do not take the time to identify what it is you are looking for, how would you know if you found this person? When you do not specifically identify the traits, characteristics and talents you are looking for, you are looking to make personnel judgments based solely upon emotion. Your decisions seem to be irrational, with no well-thought-out theme for selection.

Let’s cover some additional recruiting and hiring tips. When you conduct an interview with a potential candidate, have a long list of interview questions handy that you use faithfully. Would you want a salesperson to address a customer without knowing a long list of well-thought-out profiling questions? So, why do you interview candidates without well-thought-out questions? “Do you like cars” is not one of those questions? Come on.

Dealerships that struggle often have less-thandesirable team members, and often that is true of their leader. I have never seen a dealer principal who has a struggling dealership with


Successful recruiting is a well-thought-out and ongoing, never-ending process. Your goal is to reach the level of recruiting from the position of want, instead of need.

Do you use predictive indicators, personality profiles and other qualification tools? These tools may not be 100 percent accurate, but these assessment tools certainly help to weed out bad candidates. You must begin to add logic to the emotion of interviewing and selecting. Do you conduct more than one interview with more than one manager? This process is not only about differing opinions; it is about a process that would be expected for a top position. You must have good candidates go through a thorough process because that is what would be expected for a professional position. The key word is “professional.” You must begin to think and act in terms that will create a different belief system. Your belief system must change the environment and culture of your dealership to one of success and winning. Success and winning always starts when the leadership changes the belief system by raising the bar for expectations and lowering the bar for tolerations. You get what you expect and/or tolerate. Struggling dealerships expect lesser quality and tolerate lesser quality work, behavior and results. Championship teams start with champion leaders and team members. Begin to turn your struggling dealership around today with a champion attitude, belief system, strategy and execution for recruiting and hiring champions. For my two free reports — “Hiring Champions” and “Top Interviewing Questions” — e-mail me at the address below with the subject “Hiring Champions.” Mark Tewart is the president of Tewart Enterprises, and the author of the best seller, How To Be A Sales Superstar. He can be contacted at 866.429.6844, or by e-mail at

podcast interviewee

As an example, look at NFL teams and the amount of effort they put into the draft. Hours upon hours are put into research, tests, measurements and interviews of potential draftees. A plan is formulated as to what type of player they are looking for, and what role those players would fill. Fielding a team at a dealership is really the same thing. Nobody ever knows if you will make the best selection — or even the right selection — but with a wellthought-out and executed plan, you tend to get much better results.

After you identify what your ideal candidate would look like for each position, you must put together an action plan to attract these people. If you are still only running newspaper ads for positions, you are woefully behind the times and, more often than not, attracting lower-end people.

02 03 04 Three of the Nation’s Top Dealerships Dealership Speak Discuss onBest How Practices They Capture for Capturing Market Share DigitalofMarket Digital Space Share 05 06 07 08 09


DIGITAL ROUNDTABLE: To say the car sales landscape has changed in the past few years is a massive understatement. With new tools and new ways to communicate to consumers — and the new ways consumers communicate with dealerships — there are plenty of challenges and opportunities for dealerships. AutoSuccess recently spoke with the leaders of three of the nation’s most innovative dealerships who are reaching great heights in the ever-growing digital market landscape. We asked Ryan Hayes, Internet Director of Ray Skillman Auto Group in Indianapolis, Indiana; Dave Greenly, BDC Manager of Dorschel Auto Group in Rochester, New York; and Robert Barnes, Internet Director of Paramount Auto Group of North Carolina what has worked, what has challenged them, and what they see on the digital horizon. AutoSuccess: How has technology and the shopping behavior of consumers changed the way you interact with your customers in the digital space? Ryan Hayes: Our group has come a long way in the last couple of years. Two and half years ago, we had five Website providers, multiple CRMs and inventory systems, and no way to get accurate reporting. We were closing three percent of our true Internet leads, excluding Internet phone and walk-in traffic, which artificially raised this ratio. We eliminated 14 vendors and went with one complete solution, and now, with 5,000 leads per month, we have closed more than nine percent every month this year, and hit 9.8 percent last month.

RH: We have a completely separate sales process for Internet customers, different from what we use for walk-ins. Our showroom floor works to a trade difference with walk-in traffic. At this point, customers work with a finance specialist to determine payments, service contracts, etc. We tried this process with our online traffic and they were not satisfied. We now provide all the information they want and are transparent throughout the process. AS: Please share with us how you best leverage a digital advantage. How have you achieved this? RB: We use our sales tools to quickly get customers the information they want. A lot of our competition doesn’t respond quickly, and this gives us the advantage. We are also priced to get more looks.

RH: Our CRM’s manager dashboard makes it easy to see when leads come in and our people can be first to respond to these shoppers in an engaging way. All TV, radio, print and Web must also be consistent. Shoppers can find everything they see elsewhere on our Website. If they see a commercial that gets them interested, they don’t wait to see it again. They visit our site. It is important the lease offer they saw on television is on our site, as well. DG: I agree with both. You have to make sure your digital mirrors your traditional marketing. In the long term, we go through a ton of data looking to see shopping behaviors. We are able to improve how we use both traditional and online marketing. Our VinSolutions VinLensTM retargeting campaigns have helped us increase our ROI.

Dave Greenly: We’ve learned that it is important to spell correctly. Now, with chat, e-mail and text, good grammar and spell checks are necessary. We have also eliminated a bunch of vendors in inventory, forms, SEO and other areas. Robert Barnes: I agree with both Ryan and Dave. The way we interact with our customers has improved. Our salespeople love the speed with which we can respond to our customers with mobile app templates. AS: Dealers with a strong digital presence are able to gain and keep a much larger market share than those without. How has this changed your sales processes? DG: It has encouraged us to empower our sales consultants like never before. In the past in this industry, we would tie our salespeople’s hands behind their backs. In the digital age, all customers want to know is, “How much will the lease payment be if I put $3,000 down on this vehicle?” We put our best price on all cars to eliminate the back-andforth baloney. This is what Gen X and Gen Y want in the digital age. RB: Our customers want information now. Our salespeople have the information to answer customer questions immediately. Having market comparison data and rebate information at their fingertips using VinSolutions speeds up their replies — at very worst, it never even takes an hour. Customers no longer come to the dealership to do research about vehicles. They already know. They come to buy.

AS: What tools or best practices give you a competitive edge? RH: A couple of years ago, we had such a hodgepodge of vendors. It was impossible to compile any data. No sales process or alerts existed; our success was based on our salespeople’s data entry. We now have uniform processes across the group. Before, we had no training and did not know how to use what we had. VinSolutions sent six trainers to each store for a week, and had one stay an extra two weeks for additional help. We had on-the-spot and on-the-fly training. DG: You can buy the best hammer in the world, but if you don’t know how to use it, it does no good. Our junior salespeople are given the tools they are able to use and, as they mature and learn, they are given access to more and more resources. RB: Having a forms package for our salespeople has helped our new employees. Every form they need is there. Our salespeople no longer have to walk to the file cabinet — leaving their customers waiting — to get forms. The old way required the salesperson to fill in all the forms and take them to the desk, where they were entered into DealerTrack to submit. Next, we would enter the vehicle into vAuto. In the finance office, the deal was finally entered into the DMS. Now, we enter the info one time. Customers today know what they want, and they certainly don’t want to spend all day at a dealership. AS: In regards to digital market share, what mistakes have you made in the past and what have you learned? RB: When trying to determine our digital market share, there was so much information that we could never find. We used to make a lot of decisions without the needed information. You can ask a customer how

“Customers today know what they want, and they certainly don’t want to spend all day at a dealership.” they found you online, and they often don’t know. You need a tool that shows you what’s working. RH: I learned that just adding another Website is not the answer. Many dealers think you can’t have too many sites. I disagree; you end up diluting your content. We have 18 stores and 32 sites. That’s a lot to keep current. Some vendors will post to locations that will not update and to sites where you may not necessarily want your inventory. DG: Dealerships spend a lot of money on marketing. They’d say, “I know half my marketing is working, but which half?” Four or five years ago, we used our gut. Now, we know you need the data.

mobile experience. We have improved our mobile with big buttons. You shouldn’t overdo your mobile site with too much content. RH: Reputation management — we ask people who are happy to let the world know. You can’t sell as many cars as we do without having a few customers who are very difficult to satisfy. These are the ones who will find every forum to voice their opinions. You have to ask your happy customers to do the same. DG: Reputation is massive for us. Customers see you on Yelp, Yahoo, and everywhere. Dealers should now be focusing on the customer experience instead of balloons. The day is coming when people will buy a car without even visiting the dealership. We are installing a studio to shoot photos with a rotating floor and lights that will automatically dim, based on the car color. AS: How has innovation affected your profitability? DG: It’s improved our efficiency and cost savings. Our campaign tools allow us to data mine equity and make offers to lower our customers’ payments on a newer car. We are also saving a good chunk of the money we used to spend on traditional marketing. RH: We are taking advantage of the opportunities our customers give us. We had a store getting 400 to 450 leads with no Internet department and no reporting. They were selling one percent. These customers were coming, not due to our efforts, but despite our lack of effort. We changed everything and got to 9.8 percent. Across our group, that is 300 additional cars per month. RB: We think alike. We now have the same VinSolutions desking, CRM, SEO, etc. Our salespeople used to just send out birthday cards and mail. Now they can e-mail all their customers to say, “Happy 4th of July.” It’s not a solicitation; it’s just saying, “I appreciate you.” Also, keep in mind, I’m able to approve all campaigns. AS: What’s next? Where do you see the next set of online opportunities? RB: About 60 to 70 percent of our high-end cars are delivered in covered trailers to customers. Soon, car deals will go start-to-finish online, and that includes service contracts and gap, too. DG: Robert said it. I am working on a “Buy it Now” button for our Website. It will inform shoppers that someone could be looking at that car right now, and they can secure it with a $500 hold payment on PayPal.

AS: Regionally, what form of digital marketing speaks best to your customers and community? RH: We started addressing social media recently. I found 88 Facebook pages, mostly created by salespeople with the dealerships’ names. We have cut that down to 22. VinSolutions posts daily content that helps engage activity with our digital audience. We also do three posts per dealership weekly. We highlight an employee contributing in the community, a customer, and a dealership improvement or program. RB: For us, a lot of success has come from review sites and word of mouth. We believe in the golden rule of treating others how you would like to be treated. We have several salespeople who have been with us eight or more years getting new customers asking for them by name from reading their reviews. What others say about you means the most. DG: We have quadrupled the amount of traffic we get at our portal site. Most sites have drop-down menus across the top. We do not. We have buttons for “Home,” “New Vehicles,” “Pre-Owned,” “Specials,” “Financing,” “Parts,” “Service,” “Collision Center,” “About Us” and “Share your Experience.” No drop-downs; just large, easy-to-read buttons. Our customers respond best to that format. AS: What trends have you seen in the industry, or successes and failures amongst dealerships? RB: The biggest thing now is the move from PCs to mobile devices and tablets. Many stores have wonderful Websites, but have a bad

RH: We are not a high-line group, we are the largest Roush Mustang dealer in the world. Almost all deals are done remotely. Salespeople will soon be utilizing VinSolutions VinMobile app for customer and inventory data, giving them access right in their hands. For more information about any of these dealerships or VinSolutions’ suite of products, please contact us at 800.980.7488, or visit

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leadership solution

build your dream team: educate, motivate, stimulate, evaluate and terminate There’s an old saying: “Behind every successful man is a strong woman.”   I would massage that a bit and say, “Behind every successful business are strong employees.”    That, of course, begs a definition of “strong.”  In this case, I would define a “strong” employee as one who is skilled and knowledgeable, willing to take on more responsibility than is required, works longer and harder than others, is a great communicator, loves a challenge and is honest, loyal, respected and respectful.    What would you give to have an organization filled with such people? How do you think that would impact your dealership? The answers should be obvious. The next question, of course, is how do you get those people and build a dream team that will drive the success of your company?     Chances are good that you already have employees who have many of the characteristics I’ve listed here. Your task now is, in essence, to develop them and clone them.  To do so, take the following five steps:   1. Educate

My mantra over the years has been, “Train, train, train.” You must spend the time and the money to educate your employees on your

Do Reviews Drive Business? THEY DO. HERE’S THE PROOF. Increased Sales

Certified Dealers sold 6 more cars per month within 12 months of joining the program.

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Certified Dealers had a 23% greater increase in sales compared to non-certified dealers. Proven measurable results of our award-winning Certified Dealer Program.

products and services, but you also must provide them the skills that will make them great communicators. An employee can know your products inside and out, but if he can’t communicate with your customer and understand and meet that customer’s needs, his knowledge is of no benefit. 2. Motivate

Don’t roll your eyes and think I’m going to bring up the subject of money here; I’m not. While money might be a short-term motivator, it will not produce the desired results over the long term. What will? Recognition. Make it your goal to catch your employees doing something right every day and then publicly praise those employees. When you recognize your people, you build their self-confidence and their self-esteem. In the process, you motivate them to perform at even higher levels. 3. Stimulate

Look around you. How many of your employees look bored? How many of them simply do enough to get by? The blame for that situation lies with them — and with you. It’s critical, if you are to build a dream team, that you challenge your employees. Shake things up a little. Move people around so that they have a sense of the operation of the entire dealership, and encourage them to bring new ideas to each process involved. When you stimulate people, you energize them. And, when you energize them, you get improved performance. 4. Evaluate

We got report cards in school for a reason: We — and our parents — needed to know where we were in the learning process and what we needed to do to get to where we needed to be. On a quarterly basis, meet informally with employees to give them feedback on their performance during the past three months. On an annual basis, conduct an official performance review. The quarterly review gives employees an opportunity to improve; the annual review lets you know whether or not employees are willing to do what is necessary to remain with your dealership. 5. Terminate

Low-performing employees are a drain. They collect their paychecks but do little or nothing to contribute to your dealership’s bottom line. They also drag others down with their lack of enthusiasm; they de-motivate those around them. If Bob and Carol are making the same salary, but Bob is doing one-third the work Carol is doing, it doesn’t take a genius to predict that, in time, Carol’s drive to perform at the highest possible level will dissipate. Identify low-performing employees — and show them the door. You can’t afford to have them on your payroll. When you build a dream team, you will have employees who show up every day ready — and eager — to get to work. They will feel valued and, in turn, will value what they do and how they do it. They will give you the best they have to give. You couldn’t ask for more.

GET CERTIFIED TODAY • 800.266.9455


John Tschohl is an author, and founder and president of the Service Quality Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He can be contacted at 866.618.8455, or by e-mail at

JimmyVee & TravisMiller




marketing solution

sell your customers before they show up You may know us as automotive marketing experts and authors, but there’s another thing about us that you probably don’t know — something that defines who we are. We are both foodies of the highest order — always on the search for the latest and greatest in the culinary world. So, on a quick trip to Colorado, we were both hoping to score some good food finds. It was a pretty big let down. We ate pretty lousy food all week; that is, until we met Dave. We happened upon this little barbeque restaurant outside of town and decided to pull in. It was called Smokin’ Dave’s BBQ & Taphouse. It didn’t look like much on the outside, so we were nervous that it would be lousy. We decided to run in and grab a menu to look at before committing. We knew the moment we saw the menu that we were at the right place. Before we tell you about the menu, consider that for a second. Before we read the menu or saw inside the restaurant, we knew we made a good choice — just by the way the menu looked.   Imagine if your marketing material was that powerful. Always remember that all consumers are desperately seeking a buying preference. We’re all looking for some reason to choose one thing over another. And we’re also looking for an experience.


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Dave’s menu was printed on newsprint and folded in half. This resulted in a four-page menu that looked like it was a section out of the newspaper. And guess what was on the first page? Copy. This guy basically wrote an article for the restaurant right on the front page of the menu. The result? After we read it, we couldn’t wait to get inside. The pre­sell of the meal caused us to get extremely excited. Even better, the pre­sell created a perceived experience before we walked in the door. The restaurant was good. We would even say very good. But we had gone to another BBQ place a week earlier in Denver. We would say, from a food perspective, they were more or less equivalent. However, this menu (such a simple thing) got our blood pumping so hard that Smokin’ Dave’s seemed like it was so much better compared to the other place. We were excited to be there. The other place just seemed like any other restaurant; Smokin’ Dave’s seemed like a rock and roll concert compared to the other joint.   We really urge you to consider the impact simple marketing material can have on your customer’s experience. Remember, people want to do business with experts. By leveraging expertise — building materials such as books, special reports or audio recordings — you can impress your customers before you even start doing business. And by doing something more sensational than your competitors, you make yourself look like a star instead of just another “whatever.” You can capture their attention and “wow” them into becoming your next very happy customer.   Most restaurants just print some basic menu with pictures of their food. Maybe they slip the paper into a fancy leather menu holder. But, for the most part, it’s all the same. And same is lame. Old Dave put his menu on a newspaper and looks like a celebrity as a result. Good work, Dave!   Now take a moment to think about how you can be like Dave. Make a plan to reinvent your marketing and develop your customer experience so that they can’t wait to do business with you and tell everyone about how awesome it was. OK, now go find some really good lunch. We certainly will. For a complimentary Traffic Scale Report, which compares the quality of your traffic to other dealerships in your area, visit and use coupon code AS1307. 16

Jimmy Vee and Travis Miller are founders of The Rich Dealers Institute and the authors of Gravitational Marketing: The Science of Attracting Customers and Invasion of the Profit Snatchers. They can be contacted at 866.867.9618, or by e-mail at

podcast interviewee


We’re selling

20 to 45 units

per month with bLinked. It’s the best thing we’ve done this year. General Manager Mike Hills Acton Toyota of Littleton 800.346.9117 | Scan for the solution now


marketing solution

are you conquesting? you better be, before you get conquested

The fact is that more than 92 percent of Americans are going online before they ever step foot into your dealership. Almost everyone, to some degree, is an Internet customer or prospect. If your dealership is not fully immersed in Internet sales, business development and digital marketing, you are seriously missing the boat. You can’t be on the beach, looking out into the ocean while your competition is scuba diving where there are schools of fish. So, how can you and your dealership crush it and sell more cars? Simple: Take what is theirs. That’s right, I said it. And, why not? If they had the skill, knowledge, desire, work ethic and opportunity, they would do it to you in a heartbeat.

Let’s break down the math: • More than 92 percent of people go online before they enter a showroom. • The average Internet prospect is searching five to eight other dealerships and/or Websites. • The average shopping/buying cycle is 45 to 90 days. • The average prospect spends 11 hours online researching the details of a new vehicle before they purchase a vehicle. • The prospect spends 70+ percent of those 11 hours cross-shopping your brand. • Only 20 percent of people who submit a purchase request start on that particular make. • More than 80 percent of people who submit an Internet purchase request wind up buying something different. What does this mean? Simple: If you are a single-point Ford dealership, you should not be focused only on crushing the other Ford dealerships. You should also be focusing on Chevy, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, etc. Why only focus on the “point of sale opportunity”? The beauty of the Internet is that you get to engage with prospects during the “point of interest” phase. This is not a unicorn sighting — a dealership can and should focus on their competing franchises, not just their own brand. Think about how much opportunity that just added to your dealership. And dealers, if you think the OEMs are not pursuing this exact strategy, you are mistaken. There are numerous ways you can conquest your competition, and even your competing brands. Here are some ideas: • Micro sites/focus sites • Video Search Engine Optimization • Video pre-roll • Re-targeting • Digital P.R. strategy • Pay Per Click (SEM) • Mobile marketing • Online reputation/optimization (reviews) • Social media, social media optimization, social ads If you have any questions about this article, or if you would like a free strategy session, please feel free to e-mail or call me. I would be happy to assist you in creating a powerful conquest strategy to crush your competition.

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

If your dealership is using the same tools in the same local market as your competitors, won’t you get lost in the crowd?

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podcast interviewee

I was recently the keynote speaker for the Massachusetts State Auto Dealers Association’s (MSADA) annual event, and I had the privilege to listen to the speakers before me: a state senator, a U.S. Republican Senatorial candidate, an economist and the president of the MSADA. There was a common theme — the economy is on the upswing. There are more jobs being created, the real estate market is getting better and house values are going up. Best of all, buyers are buying and dealerships are selling cars. In fact, NADA is predicting 15 million sales this year. But here’s the question I asked at the MSADA annual event, and am asking AutoSuccess readers now: Are you selling more cars? Is your dealership benefiting from this upswing? If the answer is “no,” then I suggest that you close your office door and read the rest of this article very carefully.

You Are GUARANTEED to Increase Your Bottom Line in 1 Year by $250,000 or More...

or I’ll Pay You $10,000! Hi, my name is Mark Tewart. I may have had the honor of coming into contact with you through my seminars, association meetings, NADA or NIADA conventions, articles in AutoSuccess or other magazines, my old Automotive Satellite Training Network shows or you may have read my best-selling book How To Be A Sales Superstar. Whether you know me or not, you may be wondering what allows me to be able to make such an outrageous claim. The answer is simple: If a client follows my no gimmick, no BS, full-proof and proven methods, the results are as predictable as the sun coming up every day. That may sound arrogant to some of you, but to me and my select clients it’s just reality. Every year I have many dealers who ask me to work with them to help improve their sales and profits. I reject most of them. I only choose a few each year to work with on such a large scale. There are a few reasons why I carefully hand pick who to work with. The first reason is that it’s easy for you to say you want to improve but most people don’t want to do the things necessary to make it happen. This isn’t some magic-button, pie-in-sky fad. These are real-world and proven methods for massive profit improvements. It takes hard work and lots of commitment.

Mark Tewart, President of Tewart Enterprises, Inc. Author of the Best-Seller ‘How to be a Sales Superstar’

The second reason for me being picky about who I work with on these projects is that frankly I don’t have the time. To create the massive results that you and I are looking for requires a great deal of my time and effort. Because of my time restraints, I refuse to spend time and effort with uncommitted dealers. I only align myself with passionate people committed to winning. The third and final reason for me being selective is my reputation. I can’t write ads like this and make such incredible guarantees unless I can bring the results. My reputation is beyond solid. By the way, the $250,000 bottom line improvement is just an example. I have had some dealers increase their bottom lines by more than $1,000,000. Look at it this way; I don’t take $10,000 guarantees lightly. I put my money where my mouth is.

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sales & training solution

empower yourself

As someone surrounded by car people, I’ll admit that I’m a little more critical of the experience I’m supposed to receive when I went looking for a vehicle last weekend. I’m getting married next month, and we are in need of a second car. I went out to a few dealerships to test drive small hatchbacks. All of the stores I visited had knowledgeable and helpful staff — except for one. I won’t say the dealership’s name, but I will say that I was dumbfounded this man has this job. I walked up to the dealership and he greeted me outside, asking, “What can I help you with today?” I said that I wanted to test drive the Mazda 2. He looked at me and said, “Huh?” I had to point out the vehicle I was interested in and he said, “Oh, the Mazda 2.” At this point I wanted to walk away, but I didn’t want to waste a drive out to this dealership. There wasn’t a new model to test drive, so I drove a CPO Mazda 2. It had low mileage — around 1,000, in fact — so I asked, “Why is the mileage so low? Was this a demo vehicle?” He didn’t respond right away and finally said, “Can you explain what you mean by demo vehicle?” Did I mention that he never looked at me in the eye? He avoided all eye contact, which I found quite off-putting. It’s safe to say that this dealership won’t be getting my business. The salesman who was helping me wasn’t enthusiastic about the vehicle at all. He didn’t even know the specs of the car — he had to read them off the window sticker. As a salesperson, you shouldn’t expect that everything you need know about the dealership and its inventory will be handed to you. Empower yourself and take the time to arm yourself with knowledge. Having and sharing information is widely recognized as the basis for improving your

reputation and influence. Knowledge is power. Here are some tips to ensure that my experience won’t happen at your dealership: Be knowledgeable — Give your customers the information they want. Be familiar with the makes and models on your lot, and please be familiar with car terms. Be sure that you know your dealership’s makes, models and services inside out. And be sure to know how to “show knowledge.” Appear eager to help — The salesman who “helped” me lacked that extra “oomph” to make me feel excited about the vehicle I was test driving. If you are not passionate about the vehicle, why would I want to buy it? Don’t direct customers to an FAQ page — There’s a good chance they won’t find the answer they actually need, and this will only fuel their frustration. Ask potential customers questions to better understand their needs and what they are looking for in a vehicle. I know these tips are basic, but customer service is basic. The tricky part of it is providing good customer service to all your customers all the time.

Ketty Colom is a marketing associate at ActivEngage Inc. She can be contacted at 866.855.5643, or by e-mail at







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sales & training solution

creating an appointment system for phone and web leads

Knowing how many leads your dealership is getting, where they came from and having a plan to work them is critical to increasing monthly sales and eliminating unnecessary costs. That’s the easy part. But what does that process look like? Is there a checklist that can be used to review the processes? Let’s examine some areas to look at if you want to sell more of your leads and lose fewer deals to the competition. Source Your Leads: Knowing where each lead is coming from is huge, and it’s easy to implement using tracking phone numbers. They do not have to be toll-free numbers — they can be local exchange numbers. Sometimes local exchange will work better for certain advertising sources. Be thorough about using as many of these tracking numbers as necessary. Having complete information allows your dealership to spend only on your best lead sources. Properly Staff Your Opportunity Windows: Too many Internet sales staffs are being spread too thin. I have seen Web lead response teams responsible for far too many tasks other than responding to Web and phone leads, such as taking new inventory pictures, or uploading data to sites. Important tasks, but tasks that ultimately take them away from the real opportunity. In this game, timing is everything. That’s one of the reasons chat works so well. It plays to the element of immediacy. Some dealerships are frustrated with the conversion rate of leads and look for ways to cut overhead. There are outsourcing options


available for those dealerships that will provide a backstop solution, at the very least, to get those missed leads covered. We see this as a growing trend in the industry. The bottom line is to know what your activity level is and have it adequately covered. Understand the Vetting Process: The prospect is not only looking for a vehicle: they want to deal with you in a pressure-free, civil manner. So, even though their questions will involve the vehicle, they are also interested in how you answer their questions. Are you courteous? Does it sound like you know a little more about this vehicle and process than they do? Train or outsource, but get this handled. Create Value Through Questions: I can’t stress enough how important these early questions are. Rapport is easily achieved in your first e-mails and initial call. Ask good questions. Prepare to ask questions that allow you to present additional options, such as additional vehicles to consider and/or equipment to look at. These questions lead to a logical reason to visit your dealership — which is the goal. Focus On The Entire Process: Connect the dots from 30,000 feet. There is an end in mind for each step in the process. Chat — The goal of a chat session is to gather the key information on this prospect so that we can get the prospect on the phone. Phone — In most cases, proper use of both chat and e-mail should lead to a phone call with the prospect. So the call, then, will be your “moment of truth.” It’s your opportunity to be vetted. Create value through the right questions. Aim to set the showroom appointment. Showroom Appointment — Chat and e-mail sessions should ultimately drive showroom appointments. Having showroom appointments provides your staff with the opportunity to be prepared for the retail presentation when the prospect arrives. Does the battery crank? Is the vehicle presentable and available? Are there other units that will be considered? Test Drive — A showroom appointment ultimately should end up test driving the vehicle in consideration. Track this process, because it’s the purpose behind every step thus far. Write Up — This metric is where prospects, who begin as a chat, e-mail or sales call, should end up. Even though our sales tools have improved, the key elements are still preparedness, common courtesy and a constant focus on showroom appointment business. One more thought: Don’t get caught up in the results. Focus on the process that drives the results. As author Jack Dixon once said, “If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results.” John Traver is the CEO of Traver Connect. He can be contacted at 866.685.5725, or by e-mail at

podcast interviewee

Years ago, it became obvious to me that “great organizations” were many things, but one of those things was a constant: They were organized. Their plans always have a semblance of order and predictability. Having a plan to convert and maximize your phone and Web leads may be a great place to revisit and re-organize.

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sales & training solution

“how” determines “what” When Grantland Rice said, “It’s not whether you win or lose, but it’s how you play the game,” he couldn’t have been more right. Of course, those who are of the ultra-competitive nature would disagree, feeling only losers would utter such an asinine statement. Some cry the “win at all cost” mantra, while others maintain the “not willing to pay what it costs to win” mediocre mindset. Although these attitudes are polar opposites of one another, they both have the same key component: consistency. The consistency of your effort (how) is in direct proportion to your results (what). In short, the scoreboard of your month, year and life is the reflection of how you’ve been playing the game. If you want to change what the results are at the end of each month, you’ve got to change how you perform each day. It is consistency that causes airlines to become rebooked, restaurants reserved and sports contracts renewed; of course, it is also through consistency that airlines go bankrupt, restaurants are ruined and athletes are considered busts. Consistency is sticking with proven principles on a charted course — but that’s not always a good thing. Positive consistency is sound, whereas negative consistency is insane. Flopping from one month to the next, many of us expect a different outcome, despite the fact that we are habitually doing the same thing month-in and month-out that yields miserable results. Farmers don’t sow seeds of corn expecting to reap strawberries, nor will you be able to get onto the pathway of success with a hamster-wheel mentality. Your success hasn’t waned because they no longer make the ink inserts for your lucky pen, or because the lucky rubber wristband that you habitually snap twice before going in on a close dry-rotted. The reason why successful salespeople seem to be lucky and effortlessly make sale after sale is because they are strict in their three F’s: Foundation, Form and Follow-through. On the contrary, the reason why unsuccessful salespeople seem to be unlucky, strenuously plodding through their month, is because they are also strict in their three F’s: Feel, Freak and Find.

Up Bus and other salespeople) to be the driving force to their day. Freak — Insane salespeople freak out when they hear, read or experience something negative. They allow news reports, gossip and the last Up to infect their attitudes each day. Don’t allow news channels, sales-ring gossip and a few customers to buy you a shot of negativity. Find — Insane salespeople take the proverbial meaning “Seek and ye shall find,” literally-seeking reasons and finding excuses why their shortcomings are never their fault. Every month, they sit on their “but’s”: “I was on track for a great month, but….” Sound Selling

Foundation — The first thing an athlete works on each day is his footwork, because he knows if he is not in the right position, he is beaten before the ball is in play. Skyscrapers aren’t erected by using a few bags of Quikrete concrete; the higher you wish to go, the deeper your foundation must be. Sound salespeople are always mentally and physically positioned. They always seem to be in the right place at the right time, because they put themselves in the right place at the right time. Instead of unconsciously drifting through their day, sound salespeople are drivers to their success. To help bounce back from a tumultuous day filled with service heat and rollbacks, they feed themselves positive messages from their library of CDs and podcasts. Sound salespeople refuse to adhere to the popular “I don’t like to read,” theory; they instead cheat by reading bite-sized bits of information related to their industry (an article or blog per day), as well as read through their ears by listening to books on audio. They learn how to connect better with customers, set goals and stay in the know of the technological advances of their product. Form — Technique will beat talent any day; sound salespeople are technically sound in their processes. In spite of your worst start ever, never deviate from your processes. Every school has a fight song; the song is their “Why” — why they stand, fight and triumph in spite of adversity. Your fight song is your proven processes; even when you recommit to your fight song and it doesn’t payoff with the next five customers, stay on course. Things will change if you don’t; when you begin to shortcut your demos, write-ups and turnovers, you are changing the odds of your sales game; before you know it, one process turns into to 20 different deviations. Follow-through — Even with the right footwork and form, an athlete’s power is in their followthrough. Whether you are standing in the batter’s box or on the tee box, your swing is not complete until you follow through the connection. A quarterback must step through the throw; a lineman must use his legs to drive through the block. It is the follow-through that distinguishes talent from skill. Talent may get you in the game, but it’s the power of the follow-through that enables you to win. Sound salespeople not only follow through with their promises made to their customers, but they also follow through on their prospects. The unfair advantage is in your follow-through; if you want to gain an edge over your competition, follow through. Call your customers — not like a bill collector, but call them with something of value. Don’t call them with the same old “could a, would a,” technique; instead, call them thanking them for their time, followed with a handwritten letter; shoot a 15-second video thanking them for their time. E-mail them with third-party reviews (I know that takes time, but you are a pro — aren’t you?) that help reinforce your product. Find the answer to the question they asked when you were working with them — not only does it show that you care, and that you were listening, but it also increases your knowledge base. In short, do what others are unwilling to do in order to enjoy what others only wish for. Using the right foundation, form and follow-through is the secret to making sound career; insanely feeling, freaking and finding reasons is the slavery of having a job. Your “how” will always determine your “what.” See you next time on the blacktop.

Feel — Success is not a “feeling,” it’s a habit. Insane salespeople navigate through their day based on their feelings — they allow the externals (i.e. weather, inventory, advertising,


Marsh Buice is the sales manager of Mark Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep. He can be contacted at 866.535.5006, or by e-mail at

podcast interviewee

Insane Selling


marketing solution

who moved my business to this “social” town? All businesses need to take a moment to become aware of a trend happening right under their noses. We are heading back to a “local” sense of doing business and, although you have heard that catch phrase from pundits, it is real. Let me explain what I mean.

we did in real life. We rely on those with whom we have a connection. The task for businesses in our social town is to get your message out. Just as you created a billboard on the highway, so now you have Facebook Ads. You had people talking about you in their circles of friends; now welcome those discussions on Google +. You wanted coverage in the local newspaper — those “feel good” articles; welcome to blogs, press releases and others posting online of your involvement in the community. Things are no different in our social town; we just have new technologies.

My grandfather owned a music store in New Jersey during the 1940s through the 70s. He The next step is for your customers to share with their own social towns. relied on two things: word of mouth and excellent service to deliver that great experience First, you have to make your message easy to share. If it was easy to get someone in to do business to those who came to his store. with you and you delivered excellence, it then should be easy for your customer to share his experience and talk about it online. Why do I focus on this? I believe that, in growing a business, nothing has changed from We also need to ask them to share this experience. We cannot rely on those who are connected my grandfather’s time. Today, we have so many and love sharing. There are those who love to help and feel compelled to share with their friend, options to choose from because of the Internet. but this is not enough. Nudge everyone, because each person who lives in your social town is a One problem with the Internet, however, is resource for someone. Never take a person’s potential influence for granted. how overwhelmed many feel by its size and options. They are looking online for something You need to advertise to grow your business in your social town. You have to engage your customers as you did in the past. Your business needs to be seen as viable and helpful in your they had in years past. They are looking for a sense of reassurance and a sense of community social town just as it was in your real town. to bounce ideas off of. You may need help doing this, so search out the experts just as my grandfather did when he was leveraging the media available in his time. The beauty is that this community is stretched across boundaries. It is no longer geographic. I Those of you who pass off social media and online reviews as a “fad” or not relevant to your call it our “social town.” business will be left behind. Remember that store in town that eventually shut down? Do you remember why? It’s because you forgot that they were even open. They stopped being relevant. Today, we have 500 channels on our TV, but

Our brains cannot comprehend dealing with 500 people. We could not do it in real life, and our online life is no different. We create tiers as


Just because we have new technology does not mean the rules have changed. Execute or get help. Glenn Pasch is the CEO of PCG Digital Marketing and a national speaker and trainer. He can be contacted at 866.611.0998, or by e-mail at

podcast interviewee

we only watch 15. I will offer that we have the same situation in our social town. We have more than 500 in our community, but interact and rely on 20 or 25.


marketing solution

how to sell “you” on video

So, by now, you know the importance of video, right? If you are a front-line, deep-in-the-trenches sales professional and you’re reading this, you’ve heard this hype about video, right? You know it “sells more cars,” but are you doing it? Are you taking the time and hustle to use video in your sales strategy? Do you, as a salesperson, even have a sales strategy? If you don’t, let’s get you started with one. Here are three easy videos that you could bust out right now to make in difference in your W-2: The “Welcome/About You” Video It is no secret that first impressions are crucial to getting ink on paper in a car deal. A “Welcome” video could be the modern shopper’s first impression of you. This video is, I’d say, equal to a showroom greeting. The main difference is that you are doing it over a video, and you’re doing all the talking. This video is for your personal Website; if you don’t have a personal Website up yet, you could still host it privately on YouTube and use it for e-mails to online inquires and other prospects. There are a couple of key things you need to talk about in this video: • Welcome your Website visitors or greet your Internet inquiry/prospect via e-mail, SMS, etc. Let them know you are grateful for the opportunity and you are looking forward to helping them in the car shopping process. Let them see from the beginning that you are different: a true professional who is going to provide a first-class unique experience.

“It is no secret that first impressions are crucial to getting ink on paper in a car deal. A “Welcome” video could be the modern shopper’s first impression of you. This video is, I’d say, equal to a showroom greeting. The main difference is that you are doing it over a video, and you’re doing all the talking.”


• Let your potential clients see the “human side” of you. Talk a little about your interests, hobbies, family, etc. Let them see that you are no different from them. • Tell them the major benefits of working with you. Understand this is not your “value proposition” or “ why buy from me” video. This is just a quick 60- to 90-second video with exciting huge claims (not lies) about why you are the one to see in your marketplace. Back this up with links to articles, testimonials, videos, reviews, or anything you can think of that solidifies your claims. • Next up is the “call to action,” or what you want them to do next. At this stage, you need them to take some kind of small action. This could be clicking a button for “set up a road test,” “opt in for my free report,”  “secure your financing,” “subscribe to newsletter,” etc. You have a much better chance of your audience doing what you want them to do by asking them to do it in your videos. You are asking them to do something that gets you closer to a sale and, worst case, you snag their e-mail to plug them into your database for future follow up. The “Why Buy From Me/What I Do” Video This video might sound similar to the previous one, but it’s not. Your first video is basically saying “hello” and letting people get to know you and why you are different from the other guy. This video is going to educate the consumer on why they should do business with you, and what you are going to do for them that the other guy is not. This is where you present them with the value that is going to stop them from shopping around and focusing so much on price. This is your value package. Your dealership has a value package of some sort that I’m sure you let your guests know about, and here you are going to over-deliver and give them your value package, as well. If you are a professional, this will be an easy video, because you are already presenting this daily to the people you are trying to help. Let them know what you are going to do for them consistently if they go with you. You’re on your own to figure out what this looks like for you, personally. Different people will do different things to build long-lasting professional relationships. Free service concierge? Coupon to a popular local pub? 24-hour tech support? Be unique and stand out in the market place. Product Video The two previous videos were all focused on your No. 1 product: You. This video is to flex your knowledge of the product you sell. A big part of that product is the personal service you are going to provide, but right now, we are talking about a vehicle. This video can be done on every model in your line up. If you want, you can create multiple videos for each vehicle — you do a product presentation every time you sell a car, right? The only difference is you are not presenting to a live customer; you’re doing it for a customer in your “virtual showroom.” Do it the same way you’re doing it now — just do it for your smart phone or camera. That’s it. Show the exterior, the interior, the technology, the trunk, the window sticker and so on to the camera like it was a live buyer standing in the showroom. Get pumped up and rock a killer key feature presentation that will get your buyer’s mouth watering, all the while shooting you to superstardom. The awesome part about the walk around video is the search potential. People are going to be typing the names of makes and models into search engines for more information. With enough hustle and patience, your video could easily be one of the first videos that pops up on a search engine. You’ll get a chance to blow them away with an entertaining and professional presentation that gets the customer begging you to take their dough. These are just three quick videos you can post or e-mail to customers. All three are a good place to start, and something you should be able to knock out quickly. There are amazing tools and accessories that make it easy to produce professional-quality videos in minutes. The dealership is doing video to bring traffic into the store for you to sell. Why not also do it and drive some traffic to the dealership? Only now, they are coming in asking for you exclusively. If you need any help, connect with me and I’d be happy to talk about it with you and help — I love the hustle. Robert Wiesman is an automotive professional at Massey Hyundai, in Hagerstown, MD. He can be contacted at 866.667.0919, or by e-mail at

podcast interviewee

Everywhere you turn inside the auto industry, the “experts,” “consultants,” “trainers” and “specialists” are screaming about the importance of a video strategy — using video on your Websites, on social media, in your e-mails, in your sales process, and on and on.

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using video for seo domination For this month’s dealer video marketing profile, I interviewed John Marazzi, owner of Brandon Honda, located in Tampa, Florida. Brandon Honda is part of the Morgan Auto Group, made up of 12 new car franchise locations in eight locations. Below is a transcript of our conversation: AJ LeBlanc: Can you give us a brief overview of your basic marketing strategy and philosophy? John Marazzi: Our strategy is to dominate digital and TV in our Tampa metro market area. All

of our messages are designed to do one thing: Get them to our Website at

AJ: What type of marketing efforts do you implement in the stores on a consistent monthly basis? JM: We use video pre-roll, paid search, retargeting, chat, AutoTrader,, Video SEO,

Driving Loyalty and our killer conversion tool Intice.

AJ: Why is it important to have Video SEO as part of an overall marketing strategy? JM: Organic first page exposure. It’s all about getting seen and getting an opportunity to engage. AJ: Can you explain what Video SEO does for your dealership? JM: In a metro market like ours, the majority of customers start their search on a Google search

bar. By targeting Toyota, Nissan and Hyundai, we appear on Page One on competitive model searches. It’s one of the main reasons we dominate those guys month in and month out.

AJ: How has a Video SEO strategy impacted your Website’s visibility? JM: Video is well recognized by Google’s algorithm. I’m not sure how it works, but I’m real sure

it does.


AJ: How do you measure the effectiveness of your Video SEO strategy? JM: I look at month-over-

month and year-over-year of unique visitors to our Website. If that number is rising substantially, I know we will book more appointments and sell more cars. Video SEO gets them to our site. Intice converts them to a workable opportunity. AJ: Lastly, when did your dealership implement a Video SEO strategy, and what is the average increase your store has seen in sales/market share since implementing this strategy into your overall marketing plan? JM: In May, we set the store’s all-time sales

record with 302 new Honda RDRs (retail delivery reports). That was a year-over-year increase of 75.6 percent. That put us No. 6 in the zone out of 127 Honda dealers.

Start using video marketing today to help your dealership gain additional exposure online to in-market automotive buyers. AJ LeBlanc is the co-founder of He can be contacted at 866.795.9094, or by e-mail at

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Get service you can count on. At TD Auto Finance, we’re committed to helping you grow your business. And we go to great lengths to meet your needs. We’re open longer so you can submit deals seven days a week, and with TD Auto Finance you can speak to a live analyst when you need to. You also get the expertise of our dedicated Dealer Relationship Managers, who work with you to customize business plans and maximize profitability. It’s just what you get from a financing partner with over 45 years of experience.

To learn more, call 1-800-200 -1513 or visit TD Auto Finance LLC, is a subsidiary of TD Bank, N.A. TD Bank Group is a trade name for The Toronto-Dominion Bank. Used with permission.


marketing solution

smart use of media to leverage your marketing effectiveness Ten, or more realistically, 15 years ago, a commercial break from a television program provided only one opportunity for an advertiser to present their product or service, and the hope for sustained recall and later a consumer response. Now, in a world populated with digital natives, a break from a program opens up a moment for the viewer to make an immediate response to what they see by checking in with the digital world on any number of data devices. In reality, many people multitask on these devices even while they’re watching television. This can be a huge marketing opportunity. The new practices of a mobile, always-connected digital world create new multidimensional marketing opportunities for those who recognize them. People check e-mail, update social media feeds, play games or research something on the Internet that they thought of during the show they were watching. Historical facts, celebrity backgrounds, product information and countless other search results are at the consumers’ fingertips. Because automotive is the most competitive business industry in the USA, you can easily become lost in the shuffle of media as dealers and brands vie for the consumers’ focus. It is important to maximize your marketing investment by offering you something that stands out from the status quo. Looking and thinking like everyone else may feel safe, but it doesn’t separate you from the competition and give you valuable brand equity

with your consumer. No matter what medium you employ, the look, the sound, the hook and the delivery of your message must gain favor for your brand in your consumer’s mind. With today’s big screen, highdefinition televisions and enhanced HD sound, it is not hard to imagine the consumer being swayed by imagery. Being memorable is as important for next month’s buyers as it is for this week’s buyers — you need to make an impression that lasts.

Looking and thinking like everyone else may feel safe, but it doesn’t separate you from the competition and give you valuable brand equity with your consumer. No matter what medium you employ, the look, the sound, the hook and the delivery of your message must gain favor for your brand in your consumer’s mind.

Some believe that tonnage in traditional or digital media is important. True, it does take a lot of media to translate a poorly communicated message with a tired approach, but a strong, quality message requires less legwork on the part of the campaign, which ultimately translates into a more modest media expenditure to get the desired result.

Strong, creatively communicated messages can command attention, build brand awareness and capture equity positions in consumers’ minds while requiring less media repetition. So how does this relate to digital media and the effective use of traditional media to drive traffic to Web applications? Easy. Quality messages with unique delivery get noticed by consumers. Stepping out of the “status quo” differentiates you from competitors. The quality and impact of your message creates a position in consumers’ minds, even as the consumer is engaged in digital multitasking. More effectively communicated messages deliver a higher ROI on media investment plus require less repetition, less media expense and increased brand equity. Even with the enormous growth of digital media, the audience of television and radio are still massive and the perfect “big net” vehicle to channel consumers to social media, Websites and business sites. Once the consumer is engaged, you have an open line of communication with them — not just while they’re watching television, but when they are in transit, in restaurants, with the family and, most importantly, when they are shopping for an automobile. Businesses should be addressing people through television and radio to interact at that moment on their mobile devices. People are on their devices almost constantly. You can use that knowledge to connect with consumers and strengthen your market position. Imagine getting immediate action by speaking directly to consumers through an ad that says something like, “Take your computer or smart phone right now and check out what we have for you at…” The psychology is simple power of suggestion. Combine this power with the convenience of digital devices and the opportunity is too good to ignore. It just makes good marketing sense. Jim McTighe is a media marketing strategist at RadioVision, Inc. He can be contacted at 866.440.4301, or by e-mail at



leadership solution

when to fix reconditioning for the long haul? So, when’s the best time to fix your reconditioning department for future growth of your dealership? • When purchases or trades are taking too long? • When individual accountability is weak? • When frequent management attention is needed? If any or all of the above impediments are consuming resources that should be otherwise used for managing customers or creating new sales, now may be the perfect time to overhaul your recon center. You can take advantage of a new and proven technology which eliminates the need to spin your wheels on any recon obstacles.

Chevrolet (Hickory, North Carolina) and Bob Brown Chevrolet (Des Moines, Iowa) all have accelerated their inventory turns and, in April 2013, captured three of the top six Certified Chevy Dealer awards nationwide. These dealers consistently deliver industry-leading results because, when it is about reconditioning, they have the right tool for the job. Surprisingly, many dealerships are still seeking recon accountability and control and are short sighted when it comes to this topic. Old habits die hard, and people find it difficult to change their accustomed behavior. Consequently, the use of an unreliable, shared spreadsheet and manually maintained lifecycle reporting perpetuates a level of frustration and finger pointing. It is understandable that those overseeing the recon process resist yet another run at fixing recon. Sticking with this is akin to holding onto “gut felt” decisions for buying, pricing and keeping the wrong cars while ignoring the market data. That is, until it became obvious that this “gut feeling” would keep you at six turns, while applying the market data could take you to 12 or 14.

By using a real-time workflow, dealerships like DePaula Chevrolet (Albany, New York), Everett

Dennis McGinn is the founder and CEO of Rapid Recon. He can be contacted at 866.268.3582, or by e-mail at

podcast interviewee

A real-time workflow approach organizes the work and keeps everything transparent. Dealerships adopting this technology have unlocked days being lost in recon, cut the average recon time in half — providing more selling days — and added one to three more inventory turns. The UCM is put in the driver’s seat with cost control and timing. By using “Time to Market” (TTM) metrics, recon can be held to a monthly and weekly target just like sales, drastically reducing the time This new technology fixes recon operations with a real-time workflow that supports current general management needs to be involved. With TTM, you have complete transparency so that each recon function, such as mechanical, body and detail, now have expected average completion processes, but scales and adapts to keep up times to be measured against. with changing business needs and points out where bottlenecks exist. It can be setup in a If you are on a 50- or 60-day turn policy, you know the value of extra selling days. At the end of few hours with minimal effort. The monthly the month, you know how many used cars you sold and what the average gross was. You know cost is a fraction of the resulting and verifiable how much you made in service and parts. But do you know how well you did in recon? With a increased turns. And best of all, it puts the used car manager and fixed operations/service real-time workflow system you, too, will have the hard data to know exactly where you stand. manager on the same page when it comes to today’s priorities.

DO YOU WANT TO KNOW HOW OTHER DEALERS HANDLE TO THE CHALLENGES THAT YOU FACE EVERY DAY? AutoSuccess & DealerELITE are both designed to keep the view from the sales floor front and center in everything we do, and we've come up with an exciting new way to accomplish this. Our new Dealer Panel gives voice to dealers, GMs and sales professionals to share their experiences — sales techniques, new technologies and ways to motivate staff — giving our readers the benefit of their experiences.


THE 34


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the dealer panel

Tony Provost AndrewDiFeo Brian Benst ock

it’s that time of the year

When the seasons change, or the new model year begins, dealerships are faced with predicable challenges. How they plan for those challenges can spell the difference between success and a bad year. For this installment of the Dealer Panel, we spoke with Brian Benstock, vice president and general manager of Paragon Honda and Acura in New York City; Tony Provost, president and dealer principal for Nissan of Bourne in Massachusetts; and Andrew DiFeo, general manager of Hyundai of St. Augustine in Florida.

DEALER PANEL AutoSuccess: How do the customers in your dealership THE

change between seasons? Andrew DiFeo: In Florida, we get what’s called a “snowbird” in the

wintertime. A lot of times before the snowbirds return, they’ll get a major service, especially the ones driving back up, just to make sure their car is properly maintained before they make the drive north. When the snowbirds do come in, we get occasional requests for all-wheel-drive vehicles, which is something we normally don’t stock in Florida, but we do have one or two. We at least have access through dealer trades to meet the demand from the customer who might be buying it here, but is driving it back to New Jersey. Tony Provost: I think our summer and fall customers are the same.

Our winter customers are more the local people, because there are snowbirds who leave to go south. My area swells up with people who live here. It quadruples from May to November. It gets crazy down here.

Brian Benstock: From the Honda and Acura perspective, fall for us is when we typically get our new models, so you’ll see a lot of consumers in the current models come in to investigate or potentially step up to that new model. In tax season, we do see an influx when people get their refunds, so that springtime shopper might step up a model or two that they wouldn’t have otherwise considered. I think consumers believe that the end of the year is a better time to get a deal. In December, everyone’s trying to hit their year-end goals and objectives, so customers are looking for more deals at the end of the year. There might be a shift in SUV and light truck sales in the winter because of the weather, but fuel economy is always on everyone’s mind, as well, so it’s a balancing act. AS: How do sales strategies change when model years are about to change? AD: We really try to get a feel from the factory as to the cadence of when

the new models are coming out. We try to have a balance of the new model year and the existing model year, because typically manufacturers enhance the incentive programs on the existing model year. We get customers who know when there’s new model year changeover; they’re looking for that better deal. We like to have a good balance, but we skew towardsSaraceno the new models. We try t to be as efficient as possible nott Chris Tony Provos AndrewDiFeo BrianandBens ock carry as many of the previous model year. TP: We try to complement the factory deal. We explain the advantages of what we have now when the cars are changing over. We have a strategy that isn’t a gimmick, but always seems to catch their attention. We say that, yes, this car may be a year old, but it’s still got three years of warranty, and it has a year less of driving miles. Three years from now, if



part 2

you’re a 12,000-mile-a-year driver, you’ll have a four-year-old car with 36,000 miles. That brings a lot of value to the marketplace, especially now because used cars are hot. Sometimes we take more cars when they’re aged going into the new model year, because for the first three or four months of the new model year, there are no incentives. BB: When that vehicle changes, the first thing we do is take a look at

our database and see how many people are driving that current year and see if they are in equity and can we upgrade them to a new vehicle — if successful solutions provided byHonda and Acura customers the value proposition for them is right. are loyal. We highlight key benefits and changes to the customers in our database driving that current model, and we offer them the value proposition to upgrade to the new model, and hopefully take their old model in for trade. That’s great for us, because when Honda and Acura release a new car, we get demand for the new product, which allows us to get a great selection of the previous model for our certified pre-owned operation. We look at that holistically, so we can understand not only the impact on our new car operation, but also on our used car operation.


AS: Describe the process you use to train employees on new features and models when the model year changes. AD: We dovetail with the manufacturer. Hyundai is good at providing

online training and certification for the new model year. Also we have 100 percent enrollment on any “ride and drives” the manufacturer does. A ride and drive is when they go out in centralized locations throughout the country and have sales people and sales managers drive the vehicles, and product specialists give presentations and product comparisons. Those happen typically twice a year for Hyundai. Usually that’s on any new product they’re putting out, but they might bake in a little model year changeover training, as well.

TP: We use three factors. All of our employees have to immediately take the factory tests when they come out. Then, we have a senior salesperson, who knows everything about every car we sell here, go through and train all our other people. We have three training meetings a week, and if they’re up to speed and I feel he’s trained them correctly, hethe gets a bonus at the end of the month. He gets everyone on board, and dealer panel it works. The third thing is that the rest of the team has to complete their presentation, and if they do a phenomenal job and hit all 10 points on our 10-point system, they get an extra bonus, too. It’s incentives so that they stay fresh and vibrant, and if I know they know the product inside and out, I know they can give complete presentations to the customers, and the customers never suffer. That’s really what it comes down to — it’s customer driven. BB: Every year, we work with our marketing company to ensure we

have a launch program for that vehicle. That program is developed in accordance with Honda and what highlights they’re doing, and we train our people on that program for that vehicle to ensure that everything we do in the store, from word tracks all the way to the point of sale, has a consistent look and feel. When we do that, the staff also gets trained and understands what message we have in the marketplace. We look at that fluid campaign as a training tool and as a marketing tool, as well. If you have questions or are a dealer who would like to be considered for the panel, please contact us at

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marketing solution

getting more from your social media efforts with women Social media — it’s everywhere. If you run a business, you can’t avoid hearing about it. Everyone and their brother wants to inform you that if you’re not on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest/Plurk/ Klout/LinkedIn/etc. you’re missing out on a significant percentage of your market share. So, you did it. You made your business page on Facebook. You set up your Google+ profile. You applied for a Twitter account — and you couldn’t be more baffled. You’ve done all the right things. You’re making regular status updates, you’re interacting with your fans and you’re even using QR codes to drive new likes, but what have you seen for all your efforts? Well, not much. Did you do something wrong? Probably not. But if you want to take your social media presence to a whole new level, take these tips to heart: Consider the Benefits of a Facebook Contest or Event — Simply asking people to “like” you on Facebook in return for regular updates from your company (and the occasional funny cat photo) should be enough to keep interaction, right? Well, it’s not. A great way to drum up actual activity on your Facebook page is with a contest or event. Cute babies, adorable pet photos and “Caption This” contests are all fair game. Remember, though, that just because it’s a Facebook contest, doesn’t mean you only promote it on Facebook. That’s a recipe for a failed Facebook contest. Announce your contest or event in every media you can — word of mouth, e-mail, newsletters, flyers, and any and everything else. Make sure people hear about this contest – then they’ll find you on Facebook. “Promote This” on Facebook — Are you running a super special that you want to draw a little extra attention to? The “Promote this Post” function on Facebook is a budget-friendly and effective way to get a little extra mileage out of an otherwise unremarkable status update. You can name your budget, decide the duration of the promotion, and even dictate exactly who sees your promoted posts. The Facebook ads of yesteryear are fading away in favor of post-specific promotions, and while they did generate a bit of controversy when they were announced, their effectiveness cannot be argued. Consider it. Rewrite that wordy bio — Twitter has been changing alongside Facebook, and if you haven’t looked at your Twitter profile lately, you may not have noticed that now that “bio” text you typed in bleary eyed one morning before you had your coffee is now plastered along the header of your Twitter page for all to see. Take a second look at that bio and give it a fresh rewrite — be brief, clear and concise, just as you would be in the header area of any Web page. Use Twitter Ads — As Facebook ads have evolved, Twitter is now developing some advertising tools of its own. While Twitter has always been a much better PR platform than Facebook, the addition of Twitter ads make it that much more formidable. We’ve been experimenting with the new ad functionality at and we’ve found that it is every bit as powerful and flexible as Facebook’s advertising, with the simplicity that comes along with the Twitter platform. Promoting a Tweet couldn’t be easier and, best of all, you name your own budget. Think Outside the Facebook Box — The social media world doesn’t begin with Facebook and end with Twitter, after all. Be creative, and utilize the things you love to build your brand in some unlikely spaces. Social media is all about the human face of every business, so ask yourself, “If I had a Pinterest page, or an Instagram feed of my own, what sorts of photos would I share?” Would it be full of photos of your family pet? Snapshots of sporting events? Take those items, and see if you can figure out how to brand yourself in those images. For instance, Dave Kerpen, author of Likeable Business and CEO of Likeable media, uses Instagram to build brand awareness by posting pictures of the Likeable logo — a giant foam hand — at baseball games around the country. What can you do that’s fun, friendly and paints your brand with a positive brush? Don’t be afraid to experiment. If you try something, and it isn’t working, you’ll know – and you can adjust. Happy sharing.

Jody DeVere is the CEO and president of She can be contacted at 866.849.9973, or by e-mail at


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leadership solution

part 2

five keys to choosing the right digital marketing consultant for your dealership Using online channels to grow your dealership is crucial, but few dealers have the time and resources to become experts in this field. In the May issue of AutoSuccess, we started an examination of five key points that dealerships should use in hiring an outside Internet sales trainer or digital marketing consultant. This month, let’s look at the remaining three attributes for making this critical hiring decision. 3. Productivity: Will you get good value from their time with you? When you hire a trainer or consultant, you are usually buying their time — whether you buy a specific package or pay by the hour. That means you want to ensure you get the maximum value out of the time they spend with you, so you need to focus on how to get most value out of that time.

Ask them to clarify how much consulting time or face-to-face training is included, for example, and what that will cover. In face-toface training, how many of your employees will be covered, and what exactly will they learn? How will that improve the service they provide and how efficiently it is delivered? You should aim to get a clear definition of the “deliverables” that the trainer or consultant will provide. In other words, you need to know exactly what you will see for your investment. These deliverables could include: • A documented action plan following visit • A follow-up process to ensure tasks assigned to your team are completed • Providing performance reports and assessments for review Some of these elements may be part of the specific package you commit to, and some may depend on the personal approach of the trainer or consultant. It’s important to find out exactly what you should expect. 4. Past References: Have others had good

experiences working with them? It’s good practice, before you hire any outside adviser, to talk to some people who have used this person before. While references have their limitations — people can often be too nice or too vague in their comments — asking a few of the right questions to a past client can tell you a lot about a trainer or consultant and can help you make your decision. When your aim is to find out how effective a trainer or consultant performs, it is best to make the questions you ask as specific as possible. For example, you could ask for


examples of what changes happened in the behavior of employees after the consultant visited the dealership, or you could ask how long the dealership felt they benefited from the work done. You want to try and find out how easy the person was to deal with and whether they were flexible in arranging visits and training sessions. One thing to be careful of is choosing a trainer or consultant because of a specific individual — and then finding that someone completely different, usually with much less experience, shows up to do the work. However, I’ve found from experience that it’s best not to take all the feedback you get at face value. Sometimes people will give you negative feedback about a particular trainer or consultant, but that feedback may reflect as much on the person giving the feedback as on the trainer. I’ve often found that the best trainers and consultants are passionate about delivering change. This means that, when they come up against someone in a dealership who is determined not to change, that person will react badly to the attempts to change them. Bad feedback, then can sometimes mean they are actually very good at what they do. That’s why it’s crucial to get feedback from at least two dealers before deciding to hire a trainer or consultant. 5. Practical Examples: Do they practice what they preach? One of the big advantages of hiring an Internet sales trainer or digital marketing consultant is that it’s quite easy to check out whether they actually “walk the walk” or just “talk the talk.” Here are some ways you can check that out: • Send them an e-mail: A trainer may talk about the importance of responding promptly to e-mails, so send them an e-mail with a simple enquiry and see how well and quickly they get back to you. • Search for them in Google: If someone talks to you about the importance of Website Search Engine Optimization, try searching for them using their own name or business name and see how well they are in control of their own listings. • Check out their social profiles: If someone wants to tell you about using social media to boost your sales, check out their blog, their profiles on Facebook or LinkedIn, their Twitter profile and their YouTube channel. How do they look, how well are their profiles updated and what is the quality of the content?

If someone wants to teach you about the benefits of an approach, it’s reasonable to expect they are practicing what they preach. Playing Your Part: Are you willing to implement their advice? I have one more secret I want to share with you about hiring an outside Internet sales trainer or digital marketing consultant — but this time, it’s nothing to do with choosing the right person. It’s about how you make use of the advice from the person you choose.

Too often, I find that dealerships go to the trouble of selecting the best trainer or consultant. But then they pick and choose which pieces of advice to implement, as if it was the menu in a restaurant. Too many people want to pick and choose which recommendations they implement. That means they lose out. I can say that every business development center employee who has been trained by me, worked for my team and implemented the vast majority of my advice has had great success in achieving their Internet sales and digital marketing objectives. If you are not prepared to implement the advice you get from the trainer or consultant you hire — or you try to cherry pick those items you want to implement — you will achieve limited success and you will be wasting your time and money. If you are not willing to take the advice you get and implement the vast majority of it, your dealership may not be ready to work with an Internet sales trainer or digital marketing consultant. However, if you are willing to take their advice on board — and you follow the above tips when selecting the best person for your business — you could take your dealership to new levels of success.

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


leadership solution

five pointers to improve your used vehicle reconditioning process You’ll get a range of responses when you ask dealers how much time it takes to recondition used vehicles. The best-performing dealers these days consistently get the job done in 24 hours or less. Meanwhile, other dealers report their reconditioning turnaround times run seven days or more. The disparity owes to two chief factors — the degree to which the dealer recognizes that time spent in reconditioning translates to lost frontend profit potential, and the extent to which a dealer implements and monitors processes that reflect the “time is money” reality of retailing used vehicles. The following are five best practices I’ve gleaned from dealers who have transformed their reconditioning processes to minimize delays and maximize the profitability potential of every used vehicle: 1. Steer clear of problem cars at acquisition. This seems an obvious point, but some dealers and their buyers lose their acquisition discipline when they’re desperate to fill gaps in their used vehicle inventories. The result: They look past (or don’t check) AutoCheck, CARFAX and other condition reports, bringing home vehicles that require significant reconditioning work. The dynamic amounts to “throwing good money after bad” as they pony up for costly repairs that could have been avoided. 2. Determine each car’s exit strategy right away. This best practice goes hand-in-hand with the one noted above — that is, dealers should not be acquiring vehicles at auctions that lack the condition or market appeal

(e.g., market days supply) that indicate positive potential as retail units. Of course, trade-ins are a trickier prospect, especially if the dealership stepped up to acquire a unit to complete a retail deal. In these instances, dealers and their managers should collectively and quickly determine if a unit has retail potential. A best practice: Gather the appraisers and decision-makers once a day to review trade-ins and make the retail/ wholesale determination. 3. Establish an “auto approval” for reconditioning work. This best practice helps minimize delays caused when a used vehicle manager cannot (or doesn’t) approve reconditioning work in a timely manner. Dealers who use this approach set up a baseline cost for reconditioning ($600 to $800 per car is common) and allow the service department to complete the work when estimates fall below the threshold. Some dealers resist this best practice out of a fear that their service department will “stitch up” the repair order to the maximum amount on every car. “That hasn’t been a problem at our dealership, but we monitor whether estimates match up with the final cost,” a Northeast dealer said.

At dealerships where buyers consistently check vehicle condition reports before purchasing a vehicle, about 10 percent of the incoming cars will require a manager’s OK because estimates exceed the baseline. In those cases, dealers use e-mail or text alerts to managers and expect a “yea-ornay” decision in less than two hours. 4. Make reconditioning speed a priority. For some dealers, this means giving up on the tug-of-war with service directors and managers, who often regard customer pay work as a higher priority. In these stores, dealers will create a separate team (often a manager/writer, with up to five technicians, depending on volume) who focus solely on fast, yet thorough, reconditioning work. The manager’s compensation package typically emphasizes the need for efficiency and speed, with bonuses tied to meeting the store’s 24- to 72-hour reconditioning benchmark.

Other stores give the responsibility for managing reconditioning to the used vehicle manager. The manager then works collaboratively with his/ her counterparts in service to craft and execute the processes that enable the dealership to recondition vehicles in an efficient and timely manner. 5. Look for ways to lower costs. Beyond profit-minded decisions that guide the scope of reconditioning work on individual vehicles, a growing number of dealers are examining their internal labor and parts costs to ease pressure on their front-end profit margins. These efforts often result in decisions to charge less-than-retail rates for labor, use lowercost, non-OEM parts (e.g., brake pads, tires, wiper blades, etc.) and tighten their oversight of outside vendors who handle small dent, body, upholstery and window repairs.

These five best practices can help dealers speed up the time it takes to get their vehicles to the front line. However, dealers should also recognize that, in today’s market, there are really two front lines — the physical and the virtual. The speed required to get vehicles to the physical front line should be measured in hours, and the virtual front line in minutes.

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


podcast interviewee

Some dealers wait until reconditioning is complete before they address the elements each unit requires to stand tall on the virtual front line. This is an operational no-no in today’s time-is-money environment. In my next column, I’ll show how dealers address this virtual front line challenge to maximize each unit’s sales and profitability potential.

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Success Story JONES for aLifetime


The Customer-First strategy that helped them become Central Atlantic’s No.1 Customer-Retention Dealer

Building profitable, long-term relationships with customers is difficult but that is exactly what Steve Smeltzer and the team at Jones Junction Auto group are doing. Their winning formula is growing gross profits by driving repeat business and generating more opportunities from the same number of phone calls.

Several years ago, when car sales were at an all-time high and virtually every other dealer in the country was focused on marketing and moving metal, Steve Smeltzer, the group’s president and the leadership team for Jones Junction Auto Group made the bold decision to make customer relationships the key to their long-term growth. “It’s simple”, says Smeltzer, “we don’t have customers. We have clients. We believe every relationship has a lifetime value of $500,000 so we focus on creating an environment that makes it easy for our clients to buy more, service more and refer more.”

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Success Story ä Continued froM the Cover

The results of this strategy have been amazing. In addition to maintaining profitability through the recession, all 6 Jones Junction dealerships now rank in the top 3 in their zone for volume. Seventy percent of vehicle sales now come from repeat customers and 99 percent of the 1,200 customers they deliver every month are being absorbed into the service department. Gross profits and CSI are also at record highs. So much so that OEMs are taking notice. Jones Junction Toyota is number one in customer retention for the Central Atlantic Region and Chrysler executives were so impressed that they personally visited the dealership to present Jones Chrysler with the coveted “Chrysler Premier Dealership” award. “The key to our success was combining our “customer-first” culture with a callmanagement strategy that allowed us to get control of our incoming and outgoing communications”, says Smeltzer. “We can have the best intentions in the world but we are never going to get prospects into the dealership if we don’t handle them properly on the phones.” Interestingly, the challenges Jones Junction was having before implementing their call-management strategy were very similar to the struggles many dealerships continue to wrestle with on a daily basis. According to a recent study that monitored over two million sales and service calls in 2012, 39 percent of all incoming calls are missed. Fifty percent of sales calls that do connect end without being asked for an appointment, or contact information. Sadly, most managers are completely unaware of what is happening.

“This information was difficult for me to see at first,” says Smeltzer, “but I knew this was a big opportunity for us. We chose a company that monitors 100 percent of our sales and service calls and gives us the ability to respond in real-time when a call is not handled correctly. This allows us to reengage with our clients before the relationship is damaged and adjust the behavior of our employees so that it does not cost us future business. This has significantly increased the quality of our phone interactions, which results in more appointments, more in-store opportunities, more transactions and higher gross profits.” In addition to the alerts they receive when something needs correction, Jones Junction Auto Group also receives real-time business intelligence that allows them to see what they are doing right. This combination of fixing what’s broken and duplicating what’s right has had

a significant, positive impact on the way calls are managed. Compared with other dealerships, Jones Junction sets 27 percent more sales appointments, 44 percent more service appointments and 42 percent more parts appointments than competitive dealerships. Here’s how their process works. First, every incoming call is monitored from start to finish. If anything occurs during the call that needs to be addressed, managers receive an alert on their mobile app or a text message on their mobile phone. After the call is terminated, a call summary is created that includes an overview of everything that was discussed during the conversation. This summary is then delivered into the CRM system along with all of the customer’s contact information, the vehicle the prospect is interested in, the vehicle the prospect is currently driving and a link to the recorded conversation. Jones Junction uses a centralized call center that monitors the appointment load for every store and manages outbound calls. This call center also has a dedicated team that monitors call activity via a live dashboard and is responsible for responding to alerts and reconnecting with clients who get lost in the phone tree, hang up while on hold, get disconnected, or have been accidentally mishandled. As a result of this process, those calling a Jones Junction store are 2 times more likely to speak with a live person than customers calling a competitive dealership.

Karla Guleserian, BDC Manager, and Steve Smeltzer, President, of Jones Junction Auto Group

All dealership managers are equipped with a mobile app and a web-based dashboard that gives them real-time

Jones Junction



















visibility into all of the dealership’s c a l l a c t i v i t y, h o w e a c h r e p i s handling their calls, the number of appointments being set, and how alerts are being addressed. Smeltzer also receives weekly and monthly Enterprise Reports, by franchise, that enable him to not only quickly spot areas that require more attention, but also maintain a healthy competition among the Jones Junction GMs by acknowledging those with the best results. Finally, Jones Junction Auto Group meets regularly with their call-

management company to constantly refine their processes. “We have conference calls every two weeks with CallRevu (the company that provides Jones Junction’s call-management services) to review our progress and get insights on how we can improve,” says Smeltzer. “The ongoing training we receive from them is a big part of our success.”

first” strategy. Their commitment to their customers and their dedication to their call-management strategy is allowing them to get more appointments from the same number of calls and get more gross profit from the same number of customers but, most importantly, it is allowing them to offer superior customer service as part of their competitive advantage.

A wise person once said that we all ultimately rise or fall to level of our relationships. This is certainly true for Steve Smeltzer and the team at Jones Junction Auto Group who are reaping the rewards from their “customer-

In Bel Air, Maryland, car buyers have many choices regarding where they spend their automotive dollars. However, many of them are voting for Jones Junction in the way that matters most – with their loyalty.

Success Story

Success Story

Jones Junction



27% Higher “The key to our success was combining our “customer-first” culture with a call-management strategy that allowed us to get control of our incoming and outgoing communications.” Steve Smeltzer preSident joneS junction auto group

Calls That Speak to Live Agent

Sales Appointments

Jones Junction



Service Appointments

National Average

In A nuTShell The Customer-First strategy that helped them become Central Atlantic’s No.1 Customer-Retention Dealer • Implemented a “Just Say Yes” program that empowers employees to be

problem solvers and requires them to check with their managers before saying no to a customer.

• Implemented a call monitoring service that protects customer relationships by monitoring 100% of sales and service calls and sending real-time text and mobile alerts to his management team when a call has been missed or mishandled. • Assigned a dedicated team to monitor alerts and call activity via a live dashboard and reconnect with clients who become lost in the phone system, hang up while on hold, are disconnected or who have been mishandled.

• Partnered with the company that pioneered call monitoring for the automotive

industry,, to receive daily, weekly and monthly updates and receive bi-weekly input on how they can improve their results.

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AutoSuccess July 2013  
AutoSuccess July 2013  

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