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Tips to Get Started — and the Impact It Will Have on Your Dealership

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

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Brian Ankney, Account Manager

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Dave Davis, Editor & Creative Strategist


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If You Want to Change the Job Your People Do, Change the Job You HIre Them to Perform


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feature solution June 2010



RESOLUTIONS part 5 our security on fashions, possessions or status symbols may prove to be our undoing. Edwin Hubbell Chapin said: “Fashion is the science of appearances, and it inspires one with the desire to seem rather than to be.”

He said that he did, and so I asked him, “How are you doing?” He admitted that he was just trying to get by. He had a host of reasons and excuses for not studying as he ought, for cramming and for taking shortcuts. He came in to see if it was working.

When we examine anger, hatred, envy, jealousy, pride, prejudice or any other negative emotion or passion, we often discover that at their root lies the desire to be accepted, approved and esteemed of others. We then seek a shortcut to the top. But the bottom line is that there is no shortcut to lasting success. The law of the harvest still applies, in spite of all the talk of “how to beat the system.”

Certainly, we should be interested in the opinions and perceptions of others so that we might be more effective with them, but we should refuse to accept their opinion as a fact and then act or react accordingly. To overcome the restraining forces of unbridled aspiration and ambition, I resolve to dedicate my talents and resources to noble purposes and to provide service to others.

If people play roles and pretend long enough, giving in to their vanity and pride, they will gradually deceive themselves. They will be buffeted by conditions, threatened by circumstances and other people. They will then fight to maintain their false front. But if they come to accept the truth about themselves, following the laws and principles of the harvest, they will gradually develop a more accurate concept of themselves.

Several years ago, a student visited me in my office when I was a faculty member of the Marriott School of Management at Brigham Young University. He asked me how he was doing in my class. After developing some rapport, I confronted him directly: “You didn’t really come in to find out how you are doing in the class. You came in to find out how I think you are doing. You know how you are doing in the class far better than I do, don’t you?”

Stephen R. Covey, Ph.D., is co-founder of FranklinCovey, and is the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. He can be contacted at 866.892.6363, or by e-mail at

The effort to be fashionable puts one on a treadmill that seems to go faster and faster, almost like chasing a shadow. Appearances alone will never satisfy; therefore, to build




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NO INTERNET DEPARTMENT? GOOD FOR YOU If you read a magazine like this, I’m betting that you are an individual always looking to innovate in order to take your professional and personal success to the next level. Long before many of your peers, you realized just how critical a well-honed Internet Department is to your success. You already knew that today’s modern consumer wanted to research their next vehicle on the Internet, visit your dealer wWeb site and even initiate the buying process on the Internet. So why in the world would I say ditch your Internet Department? The answer is simple. You don’t need an “Internet Department” if your entire dealership is an “Internet Dealership.” The dealership that does not realize the fact that nearly every customer experience will involve some form of communication and marketing via the Internet will easily be out-performed by the dealership that does. Making the Internet its own department only serves to insulate

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the rest of your organization from stepping up and taking an active role in using the powerful tools now available to help dealers better serve the customer and sell more cars. So what are some of the characteristics that define an “Internet Dealership”? Here’s an easy one. Does the showroom floor’s CRM/ILM system differ from the Internet Department’s CRM/ILM system? It amazes me how many dealerships still use two different systems to manage the same exact customers. If you use two different systems, get rid of one of them today. Keep the system that is wWeb-based and able to effectively handle Internet communications. Even if you are under contract for both, you need to migrate to one cohesive system to see great improvement in your operations and handling of the customer. After all, the Internet customer and the showroom customer are still the same person. Is every employee who will deal with a customer expected to communicate with them using Internet-based communications? As a vendor, it just amazes me when I go into a dealership and find out that the GM has never even logged into their leadmanagement tool. I suspect many dealer principles do not even know their own wWeb site address. Every employee of an Internet dealership needs to be well versed and expected to communicate effectively with customers via e-mail, chat, text or whatever means the customer wants. Every showroom guest should be followed up with an e-mail that is tracked in the CRM by

the employee who helped them. This is in addition to the normal follow up phone calls, letters etc. A sure way to accomplish this is management’s commitment to only hire the caliber of people who are willing and able to do this; to hire the people who want to do this because they know it makes sense. Unfortunately, many dealers find themselves held hostage by GMs or sales managers who refuse to get on board with these new approaches. The motivation to get on board comes with the realization that the marketplace has changed. Many dealers still desperately cling to the idea that they are in control of the selling process. This is why they don’t want to give up anything to the customer until they are physically in the store. Frankly, if the dealer’s entire sales strategy is still dependant on the customer’s physical presence on the showroom floor, those dealers will see a shrinking market share to the point that it will not be able to sustain their operations. Many people argue passionately against this idea because it is contrary to what they were always taught, but the trends are undeniable if viewed through an objective and logical lens. Being able — and willing — to conduct more of the sales transaction over the Internet is fast becoming an essential part of a successful sales strategy. It’s a fact that customers already conduct their research online. Now they are pushing to conduct the actual negotiation online. The dealers who embrace these customer’s preferences are replacing their fear of online negotiation with the excitement of watching their sales increase without giving up gross profit. Is your entire dealership willing to do business the way that the market wants? If so, you are ahead of the curve. So go ahead … get rid of the Internet Department and transform your organization into an Internet Dealership. If you would like to receive a FREE copy of my book On-line Negotiation is Now a Reality, please e-mail me at the address below. Jock Schowalter is the president and founder of and WideStorm. He can be contacted at 866.869.1108, or by e-mail at


Inventory Online (IOL) Marketing Suite is a complete internet merchandising solution. Call today to see what your ads are missing.

610-738-3313 is the industry’s first live and objective price check on pre-owned vehicles. With RealDeal, dealers can show customers how their prices compare against the prices of similarly equipped vehicles for sale, allowing customers to feel confident in their purchase price before they sign on the dotted line. Today, dealerships using RealDeal are able to limit the amount of the discount between the asking and the selling price to an average of a few hundred dollars. Often vehicles are transacted at the original asking price or with just a concession of floor mats or a tank of gas. Every time a RealDeal report is presented, both the customer and sales representative have the experience of knowing that the dealership prices their vehicles on facts and fairness. Closing ratios and gross profits rise as the new system replaces negotiation with compelling and credible documentation. Why is there such a need for RealDeal? Because the used vehicle industry has experienced significant changes in the last seven years never has there been as much change in as short of a period of time. As an industry, we are learning the used car business all over again. Just about every traditional practice is being replaced by new and more effective procedures. One of the greatest challenges that has occurred is the industry’s recognition that a vehicle needs to be priced to sell rather than to negotiate. Simply stated, if a vehicle’s asking price isn’t justifiable, it’s not likely to produce a potential customer. As dealers have come to this enlightened recognition, they have experienced a great deal of difficulty managing profitability. It is essential to examine the rules of proper pricing and the corresponding implication for the selling process.

marking vehicle’s prices up from cost has proven to be less effective over time. In today’s environment, consumers determine their shopping destinations, in large part, based on identically equipped competing vehicles on the Internet. If your price isn’t in the ballpark, then you’re not likely to see or hear from the prospective buyer. Does this mean that all vehicles should not be priced high for the first 30 days? Do they all need to be priced low from their inception? The answer is “no,” but they all must be priced based on the dealer’s knowledge. The dealer must know which ones should be priced high, and dropped slowly if necessary, and which ones should be priced low from the start, with an awareness to drop them fast and rapidly. Understanding which vehicles can be priced high versus the ones that should be priced low requires a two-step process. First, the individual pricing the vehicle should know the physical and aesthetic quality of the vehicle. Because there is still an emotional aspect to the car shopping process, understanding the unique appeal or lack thereof for the vehicle in question is essential. With a firm understanding of the vehicle’s appeal in mind, the second step is to determine the odds of a fast sale and high gross. This assessment is most rationally based on the relationship of the vehicle’s supply and demand in the market at that very moment. Vehicles of high supply and low demand are less likely to bring a fast sale and high gross than a vehicle of high demand and short supply. If a vehicle is truly special to the eye and has high demand with short supply, then it should be priced high against competing vehicles with a deliberate patience. Conversely, a vehicle of ordinary appeal with high supply and low demand should be priced extremely low among its competitors from the onset with a willingness to adjust pricing frequently. This two-step process represents the best practice for maximizing the return of vehicle inventory investment. Problems of Proper Pricing

Rules for Proper Pricing

Historically, dealers have priced vehicles based on a markup from their cost, usually $3,000 - $5,000 for the first 30 days or so. If the vehicle does not sell after an initial period of time, then the price is gradually reduced until it does sell. The method of

When a vehicle is priced properly, consumers are naturally attracted through the Internet shopping process. Unfortunately, when buyers appear, they seldom, if ever, announce their arrival as a result of the vehicle’s proper pricing; rather, the opposite usually occurs. Despite the fact that shoppers may have traveled a great distance to see the vehicle in question, they inevitably still expect a further discount. Accordingly, sales representatives have been trained to anticipate further price discount expectations. What generally ensues is a negotiation process that results in further discount, only sometimes results in a sale. The problem with this approach is that once a vehicle has been priced properly, there is generally little room to negotiate and still have an acceptable profit. The negotiation with the consumer and sales representative is the self-motivated shopper and the negotiating sales

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representative engaged in silent collusion against the interest of the dealership. It is easy to understand the motivations of the consumer, but those of the sales representative are more subtle and less understood. Automobile salespeople have been conditioned and trained over decades to satisfy the shopper’s expectations of price with negotiation. Today’s sales representatives have very few strategies or skills designed to hold the line on price objections. Although their sales compensation programs incentivise them to hold gross, the greater expectations of management relate to unit production. The desire of the salesperson to deliver vehicles first, and hold for gross as a secondary objective, along with the shopper’s insistence on a further discount creates the perfect situation for poor profitability. Documentation Replaces Negotiation


No, probably not.

SP: OK…You’ll notice that the next vehicle is yellow in color and

83 miles away. Would you consider a yellow vehicle, or one that is different than the silver or gray that you’ve requested? C:


SP: OK, then, let’s take a look at the third-lowest price, the one right

below our price. You can see that this one is being offered by an independent dealer and doesn’t have an available vehicle history report. Would you be willing to buy a vehicle from an independent dealer without the security of a vehicle history report or the assurances of a well-established dealer such as ourselves? C:

Well, I’d rather buy the car from you.

Without fail, every prospect who is interested in purchasing a vehicle from a dealer asks “how much discount.” This is the initial process known as negotiation. It is a process that results in further price concession and often emotional contention.

SP: I appreciate that. Can you appreciate the fact that ours is just

Predictably, shoppers regale sales representatives with stories about other vehicles that can be purchased for less money. Sometimes these vehicles don’t exist and/or often lack sufficient similarity in condition, mileage or equipment. In almost all cases, the existence of such vehicles is accepted and results in further discount.

Regardless of whether the customer says “OK,” or asks for a further discount, can you see the benefit by having changed the dynamic of the conversation? And can you imagine the power of a product such as, the first objective pre-owned price check product for dealers, which is specifically designed to aid the salesperson by providing the necessary documentation?

If the customer’s behavior of insisting on further discounts based on the assumed existence of competition is predictable, is there anything that a dealership can do to level the playing field and maintain its gross profit? Fortunately, the answer is “yes.” Instead of waiting for the customer to ask for a discount and then whipsawing the salesperson with questionable competition, the sales representative should open the conversation with the statement, “Let me show you what our dealership has done for you.” Rather than assuming the defensive role, the sales representative is taking the offense and changing the dynamics of the discussion that will follow. Consider the following alternative exchange between salesperson and customer: SP: Now that you’ve decided that this vehicle is right for you, let

me show you what our dealership has done for you. As you can see, this is a list of identical vehicles market (present copy of competitive set). C:


SP: That’s right, you can see that our dealership has very

sophisticated tools that allows us to know the identity and description of every similar competing vehicle. Further, you can see here that while our vehicle is not the lowest priced; it is the fourth-lowest price out of the total set of 14. Would you like to see more about the lower priced competing vehicles? C:


SP: Great, you’ll see here that the

No. 1-lowest priced vehicle has 60,000 more miles on the odometer than ours does. In an effort to save money, would you consider a vehicle with more mileage?

slightly higher than the one offered by an independent dealer and it comes with all of our assurances? Based on this analysis, can we earn your business today?

What the dialog above demonstrates is the fact that using documentation in place of negotiation removes the shopper’s ability to tell fictional or exaggerated stories to justify their insistence on an additional discount. This levels the playing field and allows the dealership to “justify” and the customer to “validate” the price in a collaborative non-confrontational manner. Information is powerful and it is a shame if the dealership possesses such information for the purpose of pricing the vehicle properly, but can’t leverage it properly to allow sellers and buyers to mutually arrive at a fair selling price. Dale Pollak is the founder of vAuto. He can be contacted at 866.623.5329, or by e-mail at



CALCULATE THE REAL PRICE OF YOUR ADVERTISING So many dealers and so few buyers. The competition to get people into your dealership before the others is intense. You have to get the word out about your dealership, but there are so many off ramps on the advertising freeway. Therefore, the question is: Which method has the best impact? Which ramp can reach a prospect to invite them in personally? There is only one that can accurately do this: direct marketing. Please notice I do not call it “direct mail,” because it is more than just “junk mail”; most dealers, however, still think of it that way, and use it that way. While publicizing the “giant” event with the “giant” mail piece can be successful and sell cars, do they help you develop your market? Are they helping your “brand,” or image, in the community? Dealers need to think about this in between the big sales. The trick is to put a pencil to the true costs, and to look at the money spent that might not be considered from a short-term viewpoint. There are costs to the “free” attractions (food, kids’ bouncy castles, prizes, giveaways, etc.) that have to be considered. While your event may draw a crowd, after the food is eaten and the kids have had a ball, how many of those 400 hundred people who showed up actually want a car? How many apps got sent in only to be returned by the bank after you pay the processing fee? The good news is that cars are sold and big events are often successful. However, when I think about this, there is an old question that comes to mind: Are you working hard or working smart? If you approach that same ramp of that freeway thinking about marketing instead of short-term benefit, you may see a difference over time. Personalizing your advertising can help you find real buyers. This is true for both prime and sub-prime. We all know the needs of the sub-prime customer are more challenging, but the benefits are huge. The winners are ones who really work to get the reward.

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The biggest challenge for direct marketing is getting your message to the kitchen counter and away from the junk mail pile. If it sits on the counter a week or two, it’s OK because it is in the right place. The effectiveness of a particular piece, however, might not be immediately known. Some prospects are interested in buying in a few months, and they might hold the right piece until that time. If that is the case, do you know which piece brought that customer in? While I have always known that people hold the letters, recent tracking has shown me some very surprising numbers. I have a client in the Midwest that just received six calls the last week of April from a campaign that was mailed in January. It is still selling cars. The campaign has been paid for, and the cost per car has all been figured — or has it? This letter is still selling cars, and has been for more than three months. The problem is most dealers do not know it. Tracking is key. The longer the ad is working for you, the more it drives the cost per car down over time. Your ad dollars are far too important to be spent on media that is not tracked. Technology has changed direct marketing so you can better focus and reach your targeted market. You have the name of every person you are marketing to; no other form of advertising can do this. Use this powerful

tool and make the offer personal to them. They will read it and use if they are in the market for a car, or save it for a later date. Advertisers and marketers have to keep up with the changing market. A few years ago I was involved with a television show about cars, and had a friend who was something of a mentor to me. He always said that “it’s not as much about the car as the experience it gives you.” Remember there are many buyers who want the “cute red car”; the question is, does your marketing reflect that? Today we have the Internet, e-mail, social networks and traditional media. These are all on ramps on the marketing freeway. If you use direct marketing, at its full potential —and commit to it — you will be able to market in ways the others simply cannot. Some see great results right away, and some may not, (or maybe they just don’t realize it). Always remember test, track and tweak, and you may be surprised with what you find.

Tim Danker is the director of sales and product development for Ideal Direct Ad Group. He can be contacted a 866.515.6516, or by e-mail at



HAVE YOU GONE MOBILE? We have been fielding a lot of questions lately about mobile CRM and mobile Web site solutions. CRMs can run on your mobile phone and, with this ability, you are now able to stay in closer touch with the day to day of your dealership, but what about the Web site? Thanks to advancements of mobile (smart) phones, customers do not need to wait until they get to a computer to shop your Web site, the customer can shop your Web site from their phone immediately. Have you reviewed your dealership Web site on your mobile device? Have you reviewed your Web site from all the smart phones (iPhone, Blackberry, Droid, et al)? A mobileenabled Web site gives your salespeople a huge advantage over your competitors. If your Web site has a good mobile platform, your salespeople can promote your current inventory 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Let’s say your sales team member is at an event, for example, and a prospect says they are looking for a certain model. Instead of telling them you will follow up the next business day, just go to your Web site, show the customer the models, zoom in on the pictures and with the mobile CRM they can apply for immediate credit. Your prospect can start the purchase process without stepping on your lot or shopping around on a computer. Recently Apple released the iPad. Apple is selling more than 200,000 iPads per week and they do not see it slowing down. The iPad is a great tool for you and your salespeople. This product gives them the ability to carry their desk wherever they go. It also benefits your customer. Imagine being able to bring the deal to the vehicle your prospect is looking at right on the lot. The prospect could test drive the vehicle and pen the deal in the vehicle of their choice! Now, how do you determine if your Web

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site provider is up-to-date with a mobile Web site platform? I have put together a few features that should be included on your mobile Web site: Mobile Site Feature Check List 1. Do you have the ability to customize your mobile platform? 2. Your Web site provider should be

building your mobile platform for each platform. For example Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android have specific user styles. The platforms allow for enhanced user experience. 3. Is your Web site provider building your

mobile platform or are they outsourcing it to a third-party company? 4. When looking at inventory, do they offer

swiping and zooming into photos? This is called “cover flow.” 5. A nice addition for branding is to have

your dealer splash image loaded when Web site is loading. This adds a nice iPhone quality. 6. Do they provide a dealer icon that the

consumer can save for bookmarking? This is great for scheduling service. 7. Look at how you can move around on

your mobile site. A fast Ajax Web site, for example, allows for very smooth and quick mobile experience with limited page posting. This is so it does not slow down the user’s experience. 8. Integrated phone and SMS calls to action

allow the user to instantly make a call or send SMS without typing in their phone number. 9. Integrated Google Maps allows for

the usage of GPS or location-based directions to the dealership. If GPS is

not available on a mobile phone, the directions map can automatically be presented as a default. 10. Mobile analytics tracking codes are

different and you need to make sure they provide detailed analytics specific to your mobile visitors and their behaviors. Kendall Billman is the director of interactive marketing for VinSolutions. He can be contacted at 866.892.1447, or by e-mail at




When it comes to building longterm relationships with clients, it’s very similar to building long-term friendships. In kindergarten, children are encouraged to make new friends by talking with others, inviting them to play and being “nice” to them. They often hear these words: “To have a friend, you have to be a friend.” In many business situations, clients often become more than clients. They become friends; not necessarily the kind you would invite to nonbusiness gatherings, but people you truly care about and who enjoy hearing from you. There is a feature in a local area newspaper where readers are invited to review their favorite non-franchise restaurant. The articles are wonderful publicity for the restaurants. One of the key elements I see repeated over and over again is that patrons know the names of the owners, hosts and/or servers. And, many of the restaurant workers know something about them as well. They know if the guests prefer coffee or tea with breakfast. They may even remember their favorite meal, asking if they want “the usual.” Put yourself in the seats of those guests for a moment. How would it make you feel to have your particular favorites automatically placed before you without having to explain your preferences? It would make you feel at home or as if you’re at the home of a good friend — someone who knows you well and wants you to have what you want. They want you to be happy. That type of response is the ideal when it comes to serving your clients’ needs and it can be created no matter what your product or service is. You may think you’re in the business of selling automotive services or maintenance, but you’re not. You are in the people business, and learning to make people feel important and cared about will help you make both the initial sale and long-term sales over the course of time.

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Introduce yourself to each client and give your name. Try giving them your formal name, then what they should call you. For example: “My name is Thomas Johnson. But, please call me Tom.” This statement does two things: It presents you professionally, and you help them relax with telling them to use your less-formal name. If you have an unusual name or one that’s challenging to pronounce, consider going by something less-formal and easier to remember (and say) for your clients’ sake. Do nothing that could make them feel uncomfortable. An example of this might

be: “My name is Balthazar Otis Buckworth, but please just call me by my initials, B.O.B. Everyone does.” When your clients give you their names, use them the way they’re given. Never shorten “Phillip” to “Phil” without his consent. However, if you hear his spouse call him “Phil” you might ask permission to do the same. You want to get on the most congenial level possible with everyone you meet. Use your clients’ names in conversation during the sales process. Inquire about the use of the vehicle. Does the client have young children or a teenage driver? If so, safety will be an important issue to discuss with them. Do they have a cabin in the woods where some off-road driving is involved? Or, do they travel for business and need “highway” tires? All of these answers help you lead them to the best choice for them. Keeping a record of the answers will help you build long-term relationships. If you know Bob and Sally expressed interest in a particular feature on their last vehicle, plan to contact them when you see an upgrade in it or see it included on a different type of vehicle. Bob might like trucks. Sally might like sports cars. But they both may enjoy a built-in GPS system. If it wasn’t available on their last vehicle, the time to contact them is when you learn that it is. With some clients, the focus isn’t on the vehicle. It’s on the options. When I was in real estate, many people bought homes because of the corner lot or the school district or the swimming pool. Those features were more important than the layout of the home itself. Always take good notes when you’re with clients. Enter the information into your client database. That information is used to make contacts and to start conversations with clients after the initial sale. People like to do business with people who are like them, who demonstrate that they care about them beyond making the sale and who keep them in mind when something new arises. That type of treatment makes them feel important. They come to rely on businesses and salespeople they know they can trust to have their needs and interests at heart. World-renowned master sales trainer Tom Hopkins is the chairman of Tom Hopkins International. He can be contacted at 866.347.6148, or by e mail at e-mail



DEALERSHIP HARASSMENT CLAIMS — A TICKING TIME BOMB It seems like there are an inordinate amount of news stories about harassment and discrimination lawsuits against auto dealers lately. Just Google “auto dealer harassment” to get an idea of how common these types of lawsuits are in our industry. You will find many cases of not only sexual harassment, but also racial harassment, age discrimination, etc. The amounts of fines and damages that dealers have been assessed are eye-popping. In a statement about a case against a dealership, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regional attorney John Hendrickson said that it was “amazing that at a time when the auto industry is struggling for survival and women exercise so much influence in the marketplace that anyone would in engage in sexual harassment or show contempt for female customers.” EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru also said in a statement that “sexual harassment and sex discrimination against women in traditionally male-dominated industries, such as the auto industry, are still unfortunate realities.” Harassing conduct is sometimes so commonplace that we often don’t recognize the behavior as being inappropriate. Many people who have been around auto dealerships for any length of time may not be very surprised that this type of behavior exists, while others may feel that these are mostly frivolous lawsuits designed to extort money from dealers. Perhaps the accused were “just kidding around” and meant no harm? No matter what, the dealer loses. Any lawsuit is a bad lawsuit. Besides the cost of defending these claims, there will likely be immeasurable damage to a company’s reputation. What owner wants the public to be exposed to media stories accusing their dealership of employing harassers or racists? To help avoid these types of claims, dealership employees should be trained in harassment prevention. Staff members (especially supervisors) need to understand that it is simply not okay to participate in harassing or discriminatory behavior in today’s world, no matter what the intention. What many people don’t realize is that even if you’re just “kidding around” and don’t

mean any harm, this type of behavior can rise to the level of harassment. As far as the law is concerned, harassment depends on how the conduct was received, not on the intent. Employees who receive harassment training are more likely to understand that there are boundaries that must be observed in the workplace and more importantly, realize that there can be serious personal consequences for harassment. Some states, such as California, require harassment prevention training for supervisors. That’s great, but what about the non-supervisory employees? There is often a great amount of down-time at a dealership, and employees may get bored and tend to “goof around.” Is it harmless horseplay or perhaps behavior that crosses the line? Are supervisors able to monitor their subordinates’ behavior at all times? Are supervisors setting a proper example? Supervisors can only go so far in preventing harassment. The responsibility lies with every employee. Most companies have an anti-harassment policy that all employees must sign, although I would venture to guess that the majority of people don’t read it or understand it. Having a policy in place and hanging posters is simply not enough protection for a dealership. The US Supreme Court, in two separate cases, decided that employers may be able to avoid liability in a harassment claim if they (1) use reasonable care in establishing an anti-harassment policy including a complaint procedure and training; AND (2) the harassment victim unreasonably fails to take advantage of the policy’s safeguards. So, if a harassment victim is trained on exactly what to do in the case of harassment (like who to report it to, and so forth) and fails to do so, the dealer will probably be in a good position to defend themselves. It makes sense to train all dealership employees in harassment prevention. Perhaps then the media, the EEOC and employees looking for an easy target to sue, can go pick on somebody else. Jim Radogna is president of Dealer Compliance Consultants, Inc. He can be contacted at 866.704.8657, or by e-mail at th l i t magazine for the automotive professional the #1 sales-improvement

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I am sure you have found yourself in the same position I have. Arms thrown up in the air questioning why the competitor next door pulled off a feat you couldn’t. What is really frustrating is when it appears as though they spent half the energy getting it done. Maybe it was a marketing campaign or a financing relationship. It could have been a sales strategy or a hiring decision. The bottom line is that they did it better and/or faster than you could have. When things like that happen, you find yourself saying, “maybe it’s just me.” Maybe It’s Just Your Breed

You probably have some history with dogs. You either have, or grew up with one, or saw your neighbor with one. When you see a dog, you instantly recognize it as a dog. Because dogs are dogs, right? Generally, they have ears and good hearing, a nose with an acute sense of smell, four legs, and fur. They run, they play, they bark and they leave land mines on the lawn. Some breeds though, are specifically bred based on what God gifted them to do. Think about the various differences in these breeds. Imagine being the beagle taking on a greyhound in a sprint to the finish line. Imagine being a golden retriever going headto-head in a job interview for “scary guard dog” against a pit bull. Even playing field? I don’t think so. Entrepreneurs are like dogs. We share a common species, but we come in different breeds. Some of us are purebred and carry a distinct set of characteristics and gifts. Others of us are mutts who have a blend of various strengths and weaknesses. You Have an Entrepreneurial DNA That Drives You

Whether you are the dealership owner, GM, sales manager or sales person, there is an entrepreneurial DNA that drives you. You have a unique set of traits pre-built into you. That DNA telegraphs your potential

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strengths, weaknesses and tendencies. Being aware of that DNA will allow you to sit down yourself (or with an expert) to map out a game plan that is perfectly suited for you and your company. It will also allow you to recognize when you are in your sweet spot of giftedness and when you are in the danger zone of trying to be someone you are not. Why Entrepreneurial DNA is A BIG Deal

If you are the dealership owner trying to do things other dealers are doing (who happen to have a different entrepreneurial DNA), you’re going to fall flat on your face, waste a ton of cash and be very frustrated with yourself and your staff. If you are a sales manager trying to be like the “other” sales managers even though that’s not who you really are, it isn’t going to work out for you — no matter how hard you try. If you are salesperson who has been told to “do what Jim, the top salesperson, does,” that may be the worst possible advice your manager could ever give you. (Sorry to all the managers who just tell people to be someone they are not — that’s plain silly). A company that discovers it’s entrepreneurial DNA (from the owner down to the guy sweeping the floors at night) has a unique opportunity to create massive synergy and a significant marketplace advantage. Imagine if every person on your team knew the other’s weaknesses and was working in concert with that by leveraging their complimentary strengths. For an organization that is committed to excellence and a winning corporate culture, this is a very important exercise to go through.

understand this breakthrough concept in entrepreneurship and help you understand the strengths and weaknesses of each of the management team members. Then, have your team members take a different quiz (simply contact me for a copy of that quiz). You’ll be able to look at the results of both sets of quizzes and instantly identify areas where you can optimize your team dynamics. 2. Design — The design step is all

about taking what you learned in the entrepreneurial DNA quiz and building a fresh strategic plan built around who you are as a team. If you have a capable HR manager on staff, they can look at the results and put a go-forward plan together. If you don’t have the talent in-house to do it, we’ll be glad to help you get it done. The goal of the design step is to come out with a clear action plan to dominate your marketplace using the best skills and talents of the team. 3. Deploy — This is the easy step. It’s just

about executing the strategic plan you built in step 2. The best part is that your entire team will be energized to implement the plan because for once, the plan will be built around them (rather than some plan that got handed to them by management). I have seen some record-shattering results happen when a supposedly “weak” team of people got together and built a strategic plan that was optimized for who they were. Think of every inspirational movie you have seen from Rudy to 300, and you’ll find a team of unlikely people working together to leverage each other’s strengths and weaknesses to accomplish the seemingly impossible. I wish the same for your dealership team.

Here are three simple steps to get the job done: 1. Discover — The first step is for the owner and management team to discover their entrepreneurial DNA. You can do that for free online at quiz. Upon completing the quiz, you can download free materials that will help you

Joe Abraham is the founder of the BOSI Performance Institute. You can contact him at 866.461.5751, or by e-mail at



THREE KEYS FOR GROWING THE FUTURE in the downturn and in the process discovered new ways to efficiently manage product. Those lessons can be forgotten when sales recover. Inventories must grow to support higher sales levels, but prudent managers will manage that growth carefully with a steady eye on days supply and turn rates. Inventories eat working capital and credit, resources that tend to be finite and costly.

Vehicle sales are rebounding and dealerships that hunkered down during the recession are now growing their operations again. Let’s review three key opportunities to grow in ways that can make a store leaner and more productive. Your People

Your personnel counts will grow this year as sales rebound. You can invest the time to carefully choose the right people now or you can spend even more time in the future putting out fires started by poor choices. As part of the selection process, be explicit about your expectations. If you expect your salespeople to sell 12 cars each month and stay current on all assigned training, tell your prospective employees before you hire them. If a prospective employee flinches at your expectations, don’t you want to know that before you offer a position?

Your Vendors

Your Inventories

Many dealers aggressively reduced inventories

The recession has taken a toll on businesses across the board and your vendors have probably gone through changes of their own. Some have probably adapted by becoming leaner and more productive, changes that can create benefits for you. Other vendors may have lost some of the advantages that caused you to select them over competitors at some point in the past. At the same time, some vendors who were not the best choice in the past may have weathered the storm better than their peers and may be able to offer superior value today. Your vendor list should be reviewed regularly, but especially

at this time. Your vendors must be considered partners in your effort to build and maintain a highly productive and efficient operation. Selecting the wrong vendors can sabotage your efforts as surely as selecting the wrong employees. For that reason, you must also be quick to communicate your expectations to each vendor, monitor for performance against standards and make changes when vendors fail to provide the level of performance you expect. Decisions you have made in the past several years likely determined your dealership’s ability to survive in a hazardous environment. The decisions you make this year will affect the degree to which your dealership participates in the coming return to prosperity. Steve Brazill is the chair of automotive marketing for Northwood University, Texas Campus. He can be contacted at 866.861.1515, or by e-mail at

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ARE YOU A PROFESSIONAL? Do you consider yourself to be a professional? If yes, then what other occupations come to mind when you think of a “professional”? Perhaps you might think of an attorney, a doctor (physician/surgeon/dentist) or a CPA. What one thing do these and other professional occupations have in common? That’s right, they all require continuing education to maintain an active license. While new car manufacturers have testing procedures in place for product certification, there really is no governing body that licenses and tests sales professionals on their knowledge of sales. The burden falls to the individual or the dealership. In examining this dynamic, three key elements or critical success factors become evident. In order to become the best at your given profession (automotive sales) you will need to focus on three key areas: attitude, product knowledge and sales skills. Attitude

Of all the three critical success factors, the first is the most obvious and unfortunately the most underrated: attitude. How many times have you witnessed a new salesperson come out of the gate blazing on fire and sell 15-20 units their first month? They are not selling units based on exceptional product knowledge nor the use of highly developed sales skills. Instead their success is based almost exclusively on sheer enthusiasm. Have you ever arrived early for a professional sporting event? At NFL stadiums quarterbacks are taking snaps and throwing passes to their receivers. Kickers and punters are working on their timing etc. But when you really examine what the professional athlete is doing during the pregame activities, it is all about getting their mind right. Certainly, the physical aspects are necessary, but the mental preparation is the key to victory on the field. How do you mentally prepare each morning to get the

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most out of today’s opportunities? Product Knowledge

While every manufacturer provides resources to educate sales people on their product line, aren’t those resources made available to your competition offering the same brand? Bear in mind, the expectations of today’s buyers are at an all-time high. You need to differentiate yourself by being better prepared than the other salesperson across town. Here are a few simple routines you should put in place to help yourself. First you need to drive a vehicle out of the inventory every day. Go through all the new models first and then to the used vehicles. Used inventory will change daily and most dealerships maintain some off-brand product that you will need to become proficient in presenting. Secondly, you need to secure access to current publications that report on new vehicles: Car and Driver, Road and Track, Consumer Reports and online sites like Yahoo! Auto, Edmunds, etc. MotorWeek is a television program that specializes in evaluating new models from all the major brands. The program broadcasts on your local Public TV stations. Check your listings. Sales Skills

The third critical success factor represents the basic blocking and tackling of our profession, sales skills. The work of cutting down the trees of sales opportunities is best handled when your blade is sharp. The time you invest to sharpen your skills will make the daily encounter of selling more productive. The areas to focus on follow the road to a sale very closely. 1. Prospecting — No matter how effective you become, not getting enough at bats will kill your sales career in the end. 2. Meet and Greet — You need to make a favorable initial impression. Dress yourself in such a way that they notice you, not your clothing. Let them know you are serious and respect them by dressing appropriately. 3. Build Rapport/Establish Common

Ground — To be successful you will need to get them to like and trust you. Be open and be yourself. Oh, and by the way, don’t forget to smile. 4. Conduct an Interview — There is no need to interrogate the folks. Be thorough. Ask thought provoking questions and take good notes and paraphrase. It will show them you are listening. 5. Presentation/Walk-around — Keep good eye contact and incorporate the phrase “What this means for you is….” This phrase will help keep the presentation from becoming too technical. 6. Closing — The most often feared and avoided skill and the most necessary for your success. 7. Handling/Answering Objections — The more consistently you ask, the more “No’s” you will have to encounter. Be prepared to isolate their resistance so you can proceed to a write-up. 8. Negotiation — Even if you work in a “one-price” store, a discussion on monthly payments, trade values and cash down will be necessary to complete the sale. 9. Follow-up — Staying in contact with previous customers builds your book of business. New opportunities will need to hear back from you. Be creative, use e-mail, text or even Facebook. 10. Time Management — Everyone on the planet is equal in this resource. Use it wisely. Establish a system using your dealership CRM, a smart phone, or good old pen and paper to stay organized. A professional climbs to the top of the game by working on their skills. The best remain there by continually improving in all three areas each month. Good luck and good selling!

Kirk Manzo is the president of The Manzo Group. He can be contacted at 800.858.6903, or by e mail at e-mail



WHY PEOPLE DON’T RESPOND TO YOUR DIRECT MAIL AND E-MAIL ADVERTISEMENTS Getting a profitable response from your direct mail and e-mail advertisements can be complicated, but when you break it down, there are only three reasons why your prospects won’t respond to you. I’ll go over each of them… and reveal techniques on how to overcome them. The No. 1 Reason:

They don’t notice your sales pitch. If you are using direct mail sales letters or e-mail advertisements, many things can happen that prevent your prospects from receiving, seeing and/or reading your message. With e-mail, it is critical that your message arrives in the “inbox” and not the “junk” box. The same goes with direct mail, but rather than the “junk” box, it is better known as the “garbage can.” Let’s break down both quickly. Your e-mail procedures are extremely important to guarantee a high percentage

of your sends actually arrive and are read. Two areas to focus on are your list and how you word your message. First, always avoid buying e-mail lists. You want to send e-mails to people with whom you have an established relationship (previous customers or prospects). Sending e-mails out to people who did not give you permission to do so are sure ways to get blacklisted and have all your e-mails arrive in someone’s junk folder. How often do you check and read your junk folder e-mails? In addition, make sure to keep your unsubscribe data up to date. Before sending any e-mails, you should always review the message and avoid using words or phrases that will almost automatically raise red flags. With direct mail, always remember that most people sort their mail into two categories: mail they plan to open and mail they plan to throw away. Most people sort their mail over a garbage can. Goal No. 1 is to make sure you are in the pile that gets opened. If your advertisement screams “JUNK MAIL,” which pile do you think it is going into?

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Once the potential buyer opens your advertisement, the most important element to getting your message read is the advertisement for the advertisement — the headline. The No. 2 Reason:

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They don’t want what you’re selling. Nobody has a product that everyone wants. Not every person you e-mail or mail to will want your product. In the direct marketing business, we make our money from the people who do. If you target the wrong list, you’re

“We have tested millions of messages over the last 19 years and here’s what I believe: There are more people who would have responded to your advertisement had you made your pitch more believable, than people who would have responded if your offer and/ or claims were exaggerated. Give it a shot in your next direct mail piece or e-mail message. Don’t forget to have the right list, because that is still the most important ingredient.” going to have a hard time getting enough sales to cover your advertising costs. It’s simple: You must have a product that people want and you need to make sure you are getting your message to those people. Pipe dreams about who you would like to sell to will never produce the result you are looking for. In future articles, we will continue to explain the importance of data analytics and what a good data analytic team will do for your bottom line. The No. 3 Reason:

They don’t believe you. I’d say this is probably one of, if not the most important reason your prospects will not respond or buy what you are selling. The funny thing is, when a direct mail piece or e-mail gets a poor response, the people who created it usually think they didn’t sell hard enough, so they inflate their claims and promises even more. This is counterproductive. If you have the right list and they opened your advertisement and read it, then the reason why they didn’t respond in the first place is because they didn’t believe your sales pitch. Making your claims even more hyped-up is only going to make them even more skeptical. We have tested millions of messages over the last 19 years and here’s what I believe: There are more people who would have responded to your advertisement had you made your pitch more believable, than people who would have responded if your offer and/or claims were exaggerated. Give it a shot in your next direct mail piece or e-mail message. Don’t forget to have the right list, because that is still the most important ingredient. Scott Joseph is the president of J&L Marketing, Inc. He can be contacted at 888.835.1689, or by e-mail at

sales& trainingsolution


THE DEATH OF TRADITIONAL SALESPEOPLE part 3 How would you rate the skill sets of the sales staff at your dealership? Let’s review a few of those skill sets: • Phone skills — taking inbound calls and making outbound calls • Follow-up skills — Following up sold and unsold customers with an organized game plan utilizing multiple streams of followup methods • Marketing — Utilizing a planned and sequenced marketing campaign utilizing multiple media methods for low- to nocost self-marketing and prospecting • Action Management — Otherwise known as “time management”; a wellthought out and executed game plan for a daily, weekly and monthly action plan • Self-Education — A well-planned and executed game plan for self-education based upon increasing sales skills, people skills, life skills and marketing skills • Closing skills — The ability to bring all the work done with the customer, the relationships and value created to a purchase decision Over the years, I have been in thousands of dealerships and know that the answers to the above questions for the vast majority of dealerships are a lot poorer than any of us would like to admit. If you are a manager or dealer, my question to you is the following:

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If you have been trying unsuccessfully for many years to raise the skill levels on the above areas, what will change or make a difference in the future? If you keep banging your head against a wall and all you get is a bloody headache, then wouldn’t it make sense to try something different? One of two things will have to change. Either you must spend the time, effort and resources necessary to recruit, hire, train and retain the right type of quality people, or you must devise a new sales process that alleviates most, if not all, of the above responsibilities from your sales staff. There is a much greater chance that you can hire and teach salespeople to execute a few things really well rather than expecting your sales representatives to execute a whole range of responsibilities at a high level. Some of you may read this and say that I want you to just give up on salespeople and for some of you that is partially true. If you will not spend a tremendous amount of time and resources on recruiting the right people, then don’t bother in expecting better results. It’s ridiculous. What do you presently have in writing that you implement on a regular basis for a recruiting, interviewing, testing and training program for your dealership? My guess is five percent of dealerships have anything. If that is the case for your

dealership, once again I must ask, “What do you expect?” If you say you want a good sales staff that performs necessary sales functions at a high professional level and you spend zero thought, time and resources towards getting good people that even have a capacity to perform these functions, then you will get what you pay for. If you have determined that you cannot get high-quality people or do not want to spend the resources necessary to get the topquality people, then I do not find shame in creating a limited sales process with limited functions for your sales staff to ensure a high probability of success. My hope is that you chose some plan of massive action rather than keep doing the same thing and expecting a miracle. Hoping and praying alone does not seem to work. To paraphrase a quote, “Pray, but move your feet.” To receive my articles and FREE special report on Death of Traditional Salespeople, contact me at the address below with “Death of Traditional Salespeople” in the subject line.

Mark Tewart is the president of Tewart Enterprises, and the author of the best seller, How To Be A Sales Superstar. He can be contacted at 866.429.6844, or by e-mail at



DISCOVER THE VALUE OF DOLLAR COST AVERAGING Whether you’re a novice investor or you’ve been following the market for years, one thing you know is true: The market is constantly changing. The never-ending ups and downs can make it hard to determine when would be a good time to buy. Fortunately, there is an investment strategy that can help compensate for swings in the market and make the decision a little less troublesome for you. A widely recognized investment strategy known as “dollar cost averaging” offers a systematic approach to investing. By following this plan, you invest a specific dollar amount at set times, regardless of where the market may be at the time. One of the advantages of this strategy is that it can be applied to a wide variety of investment vehicles. As you know, the market price of an investment fluctuates. By using dollar cost averaging, you can buy more shares when the price is low, but you buy fewer shares when the price is high. While that seems fairly elementary, the interesting thing is that by spreading out your investment dollars this way, the average cost you pay per share can actually end up being lower than the average price per share over an

extended period. The following example illustrates how this can happen. Let’s say you decide to invest $500 a month in a certain investment on the first of the month, and monitor that plan over a fivemonth period in the market. For illustrative purposes, we’ll say the market prices at the beginning of each of those months are $10, $8, $6, $5, and $8. Your steady $500 investments would buy you 50 shares the first month, 62 the next, and then 83, 100, and 62 again in the subsequent months. By the end of that five-month period, your total investment of $2,500 will have bought you a total of 357 shares. That amounts to an average cost per share of $7. However, if you take those five prices on your purchase date and divide, the average price per share over that same time period was $7.40. While a mere forty cents per share may not seem like a big difference, your $2,500 investment would only purchase 337 shares at the average price — a full 20 shares short of what you have accumulated through dollar cost averaging. The key to this long-term investment strategy can be summed up in just one word: constant. You need to remember that you could still lose money if the investment

you purchase declines in value, so dollar cost averaging is not a guarantee of profit. However, it can keep you from investing all of your money at one time, perhaps at a higher price. To follow this strategy, you need to consider your ability — both financial and emotional — to stick with the program in both rising and falling markets. Dollar cost averaging helps take the guesswork out of trying to time your investments, allowing you to focus on asset accumulation. As an additional benefit, because you buy more shares when the market is down, you’ll be in a better position for potential gains if the market rebounds. To find out whether this strategy would be appropriate, you need to evaluate your individual situation and your investment objectives. You may find, however, that this is just the right kind of plan to keep you on track and working toward your goals.

John Freund is the senior vice president of investments for Moors & Cabot. He can be contacted at 866.599.9162, or by e-mail at

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ONLINE REPUTATION MANAGEMENT: NO FAD, IT’S HERE TO STAY Tips to Get Started - and the Impact It Will Have on Your Dealership There’s a real groundswell of movement over the past 24 months around dealerships adopting online reputation management. And social media, just like the Internet itself, is no passing fad — it’s here to stay. Consider consumer behavior today: Three out of four car shoppers now actively turn to online dealer reviews, and what they find has more impact on their decision than either dealer location or past dealer loyalty. Across the nation, dealers are at wildly varying levels of Internet adoption. While some have brilliantly executed Internet departments, or even full-blown “Internet dealerships,” others are just now installing computers and their 20-year management teams are just learning to send e-mails. But the great news about the Internet is that it doesn’t really matter if you’ve already adopted strong online initiatives, or are just now stepping into the digital world. What matters is the “now” part: Get involved, stay involved and pay close attention to the online habits of your consumers. Keep your finger on the pulse of what they are actually up to, and you will be able to effectively reach the majority of consumers looking for their next vehicle or their next service in your market. There is so much to learn and tackle in this new social media wave — and your online reputation at the review sites and directories should rank high on your priority list, because consumers who turn to reviews are in the buying phase. They reached that “moment of truth” point where they know what vehicle they want and now they are deciding which dealership to call.

Five Things That Will Happen if you launch a successful online reputation management initiative: 1. Your dealership’s CSI rating will improve. 2. Your salesperson retention will increase, as well as their overall morale. 3. You reshape the search results that involve your trade name: 40 percent or more of all local auto searches involve your trade name. Once populated with fresh reviews, the review sites will push other, unwanted listings off the first page of name brand search results leaving real-world positive information about your dealership. 4. Customers will drive past your competition to do business with you just because they read favorable reviews. 3 5. A high volume of positive reviews will 0

really get your phone ringing: You’ll get hundreds of super-motivated sales and service calls every month directly from the review sites and directories. Five Tips for a Successful Launch: 1. Choose the major review sites and

directories that you want to focus on: • Don’t put all your eggs in one review site basket. Consumers turn to about 10 major sites and you should, too. Some of the major ones include CitySearch, Yelp, InsiderPages, Merchant Circle,, Google Local, Yahoo! Local, Local. com, 2. Set your dealership up on the review

sites and directories properly: • Many dealerships are plagued by multiple and incorrect listings, or no listings at all. Once you have established the review sites you are going to focus on, make sure you populate the listings with good information: Correct phone numbers, links to your Web site, hours of operation, marketing messages, photos, logos and special offers. • Establish a policy about who in your dealership has the skills to get you set up correctly. It is not uncommon for dealerships to have multiple and incorrect listings on various social media sites as well as the review sites and directories. Get control as quickly as possible. • Use a unique toll-free number — that you can track — for the review sites and directories. You can assign the same number to all of the sites and don’t use it anywhere else. 3. Culture Change — Gathering

Positive Reviews: • There is an old saying: ‘“A happy customer tells one person and an unhappy customer tells 20.”’ Now, via the Internet they both tell thousands, but the unhappy customers are simply more motivated. Gathering positive reviews takes deliberation and dedication. Fully engage your entire dealership: management, sales teams and service teams. They need to ask for positive reviews from happy customers at the time of delivery. • Do not have customers submit reviews from your dealership computers. This will lead to being blackballed from the review site.

4. Don’t worry about a few

negative reviews: • Negative reviews happen. The reality is that a few negative reviews, peppered with a lot of positive reviews, looks the most real. (Nine positives for every one negative is a good rule of thumb.) While some negative reviews fit the criteria to be formally disputed and removed at the sites (and you should get rid of the foul ones), others are earned. These negative reviews offer the opportunity to reach out to an unhappy customer and make things right for them. This takes us back to the culture change: Embrace the positive and the negative. 5. Monitor the review sites:

• Constant monitoring is important. By monitoring the sites for new reviews daily, you can quickly take action on the negative reviews, along with using the positive reviews to recognize your sales team, and even deploy them in other marketing efforts. Social media is an unprecedented new way to “get the positive word out” about your dealership. Keep in mind, though, that this reputation can’t be faked — at least not successfully. Many companies are emerging that offer to totally manage your social media presence and initiatives. This can be great because the task of managing everything can be daunting. It is critical, however, that what they are publicizing about you online — through Facebook, Twitter, blogs and press releases — really reflect the culture of your dealership. It’s also critical, on the review sites and directories, that your reviews are all real reviews posted by actual customers. The Internet has been dubbed the best “worldof-mouth advertising” ever invented, and it’s true. But if you try to fake it — or fudge it — it will backfire. Through social media you have the ability to convey more than vehicle information and price, you have the ability to establish relationships, trust and consumer confidence prior to purchase. Give a consumer what they want and you will earn their business.

Kim Orr is vice president of eXtéresAUTO. She can be contacted at 866.231.6135, or by e-mail at



MATCH TALENT TO POSITIONS If You Want to Change the Job Your People Do, Change the Job You Hire Them to Perform The best thing I learned from the J.D. Power and Associates Automotive Internet Roundtable in Las Vegas — where a wealth of great information was presented — was that the work environment within a dealership is changing faster than anyone realizes. Technology is changing the face of who now works in this environment, and the industry is unprepared for or unaware of the change at hand. In the opening session, the folks from J.D. Power brought together several manufacturer representatives to discuss the results of a recently completed mystery-shopping study. This survey showed without a doubt why dealers are struggling: response times to customer inquiries that exceed 12 hours and next-to-no follow up of any kind. J.D. Power then brought out a panel of dealer representatives. For the next 30 minutes, this group of well-meaning, intelligent people discussed little of this problem — though for good reason. With all due respect to the smart people who participated, I don’t believe that anyone addressed the issues that needed to be addressed. Why? They can’t. To be fair, the current landscape is changing very quickly — for dealers, manufacturers and even industry observers such as J.D. Power. Job descriptions within today’s dealerships, for example, did not exist as recently as five years ago and have failed to keep pace with the challenges confronting dealers on a daily basis. Even as we bring talented professionals into our stores to solve these issues, the sad truth is this: The skill set needed to tackle them isn’t in their job description and often extends beyond their job duties. In practical terms, consider your marketing director who understands SEO, Web site metrics and ROI calculations. Is this the person who has the ability or the time to fix your broken advertising and sales processes? What about process engineering-

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minded sales leaders who can manage staff and hold old-school car people accountable? Will they have the time — or the expertise — to do anything else? What I’m suggesting is that you separate these distinctly different jobs and fill them with the distinctly different types of people they require. This point was proved in the J.D. Power panel discussion. One dealer representative proudly proclaimed that her staff is responding to all leads within 26 minutes: How could the manufacturer’s numbers possibly be true? (Unknown to another panelist of one of the larger dealership groups in the United States was the fact that, at the time, I’d been waiting three days for a call from one of his stores following a mystery-shop of my own). I don’t believe that one person on this panel isn’t doing his or her job. Rather, I contend that the issues J.D. Power presented as the problem lie outside their ability or job title to fix. You can know everything about Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 eCommerce marketing and still not know how to correctly fix process issues in a store. Manufacturers and dealers need to be more committed to training and less willing to throw money at a problem. In this economy, you can’t back your way into profitability. You have to put your head down and focus on the basics. If you’re not sure what they are anymore, take this opportunity to relearn them. Your consumer is now placing boundaries between you and a sale that requires proactive methods to make contact. This business climate tests even the best managers; the ones who traditionally have operated on the basis of their feelings and their theories about what works must now get in tune with managing this new area of business that’s more about the numbers. The decisions about process control and dollars spent on marketing, as well as who makes these decisions, can’t wait until

tomorrow. In case you think this is a sales pitch by a consultant to hock his services, let me be clear: Don’t hire one. Instead, hire somebody who can properly manage your marketing and someone for the sales process. Or, as I’m suggesting, hire two somebodies. Hire someone who understands the data we need to manage in automotive retail and who knows how to work around the limitations of software tools currently available to us. This management-level position will involve spending advertising dollars that, in the past, may have been directed by the general manager. You also need to hire a strong process manager, a role previously known as a sales manager. These individuals are not deal managers who stand around waiting for something to manage; they follow and enforce the process. They know how many e-mails and calls your customers receive, and they know the contact patterns your salespeople follow. They know that driving showroom traffic requires action — and that action is not developing an advertising concept or scripting a radio/TV spot. Their daily activities have changed the most of any position within a dealership, and there will be some sales managers who can’t adapt. As an owner or GM, you need to be ready to change the person if that person can’t change. The good news is that, even in this market, dealers who work both hard and smart can thrive and flourish. Instead of worrying about who moved the cheese, focus instead on moving toward the cheese, and you can be among them. Bill Phillips is the president and CEO of Automotive Internet Management, Inc. He can be contacted at 866.593.7212, or by e-mail at



WHAT WOULD DEMING AND DRUCKER DO? Both men were great management gurus of our time; Peter Drucker had much to say, and he always said it succinctly yet greatly, as did W. Edwards Deming. Out of respect for their views on management, I have picked three favorite quotes, and will include a brief car business commentary on each.

1. “Make decisions on people — selection,

placement and evaluation — your top priority.” (Drucker) There are only two mistakes you can make in hiring: hiring the wrong person, or not hiring the right person. The next mistake is worse than hiring the wrong person: not training consistently with real-world training.

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The days of constructing our own reality in the car business are gone. Prospects are demanding honesty, sincerity, character and integrity. No dealership can ever rise above the personal traits of the people they hire. 2. “The job of management is not supervision, but leadership.” (Deming) If most of your time as a manager is being wasted on supervising your people, several things are evident: You have the wrong people, you are not training them and you are not acting out the role of a leader. Management is leading competent people who come to work to work, so they can provide for themselves and their families. If you are not leading by example in honesty, sincerity, character and integrity; if you are not leading by example in work ethic, personal standards of commitment, loyalty and dedication, how can you possibly expect those standards to be held by your people? Stop supervising and start leading. 3. “The important thing is not that

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you have rank, but that you have responsibility.” (Drucker) Management needs to get over the selfimposed ego trip that the title of “manager” usually brings. It might be of some help to realize that an 18 year old with nominal skills can be a manager at most fast food joints. It also might be good to remember that not one nickel of profit comes from being a manager. Every dime of profit comes from selling something to somebody. If you supervise the people and methods at your dealership, you cannot in good conscience hold anyone accountable for results. Why? Because it is your methods, your way (or the highway), your orders, your “path to the sale” that brings the results, which you usually do not like. Your rank is nothing but a plate on a door; it is your responsibility towards your people that is important. The greatest responsibility of a leader is to make sure that all their people are reaching their full potential. That responsibility is worked out best by hiring good people, training them, being an example to them and then getting out of the way and letting them work. John Brentlinger is a sales and management trainer, executive coach and author. He can be contacted at 866.859.6504, or by e mail at e-mail

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AutoSuccess June 2010  
AutoSuccess June 2010  

AutoSuccess, The #1 Sales-improvement Magazine for the Automotive Professional.