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SUMMERTIME SAVINGS CAN BE A REALITY FOR YOUR TEEN JoeAbraham
FOSTERING A CULTURE OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP JeffGrandstaff
TRANSPORTATION PROVIDERS CAN HELP DEALERS MAINTAIN PROFITABILITY DURING PERIODS OF LOW SUPPLY JimRadogna
COMPLIANCE AS REPUTATION MANAGEMENT jeff grandstaff
RESOLUTIONS, PART 4
sales & training solution USING SEQUENTIAL QUESTIONING TO HELP CLOSE MORE SALES
THE DEATH OF TRADITIONAL SALESPEOPLE, PART 2
WHAT YOU NEED FOR A PROFITABLE DETAIL DEPARTMENT
JimmyVee & TravisMiller
HOW TO MAKE CAR BUYERS COME TO YOU
DEALERS USE AUTOMOTIVE AD NETWORK TO DOMINATE SEARCH ENGINES
GET PREPARED FOR THE RECOVERING ECONOMY
HOW TO MEASURE THE REAL UPLIFT YOUR ADVERTISING CREATES
FACEBOOK FOR AUTO DEALERS
START TRACKING CALLS
Susie Horne, Account Manager John Warner, Sales-Improvement Strategist email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
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An Interview with PatGunning
Susan Givens, vens, Publisher @autosuccessonline.com email@example.com
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RESOLUTIONS part 4 and I’ve become aware of how everyone is very anxious about the entertainment value of the program. Recently, I was in San Francisco, and I thought I would make my interview more controversial by getting into the political arena. But my comments threw the whole conversation off on a tangent. All the callins commented on political points. I lost the power to present my own theme and represent my own material.
To overcome the restraining forces of pride and pretension, I resolve to work on character and competence. Socrates said that “the greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be.” To be, in reality, what we want others to think we are. Much of the world is imageconscious, and the social mirror is powerful in creating our sense of who we are. The pressure to appear powerful, successful and fashionable causes some people to become manipulative. When you are living in harmony with your core values and principles, you can be straight-forward, honest and up-front. And nothing is more disturbing to a person who is full of trickery and duplicity than straight-forward honesty; that’s the one thing they can’t deal with.
Whenever we indulge appetites and passions, we are rather easily seduced by pride and pretension. We then start making appearances, playing roles and mastering manipulative techniques. If our definition or concept of ourselves comes from what others think of us from the social mirror, we will gear our lives to their wants and their expectations — and the more we live to meet the expectations of others, the more weak, shallow and insecure we become.
I’ve been on an extended media tour with my book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,
A junior executive, for example, may desire to please his superiors, colleagues and
subordinates, but he discovers that these groups demand different things of him. He feels that if he is true to one, he may offend the other. So he begins to play games and put on appearances to get along or to get by, to please or appease. In the long run, he discovers that by trying to become “all things to all people,” he eventually becomes nothing to everyone. He is found out for who and what he is. He then loses self-respect and the respect of others. Effective people lead their lives and manage their relationships around principles; ineffective people attempt to manage their time around priorities and their tasks around goals. Think effectiveness with people; efficiency with things. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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USING SEQUENTIAL QUESTIONING TO HELP CLOSE MORE SALES Helping customers overcome the natural procrastination associated with purchasing high-ticket items is the key to your success. You must develop a method to seamlessly transition from the demo drive to asking for a commitment. The challenge is to create an approach that appears conversational, but is in fact very strategic in structure. Sequential questioning techniques represent a very effective way to direct your customer to a desired outcome while maintaining a conversational tone. This technique was initially applied by one sales organization almost 50 years ago and was so successful at closing sales that the three-day cancelation clause was established for door-to-door purchases. The idea is to consistently ask a series of questions designed to move the conversation forward to a desired destination: the close. In order to maximize the application of this approach you must first complete the standard steps to a sale prior to earning the right to ask for their business. Let’s take a quick minute to review the initial five steps: 1. Meet and Greet 2. Establish Common Ground /Build Rapport 3. Conduct an Interview (Needs Assessment) 4. Present the Vehicle (Walk Around) 5. Take a Demo Drive WITH the customer. Just a reminder: While on the demo drive, allow the customer to enjoy the movie. This means, don’t talk during the movie (demo drive); it does not enhance the experience. Once you have almost completed the demo drive (should be at least 10 to 15 minutes) and you are approximately one mile from returning to the dealership, you must ask a question to take your customer’s temperature: “Did you like the way the vehicle drove?” If you conducted a proper interview and walk-around presentation, the answer to
this first question is rather predictable. The answer should be “Yes!” Your follow-up question would then be: “Great. Then, is this the vehicle you would like to take home with you today?” At this point the reaction from most people will not be, “Sure, I’d love to take it home.” Realizing that we are all programmed to politely decline the first offer to purchase anything, don’t press the panic button. Simply stick to the sequence and ask the next question. “I understand we still need to work out some details, but my question is do you (think/feel) this is the right car for you?” Their response should indicate to you whether you are on the right vehicle or if you will need to ask additional selection questions and go back to step 3 in the sales process. Customers who respond positively to the first question will often state that they like the car. Proceed to the next step in the commitment process. “Great. Then do me a favor, when you pull back into the dealership would you park the vehicle into the Sold Lane.” At this point most customers will exhibit a significant amount of resistance to your request for them to park in the sold lane. Push back is predictable. Regardless of how strong your customer reacts, stay calm. Explain the importance of separating the vehicle from the rest of the inventory by stating the following: “You may have noticed I’m not the only salesperson who works here at the dealership. I wouldn’t want another salesperson to take out YOUR CAR on a test drive with one of their customers, while you and I are inside working out the details for this car. Do you? Well, that’s what I thought.” By the way, when was the last time at your
dealership that two different salespeople were trying to sell the same unit to two different customers at the same time? Last month? Last week? Yesterday? The idea here is to keep the conversation moving forward towards the write up. “In order to help the other salespeople know who is interested in this vehicle, why don’t you put your last name on the back of my card and place it on the dashboard of the car. This will help cut down on any confusion regarding who is interested in purchasing this vehicle.” Remember that a customer’s willingness to remove the vehicle from the inventory and tag the unit with their last name does not represent the end of your work to close this sale. But if you have the courage to ask 100 percent of your customers at the end of each demo drive to purchase the car, do you think you might close a few more sales? 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 email@example.com.
Faith in the future and preparation for the future are a powerful combination, and it’s a combination that G&A Marketing has bonded into its business DNA. As an organization that prides itself on going against the grain of conventional wisdom, the company is preparing for a massive expansion, as the industry recovers, to position itself as the premiere automotive staffed event, advertising, training and consulting company. Susan Givens, publisher of AutoSuccess, recently sat down with the company’s president, Pat Gunning, to discuss this strategy, and how the company plans on helping dealerships now and in the future. AutoSuccess: Pat, what is driving this need for you to hire? Pat Gunning: In times when most companies are trying to cut costs
and personnel, we are doing something very different. After years of competitors trying to duplicate our business models, many have recognized there is a lot more to it than what appears at first glance. A lot of guys who tried to compete with us were used car managers, general sales managers and general managers who had no advertising background, and lacked experience being on the road in the promotions business. Unfortunately, they made a lot of mistakes at the dealers’ expense, and gave many dealers a bad taste of the staffed event industry. Look at it this way: We can all play golf, but very few make it to the PGA Tour. Why is that? A lot of it comes down to dedication, commitment, practice, mental toughness and great coaches. Working for us is a lot like being that player who makes it to the Tour. Strong hiring, training and accountability practices seem to be what dealers want when it comes to staffed events. Demand for promotions has increased, thanks largely to dealer recommendations regarding the quality of our teams. In fact, we have been contacted by two other staffed event companies who were so impressed with our team training and accountability that they wanted to sell our teams. Even those dealers whom are strictly Internet-focused have discovered the power of staffed events. The Internet is an invisible transaction. Dealers didn’t build multi-million dollar show rooms to have lengthy phone conversations. Where you close business is on the showroom floor. And in order to close business on the showroom floor, you need to get people in your dealership. This is where promotional marketing comes into play.
Every consumer is different and responds to different advertising in different ways. Compare the grosses of customers who buy off the Internet against those who buy off of other forms of advertising. A lot of the dealers I talk to tell me that the Internet customer is highly educated and price driven, which produces only half the gross. In response, we created Inventory Blaster, which takes average online ads and makes them promotions, without using the price of the car. Combine this Internet tool with the right direct marketing materials, and you’ll have a well-diverse plan that’s hard to beat. AS: Sounds like your business strategy relies heavily on being different. How has this recently affected your business and your people? PG: Dealers tell us of their struggles to overcome decreased grosses
and drops in floor traffic, much of which is attributed to the high focus on Internet advertising. Now we’re seeing dealers jump back into the promotions business because of the positive cash flow and energy it creates in the showroom. To fill this steadily growing number of orders, we need to recruit now. Our hiring process is slow to ensure we accept only candidates of solid talent and character. Our training process is long and intense to weed out those who can’t cut it. This is a big separator between us and other companies. There’s more to it than just hiring a car guy and sending him off to a store, telling him to “make it happen.” To us, “hope” is not a strategy. We don’t just hire car guys; we take talented people and teach them our system and management style so they can learn quickly, without making unnecessary mistakes at dealerships. AS: What positions are you looking to fill? PG: We are looking for strong desk managers, closers, F&I
professionals, top-ranked sales representatives and national account executives that call on dealers. AS: How do you develop your people to be successful? PG: A lot of car guys don’t think they need any more training. In fact,
AS: So what do you suggest dealers do to dominate their market? PG: Do what your competition is not — pursue well-rounded,
we have to pass on a lot of candidates because they aren’t willing to go through our training program. It may be hard to believe, but we’re OK with that. If the candidate doesn’t want to take part in our training, then they don’t fit within our system. We are a lot like the New England Patriots in this way. We’ve learned that these types of people tend to create a lot of issues down the road. There are a lot of car guys who don’t like to be held accountable to a higher standard.
systematic marketing plans. Over the last couple years we’ve talked to a lot of dealers, and have noticed an alarming trend. If you look back three years ago, every dealer in an average market was advertising via direct mail, TV, radio, etc. These days, everyone is focused on advertising through the Internet, making the Internet a rather saturated space. Just because advertising options like direct mail have been around for awhile doesn’t mean they don’t work. We are one of the few companies that still offer a performance guarantee, which requires us to track our advertising and stay on top of trends. Believe it or not,
Those who do take part in our training process understand its importance. New team members spend weeks in assessment training, designed to evaluate skills and character prior to officially becoming a part of our family. Once accepted into the flock, team members are required to participate in quarterly round-table training to discuss common challenges and introduce new management and sales techniques. All of this regulated training acts as preparation for a nationwide team convention held yearly in Cincinnati, Ohio. This
The success of our business model has helped dealers dominate their market and created a need for us to seek additional help.
TV, radio and direct mail can be highly effective in today’s market, if used properly.
convention allows teams to share experiences with their peers, further developing themselves both professionally and personally. This cycle then continues for each year of a team member’s employment. Improving our people has been key in the results we have been able to provide for our clients. As other companies are finding it harder and harder to have good sales, we have increased our average sale by 43 percent — all because we work a system. AS: Describe some of the processes you have to motivate and develop your staff. PG: Monday mornings are reserved for intricate sales training geared
to the needs of staffed event account executives. Techniques from the Sandler Sales Institute, The NTR Group and Stephen Covey are regular topics up for discussion at these Monday morning meetings. Motivational training programs such as those by Tony Robbins are attended by all — from the president to the receptionist. The skills taught here go beyond basic classroom training to involve strategic goal setting and achievement plans. These plans require each employee to regularly write down goals, address aspects of performance that need improvement, and apply new communication techniques to their daily lives. All of these actions combine to create a program that nurtures success amongst its employees. AS: Tell us about your “Rules.” PG: Our employees live by a list of more than 180 rules focused on
sales and management best-practices. These rules act as guidelines for each employee to teach them different ways to think about and handle issues. When faced with difficult circumstances or tough decisions, these rules help to define the issue and keep employees charging forward. Each rule is regularly reviewed as a part of various training programs. Copies of specific rules are displayed on the walls of each account executive’s office and are shared with each team as reminders to apply the principle to a solution. Presenting guidelines in this manner helps each employee become better equipped to proactively handle situations. This style of training develops people to a higher standard. AS: How has this training and preparation allowed your company to adapt to the changing needs of your clients and the marketplace? PG: While staffed events are the core of our business plan, our people
have been able to create additional services to help our clients grow. As time and dealer needs progressed, the talents of our employees have allowed us to adapt and increase the services we are able to provide. We now offer a variety of themed staffed events, direct mail advertising, Internet promotions, RV programs and a fully automated inventory posting solution. We have repeatedly reinvented ourselves in response to growing demand. Our offerings grew out of need. Some were created as a result of our absorption of various event providers, while others were built from direct requests from the dealer. By creating new business opportunities in response to demand, we are now the one in need. We need to add talent to support our expanding business divisions. No doubt about it: These new positions are a key
piece to our aggressive growth commitment, and require the attention of only the most notable candidates. AS: What will it take for people to join your team? PG: Before one can get to training, he or she must meet a very detailed
list of hiring criteria, which includes drug testing, background checks, a signed code of ethics and more. Our hiring process is lengthy, to weed out the good from the bad. We don’t cut corners. This process is just as important to our client’s well-being as it is to ours. Our rigorous hiring qualifications and training programs will appeal to only an elite few. Think of it this way: What type of person strives to be a Green Beret? One who is driven, focused, committed and professional; or an individual who is non-committal, unfocused, unaccountable and lacking the desire to be all they can be? AS: Pursuing such an aggressive growth plan in the face of a recession seems a bit risky. PG: This company is no stranger to conquering concerns. Fifteen
years in the business has given us many opportunities to learn right from wrong. We’ve taken our share of risks and have experienced both success and set backs as a result. Experience has formed the foundation on which successful events are built. It can be scary for a dealer to try something new in an economy like this. We understand that fear. We’ve been there. But our history has proven to us what really works and what doesn’t. This “no fear” mentality has proven to be a large contributor to our steady and rapid growth. While not every dealer may be enticed by hard results, there are an increasing number of dealers who’ve come to rely on our products and services. Still think you’ve got what it takes to be a part of G&A Marketing’s all star squad? They may be searching for you. Send your resume to Matt Baker, VP of G&A Marketing at mbaker@autosuccessonline. com for consideration. Thinking of hiring additional personnel for your dealership or business in the coming months? G&A has a few free tips that will help you fill your positions with quality talent. To request a copy of Nine Necessary Rules for Hiring and Retaining the Industry’s Best, e-mail Matt Baker at the address above, with the subject line “RULES.” For more information about G&A Marketing or president Pat Gunning, contact him at 866.880.3564, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DEALERS USE AUTOMOTIVE DOMINATE SEARCH ENGINES Ever since consumers began shopping on the Internet, third-party lead providers have used search engine marketing to acquire and sell leads to multiple dealers who were willing to buy them. With more dealers buying the same leads, the closing ratio and gross profits of these leads have decreased while the cost has increased. As a result, most dealers prefer to generate their own exclusive leads that have higher closing ratios and lower costs. To accomplish this, dealers must be positioned where consumers start their online shopping: search engines, such as Google and Yahoo. This has been a big obstacle because dealers have not been able to compete with national thirdparty lead providers who have long had an advantage on the search engines because of their national footprint and corresponding search authority. A new network, designed for local dealers, however, has changed the playing field by giving them an advantage on national search engines. Looking to use their combined weight to generate high-quality exclusive leads for less money, dealers have been joining the Automotive Advertising Network (created by industry veterans Brian Pasch, Sean Wolfington and David Boice) to establish a national footprint to increase their own authority and positioning on the search engines. As a result, they are appearing ahead of the third-party lead providers for popular national and regional search phrases. “It hurts our closing ratio and gross profit when lead providers sell the same lead to multiple dealers, or sell ads on Web pages that promote our inventory,” said Brian Benstock, GM of Paragon Honda/Acura, the No. 1 selling Honda/Acura dealer in the world. “We use the network because it promotes our inventory on hundreds of national, regional and local Web sites that don’t allow competitors ads on our pages and delivers unlimited exclusive leads.” Ford Creates the First Ad Network
The first ad network, FordDirect.com, was
created by Ford Motor company to protect their brand from third-party lead providers who were inviting consumers to receive quotes from competing brands so they could sell the same lead to more dealers. Their network was designed to be a captive consumer site that sells leads to their dealers and not to GM, Honda or Toyota. “These leads always generated the best returns because they were exclusive and not resold to multiple dealers from competing brands,” said Sean Wolfington, founder of BZ Results and Cyber Car, which trained all of the Ford dealers on FordDirect.com when it was launched.
consumer searches a month. Without the cost of expensive Superbowl ads, the network can give its members unlimited leads for a flat membership fee.
Now some of the top dealers in the country are using their own dealer’s network to generate their own leads for less money, using regional and local Web sites, such as FordDirect.com, CarDealerSale.com and the hundreds of other sites. Chrysler may also be launching a similar initiative sometime this year.
The Super Bowl of Search Engine Optimization
Unlike a traditional lead generator, the new network generates traffic through online marketing, content publishing and through hundreds of national, regional and local consumer sites that are optimized to appear on Google Page One for the most popular regional search phrases like “Boston Dealer,” a phrase that receives more than 20,000
“The network helps us reach people who type in the more popular national and regional search phrases like ‘Hyundai Virginia Beach,” said Alex Snyder from Checkered Flag Toyota in Virginia Beach. “To appear on top of the results, we optimize our Web site and the network powers our off-site SEO strategy by providing thousands of inbound links that increase our Web sites search authority.”
The search authority of the dealer’s network became most visible when the phrase “cash for clunkers” became the No. 1 most-searched phrase in the nation. Everyone scrambled to compete for this phrase in what became the “Super Bowl” of automotive search engine optimization. Manufacturers and national lead providers had the advantage because of their huge footprint and their corresponding authority on the search engines, but the new network gave dealers the power they needed to end up on top. “Every manufacturer and dealer had the same
AD NETWORK TO “The network helps us reach people who type in the more popular national and regional search phrases like ‘Hyundai Virginia Beach,” said Alex Snyder from Checkered Flag Toyota in Virginia Beach. “To appear on top of the results, we optimize our Web site and the network powers our off-site SEO strategy by providing thousands of inbound links that increase our Web sites search authority.” program with the same offer so the question was who could reach the consumer first,” said Benstock from Paragon Honda, who sold more Hondas to clunker consumers than any other Honda dealer in the country. Since search engines are where consumers initiate their research the majority of the time the Web site that could appear first for “cash for clunkers” would certainly win the race. “When consumers typed in a national search phrase like ‘cash for clunkers’ and regional phrases like ‘cash for clunkers new york,’ more than one of the Web sites in the network appeared on top of page one,” Pasche said. In the end, the network generated more than 150,000 leads for member dealers in less than 45 days, something that would have been impossible before. Toyota’s Recall helped a lot of dealers sell more cars
The recalls from Toyota became the most recent “jump ball” in the search engine optimization game. “ToyotaRecall.org, one of the many Web sites in the network, appears multiple times on Google page one when consumers search for national, regional and local phrases that relate to the recall,” said Wolfington. For instance, when a customer searches for “toyota recall” (national phrase), “virginia toyota recall” (regional phrase) or “chesapeake toyota recall” (local phrase) they will find Toyota’s Web site and ToyotaRecall. org, the network’s Web site. “Members in the network appear on top because the network mirrors the search behavior of consumers by optimizing a
2. “CashForClunkersFacts.com and CashForClunkersNY, both AAN sites, appears on top for “Cash for Clunkers New York”
national Web site for national search phrases, a regional Web site for regional search phrases and a local Web site for local search phrases,” Pasch said. “We are informing consumers about the recall and helping them connect to member dealers who can help them service their vehicle or replace it for a new one.” “The leads we get from the network have a much higher closing ratio and gross profit because we are the only dealer getting our leads” said Jon Sherrell, Internet Director at the Rairdon Group in Washington. “We also get more leads from our dealer Web site because we inherit the network’s search authority and that dramatically improved our placement on the search engines for highly competitive phrases for the vehicles we sell.”
3. “ToyotaRecall.org, an AAN site, appears on top for “Toyota Recall”
Susan Givens is the publisher of AutoSuccess. She can be contacted at 877.818.6620, or by e-mail at email@example.com. 4. “ToyotaRecall.org, an AAN site, appears on top for “Toyota Recall Virginia” and “Toyota Recall Chesapeake”
1. “CashForClunkersFacts.com, an AAN site, appears on top for “Cash for Clunkers”
5. “BostonDealers.org, an AAN site, appears on top for “Boston Dealers”
the #1 sales-improvement magazine for the automotive professional
GET PREPARED FOR THE RECOVERING ECONOMY Without a doubt, the last two years have been the most challenging in our industry’s history. There have been radical changes within dealer networks, manufacturers and consumer buying habits. So after last month, we are all breathing a collective, if not cautionary, sigh of relief. The economy is showing us signs of better days. Customers are returning and the profits are following. The challenge now is efficiency. We must strategically communicate with our customers in ways that they respond to while adding to the bottom line. Smart outreach must be coupled with financial accountability and responsibility. Below are a few steps that can be taken to insure your dealership is prepared to take advantage of the current economic outlook: Cleanse Your Data
More than 25 percent of your current database has records that cannot or should not be marketed to. Do not let unscrupulous companies waste your money trying to communicate with them. Capture E-mail Addresses
Capturing customers’ e-mail addresses not only allows you to communicate in a media that is more convenient to them, but also dramatically reduces campaign costs. For instance, if you send 12 communications a year paying an average of $0.83 apiece, you could be saving $10 per year, per customer in your database. That really adds up.
these social forums as a means to casually communicate back and forth with friends and family. We should be using them as they are meant — a forum to listen and provide value. This can be a challenging, but it pays in spades, Target Your Traditional Marketing
Targeted marketing campaigns are all the rage right now because they work. Identifying and targeting the correct customer with the correct message makes your message stick and your dealership relevant. Do not waste your time or money on untargeted campaigns. Target Online Communications
Targeted SEO and SEM should be used on all electronic marketing. Many of us have started utilizing SEO and SEM, but have done this much like we used to approach direct mail — spray and pray. Keywords and advanced long tail SEO help you land customers by pulling them in with services and topics specific to their interest. Be Cohesive in Your Messaging
Many dealers today spend good money to make live calls direct mail pieces to drive foot traffic for a specific event. Unfortunately, when the customer visits your Web site or dealership, there is no sign of the event. And worse yet, they often get two or three communications that send mixed messages! This extends between departments as well; coordinate your message between sales and service.t Ensure cohesion — this will reduce your expenses and customer confusion while maximizing your ROI.
return, but lower your customer burn. Create a Follow-up Practice
“If you build it they will come” does not cut it when it comes to marketing. You must make sure that everyone in your dealership is aware of the campaign and the surrounding details. In addition, you will want to make sure you have set clear expectations with your staff on how the incoming calls should be handled, how appointments will be confirmed and how customers will be greeted when they visit the dealership. Measure Your Return
When you start your campaigns, understand the timelines and set a time at the beginning to review your results. Hold your teams and vendors accountable by setting objectives and timelines with whoever helped you develop your campaign and marketing. And finally, Try New Marketing
A percentage of your budget should always be set aside for trying new marketing campaigns and new channels. Interest in mobile marketing alone is exploding, in fact, according to a recent report published by Unica, more than 36 percent of companies are already utilizing mobile marketing. We are faced with a wide range of new marketing opportunities including rich media like podcasting, messaging and apps to new social media and microbloging. Each presents their own opportunities for reaching new customers and should be considered as part of your strategic plan.
Listen to Your Customers
We spend a lot of time talking at our customers when we should be listening to our customers. For example: Most dealers today understand the importance and power of having a Facebook or Twitter account. Unfortunately, these social media marketing tools are often used by most dealerships to communicate at their customers, not with the customer. It’s not the same as newspaper or TV ads of yesterday. People utilize
Talking with Customers, Not at Them
As tempting as it is, not every customer in your database wants to hear from you each month. Too often we get caught up with what we want our customers to hear, and are not focused on marketing messages that customer need to hear. All that noise is too easily dismissed and pushed aside. Sending customers the right message, at the right time in the right way will not only increase your
For more ideas on how you can improve your customer communications, or to receive a free opportunity analysis customized to your dealership, please contact me at the address below. Katherine Donovan is director of account development at VinSolutions. She can be contacted at 866.837.0794, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SUMMERTIME SAVINGS CAN BE A REALITY FOR YOUR TEEN Now that the school year has ended, your teen may be looking forward to a summer of scooping sundaes at the local ice cream stand or policing the pool as a lifeguard. Whatever their source of summer-time income, it is important that they understand the value of their work, the privilege of a paycheck and the significance of saving and how it can contribute to a successful future. After a couple weeks on the job, a teenage worker will most likely get their first paycheck. When this happens, be sure to sit down with your child to explain the ins and outs of the inevitable tax withholding and other deductions that could eat up nearly 30 percent of their earnings. After they get a grasp on this reality, encourage them open a checking account and give them the freedom they’ve been yearning for. Let them spend. Once they realize how many hours it takes them to afford the latest iPod or designer t-shirt, they may think twice when the next payday comes around.
After your child is armed with a bit more spending sense, help them establish a savings plan. Help them remember that time is on their side. While those first jobs are the beginning of independence and maturity, the youth of their years means the compounding of their cash. They should invest some of their earnings in a savings account such as a Roth Individual Retirement Account (IRA) as soon as possible. This way, their earnings will continue to compound without the burden of Uncle Sam taxing every dollar. They can contribute up to $5,000 per year and withdraw the money tax-free when they turn age 59 ½. Although the money is taxed before they put it into the account, it will accumulate tax free for many years to come. While some may think it’s too early to begin funding retirement accounts in your teens, when you look at the numbers you’ll see it’s the best time to start. For example, if your child begins contributing to an IRA this year and contributes $2,000 for the next 10 years, and gets an 8 percent rate of return,
for example, they’ll have approximately $31,290. But if they contribute $2,000 a year to their IRA for 20 years, assuming the same 8 percent rate of return, they’ll have approximately $98,845 Your teen may also want to consider investing in the stock market. Even if they set aside as little as $50 per month, they could invest in a few companies they admire and track each organization’s daily performance in the newspaper or online. With a vested interest in the stock market, your teen will learn a lot about the fundamentals of investing and the potential benefits it may have for their future. It is never too early to begin practicing solid savings habits. As soon as your child receives that first paycheck, teach them that setting aside even a small amount each week may make a big difference on the road ahead. 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 email@example.com.
the #1 sales-improvement magazine for the automotive professional
THE DEATH OF TRADITIONAL SALESPEOPLE part 2 A recent article I wrote titled “The Death of Traditional Salespeople” (AutoSuccess, December, 2009), received more response than any article I have ever written. Judging from the massive response, I struck a nerve with salespeople, managers, business owners and just about everyone who read the article. Based upon the overwhelming response and the huge amount of requests for more information on this theme, I am providing the following article. For as long as I can remember, traditional sales training has focused highly on certain sales skills such as cold calling, presentationdemonstration, objection handling and closing. This model is outdated and out of touch. The traditional model that is taught to salespeople has an adversarial and combative tone that goes against the grain of basic human communication. Selling is not something you do to someone. By my definition, selling is assisting people in finding and understanding a solution to their problem(s). Every buyer has a problem — whether it is a want or need problem — and it’s the job of the salesperson to guide the buyer to the solution instead of force feeding him product or services. It’s much easier
to practice what I call the “slippery-slide method of selling.” If you were at a pool and it had one of those slippery-slides, you would start at the top and slide effortless to the bottom. In sales, it’s usually the salesperson that puts obstacles in the way of the customer from flowing effortlessly to their destination. The obstacles start in the form of an outdated mindset of “control” and coercive techniques. Instead of concentrating so much on outdated word tracks to overpower people, why not concentrate on understanding basic human emotion and thought in assisting the customer, rather than fighting him? Let’s start with the most abused skill in selling, which is listening. So much of selling is actually just listening. It is a proven part of communication that when most people listen, they listen intently for about the first 10 seconds and then quickly shift into thinking about what their response will be. A quick shift occurs in the salesperson that is now self-focused and control oriented. To truly listen is to seek to understand based upon complete focus on the customer and their perspective. Perception of the customer is the only reality that matters. It’s not about right or wrong or overcoming objections,
but about truly understanding the customer and their thoughts and feelings. From understanding comes a shared goal-achieving process with the customer. You and the customer share a destiny, rather than acting as opposing players. Traditional objection handling techniques stress changing a customer’s thoughts and emotions, rather than understanding them and then utilizing those thoughts and emotions to come a winning solution for the customer. I call this paradigm shift “selling form the heart.” Some old-school types will read this and think it’s a bunch of psycho-babble and feel-good mumbo-jumbo. To those of you locked into that vein of thought, understand that it’s not my mission to change you, as most adults do not change. As Jesus said to his disciples, “Don’t tarry too long with the non-believers.” To find out more about this topic and receive some FREE bonuses, contact me at the address below. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHAT YOU NEED FOR A PROFITABLE DETAIL DEPARTMENT Dealers say they want to improve, but they continue to operate their detail departments the same way they always have. Even worse, they do not have a long-term action plan to one day improve the department, which is symptomatic of the problems in the detail departments of almost all dealerships in the U.S. and Canada today. Whatever justification the dealer makes, the reality is if they want to improve the efficiency and profitability of their detail department, they would make some tough investment decisions to upgrade the department in terms of management, personnel, facilities and equipment. Utilizing Resources
There are certain resources – materials, facilities, equipment, manpower and management — that have to be addressed for the department to improve. They are your production resources. Management Resources
Management is the foundation of the production resource structure, because proper management is critical to consistent, profitable production. Without a clear understanding of this resource, the time, attention and money applied to the other resources will be wasted. Management resources are best utilized in a detail department as follows: 1. Cost analysis and a clear understanding of the financial aspects of operating the department 2. Establishment of performance standards and their constant review by a manager and a supervisor over the manager 3. Clearly defined goals and objectives for the department, the detailers, the manager, and the supervisor 4. A well-defined management philosophy 5. The hiring, training, motivation and delegation of responsibility and clearly defined accountability It is here at the foundation that you find the most important resources in the operation
of your detail department. Not the technical aspects, but the management aspects. As important as the technical resources are, it is rare to hear anyone say that they spend equal amounts of time and energy on management resources.
in carpet and upholstery cleaning is far exaggerated. An extractor cannot be expected to clean carpets with heavy, ground-in dirt and grit — not without some aggressive friction shampooing. The dealer, however, is always looking for unrealistic cure all solutions.
Manpower resources are the people used to detail vehicles. Nothing happens without people. However, dealers often go about trying to get more production out of people in the wrong way. First, dealers hire “experienced” detailers, thinking that someone with experience will give them a jump-start. Wrong! Unfortunately, “experienced” detailers in this primitive business have usually come from a undisciplined work environment and resist change; their experience is only good if you let them do things the way they want. Second, they spend more money on equipment, buildings and better chemicals. As important as they are, spending money on them without proper attention to manpower results in less-than-expected results. In most cases, the experienced detailers will not use the new equipment or processes; it’s not the way they “have always done it.” What a dealer has to do in the detail department is to establish a benchmark for a prototype detail employee. Then, do not hire people with good skills; hire people with good values and teach them the skills. Equipment Resources
Having the right equipment and tools to do your detailing work is more important today than ever. However, the dealer seems to be looking for equipment at a cheap price that will be a cure-all to all the problems in the detailing department. The tendency is to expect the equipment and tools to solve the problems, which they cannot do. For example, soil extractors have become a common piece of equipment in dealership detail departments. But the expectations of what this piece of equipment can accomplish
By “facility,” it means the building or space where the detailing is performed. For many dealers, it is anywhere they can put a few cars. Today, however, many dealers are realizing that a properly laid out shop is essential to maximum production. Things such as equipment placement, traffic flow patterns, lighting, heat and noise control are just some of the important considerations. Materials Resources
You cannot clean cars without having the right chemicals. They are thought to be the “life’s blood” of the detailing process. There is no argument about the importance of chemicals in the detail department, but there is a tendency for the “detail technician” to exaggerate their importance. And, of course, the chemical salesman promotes this attitude to sell more chemicals. Bottom line: Chemicals are a commodity. Buy them from any legitimate supplier and you basically get the same thing. Summary
An experienced detailer with an electric buffer, shop vac, plastic squeeze and spray bottles and a few rags will not make it if you want an efficient detail department. You must have knowledge and a clear understanding of your production resources. If you do not, it is unlikely you will ever have an efficiently operating detail department of which you can be proud. The choice is yours to continue as you have or to move forward. Bud Abraham is the president of Detail Plus Car Appearance Systems. He can be contacted at 866.205.8499, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
FOSTERING A CULTURE OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP Times are tough. Ad budgets are stretched to the max and conversion rates for traditional advertising are down. The Internet is a great frontier, but competitors are flocking to it and throwing money at online media like there’s no tomorrow. Every SEO and social media “expert” is knocking on the door telling you why you need to make the $5,000 to $50,000 investment to corner the online market. It’s a gold rush out there. But if you’re like me, you know that online marketing isn’t going to be the be-all-andend-all of your dealership’s success. At the end of the day, the customer is still going to buy based on some fundamentals of buying and selling that will never change. One of the fundamentals is the power of people and relationships. Sure, you’ll read about the guy who built
a Web site and started selling millions of dollars worth of iron without a showroom. There is also no disputing the power of eBay and other online portals for generating “people-less” sales. However, the online marketing of vehicles is simply a new channel of distribution that allows a “suspect” (someone who fits your target audience) to become a “prospect” (raise their hand and ask for help). In some cases, these prospects will also convert to an “account” (first-time buyers) without stepping foot on your lot. But there still is (and always will be) a large segment of the market that will demand to shake someone’s hand, kick the tires, do a test drive, get a free soda pop and talk numbers face-to-face. So while your Internet department is clamoring for more and more resources so it can dominate in cyberspace, here’s a thought on how to keep the other side of the house thriving. Answer this quick question: Are your salespeople entrepreneurs or are they JOBbers? Here’s how to tell you have JOBbers: • If they complain about the quality of prospects walking on the dealership lot • If they sit in the sales meeting with their arms folded when you talk about taking ownership • If you have to tell them what time to clock in and out • If you have to constantly remind them to make outbound calls or update the CRM system OK, so that’s just a few indicators that you have JOBbers on your hands. There’s nothing wrong with having JOBbers. They are just terribly inefficient for a business in trying times such as this.
Now if your dealership culture www.autosuccessonline.com
thrives with the JOBbers, then by all means, don’t change a thing. However, if you get the nagging feeling that your original vision for the dealership didn’t include a bunch of JOBbers hanging around, this may be a very opportune time to build a top-down culture of entrepreneurship. Here are some tips to get you started in that direction. 1. Positioning Your Brand
In the April issue of AutoSuccess, I talked about the importance of doing a brand positioning exercise. That is a critical first step to the process. Visit joeabraham.com/ autosuccess for more on brand positioning. 2. Hire for Attitude and Train for Skill This has been a motto of mine and it has served me well in business as a serial entrepreneur. When you study other highly successful companies and dealerships across the country, you’ll find this golden thread running through their organizations, as well. 3. Build your Comp Plan Around Entrepreneurship
The right sales professional will generate his or her own leads and let you supplement that pipeline with any traffic you drive to the dealership. How many sales people do you have who generate 60+ percent of their business from leads they originate themselves? Look at your compensation structure and make sure you have not made it easier for a salesperson to sit back and wait for the phone than to get out and network their way to success. 4. Reward Entrepreneurship
If your brand position calls for your dealership to be a high-energy, positive, entrepreneurial setting, then reward that activity whenever it takes place. Whether you spot an employee picking up a loose piece of trash, going out of their way for a prospect or spending their own time out generating qualified prospects. The fact of the matter is that in these changing times, your dealership must find ways to innovate and work smarter. Building a culture of entrepreneurship is a great way to do that. I have seen it do wonders for the companies that have made a commitment to it. Joe Abraham is the founder of The BOSI Performance Institute. He can contacted at 866.461.5751, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOW TO MEASURE THE REAL UPLIFT YOUR ADVERTISING CREATES We all know that if we did nothing with advertising — no TV, radio, direct mail or e-mail — there would still be a percentage of people who buy from us. It may be a small percentage, but there are some who would buy because they know us from our location, from their friends, etc. Of course, it is a little more complicated than that, because almost everyone does some kind of advertising. In addition, there are times we experiment or try new approaches.
simple test. Take your e-mail or mailing list and pull out a minimum of 10 percent and use it as a control. That 10 percent should not receive the mail or e-mail advertisement you plan to send to the other 90 percent. The goal is to see the exact ROI of the 90 percent you advertise this specific ad to, compared to your 10 percent control list who receives your normal communication message. For sales, measure the ROI over a 30-day period. For service, you will want to measure for 45-60 days, depending on your offer.
would receive? — start measuring against a control list.
So the real question becomes, when you try these different approaches, what is the real uplift it creates? What is the actual increase in sales or profit generated as a result of your advertisement? That’s the answer we really need to know, isn’t it?
“We would have sold or serviced these people anyways.” How many times have you made that comment?
Results per 1,000 People in Study Group
Below is a study we did using this control method. Analytical Study Group bPrecise identified 12,854 eligible potential customers in a study group of three Service Clients at three different dealerships. Ten percent we set aside as a control group and not sent Service Client Invitations, the remaining 90 percent were marketed to.
Dealership visits Market Group Control Group
Hundreds of elements can be measured with direct mail and e-mail. An e-mail, mail list, headlines, offers and creative can all be measured, and need to be isolated to know the true impact each element has. But, to know from an ROI standpoint — did this advertisement provide more sales and profit over and above what you normally
There is a simple way to measure your success with e-mail and direct mail. Regardless if you use mass mailings, segmented lists or decide to use data analytics to nail down your target list, you can do this
Revenue $43,648.39 $19,857.04
Market group showed a 120 percent improvement over the control group.
Scott Joseph is the president of J&L Marketing, Inc. He can be contacted at 888.835.1689, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Out Now side Hiring Sale s Re ps
FACT: Text messaging has risen 700% since 2006. Text “answer” to 89000 to see how many messages were sent in June 2009.
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• Text for info
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FACEBOOK FOR AUTO DEALERS Social media has become all the rage in the automotive industry — and every other industry for that matter. It has quickly grown into the dominating “Next Big Thing” of marketing and customer communication. But how do you make it work? How do you even get started? What I wanted to cover here are a couple quick lessons to get you started using a social media tool called Facebook and also give you a free eBook with even more information about getting started with using Facebook for your dealership.
advertising outlet. If you do, the community will ostracize you immediately. To be successful with Facebook you need to make an investment of your persona and your time. To learn more about how to leverage Facebook, contact me at the address below to download a free eBook that will give you a host of tips and
strategies to ensure your success online. Todd Smith is the co-founder of ActivEngage. He can be contacted at 866.387.9061, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Does your DETAIL DEPARTMENT look like this?
Facebook is an online platform that enables people to connect and share ideas, pictures, videos and links. It was started as a way for college kids to stay in touch. It grew beyond the universities wall into the mainstream, where people and businesses started to leverage the platform as a marketing and communication channel throughout the world. Lesson One — Start small and set up a
personalized page for yourself and a fan page for your dealership. Then, do a little online research using Facebook’s search tool. It will shock you how many people you know who are using Facebook to socially connect with friends and family. Even if you are older and not into technology, Facebook is a fascinating way to reconnect with long lost schoolmates and friends from your past.
It COULD look like this...
Lesson Two — Join the conversation by
sharing some pictures, commenting on other people’s links, pictures and videos. Involving yourself in the discussion builds rapport and credibility and establishes you as a trusted resource in the world of Facebook. Lesson Three — Begin to tie your dealership’s community activities into your Facebook fan page. For example, if you are sponsoring a local sports team have someone go to each game and take some pictures and maybe even shoot some video. This gives you a great amount of content. Then put the pictures, video and the game score, with highlights, on your Facebook fan page each week, making your page the destination for parents that were not able to attend their kid’s game. This is a great way to involve your local community and intertwine your dealership in local area events. Think big: parades, annual events or anything that draws a good crowd.
As you develop more connections online and build a network of contacts on Facebook, you will then have the opportunity to use this new network to communicate important happenings at the dealership. An important note is to not use Facebook just as another
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TRANSPORTATION PROVIDERS CAN HELP DEALERS MAINTAIN PROFITABILITY DURING PERIODS OF LOW SUPPLY As wholesale used vehicle supply shrinks, more dealers are turning to the Internet to source inventory. While a dealer can buy the vehicles he wants online at a good price, shipping costs can sometimes cut into the profits. Transportation providers can help dealers who source inventory online by giving them easy access to lower cost, long distance auto shipping options. Wholesale used vehicle prices are predicted to continue a “year-over-year” increase from 2009, according to Adesa Analytical Services (Pulse, 2009 Mid-Year Recap). However, the number of wholesale used vehicles is decreasing due to low levels of new vehicle trade-ins, fewer rental turnbacks, and declining off-lease and repo volumes. In fact, analysts predict the reduction in wholesale supply will last through 2012. Because of the decrease in trade-ins, more dealers are sourcing their inventory at auctions, and even more are buying online, according to the Manheim 2009 Used Car Market Report. In
a recent dealer survey, more than half of dealers surveyed said they purchase 50 percent or more of their vehicles on the Internet and planned to buy more online in the future. For example, some Midwest dealers are now buying cars from West Coast auctions, where the supply of quality vehicles is better than in their local areas. Yet, one of the major issues constraining Internet trading to date has been transportation. For online trading to be cost effective, dealers need access to affordable transportation options to move cars efficiently around the country. In its 2009 Used Car Market Report, Manheim cited transportation logistics as one of the five future trends in 2010. Luckily, there is a powerful multimodal transportation network already in place for the delivery of automobiles in the U.S. More than 70 percent of new cars are delivered using this network, which consists of truck carriers, railroads and shipping vessels. In the past, this network wasn’t easily accessible to used car shippers; however, this is rapidly changing.
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When sourcing inventory from locations more than 500 miles away, dealers should look to national auto transportation providers for cost savings and efficiency. “Affordable rail service brings the additional capacity and market coverage needed to truly expand used car trading on the Internet, domestically and internationally,” said Julie Krehbiel, vice president and general manager, automotive, Union Pacific Railroad. Transportation
providers who have access to both truck and rail can help dealers move cars efficiently and affordably to maintain strong profit margins. Rail becomes an even more attractive option when fuel prices start to rise, because rail is more fuel-efficient over long hauls. In addition to providing lower-cost auto transport, rail service provides better than 99 percent damage-free delivery. Specially trained loading personnel carefully drive the vehicles into the bi-level and tri-level railcars and secure them using straps and tire chocks to prevent movement in transit. Vehicles moved by rail arrive in great condition also because they are shipped in fully-enclosed railcars that protect the vehicles from the elements and road debris. Many auto transportation providers offer instant online quotes to help Internet buyers estimate shipping costs before they purchase a car online. Some auto shipping Web sites now allow the buyer to place their order and track their shipments from their computer. Online auctions are considering integrating transportation with the auction purchase; most already provide a choice of pre-screened auto shippers. Dealers should also encourage their trusted local carriers to partner with a national transportation provider to extend their reach with rail or vessel. With wholesale prices climbing and supply decreasing, dealers are turning to the Internet to source more of their inventory. Auto transportation providers can help dealers maintain their profit margins by giving them easy, safe and affordable options to move cars over longer distances. Jeff Grandstaff is the general manager of ShipCarsNow. He can be contacted at 866.834.6074, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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twice the number of certiﬁed pre-owned vehicles We sell
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— Brian Benstock General Manager & Vice President Paragon Honda & Paragon Acura Queens, New York
Beyond the leading-edge technology. Beyond the exclusive features. Beyond the data-driven insight. For a select set of dealers nationwide, vAuto has become much more. It has become all the power and the privilege of a franchise — refocused on used car operations. License to proprietary software proven to drive proﬁtability. Access to the Velocity Management™ playbook and coaches. Entrance to a community of like-minded, highly successful dealers. Contact with customers predisposed to buying from you. It’s “the franchise”— reinvented for today’s used car market. vAuto is The Franchise 2.0.
Get a live demo today. Visit www.vAuto.com/nextfranchise or call 888-841-3701.
JimmyVee & TravisMiller
HOW TO MAKE CAR BUYERS COME TO YOU We’re often asked for “Crib Notes” on what we’ve learned about dealership marketing and attracting customers.
listing vehicle inventory on their Web sites and running the same old lame old advertising messages that look and sound like all other car dealer advertising.
Many dealers want a “short course” in how to attract, convert, leverage and retain the right kind of customers...and how to do it immediately on a shoe-string budget.
Attraction isn’t a choice — it’s a force. When done right, the prospect doesn’t make a choice between you and another dealership. They are gravitated, pulled to you as if by a powerful, natural force.
Here are three of the most important principles we’ve learned about attracting customers in an easy to digest, down ‘n dirty format. Attracting Customers is not a Conventional Process
If you don’t understand how it works, you could spend your whole life doing the wrong things, hurting your reputation, getting poor results and wasting tons of money. The worst part is that most dealers could actually be successful at attracting customers and creating a steady stream of qualified prospects who seek them out without too much extra effort. But here’s the scary reality: Most never will. They’ll just walk through life thinking “Oh, well. I’ve just got to keep getting my name out there and posting my inventory online and maybe people will want what I got.” They will continue to make excuses and justifications for why a competitor always seems to have the lion’s share of the business while they are struggling just to eek out a socalled “decent” living. And the problem isn’t at all them; it’s that they just don’t “get it.” They don’t get how and why prospects become attracted to one particular dealership over another. They don’t realize that all the common, customary and ordinary things they’re doing are only making them less attractive and more of a commodity. This includes price and payment advertising,
Prospects Want Solutions to their Problems
Who doesn’t, right? But this is one area that is sorely missed by most dealers when they try to market themselves. Most dealers believe that people care about or know about their store. Most dealers believe that customers care about their people or how long they’ve been in business. They don’t, especially before they’ve come in. Your prospects expect good service, expect to be treated well and expect that you know what you’re doing. In order to effectively attract prospects and customers, you have to remove your ego and stop thinking that a prospect cares about you and start caring about what your potential customers want. This reminds us of a very powerful quote from Zig Ziglar: “You can get anything in the world you want if you only help enough other people get what they want.” He is right on.
things easier; it just complicates things even more. Too much information paralyzes people even faster. This is one of the major reasons customer attraction is possible. Because people need help and want help streamlining the decisionmaking process. They are looking for a shortcut and are willing to pay for it. When you advertise traditionally, you just make the process of choosing more complicated because just make yourself more generic not different. By providing information, being an expert resource and creating a buying preference, you can help customers make the good decisions they are seeking and help them do it in record time. They feel good about it and you’ve got a customer that’s eternally grateful. You helped them get what they wanted quickly and feel good about the decision they made. This is attraction in action. We believe that most dealers have the natural ability to communicate, market and differentiate their dealerships in a way that makes them attract, pull and gravitate prospects and customers, but the problem is they’ve just never “cultivated” that natural ability. Instead, pop culture, parents, politicians, past experiences, traditional education and all kinds of other things have hidden and stunted the development of this talent.
Good Decisions are in High Demand
Learning how to attract customers, instead of chasing and confusing them, is the only way we know to run and market a successful dealership today. And there are many benefits given to those who tap into their natural ability to do this. Your business and life, for instance, become enjoyable, simple and prosperous. What more can you ask for?
Everyone wants to make good decisions in their lives. The problem is good decisionmaking requires searching, information, comparison and analysis. And doing all that can be frustrating, time consuming and costly. Oh, and the Internet doesn’t make
Jimmy Vee and Travis Miller are founders of the Rich Dealers Institute. They can be contacted at 866.867.9618, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
You have to forget about your cars and your service and how great you think it all is. Instead think about how you can make your prospect’s life better, solve their problems or make their life easier. Doing this will draw people closer to you.
COMPLIANCE AS REPUTATION MANAGEMENT There are a number of good reasons for operating an ethical and legally compliant dealership, not the least of which is staying out of a courtroom. Perhaps the most important — and often overlooked — reason is customer satisfaction. There are times when an employee may feel that he or she won by bending the rules a little, but what about the dealership’s reputation? What about the customers who were mislead? It seems like there might be some losers in the game. Customers often make decisions during a vehicle sale transaction that they come to regret after the “ether has worn off.” Perhaps they read the contract more carefully after they get home or showed it to a relative or friend. The customer may notice some imperfections on the vehicle in the light of day and have it inspected by a mechanic or body shop, or run a vehicle history report. If there is a concern, some customers will let the dealer know, while others will just chalk it up to (bad) experience. Now, if the dealer gets a chance to rectify the
customer’s concern, how will the complaint be handled? Will it be “Sorry, all sales are final” or “You signed the contract”? What about the customer that doesn’t bother to report the concern? You can be sure they’re telling somebody about it. Here are examples of after-sale situations that can cause customer satisfaction nightmares: • The customer sees your advertisement for a price lower than he or she was charged for the vehicle. • The customer finds charges on the contract for items that he or she thought were included in the price of the vehicle. • The customer discovers that F&I products were sold at higher-than-market prices. • The customer discovers additional charges on the contract for items that he or she never agreed to purchase. • The customer gets a call from the lender who asks for verification that the vehicle has a sunroof – and it doesn’t. • The customer discovers that the price of the vehicle was raised to cover negative
equity on the trade-in after being told that the dealer agreed to purchase the trade-in for the full loan balance. • The customer gets a call from the lender asking for verification of an income amount which is much higher than what was written on the credit application. • The customer discovers that the vehicle purchased had undisclosed prior damage. • The customer runs a vehicle history report and discovers that the vehicle purchased was an undisclosed previous rental, a prior demo, flood damaged, etc. Don’t put your business and reputation that you have worked years to build at risk. Take compliance seriously. A focus on compliance and training will protect your company, your employees, your customers and, most importantly, your good name. Jim Radogna is president of Dealer Compliance Consultants, Inc. He can be contacted at 866.704.8657, or by e-mail at at firstname.lastname@example.org.
START TRACKING CALLS Are you thinking about using tracking phone numbers for your Web site and ad campaigns? Dealership owners are drawn to the idea of call tracking because of the prospect of eliminating wasteful spending on ads that aren’t working. Marketing directors can measure the number of responses an ad generates to gauge which types of media (or which providers) are producing the highest rates of return. Recent breakthroughs now even allow the dealership to tie an incoming Web site call back to the search engine keyword and referring source that delivered the caller. So what’s the catch? There isn’t one, as long as you ask your prospective call tracking vendor these seven questions: 1. Who Owns the Numbers?
Some providers maintain ownership of the telephone numbers that are being tracked. Advertisers become hostages to the call measurement company that is leasing the numbers, because they can’t switch to another provider without forfeiting all of the calls that their number generates. When a company sells a call measurement number, the customer becomes the owner of that line. If the company isn’t doing a good job, the advertiser can port the number to another company without any interruption in service. 2. Who Owns the Data?
Since you are paying for the ad that generates the leads, you should be the only party that can use the collected data. Make sure your provider isn’t planning on selling your customers’ names, phone numbers and addresses. It’s also a good idea to make sure you’ll have total control of the information that gets collected (i.e., Can the data be easily exported? Are there any limitations to how I can use the data?)
make sure your monthly minute total is a combined 2,000 minutes that can be distributed across all numbers (you may have a few numbers that generate a majority of the traffic).
can control what data is included and how the information is formatted; often times “customizable” just means your logo gets slapped onto the top of the page.
4. What Steps are Involved to Ensure Clean Numbers?
Call measurement service fees should be fully inclusive. If a proposal contains things like gateway fees, private labeling fees, programming fees, API usage fees, etc., ask for allowances in the service rates. Some add-on costs are acceptable because they’re simply pass-through costs of third-party vendors. Examples would be reverse phone address lookups and porting charges for existing numbers.
When you’re trying to track all the calls that respond to your advertisements, it’s frustrating to deal with “wrong number” callers. Often times a telephone number is recycled from a previous advertiser, so people who are using last year’s phone book or looking at an old ad will call the number and disrupt the statistics of the campaign you are try to track. Ask your provider how long numbers are decompressed before they get redistributed — most vendors require at least 12 months. 5. What’s the Contingency Plan for Misprinted Numbers?
No matter how careful a publisher might be, there will inevitably be situations where an ad gets messed up. For example, if a phone book publisher accidentally prints the same telephone number for different companies — which, in my experience, can happen — an automated greeting could be inserted asking callers to select which company they wished to be connected. It might not be a perfect solution, but it would minimize the damage. 6. What’s the Turnaround Time for New Numbers?
Generally, if a customer needs numbers in a market that’s in a company’s existing inventory, the provisioning process should take about three minutes. If the company doesn’t have the market covered, and lines have to be ordered from other vendors in the requested market, the industry standard currently is about five to seven business days. With increased competition and new technology, however, look for that timeframe to shrink to a new standard of 12 hours.
3. Can My Minutes be Pooled?
If a provider offers a package that includes 200 minutes per month, find out if you’re allowed to aggregate the minutes of multiple numbers. Example: If you’re paying for 10 numbers,
7. Can the Call Reports be Fully Customized?
Every provider claims that its reports are customizable. Make sure this means that you
What’s more, “Monthly minimum requirements” and “fixed monthly fees” are the same thing. Every call measurement provider incurs costs for carrying a number each month (whether local or toll-free) — this is a cost that comes from the telephone companies that provide the lines. Some cover this cost by passing along a $2 monthly fixed fee for each number that is being used. Others charge $0 as a fixed fee but then require a minimum of x minutes per month on each line (charged at a perminute rate). This serves the same function. If a provider claims to have no charges associated with carrying a number, check the fine print for minimum requirements elsewhere in the contract. Quality companies appreciate it when a savvy prospective client solicits bids from multiple providers and makes everyone compete. This is a great way to force the providers to be upfront and clear with their offers - if you’re requiring an apples-toapples comparison, everything gets simplified and you greatly decrease the risk of getting trapped in a misleading contract.
Stephen Cravens is a business development specialist for Century Interactive. He can be contacted at 866.652.3704, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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