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aving used multiple CRM companies in the past, the leaders of Florida’s Morgan Auto Group Hknew they needed to find one long-term CRM partner, but there was a problem. The group is comprised of 12 separate dealerships with more than 800 employees. Finding a single solution that could integrate across the company’s dealerships — each with its own style and culture — would not be an easy task. After an extensive research and vetting process, the Morgan Auto Group selected a company with best-in-class software, services and support to enhance efficiency and profitability. We recently sat down with Steve Hoggle, general manager of Honda of Ocala, to discuss what criteria went into the decision, what some of the challenges were and what the payoff has been for his dealership and the Morgan Auto Group. AutoSuccess: What were some of your challenges and goals to improve retail operations and overall consumer marketing strategies? Steve Hoggle: The first and most important requirement was to find one true, all-inclusive CRM system that would not only integrate with our DMS but would also manage the high standards of 12 different dealerships, all with their own processes, strategies, problems and reporting/tracking metrics. By all-inclusive, I mean an innovative company with good technology, quality people and a commitment to excellence. There is nothing worse than buying or investing in a product and then finding out the next month that it doesn’t fulfill all that was promised. It was extremely important to find a solution that integrated with our marketing strategies, company goals and established processes — a company comprised of automotive professionals with our same core values who could provide expert training, better processes, optimal lead generation, and improve our customer communication and metrics across every customer touch point.

AS: Describe the research and process of finding one CRM system for all your dealerships. SH: In doing our due diligence, a number of reputable companies presented impressive CRM solutions to the general manager

of each store. Every company had good points, and bad ones. A general manager’s vote narrowed the choice to two companies. At that point, an executive committee made up of Brett Morgan, the director of variable operations for all Morgan Automotive; Tom Moore, the director of the Northern platform; and John Marazzi, a partner and owner of Brandon Honda spent an entire day with both CRM companies, testing each on a set of key factors unique to the 12 dealerships. It really came down to not only the software, but more importantly “car guys” developed it. Although this term used by almost every vendor, we found that with ELEAD1ONE it was true. Another important decision factor was the one-on-one training and coaching that the company could provide on both a group-wide and an individual store basis. There are several good technology companies, but we chose a partner with superior software, with first-class training processes and support that is available 24/7. ELEAD1ONE is not one of those companies who come in, install the software and then give you a business card saying “give me a call if you have a problem.” They actually call once, twice or sometimes three times a week to say, “I’m going through your account and here is what I see that you can do better.” That kind of service is impressive and isn’t available with every software company. I’ve never seen a more professional group train and counsel our team how to use their software around the processes that we already have in place. What I like about the ELEAD1ONE system, and what we all like about it, is that the system is basically turnkey. It is almost like flipping a switch and, aside from the training you are ready to go. On a corporate level, our executive team can log into one site from anywhere — from a tablet, laptop, desktop or mobile phone — and basically see how each store is performing on a daily, monthly or yearly basis. It is one-stop shopping and all the information is easily accessed and can be customized to different views.

AS: How do you feel this CRM provides a competitive edge for your dealerships? SH: Outsourcing our business development center to ELEAD Virtual BDC is absolutely the biggest competitive edge. I can’t think

of a bigger edge for any dealership. We have an unlimited, in-country BDC in the palm of our hands. With that comes a predictive dialer and hundreds of trained phone specialists who do a much better job than we could do internally. Best of all, the cost of hiring a BDC manager and staff are avoided. ELEAD Virtual BDC takes care of all my sales and service calls, and I know that 100 percent of my customers are followed up with in a timely manner. They provide us with real-time alerts that include phenomenal customer information and feedback so that we are able to follow up or resolve any problem quickly. This has been a huge benefit to our CSI scores.

AS: How do you use your existing customer database in your marketing efforts and how does the CRM help with that? SH: With the ability to search our own database for customers who are in a ready-to-buy situation, we are able to develop better-

targeted marketing campaigns triggered by information and technology. We mine our customer database and pinpoint exactly when, how and where to communicate with equity and early trade-out opportunities. Right now, we average about 25 to 30 sales a month right out of our service department.

AS: Describe how you have improved business

processes and increase customer communication and retention. SH: It all starts with the basics. That is what the ELEAD trainers instilled into our entire team — basics first. Without logging customers, the first basic, then nothing else matters in the process. You cannot follow up with what has not been logged in the first place. We have the ability to log a customer with a phone, any kind of tablet, desktop or laptop. Not only were our salespeople extensively trained on how to use the system, but we also have great processes in place and were given choices, customization and reporting to ensure that customer logging is done correctly and according to company mandates. Consistent business drivers and reporting tools are imperative. Every day, I receive a report that tells me how many customers were logged, and how many were logged with a second phone number and an e-mail address. Then, the virtual BDC is our back up; they contact every customer and provide invaluable feedback on how many of those customers actually took a demo drive or were turned over to a manager, as well as verify or obtain phone numbers and e-mails. I teach my guys that perception is everything in the car business. A manager may take a T.O. on a customer, but if the customer doesn’t understand that they are speaking with a manager, then it matters for naught. As the general manager, I might call 10 customers to ask, “How was your visit at Honda of Ocala? Did you do a demo?” To get me off the phone, the customers may half-heartedly answer. When an independent third party contacts the customers, they feel more comfortable discussing the good or bad experience. Most times, they provide honest feedback and better information. With ELEAD Virtual BDC, the phone operators are usually young college students with a great attitude. They are always smiling — you can actually hear the smile through the phone call. They make customers feel at ease and are able to get much better information than I will as a manager. By receiving more accurate information, we make sure customers have the best possible experience with our store.

AS: Describe the benefits of outsourcing

your BDC operations to an independent third-party company. SH: Cost versus return on investment. The cost to staff any dealership BDC properly is tens of thousands of dollars. That does not include the additional investment of time that it takes for training. Another benefit, as mentioned above, is accurate customer feedback and additional information. If my team doesn’t get a second phone number or e-mail address, then I have the thirdparty call center as backup. I go back to the turnkey mentality; ELEAD Virtual BDC has the in-country facility, trained operators, predictive dialer and a higher success rate contacting customers. Once the customer information is added to the predictive dialer, there is zero lag time and set up — just add the names and rock and roll.

“One area of improvement is the outsourced service calls... Last month alone, the call center scheduled 1,100 service appointments and fielded another 600 informational calls...” AS: After you identified key areas of improvement, what are some unexpected benefits of the changes implemented? SH: One area of improvement is the outsourced service calls to ELEAD Virtual BDC. Last month alone, the call center

scheduled 1,100 service appointments and fielded another 600 informational calls requesting hours, directions, etc. This really frees up our service advisors to concentrate on one-on-one customer relationships in the service lane. A live operator even answers our service calls when the dealership is closed. We found that where we normally lagged behind on Saturday and nighttime business, there is now a steady rise in the number of appointments. Ocala is mainly a retirement community, and many people have the misconception that the sidewalks roll up at 6 p.m. It’s just human nature to buy into that; again, it’s perception. With ELEAD Virtual BDC, we found that is not necessarily the truth. They have filled our service department, and as well as increased sales appointments.

AS: What are some key reporting metrics that help you manage per dealership and group-wide

on a daily, monthly, quarterly or yearly basis? SH: Obviously, the most important reporting metrics dial into lead handling and selling cars. Every day, I receive live e-mails from the call center with customer feedback, lead opportunities or scheduled appointments. “John Smith is interested in this Honda Accord, and is willing to do business if we can get to a certain number.” A general manager has a thousand things on their plate when they walk in the door. It is impossible to be at the new car desk, used car desk and service department all at the same time. ELEAD1ONE cuts through all the clutter for you. Now, I receive instant alerts of real opportunities who want to purchase a car. I just have to print the e-mail or grab the fax, and make sure the right follow-up processes are in place. I thought we were doing an average job with our Internet process, but one area our CRM spotlighted was our online performance. After analyzing our Internet sales reports, huge opportunities were found to grow the business. I can review the number of leads coming in, where the leads come from, our response time, closing percentages and cost per sale. I was under the perception that we were doing a great job until I saw this in black and white and realized that we were actually performing well below where we needed to be. The group-wide integration and corporate reporting provides total transparency and helps manage our company on a global level. For instance, we have three Honda stores in our dealer group that are in non-competing markets. The entire organization wins when you can view the reporting and ask another store, “I see your Internet Ups are off the scale this month; help me out and tell me how you got there.” We can share information as a dealer group, and it’s apples-to-apples information.

AS: What is one idea or strategy that you want the readers to take away with them today? SH: The strategy described above. In a nutshell: • Find an all-inclusive CRM partner that really works with you to provide store or group-wide enhanced training, processes, lead generation, customer communication and metrics — a company that delivers information in a quick, concise way. Every car guy has the attention span of a gnat. If you think that six guys are going to get dragged into a two-hour meeting, you are wrong. With a great CRM product, you should be able to click a button at any time and get any type of data in a clear, concise manner. Hold a quick 10-minute “save a deal” meeting every day, and you are ready to go sell cars. ELEAD1ONE makes it so easy, you don’t miss a car deal due to technology. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the technology that we forget what we’re here to do, which is sell more cars! • Surround yourself with automotive retail experts. Find a CRM partner that has done our job, knows the daily problems that arise and how to overcome them. ELEAD1ONE knows the metrics I need to review on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. They know what processes we already have in place, and they built the system around them; they did not try to reinvent the wheel. • Partner your sales and service phone activities with a call center. We have seen increased appointments, show rates and consistent, 100-percent customer follow up, and ELEAD Virtual BDC made that possible. Before, a salesperson might say, “I called John Smith last week, he never called me back, so I’m not calling him.” With ELEAD Virtual BDC, you don’t have that customer prejudging. The predictive dialer contacts the customer, and you get immediate, accurate information. Customers have a better buying experience. • Understand Internet opportunities and their buying habits. With ELEAD1ONE, there is no guessing. I can track the lead’s source, other sites viewed and the average time it takes to purchase. Now, I know the number right down to the day.

“Is Your Dealership Struggling?” There is great news for you and your dealership. The car market is booming, sales are great and profits are better than ever.

Does the above statement describe your dealership? Unfortunately, in a booming market, many dealerships are struggling. Many dealers are struggling with sales, lower market share and less than desirable profits all while facing a changing marketplace with increased expenses and greater competition. If the last statement describes your dealership, it’s time for a change. • Do you have a system to recruit professionals? • Are your leaders/managers well trained on what to do every day that gets results? • Are your salespeople trained and executing properly with the customers you spend so much money to get? • Have you called your own dealership and listened to how your employees handle calls? • Do you have a pre-owned inventory system that allows you to turn your inventory once a month and make great gross profit? • Do your managers know how to work deals in the digital age and still maintain gross profit? • Do you have an effective advertising and marketing position in your marketplace that includes digital and conventional?


• Sell More Cars Now • Make A Lot More Money • Gain Market Share • Feel Better about Your Business • Build a Team of Champions & Attract Winners • Reach & Close More Customers Conventionally & Digitally • Have Your Team Perform at Record Levels • Create a Culture and Environment of Winning Can you see the above in your mind? Can you hear more satisfied customers raving about you? Can you feel the difference in your business? Can you touch people’s lives? Can you smell the money?

Stop looking for a magic button. Stop looking for a new shiny object to fix your problems. Stop thinking that just training your people will fix everything. You Must Address ALL 4 P’s of Your Business – People, Process, Product and Market Positioning. Mark Tewart and Tewart Enterprises Inc. is the ONLY Total Dealership Solution Provider in the business.

“We have more doubled our sales and increase our gross profit by over $1,200 per vehicle while working with Mark and Tewart Enterprises Inc.” - Cody Isaacs, Vic Koenig Chevrolet

“We increased our gross profit $300-$800 per vehicle at our all of our dealerships immediately when we started working with Mark and Tewart Enterprises Inc.” - Evan Martin, Bloomington Ford

“We increased our bottom line over 2 million dollars!” - Midwest Chevrolet Dealer

First, go to and view a preview video. Second, call for a personal conversation about your dealership and your future at 888 2 Tewart (888-283-9278) or e-mail with the words “Dealership Success” in the subject line. P.S. If you are an already successful dealer, are you leaving sales, market share and money on the table? Call me and I will give you two ways to increase all three immediately!

Mark Tewart

President and author of the Best Seller “How To Be A Sales Superstar”

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Hannah Philpott, Media Director


DebbieDrury How much business walks out your door and buys from your competitor?

JeremyAnspach win the click with trade-in opportunities

RussellGrant five must-ask questions to better position your marketing spend

EdLouis Mobile marketing strategy — should apps be considered?

Brian Ankney, Account Manager

KevinBradberry recruiting talent the right way

Dave Davis, Editor & Creative Strategist

TracyMyers how enhancing your integrity can increase your profits, part 2

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

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customer trust: Stay in control of your data

Susan Givens, Publisher

AJLeBlanc destination store wins market share with vseo

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the mulberry tree JimAdams

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

NatalieHenley the seven key steps for leveraging social media marketing to drive real results, part 2 DalePollak the orange juice imperative: three ways to combat margin compression


KettyColom don’t ever chat like this


SusanGivens Putting the “t” in Trust: Reducing Selling obstAcles using iPads


DealerPanel bringing on a vendor, part 3


MarkTewart why dealerships struggle, part 3

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Bodyshop Training: Not as Easy as you would think

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putting the “t” in Trust: Reducing selling obstacles using iPads Lack of customer trust is a common theme dealers face in their stores. In a customer’s mind, an ideal purchase is influenced by unbiased opinion, with absolutely no pressure at an unmatched price. It is a reality that customers do not trust salespeople on the front line. In fact, 40 percent of customers use their smartphone to cross shop other dealers while they already standing in a dealership store. Foreword-thinking dealers are aware that each moment customers spend alone while your salesperson is retrieving keys or performing other actions is uncontrolled — and valuable — time. This disparity has been intensified by a change in customer expectations, driven by the prevalence of mobile at retail. Today, customers have many more resources and are more cynical than ever before. They expect to find instant answers to their questions — via their mobile device. If they are not having a good experience, mobile makes it easy for them to tell others about it, and take their business elsewhere. The good news is that research shows customers are interested in using mobile to improve their in-store experience. Dealers are listening, and increasingly incorporating iPads into the selling process. In fact, a recent study by JD Power and Associates says that, overall, 79 percent of new-vehicle buyers use the Internet to research

their vehicle purchase. A comprehensive iPad selling system can enrich the car-buying process with instant information and multimedia tools, helping to address some of the key obstacles and allowing salespeople to work within a controlled environment: The length of time spent in the dealership — In general, the longer the sales process, the lower the level of customer satisfaction. An iPad selling system makes the sales process more efficient by giving the sales consultant immediate access to needed information and resources, reducing the transaction time by up to 25 percent. The quality of the interaction with the sales consultant — In a Gallup survey of the perceived honesty of various professions, car salespeople were ranked the lowest. Consumers are increasingly using their own mobile devices during the sales process, which makes it easier for them to challenge the sales consultant’s knowledge. An iPad selling system enables the sales consultant to respond to questions accurately and credibly, without needing to step away to look up information or inventory. Moreover, if the sales consultant does need to leave customers for any reason, showing videos on the iPad can keep them engaged, rather than leave them wondering if they could get a better deal elsewhere. How well a customer understands the vehicle — As vehicles have gotten more complex and technology-based, customers require more explanation of features, especially at delivery. Using iPads to play videos can make it easy to demonstrate how things work. When the sales consultant can show the value of the vehicle and how it compares to the alternatives under consideration, it helps customers feel good about their decision. “In our constant pursuit to simplify how folks buy cars, we have adopted iPad technology to further streamline this process,” said Dennis Pechco, GM at Continental Toyota. “iPads are now used where books, brochures and trips back and forth for information always seemed to challenge the joy customers should have when making such an important purchase.” “Selling is really all about meeting and exceeding customer needs,” said Jim Hughes, co-founder of IntellaCar, the iPad selling system used by Continental Toyota. “When you can do that effectively, the sky’s the limit.” Susan Givens is the publisher of AutoSuccess. She can be contacted at 877.818.6620, or by e-mail at

Nobody makes it easier than ROI-BOT to analyze all of your vendor data Dealers can now consolidate their daily and monthly vendor data into one data warehouse! Inspect and analyze operations and marketing investments from one executive dashboard. • Incorporate automatic data feeds and manual data entry. • Store and review historical data from all vendor partners. • Accept automated/ manual feeds from dozens of pre-defined industry platforms. • Add addition data partners to make ROI-BOT the go-to source for reporting and analysis. • Provides insights to opportunities represented by current vendor data with customized reporting and comprehensive decision tools.

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GE Capital

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customer trust: stay in control of your data Your customers trust you with their personal information, with the understanding that it will be used in the purchase or servicing of their vehicle. When this information is abused, however, trust is broken and there can be both short- and long-term consequences.

the manufacturer. • Ensure the contract has the NADA recommended restrictions. • Ensure that any entity using dealer data through an entity contractually bound by the dealer enforces those contractual provisions with regard to the use of the data on its subcontractors. • Take the appropriate technical steps to ensure that service providers access to data is limited to that data needed to provide the specific service and that data only.

Recently, NADA has urged dealerships to implement secure processes to protect the large volume of information they routinely collect from their customers and other sources in the day-to-day operations.

Protecting Your Customer’s Data

Information Security

Specifically, NADA made three key points about information security: • Dealers must manage any data that comes in and out of their systems in accordance with ever-changing federal, state, and local law. • Dealers must treat their data as a valuable intellectual property or trade secret asset and, therefore, carefully manage access to and use of that information. • Any use of dealer data must benefit the dealer; use of dealer data that is outside of a service provider’s contract with a dealer that results in the reselling of data to an entity that competes with a dealer or a manufacturer that uses data to overly influence the individual selling process must be actively managed. NADA went on to offer the following steps for managing information within the dealership: • Obtain a written contract directly with any entity requesting access to data, including


So, given these recommendations for managing information, what should you look for in a CRM or other information gathering system? A secured system will extract specific categories of data out of your DMS, break the data down and store it in feed types (such as sales, service, inventory, service appointments, special order parts and open repair orders) that only authorized dealer personnel can access. This access should be allowed only through a password protected and monitored system. Monitoring is key — the data company you select must monitor and regularly audit the system, and be able to quickly disable users, reset passwords and edit existing profiles. Your dealership must have it’s own set of data from this process that can be fed into established marketing strategies or service organizations with a protocol that you’ve established. This protocol should include that vendors you allow to access this data must have a written NADArecommended contract in place to ensure that the information will not be abused. Your dealership’s personnel should also be able to review the information being sent to third parties, to make sure that no unauthorized or inappropriate information is being sent. Stay in Control

Above all, you should have control, authorization and the ability to review what information is going out and where it’s going. Your customer has entrusted you with their vital information; make sure you have processes in place to be worthy of their expectations. Breaking the trust of the consumer, either on purpose or through ignorance, is never a good business practice. By protecting their data, you’re protecting both yourself and the relationship you have with your customer. Meri Glade is the chief legal officer for DealerVault. She can be contacted at 866.652.3969 , or by e-mail at

TD Auto Finance

See what our service can do for your sales.

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

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


he car business has always been a month-to-month business. There is always a grind to close the month strong, but within that month there are so many changes that could occur. Strategies evolve, technology advances and vendors alter service options. It often feels like there isn’t enough time in the day to do what needs to get done: sell cars, train, learn and evolve. Dealers are often making major decisions without thoroughly investigating the strategies and vendors they rely on so heavily. These decisions can have severe consequences to the dealership, especially when 92 to 99 percent of shoppers go online before they even step foot into a dealership. This means that, to some degree, almost every single person is an Internet prospect. Everyone is online and, whether they realize it or not, most dealerships have an Internet presence. Some have Internet departments and some have full business development centers, or BDCs. The majority of dealers, however, struggle with Internet sales, business development and digital marketing.

It’s understandable, and it’s easy to empathize with these dealers. But the reality is that Internet sales, BDC and digital marketing are here to stay. They are not simply “important aspects of the dealership” anymore — they are essential for a dealership’s success today and will become even more essential in the future. If a dealership is ready to dive back into Internet sales, or is looking to improve their current Internet department, how can dealers truly know what to do, when to do it and how to do it? How can dealers: • Identify their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (S.W.OT.)? • Select the best vendors to partner with? • Decide the best strategies to implement? • Determine if they are overpaying on products, services and vendors?

The problem is that dealers who were once prominent, successful and sold lots of cars are now struggling; they are selling less and less. These dealers are getting frustrated, aggravated and exasperated. Some are too proud to admit they are antiquated. Some have too big of an ego to even fathom that they are holding back their own success. Others have tried to engage Internet sales, BDC, social media and other digital marketing strategies but their attempts were unsuccessful and it left them frustrated. They might have hired the wrong manager or director, chosen the wrong vendor or OF SHOPPERS GO maybe had the wrong process in place. At the end of the day, it cost BEFORE SETTING FOOT them more money and INSIDE A DEALERSHIP wasted lots of time.

• Select the best technology? • Compare themselves to their competition? How can they learn how to evaluate all these things? By joining an Internet Sales 20 Group! What is a 20 Group? A “20 Group” is a group of dealers in non-competing markets who get together on a quarterly basis across the country to “synergize.” Although it was once required that a group consist of approximately 20 dealers — hence the name “20 Group” — this does not always hold true today. Some 20 Groups consist of 120 dealers while others may only consist of 15. Ultimately, the number of dealers in the group is not as relevant as the criteria by which the group itself is structured. 20 Groups are essential for success. Shakespeare said, “Show me your



friends and I will tell you who you are.” If you are a dealer principal, GM, Internet sales or BDC director or any other senior executive within a dealership or dealer group, finding a 20 Group that fits your dealership’s focus and needs can be a huge advantage. There are different 20 Groups for many different specialties. For example, you can have interested dealers form: • Franchised (OEM) 20 Groups • Independent Dealers 20 Groups • Used Car 20 Groups • General Manager 20 Groups • Special Finance 20 Groups • CFO 20 Groups It’s critical, then, to find the right 20 Group for your unique needs and situation — do not confuse the fact that they are different 20 Groups. You don’t join a CFO 20 Group if you are looking for BDC information and clarity, you

wouldn’t become a member of a Toyota 20 Group if you were a single-point Ford Dealership, and there would be no point to join a Special Finance 20 Group if you owned a Ferrari dealership and did not do any subprime deals. Internet Sales 20 Groups The same logic prevails that a traditional 20 Group would not provide you with the same amount of value, resources, experiences, ideas and results if it wasn’t dedicated solely to Internet sales, BDC and digital marketing. You wouldn’t hire a trainer for service writing to train your Internet sales department, so don’t waste your time with the wrong 20 Group. Traditional 20 Groups were designed before the Internet was so pivotal in the automotive industry. You need to find 20 Groups with experience or success in Internet sales, BDC or digital marketing. How a 20 Group Works Each dealer within the 20 Group would be responsible for filling out their “input sheets” to make up their 20 Group composite, which is a document that analyzes all of those details, metrics, financials, performance and more. The sheer act of an individual dealership filling out an input sheet and tracking the proper metrics would be beneficial to a dealership. A lot of dealerships simply “wing it.” Information for the input sheets includes data such as: • Lead Source Provider • Number of Leads • Number of Outbound Phone Calls • Number of Connections • Number of Appointments • Number of Appointment Confirmations • Number of Appointments Showed • Number of Deliveries This action is critical — all the

dealerships in the 20 Group fill it out completely. In a quality 20 Group, they have no choice; they have to fill it out, or else be fined or kicked out of the 20 group. Now, the 20 Group, led by their moderator, will be able to consolidate all the dealerships’ input sheets into the group’s 20 Group composite. Each member of the 20 group can see which dealers are excelling at each individual category. They can also see which dealers are struggling, where they struggle and why that might be. The group can create standards and benchmarks from this material, as well. The group can see who is above, below or on track for 20 Group standard. This is only the beginning; now that all of this field intelligence has been exposed, the synergy can begin. Within each individual 20 Group session, dealers spend time discussing what is successful, which vendors are good and which strategies are effective. They can share information on which vendors are bad, as well, and what to do when bad things happen. In essence, the composite acts as a conversational starter. The true value of a 20 Group is being part of a specific group of like-minded people at your level, or better. The group works together for one solitary goal: to evolve the entire group synergistically. Success Stories The effect of a properly run and focused 20 Group can be powerful, and it can be immediate. Here are some real-world examples of the kind of results that can be had from this type of group: • Andy Fedo, Internet Director from Lithia Hyundai in California, came to an Internet Sales 20 Group and was blown away to learn about new strategies dealing with online reputation management and video production.

With the knowledge he learned from the Internet Sales 20 Group, he added 50 online reviews on Google Reviews and increased both his Google and Yelp Review scores. • Brown Daub Kia left their Internet Sales 20 Group armed with an action plan for their Internet department. Once it was put into place, the dealership increased Internet sales more than 20 percent the very next month, delivering more than 135 online units. • Robert Wiesman took his career to a whole other level with the knowledge gained from being a member of his Internet Sales 20 Group. Robert went from being an automotive sales consultant at a small dealership to becoming the eCommerce director of a nine-rooftop dealer group. Teamwork It’s exciting to be a part of a team with a common goal, but it’s even more exciting to be part of a team succeeding at that goal. With the right 20 Group, your dealership can reach new heights by pooling experiences, sharing ideas and providing the support that can only come from someone who knows exactly what challenges you face and the world you live in.

20 Groups are essential for success. Shakespeare said, “Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are.” If you are a dealer principal, GM, Internet sales or BDC director or any other senior executive within a dealership or dealer group, finding a 20 Group that fits your dealership’s focus and needs can be a huge advantage.

The Internet Sales 20 Group In addition to ongoing Internet Sales 20 Groups, there’s an opportunity coming that will allow dealers to kickstart their 20 Group efforts. The Internet Sales 20 Group Workshop was created for the sole purpose of evolving dealer principals, GMs and Internet sales managers and is completely different than other industry workshops. The next event, to be held in Los Angeles, California on November 12, 13 and 14, is capped at 120 to 150 dealerships striving for success. Prior to the event, moderators of the Internet Sales 20 Group choose 20 different dealerships out of the all those registered and complete an analysis of major key performance indicators (KPIs): • Two Mystery Shop calls, recorded, graded and analyzed • Website Performance Analysis • Social Media Relevancy Analysis • Online Reputation Analysis • Search Engine Optimization Penetration Analysis • Third-Party Lead Opportunity Analysis After gathering all 20 dealerships’ vital statistics, the Internet Sales 20 Group creates a sophisticated benchmark composite. Where a traditional workshop has unrelated speakers lecture on stage for 45 minutes, the Internet Sales 20 Group’s curriculum is based on actual field intelligence, relevant to the actual audience and gathered from real-time data. The composite is put up on the screen, and conversations begin. Dealers want to know why they are No.18 on the list. Others want to know how and why ABC Motors is No. 1…. And this is where it starts to get amazing. People start to collaborate with each other: dealer to dealer, GM to GM, manager to manager. It is not chaos. It is professional, organized and productive. The Internet Sales 20 Group is moderated by experts, but the workshop is geared more toward enabling real dealer-to-dealer interaction. And, unlike all other major workshops, the Internet Sales 20 Group is the only industry workshop that does not have multiple sessions running at the same time. The

workshop is designed around one single track, with a beginning, middle and end. The Internet Sales 20 Group has another unique component — action plans. This is the only workshop in the entire automotive sales industry that provides every attendee with their own unique action plan for success after the workshop is over. Attendees also receive the most comprehensive workbooks for any event to date in the industry, packed with exercises and resources to guarantee success after the workshop has ended. During the workshop, moderators will also pair up relevant dealership attendees to form accountability partnerships to ensure the information and action plans don’t go to waste. There are five weeks of post-workshop structure, including additional action plans and resources. After the five weeks, a group Webinar is held to discuss attendee successes, questions, ideas and strategies with all 120 to 150 participants. The theme for this workshop is “CRM,” with DealerPeak as the Title Sponsor. A CRM is a critical aspect to a dealership’s success and is usually a major reason why an Internet sales or BDC fails. Additional top-ranked CRM companies sponsoring and participating are ELEAD1ONE, Dealer Socket and Promax. Moderators The co-creators of the Internet Sales 20 Group, Sean V. Bradley and Karen Bradley are experienced NADA, NCM and Internet Sales 20 Group speakers, having spoken to more than 100 20 Groups, and co-created the NCM and Associates Internet Sales Bootcamp. The Bradleys are members of the National Speakers Association as well as the only people in the entire auto sales industry officially partnered with and certified by the FranklinCovey organization. In addition, “Alpha Dawg” Jim Ziegler and “Webdoc” Peter Martin will also serve as moderators for the Internet Sales 20 Group. Jim has been a leviathan in the automotive sales industry for almost 40 years, who has also created an amazing Internet Sales Workshop, with 14

national events already in the books. Peter Martin, a 20 Group speaker as well as a frequent NADA convention speaker, is a digital marketing expert nationally recognized as the “Webdoc,” and is the technology correspondent for ABC 7 News. Speakers The Internet Sales 20 Group is known to have the “Best of the Best” speakers in the industry. There are no “bench warmers” on the roster — just quality heavy hitters. Some of the elite Internet Sales 20 Group speakers will include: • Jim Ziegler • JD Rucker • Glenn Pasch • Jim Flint • Tom Stuker

• Sean V. Bradley • Cory Mosely • Peter Martin • Dennis Colome • Mark Tewart

There are going to be special speakers, as well, including: Chris Carlson — Chris, the Internet director for Scott Robinson Honda in California, was a featured on the cover of AutoSuccess for taking his Internet department from 40 units online to more than 130 units at a single-point store. Joe Castle — Joe, the dealer principal of Castle Auto Group in Chicago, has seen his store deliver more than 250 Internet units per month with less than $95 per car sold in advertising. Robert Wiesman — Robert is the nationally acclaimed “Your Hyundai Guy,” routinely selling 25 to 30 units per month, with more online visibility than his dealership or competing dealerships. Danny Benites — The general manager of Greg Lair Buick GMC, Danny has more than doubled his Internet sales and is only just getting started.

If you are interested in attending the Internet Sales 20 Group, to be held November 12-14 in Los Angeles, AutoSuccess readers have a special discount code that will save you $250: AUTOSUCCESS1112. Go to to register now, or you call 267-319-6776.


marketing solution

part 2

the seven key steps for leveraging social media marketing to drive real results Investing in marketing campaigns can be a nerve-wracking decision for many small- and medium-sized businesses. CEOs and marketing directors know that when you have limited resources, you must be strategic with your budget, and every marketing investment has to pay off. This is why social media campaigns tend to be the first thing cut. Although free to setup, they take valuable staff resources to manage and the ROI is not as apparent. Launching a social media campaign likely won’t bring leads and sales pouring in your door tomorrow, but when you implement a few social media success strategies, you’ll find it much easier to drive a positive ROI with social that benefits your organization for years to come. Last time, we started our path with four steps for revitalizing your social marketing efforts, and this month, we’ll finish our list and see how to put them into action. 5. Look Beyond the “Likes”

Judging a social media campaign solely by the size of your Facebook likes is a bit backwards. Although “likes” can be a good indicator of success, a new Facebook like won’t feed your sales team’s families. In order to measure a successful social campaign, here are a few of the major metrics that social media can influence, and that you can measure: Reach, Likes and Shares — The soft metrics of social lets you know you are keeping your audience engaged. Social Referral Traffic and Goal Completions (Measured through Google Analytics) — You can figure out who is coming from social media and either buying something or filling in a lead form on your Website. Social Media Leads — Yes, you can drive business leads from prospects straight on social media.

6. Measure Your Results Based on Goals

Now that you know that results are more than just “likes,” decide how you are going to measure results before you start any social media activity, as well as the specific metrics you’ll use to determine success. Social media is just like any other marketing initiative, which means you have to answer some key questions, such as, “Why are we doing this?” and, “What are we hoping to get from it?” Each business will have its own definition of social media success. For one business, a metric like “sales” or “leads” is vital. Other businesses focus more on market share. Decide before you start what’s important to you. For a free measurement tool, use Google Analytics. For standardized reports, consider using an out-of-the-box report suite, such as Sprout Social or Raven Tools. 7. Commit to It

Too often, a small- or medium-sized business sets up a Facebook page, goes gung-ho with it for a few weeks, and then gets busy and forgets about it. That sends a negative message about the business. To avoid this scenario, start small with activity you can handle and stick with it. Post something daily, or at the very least weekly so your company can stay relevant. Additionally, make sure what you’re doing looks professional by getting custom banners to match your Website. If you are pinching pennies and don’t have a designer in-house for custom designs, you can get something that looks reasonable on sites like Fiverr, or something that looks very professional on sites like 99 Designs. Both are better than just “winging it.” Go Social

Social media can be one of the best investments your company makes. The key is to be smart about it and to treat it like any other business Increased Search Engine Rankings and New Inbound links — Having activity. So, if you’ve attempted social media in the past but let it go by the wayside, or if you haven’t embarked on this journey yet, now is a presence on social media can have a huge effect on any other organic or SEO programs you are running. Social media can be a key component the time to take the plunge and get on the social media platforms. By following these strategies, you’ll find social media to be a rewarding, of driving search engine traffic to your Website. enjoyable and profitable endeavor. Increases in Branded Traffic (Measured by Google Analytics) — If you are keeping your audience engaged and getting prospects “warmed up” Natalie Henley is the vice president of client services at on social, you should see an increase of consumers searching for your Volume 9 Inc. She can be contacted at 866.694.1393, or by e-mail at brand in search engines.



sales & training solution

the mulberry tree

When I was a boy, we lived about three miles from Shoal Creek. It was a late-summer ritual to jump on our bikes, stop by Bog Walton’s gas station on South Main at the edge of town to grab some chocolate pop out of the antique pop cooler (yes, I am old enough to remember chocolate pop) and peddle down the long winding hill to the river. There was a worn cattle path in the hay field that wound alongside the creek bank a quarter mile to an old mulberry tree that had probably had stood there hanging over that bank for 100 years. The best part was that the fishing was good, especially in late August when the mulberries were so ripe they literally fell off the tree when a breeze blew. My buddy Bobby Hartman and I were professional 11-year-old anglers. We didn’t even need bait. We just picked the berries up off the ground, hooked them up and tossed the line in the water under that old tree. Those perch were waiting, too. You had better be holding on when that hook and berry hit the water because I think every fish in Shoal Creek swam to that part of the creek every summer and we hauled them in all afternoon. We couldn’t miss; we were experts — that was, until the last berry fell. It took us a couple years to learn our lesson. Every year, we would head back to that same spot after the berries were gone and would come home empty handed until we finally figured out that berry season was over. If we wanted to catch fish, we were going to have to change some things. Because when fall comes, mulberry season is over. Every September, I remind my salespeople of this story because every summer selling season we get lulled into a false sense that we are in some Beach Boy’s car business fantasy version of “Endless Summer” (another reference to date myself). But the fall comes every year.


Salespeople who prepare for selling seasons can obtain great results regardless of the time of year. We just have to be smart enough to realize that sound daily activities are what make good sales people great. Here are three keys to have a great fall selling season. If You Live By the Up, You Die By the Up: This makes a lot more sense when the berries stop falling. In the summer when the showroom floor is full and the phone never stops ringing, we sometimes forget to “farm the farm.” Repeats, referrals, be-backs and new business contacts should be the foundation of a professional salesperson’s business. Professional salespeople have well-planned daily activities that ensure they are talking to enough people every day in order to achieve the desired result.

Salespeople who prepare for selling seasons can obtain great results regardless of the time of year. We just have to be smart enough to realize that sound daily activities are what make good sales people great. Manage the Activity, Not the Result of the Activity: You talk to 60 people this month and demonstrate at a 70 percent rate and you will be successful. If you do not talk to 60 people this month, you will not be successful. There will never be a time when you talk to 60 people, demonstrate at a rate of at least 70 percent and are not successful. Manage the things you can control: opportunity generation and demonstration rates. We Still Sell Cars One at a Time. You have time; make sure you build rapport. You have time; make sure you investigate the customer’s wants and needs. You have time; make sure you help the customer select the least expensive vehicle that best suits their wants and needs. You have time; make sure that you give the customer a great demonstration and presentation. You have time; make sure that you present your offer with clarity and confidence. There is no reason to take short cuts just so you can go stand on the lot and watch the fall leaves blow by. Some of my best months as a salesperson were in the fall when I had time to do my job. Will you make this fall your best season ever, or will you sit under the mulberry tree and wait for your business to return? Jim Adams is the general manager at Frank Fletcher Toyota in Joplin, MO. He can be contacted at 866.686.1333, or by e-mail at


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





marketing solution

the orange juice imperative: three ways to combat margin compression At a recent 20 Group meeting of Chevrolet dealers, a dealer told me that the average front-end used vehicle gross profit for the group was down $275, while expenses were up 11 percent. The dealer then asked a question that I’ve heard multiple times in recent months: “Dale, what can we do about this? I got into this business to make a profit, not watch it wither away.” Unfortunately, the answer to this question often isn’t satisfying or simple for most dealers. The reason? The compression of dealer margins is a relatively new phenomenon, and its symptoms and remedies often seem foreign to dealers steeped in traditional used vehicle inventory management practices. To help dealers understand what’s different about today’s retail environment, I share this story: There was an orange juice retailer who’d built a successful business. Of late, though, he has noticed that his oranges aren’t as juicy as they used to be; he needs more oranges to make the same amount of juice and profitability he’s achieved in the past. The orange juice retailer finds a way to get more oranges, but it creates another problem: His production processes can’t accommodate the additional volume, which means the less-juicy oranges sit under a hot

sun for a longer period of time, losing even more of their juice and production/profit value. To address this problem, the orange juice retailer correctly realizes he needs to retool his production processes to handle more oranges in less time. Soon, he’s able to produce the amount of juice and profitability he needs to ensure a viable business. For me, the story highlights the same dynamics dealers face in their used vehicle departments today. Broadly speaking, there’s less juice, or profit potential, in used vehicles than there used to be. This new reality means additional sales volume is a necessity for growth-minded dealers. Likewise, dealers have their own “hot sun” to worry about — namely, the margin-compressing effects of market transparency, volatility and rising expenses in their used vehicle departments. Given these conditions, I believe it’s imperative that dealers sell more used vehicles in less time to maximize the profitability and vitality of their used vehicle operations. Here are three recommendations to achieve this objective: Expand your ability to acquire the “right” cars. You can’t build volume if you’re not working harder and smarter to acquire the “right” cars at the “right” money from auctions and trade-ins. Two metrics help dealers meet this objective — Market Days Supply, which identifies how fast a vehicle will sell based on the same/similar competing units available in a market; and Cost To Market, which helps dealers determine the “right” money to put into a vehicle and achieve their profit objectives. Price vehicles to maximize profitability and turn. While most dealers recognize that they should price their vehicles to be competitive in the market, they don’t often do it — and the speed and volume of their sales suffers as a result. In today’s market, I believe that used vehicle pricing should achieve two important objectives: maximize each vehicle’s profit potential in the local market and sell the vehicle in the shortest timeframe possible. Velocity dealers use the Price To Market metric to ensure their used vehicle pricing is constantly aligned to meet both goals. Limit your inventory’s exposure to the “hot sun.” As noted above, the “hot sun” of today’s market saps used vehicle margins faster than it used to. In this environment, dealers who allow 60, 90 or 120 days to retail a used vehicle are asking for trouble. This is why I encourage dealers to maintain at least 50 percent of their used vehicle inventories below 30 days of age, and allow each vehicle a maximum 45-day window as a retail unit. Dealers who achieve these operational standards are able to retail a greater number of “fresh cars” faster and maximize the gross profit inherent in every unit.

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


podcast interviewee

Of course, the adoption of these recommendations isn’t easy — and it’s especially difficult for dealers who, out of belief and habit, cling to traditional used vehicle management practices that largely make margin compression worse at their dealerships. For them, I fear it’ll only be a matter of time before they’re squeezed out of business.

David Pierce, Used Car Manager



Jeff Mayer, President/General Manager





leadership solution

bodyshop training: Not as easy as you would think I was just interviewed by a bodyshop trade magazine on the subject of training. The angle that the reporter was taking was that it was entirely too difficult to get adequate training, whether it be managerial or technical. The OE’s have historically not given the same resources to bodyshop as they have mechanical training opportunities. Bodyshops have had to primarily rely on third-party training vendors. Organizations like NADA have treated bodyshops as an afterthought for years. Full disclosure: I run a training company that has a vested interest in you developing an appetite for bodyshop operational training. Training at NADA

I have been contacted several times by people representing training at the annual NADA shows. This year, they called and asked for a full-blown proposal on a subject of interest to a bodyshop. I was initially excited that we were finally going to have some credible representation at NADA. As the process went along, I was informed that they liked what I sent, but due to time constraints they wanted us to do a symposium with other people who also submitted proposals. This began to feel like once again the bodyshop was on the back burner. After hearing the lady explain “the committee’s” reasoning, I respectfully declined to participate. Unfortunately, the people arranging the training know little or nothing about a bodyshop. They invite not just educators and successful shop owners to propose a program, but also people like software vendors, etc. For us to do a

symposium with any software vendor might imply an endorsement of their product. My company endorses no product or equipment and, hence, wishes to be seen as a non-biased objective resource for bodyshop training. Our integrity was more important than a tradeshow opportunity.

The worst thing you can do is send your bodyshop manager away for a week to be “fixed.” Maybe there is more to the fix than he can effectuate. He needs your support. Paint Company Training

One of my first training opportunities 35 years ago came from a paint company. The industry has always relied on the refinish industry to give us technical help. Their core competency is in technical training. Between 15 and 20 years ago, most of the major paint companies started developing value-added programs, and management training became part of the offering. The problem with most of these trainers is that they have often never run a successful operation or, worse yet, ran a shop and failed. Somehow, any experience seems to qualify these guys as teachers. I am not saying you can’t get some good or even great training through your vendor, but I am saying it can be a crap shoot. So many of these programs are simply a reaction to something a competitor has offered — a “me-too” program, if you will. What Can You Do?

My biggest piece of advice is “own the training responsibility yourself.” By that, I mean don’t relegate the training issues to a vendor, or even most bodyshop managers. The shops that we train, who are ultimately successful, all have dealer or general manager involvement. Our best examples of success have included the dealer coming to class with the bodyshop manager and sitting shoulder to shoulder with him and learning the same things. The worst thing you can do is send your bodyshop manager away for a week to be “fixed.” Maybe there is more to the fix than he can effectuate. He needs your support. I would be happy to give you a list of dealers who have taken this approach if you e-mail or call me. Own the training; you won’t regret it. David Dunn is the founder of Masters School of Autobody Management. He can be contacted at 866.386.0042, or by e-mail at

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the dealer panel

Chris Saraceno AndrewDiFeo Brian Benst ock

bringing on a vendor

In the past two installments of the AutoSuccess and Dealer’s Panel, we’ve looked at what goes into our panel’s decisions to bring vendors into the fold and what factors can increase or decrease a vendor’s chances of doing business with their dealerships. This month, we’re looking at how they implement a new system and what advice they have about the process based on their experience. For this installment of our panel, we spoke with Chris Saraceno, vice president and partner of Kelly Automotive Group in Pennsylvania and Florida; Brian Benstock, vice president and general manager of Paragon Honda THEand Acura in New York City; and Andrew DiFeo, general manager of Hyundai of St. Augustine in Florida.


AutoSuccess: Describe the process of bringing a vendor and new business practices into your dealership. At what point do you bring employees into the discussion? Andrew DiFeo: Usually, I make the initial contact with the vendor. We

get solicited a lot for different products or services, and most of the time I let them know that it might not be the right thing for us today, but we keep their information for future reference, and then reach out to them when we feel the time is right. The process starts as an initial review by myself and then, if it’s something I feel would benefit the dealership and would be a reasonable return on investment or would solve a pain point, such as improving customer satisfaction, we bring in the stakeholders, who would be the end users at the dealership. Brian Benstock: I’m here to vet out and research things, but ultimately, the people using the tools have to embrace and accept it, and be willing to use it every day. If you have the best product in the marketplace but your team is not willing to use it, it’s a waste of money. We bring in our departmental managers very early into the process. They know the day-to-day issues, what’s going on and may have some situations where they can ask the vendor a question. I think it’s probably not advantageous for many dealerships to install a tool and then ask the employees their opinion. The term for that is “Fire, Ready, Aim.” We try to embrace opinions and ask, “Hey, does this work?” Sometimes, it takes longer to get things installed in the store, because sometimes new is not always better. At the end of the day, people have to follow the process and be willing to use the tool or product to make it successful. Just having it there because it’s the latest or greatest isn’t always the answer. Chris Saraceno: When looking to do business with a vendor, Greg

Kelly and I will typically narrow the search down to two or three companies based on the input of our managers and other dealers we respect. We typically have a team of managers and sales consultants involved in reviewing the product. Once we choose a vendor/partner, we would pilot at one of our dealerships for a few months. During each launch at the dealership, we give an overview of the vendor, their product, how this product will support our growth, the main reasons we chose this company over others, etc.Provost AndrewDiFeo Brian Benst Chris Saraceno Tony ock We believe training must be done early to make sure our team members get in the habit of using the product on a consistent basis; typically the vendor will be on site for a few days during the launch. We also do our best to set up weekly conference calls with the vendor to review what we’re doing well, and what opportunities we have.



part 3

AS: What advice, gathered from hard-earned experience or maybe from a near miss, would you give a dealer trying to decide on entering a business relationship with a vendor? AD: I would always look into what level of support you receive as a dealer

at no extra charge after you sign up for the product. For example, it’s probably baked into our current monthly fees with our CRM provider, but every three months they have somebody in our store for a full day training and making sure we’re using the product to its fullest. A company like vAuto consistently sends out performance coaches at no charge to come in and make sure we’re utilizing their system to the best of our ability. A turn-off of a vendor is if, once we sign up for a core product, there’s a constant sales pitch for signing up for all their other products. I don’t want to constantly be sold additional things. I want support on the existing successful by we’re getting the most out of it. product that we’resolutions paying forprovided to make sure


BB: Look at the track record. The industry is always rapidly changing, but a relationship with a vendor’s senior partner or even the owner of the company is something that we’ll want. Ultimately, you’re entrusting your brand to the hands of a third party. When you do that, you want to know that they’ll represent the brand the same way you would. When they talk about your dealership, you should be proud of what they say. It should be transparent, and they should be accountable. You don’t want someone out there leveraging your name for their own growth. Obviously, though, we’re happy to talk about people who are doing things well for us. It’s really important to understand the depth of the company, and we always like to ask them what their plans are for the next year or two to grow as the market changes. We view it as a partnership; when you bring someone into your dealership and business model, it’s tough when they’re in there and their product was working well to let them go and start the whole process again. We’d much rather find the right vendor the first time. CS: A partnership mindset with each vendor is important for success. I believe there are vendors who take dealers for granted, and vice versa. When you decide to invest your time, effort and money choosing a product, it is crucial you launch it correctly. Constant communication is crucial. The dealer needs to share with the vendor what they need and what the vendor can do to improve, and vendor needs to tell the dealer, “Here’s what you can to do be more successful, and here’s what some of the best practices are.” We love when a vendor can show us actual comparisons of other dealers, without showing names, and tell us, “Here’s what some of our best dealers are doing in these specific areas.”

the dealer panel

Knowing who you are partnering with beforehand is one of the smartest a dealer could do. Know their history and gather information about their upper management and the owners. Talk to as many dealers using their product as possible. Visit dealerships actually using the product. Length of contracts are another issue. Speaking from the dealer’s side, we have to prove ourselves every day to our customers. If we don’t treat them well, they drop us. If a vendor tells us we have to sign a year contract, that’s a huge red flag for us. We get concerned that the company is just trying to get recurring revenue. Long-term contracts are there to protect the vendor, not the dealer. We don’t mind signing for 90 days and then go on a month-to-month basis. If they’re good and believe in their product, they should have no problem proving themselves every month. We have been with some of our vendor/partners for 10 to 15 years on a month-to-month basis. If you have questions or are a dealer who would like to be considered for the panel, please contact us at

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marketing solution

destination store wins market share with vseo For this month’s dealer video marketing profile, I interviewed Robert Carmendy, general manager and partner of RSM Honda, which is located in Orange County, California. Robert’s automotive career spans almost 30 years, starting in Arizona back in the 1980s by selling cars. Currently, RSM Honda has been one of the fastest-growing Honda stores in Southern California for the last two years. Below is a transcript of our conversation:

more often when they are online doing Internet searches.

AJ LeBlanc: Can you give us a brief overview of your basic marketing strategy and philosophy? Robert Carmendy: We are challenged by

to our Website. Also, it allows us to increase our online presence in neighboring larger metro markets such as the city of Irvine, which is about 30 minutes away from our store.

our location being more of a destination, as the store is on the edge of Orange County with no main highways or freeways close to our location. We have to be strategic in our online marketing tactics to draw in customers because traditional advertising such as TV, radio and newspaper are less effective and geared towards bigger markets.

AJ: What type of marketing efforts do you implement in the stores on a consistent monthly basis? RC: We use SEM, SEO, social media, Video

SEO, direct mail, and event marketing.

AJ: Why is it important for a dealership to have Video SEO as part of an overall marketing strategy? RC: Video SEO gives consumers an overview

AJ: Can you explain what Video SEO does for your dealership? RC: Video SEO helps to deliver a value message that

resonates with the consumer in a way that is in line with our branding image, as opposed to just selling price. AJ: How has a Video SEO strategy impacted your Website’s visibility on search engines? RC: Video SEO has dramatically increased organic leads

AJ: How do you measure the effectiveness of your Video SEO strategy? RC: We review our Google analytics reports and track

increases in unique and new visitors to our Website, as well as use CRM tools. AJ: Lastly, when did your dealerships implement a Video SEO strategy and what is the average increase your group’s stores have seen in sales and market share since implementing this strategy into your overall marketing plan? RC: We have been using Video SEO for about a year and a half, and most notably our store has

become the highest performing in the region as far as conquesting Toyota, with year-to-date market share increase of more than 225 percent over in-market Toyota sales. In addition, we have increased our targeted Toyota trade-ins to 101 units, which is a 55 percent increase over the previous year’s same time period of 65 units. Start using video marketing today to help your dealership gain additional exposure online to inmarket automotive buyers.

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AJ LeBlanc is the co-founder of He can be contacted at 866.795.9094, or by e-mail at

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Relevant Reach


marketing solution

How Much Business walks out your door and buys from your competitor? JD Power reports up to 85 percent of people shopping for a vehicle purchase within 90 to 120 days. Unfortunately, only 15 percent are retained by the dealership that paid for the initial advertising. What percentage of showroom Ups do your sales people actually input into your CRM? Do the math for your store; say only five opportunities per day are lost by not being entered into your CRM. Five per day at six days per week at 52 weeks per year equals 1,560 people shopping for a car at your dealership who are lost opportunities. What if you were able to capture these and convert only 20 percent of them? This equals 312 more units sold in a year, equaling millions of dollars for your

bottom line. Many of you reading this article are thinking, “Boy, we have a lot more than five per day.” Others are thinking, “Let’s see, 312 more units per year — that’s an entire month of business for us.” So, how can you capture this additional business that you are already paying for and not cashing in on? The first thing is to change the way customer data is entered and retained. Salespeople will usually greet a customer, show them a car and then at some point try to find the information they scribbled on the back of a business card to enter into the CRM. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Stop losing business to your competition. It’s time to change the way customer’s information is input into the CRM. What if when customers arrive at the dealership, they scan their driver’s license into a kiosk and that information goes directly into your CRM and follows the lead so you have a customer for life? What benefits might this have on the sales process? People everywhere are using kiosks at cellphone stores, airlines and more for nearly a decade now. Customers understand how to use these technologies and enjoy having the control. A great way to reach 100-percent customer logging is to marry kiosk technology to promotional events. Your current promotions will work. Have customers enter their information for a chance to win tickets, cash, cars or an opportunity to get into a money vault machine. Just keep it fun. You are already offering these things to your customers to get them on the lot. Now, take it to the next level. Get every customer, every time into your CRM. The accuracy of the data will improve, as well. Who knows your customers better than they know themselves? Just imagine knowing what advertising channel really brought each customer into your dealership. When you look for promotions for your dealership, consider the whole process. It is important to not only sell some cars today, but to also capture the 85 percent who will buy in the next 90 days. Look for promotions that can provide you with both. The guy up the street won’t like that you aren’t sending him the extra business each month, but who cares what he thinks? Put that money on your bottom line. For five free ideas to fill your showroom and your CRM please e-mail me at the address below. Debbie Drury is the president of She can be contact at 866.872.8150, or by e-mail at




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marketing solution

win the click with trade-in opportunities When thinking of ways to “Win the Click,” it is common to forget the need to improve your trade-in lead generator. Consider the value of a trade-in lead — the opportunity to not only sell a vehicle, but also buy a great vehicle without auction or transport costs. With this valuable asset at your fingertips, it is critical to focus on improving your trade-in lead generator presence. There are several ways to focus in on “Winning the Click” in the trade-in world and, just as important, what actually happens after you do. Below are some great things to consider: Banner Placement — Banner placement is critical in maximizing the number of clicks on the trade-in tool. Foremost, the banner should always be “above the fold,” meaning that when a customer lands on your site, they shouldn’t have to scroll down to see the trade banner. In addition, the banner placement should be on every page possible. Normal locations include the home page, SRP and VDP; however, this is still not maximizing your exposure. Another great place would be the “specials” page. For example: A customer does an Internet search for local deals and lands on your “specials” page. He sees a vehicle of interest, but is wondering what his trade is worth. This is an excellent opportunity to insert a trade-in evaluator banner. Reevaluating your pages can certainly be a worthwhile task; any page that would include trade-in value relevance should be a page that includes your banner. Technology — The type of trade-in tool you use is important as well. In order to maximize your clicks and leads, it is helpful to research the different trade-in tools and compare the differences between them. The best ways to differentiate the tools are speed and control over the value given. How long does it take your customer to complete the form? The majority of tools ask for


detailed information in order to adjust the algorithms to output the best possible number. This is a great idea in theory, but many of these tools’ bounce rates are high. This contradicts the very reason for having the tools in the first place. If prospective customers don’t complete them, there is no added value and you are left with no leads. The other important component to an effective trade-in tool is your control over the values given. How much control is being given to the customer? If it’s not enough, you run the risk of never seeing them, and if it’s too high, you may have a displeased customer on your hands once they learn the actual value. The number you give and the ability to control it is extremely important. Is the number a range or an exact number? An exact number holds you to the quote more so than a range, and if the number is too high or low you may not have a useful lead to work with. Thus, a range of values to create a more warranted trade-in is huge. When working with a range, it is important to remember that customers are rational and want to understand their vehicle’s value. This is why a clear and concise trade-in range is critical. Staying in Front of the Bounce — The reality is that even if you have an efficient trade-in tool, only a third to a half of your customers will complete it. How do you stay in front of these customers who click on your tool but bounce off the site? Retargeting these customers is imperative to re-engaging these prospects. Choosing a trade-in tool that offers retargeting is an important piece of the puzzle and will help you to “Win the Click” back. Follow-up — This is also a key factor in turning leads into trade-ins or sales. When your sales department follows up, they should focus strictly on buying that customer’s vehicle. Most salespeople try to turn a follow up into an inquiry on a new car purchase. This is proven to be the fastest way to turn a customer away from your dealership. Once the customer understands you have their best interests at heart, you will have a much greater chance of getting them into the dealership and into a new vehicle. Service Drive — Another effective way to use the trade-in tool is on the service drive. The use of a trade-in tool in their service departments is something seen in top-performing stores. For specific years, makes or models, for example, they will place a hang tag in the customer’s vehicle stating “We want your car! Ask for a free appraisal.” These stores proactively using this system in their service departments capture many more trades on the specific types of vehicles they are looking for — all for less than what you would pay at an auction, with more information on the vehicle you’re purchasing. Yet another idea would be to add a trade-in kiosk in the service waiting room. Here, a kiosk would see plenty of foot traffic. In short, a great place to start is your Website. You want to confirm your trade-in tool is in all the relevant places. Then focus on the tool itself. If it takes longer than 30 seconds and requires a Ph.D., it’s costing you opportunities. Be sure the values are justified and the figures are in line with what you actually want to pay for vehicles. Lastly, consider all the places you can use the trade-in tool digitally and at the dealership. “Winning the Click” when it comes to trade-in opportunities is another extremely important facet to obtaining your business and sales goals. Jeremy Anspach is the president and CEO of PureCars. He can be contacted at 877.381.2632, or by e-mail at


sales & training solution

don’t ever chat like this Lately, there have been a number of newbie chat services that promise engagement, leads and everything else from the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. However, I highly recommend you test chat their services or ask for chat transcripts before signing. If you don’t, you could end up with a situation like the one below. As a former virtual sales assistant, or chatter — whichever you prefer — I have first-hand experience to what makes a chat great and ultimately gets the shopper through the door of your dealership. It’s simple, and it’s not really a trade secret. You need basic customer service skills. What’s included in basic customer service skills? For one, it’s being willing to provide more information to answer the shopper’s questions. You should be focused on making the shopper happy, not gathering contact information. Yet, I find more and more chat providers failing to meet this simple objective. I give you this chat for example: Dealership: Thank you for choosing [dealership name] System: A representative has joined the conversation. Compose your message below and then

press Enter to send.

Leticia Geer: Hello, How may I help you? You: Español? You: ? You: no spanish??????

[waited for 3 minutes for someone to respond to me] Leticia Geer: Hola You: Hola! Me puedes decir mas sobre el Malibu? --Los especiales   [Hi! Can you tell me more about the Malibu, the specials?] Leticia Geer: Si, con quien hablo? [Yes, whom am I speaking with?] You: Veronica Leticia Geer: Veronica, 2013 CHEVROLET Malibu $2,500 Consumer Cash -OR- 0% APR for 60 months for qualified buyers [they copied and pasted in English] You: 2,500 discuento y que?  [2,500 discount and what?] Leticia Geer: como y que? Los $2,500 descuento, si no, 0% hasta 60 meses [What do you mean, what?  it’s $2,500 off or 0% apr for 60 months] You: como y que? tu me dijiste en ingles [What do you mean? You told me in English] I ended the chat after that. Frankly, I was a bit disturbed that someone questioned why I didn’t understand what they were saying when they responded in English and I had been speaking in Spanish the entire time. It was rude and off putting. The worst part is that this dealership is located in Los Angeles, California, where there is a huge Hispanic population. What Should You Learn From This Example? 1. Don’t make your shoppers wait three minutes to get a response. In fact, you shouldn’t even

make them wait more than 30 seconds. Because, trust me, they won’t. Your shopper should have your full attention and will feel important if you respond quickly to them.

2. Get to know your demographics. If your store is in an area with a large Hispanic population,

then you should either have bilingual staff answering the chat requests, or use a chat service that has a translation feature built in. Ensure you can connect with every shopper on your site by implementing one of these processes.

3. Be aware of your tone. Yes, you have a tone, even during a chat. In this case, “What do you

mean, what? It’s $2,500 off or zero percent APR for 60 months” sounds like “You are an idiot. The special is $2,500 off.” You wouldn’t dream of calling a showroom visitor an idiot, so don’t do it online. Make sure your tone is not condescending or rude.

And, please, don’t ever have a chat like this. Ketty Colom is a marketing associate at ActivEngage Inc. She can be contacted at 866.855.5643, or by e-mail at



leadership solution

part 3

why dealerships struggle

In 2011, NADA stated that the average automobile dealership in the U.S. spent $654 per vehicle on advertising. How much per car was spent for training? I don’t know the exact answer, but know but I know it was not much. In all struggling dealerships, the necessary capital requirements of time, money and effort have not been spent to create a winning team through better training. Automotive buyers are far more educated than ever before; however, the average dealership is operating at about the same training level that has always existed. Yes, the dealerships have more factory requirements for product training, but it should be considered a given that all salespeople know the product. What I am talking about is what really improves your team and moves the needle: sales skills, people skills, life skills and marketing skills. The majority of automotive dealers are far more concerned with their advertising and marketing than their people. That may sound harsh, but it’s true. Many dealers say they care about their employees, but do you really care about them if you are not giving them a chance to succeed? It may be that most dealers consider advertising and marketing as having an immediate pay back. Advertise today and see traffic tomorrow. Most dealers spend a ton of money to bring customers in the door, but none on what to with them once they are there. There seems to be a lot of skepticism around the ROI of training employees because they may spend money and then the employee is gone. This reminds me of the old saying “The only thing worse than investing in people who don’t stay is not investing in people who do.” The other response I hear from dealers is, “I expect my managers to train my employees.” I


would agree that managers should definitely train and train every single day. However, let’s look at that idea a little deeper and ask some questions. 1. What are your managers’ level of education and expertise in the area of training? Does being a

manager mean you know how to train?

2. What do you want your managers to train on? Are there many areas in people skills, life skills

and marketing skills they wouldn’t know much about?

3. Are your managers getting done all the things you want them to do now? If they are not, how

likely are they to take on this additional duty?

4. Is it smart to have all your training and education come from within your organization?

If you want to recruit, hire and retain good employees, then you must offer a road map for their future that includes training and career advancement. Good people are not looking for a job; they are looking for a career, opportunity and a dream. Employees can find a paycheck anywhere, but exciting dreams are hard to come by. Take Enterprise Rent-A-Car as an example. This is probably the best recruiting, dream-selling company there is. If you visit any Enterprise location, you’ll find a college graduate with proper attire, a big smile and intelligently working a trained process actively pursuing their career goals. Enterprise recruits on college campuses and offers a strong growth-oriented career path. These college-educated young folks are taking a rental clerk job because of a dream. The real numbers show that a large percentage of the employees leave after two years because they don’t believe the dreams are going to happen, but the rest wind up doing well within the company. Compare what an automotive career has to offer in compensation, career and rewards. An automotive career is light years above Enterprise, so why don’t dealerships get those types of people most of the time? Most automotive dealerships never even try to get better people. Many are still stuck in the dark ages of running an ad in the newspaper when they need people. Secondly, most qualified job seekers would never have a clue about the career and money potential in the auto industry. The hard truth is the prevailing culture and environment of most dealerships would not allow those dealerships to recruit, hire or retain better people. The whole environment is set up to recruit needy lower-level people and perpetuate turnover. If you don’t believe training works, then look at McDonalds. McDonalds takes lower-level potential employees and combines massive training and incredible process and gets consistent results in thousands of franchises. If McDonalds can train, can you? Confidence comes from competence. Competence comes from training, which in action forms education. I have often referred to training as a sunburn that wears off. That is why training done every day becomes lasting education. Training is an everyday thing, not a sometimes thing. You must have full commitment from the leaders of your dealership to education with full accountability and no excuses. When this occurs, you change the dynamic of your dealership into one of a better culture and winning mentality. Without constant education, your dealership will always struggle. Winners educate and take action everyday.

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

podcast interviewee

What is the plan at your dealership for training your team members? If it is what I have seen at most dealerships, it’s not enough. As a matter of fact, if you are operating at the industry standard, it’s embarrassing. Dealerships that struggle always have people who are not trained enough or trained properly.


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leadership solution

state-of-the-art reconditioning

In late 2010, when workflow process was first applied to reconditioning, texting and data plans were expensive. In fact, most techs did not carry smartphones. Today, virtually all technicians, detailers, photographers, subcontractors and lot managers not only have smartphones — but, they know well how to use them. Why is this important? It is important because unfortunately, the accessibility gap still exists between the UCM, employees or subcontractors for those still using old-school recon processes. This isn’t the case, though, when workflow technology is combined with smartphones. This gap gets easily bridged, creating an efficient and highly functional work environment. When the car business hit the skids in late 2007, before bottoming out in 2009, dealerships were forced to cut back, or even worse, close down. Recon workers and subs, in most cases, were lucky to have a job. But now, business levels across the U.S. have returned, and some dealers are finding it increasingly hard to find qualified technicians to keep up with their business demands. If a tech is not happy, there are plenty of other opportunities around. Many dealers have resorted to dedicated teams or creating centralized reconditioning centers. Combine this increased demand for qualified reconditioning resources with the dramatic change in mobile technology, and you will find a new and emerging approach to motivating the individual recon worker. The results speak for themselves. Mark Miller Toyota in Salt Lake City implemented a recon workflow system and decided to dispatch work by individual name so each tech owns a measurable and comparable Step (see Fig. 1). Best practices

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

benchmarks for mechanical/service is to stay under one days or a 13 work-hour average. The average in September for this group of six techs was around five hours for 100 cars — or 20 cars each, as of September 14. This alone adds one more selling day to these 100 cars. Three factors have contributed to the high performance: First, the UCM approval process is almost all done by mobile, and happens in minutes. Second, everyone working on the cars now has a smart mobile device. And third, the UCMs, technicians, detailers and bodyshop (whether owned or outsourced) can be included by name in the workflow. This makes them fully accountable from the time the work is dispatched or passed to them until they click “Done” on their phone. A dealer’s sales staff has motivation built into their compensation plan. If you can’t sell, you soon will be looking for another job. On the other hand, top sales performers not only earn more money but also are routinely motivated by weekly and monthly sales competitions. Technicians, who have traditionally been left in their bay to just do the work, can now, through a workflow process, validate how good or efficient they are. No longer do they want to be left in the dust. Workers are now much more tech savvy by use of their own smartphone and mobile apps, and texting is rapidly becoming a preferred form of communication. Consequently, by using their own smartphone, it becomes a means for techs to indicate how fast and how well they perform on the job and provides great motivation. Getting a car available for sale or ready to move to the next recon step, by use of a smartphone, has allowed the Mark Miller Toyota technicians a reliable and accurate way to compare themselves to their fellow techs. Making the Jump to Workflow

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On a recent trip to Illinois, I had the opportunity to meet with Jeff Mayer, owner and GM of Marion Toyota, Scion, in Marion, Illinois. He explained how he arrived at the decision to rely on workflow for managing recon: “I was in the late stages of putting in a state-of-the-art, in-house reconditioning department,” Mayer said. “But, the one thing that kept concerning me was, ‘How in the world are we going to keep track of each car from A to Z?’ “My thoughts were that a used car changes hands about eight times before it gets to the lot usually, including trade, service, recondition, dents and air brush, back to the UCM for inspection and merchandise — with all the point-of-sale material, pictures and sometimes even more if it has to be sublet out for other off-site repair work. If you think you are going to keep track of all that with just a piece of paper and a clipboard or a shared spreadsheet, you are kidding yourself. “Sales managers are supposed to be selling cars, not chasing them around. They need to be able to see what is going on with all of their units at the glance of an eye. It makes for a much more productive sales office. “I happened to come across this reconditioning workflow application. Turns out, it is so simple, yet so good at what it is suppose to do. Bottom line, it is the perfect solution.” Dennis McGinn is the founder and CEO of Rapid Recon. He can be contacted at 866.268.3582, or by e-mail at

podcast interviewee

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JimmyVee & TravisMiller

marketing solution

part 2

trust me: I’m a car dealer

There’s a tremendous propagation of the cliché car salesman stereotype in this country, and it’s not helping anyone sell more cars. The harsh reality is, a lot of people do have negative past experiences about the car buying process. We’ve even met a few bad apples recently, having both just purchased new cars this year. And the media isn’t doing the industry any favors either. So, between the stereotypes, real experiences and negative media attention, today’s customers are suffering from a serious lack of trust. Last month, we started looking at ways to combat these stereotypes. This month, we’ll finish our list on building trust with customers and setting yourself apart. More Simple Ways to Build Trust Today

Creativity and Wow — People are always looking for more excitement and adventure in their lives. Lucky for you, the “wow” effect leads to trust. How can you “wow” your customers even before they show up on your lot? For starters, make sure you stand out in a “wow” way. Does your marketing look and sound the same as everyone else’s? Everyone thinks “excellent customer service and offering the lowest price” is what people want to hear — so everyone says it. Be different. Be yourself. Stand for something more than the widest selection at the lowest price for the past 40-plus years. Genuine Interest — Be genuinely interested in your customers’ situation. Empathize with your customers. Sincerely ask what has brought them to you. Sincerity is powerful stuff. You have to forget about your cars and your service and how great you think it all is. It doesn’t matter to them. Instead, think about how you can make your

Learning how to attract and retain customers is the only way to create a successful business, and building trust is an important step toward gravitating people directly to your door. Make sure your team is chock-full of service-minded problem solvers. Give your customers a reason to choose you other than just price. Build their trust to build your business. customer’s life better, solve their problems or make their life easier. That’s what matters to them, and the dealerships that capitalize on this will see CSI — and gross go through the roof. Accurate Advice = Trusted Advisor — Forge friendships with your customers. When you give out information, it should be nothing less than accurate. Write a blog, distribute e-mail tips or send video messages. Stay in constant contact with your customers like a friend should. Deliver advice over and over again until your customers can count on you with confidence. 100 Percent Real Deal — Authenticity is the most important component in trust. What someone reads from you in their mailbox or hears you say on the radio must match what they experience when they come to see you in person. The whole point of getting someone’s attention is so you can begin building an authentic relationship with them where each party comes away a winner. So go all the way and remember: Keep it real. Learning how to attract and retain customers is the only way to create a successful business, and building trust is an important step toward gravitating people directly to your door. Make sure your team is chockfull of service-minded problem solvers. Give your customers a reason to choose you other than just price. Build their trust to build your business. Action Steps To Build Trust Today

Ask yourself, “How could your salespeople change the conversation they have with your customers today to start building trust? What would happen if they were 100-percent focused on the customer’s situation, not the car or its price? What could you do to bolster the reputation of your store before the first interaction with a new prospect?” Now, pick one thing that you can implement today. Trust us — you’ll be glad you did. For a complimentary Traffic Scale Report, which compares the quality of your traffic to other dealerships in your area, visit and use coupon code AS1310. Jimmy Vee and Travis Miller are founders of The Rich Dealers Institute and the authors of Gravitational Marketing: The Science of Attracting Customers and Invasion of the Profit Snatchers. They can be contacted at 866.867.9618, or by e-mail at


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leadership solution

part 2

how enhancing your integrity can increase your profits So, I hope by now it’s clear that integrity is important in many areas of our lives. The truth is that most of us think of ourselves as good people, but do we know how good we are? Remember, Uncle Frank says that the problem isn’t lack of integrity. The problem is that we can’t see how badly we lack it. That really means we need to have some way we can monitor what we say and do in order to be sure that we really do operate with integrity. Seven Keys to Measuring your Integrity

Here are some factors you can consider to help you decide whether you measure up as the person of integrity you believe you are. Honesty: One of the keys to integrity is that you can’t really be honest with others if you are not first honest with yourself. That means taking time to reflect on what is important to you. That can sometimes mean facing up to unwelcome truths and making changes in the way you live and work.

Reputation: You may think you are a good person, but it’s more important what other people think. Your personal reputation and that of your business goes before you. It’s one of the crucial factors that will determine whether people call you and come back. Your reputation for integrity takes time to build, but it can be lost quickly, and a poor reputation can be hard to change. When deciding to do business with someone, people typically rank integrity and honesty among the top factors when making that decision. Even when someone has an


advantage, such as better product or price, they will miss out on sales if potential customers feel they have low integrity and honesty. Quality of Work: One of the most obvious manifestations of integrity is the quality of work you deliver. Do you just do the minimum necessary, or do you always go the extra mile? A person with high standards of integrity believes that what you put into your work is a statement about who you are as a person. They will often demonstrate integrity by starting earlier, staying later and putting more effort into the small details. This is one obvious way your employees and customers can judge your true level of integrity. Personal Priorities: All of your thoughts and behaviors are driven by your values and beliefs. Your values determine what is important to you and define the kind of person you really are. Your beliefs shape your character and your actions. We are often not consciously aware of these influences, so it’s a good idea to think about the factors that motivate you to take action or to refuse to do something. This will reveal an enormous amount about you and your personal priorities. A person with integrity lives a life that is consistent with their most important values and this is obvious for others to see. Integrity is the guiding force that holds you true to your values. Daily Behavior: The small behaviors and

thoughts you do or have every day are a good indication of your true integrity. Think about your reactions to the inevitable ups and downs of life, or to the behavior of other people. These small interactions give you an indication of the type of person you really are. When you reflect on what you do on a day-to-day basis — especially the choices you make when you are rushed or stressed — you get a picture of what is really in your heart. How do you behave when driving or when you are a customer in someone else’s business? Do you behave in these situations in the way you would want others to behave? Would you act differently if your best customers could see you at that moment? Your Influences: Consider what people — living or dead — you admire and see as positive influences. Why do you admire them? What virtues do they have that you look up to? This will give you a good picture of your true character. Example to Others: If you are in a position of leadership, the way your behavior is seen by others is a crucial element of integrity. Do you behave in the way you ask others to behave? Are you consistent so that people know what to expect of you? Are you seen as someone who keeps their word? All relationships are based on trust, and trust is based on integrity. Next month, we’ll look at some ways to become a person of integrity.

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


marketing solution

five must-ask questions to better position your marketing spend

Here are five questions to consider when deciding how to spend your marketing budget: 1. Are you at the front of the food chain? Not a day goes by that a dealer doesn’t tell me more and more customers are shopping them on the Internet. Because of this, once the customer gets to the dealership, the profit in the deal is minimal. Even this is a best-case scenario, because sometimes the customer doesn’t even get to the dealership. This is when I ask dealers to tell me about their lead generation and their spend. Dealers usually tell me how much they spend on third-party leads and how frustrating it is. I ask them about using their owner data so they achieve more first-party leads than third-party leads. The key is using the data to drive your marketing so that you can identify your customer at the front of the buying cycle. The more first-party leads you create, the fewer third-party leads you will need. Remember, a third-party lead has been passed out to several other dealers. Your success rate and ability to make more gross is diminished the further down the line you are. 2. Are you spending the majority of your budget on the people with whom you will have the greatest impact?  I would compare this to politics. The first

goal is to rally and excite your base; the second goal is to go after the swing votes. The further you move from left to right or right to left, the less impact you will have. The same is true in marketing. Start with an owner marketing plan. Next, look at becoming more strategic with conquest marketing. Conquesting has become more cost effective with digital techniques. In the future, this will become more advantageous, as you will be able to use better data to streamline your efforts. 3. Are you staying in front of customers who have shown interest? This has become a point of emphasis, as dealers can drive a lot of visitors to their Website, but conversion to an actual appointment is often low. Retargeting has become a great way to stay in front of these customers. Remember: Customers are now in the market and doing research for up to 180 days before they buy. It is vital that we stay in front of this customer beyond the initial contact. E-mail campaigns are a cost-effective way to accomplish this goal. 4. Are you making it easy to buy from your dealership? Great marketing should go beyond a response; it should also make it easier to buy from your dealership. When we get a customer response, we must make it easy for them to buy. If we don’t, it becomes too easy for the consumer to just go to another dealer’s Website. Marketing has to push people down the sales funnel. By engaging your customer this way, it takes your customer to a deeper level within your dealership and diminishes the need for the customer to visit other dealership Websites. We should value marketing that creates more dealership appointments and test drives. 5. Are we measuring correctly? Every dealer I speak to wants measurable results. Who can blame them? The challenge is making sure we are using measurements that correctly gauge how customers buy. Measuring customer time frames will help us calculate the effectiveness of our spend. We should also calculate how much time, on average, it takes to close the sale. For example, if it takes an average of 62 days from initial contact to close of sale, then you need to figure how to lower the average number of days to close. Choose a sales process or marketing tool that will help you better track each customer, expedite the process and keep the sale in-house.

Look at your budget and ask these five questions, then look at programs for the future. This should give you a great start and, more importantly, a better position for your dealership’s budget. Innovation is coming to the marketplace — make sure you’re positioned to benefit from it. 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

PCG training adds up to big lead handling success…


Lithia Toyota of Abilene hired PCG Consulting to improve interaction and communication with customers.

Increase In nine months, PCG has helped Lithia Toyota of Abilene increase its leads, and in-turn the sales team in Internet was able to convert those leads to sales. Growth

In the initial on-site two-day assessment, it became apparent the dealership needed direction on how to maximize its digital marketing and lead handling process. Lithia Toyota of Abilene

“Our results have been tremendous. Our Internet Department is selling more, and our floor traffic is up. If you’re looking to make a difference in your market with your digital efforts, I strongly suggest you call PCG.”

October 2012

May 2013

211 Leads 306 Leads A PCG consultant 29 Sales 51 Sales 166 Units Sold 242 Units Sold visited the dealership every month for team $71,661 $118,030 training. By holding employees accountable for converting leads, the sales team better utilized CRM, equity mining, Internet Reputation Management tactics, and their website.

Real People. Real Strategies. Real Results.



Increased Unit Sales

– Kenan Pyeatt , General Manager, Lithia Toyota of Abilene

Call PCG to learn how to improve your numbers 446 Rte. 35 So., Bldg. C, Eatontown, NJ 07724 (732) 450-8824

podcast interviewee

As I speak to dealers, it is clear that it is becoming increasing difficult to develop a marketing strategy as more and more services and programs are being offered. Innovation from big data has flooded the marketplace with plenty of marketing options. Dealers are left with tough decisions with respect to their ad spend.



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recruiting talent the right way

Two of the hottest topics in the auto industry this year are online reputation and recruiting. Hiring the wrong recruiting company can ruin your dealership’s reputation and cost you big. There are several different ways to go about recruiting talent for your dealership, but the most effective way, aside from strong grassroots efforts, is to outsource it to an expert recruiter. That being said — buyer beware. When dealers start shopping around, they quickly learn they have options, but just like a customer looking to buy a car but unfamiliar with the ways of or industry, if you don’t do your research you could end up a bad situation. Just as there are good dealers and bad dealers, there are good recruiting companies and bad recruiting companies. Most play by the rules, but others play Russian Roulette with your dealership’s dollars and reputation.

In many cases, the trainer/recruiters are not properly trained themselves and don’t understand legal interview questions. There are many new interview do’s and don’ts. Improperly trained recruiters can create additional risks for you because, in this day and age, the applicants know more about what someone can and cannot ask you than they ever have before. Rejected applicants will often point their wrath directly at the dealership in the form of BBB complaints, “Rip Off ” reports, attorney general investigations, EEOC complaints and any other form of reputation bashing the justifiably angry job seeker can get their hands on. A Better Way

There is a better way to recruit the best talent in the industry: through companies who don’t hide in the shadows looking to make a quick buck off a desperate job seeker. Before you hire a recruiting company, there are 13 things you should know. Answers to these simple questions should protect your dealership from harm. 1. Is the recruiting company willing to sign a supplemental agreement releasing the dealership

The Facts

Let’s start with companies that charge applicants. If you tell applicants in the advertisement that you are going to charge them an exorbitant fee that has no guarantee of a refund, or even a job, for that matter, they won’t show up for the interview. If you don’t disclose the fee in the ad, you’re committing deceptive advertising practices which may ultimately be proven fraudulent with punitive repercussions aimed directly at the dealership. Because most recruiting companies who charge applicants use the dealer’s logo, this gives them freedom to make mistakes on your dime. Ask any sales manager who has used this type of company and they’ll have a horror story or two. Also, the recruiter only gets paid if applicants attend the training, so they will put anyone in the class who shows up for an interview if they have the money. The trainer discourages highquality applicants, just in case the applicant interferes with the class on the third day when the fee is brought up again; It’s possible they could create a “walk out” by exposing the lack of guarantees and orchestrated trickery.


The dealer’s real troubles, however, begin after they make their hiring decision. The dealer may let the recruiting company know that they only want to hire four, but the trainer/recruiter may have 15 or 20 in the class all week long right through until Friday. After the dealership hires the applicants they want, the others are left with a sense of rejection and told they won’t get their money back, but can call an 800 number for “job placement.” Most of the “job placement” people are simply minimum-wage workers who have no job placement experience. They are simply told to call the dealerships in the area and see if they can get the applicants some interviews.

from all potential liabilities in the event of an unforeseen issue? Does the company have any programs where they charge applicants? If so, walk away When they advertise, are they telling the applicants there are no hiring or training fees? Are they properly licensed and insured? If not, walk away. Do they have a state and or national reference list? Do they offer any replacement guarantees on the candidates you hire from them? Do they offer objective guarantees that the service you pay for will be delivered fully? In their ads, do they mention they are a third-party company retained by the dealership, with proper links to their Website and a phone number to their office? 9. Do they allow the dealership management to interview the candidates before the candidates are trained by the recruiter? If no, walk away. 10. Do they staff for all positions in your dealership? 11. Are there any factory programs available, or are they highlighted by any OEM which may include special pricing for your dealership franchise? 12. Have they ever gotten a dealership sued, or been sued themselves for advertising practices, or preying on jobless candidates? 13. Is there any bad press on the company online that has not been properly addressed by the recruiting company’s executive management? 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

For a free supplemental agreement releasing the dealership from any and all liability issues when using a recruiting company, which you can use with any recruiting company you choose to use, you can e-mail me at the address below with “Free Supplemental Agreement Request” in the subject line. In addition, you will be provided with a list of free “Interview Do’s and Don’ts” to keep your managers from getting you sued. Good selling! Kevin Bradberry is president and CEO of TK Worldwide, Inc. He can be contacted at 800.723.2806, or by e-mail at


marketing solution

mobile marketing strategy — should apps be considered? More than 50 percent of your customers are smartphone users; this makes mobile a topic worth the attention of every dealer. Just about every expert will agree that all businesses must have a strong mobile marketing strategy. Such a strategy involves making nominal changes to your marketing plan to more effectively include mobile as a method to reach out to new customers and keep in touch with existing ones. There is a lot to take into consideration when discussing mobile. By now, your business should have a mobile Website. However, mobile Websites and mobile apps have a different purpose. It’s not one or the other. It is imperative to have a mobile Website that is similar in functionality and design to your standard Website. Having consistency in your messaging is an important factor in your branding and marketing efforts. What about apps? Thousands of dealers already have an app that represents their business. Many still wonder, however, if it makes sense to have an app and if it will really benefit the dealer. Whether you had your app from the very beginning, your app has just hit the app stores or you are still considering having one built, the question is: How can dealers use apps effectively as part of their mobile marketing strategy? Also, what constitutes success or failure when it comes to mobile apps? Let’s discuss the potential of apps and their impact on businesses today. Mobile apps provide more of an intimate consumer-todealer experience. This is an experience that ultimately will enhance loyalty, increase brand awareness and create additional revenue. To have an app representing your dealership that thousands chose to download speaks volumes about how much you value your customers and how much they value doing business with you. With the right strategy, apps can be used to attract, help sell and retain more customers. How Can Apps Attract Customers?

People love and use apps. A potential buyer may see your app in the app stores, through POS material or on your Website and download it. Whether they are in the market for a vehicle today or in the future, with the power of push notifications, they can be notified of specials, promotions and events. A well-designed app will have your inventory beautifully laid out with easy-to-use call-to-action buttons that make it simple for a consumer to request more information or schedule a test drive. It can be the deciding factor as to whether they do business with you or the next dealer.


The iTunes App Store, as well as Google Play, serves as a marketing platform for thousands of business owners. People search for things of interest in these app stores. People download apps from companies with which they do business. Just as other industries, such as manufacturers, bank institutions, entertainment venues and retailers, are investing in this form of mobile marketing, so should auto dealers. How Can Apps Help Me Sell to My Customers?

A properly designed app displays inventory in a way that attracts buyers. The speed of apps allows for a better user experience to view pictures, videos, read specifications and reviews. A timely push notification mentioning a sale, recalls or available equity may be just what is needed for a consumer to buy a car. Existing customers can share messages with their friends and family making them virtual salespeople for your dealership. How Can Apps Help Me to Retain More of My Customers?

This is the most compelling reason why apps should be included in your strategy. Since 2008, the topic of customer retention has become vital to a business’s success. For many dealers, focusing on this strategy has been the difference between going out of business and staying in business. Mobile apps are one of today’s most effective ways to give more attention to your customers. Apps can help improve communication and cater to the special needs of your customers. You can easily communicate with everyone who downloads your app. With close to a 100 percent read rate, you can create messages that include text, images, attachments, video and links. What Determines the Success of a Mobile App?

Number of downloads? Average length of time a user spends in the app? Customer feedback? Functionality and ease of use of the app? Is it the “stickiness effect,” with utilities that invite your customers to refer to the app again and again? Number of service appointments scheduled through the app? Integrations with existing systems that gives more useful and practical user data? A combination of some or all of these questions may be the answer. As with everything else, you get what you pay for and what you put into it. You will not get the most effective use of this marketing potential with a stagnant, poorly designed app. Partner with a company that offers a proven launch and support system. Apps are a dynamic and interactive marketing and retention tool. Apple and Google are constantly changing how this technology is being used and adopted with new software, new smartphone devices and new functionality. A mobile app company must be ready for change and in tune to the industry. They should always be working on new features that improve the functionality of the app. To truly take advantage of the power of apps, dealers must carefully choose their mobile app solution’s partner. It is not easy getting your customers to re-download an app if you switch providers. So, when deciding on a company, ask the following questions: Does the business specialize in apps, or is it just another add-on product they provide? Do they understand the automotive industry? Do they have an effective way to review and communicate stats? Does the functionality and design of the app represent the dealer well? Are there any integrations that make it easier for the dealer and customer to interact?

What Should be Included in My Mobile Marketing Strategy?

Dealers spend tens of thousands of dollars every month on marketing and advertising. The goal is to raise brand awareness, sell and service more vehicles and retain more customers. An app can help with all of the above, so include it in your strategy. The good news is, you don’t have to change your marketing company to do this. Your mobile app partner and marketing company can work together to promote the app. They should also have a proven mobile app launch program. If a dealer is willing to invest some time to adopt mobile apps into their processes, they will reap the benefits. This technology is only at its early phases. There have been some significant improvements in design and functionality, with more still to come. Now is the time to join dealers such as Paragon Honda, Prestige Auto, Rick Case Honda, All American Ford or Ray Catena Lexus that use apps to help attract, sell and retain more customers. Ed Louis is the CEO and co-founder of DealerApp Vantage. He can be contacted at 866.604.6710, or by e-mail at


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Success Story

Gaudin Ford of Las Vegas Integrated Marketing Strategy Results in Record Sales for Wesley Gregg at Gaudin Ford Last year, Wesley Gregg, GM of Gaudin Ford of Las Vegas, looked and saw his week consisted of meetings with vendors, each needing something from him to get his marketing plan in gear, and each pulling him away from what he actually wanted to do — run his dealership.

Gregg found it irritating that, not only did dealing with multiple vendors take valuable time, the look of his creative between traditional and digital media felt as if they were done by different companies — because they were. Worse still was that the message from his dealership was different across different media. His results were fragmented, his reports were fragmented and the response from customers was fragmented. Gregg had had enough. Any of these problems would be bad enough, but all of them together signaled to him a system that was not working. Too much time, too much irritation and too little ROI. “We really took an inventory of the companies and partners that we had,” Gregg said. “We found that there was a large number

that we just didn’t see a need for.”



Gaudin Ford’s situation isn’t unique in the automotive sales world; far from it. Every dealer and GM constantly deals with the issue of marketing to different kinds of customers across different media. And, with the growing popularity of social media, smartphones and other methods of reaching consumers, the opportunity is there for dealerships that have a handle on their marketing methods.

Meeting Consumers Where They Are The vast majority of customers conduct their search for a vehicle online, averaging 20 Web visits before stepping foot into a dealership. Successful dealerships can take advantage of this by using more targeted, better-measured digital advertisements that engage the customer. Having a cohesive, all-encompassing marketing plan that takes into account traditional media as well as digital efforts is critical for success. Not duplicating efforts with other departments in your own dealership is important, as well. “Our goal was to blend our sales and service marketing,” Gregg said. “We were spending separate advertising dollars in service and sales and marketing to the same customer.” So, Gregg knew he needed an over-all marketing plan, which would take into account various methods of reaching consumers, a comprehensive way to track the results, and consolidate the marketing efforts of different areas of his store. This is where he began the reinvention of his marketing efforts. “We thought it would be better to bring our marketing pieces under one umbrella,” Gregg said. “We really cleaned house and determined who our true partners were. In the past, these were handled by too many organizations. We eliminated who we didn’t do business with and went after our marketing with a systematical approach.”

Targeting the Right Audience Gaudin Ford made a checklist for what they

wanted in a marketing plan and started to do some in-depth market research for their area. Using consumer data from their sales and service department, and comparing what they found with data from third parties, they started to build a picture of the customers they most wanted to get in front of — those who were most likely to do business with the dealership in both the short and long term, and who would keep coming back. “In the last year we’ve moved into a targeted marketing campaign,” Gregg said. “We want the ability to have eyes on the every piece of our marketing. If we can’t put numbers or analytics behind our advertising, if we can’t track it, we won’t do it. That’s our unwritten rule.” With this information in hand, they started to build their marketing strategy to reach these most valuable past and potential customers — both those in the market to buy, and those they could bring in for repeat service. Digital marketing figured strongly into this goal. “We’ve woven the two messages [sales and service] together in all of our pieces,” Gregg said, “from video to search engine marketing to direct mail and more.”

“If we can’t put numbers or analytics behind our advertising... we won’t do it.” WESLEY GREGG GENERAL MANAGER GAUDIN FORD

Not only is the digital approach to marketing effective for the type of customer Gaudin was targeting, but the fact that it’s easily measurable makes it particularly attractive from an ROI standpoint.

Sales OR Service Vs. Sales AND Service The decision to combine the marketing efforts of sales and service has aided both departments. This new strategy begins by having every advertisement direct customers to a custom landing page (, which showcases all of the dealership’s sales and service promotions – not just the specific product that brought them there. If what they originally looked for turns out not to be what they wanted, there were now several other offers right in front of them, including financing offers and service coupons. The offer site boosted Gaudin Ford’s Internet lead conversion ratios as high as 88 percent when compared to its main Website. “I think initially we underestimated and underspent in our service marketing,” Gregg said. “If you look at any dealership, their service advertising pales compared to their sales advertising. About 12 to 15 percent of our market is in need of service, and about three percent is in the market for sales. We’ve found it’s a good idea to target service customers because it’s a bigger demographic.”

Service reminders are a big part of the dealership’s marketing efforts, as well. Those reminders, along with warranty expiration information and offers of extended service agreements can be sent via e-mail, direct mail, text messages and phone calls, all keeping the dealership at the top of the consumer’s mind. And these efforts have started to pay off. In the last seven months, Gaudin’s active base of customers has increased by

Gaudin Ford Web Banner

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DAY $ PER $187 PER MO.


auto, 4 cylinder. 24-month lease with 10,500 miles per year. $0.15 per excess mile. $645 acquisition fee included in monthly payment. $2,697 total cash due at signing. $0 security deposit. Excludes all taxes & fees. Must finance through Ford Credit. MSRP $25,965. Selling price $24,968. Includes $1000 Competitive Lease Conquest Cash. Offer expires 10/31/13.



auto, V6. 24-month lease with 10,500 miles per year. $0.15 per excess mile. $645 acquisition fee included in monthly payment. $3,586 total cash due at signing. $0 security deposit. excludes all taxes & fees. Must finance through Ford Credit. MSRP $37,275. Selling price $33,825. Includes $1000 Competitive Lease Conquest Cash. offers expire 10/31/13. ^Based on 2013 EPA mileage estimates. Use for comparison purposes only. do not compare to models before 2008. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle.

RO Jacket Offersite, TV Spot, Mobile Email Blast

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Service Hangtag

Sales Hangtag

1,000. This strategy of consistent, relevant communication has increased both the loyalty and the frequency of returns, generating an 11 percent increase this year for ROs, and a 34 percent increase in service visits since January.

Putting It All Together For customers coming into the dealership to buy a vehicle, surprises are not welcomed. With its new strategy in place, Gaudin’s marketing message stays consistent from the point of initial contact (wherever that might have been) through to the dealership’s sales floor. This builds credibility and keeps the salesperson from having to explain inconsistencies, getting the sales process off to a great start. After the sales process results in the customer waiting for delivery or waiting in the finance department, the marketing plan moves to another level. The customer is offered information on a free mobile app that is custom branded for the dealership. The app provides tools such as one-click roadside assistance, a car finder for

crowded parking lots, a parking meter alert, a flashlight, a gas savings navigator and notifications not only for when their car is due for service, but when they have enough equity in the vehicle to upgrade to a newer vehicle for the same payments. This multi-function smartphone app not only provides value and convenience to the customer, but also provides a constant link to the dealership for that customer; a reminder on a device that customers have near them almost every hour of the day. When customers take delivery of their vehicle, the dealership makes sure to ask for online reviews and referrals, building their online reputation as well as providing the best marketing of all — positive wordof-mouth advertising. Social media is still a new area for dealership marketing, but it was important for Gaudin Ford to stake a claim in this area. The dealership has more than 1,000 fans on Facebook, and offers information on its page that engages the customer. The dealership’s Facebook page not only gives

information on sales events, but is filled with photos of classic Ford vehicles and information about the dealership’s charity efforts. This social media element helps to put a human face on the dealership, and gives it a lighter, friendlier image. Gaudin’s new marketing strategies also help with more traditional methods of connecting with their community. Gaudin Ford’s Midnight Madness and the Gaudin Ford 6th Annual Barrett Jackson Cruise In were both publicized through a consistent marketing effort via traditional advertising, targeted e-mail and text messages, along with search engine marketing, online display ads, social media efforts and mobile marketing. Also, through press releases and relevant interviews with local media, Gaudin is working to build and increase authority and brand awareness.

Consolidating Marketing Efforts

After researching their needs, the company Gaudin Ford selected to consolidate and update their marketing efforts was Tier 10, “A dealership can’t afford to have different messages in different media,” said Sean Wolfington, owner of Tier 10. “We want to help dealerships develop and streamline a simple, coordinated and trackable marketing campaign.”

“We’ve migrated all of our dollars out of traditional media to a holistic digital strategy, and that’s been the plan of attack,” Gregg said. The dealership was able to reduce its marketing costs by cutting away redundancy, as well as increase revenue by using one strategy with one message, integrated across its departments. “It’s one thing to be up; it’s another to be above industry,” Gregg said. Traditional media “is a real hatchet approach in today’s world. You need to attack your marketing strategy with a scalpel.”

Success Story

Success Story



41% Increase

Aug 2012

Aug 2013

68% Increase 51% Increase

Aug 2012

Aug 2013


Aug 2012

Aug 2013



How Gaudin Ford Set All-Time Sales Records by Integrating Its Marketing Strategy •

Increased new car sales by 41 percent, used car sales by 68 percent and service volume by 51 percent by implementing an integrated marketing strategy that focuses on increasing the overall spend from every customer across all of the dealership’s profit centers.

Reduced marketing costs by eliminating redundant vendors and increasing conversion percentages.

Marketing messages were standardized across all marketing tiers, including research, traditional, digital, targeted direct mail, publicity, reputation management, niche, merchandising and retention.

Increased overall visibility of marketing campaigns by pulling the metrics from all media sources into a single, easy-to-understand dashboard.

Worked with a marketing partner, Tier10Marketing, to implement an intelligent, integrated marketing strategy across all tiers of marketing to promote all of Gaudin Ford’s profit centers; new, used, finance, service and parts.


vAuto’s “Mobile-First”

Mission Aids On-The-Go Dealers

vAuto’s development team in Austin faced a difficult challenge in early 2012. The team had just completed the successful launch of vAuto’s Provisioning tool, the automotive industry’s first solution that could accurately tell dealers which cars to buy, what to pay and where to get the used vehicles they needed for their inventories. “The release of the Provisioning tool was a milestone moment,” Director of Software Development David Rice said. “We’d taken a lot of ‘can we do this?’ ideas and turned them into a gamechanging solution. It was a pretty proud moment.” But that proud moment quickly turned into a new mission: vAuto’s next strategic shift required a change to a “mobile-first” mindset to create products native to the two dominant mobile platforms: Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS systems. “It’s kind of like learning two languages at the same time,” Rice said. “We knew how to make a single application work on both platforms. But we needed to deliver solutions unique to each platform to satisfy dealer expectations.” For dealers, the tangible outcome of vAuto’s “mobilefirst” strategy began arriving in early 2013, as the company began a series of mobile application updates native to the Android and Apple iOS

platforms. The new mobile applications include vAuto products, as well as the smart, stand-alone solutions delivered by vAuto Genius Labs. “vAuto’s ‘mobile-first’ strategy reflects two things,” said Jim Menard, vice president and general manager for the company. “First, it’s an extension of our efforts to continually evolve and innovate our used vehicle solutions to meet the ever-changing needs of dealers. Second, it’s a reflection of the increasing demand and desire among dealers to make used vehicle decisions in a more in-the-moment and on-the-go fashion.”

Provision Mobile:

“Live Market” Data Aids Appraising, Pricing Decisions

vAuto’s Provision® suite of used vehicle inventory management solutions is recognized as the premier choice among dealers for its comprehensive “Live Market View” of supply and demand data that dealers use to increase the sales volume and profitability of their used vehicle operations. The Provision suite renders vAuto-pioneered metrics — Market Days Supply, Cost to Market and Price to Market — in a manner that helps dealers make market-informed and profit-minded decisions as they acquire, recondition, merchandise, price and retail their used vehicles. Similarly, the Provision suite emphasizes simplicity, offering dealers an A-to-F letter grade on used vehicles as a quick-reference guide to help them make appropriate decisions at each stage of a used vehicle’s life cycle.

Dealers use the Provision suite in conjunction with vAuto Performance Managers to align their used vehicle operations to maximize sales volumes and profitability in today’s Internetdriven retail environment, where selling a greater number of used vehicles in less time provides the most profitable and risk-minimized pathway to success. (This market- and inventory turn-attuned approached to retailing used vehicles is known as the Velocity Method of Management™.) With the launch of the Provision suite in late 2011, vAuto developed a hybrid mobile application, known as “vAuto,” that gave dealers greater efficiency and flexibility to manage their used vehicle inventories from mobile devices. “The vAuto mobile application was an effective tool for dealers, but it was a hybrid solution that blended desktop and mobile features and functionality,” Rice said. “In other words, it wasn’t built from the ground up to serve the needs of mobile-minded dealers.” Enter the launch of the Provision Mobile Application in spring 2013. The Provision Mobile Application replaces the hybrid vAuto Mobile app and offers a far superior experience and improved functionality for dealers on both the Android and Apple iOS platforms. “The new Provision mobile application’s speed, fluid animations and ease of use are much better than what the hybrid application offered,” Rice said. “It’s more intuitive and user-friendly for on-the-go dealers.” “We carefully built the Provision application to ensure all of the premier market intelligence and decision-making power dealers have come to expect from vAuto extends to their smartphones and tablets,” Menard said. “Our goal was to ensure the

application and its component tools speed up a dealer’s ability to make good decisions and help them maximize the profitability potential of every used vehicle.” The Provision mobile application currently includes two key elements of vAuto’s Provision suite:


Appraising: Dealers typically need to appraise vehicles in two places — at auctions and during tradeins with customers. In either scenario, it’s absolutely essential that dealers determine the “right” number to either bid or offer on a vehicle to ensure they acquire the vehicle for a value that ensures they can achieve the front-end gross profit margin they expect. The Provision mobile’s Appraising Tool allows dealers to instantly see trim-to-trim and equipment-to-equipment

comparisons with vehicles currently available in a dealer’s market to ensure they know the “right” number to pay for a vehicle. By making precise comparisons with competing cars, the Appraising Tool’s “retailback” approach don’t over-pay to acquire a used vehicle. The Appraising Tool also provides dealers the A-to-F letter grade vAuto created as part of its Provision suite. The grading system measures seven vehicle-specific characteristics, including consumer demand, interest, profitability potential and past experience, to give dealers a quick reference point to assess and understand a vehicle’s opportunities and risks as a retail unit. In addition, the Appraising Tool includes easy access to vehicle valuation guides from Black Book, NADA and other sources, as well as condition reports from AutoCheck and CARFAX, to ensure dealers have all the data readily at hand to buy every used vehicle “right” and avoid potentially problematic units.

markets,” Menard said. “Our new mobile-based Pricing Tool helps dealers take this vigilance to the next level — giving them the ability to easily assess real-time market data and quickly price their used vehicles at any place or time from their mobile devices.”

“When it comes to acquiring used vehicles, the dealers who have the most accurate, Like the Appraising tool, the real-time market data to determine the ‘right’ Provision Mobile Application’s cars and most appealing retail prices have a distinct competitive edge,” Menard said. “Every used vehicle offers an opportunity, but our mobile Appraising Tool helps dealers quickly determine the exact cars and precise purchase parameters that represent the ‘right’ opportunities for their dealerships and local markets.”


Pricing: The Provision Mobile Application’s Pricing Tool allows dealers to make used vehicle pricing and re-pricing decisions with a greater degree of accuracy, ease and efficiency. “Dealers have become much more vigilant about ensuring their used vehicle prices are constantly competitive in their local

Pricing Tool incorporates vAuto’s Live Market View data to help dealers determine each vehicle’s optimal pricing “sweet spot,” based on competing vehicles and prices in the market, as well as their inventory turn and profit objectives for the vehicle.

dealers make used vehicle pricing and merchandising decisions consistent with their goals for profitability and inventory turn rates. These include:

Easy Access to “Needs Attention” Units: The mobile Pricing Tool offers multiple ways for dealers to filter/sort their used vehicle inventory to identify those that may lack pricing or other merchandising elements, such as a description, odometer reading or photos. “Our mobile Pricing Tool gives dealers to address these issues right away and on the lot,” Menard said.

Quick-View Market Comparisons/Rankings:

As dealers address vehicle prices, they can use the mobile Pricing Tool to quickly review each vehicle’s market position, time in inventory and profitability position to ensure their retail asking prices optimize each vehicle’s competitive position and profit potential.

Vehicle Letter Grades:

“Our development team built the new mobile Pricing Tool to fit the variety of workflows dealers use to price and re-price their used vehicles,” Menard said. “Some dealers make pricing decisions the moment they acquire a used vehicle at auction or trade-in. Others make pricing decisions once their used vehicles are retail-ready. No matter the scenario, our mobile Pricing Tool has the flexibility to help any dealer easily identify and address used vehicles that need pricing attention to maximize their profit potential.” The new mobile Provision Pricing Tool offers several features that help

The mobile Pricing Tool includes the A-to-F letter grades vAuto dealers use to quickly assess the opportunities and risks inherent in every used vehicle. The letter grades reflect each vehicle’s characteristics based on the current market, to help dealers make market-smart pricing decisions.

AuctionGenius Mobile:

A Better, Faster Way To Evaluate, Acquire Auction Vehicles

In July 2012, vAuto acquired the awardwinning AuctionGenius solution and formed its vAuto Genius Labs™ division, which is charged with creating simple, smart and stand-alone solutions that help dealers address day-to-day challenges.

Application takes our solution to the next level,” said Todd Kinzle, operations director for vAuto Genius Labs and a founder of AuctionGenius. “Dealers can now research cars on the fly, which means they can evaluate more cars faster and increase their chances of acquiring the ‘right’ inventory while avoiding questionable vehicles.” “AuctionGenius has achieved an unprecedented level of direct integration with leading auctions,” Kinzle said. “At auctions, dealers can use our mobile app to simply click through vehicles on a run list as they approach the block to see all the information they need to guide their bidding and purchase decisions.” The division’s namesake solution, AuctionGenius, gave dealers a single-screen platform that allowed them to evaluate and acquire used vehicles at wholesale auctions in a more efficient and informed manner. The platform provided integrated access to physical and online auctions, and served up vehicle condition and valuation reports on a single screen, eliminating the need for dealers to access multiple systems and reports to locate, evaluate and purchase auction vehicles. Fast forward to spring 2013. As part of vAuto’s “mobile-first” strategy, vAuto and vAuto Genius Labs developers teamed up to create the AuctionGenius Mobile Application, a mobile-native application designed explicitly for Android and Apple iOSbased mobile devices. “The AuctionGenius Mobile

The AuctionGenius Mobile Application integrations include Adesa®, Manheim®, Brasher’s®, SmartAuction and others that serve franchised and independent dealers. In addition, the application also integrates condition reports from CARFAX®, as well as vehicle value data from Manheim Market Report (MMR), Kelley Blue Book®, NADA Used Car Guide® and other partners.

“Our goal was to provide dealers with all the information they need to do a fast, thorough evaluation of vehicles to ensure they acquire the ‘right’ vehicles at the ‘right’ prices,” Kinzle said. The AuctionGenius Mobile Application combines all this integrated information in an intuitive, hand-held display to help dealers be more precise and productive as they evaluate vehicles at physical auctions:

Mileage/Trim-Level Detail:

With a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) scan of an auction-registered vehicle, dealers can immediately see its mileage

and trim level. “This is a huge time-saver as it eliminates a couple steps in the valuation process for dealers and helps to quickly highlight specific equipment and options that often make the difference between a desirable car and a so-so unit,” Kinzle said.

Powerful Lane Browsing:

Dealers can use the AuctionGenius mobile application to efficiently evaluate vehicles across multiple lanes at an auction, or check comparable cars at different auctions. “For the first time, dealers who like to attend the physical auction can still effectively be in multiple places at the same time to increase their chances of getting the ‘right’ car for their dealerships,” Kinzle said. “If a car catches a dealer’s eye in a neighboring lane, the data’s available instantly.” the past 75 years combined,” Menard said. “The pace of Unregistered Cars: change in the mobile arena is The AuctionGenius mobile application even faster. eliminates the mystery behind the sizable percentage of vehicles that arrive on the day “The good news, though, is of an auction sale. “Dealers often pass on that our ‘mobile-first’ efforts these cars because there isn’t enough time at vAuto and vAuto Genius for a thorough review,” Kinzle said. “With Labs are keenly focused on a VIN scan, the AuctionGenius mobile app meeting the needs of dealers, instantly shows dealers condition and value no matter how quickly they reports to put these vehicles into play.” may evolve,” he said. For dealers who use AuctionGenius and vAuto’s Provision tools, the AuctionGenius mobile application functionality is now included in the Provision mobile application. This seamless integration gives dealers the ability to acquire, appraise and price used vehicles all in one easy-to-use mobile application.

A Look Ahead At vAuto’s Mobile-First Initiatives

As 2014 approaches, vAuto is plotting the advance of its “mobile-first” initiatives for dealers in the coming year and beyond. “vAuto Founder Dale Pollak says the business of automotive retailing has changed more in the past five years than in

About vA


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AutoSuccess October 2013  

The #1 Sales-Improvement Magazine for the Automotive Professional - featuring DealerSynergy

AutoSuccess October 2013  

The #1 Sales-Improvement Magazine for the Automotive Professional - featuring DealerSynergy