ng some PA, enjoyi in Easton, a Saturday. ia K b au D n Brown ter… o , owner of use with his daugh Tom Ring lake ho ew n is h ESP at
How could I have known the car business would try to take my life? Maybe you’re a lot like me. Or at least how I used to be. I was working endlessly in the dealership. I had my life’s savings wrapped up in the business, and when “the crash” came it nearly ruined everything. My kids, my wife, my mortgage, my life…it all passed before my eyes as I watched sales get cut in half and profit all but disappear completely. I was frozen in fear for a while, then got moving, when a Google search led me to a couple of guys you may have heard of before – Jimmy Vee & Travis Miller from Rich Dealers. Of course, I’d heard it all before…increase traffic, increase sales, over promise, under deliver. What else is new? Frankly, I didn’t believe there was anything out there I hadn’t already tried. But I didn’t have much to risk, so I gave it a shot. “Prove me wrong, guys,” I said. Reluctantly, I got involved. I gotta say…they were talking about things nobody else was talking about. In fact, they seemed to be telling me the opposite of what most people were telling me I should do. It was anything but “common knowledge” and I was even more skeptical at this point. How could these two guys know something nobody else did? Seemed unlikely. But keep reading… So, back at the dealership, I figured why not try some of what they were suggesting. So, I ran the ad they gave me, I followed their strategy and I made some simple changes to the way we positioned our dealership to the customers. They showed me how to be in command of the actions of potential buyers by speaking to their subconscious mind. My expectations were low. What happened next? Well, I could hardly believe it. It was like someone turned on the lights. It was a complete and rapid reinvention of our business. The energy in the sales department went through the roof. People were excited to come to work again. The phones were ringing, the showroom was busy, leads
It Damn Near Killed Me...
were pouring in. Money was flowing. But how long would it last? I’m happy to report that it’s been nearly three years since I first found these guys. And every year has gotten better. 2009 was a record profit year, until 2010 shattered the record. And we netted more by June 2011 than we had in all of 2010. The only thing I can say is “hold on tight” because it’s the ride of your life. The best part is, not only did they help me increase sales (from about 80 new and used per month to over 250 new and used per month now) but they convinced me to slow down and appreciate life more. I’ve never felt more alive…and my family has never really known me before now. I’ve been able to rebuild cars with my boys and be there when my daughter left for her first date. My wife thinks she married a new man. Jim & Travis call it ESP – Enjoyable, Simple & Prosperous. It’s the ultimate goal of being a Rich Dealer. And it’s real, very real. Since then, my experience has convinced numerous other dealers around the country and in Canada to check out the program. Over the past few years I’ve seen a lot of different people join the program. I’ve seen a small independent dealer from Kentucky (Tony) start taking Saturdays off while grossing $500k per month. I’ve seen a big mid-west Chevy dealer (Courtney) go from 250 cars per month to 400 cars per month by doing what I did. I’ve seen Hyundai dealers, Dodge Chrysler dealers, Kia dealers, and everything in between come in and turn everything around by doing things differently than all the other “gurus” recommend. It’s refreshing. And it’s fun to double your business, take more dough home and spend more time with your family at the same time. How does it work? Jim & Travis say, “Stop selling cars, start selling solutions.” And they’re right! They recognized what so many others have missed: only a tiny part of the population are actively, consciously shopping for a nicer, newer car…while the vast majority
of people are sitting it out because some problem is keeping them from what they really want. But that inner desire among most people has power that overcomes logic. That craving remains, untouched, in the unconscious pleasure center of our brains, where typical advertising messages never reach. Jim & Travis knew that the most powerful part of the human brain was the unconscious “lizard brain.” So they began crafting messages that subtly speak to the subconscious mind and virtually hypnotize customers into buying from you—and loving the experience. They’ve sold more than 2,000,000 cars this way, and as you read this, every two minutes another car is sold. What makes their program so much more effective than other ordinary solutions? First, they write the creative for you. They don’t ask you to come up with the ideas. Every month they develop a fresh, new, winning campaign based on their formula. What a relief! I was so glad not to have to come up with the ideas myself anymore. The other high impact portion of their program is the interaction with their other members. Jim & Travis host a private meeting four times per year. I’ve learned more (and shared more) in those meetings than I have in any other group or seminar I’ve ever attended. Plus, all the members are connected online 24/7 through the Internet. Got a question? Some other member has the answer. And since there’s only one dealer per market area, people are always willing to share their best ideas and secrets. The first step toward becoming a member yourself is the free Market Rater Analysis. A Rich Dealers Advisor will analyze your market to determine how much untapped opportunity exists. Then they’ll answer your questions about the program and explain how you can try it yourself, risk free. To schedule, call 866.852.0145 and ask for Wayne Harris or visit www.MarketRater.com. ®
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THE #1 SALES-IMPROVEMENT MAGAZINE FOR THE AUTOMOTIVE PROFESSIONAL
AutoSuccess Magazine is published monthly at 2300 Hurstbourne Village Dr, Suite 1200 Louisville, KY 40299; 502.588.3155, fax 502.588.3170. Direct all subscription and customer service inquiries to 877.818.6620 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Subscription rate is $69 per year. AutoSuccess welcomes unsolicited editorials and graphics (not responsible for their return). All submitted editorials and graphics are subject to editing for grammar, content and page length. AutoSuccess provides its contributing writers latitude in expressing advice and solutions; views expressed are not necessarily those of AutoSuccess and by no means reflect any guarantees. AutoSuccess accepts no liability in respect of the content of any third party material appearing in this magazine or in respect of the content of any other magazine to which this magazine may be linked from time to time. Always confer with legal counsel before implementing changes in procedures.© All contents copyrighted by AutoSuccess Magazine, a Division of Systems Marketing, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part is prohibited without express written consent from AutoSuccess. AutoSuccess may occasionally make readers’ names available to other companies whose products and/or services may be of interest; readers may request that names be removed by calling 877.818.6620. Printed in the USA. Postmaster: Send address changes to AutoSuccess Magazine, 2300 Hurstbourne Village Dr, Suite 1200 Louisville, KY 40299.
maybe it is time to change your bodyshop financial statement
craigslist has rules
after 12+ years in the automotive internet sales...
‘zmot’ and your online reputation
24 28 34 38 44
“no price” marketing method:
Hype or Reality?
JimmyVee & TravisMiller
when to use you vs.why to choose you
A New Approach to Stocking Used Vehicles
your own personal gold mine
the 8th wonder of the world
Define your expert brand
Susie Horne, Account Manager John Warner, Sales-Improvement Strategist email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
do you have a strategy for connecting with customers before they hit the internet?
hone your advertising to hit the narrow target
adopt the digital-age equivalent of the evidence manual to attract more customers and close deals HeatherMacKinnon
08 14 TracyMyers
artificial intelligence is paving the way to increased sales DrakeBaerresen
guilty until proven innocent MarshBuice
Why F&I? ChrisCochran
32 36 40 BryanAnderson
customer relationships 101
18 26 30 JohnNorman
sales & training solution
Brian Ankney, Account Manager email@example.com
2300 Hurstbourne Village Dr, Suite 1200 Louisville, KY 40299 | p 877.818.6620 / f 502.588.3170 | AutoSuccessOnline.com/AutoSuccessPodcast.com | firstname.lastname@example.org
Dave Davis, Editor & Creative Strategist email@example.com
what would football have to do with selling cars?
Thomas Williams, VP & Creative Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Susan Givens, Publisher email@example.com
You Are GUARANTEED to Increase Your Bottom Line in 1 Year by $250,000 or More...
or I’ll Pay You $10,000! Hi, my name is Mark Tewart. I may have had the honor of coming into contact with you through my seminars, association meetings, NADA or NIADA conventions, articles in AutoSuccess or other magazines, my old Automotive Satellite Training Network shows or you may have read my best-selling book How To Be A Sales Superstar. Whether you know me or not, you may be wondering what allows me to be able to make such an outrageous claim. The answer is simple: If a client follows my no gimmick, no BS, fool-proof and proven methods, the results are as predictable as the sun coming up every day. That may sound arrogant to some of you, but to me and my select clients it’s just reality. Every year I have many dealers who ask me to work with them to help improve their sales and profits. I reject most of them. I only choose a few each year to work with on such a large scale. There are a few reasons why I carefully hand pick who to work with. The first reason is that it’s easy for you to say you want to improve but most people don’t want to do the things necessary to make it happen. This isn’t some magic-button, pie-in-sky fad. These are real-world and proven methods for massive profit improvements. It takes hard work and lots of commitment.
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The second reason for me being picky about who I work with on these projects is that frankly I don’t have the time. To create the massive results that you and I are looking for requires a great deal of my time and effort. Because of my time restraints, I refuse to spend time and effort with uncommitted dealers. I only align myself with passionate people committed to winning. The third and final reason for me being selective is my reputation. I can’t write ads like this and make such incredible guarantees unless I can bring the results. We are the only total dealership solution provider in the automotive industry. We provide training, products and services for every department that you need to take your dealership to another level.My reputation is beyond solid. By the way, the $250,000 bottom line improvement is just an example. I have had some dealers increase their bottom lines by more than $1,000,000. Look at it this way; I don’t take $10,000 guarantees lightly. I put my money where my mouth is.
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define your expert brand
The past three articles, I’ve shared the process I’ve developed to become the “go-to” expert in your highly profitable marketplace. Let’s review: 1. Understand yourself and your offer. 2. Understand your market and what they want. 3. Match your expertise to your perfect market.
Here is how we would rephrase the most important of Kipling’s questions for your brand: • Who are you? This may be simply your name and an overview of your expertise. • What do you do? This explains what you do for people — always in terms of the results people get when they work with you. Never talk about the process or the job title. • How do you do it? This is where you explain the process of working with people — for example, it may be that you set up an initial meeting or you may arrange weekly coaching sessions over six months. • Why should I buy from you? This is important — you need to give people specific reasons why you are the right person to meet their needs.
Now that you’ve identified what makes you special and have learned what your market is looking for, it’s time to start developing your expert brand.
Answering the question about “when” describes your availability. This is most important if you have some element of exclusivity, such as a waiting list for your services, or they are only available at fixed times (such as training courses).
When you have a strong expert brand, you will stand out from the competition. When people need your product or service, they will quickly see that you are exactly the expert they are looking for to give them what they want. Your expert brand needs to answer the questions that a prospective customer will have in their mind about you. The 19th-century English poet Rudyard Kipling had a good way of identifying the key questions you need to ask. He wrote: “I keep six honest serving-men (They taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When And How and Where and Who.” If you can give good answers to these questions about your business, you have the building blocks of a strong expert brand.
These are the key questions in defining your brand, but the other two questions can be important too.
The “where” question is about how people get in touch with you — it may be simply a Website address, or an office, or it may be the types of places you advertise. This process may seem simple and the explanations can be short. However, these are important questions that help you clarify who your customers are and how you can help them. Most importantly, it helps you understand — and explain to your customers — why they should do business with you. Getting the right answers to these questions can help you define a powerful expert brand. It’s important to note that these answers are designed to help you establish whether a potential customer is right for you as much as to persuade them to work with you. If they can relate to the way you are positioning what you do, there may be a great fit. On the other hand, it helps you avoid wasting time with people who are not looking for what you are offering. Being able to work with your ideal clients is not only more fun — it will also be more successful. People who are in tune with the way you work will get better results. Tracy Myers, C.M.D. is a noted small business marketing and branding solutions specialist, best-selling author, speaker, car dealership owner and entrepreneur. He can be contacted at 866.860.0029, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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TD Auto Finance LLC, is a subsidiary of TD Bank, N.A. TD Bank Group is a trade name for The Toronto-Dominion Bank. Used with permission. For detailed credit ratings for The Toronto-Dominion Bank and TD Bank, N.A. visit http://www.td.com/investor/credit.jsp. Credit Ratings are not recommendations to purchase, sell, or hold a financial obligation inasmuch as they do not comment on market price or suitability for a particular investor. Ratings are subject to revision or withdrawal at any time by the rating organization.
what would football have to do with selling cars?
I was thinking about football this weekend — no idea why — and I got to thinking about what a coach once said: “Training is 99 percent of everything.”
how bad that would be — there would be no football on TV. It would be the most ridiculous, stupidest, mess anyone this side of Jim Brown and Ernie Green has ever seen.
Let me repeat that please: “Training is 99 percent of everything.”
Anyone out there in Manager Eyejacking Land catching the drift yet?
Now, let’s break that statement down into small parts. A football team, any football team, plays the game for 60 minutes. Sixty minutes, and they train and practice, oh, let’s round it off at 60 hours a week for the pros. If you want to talk high school, it’s probably more like 20 hours a week. Are you getting the picture yet? A high school team trains 20 times more than they play the game. A professional team trains 60 times (a week) more than they play the game. Think about this: What if they trained for 60 minutes a week, and played the game for 60 hours? How bad would that be? You want to know how bad that would be? I’ll tell you
No TV studio in their right mind would televise it. Why? Because no one would ever watch it. No one would buy a ticket, and the stands would be empty. Why? Because it would suck, horribly. If training is 99 percent of everything, what does that say about the car business in general? Right. No one would ever buy a ticket or fill a seat. Why? Because the game is horrible. In the car business, we train for 60 minutes and play for 60 hours a week. Every week, every month, every year. And then we wonder why nothing has changed for the last 50 years. Good month, bad month. Hire and fire. Terrible turnover. Blame the salespeople. Keep managers who won’t train their people. Sixty to 70 hours a week. Open longer hours. Build a bigger lot. Streamers on light poles. Greeters. Updated show rooms. Make it up in the volume. Blah, blah blah, on and on it goes, where it stops, nobody knows. Why all the mess? Because we are training an hour a week and playing the game for 60 hours a week. No wonder things are the way they are. So, I was thinking about football this weekend, and I remembered what a coach once said. He said, “Training is 99 percent of everything.” 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 email@example.com.
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When it comes to inventory marketing best practices, Gibson Truck World in Sanford, Florida has so many, we had to omit several from this article to fit this space. With sales topping 1,800 units annually, 65 employees, and $7 million in inventory on 14 acres, Gibson is the largest used truck dealership in the world and ranks No. 18 of independent dealers in the U.S.* Impressive, to be sure, but what’s more impressive is how they sustain these numbers. The biggest clue lies in the fact that a whopping 60 percent of their sales result from referrals and repeat customers. Gibson’s sales staff spends a good portion of their time with every customer establishing trust. To that point, about 10 percent of sales each month are from buyers who never physically come to the dealership. In fact, in the last two years, they’ve shipped cars to virtually every European country, most of the Caribbean Islands and as far away as New Zealand. “We assure our customers that the safety and security of their family is our top priority,” said owner Yves Belanger. “But it’s not just a motto — we spend more than $250,000 per month inspecting and servicing our trucks, and I want shoppers to see that in action. I want them to see a virtual used truck factory busy at work.” To show off the organization standing behind each truck’s warranty (which is impressive, but we’ll get to that), a tour of the service department is mandatory with every customer. Gibson’s “Disaster Prevention Center” (service department) is comprised of 25 bays, eight technicians, one alignment specialist, one tire specialist, one assistant shop manager, one shop foreman, three parts and service writers, and one service advisor, plus detailers and body shop techs — totaling half of Gibson’s 65 employees — all ensuring that each customer gets the highest quality truck at the lowest price available. And get this: They don’t do general service. All after-sale service is reserved for customers who purchased their truck at Gibson and it is still under warranty. Before it is sold, however, each truck gets a full 135-point inspection, a diagnostics test and a frame damage check using a tram gauge. Trucks they reject are posted on their REJECTS page of their Website (URL at the end of this article), complete with photos, VIN numbers and, in many cases, actual estimates showing the cost of repairs to bring it up to certification. “I love it when we find one of our rejects on another dealership’s site listed as ‘Absolutely flawless, inside and out!’ You can be sure we post that, too,” said Angela Stockman, the marketing director and Internet wizard executing Gibson’s online initiatives. Two years ago, Gibson wanted to showcase some of the parts they’ve replaced on trucks to get them to certification, so they lined up 50-gallon drum containers full of thousands of old worn out tie rods, ball joints, rotors and brake pads that have been removed and replaced with new ones.
Of course, that won’t impress someone who never visits the dealership, but no matter, as approximately 25 percent of Gibson’s sales still come from buyers outside Florida. Perhaps it’s because they offer an unbelievable 12-month, bumper-to-bumper warranty valid across the continental United States, 12 months of free maintenance, and a 15-day return policy. “The majority of our out-of-state customers are so confident in Gibson Truck World that they wire us payment without ever setting foot in the dealership or personally seeing the truck until we ship it to them,” said Belanger. Building such an organization is a seven-day-a-week job for Belanger, who is not only the president of the dealership, but also does all of the truck buying, is the shop service manager, general manager and supervises operations for the entire dealership, including sales, body shop, parts, detailing and marketing. They also create a personality for every vehicle, even naming them. Projecting that personality is easier with the addition of a full-time videographer on staff (in addition to a full-time photographer) to film live video walk-a-rounds for all trucks. “Our videographer shows off each vehicle’s best assets and adds a great deal of energy and emotion to each video,” said Stockman. “Our nationwide warranty and the live video walk-arounds are what make an out-of-state shopper feel comfortable enough to call us to purchase a truck over the phone. The combination shows we have nothing to hide and that the truck in the photos is actually the real truck on the lot.” At first glance, a live videographer sounds like quite an investment, but Belanger says it paid off immediately. “Since adding live video, our video views exploded, and our Website traffic increased 10 percent, which in turn increased our sales,” he said. Links to samples of Gibson Truck World’s live videos are at the end of this article. Using Video Online’s live video upload and distribution modules, Gibson then automatically sends videos everywhere their inventory goes that accepts video — 40 sites in all — including their own Website, YouTube, Facebook, AutoTrader.com, Cars.com and Oodle. To reach buyers from around the corner and around the country, Gibson invests in establishing an online presence for their inventory, including shooting photos before and after prep. Posting a vehicle online takes Stockman on average about five minutes per truck and first occurs with the “before” photos the day it arrives from auction to gain valuable online exposure for the vehicle even while it is in prep. The VIN is sent via automatic feed from their DMS to HomeNet’s IOL Inventory Marketing solution, which normalizes and enhances the raw DMS data. Once the truck is listed in IOL Pro, each truck then gets a comprehensive description specifying the truck’s hottest features. Every vehicle description is fresh and creative, which also helps to set Gibson apart. “We have some pretty unique Monster trucks, and since our inventory is unusual, we physically touch every detail of the truck so we know exactly what to say about what makes that truck special,” Stockman said. Each morning, Belanger and Stockman review each new truck’s options, what size and brand of new tires the truck is going to receive, add-ons (such as off-road tires or a lift kit) and warranty information, so Stockman can accurately create the vehicle description. A few days later, after the truck has been serviced and detailed, her staff puts all of the warranty stickers on the windshield, re-takes all the photos, shoots a live video walk-around, enters all the shop bills into the vehicle description, including brand new tires, brake job, rotors, drums, LOF, etc. (all the work that has been completed on the truck), scans in any MSRP sheets, makes truck comparison photos and then exports all the updated information online with IOL. Unlike many dealers, however, Stockman is discerning about where she exports Gibson’s inventory. “We try to match the Website with our inventory, exporting to sites that perform consistently well for those makes and models, like AutoTrader.com, Cars.com, CommercialTruckTrader.com, AutoShopper.com, eBay Motors, craigslist, Oodle and OVE.com,” she said. And where their inventory performs well, Gibson makes an investment in add-ons for their listings. For instance, they rank in the Top 50 of all dealers on AutoTrader.com.
Belanger says he also uses the same philosophy when it comes to traditional advertising. In addition to print ads in Commercial Truck Trader, Gibson ads appear regularly in Sports Horse magazine and Horse-n-Tack. Gibson uses IOL Posting 2.0 to list its inventory on eBay Local Market with professionallooking display pages, and they have notable success there, too, attributing on average 75 of units each year to eBay alone. In addition, Stockman almost always lists Gibson’s wholesale vehicles online. “Since we will ship worldwide,” she said, “and we can list a truck simultaneously listed for retail and wholesale right from IOL, it makes it very easy to move inventory.” When it comes to social media, Gibson Truck World understands the importance of building community first and foremost. On Facebook, for instance, they have their inventory separated out from their dealership fan page (it resides under the “Inventory” tab of their Facebook page), so it doesn’t clog the newsfeeds of their fans. More importantly, however, they are integrated with Facebook Marketplace, vastly widening their entire inventory’s exposure to the 15 million monthly users of Facebook Marketplace, not just their fan base. Otherwise, Stockman uses their Facebook page and Twitter account to build trust and engage fans with truck news, announcements of pet adoption days they host (and they do this regularly, even devoting a page on their Website to animals waiting for a home at a local rescue), cook-outs, maintenance tips and even local yard sales. Gibson Truck World also recently purchased AdLogic from HomeNet, which automatically generates an image or text ad for each piece of active inventory to display throughout the Google Ad Network of a million sites, based on the search terms the shopper used. “What makes AdLogic so effective is its content-driven, meaning an in-market consumer who is reading about the new Ford F-150 SVT Raptor on MotorTrend.com would be presented with a Gibson ad showing a late model Ford F-150 truck from our lot,” Belanger said. “Clicking on it takes them to that piece of inventory on our Website where they see the live video walk-a-round, our warranty, and our $1,000 price guarantee, and then we’ve got them.” And all of this is paying off, big time. Belanger said, “Our message has always been ‘We have the best trucks at the best price,’ and then everything we do — absolutely everything — ensures that’s true. In the end, it doesn’t matter how much you spend on advertising and bling, if you don’t have the best product when the customer gets to the dealership, you don’t have a sale. An educated consumer is our best customer. In fact, customers tell us that we come so highly recommended that they don’t even look at other dealers; they just come straight to us.” *2011 Auto Dealer Monthly Top Dealer Awards For more information about the dealership presented, or HomeNet, contact Gretchen Kennedy, the Director of Marketing. She can be contacted at 866.483.2750, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gibson Truck World employs the following HomeNet products to help them sustain their No. 1 ranking: • Inventory Online (IOL Pro) Vehicle Marketing Suite with IOL Hosting and CARFAX and AutoCheck integration • AdLogic – image and text ad generator for every vehicle in inventory to post throughout the Google ad network • IOL eBay Local Advertising Program with no flat monthly fees • IOL Oodle Pro with Facebook Marketplace • IOL Posting 2.0 eBay and Craigslist display page generator • Video Online with Human Voiceover and Live Video • OPENLANE and SmartAuction wholesale add-on For a full description of each of these products and how they can help you, please visit www.HomeNetAuto.com. URLs Referenced: Gibson Truck World: www.GibsonTruckWorld.com Gibson’s Truck Rejects Page: www.gibsontruckworld.com/ anotherdealerscheapimitation.aspx Gibson’s live video walk-a-rounds: www.HomeNetAuto.com/Gibson
adopt the digital-age equivalent of the evidence manual to attract more customers and close deals I would guess that you’ve all seen the threering binders known as “Evidence Manuals” on the desks of your sales associates or service writers. The typical dealer employee’s Evidence Manual contains letters of recommendation from existing customers as well as pictures or personal information about them. Dealer employees rely on Evidence Manuals as a useful tool to make themselves look good and help validate what they are offering a customer when already in the showroom or service department. Consider the influence that an Evidence Manual would have on a prospect who has never yet visited your dealership. In fact, your prospective customers can have access to the digital-age equivalent of an Evidence Manual in the form of online reviews. Third-party online reviews at the employeelevel have considerable influence on your prospects. Employee-specific reviews can serve as a powerful tool in persuading customers to visit your store while passing up other local dealers. Just like the old three-ring binder, dealer employees can utilize a personal online review page to bring down the barriers of distrust that exist in this business as well as to differentiate themselves from the other salespeople and/or service writers with whom their customer may be communicating.
in Peoria, Arizona, will tell you that employee-specific reviews make a significant difference in a customer’s decision. Although some of their sales associates are more proactive in getting reviews than others, every Arrowhead Honda sales associate and service advisor maintains a separate review page that displays an individual employee picture and biography. This dealer has fostered one particular champion in its sales department who asks all of his customers to write a review upon delivery, and who has also added a QR Code to his electronic business card that links to his specific review page. Many Arrowhead sales associates use their review pages as a key differentiator when negotiating with customers by adding the link to their e-mail signature. In addition, several sales associates have created business Facebook pages with a link to their individual review pages attached each time they get a new review. On the service side, the dealer’s service advisors rely on their employee-specific review pages as a collective place for accolades (a.k.a. the Evidence Manual). Arrowhead Honda works hard to ensure that potential consumers find positive reviews on staff and has seen the benefits. Customers have come to the showroom and asked to purchase from a particular salesperson based on that salesperson’s review page. As another example, visit Hyundai of St. Augustine and you’ll see how that dealership uses employee-specific reviews. All sales associates commonly display their individual customer online reviews on their desktops so that prospective customers can casually read their customer reviews while waiting and working with associates. Each sales associate is expected to generate a minimum of three reviews per month. Many of the Hyundai of St. Augustine’s customers acknowledge that they have chosen Hyundai of St. Augustine when purchasing a car given the level of trust and credibility that they gain from reading employees’ online reviews. Key Takeaways Regarding Employee Reviews
Consider promoting an “employee-review” culture at your dealership as these reviews will enable your dealership to: • Bring down the barriers of distrust and persuade more customers to visit your store while passing up other local dealers. • Adopt the digital-age equivalent of the three-ring bound “Evidence Manual” and hyperlink a prospect into an employee’s “Evidence Manual” even before they enter the store. Some car dealer review sites offer • Increase your organic search engine results with each unique review page URL indexing into comprehensive, employee-specific review Google. pages where you can include a personal bio • Ensure your sales and service team has some “skin in the game” with employee-specific and photograph for each dealer staff member. Chargeback • Full & Training • review Guaranteed pages.Compliance Get your FREE copy of the“15 Keys to Employees areGuarantee able to build andSet-Up showcase their team views each newVolume review as an&opportunity to get a respective reviews on these pages and also link • Build reviews faster as your sales Boosting Sales Profitability.” phone up or improve lead to show and closing ratios. them back to the employee profile section on No obligation. Send an E-mail to the dealer’s own Website. subjector the “KEYS” Put email@example.com. Take advantage of this win-win scenario knowing that every new review forinthe employee Keep in mind, a review for your employee department “champion” is a new review for the store. send it right out! we’ll line and (866) 460-0539 represents a review for the dealership; so, www.gamarketing.com Theyou Staffed Event LeaderinSince Accountability. Reputation. Results. as build “champions” your 1995. sales and If you are not using employee-specific review pages to generate “review” champions in your service departments, you can expect your sales or service departments, you are missing out on a powerful closing tool as well as the dealership review counts to soar. opportunity to differentiate yourself from competitor dealers and drive more traffic to the store. Dealers Reap the Benefits with Employee Reviews
Many dealers are using employee-unique reviews to their advantage. Arrowhead Honda
Heather MacKinnon is the vice president of sales at DealerRater. She can be contacted at 866.488.8398, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get your FREE copy of the“15 Keys to Thanks to great dealers with exceptional Boosting Sales Volume & Profitability.” reputations, 2011 has been a record-breaking No obligation. E-mail to year for us and our clients. Never have our email@example.com. Put dealers enjoyed higher gross profit per event “KEYS” in the subject line and or more units sold per event. Thank you! we’ll send it right out! Accountability. Reputation. Results. Since 1995. (866) 460-0539. gamarketing.com
hone your advertising to hit the narrow target There’s a question you should ask yourself the next time you’re deciding on how to spend your advertising budget. Keeping in mind that around two percent of the population is in the market to buy a vehicle at any given time, why would any reasonable thinking person spend 100 percent of their advertising and marketing budget to reach that narrow target?
immediate crash course and they need to grasp the new thinking and the educated consumer to compete in this day and age.
The next question that comes to mind is “What forms of advertising to that two percent of inmarket buyers is effective, and how do we get a huge number of those people to respond to our offers?” Once you understand the buying public, you can begin to answer that question. Business is not as usual, and today’s consumer is not cut from the same cloth as they were in their last trade cycle. Consumers have advanced in their knowledge and information in just the past few years. Dealers must understand this or they will quickly cease to exist.
We then need to understand “What makes the buyer’s clock tick?” There are only five decisions in a sale: • Do they have a want or need for a vehicle? • What brand does the consumer prefer? • Is it the right time to buy? • Which dealership should they choose? • How much do they have to spend on this vehicle?
Today’s customer is more experienced in many ways, has increased knowledge and information, has a much higher level of consumer awareness and has a heightened ability to negotiate with this new-found and readily accessible information. Brand loyalty — in both foreign and domestic vehicles — is at an all-time low. The Internet is a resource to everyone thanks to Google and many other resources. Dealers do not generally understand the full effect of the Internet in today’s market place. Dealers need an
Let’s put this into real-world terms. Let’s assume my market area has 250,000 adults residing in my area of dominant influence and only two percent of all these folks are in the market for a new or used vehicle at any given time. My goal would first be to let all those 5,000 people in the market realize I exist. Keep in mind, by the way, that I must also do this on a consistent basis because there are always 5,000 people in the market to buy vehicles every day.
That’s it. Our advertising must accomplish the answers to all of these buying decisions. Next, decide on which vehicles on your floor to focus your time and effort on advertising. Let’s use the “one-third, one-third, one-third” technique. Assume you have a total of 24 models in your new vehicle department. Take your top one-third models, and you will quickly discover that around 75 percent of the inventory you sell resides in these eight top models. The middle eight models you offer comprises about 15 percent of your sales volume and the remaining eight models probably comprise less than 10 percent of your offered vehicles for sale. So, which eight vehicles in our example do you think you should focus your advertising efforts on? In advertising, there are basics that cannot be ignored. Any ad must get attention. You must then cite a value, and then create urgency. Finally you must ask for a phone call or visit. This is critical. It backs up the only five decisions in a sale, which, as we said, are want or need, timing, brand, source and pricing. It seems logical, but dealers across this nation miss the fundamental message with consistency. Peter Bond is the president of Automotive Resource Group. He can be contacted at 866.447.0238, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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customer relationships 101
Nothing is more valuable than our relationships. It has been said that the quality of our lives is directly related to the number of meaningful relationships we maintain. Relationships see us through the toughest of times and make the best of times truly enjoyable. Few would argue the validity of these statements, but fewer still invest time in building meaningful relationships. Mutually beneficial relationships do not happen by chance; they are the product of right intentions and sincere actions. Similar to the way good real estate investments “appreciate in value,” the best relationships appreciate in value as well, and both require time and maintenance to maximize the value and avoid liabilities. The most rewarding relationships first fulfill needs or desires and, second, create a since of value in the participating parties (both feel truly appreciated). This is no less true in business. The customer has a need, and the business and its employees have needs. The two come together — a transaction takes place and both needs are met. Obviously, this is the basis of any business; however, it is not the basis for creating a loyal customer base, especially in the highly competitive automotive business. Customers have almost unlimited options when it comes to getting what they need or want in transportation. So dealerships must be sincerely intentional and doggedly proactive in pursuing a relationship with its customers. Buyers do not go to dealerships looking for a “relationship.” They go looking for what they need or want at a price they can afford. However, when they encounter a sales professional who truly values them as a person and delivers a buying experience they truly enjoy, the ground becomes “fertile soil” for planting repeat and referral seeds. Valuable relationships grow and produce other valuable relationships. When relationships deteriorate and stagnate, they become a liability and begin to cost in terms
of lost opportunities. When we lose a relationship it’s never with just one customer. Dealerships don’t have relationships. People at the dealership have relationships. Automotive sales professionals need to focus on building and maintaining relationships with customers that generate loyalty, positive word-of-mouth and referrals. This has got to be “the message.” Our society and culture has become so inwardly focused that most of us have little to no relationshipbuilding skills. The majority of our relationships are self-serving relationships of convenience. We think in terms of “others can win – now, only if I can win - now”. It really is an “every man for himself” mentality, and these shallow relationships yield very little beyond the short term and create a “survival of the shrewdest” culture at the dealership. To overcome this anti-customer relationship mentality, management has to model and teach effective relationship-building skills. We have to believe that, above everything else, the relationship with the customer is king. If management is going to sell this to the “front line” they must lead by example and demonstrate this value throughout the dealership. It has to come from the top-down and become the organization’s culture. The best way for management to model this value is to invest time and resources in their relationships with their “internal customers” — the sales professionals and employees — who will be building relationships with the “external customers” — the buyers. If salespeople feel that management could care less about their personal growth and success, why would they be motivated to build relationships with the dealership’s customers that will produce growth and success? The two most important factors in determining the value of any relationship is the quantity of time invested in the relationship and the quality of bilateral communication within the relationship. It is impossible to build loyal customer relationships that generate repeat and referral business without these two ingredients. Lesson 1: Obligate Through Time Investment
Nothing makes customers (internal and external) feel more appreciated than taking the time to demonstrate a genuine interest in them — their needs, concerns, likes and dislikes. When we are made to feel valuable, we feel obligated to produce value, i.e. repeat and referral customers. Lesson 2: Create Matching Expectations With Clear Communication
Nothing endangers a valuable relationship more than unmatched expectations. We must take the time to fully understand what our customer’s expectations are. If they are unrealistic we must have the courage to tell the customer so in advance. Otherwise the integrity of the relationships will undoubtedly be compromised. Once we are certain that the customer’s expectations and the dealership’s are the same the table is set to create trust that is necessary for the long-term success of the relationship. These two lessons are the cornerstones for building valuable relationships. It’s hard work, and there is always a risk that our time and energy will not be appreciated by the recipient. But just like a long-term investment strategy in the stock market has proven itself time and time again so, too, will a long-term investment strategy in relationships with the customers who help us meet our needs by giving us an opportunity to serve them. John Norman is the chief operating officer of Prospex Promotions Inc. He can be contacted at 866.514.9991, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
maybe it is time to change your bodyshop financial statement
Never a day goes by when I do not get a call from a dealer wanting to discuss financial performance of the bodyshop. We often discuss the obligatory labor sales and grosses. We touch on the paint and materials account. Eventually, we discuss parts sales through the bodyshop. The fact that the dealer rarely thinks to tell me about parts sales and resultant gross is the problem. It shows the dealer fails to understand that his statement format is, oftentimes, the problem. Parts Impact on Profit
I know a popular 20 Group cliché is to “make money on labor alone.” A few dealers actually do make money on labor alone. The net number is pretty fickle, because it is so dependent on arbitrary and subjective allocations of costs. If the dealer beats the bodyshop up too badly with rent and other allocated costs, they sabotage any real opportunity for a net profit. The wise dealer understands the value of parts sales through the bodyshop. The bodyshop manager has great flexibility with the decision to replace rather than repair collision parts. The dealer often pays the bodyshop manager on labor alone, thereby killing the manager’s desire to sell parts. Our analysis shows that gross profit dollars per actual hour are increased dramatically when parts are replaced rather than repaired. The dealer may have foolishly reasoned that it does not matter where parts profit shows up on a statement, since it all belongs to him anyway. The problem is that if the bodyshop does not receive adequate recognition for parts sales, the parts will never be sold. I just had a great conversation with Brad Sather of Gateway Chevrolet in Fargo, North Dakota about this very subject. Brad agreed that the bodyshop should buy the parts from the parts department for the same price the parts department would sell them to a competitor at wholesale. He was quick to see the wisdom of not shooting himself in the foot over this issue. A parts manager will occasionally protest because it will effect his statement. The net result of changing the statement is very beneficial to the bodyshop, and the dealership overall profit picture.
Check For Yourself
I recommend that parts sales be equal to labor sales in the dealer world. Check your statement. Most dealers underperform in selling parts when compared to independent shops. If you are selling equal amounts of parts and labor, you are doing well in the bodyshop and are probably profitable. If you are like most dealers, you will see parts at about 30 to 35 percent of total sales and labor greater than 50 percent of total sales. If you are selling parts at less than 35 percent of total sales, you are probably also struggling to make money in the paint and material department, as they are inextricably tied together. That is a separate article or conversation. Reformat Your Statement
Gerry Enders runs three dealer-affiliated shops in Southern California. Gerry learned a long time ago that the statement can be customized. I don’t care how you do it, just do it. Start giving your bodyshop appropriate recognition of parts sales and profits and you will start winning big. You will realize how important parts sales are to bodyshop profits. Call me for a free 15-minute consult on this or any subject related to your bodyshop. Dave Dunn is the founder of Masters School of Autobody Management. He can be contacted at 866.386.0042, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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do you have a strategy for connecting with customers before they hit the internet? It’s safe to say that, every day, some of your hard-won customers log on to the Internet and begin shopping for new or pre-owned vehicles. Believe it or not, a staggering 85 percent of consumers start the car buying process online. What does that mean to you? It means that your dealership is fighting to keep its customers before they even walk in the door. In fact, if a customer likes what they find on a competitor’s site, you may never get the opportunity to hold on to them. Why You Don’t Want Customers to Shop the Internet
When one of your customers sits down at the computer, enters “car dealers” and hits “search,” they immediately take the power of the sales process out of your hands. They are then, quite literally, driving the car buying experience. Not only does the customer shop out the price of a vehicle with your competitors, they may even pit you against yourself. For instance, a customer could get one price from your Internet manager and another when they use a national auto program such as Costco’s. Even if a customer stays with you, you’ll get less profit on a vehicle because they can counter your offer with that of other dealerships’ quotes. Plus, they probably know the exact cost of the automobile, which gives them another advantage when negotiating.
Why Your Dealership Needs a Strategy
At this point, it’s clear you definitely want to connect with your customers before they go online. The truth is, you should make contact prior to them even thinking about purchasing a vehicle.
There are a number of reasons for this. One, if you can intercept them before they reach the Internet, you’ll get more profit per deal because they haven’t shopped you out. There’s also a good chance they’ll purchase more frequently, because you’re jump-starting the buying process. It’s not difficult to see just how much of a difference these two simple facts can make: • Let’s say you’ve sold 10,000 vehicles and
retained 2,000 customers. These customers purchase an automobile every five years, for an average of 400 cars per year. • If you use those same numbers but communicate with customers earlier and get them to purchase a vehicle every 4.5 years, the total is 445 cars per year. That’s 11.25 percent more sales every 12 months. Add to the mathematical equation above an additional $200 profit per vehicle because the customer didn’t make it to the Internet and you’re talking serious money. A profit increase of $89,000, to be exact. This doesn’t even take in to account that, when you maintain relationships with customers by reaching out to them before they’re ready to buy, you build your customer base. That’s because more of them purchase from you and remain loyal to your dealership, so your defection rate actually decreases. What You Gain by Not Losing
By keeping your customers and getting to them sooner so they buy more frequently, there’s a good chance your dealership will profit a number of other ways as well. For one, you’ll have the first opportunity to acquire quality used vehicles for your lot, which means less time, money and hassle than purchasing autos at auction. Plus, the profits on those trade-ins will be higher because there have been fewer changes of hands. There’s also the fact that, when you retain a satisfied customer, they tell the people in their life about the quality sales and service they experienced at your dealership, which provides great leads for new customers. This is critical, especially when you consider that up to 50 percent of purchasing decisions are based primarily on the advice of friends and family. Why Just Doing Something Isn’t Doing Enough
Dealers already know they can’t afford to wait for customers to come to them. So when there’s a little down time, they may send a postcard, make some calls, or sponsor an
event. It’s sporadic. Even worse, it’s not systematic or strategic. And the return on investment often doesn’t justify the expense. Communicating with customers doesn’t just need to be consistent; it needs to be consistently smart. You need to look at your customer base carefully and determine which ones are potentially the most profitable. Then, market to those customers in a way that is sure to reach — and motivate — them. How to Get a Strategic Start: Service Into Sales
The average new car dealership, according to NADA, spends more than $600 in advertising per new vehicle retailed. But what about the customers who are already in your dealership — the ones with a couple of hours to kill while they wait for service to be completed on their vehicles? At that point, marketing to them is free. The service department can offer a customer a loaner to run errands, a vehicle that is an upgrade from their current car. Then they, or a member of the sales team, can ask the customer how they liked the ride and start working a potential deal. How You Can Put the Internet to Good Use
Keep in mind that there is a time when you want consumers to shop the Internet for new and pre-owned vehicles. And that’s when they’re not your customers. The Internet is ideal for conquest sales, because it gives your dealership the opportunity to compete against other dealerships for their customers. If you don’t currently have a strategy in place for connecting with your customers before they hit the Internet, give it some serious thought. Because there’s a high probability one of them logged on to start looking for their next vehicle in the time it took you to read this article. Russell Grant is the vice president of sales for J&L Marketing. He can be contacted at 866.503.8397, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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‘ZMOT’ and Your online reputation
At our company, we have been discussing how the Zero Moment of Truth impacts your online reputation after reading a great book on the subject by Google, found at http:// www.zeromomentoftruth.com/
“...people now spend as much time online as they do watching TV. It has been shown that most people begin their shopping experience online, yet in 2010, only 15 percent of media ad budgets were spent online.”
The Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) is described as the time customers are doing research after seeing something about a product that stimulated them to learn more. In the past, this step may have been done through asking friends if they ever used a product or just going to the store. Now customers reach for their smartphones, laptops or computers and begin to compare, research and then narrow down their choices before going out to physically see the item in question.
what will customers see when they do find information about your business or your product?
The fact that ZMOT is being talked about is timely. Businesses have to change their marketing if they want to compete in the future. The two most pressing questions for businesses are: Will your company be found in that search when a client goes looking, and
Eight out of 10 customers trust feedback from their peers over what your advertising tells them. What they are looking for is how was the experience of doing business with your company. Notice that customers are looking for information not only about the product, but how they will be treated.
It has been documented by Forrester Research that people now spend as much time online as they do watching TV. It has been shown that most people begin their shopping experience online, yet in 2010, only 15 percent of media ad budgets were spent online. Does it seem out of balance that more people are online searching, yet businesses are not putting their marketing efforts in that arena? So let’s continue on the shopping path of customers. Once a customer has a product in mind, the next step is narrowing down their choices to a few locations where they can purchase the item. Once they have the locations, the next step in research will be reading reviews from your previous customers. In my opinion, this is one of the most influential factors in their research.
Countless companies fall short in displaying positive reviews in any great number, and what is worse, many of them do not even know that negative reviews could be out there damaging their brand. I have taught companies how to create a process to get their customers posting reviews online, but one of the first objections to this is, “If I ask for reviews, I will get bad ones.” My answer to this is that getting a bad review is helpful feedback. This will provide your company information on ways to improve. If you think that by not asking for reviews there is not negative feedback going on, think again. People are always talking about their experiences. Don’t you think using these conversations to your advantage would affect your sales cycle? Feedback also allows you to know what the customers may want from their shopping experience. Many reviews give suggestions on what could help you improve: a new service, an earlier opening on weekend and better ways to communicate. Think of the impact if you said a customer, “You asked and we listened. We have added a new service based on our customers’ feedback.” By letting the customers know that you listened, you get even more feedback. People today want to share good news if asked, hence the appearance of new review sites and the mobile apps like Google places, which allow people easily to post about their experience.
Glenn Pasch is the COO of PCG Digital Marketing and the president of Improved Performance Solutions. He can be contacted at 866.611.0998, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With people looking for what others are saying as a part of the Zero Moment of Truth research to help them find a store, why not make it easy for your customers to leave a feedback trail that leads others to shop with you?
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With this being my first piece for AutoSuccess, I want to preface this by saying that I am fully aware that a lot of what I speak about will buck the norm. I am not ignorant to the fact that my way is not the only way; I am also aware that I did not invent these ideas I write about. I learned from a wise man many years ago that if you want to know which direction to head, find out where the masses are going and run the other way. I live most of my life that way. So, as the title asks, why F&I? That is a great question. In many dealerships, this department
is responsible for upwards of 30 to 40 percent of the sales department’s total gross profit. By this figure alone it is easy to see why F&I is so important. Yet, for some unknown reason, many dealers seem to overlook the importance of the department. Besides being an incredibly high profit center, this department is responsible for making sure that all of your legal bases are covered. Our industry is becoming more and more regulated, and the pressure to be compliant is growing. Underestimating the importance of F&I in your dealership’s success is detrimental to your bottom line. Here is the first bold statement I will make about the finance department: It is a department, much like service, parts, body and sales — and being a separate department, it should be treated as such. I believe in separation of church and state; I also believe in separation of sales and finance. In order to build the credibility needed in finance, that manager cannot be seen as “just another salesperson.” This is crucial. That is why I do not encourage much fraternization between the sales staff and finance staff. Customers see these interactions and will interpret the finance manager as just another salesperson and trust them as such. Consumers do not trust car salespeople (shocking, I know). When handling the finances associated with a large purchase, they want to deal with a professional. Keep this in mind the next time you see a few salespeople gathering in the finance office. A healthy finance department will increase gross, product sales, CSI and repeat business, while decreasing the time it takes to get a contract funded, therefore freeing up more cash for the dealer. I am not a trainer or a product rep; I am an “in the box” finance director telling you how I see it from the front lines. I encourage feedback and only request you keep the feedback respectful. As previously stated, I don’t say that the process I endorse is the only process; it is simply what works for me and many others in our field.
Chris Cochran is the finance director for Haddad Motor Group in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. He can be contacted at 866.550.2896, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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CRaigslist has rules
In recent months I have seen an increased amount of interest from dealers wanting to learn more about posting used inventory on craigslist, and rightfully so. Craigslist is an incredible vehicle for generating leads, if you play by the rules. If you do not, you might as well not even show up to the party, because the craigslist police are going to take you down.
Dealers are not the only people at the party, either. Showing up are a number of companies, a few that are ethical and, unfortunately, some who are just trying to make a fast buck. Like drug dealers trying to sell a “dime bag,” they are promising dealers an incredible high; some even go as far as telling dealers they can post 100 percent of their used inventory to craigslist every day. I am telling you right here, right now, this cannot be done, so like your momma told you, “Just Say No.” Like many of the other marketing platforms available today, craigslist has rules. They
as seen on
are not hard to follow, but if your dealership, or the company you put your trust in to post your inventory breaks the rules, the end result is predictable and inevitable — your vehicle posts get “ghosted.” For those unfamiliar, “ghosting” is the term applied when you make a post on craigslist, and the system tells you that your post has been published; however, your post never appears in a craigslist search. There are two main actions that cause vehicle posts to get ghosted. The first is would be “flagging.” This is done by end users, and it’s something you cannot control. However, this is not the norm and really nothing to be concerned with. The second is “over posting.” This is when your vehicles are being posted far too often or by posting the same vehicles in multiple locations. Over posting will get you ghosted so fast it’ll be over before you know what’s happened, and once your IP address is marked for ghosting, the only option you have to start posting again is to setup a new account with a new IP address. Who wants to deal with that? As I mentioned in the beginning, craigslist is an incredible vehicle for generating leads, if you play by the rules. If you are using an in-house posting solution and have a dedicated staff to handle the posts, make sure they know the rules. A good rule of thumb is to post your vehicles in a four-day rotation and always delete the older posts before posting the new ones, because you want to avoid having any duplicate posts. If you are using a vendor, make sure they are following the rules, and also go to craigslist and do a search yourself to make sure your vehicles are being posted. Tom Kain is the president of AutoDealerTarget. He can be contacted at 866.647.0469, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Provisioning: A New Approach to Stocking Used Vehicles
It’s no real secret anymore that the principles of velocity-based inventory management — where a store turns and earns — is a must to survive in today’s volatile marketplace. There are ample success stories across our industry where dealers and used car managers have doubled or even tripled their annual inventory turn rates and relied on the profits that derive from velocity principles to keep their stores afloat as new vehicle sales have stalled or disappeared altogether. Core components of these principles follow a simple premise: You need to know how much a used vehicle is worth at retail and set your gross profit expectations before you determine what you should offer for a tradein or wholesale purchase price. Put another way, successful used vehicle inventory management flows from a keen understanding of both wholesale and retail markets and their respective pricing trends. Of course, the fly in this ointment for dealers lately has been how to find vehicles that fit the
pricing and profit parameters they’ve set for their store’s success. It’s one thing to know the type and price of a vehicle that’s a “sure-fire winner” for your store; it’s quite another to quickly and efficiently acquire this vehicle so you can take advantage of the opportunity the market presents to you. Thankfully, our industry now has a solution — one that’s been brought about by convergence among key dealer vendors (e.g., the acquisition of my company, vAuto, by AutoTrader.com) and advances in technology. Imagine, if you will, a used vehicle inventory management dashboard that tells you what vehicles you should stock, the wholesale prices you should pay, the profit potential you might expect, the time it should take to retail the vehicle and a one-click-to-purchase option that lets you buy the vehicle from a host of auction and other wholesale sources across the country. What’s more, the click-to-purchase function also triggers the instant posting of this vehicle and its description to your dealership Website and other online retail sites, as well as initiating the transportation of the vehicle to your store for reconditioning and retailing. This used vehicle inventory management solution will effectively conjoin a variety of different technologies, data sets and vendor capabilities to drive more efficiency to dealers and used car managers. I believe this solution will be a game-changer for our industry on several fronts: • Stocking vehicles: The robust and holistic nature of this new tool goes well beyond stocking. In fact, it’s more like provisioning — or the gathering, planning and deployment of necessary resources and market intelligence to supply or “fit out” a dealership’s used vehicle inventory for profitability. In this way, the tool is very much like a Navy Seal commander whose careful planning and provisioning of supplies ensures every team member can survive the mission. • Process efficiency: Savvy dealers have already recognized that the more time they eliminate between acquiring and retailing a vehicle, the greater their opportunity for higher turn rates and profitability. The new tool will eliminate several time-killers that continue to pose challenges for even the most efficiency-minded dealers — from transporting the vehicle to touting it online for potential buyers. • People efficiency: It’s not uncommon for used car managers to spend three or four hours a day figuring out where to find vehicles that are “right” for their store and then working the phones, the Internet and physical auctions to acquire them. The new inventory management tool will virtually eliminate this time drag, freeing these managers to focus on other important — and oft-neglected — aspects of running their departments, such as ensuring efficiency in reconditioning, closing deals and managing online marketing. From my perspective, the advent of this new tool could not have come at a better time. First, the industry needs it, as evidenced by the feedback I hear from dealers and used car managers everyday. Second, the market requires it, due to the compression between wholesale and retail used vehicle prices that effectively reduce the “cushion” or margin of error that has historically masked used vehicle acquisition mistakes. Put another way, this new tool gives a competitive advantage in an increasingly unforgiving marketplace. To be sure, this new tool will be disruptive and challenging for a lot of dealerships — even those who have adopted and seen success with velocity management principles. Why? Because it means more “change” for dealers and used vehicle departments and, in some instances, obsolescence for people who resist change and the advantages this new technology offers.
Dale Pollak is the founder of vAuto and a best-selling author. He can be contacted at 866.867.9620, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Let’s remember this: You’re in a business that is continually evolving — you must either embrace this evolution or get left behind.
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your own personal gold mine The value of customers in an equity position has been around since cars were first sold. Managing this business opportunity has meant big business for those who have learned to “crack the nut.” Until recently, grinding through data was the only ways to pan for this certified gold; with recent technology, however, this once manual process is now too easy to ignore. The following five points explain why every dealer should be exploiting this sizeable opportunity:
leads are poor quality with low conversion rates, and are received in quantities too difficult to manage. Daily data mining for even a handful of highly-qualified leads can produce literally dozens of additional sold units each month.
Quality Lead Generation. Who would ignore valuable leads — and lots of them? Too often, our
Existing Customer Data. These leads aren’t those that have been bought and sold and stripped of value by the time you get them. Leads from your equity customers are mined right from your CRM — your existing data. Among the 50k, 100k, or 200k customers they already own, too many dealers never tap into this personal gold mine. Let me encourage you: Use what you already have. It’s never been easier and more profitable. Unrealized Profit. In my experience, dealers are seeing at minimum a 13-percent increase in sales from equity leads alone. Some stores sell up to 60 and 70 units of a single campaign to these customers. Sales to in-equity customers gross 35 to 45 percent higher compared to that of a standard vehicle sales. And then, there’s the secondary benefit of taking in valuable, pre-owned inventory. Profits like these are just sitting in your store, waiting to be enjoyed. Time Saving. I admire those who manually spend hours digging through old sales files to locate what they need to make this process work. They look up current vehicle values, calculate payoff, cross reference term and rate, compare buyer vehicle preferences, research OEM rebates and incentives and consider current inventory. They see a good return, but what an investment. Intelligent calculation of these factors and more can now be automated. And with the data served up like a good steak, you can spend less time in the books and more time selling. Service Alerts. Numerous customers walk into your dealership every single day via the service department. Do you know how many of these customers are in-equity? And what units to put them in before they pay that service bill? The same automation that alerts your staff of these customers can also tell them who will be in the service drive and when. This is the easiest cup of coffee you’ll ever pour for a customer. The need has never been greater and the data collection has never been easier. With little to no effort, true equity management makes an immediate and longstanding impact on new and pre-owned sales numbers, as well as on the overall profitability of the store. Grab your pick; you’re standing on your own personal gold mine. Bryan Anderson is the founder of Autobase. He can be contacted at 866.667.9659, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
after 12+ years in the automotive internet sales...
I have learned a lot about what to do and what not to do. I have seen firsthand how powerful automotive Internet sales can be for a dealership. I have also seen how it can wreak havoc in a dealership that doesn’t execute properly. After speaking with and training more than 2,000 dealer principals and GMs personally, I have identified a lot of similarities that are consistent all over the country and do not discriminate.
First, dealers see the value, need and urgency to maximize the Internet not only to increase market share, volume and gross, but actually to retain current market share and profits.
The problem is that there is a lot of disinformation everywhere. Everyone has an idea and a strategy, but finding the right information that fits a particular dealership’s scenario and goals is hard to find. There really isn’t a lot of continuity out there. Sometimes “experts” contradict the ideas and strategies of other “experts.” The other issue is that there are a lot of these “experts” out there, but mostly these people have an “expertise” in only one or two fields — not enough.
Maximizing an Internet department is more than knowing how to build the “ultimate” dealership Website. It is more than having 5,000 followers on Twitter for your dealership. It is more than having a state-of-the-art BDC. The issue I see is that dealers are told if they do or buy something, it will be a “silver bullet.” There are no “silver bullets.” There never have been and I doubt there ever will be any. An Internet department (or any department, for that matter) is made or broken, maximized or underutilized in four key areas: Products, People, Process and Promotions. That means that all “4-Ps” need to be working “synergistically” to ensure maximum success. You cannot have all or most of your attention in one or two areas. You need to make sure that all four “cylinders” are firing. Here are the questions that dealers should ask: • What are you looking to accomplish with your Internet department? Increasing only Internet sales, or maximizing all profit
centers online (parts, service, finance, body shop, etc.)? Do you want to sell volume, gross or both? Are you looking to increase new vehicle sales, used vehicle sales or both? Each possibility has a different strategy. Do you want to be proactive, reactive or not at all for special finance? Do you have all of the right tools (technology, resources, programs, etc.) for a viable department? Do you have the right people and the right amount of people in place? Have you developed a “mission statement”? Have you created a standard operating procedure for everything in that department? How are you planning to drive traffic? How are you going to handle your conventional advertising strategy? What is the proper formula between conventional and digital? How are you going to perpetuate success after initial launch?
Here is what I see on a regular basis from dealerships that succumb to mediocrity: • They start to compromise their process based on outside influences, such as their competition doing business a certain way, and they feel they must conform. • They are not consistent. They might do different parts of the strategy at different time. No continuity = No success. • They do not track details of the department properly, if at all. • They are not consistent with training, or don’t even bother to train at all. • They are disorganized. There is no prioritizing of tasks, so the department is working and grinding all day but they are not being effective at their overall mission.
And, as important as all this is, people are the “wild cards” of the “4-Ps.” With money, you can buy everything else. But you have to find • and cultivate and keep people. There are a lot of variables to think about in this area, including: • Do you have the right person for the job? Do After you answer all of these questions they have the right skill set and fit the profile thoroughly and start to create a plan, you will for success? This is a common problem. need to prioritize. This is another sand trap for dealers. They have problems “putting first things, • Do you have the right amount of people? I have seen two Internet reps working 600 first,” and the result is that they do not focus on fresh leads per month. Not the best strategy. the most important items. The dealers who work • Do you have a schedule that makes hard but not smart are rarely successful. sense and maximizes business potential? Statistically, you will connect with more Lack of consistency and acceptance of people between the hours of 6 and 8 p.m. mediocrity are the biggest reasons for failure So, it might not be a good idea if you have or limited success for a dealership’s Internet or everyone leaving at 5 p.m. business development department. That might sting, but that is the truth. We have found all Bottom line, you need to embrace Internet over the country, no matter what the franchise or geographic region there are dealers who fall sales. You cannot wait until tomorrow to get it together. If you don’t create a plan for today, into this category. Sometimes it is the dealer there might not be tomorrow. principal, sometimes it’s the GM and other times it’s the Internet/BDC director, but it is If you have any questions about this article or the same story. Someone at the dealership heard of a successful Internet/BDC department if you would like examples (for free) Please call or e-mail me. or they read an article or they went to some workshop or 20 Group and were inspired and excited. So, they create a plan (with or without Sean V. Bradley is the founder and CEO an outside consultant or trainer), and for a of Dealer Synergy, a nationally recognized short while things are good (sometimes). Then, training and consulting company in the after a bit of time — or sometimes right after automotive industry. He can be contacted at implementation — reality kicks in and they 866.648.7400, or by e-mail at start to deviate from the plan. email@example.com.
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Guilty Until Proven Innocent
In sales, our customers find our profession guilty — guilty of being deceitful, abusive, insincere towards their needs, and of thievery, robbing them of their hard-earned money. It is your job to produce enough evidence to overturn the unjust, guilty verdict and confirm your innocence, proving that you are guiltless of such wrong accusations. You must prove you do have a family; you are a member of a local civic organization; you do participate in the annual American Cancer Society Fun Run. Think of your profession as being an image consultant, having helped hundreds of people upgrade their image by putting them into their dream car. In short, you are a real person, dedicated to your profession and fanatical to serving your customers’ needs. One proven way to disprove a guilty verdict is by creating an Evidence Manual. Evidence Manuals should be both virtual and physical. As a sales consultant, you should create a Facebook fan page profile or develop a Website where you can prominently display your profession to the world. You should also create a physical manual to keep on-hand to help support your sales efforts. Evidence Manuals are compiled pages of
endorsements such as letters of recommendations from clients, awards of achievement (for example, becoming a Bronze, Silver, or Gold Certified sales consultant), seminar certificates, updated CSI scores and favorable product reviews. Pictures are important, too. It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. In our industry, a picture is worth a $1,000. Pictures are your public relation messages conveyed through imagery, building value in your customer’s mind and solidifying a healthy commission. Your pictures should include snapshots of your hobbies, you and your family (leave the beer-bash, keg party pics at home), your prized pets and, most importantly, your happy customers. In short, anything that will enhance your image should be put into your Evidence Manual. An Evidence Manual is your version of a product endorsement; it substantiates who you are through third parties. The product endorsement industry is a multi-billion dollar industry; companies shower top athletes and celebrities with millions to represent their product. How many times have you heard, “This is the same purse as Jennifer Lopez,” or “I’m wearing the same golf shirt as Tiger Woods,” or boasts of wearing the authentic jersey of Drew Brees. Can you think of any other indoor grill that is not George Foreman’s? Evidence Manuals staunchly proclaim, “If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me.” Your Evidence Manual should be like the American Express Card slogan, “Don’t leave home without it.” It should go everywhere you go. Whether a physical binder, loaded onto iPad, or on your business card with your personal Website address prominently displayed, everyone should know who you are. Your evidence manual should be introduced the minute you sit down to write up your customer. Customers are not shopping for the best price — that’s just a smoke screen. They are shopping for the best value and the service to back up their decision. Your Evidence Manual is the endorsement needed to capitalize on every customer. Think of your Evidence Manual as your resume for employment; with a strong resume, your customers will hire you to become their sales consultant. Whether you are beginning in sales or a long-term veteran of the blacktop, a well thought-out Evidence Manual is what will separate the average Joe from the Pro. Your Evidence Manual is your own infomercial of sorts, overturning a customer’s guilty verdict into an effective sale.
Marsh Buice is the sales manager of Mark Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep. He can be contacted at 866.535.5006, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We often read of tragic stories of young men who have been robbed of their youth, serving a 20-year prison sentence, only to be exonerated years later because the police nabbed the wrong guy. He was found guilty long before innocence was established.
“After looking at several different CRM vendors, we chose eLEAD as our one-source partner and were able to
reduce our number of CRM vendors from 17 to 1 in all 80 dealerships.
eLEAD gives us one CRM solution that seamlessly integrates fixed and variable operations and with over 700 employees, their 24/7 support staff is unbeatable. eLEAD made it simple to choose them as our long-term vendor and we’re thrilled with the return on investment.” - Bob Murray Director of Operational Marketing Asbury Automotive Group
Websites | Search | Social | Reputation | CRM | Call Center | Data Mining | ILM | Desking | Inventory | Service and Reminders | Complete Management
One Price. One Vendor. One Solution. 888 431-6928 I email@example.com www.eleadcrm.com
when to use you vs. why to choose you
This sounds great, but it’s an important trend to monitor before making the jump. Many manufacturers’ service programs are heavily promoting this “right-time” strategy, and if you are on one of those programs, or if you are being pushed towards one, it is important that you understand the pros and cons. What is the $200 Service Marketing Budget?
for service has been around for a while. Many programs failed, however, because they believe the success of the program is based on timing. The problem is customers are difficult to predict and have developed bad habits to not service on time. For example, in the average dealership, less than 36 percent of customers use the dealership for multiple visits in one year, which means you don’t get the full share of the customer. Also, more than 80 percent of your customers do not come in within the recommended time frame you have sent in that targeted service reminder. They’ll probably end up doing the service much later. “The right message at the right time” is a misnomer with many customers, because to them, there are multiple “right times.” Bad Strategy
Your customer’s relationship is not with a VIN number; it is with you. Unfortunately, some customers are aware that their vehicle is due for service, but simply choose not to use your dealership. You need to get involved with the customer’s buying decisions and educate them on why they should do business with you rather than the competitor. Why Customers Perform Service at Your Dealership
Bullet pointing your amenities in the optional black text of a manufacturer’s direct mail piece is not going to cut it anymore. Amenities such as night owl drop off are a given, and you need to find more creative ways to sell why customers should choose you. The servicing relationship is between the customer and the local dealer and not the manufacturers logo stamped on a communication. Remember: Relationships are about people and reputations, not logos and bullet points.
Could marketing be as simple as a sticker in the window? If it’s that simple, then it will cost you about $200 for the year.
How to Sell You
Using an algorithm to predict human behavior is focused on using today’s technology to follow the patterns of a specific VIN within your database to tell when it’s due for service. Then, you send a message to the customer who owns that VIN, telling them their vehicle is due. So doesn’t an oil change sticker in the window do the same thing? Data logic is a good thing, but this approach can miss the target because it doesn’t take into consideration why the customer should choose you.
People — Put pictures and names of your service writers on your direct mail communications, especially if you have employees who have been around for a while. Most of your true retention comes from your customers’ relationships with them. Price — Keep the oil change price down, but don’t give up margin on coupons for services unfamiliar to the customer. Amenities — Shuttle service, loaner cars, car washes and Wi-Fi are all things that make it more convenient to do business at the dealership, and lack of convenience is a leading reason why customers don’t stay loyal to dealerships. Expertise — Sell the customers on the value of your staff’s training, expertise and service guarantees. Your goal is to address the primary weaknesses most dealerships have — trust.
Here is the reality: The customer is fully aware of when they are due to come into the dealership — maybe because of the sticker in the window, or perhaps even the vehicle itself telling them it is time. The real indecision for the customer is who they will service with. Timing your marketing is important, but it still doesn’t sell the customer on the fact that they should use you versus the many other choices they have for service. The Loyal Customer Myth
Timing the message to when a vehicle is due
Make it simple and ask yourself, “What can I offer that the aftermarket does not?” Then, spread the word through consistency of communications.
The smartest “smart marketing” is one that drives in large volumes of traffic. Your smarter goal should be to tweak your communications programs continually to grow your overall retention and customer frequency. The cost of service marketing pales in significance to the returns possible by building a loyal customer base; it doesn’t make sense to use some algorithm to shoot a BB through a straw. You also don’t need a blanketed shotgun approach, but frequency is still an important part of making an impression, and that consistency of message will build the trust it takes to truly earn a customer’s business. Statistics quoted are from the 2011 Average Database Diagnostic and/or a sampling of automotive dealerships in the United States. Chuck Patton is the founder and CEO of Traffic Builders, Inc. He can be contacted at 866.859.8520, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There’s a new trend on which philosophies dealerships should use to drive customer retention for service departments so they can maximize service profit and, ultimately, retain customers. The trend is a so-called “smarter” marketing that is based on a data algorithm. The theory states that advanced data logic will be used to market to the customers with the right message, at the right time to the right person in order to drive in service traffic for less cost.
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artificial intelligence is paving the way to increased sales
While watching Matthew Broderick in WarGames years ago, most of us thought the day would never come when a computer could play chess or control our arsenals. Amazingly enough, that day has come and gone for chess. Hopefully Arnold Swarzenegger in Terminator has ended any chance of a fully automated nuclear arsenal. The military, however, does use technology like this to monitor enemies on the battlefield and coordinate our weapons today. Now this type of technology is making its way into retail automotive sales. BDCs were developed to cure the lack of follow-up sales conducted with prospects and past customers. BDC employees, like
most dealership employees, earn bonuses for sales. This leads them to cherry-pick the calls, leads and e-mails they think are most likely to convert. This causes dealerships to lose out on sales due to incomplete follow-up. Even with the right training and intentions, the work load often leads to some follow-up being done poorly or skipped all together. Too many opportunities are missed this way. Now, artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to replace much of the work of the BDC. With AI, dealerships can be sure that every customer gets followed-up the right way every time. This is much different than an auto responder or template e-mail or letter. Artificial intelligence can read the messages from the customer and respond as good as, and often better, than a real person. The best part is it can work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It doesn’t get sick and doesn’t take breaks. The headaches of the BDC can now be in the past. The work of 10 can now be done by just a few of your most talented. Artificial intelligence can communicate with all customers and prospects. It can read their messages and return messages that are relevant and drive customers to the store or to a phone conversation. Dealerships across the country are now using AI in a multitude of ways to generate more business. A customer with positive equity is a great lead. Every dealership has a database and can find these people. Why don’t all these customers get contacted? Time. AI has the time to contact all of them and set up appointments for sales. Approximately 60 percent of the leads U.S. dealerships receive are in the market for six months. This is a long time for a salesperson to follow-up and not allow any to fall through the cracks. With AI, there are no cracks. Every lead, every time gets consistent followup until they buy. After they buy, they get service offers. AI can communicate with customers in a way that feels like a real person is on the other end, a person who cares. The uses for this technology are limitless. Dealerships are using it to increase unit sales, service and even F+I products and accessories. For a free copy of, “How Artificial Intelligence is Paving the Way to Increased Sales,” e-mail me at the address below. Drake Baerresen is the vice-president of sales and marketing at Turn-Key Events AVA. He can be contacted at 866.900.7714, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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the 8th wonder of the world
In business, compounding interest is often referred to as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” In business, and especially sales, I compare the compounding effect of interest to the compounding effect that occurs with current customers who can become repeat customers and referral machines. You may have seen examples of how someone can start an Individual Retirement Account when they are 25, invest $2,000 a year and by retirement age they will have a significant seven-figure account balance based upon the power of compounding interest. They receive interest on their investment which eventually includes interest on their interest as well as principal. The compounding effect creates tremendous and exponential growth. Your current customer base is equal to the principal investment in the compounding effect. In my article “How To Increase Your Sales by 20 Percent or More,” I wrote about
the idea that I termed “Dance With the One You Came With,” or in my book How To Be A Sales Superstar, I termed it “Dance with the One Who Bought You.” Obviously, the play on words was “Bought you” vs. “brought you.” The idea is to spend the most time with the one who brought you to where you are now, which is your customer base who has bought from you. The Eighth Wonder that I refer to is the ability to use smart, laser-focused, personality-infused communication that creates relationships, top-of-mind awareness and value-added perception that creates you as the brand by emphasizing them. Most businesses and salespeople never follow up, let alone try to create a value-added relationship, with customers. After 18 months of weak or no communication with your customers, it is as if they never bought from you. Any relationship or experiential capital is completely lost. When most businesses or salespeople follow up, it is often boring, bland drivel that hurts more than helps. What is your game plan to create not just a follow up plan but to add your personality, to personalize it to your different types of customers and utilize many different forms and media for the follow up? Do you have an ongoing plan involving postcards, letters, dimensional mail, automated phone calls, personal phone calls, written newsletters, ezines, autoresponder e-mails, text and mobile marketing and even in person visits? Do you have a persona you are creating to increase the ability for your customers to connect with you? Do you have an SDP (Specific Defining Proposition) that allows your customers to instantly understand your value versus any competition? Do you have a written plan to segment your database of customers based upon as many different criteria as necessary to personalize your communications and address the customers in a way they want to be addressed about things they care about? Do you have all the low to no cost tools available to do all these things? The advent of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems have been a blessing and a curse. The best CRM systems are only as good as the people using them. CRM’s are often set up without a well thought out, personalized, segmented and automated sequences. Not all follow up is created equal or creates a brand with relational capital. When you give enough value and create enough awareness through smart communication with your customers, you will begin to experience a compounding effect of repeat sales and referrals as well as good old fashioned word of mouth advertising that builds your business exponentially while you sleep. You become free from the slavery of, “I have to have the next deal to survive” syndrome. You also become less affected than others to any economic down turns. Everything starts with one small step. What one small step will you take today to create your own Eighth Wonder of the World game plan?
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.
For a free Special Report “How To Out Think, Out Maneuver and Crush the Competition” – e-mail me at the address below with the word “Crush” in the subject line.
“bLinkedSM is the best tool I have seen in 15 years.”
Be Smart. Be Informed. bLinkedSM. This is the program that is changing everything. bLinkedSM is a data analytic service that marries your customer database, inventory, and manufacturer incentives to deliver more high-quality leads straight to your showroom floor.
• Attract more customers with offers too good to refuse — offers to upgrade their vehicles for lower monthly payments and no money down.
• Set your own margins to meet and exceed the profit levels you want.
• Convert more service appointments into sales with incredibly accurate information for your sales team and perfectly matched offers for your customers.
With email, direct mail, and microsite marketing included at no extra cost, bLinkedSM is the complete turnkey package poised to give your dealership an unmistakable sales advantage.
Welcome to bLinkedSM — the next generation of direct marketing. Learn more today. Contact J&L Marketing at 800.346.9117 or email: email@example.com for more information. Bill Cafarella General Manager West County Honda Ellisville, Missouri
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JimmyVee & TravisMiller
“no Price” Marketing Method: Hype or Reality?
Bastardized, plagiarized, homogenized and subsidized. That’s how experts are describing most automotive marketing and advertising seen these days. It’s a shame when you consider how much money dealers invest in marketing each year. But it’s not far from true — most automotive marketing looks the same. The express purpose of marketing is to cause customers to choose one over the other — you over your competitors. But if it all looks the same, what chance is there of that ever happening?
This market is about 50 times larger than the in-market population, and it’s largely ignored by most dealership marketing. So why aren’t these non-intenders shopping? Usually for just a few reasons. Topping the list are: Real or perceived credit issues • • Still making payments on a lease or loan • Upside down in current car Afraid of going to a dealership • • Not enough money for a down payment Dealers who have used the “No Price” method have found that these issues are typical of all car buyers and not unique to non-intenders. In fact, most dealers are presently well equipped to help customers with these issues and many others.
The result, sadly, is that price-oriented marketing has become the standard. Most dealers see it as a necessary evil. Can’t be avoided. Price seems to be the last remaining competitive edge a dealership can employ. But what happens when even that edge dulls? Recent developments in marketing technology, branding and positioning strategy, and competitive differentiation have culminated in a new customer attraction process that’s being called the “No Price” marketing method. But how can dealers truly attract customers without advertising price?
What’s important is that these issues are keeping the non-intenders out of the market. By targeting these individuals specifically, and offering to help with the issues, dealers have found they can actually accelerate the buying process and bring the non-intenders into the store now, rather than later.
The secret appears to be linked to three elements of a dealership’s marketing: targeting, positioning and offers. Results consistently show that achieving the right blend of these three critical elements can indeed create customer attraction momentum without the slightest mention of price.
Instead, the “No Price” method advocates positioning the dealer (a person) and the dealership as solutions-oriented, with a focus on solving problems and offering helpful advice, rather than pushing product. This positioning technique significantly lowers buyer anxiety and resistance and helps hasten the building of trust and rapport.
Most dealerships logically target the same type of prospect — in-market shoppers. Those are people who are currently searching for cars online or visiting dealership showrooms. Studies have shown that the No. 1 buying criteria mentioned by in-market shoppers is price. The trend has increasingly become for shoppers to choose a vehicle or vehicles via online research then start seeking the dealership that will sell their vehicle of choice for the lowest price. The “No Price” method advocates also targeting out of market, non-intenders. Those are people who have no intention of buying a vehicle in the coming days or weeks. They’re not shopping online or in showrooms, and they typically don’t have a vehicle preference. But there is one striking commonality among these non-intenders: The majority of them say they would prefer to driver a nicer, newer car than they currently drive. But without a specific vehicle preference, they also don’t have a price preference.
Best of all, the conversations with these customers don’t revolve around price, but instead around solving their particular problem. This results in a significant surge in traffic and a decrease in price sensitivity. More sales, higher gross profit, more net profit. Positioning
Most dealership marketing effectively positions the dealership as a product-oriented business. Pictures of cars, lists of features and prices. But product-oriented messages will do very little to attract the non-intender.
Common elements of this kind of positioning are a unique and compelling story about the dealer and the dealership, an explanation of why the dealer does what he or she does, a book or special reports or white papers offered by the dealer, a guarantee of providing a solutions-oriented experience and customer testimonials about their experience and about the solutions-oriented nature of the dealership. Essentially, the “No Price” method causes you to sell cars by building trust, rather than by lowering price. This approach helps lessen buyer anxiety. And since fear and anxiety are significant reasons buyers are staying out of the market, it makes sense why this is so effective. Offers
Most dealership marketing features price-related offers such as discounts, low payments, rebates or special incentives. Unfortunately, price-related offers do little in the way of attracting nonintenders. The “No Price” method requires using offers that address and offer to solve the specific problems customers (non-intenders) have. Dealers have found that switching from a price-related offer to a solutions-related offer in their current advertising alone will yield a noticeable result. As an added benefit, the same offers that attract non-intenders are also extremely appealing to inmarket shoppers and have proven to be effective alternatives to price-oriented offers. The conclusion is that price is not the only competitive advantage available to dealers anymore. As the number of in-market buyers decreases or stays depressed, the number of non-intenders grows or stays high. All indications point to the “No Price” method as a powerful tool available to dealers for years to come, which can help dealers stop fighting with other dealers over the same few customers and create your own crop of dedicated and enthusiastic buyers using the natural customer attraction power of gravitational marketing. Jimmy Vee and Travis Miller are founders of the Rich Dealers Institute. They can be contacted at 866.852.0145, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Published on Oct 14, 2011