AutoSuccess October 2015

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Jeff Mayer, President/General Manager




2300 Hurstbourne Village Dr, Suite 1200 Louisville, KY 40299 / p 877.818.6620 / f 502.588.3170 / /

Thomas Williams, Creative Director




sales & training solutions

Hannah Philpott, Media Director

marketing solutions

Marketing Efforts Can Increase Sales and Improve Customer Service


Brian Ankney, Account Manager

30 JordanBentley SHOULD YOUR SALES STAFF USE PHONE SCRIPTS? 32 DaveDavis CUSTOMER SERVICE: Scenes From the Airport 38 DealerPanel ONGOING TRAINING RESOURCES: Specific Training Resources, Part Three

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

SUCCESS WITH TEXT: How Incorporating Texting Into Your



Dave Davis, Editor & Creative Strategist

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

Susan Givens, Publisher

leadership solutions

10 LarryBarditch “FLIP THE FUNNEL” FOR BETTER DIGITAL ADVERTISING RESULTS 14 PeterMartin THE EVOLUTION OF RETARGETING 16 KendallBillman DON’T MISS YOUR MARKET: Hispanic Shoppers Are Revving Up the Car-Buying Scene, Part Two

ls leadership solution


publisher of AutoSuccess \ 877.818.6620 \


As a leader, your team looks to you to provide the direction, ideas and structure they need to do their job correctly and successfully. The question is, who do you look to for help and guidance? No one ever comes into a leadership position fully formed. The job of learning to be a great leader is never finished. The hallmark of a poor manager, in fact, is the belief that there’s nothing left for him or her to learn. The moment that you stop growing as a leader — as a person — is the moment you set a boundary you and your team will never move past.

Gear Up for Fall





So, who should you look to for your own development? Here are some tips I’ve found helpful in my own journey. Surround Yourself With Like-Minded People

When I say “like minded,” I don’t mean a “yes-person” echo chamber. Find people who want the same things you do a — successful business, successful teams, successful family lives, successful spiritual life — and are well on their way to achieving it. Build a group and find ways to hold yourselves accountable to each other. The viewpoints of those who are facing the same issues that you face can be invaluable. If nothing else, it shows you that the challenges you face aren’t unique. Watch Out for “Problem” People

And, just as finding positive people can lift you up, negative people can drag you down. You know the type. They make excuses for why things “never go right.” They live for drama and, because they see themselves falling short, are never as happy as they are when the people around them are at each other’s throats. Someone else’s (well deserved) bad reputation can stain you. Their bad attitude can infect you. Don’t give them the chance — and if you see these people on your team, take action immediately. You’d send someone with the flu home before they made your staff sick; a sick, infectious attitude can be far more destructive.

“Someone else’s (well deserved) bad reputation can stain you. Their bad attitude can infect you.” Find Mentors, and Be a Mentor

Why reinvent the wheel when there are people who can show you how to achieve what you want because they’ve already done it? I have at least five mentors in this industry who I can go to for advice and guidance. I ask tons of questions, and I get answers because they are happy to help. They genuinely want me to grow. Why? Maybe they had a mentor when they were coming up and want to “pay it forward.” Maybe they realize that someone else’s success doesn’t take away from their own; in fact, it can magnify it. Maybe it’s pure kindness. Whatever it is, find people you respect and ask for their wisdom. And, in the same vein, provide guidance for someone who stands where you once stood. One of the best ways to learn something is by teaching it to someone else. Put out into the world what you want to take in.







A typical sales rep can work more than DOUBLE the number of LEADS once they start using Call CommandoSM, resulting in significantly more APPOINTMENTS day after day!

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- Kimberly Tucker, BDC Manager, Kevin Powell’s Foothill Ford/ Kevin Powell’s Motorsports

ms marketing solution


vice president of digital strategy & innovation for MSA Advertising \ 866.590.1624 \


Everyone has heard of the typical sales funnel, right? Well, in this article, I’ll show you a strategy to “flip the funnel” to achieve a better ROI for your digital marketing dollars. The strategy, designed for most dealers who have a limited digital advertising budget, allows the highest rate of probability to generate a sales opportunity. The typical sales funnel is comprised of three sections. Consumers at the top of the funnel are considered “researchers.” This category is defined as people starting their broad search for a vehicle — new vs. used, SUV vs. minivan, brand vs. brand, etc. The middle of the funnel is comprised of ”browsers.” This category is defined as people who typically have narrowed their search to a specific condition (new or used), make and model (plus competitive set) and geography (location). The smallest part, or bottom of the typical funnel, is the “buyer.” This consumer is ready to purchase and is now comparing offers, incentives and dealers. There are two significant problems that I overcome with new clients. The first is that most digital advertising budgets are evenly spread out towards the typical sales funnel. The second, and more important, problem is most digital advertising is vertical agnostic, which means it was not designed specifically for automotive. Google does not recognize the difference between a dentist and a car dealer. It only understands keywords, landing pages, text and relevancy. So, it’s up to the dealer (or your agency partner) to create strategies to align you with the best opportunity to market your inventory to a low-funnel buyer. In order to do this, you have to go “old school,” meaning, if you were back in the 1990s where every dealer spent $10,000 for a full page newspaper ad, what vehicles would you need to place in the ad to get people into the showroom? You wouldn’t

advertise low-inventory, high-demand or poorly merchandised vehicles, would you? So why do you digitally advertise them now? High Demand

If you have a high-demand vehicle, i.e. a new BMW i8, or used Range Rover, you wouldn’t need to spend one dollar in advertising because they are hard-to-find vehicles and the consumer will find you. You certainly wouldn’t need to share budgets equally with core vehicles.

I say “flip the funnel” and focus on your stocked inventory of core vehicles that have the highest probability of reaching the low-funnel buyer who is typing in the exact search terms for that vehicle. Then work backwards to distribute budgets from the bottom, upwards. There are a few other factors that will tighten up the ROI to this new strategy. The first is understanding that standard digital advertising does not blend the art and science of merchandising — and you need both to be successful. You need to automate technology to evaluate inventory and market-day supply with other signals, and then have humans create engaging, influencing text ads. Another factor to consider is ditching the “round radius”

“If you have a high-demand vehicle, i.e. a new BMW i8, or used Range Rover, you wouldn’t need to spend one dollar in advertising because they are hard-tofind vehicles and the consumer will find you.You certainly wouldn’t need to share budgets equally with core vehicles.” Low Inventory

If you had one new Honda Fit in stock and 200 Honda Accords, would you equally share the advertising budget? Poorly Merchandised

If you just took in a vehicle in trade, and it hasn’t gone through recon or detail, would you put it on the showroom floor next to the 90-day-old same vehicle?

effect. Do your higher-end vehicles sell to the same consumer in the round radius as the least expensive cars on your lot? Probably not. Finally, focus on the KPIs that have the most effect on you selling cars. If I was able to lower your cost per click on that one Honda Fit you have in stock, would that make you happy? For a complimentary “blueprint” on your dealer’s digital marketing “Funnel Flip” call or email me.


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“Being a top performer isn’t a guessing game; it’s a numbers game,” said Tracy Noonan Fred, director of performance management at VinSolutions, a leading automotive software provider based in Mission, Kansas. “Except it’s not a game at all. Your numbers are a matter of success and failure, from a business perspective.” Noonan Fred is part of a team of automotive professionals who work directly with top dealership sales teams across the country, as personal coaches. “We actually join the dealership team, essentially, to understand the unique challenges they face in their respective markets and formulate a strategy that will make them successful. From there we talk through ways to use technology to their advantage and ways their team can adapt the new tactics we implement together. But no technology or tactics take us away from the fundamentals — the metrics that matter most. Helping dealers identify them, track against them and just use them as the ultimate gauge for overall success is our most important job as performance managers.”

For those of you who haven’t read Michael Lewis’ 2003 book about the Oakland Athletics, or seen its 2011 film version starring Brad Pitt, here’s the main message: Metrics matter in baseball, but generations of managers and coaches were tracking the wrong ones. By refocusing management and athletes on two key metrics — on-base and slugging percentages — the A’s won 20 consecutive games in 2002 and finished first in their division.

The “aha” moment Noonan Fred describes has already happened for Bobbie Herron, digital sales and marketing director of Garber Automotive Group. “Experience doesn’t count for nothing. Our instincts tell us a lot, and nine times out of 10 lead us in the right direction. But that’s no way to run a business. Identifying This is a very numeric, almost clinical approach the metrics that matter most to our success rate, and meticulously managing them, has for a company that goes to market promising changed everything,” she said. “We used to to build more personal connections between say, ‘All right, we had 500 leads this month, we dealers and consumers. But it’s with good talked to 200 of them and we sold three. In reason — in today’s automotive landscape, our experience, that’s good.’ But now we also personal connections simply don’t come know exactly which levers to pull to increase together without calculation. There are data any of those individual numbers. Like my close points that introduce dealers to consumers, rate — I want to close more than three of the data points that speak to the strength of their 200 I talked to. I have a mathematical road relationship and data points that speak to map for that.” future potential. It’s an important connection that the next generation of dealers, many of Focusing on the numbers has made Herron whom are already posting jaw-dropping sales the poster child for building quality customstatistics, has already made. er relationships. “Meeting new customers, attracting new business is great. Always has “If you want to get a feel for our style, think Moneyball,” Noonan Fred continued. “There’s an been,” she said. “But tracking new business ‘aha’ moment we want all of our dealers to have. like we do now, tracking and analyzing individual customer activity, is how we’ve been able A transition from the historic perception of to increase our showroom visit ratio and our performance to a data-driven, figure-by-figure closing ratio by almost 80 percent.” understanding of where you’re doing well and where you’re giving up potential business. That’s That, in Noonan Fred’s opinion, is the differa dealership’s win-loss record right there.” ence between today’s top dealers and the rest

of the pack. “This is a job you do in the weeds,” she explained. “You have to get down and dirty with the numbers behind every aspect of your business. You simply won’t succeed today, never mind tomorrow, with just a general idea of your top-line figures.” Sound daunting? Here’s how two up-and-coming dealers have already calculated their way to the top of their game.

Jennifer Briggs E-commerce Director, Feldman Automotive Group


170 percent surge in Website traffic In her young career, Jennifer Briggs has seen and done a lot. Before making Automotive News’ “40 Under 40” list earlier this year in her leadership role at Feldman Automotive Group, she put her time in as a BDC manager and marketing director. Today, Briggs has her hands in a lot more than that. As e-commerce director, she manages eight stores and maintains a staggeringly successful system of dealership Websites, which she attributes to her sharp focus on unique visits. “I convert more business on my Website than anywhere else, so that’s where my focus is,” she explained. “Unique visitors are unique business opportunities. So I know that increasing that number is a sure way to increase our unit volume.”

The strategy

To keep her unique visits on a constant increase, Briggs implemented a strategy to attract the right traffic, through social media campaigns, SEO and 18,000 custom content pages. A self-proclaimed early adapter of content marketing, Briggs brims with enthusiasm on the subject. “The first time I heard about what you can do with custom content, I was like, ‘Oh yes. This is what it’s gonna be and this is where everyone’s gonna go,’” she said. Despite all the teasing she gets from her team for being a “tech geek,” Briggs stands out as a strong believer in quality human interactions on her Website. “There has to be that personal touch,” she said. “You can’t lose that face-toface effect you get in person and even on the phone with a customer. They need to see, hear and feel how earnest you are if they’re going to give you any more of their time and consideration. Video is a great tool to accomplish that on your site.” Briggs’s traffic-driving video campaigns range from professional creations to ad hoc handheld overviews of specific cars in inventory. “Mobile is everything today,” she said. “Video is a great mobile tactic because it’s easy to watch on any device and it accommodates today’s customer’s need for information without having to do a lot of reading.”

The numbers

If you’re not convinced that metrics matter, Briggs has a story about getting hit between the eyes with one metric in particular. Feldman participated in a pilot program that delivered, among other things, an analysis of Briggs’s customer base, assessing their propensity to dissent and propensity for loyalty. “Our new customers (conquests) were strong, so we thought, ‘Well, that’s great. Conquests indicate we’re widening our market,’” she said. “But then I saw our dissention rate and it made me nauseated. That’s just like giving up all the business you gain. I thought to myself, ‘This stops now.’” Briggs and the Feldman team promptly partnered with a loyalty and retention consultancy to develop a strategy to turn that number around. “Today’s dealers have to have a good support system to help them use their data to be more customer-centric, to turn data points into profits,” she explained. “Not a lot of dealerships hire someone internally who happens to be savvy enough to make significant changes when you get results like we did about our dissention rate. I believe there will be a growing trend of vendors having to provide that handson expertise along with technology.”

Her next move

“My future is all about my people — getting every team member focused on the metrics that apply to their individual responsibilities within the business,” she said. “I find nothing more

gratifying than seeing my people really own their success, so our plan is to educate and emphasize the metrics that matter to everyone.” We’ll be watching.

Mike Weinert General Manager and Managing Partner, Garber Buick GMC of Fort Pierce


Customer satisfaction score of 197.3 / 200 A fellow “40 Under 40” honoree, Mike Weinert has done an incredible job drawing the lines between happy customers and happy sales managers. And as you can imagine, it was more a matter of facts and figures than it was warm and fuzzy. When Weinert took the reins at Garber Buick GMC, the company was at a turning point. They were falling short of sales goals, and it took its toll on the team in terms of morale. Weinert started by taking a good, hard look at their internal structure and processes. They say change comes from within, and Weinert has the numbers to back it up.

The strategy

“This is a people business, and your own people are as important as the people you’re trying to sell to,” Weinert explained. “For me, it was a matter of managing without micromanaging, and making sure every individual had the tools and best practices they needed to be a top performer.” Weinert decided the best way to coach his sales team was to be customer-centric. “A lot of customers have a viewpoint that salesmen don’t tell them the truth,” he said. “We shoot straight with customers and treat them with respect, 100 percent of the time. We feel that’s one of our strengths, to go against that perception. If that means we lose a sale to someone who’s willing to stretch the truth, we let it go — because our customer focus and our strict standards are generating constant business for us.” The way forward for Weinert and his people was defined by a company mission statement they adhere to every day, in every sale: “We are only doing our job properly when we create an experience in which the customer returns to do business with us again.” Surely words to live by in this line of work.

The players

“My people are why I’m successful, period,” Weinert said. “We’re lucky to have top-down support for our mission statement, for sure. But it’s also a matter of equipping my people with what they need.”

To really bring Weinert’s customer-centric philosophy to life, the team needed a technology platform that mandated his specific standards. They found a CRM system that focuses on prompt, customized follow-up and reliable, accurate info capture capabilities. And it had to be intuitive enough to accommodate every level of tech savvy on his team. “I have the best people, and I need them focused on doing their best work,” Weinert said. “My job is to make sure they have what they need to do that.”

The numbers

197.3 (out of 200) is the highest Sales and Service combined customer satisfaction score Garber Buick GMC ever achieved, and it unmistakably extended to equally staggering accomplishments. Used car sales have doubled at the dealership, and Garber has won Best Auto Dealer and Best Auto Parts, Services and Repair awards in its region, as well as numerous Chamber of Commerce awards.

6 Key Numbers Today’s Dealers Must KNow 1. Total leads 2. Leads closed 3. Be-back percentage 4. Contact info capture percentage 5. Service penetration percentage 6. Repeat buyer percentage

“I like hearing the customer reviews that keep coming in, saying [Garber was] the best buying or service experience they’ve ever had with a dealership,” Weinert said. “And the repeat sales and customer retention rate really validate that the changes we made were the way to go for us.”

His next move

For Weinert, the way forward is simple: “I want to get to 100 units consistently per month at this store. We’re currently just under 50 on average, but it’s in my sights.” We see it happening, too.

ms marketing solution


CEO of Cactus Sky Communications \ 866.859.8052 \


By now, you have encountered retargeting advertising. Whether you were browsing services or shopping online, you start to see retargeted ads appearing on the next Websites you frequent. With the average Website conversion rate at a little more than 2 percent, retargeting gives you a second chance to reach your prospects. According to CMO by Adobe, retargeting can boost ad response rates by up to 400 percent. Now, it’s time to take retargeting to the next level with the most direct channel of marketing communication: email.



IP Targeted Web Banners

A targeted prospect’s postal address unlocks the key to their computer address allowing us to deliver your message via websites they visit.

Conquest Email

Utilizing Pure Conquest email lists that are distilled to insure you are targeting your competition’s prospects and current customers with relevant messages during their buying period.

PURLs & Landing Pages

How it Works: 1. You send an email to your prospect or

Showroom Kiosks Attractive, easy to use Kiosks showcase your

3. When prospect returns to your Website, a

* C A L L TO L E A R N M O R E & S E E I F Y O U Q UA L I F Y !


BlackBook Bullseye® Your one stop shop for data mining and marketing.




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retargeting email is sent.

4. A return visit notification is sent to you.

Car dealers know that the four most important determining factors for prospects to click on are new vehicles, pre-owned vehicles, “value my trade” and service specials. These indicate whether you are dealing with a sales or a service prospect, and how far into the buying funnel they are. Use email retargeting to address their specific interest. If they click “new vehicles,” send them $500 off bestnegotiated price. If they click “service specials,” send them a complimentary multi-point inspection. This is also valuable information for your BDC to make informed follow-up calls and target potential customers, based upon the customer’s interest.

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2. The recipient clicks through to your

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Email retargeting click through rates (CTRs) and conversion rates are up to 5 percent higher with upsells as compared to standard site retargeting. There is a reason 70 percent of marketing agencies and more than half of brands are moving dollars from traditional display advertising to retargeting, according to Digital Information World. Retargeting ads drive prospects back to your Website, and email retargeting drives them to your business with an incentive.

Personalized customer websites raise the engagement level and start a personal relationship with the consumer BEFORE your competition does. Track and react to their interaction in real time.

marketing programs and contest fulfillment. Perfect for data acquisition, game play and on-site promotion.


Email marketing has remained one of the most direct ways for businesses to reach consumers; email retargeting amplifies these marketing efforts. Email has a longer shelf life than social media or direct mail ads, and offers more qualified engagement. Email retargeting is a more effective version of mass email marketing. If they visited your Website, they are a handraiser. They want your product. Reaching customers in their inbox is the best way to convert these quality leads. Statistically, almost everyone who visits your site is not performing your desired actions. Email retargeting gives you the second chance to convert.


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This process is changing the game for BDC follow-up and is virtually eliminating cold calling. Take advantage of retargeting advertising, and see what it does for your marketing efforts.


To All Automotive Dealership Leaders:

“Mark taught me how to make 6 figures in the car business and I have been doing it every year since.” My name is Mark Tewart, and I am the President – Bob Wright, Sales Manager - Rob Sight Ford of Tewart Enterprises Inc. My company and I have been successfully training automotive sales and So let me get to the point… management personnel for over two decades and I I have a way to bring this training directly to you for a want you to experience the training risk FREE! fraction of the normal cost and I will take all the risk. Yes, the headline is true! It’s not a gimmick.

I know what you are thinking, “Nothing in life is free”. I created Mark Tewart’s 24/7 Online Training Well, I am going to do the best I can to make this Channel for you. You can bring this training into your training risk free for you. dealership and use it risk free! For over two decades I have trained dealerships of all brands, all over the country and have been extremely blessed to get fantastic, and often, what would seem to be unbelievable results. I have had dealerships increase sales by multiples too many times to count and I have the references to prove it. I don’t wish to sound arrogant but I am just stating facts. You see, several years ago I could tell the marketplace was changing way before the Internet changed our business forever. Because of this, I began to train salespeople and managers in high-performance concepts that really assisted my clients in getting big time results. In extreme examples, I have had dealerships go from selling almost nothing, to record sales at record profits. This training has been done and results have been accomplished with dealerships small and large.

Here’s the deal… I am offering you a two-week FREE test drive of my training. If you like it, subscribe. If you don’t like it, then don’t. As a mater of fact, if it’s not what you wanted, I WILL PAY YOUR DEALERSHIP $100 for your time. “If Mark Tewart adds any more great content to his site, my head’s going to explode” – Danny Benites, GM – Greg Lair Buick I want to make this as simple for you as 1, 2, 3... #1 – Go to and click “Request FREE Demo”. Or, email me at with the words “Request FREE Demo”. Or, call me at 888 2Tewart (888 283-9278)

“I have used Mark Tewart and his training to increase #2 – Take your FREE two-week trial. sales by 42% in one dealership and we increased the #3 – Love it and subscribe or say “No way!” and I will bottom line by 7 figures in another!” – Mark Ford, GM pay your Dealership $100.

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Online Training Courses 888 283-9278 | 513-932-9526 Professional Speaker, Sales Expert, Automotive Industry Expert, Author and Consultant

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chief sales & marketing officer for Motofuze \ 866.892.1447 \


DON’T MISS YOUR MARKET: Hispanic Shoppers Are Revving Up the Car-Buying Scene

Last month, we looked at the growing importance of the Hispanic market in the automotive industry, and how dealerships need to look at this group not as an oversized, indistinguishable mass, but as a demographic made up of a number of different factors and cultural nuances. This month, we’ll take a look at how the Hispanic market shops, and ways to effectively reach this demographic. Go Mobile, Get Recognized

With the technology available today, consumers in general are increasingly mobile, and Hispanic consumers are especially linked to their mobile devices. This should be an instant indication to businesses trying to reach Hispanic audiences that they should not ignore their mobile marketing. Hispanic customers tend to use mobile throughout the car-buying experience — for research, to watch videos and to compare selections. Dealerships that are prepared for this and have quality marketing that is mobilefriendly and that includes videos will do well. Technology is so important in the U.S. Hispanic culture that 64 percent of individuals own a mobile phone by age 15. It is a fallacy to think Hispanic shoppers are not online and not acting as influencers — in fact, 88 percent of Hispanics with a household income of over $50,000 are online, and they are spending significantly more than the general market when it comes to mobile devices and data. Wise marketers are honing their skills in this area and aiming their spending toward mobile in order to capture this growing group of super-connected shoppers. How Do Hispanics Shop?

Numerous studies have been done about the shopping habits and preferences of Hispanic

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consumers as marketers try desperately to catch up to this growing demographic. Car dealerships that empower employees to share targeted brand messages will do better than those who don’t. Why? Hispanic customers tend to shop with their families, so if dealerships are able to make car-buying feel like a family event, and connect their employees with potential consumers, it is almost guaranteed to increase their success. Dealerships that present an authentic, family-friendly atmosphere will immediately appear more credible to the Hispanic shopper — and they won’t hesitate to spread the word. Purchasing a new vehicle is a big decision and never one that is taken lightly — especially in the Hispanic community. This demographic values hard work, family, culture and their role in society, and the act of purchasing a vehicle says a lot about each individual in this group. Hispanic shoppers place a high value on finding the right car that fits their family, offers comfort and luxury, and includes the features that show off their hard work. They will be looking for reliability that fits their stylish lifestyle, and they will be drawn to salespeople who can empower them in their decision-making and engage them authentically. Marketing Mishap

Although one in five new cars are sold to Hispanic shoppers, a very small percentage of dealerships invest in Spanish marketing messages. While it’s true that not all Hispanic customers speak Spanish, and some who do speak Spanish may prefer to speak in English, it is important to have Spanish language advertising and information available for the customers who seek it. By targeting Spanishspeaking consumers, dealerships can reach a demographic that has been nearly untapped and is waiting to be engaged. In addition to a focus on Spanish print material and advertising, dealerships would gain from adding to or increasing bilingual staff. Does your dealership have staff on-hand to work with Spanish-speaking customers who stop to shop for cars? If not, it is worth consideration. Communication barriers equal missed opportunities and reduced sales. The successful, modern dealership will need a strategy for effective communication with this growing customer segment in order to stay competitive. The automotive brands Hispanic consumers choose further confirm the importance of skillfully reaching this audience. OEMs offering customer-centric marketing materials in the appropriate language are positioned for success. It’s not a surprise to discover the top five automotive brands Hispanic shoppers choose — Toyota, Ford, Nissan, Chevrolet and Honda—provide top-quality Spanish-language media, an obvious customer experience win for Hispanic shoppers. These brands stand out when it comes to authentically integrating culture and language to present an overall product that is appealing to the consumer. Reaching the Hispanic consumer with your brand messages will require diligence, research and quality content designed with your audience in mind. Creativity rules when engaging the Hispanic consumer, but make no mistake, the values of authenticity, quality, style and status are keys to capturing this market.

o Owner - Dean Honda

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I love technology and am constantly amazed by what can be accomplished with just a few lines of code. Having worked in some form of technical support for most of my career, I’m also very familiar with the frustrations that pop up when those few little lines of code don’t do what you expect. Quick — what do you get when you combine a technology problem, customer support and non-technologically oriented people? You guessed it — a headache. In the spirit of helping simplify CRM for your dealership, this month I’m offering up some advice on how to get the most out of your vendor when it comes to asking for help. Follow these tips and your vendor will bend over backward to help you get the resolution you need. Why? Because simplifying your life also simplifies theirs. Take a Picture

Learn how to take a screen shot of your computer and/or mobile device when you see an error. Train your staff. Then, learn how to send it to your vendor. The (often) red error text can reduce most resolution times in half. (Hint: “Print Screen” on your keyboard does the trick).

help move your case along because you never know how many times that person may have already been griped at that day. Be Specific

This is what folks in technology call your “Click Path.” Provide as much as you can remember about what you were doing and what actions you had already taken. Once again, you’ll see support response time drop significantly because you’re spending less time going back and forth to answer questions.

It is not uncommon for support teams to receive an email or phone call that says, “Help! I can’t save a single comment anywhere!” The problem with pleas for generic help is that generic help is all the support staff can give. Being specific ties in with understanding what you did, but goes a little deeper by asking for details such as what lead record you were working on, what time of day you were in the system, which deal had a problem and what module you were working in when the problem occurred.

Be Patient, Be Kind, Be Polite

Check the Support Page

Tell Them What You Did

Remember that the support person you talk to often has influence in how a new ticket is resolved. Great companies train their people to treat everyone as a “high-priority” client. Nonetheless, being patient, kind and polite can

If your vendor has a support page with content for using their platform, you may be able to resolve your issue yourself with a little education and not even need to wait on a response. Get comfortable with this platform

and you’ll find yourself among the elite of your vendor’s clients. Referencing what you found when the answer still eludes you also encourages the vendor to help because you’ve already tried to do it yourself.

“Technology is bound to

or have a glitch at some point in the process and great companies not only minimize those issues, but quickly respond and correct them. Having clients who understand that environment and work with the company to create a great support experience only makes it that much easier to deliver stellar products and services.” Technology is bound to “break” or have a glitch at some point in the process and great companies not only minimize those issues, but quickly respond and correct them. Having clients who understand that environment and work with the company to create a great support experience only makes it that much easier to deliver stellar products and services. If you’d like a copy of these tips to share with your staff, please send me an email and I’ll send you a flyer to pass around so that everyone can help your dealership simplify your CRM.

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SUCCESS WITH TEXT: How Incorporating Texting Into Your Marketing Efforts Can Increase Sales and Improve Customer Service

The statistics are staggering.

Today, 94 percent of cell phone owners between the ages of 30 and 49 years send and receive texts.1 75 percent of cell phone owners between the ages of 50 and 64 send and receive texts.1 Approximately 98 percent of text messages are read, compared to 22 percent of emails, 29 percent of tweets, and 12 percent of Facebook posts.2 The number of text messages sent and received on a monthly basis exceeds call volume across all age groups.3

Feature “Text Us” Buttons on Your SRPs and VDPs and Other Key Website Pages

Be sure to highlight “Text Us” buttons on your new and used vehicle search results pages and on your vehicle details pages, on your lead forms and on your “contact us” and directions pages on both your desktop and mobile Website to help broaden your reach among car buyers and improve your ability to engage and communicate with shoppers who want information about a particular vehicle in your inventory. Add the Words “Text or Call” in Your Online and Offline Advertising

Anywhere you promote your text-enabled phone numbers, whether in your online or offline advertising, be sure to add “Text or Call” to open new channels of communication with customers who prefer to text. Not only does it offer you the ability to generate new leads from consumers who may not have engaged with you had you not offered them a text option, but it enables your existing customers, including your service customers, to engage with you quickly, easily and in the way they prefer.

“Having a solid mobile strategy — one that includes the ability for your customers to text you in a safe and compliant manner — is important in helping your dealership increase sales and improve customer service.”

Text messaging (SMS) produces engagement rates six to eight times higher than email4, and 90 percent of text messages are read within three minutes of delivery.5 Having a solid mobile strategy — one that includes the ability for your customers to text you in a safe and compliant manner — is important in helping your dealership increase sales and improve customer service. The success of your texting program, however, hinges on maximizing the consumer’s ability to text your dealership. This is accomplished by adding a call to action for texting across all your marketing and communications initiatives, including your mobile and desktop Websites, to improve customer service, drive more leads to your dealership and, ultimately, enhance your business. Following are four easy steps to help you add texting to your marketing efforts: Text-enable All of Your Important Phone Numbers

Technology exists today that offers dealers the ability to text-enable their existing phone numbers, including their main phone numbers, special vanity numbers, service numbers and call-tracking numbers. The reality is that consumers are probably already trying to text to your current landline phone numbers, but their messages are not being successfully delivered.

20 read, listen, watch, share, succeed.

Utilize a Texting Platform to Ensure Compliance and Manage Leads

Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) guidelines are strict when it comes to texts, and fines for non-compliance can run as high as $1,500 per unwarranted text sent. Permission-based texting platforms help enforce proper opt-ins and opt-outs while serving as an effective lead management system to monitor and track communications, since all text communications can be pushed to your CRM for follow up and lead management. By maximizing consumers’ ability to text you via your existing phone numbers — including your service numbers, in your online and offline advertising, and at your SRPs, VDPs and lead forms — you offer your customers a great first line of communication to engage with your dealership. Texting is also a great way for you to initiate communication and reach out to customer prospects after they have opted in — and after you have implemented a texting platform to ensure compliance and manage leads. Also, don’t forget texting makes a great addition to your service business, enabling your service advisors to ask the customer’s permission to text with updates at the time of write up, and by allowing the customer to text back with questions once they have opted in. Texting in the auto industry isn’t the wave of the future — it’s here, and it’s here to stay. Be sure your dealership is “text friendly” to help improve overall customer service, and ultimately sell — and service — more cars. Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project Spring Tracking Survey, April 17 – May 19, 2013. Frost & Sullivan 2010. 3 Experian Marketing Services and Simmons National Consumer Study. 4 HelloWorld Benchmark Mobile Marketing Study, 2012. 5 MobileSquared Report: Conversational Advertising, 2010. 6 Placed, Inc. and “Mobile Device Use at the Dealership,” January 2014. 1 2

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You’re busy. You’re always busy. And when it comes to hiring, I’m willing to wager that you don’t think about recruiting until you’re scrambling to fill open or replacement positions, because you aren’t actively managing your team’s talent pipeline. Recruiting for an open position doesn’t have to be an exercise in crisis management. Improving your recruiting results begins with planning, and these simple tips can greatly improve your recruiting results — and decrease stress.

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Certain aspects of the products and services described on this website are covered by U.S. patents. Please see for more information. AutoAlert® is a U.S. registered trademark of AutoAlert, Inc. Copyright ©2002-2015 AutoAlert, Inc. All rights reserved.


• Have someone else find candidates for your dealership. As a manager, the last thing you need to spend your time doing is posting jobs on Craigslist and wading through a hundred resumes per week. Someone, however, needs to be sourcing candidates on your behalf, because that’s 80 percent of the work. If you have positions that are either high-turnover (such as in sales and BDC roles) or certain to become open in the near future (90 days or less), assign someone in your dealership to focus on candidate sourcing and screening to do this work for you. That way, you only spend time interviewing people who are qualified, interested in the job and available to work. • Set aside one hour a week for resume review. When you have a dedicated dealership resource sourcing applicants, resumes of qualified candidates will begin to pile up unless you allocate time for review. I can’t tell you the number of dealership teams we’ve worked with who wait three or four weeks to look at a stack of resumes that have been accumulating. Consider this: The shelf life of a qualified candidate is approximately one week and, if you don’t contact a new candidate within five days of receiving their resume, your chances of successfully wooing them are less than 30 percent. Blocking out resume review time ensures that you’ll always have visibility to the best candidates while they’re still in-market for a new job. • Create standing “interview times” on your calendar. Block off two hours on your calendar each week to be used exclusively for telephone or personal interviewing. And, when you have an open position and are actively recruiting, that number should be more like six to eight hours a week (yep, a whole day). With truly top-notch professionals in such short supply, you can’t let a full calendar keep you from talking to your next quotacarrying sales star. Pre-scheduling interview times ensures that you can take full advantage of opportunities to grab great talent. These tips sound simple — because they are — and yet so few managers enact these three low-hanging improvements on a consistent basis. To improve your recruiting results, start with the basics: Focus on candidate sourcing, set aside an hour a week for resume review and create standing interview times on your calendar. These simple solutions will yield dramatic results.

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Let’s imagine that you’re sitting front and center as your favorite band takes the stage. You bought tickets a few weeks ago. You cleared your schedule. You’re excited as the band cranks up the opening tune. The singer steps up to the microphone. But the first note falls flat, followed by another clunker. You wince, and think: “What the...? I didn’t come all the way here for this!” I share the anecdote because it’s similar to how today’s vehicle buyers feel when they find a vehicle they like online, and then contact the dealership by chat, phone or e-mail. In most cases, the buyers engage the dealership to learn two things: whether the car they like is available, and what it will cost to purchase. In other words, they want to start working the deal without coming into the showroom. But how do most dealers respond? Too often, it’s some variation of “Come on in!” The effect is exactly like the singer’s sour notes. It greatly reduces the buyer’s confidence in the dealer, along with his or her interest in completing the deal. Here’s an exchange between a sales associate and a customer for a Southeast

How Mobile Is Changing Digital Advertising

Kia dealership that highlights how dealers fall flat with customers: A husband sent a chat message to ask about pricing for a Kia Soul, which his wife had recently checked out at the dealership. The sales associate’s first response: “Let’s sit down with my GM and talk numbers. He’s done crazy things when he’s with a customer.” The buyer politely declined, and the sales associate sent another message that offered a price range, details about Kia’s powertrain warranty and a second invitation to come to the dealership. The buyer’s final response: “I understand. I will keep looking. Thanks for your time.” The exchange would have gone better if the sales associate answered the inquiry with deal terms personalized for the buyer. To me, the example highlights a prevailing belief among dealers that customers must be in the showroom to negotiate a vehicle’s price or other terms. Unfortunately, today’s buyers have different expectations. They now enjoy the convenience of shopping, getting prices and transacting with other retailers online — something they want to do with dealers, as well. I’ve asked others for recommendations that would help dealers better meet today’s vehicle buyer preferences. Here are the top three I received: Recognize the “Shopper” vs. “Buyer” Distinction

When customers find a vehicle they like, and take the time to view a VDP, they have shifted from simply “shopping” to an active stage of “buying.” The question for dealers is whether the information they present online facilitates the transaction right then and there — the starting point termed “connected commerce.” As one colleague put it, “If the connection point doesn’t exist, potential buyers won’t see signs of the easy, efficient purchase they’re looking for.” Allow Buyers to Work Deal Terms Online



New technologies give buyers the ability to configure a vehicle deal on a VDP and make an offer — without requiring them to provide personal information, send an e-mail or contact a sales associate. Even though buyers work deals under dealer-set parameters, the process and technology gives them a greater sense of control and self-direction. I’m told that dealers who adopt this connected commerce process see higher levels of buyer engagement and improved closing ratios — improvements that come because dealers made the leap to serve buyers in the manner they prefer.




Be Authentic





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When buyers take the opportunity to configure deals online, they send a signal that they expect an easy, efficient transaction, just as they would from other retailers. “If you play coy on price with these buyers, you’ll end up like the Kia dealer and lose them to a dealer who isn’t playing the traditional deal-making game,” a colleague said. I like this thinking on multiple levels.

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By working deals online, dealers could achieve greater efficiency and satisfaction in showrooms. Customers could essentially show up, test drive a vehicle and, if they like it, take delivery. Less time equals increased customer satisfaction — and more time for sales associates to sell more cars. Finally, this connected commerce approach to retailing vehicles creates another benefit for dealers. You’ll have less risk of hitting a bad note when it’s your turn to step up to the microphone.

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Video is by far the No. 1 “Most Powerful Tool For Your Dealership.” That was the name of my 2015 NADA/ATD Convention workshop, and, without exaggeration, it’s truer every day, in every way imaginable. Here some mind-blowing facts about video: • Cisco says that, by 2019, more than 80 percent of all Web traffic will be video content. • Forrester Research says that one minute of video is equal to 1.8 million written words. • Google prefers video more than any other content — videos properly optimized will outrank all other content, and do so faster. • Video content is clicked 53 times more than static links. • Video included in an email increases the click-through rate by 200 to 300 percent. • Approximately 82 percent of smartphones users (prospects) will use their devices to help them make a buying decision in the showroom. • Studies have found 1 out of 5 people watch video on their smartphone while they watch TV. • About 36 percent of people watch videos that are longer than five minutes, and 58 percent of people watch videos that are less than five minutes long on their smartphones. • Millennials — the No. 1 U.S. car-buying segment — not only prefer videos, but expect them.

I could go on, but the point is crystal clear: Video is powerful. The problem is that dealerships don’t respect video as they should, and aren’t creating their own custom video content. Sad to say, some dealerships don’t utilize video content at all. The dealers who do use video content mostly use the generic OEM-provided footage, which does not differentiate you from any other dealership and has absolutely no SEO value to search engines. Or, if the dealership does create video, it uses poor-quality footage from a sub-par camera — usually a cell phone — along with poor lighting and sound. In other words, too many dealerships are using “ghetto” videos for their multi-million dollar business.

Dealers should absolutely invest in professional, custom video content for their dealership. These days, video production can be created at a fraction of the cost from what it did just a couple of years ago. Dealers also need to work with a video production company that has automotive sales, Internet sales, BDC and digital marketing experience. You do not want to work with a video production company that does not understand you, your dealership or your prospects. There are many important places where your dealership should utilize professional and customized video footage: Website

Most dealership Websites only convert 1 to 2 percent of its visitors. That is disgusting; 98 to 99 percent of visitors leave. One main reason for this is that there is no relevant, useful, compelling content on most dealership Websites. Often missing, for example, are: • An introduction video of “Why Buy From Us?” What is different and better about your dealership compared to everyone

More than just an Up System… Key Metrics/Dashboard Mobile App 360 degree tracking of all showroom traffic and key analytics. Providing true insights into resources, performance opportunities and timing of the Retail Sales Process.

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Example of Key Metrics/Dashboard

Example of LiveDrive



• •

else? This is known as your “Value Package Proposition” (VPP) video. Inventory call to actions, for use when a shopper is searching for a vehicle. You could provide a video stating, “Please use the menu below to find the new or used vehicle you are looking for. If you do not see the vehicle, do not worry. Chances are we can have the vehicle in 48 hours. Call us at 555-1212 and we can get started finding your car.” Prospects reviews and testimonials, which could include price shopper reviews, convenience shopper reviews, specific vehicle shopper reviews, bad credit customer reviews, female shopper reviews, law enforcement and military customer reviews, and reviews for other reasons or demographics. How-to videos, which could include videos on syncing up Bluetooth, setting up satellite radio or OnStar, specific technology in the vehicle and more. Automotive information videos, on topics such as “How to Buy a Car,” “Car Safety,” “Driving Tips,” “Maintenance” and more. Department introductions for sales, F&I, service, parts, body shop, aftermarket and any other department, giving a tour of the department, information about the management and how each department serves the dealership’s customers. Community involvement and support, showcasing your dealership’s activities with local charities, car shows, sports teams, client appreciation activities and more. Human resources videos for recruiting.

Social Media

Social media is the No. 1 form of communication, and having strong content on social is important to great engagement. It doesn’t matter how many “friends,” “likes” or “followers” you have. It’s all about the engagement — and great video equals great engagement. People engage more with video content by far than they do with text posts, and people are 10 times more likely to share a video than they will a basic text post. Paid Facebook Ads Facebook thinks videos are so important that it wants more for itself, meaning that Facebook will give more relevancy and value to an organic video uploaded directly through Facebook versus someone just “cutting and pasting” a YouTube link.

Facebook paid ads are incredible for new or used car sales; specials, sales or promos; specific demographics or geographics; and recruiting and hiring for all positions of your dealership. (Video) Email and CRM

Video emails have a 200 to 300 percent higher click-through ratio compared to static emails. So, creating a robust video email template library to be loaded into your CRM isn’t just a good idea; it is imperative. Categories for video emails include automatic video email responses; introduction videos; appointment confirmation and missed appointment notices; “dead deal” manager “take over” videos; sales, specials and promos; “thank you” videos; referral requests; dealership tours; product videos, awards, accolades; and client testimonials and reviews. Video Search Engine Optimization

By far, VSEO is the No. 1 way to dominate Page One of Google organically. Remember, Google prefers video and favors video content in its algorithms more so than any others form of content. Here are two quick examples: Google “2014 Toyota sienna NJ,” and then Google “Miami Rav4.” As you see, video crushed Google. Both examples returned videos in prominent positions; however, those results weren’t for Toyota dealers, but instead were for competing Honda dealers. Video is by far the most powerful tool and resource for your dealership. You need to create a video strategy that includes video. Your customers, your prospects and Google all demand that you do. For ideas and examples on video strategy to use at your dealership, contact me or visit

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With most people using smartphones these days, it’s become more common for people to contact dealerships by phone rather than by email or Web form. Chances are, your dealership’s phone is ringing more today than it did a year or two ago. However, the rise of phone leads is putting salespeople’s phone skills to the test. During phone calls, your reps have only a few minutes to make a positive impression and say all the right things. Plus, they have to mimic the effects of positive body language (a firm handshake and a smile go a long way) with their tone of voice alone — not an easy feat. With one slip of the tongue, a salesperson can inadvertently convince a caller that your dealership is the last place they want to visit for a test drive or oil change.

words at hyperspeed to understand them?

One way to ensure your salespeople say what you want them to say is to put words in their mouths, so to speak, by creating a script for them to follow. But is using phone scripts the right strategy for your dealership? Consider the pros and cons and decide for yourself.

Chris Customer: Hi, my name is Chris, and I’m looking for a red four-door pickup.

The Advantages of Scripts

Helping Salespeople Reflect Your Brand Identity and Meet Your Objectives Every salesperson has their own selling style, and they should be encouraged to use the techniques that work best for them. At the same time, it’s important to remember that the salesperson is not the brand — the salesperson represents your brand.

recommend your dealership to their friends, family and acquaintances, it’s important that you set a consistent standard. A script can help you meet that goal. If your focus is finding a vehicle that makes the customer happy, even if it’s not the most expensive model on the lot, your script should focus on asking lots of questions about what the customer wants. If your goal is to increase upselling revenue, your script can emphasize how additional features or services can make customers’ lives easier or add more value to their purchase. Know what kind of experience you want your customers to have and make sure your salespeople are equipped to provide it. Setting up New Salespeople for Success Selling requires finesse, but it also requires knowledge of the product sold and the business selling it. When new salespeople start selling, one of the best ways for them to build this knowledge base is to jump into the fray and just start selling. In the meantime, however, you want to you make sure that they’re aware of the message you want them to communicate. By having a script they should follow, you can help them focus on the prospect and not on figuring out what to say next.

For example, if your dealership’s brand identity is about being modern and wants to encourage customers to use price comparison or instant quote tools on your Website, salespeople need to mention these features. If the salesperson is instead offering to run some numbers and send them a personal quote via snail mail (granted, that’s an extreme example), they’re not conveying the right image for your dealership. By customizing a script, you can make sure your salespeople are selling in a way that supports your brand identity and helps you The Pitfalls of Scripting Sales Dialogue Using a script has its advantages, but in meet your objectives. some cases, it does more harm than good, particularly if your sales staff makes any of the Giving Customers a Consistent Experience following mistakes. Do your callers have a completely different experience depending on the salesperson they speak to when they call? Maybe Joe works with a Talking Too Fast salesperson who listens to his needs and tries to If your staff is too focused on saying everything in the script, they may speak so fast that callers find the right vehicle, whereas Mary speaks to a don’t understand them. And if you’re evaluating salesperson who focuses on upselling the latest your staff ’s calls (as you should be), it might get features and add-ons, regardless of whether or tricky if your employees sound like auctioneers. not she needs them. If both Joe and Mary leave online reviews of their experience, prospects Encourage your salespeople to take the time reading those reviews could hesitate to contact your dealership because they’re unsure about the to enunciate each word so your customers can understand what the salesperson is saying. kind of experience they’ll have. What’s the point in training your staff what to say if your customers have to process their Because your satisfied customers are likely to

30 read, listen, watch, share, succeed.

Not Listening Strictly adhering to a script can sometimes mean that your staff isn’t really listening to what your customers are saying. Consider the following example: Sally Salesperson: Thank you for calling ABC Motors. My name is Sally. How can I help you?

Sally: Yes, sir. I’d be happy to assist you. Can I please have your name and the type of vehicle you’re interested in? Not only is it frustrating for customers to have to repeat things, but it can also unnecessarily lengthen the amount of time it takes for your staff to address each caller’s request. Advise your representatives to make a conscious effort to listen to pertinent details the caller gives them. Suggest that they take note of those details so the caller doesn’t have to repeat them. Interrupting Sometimes customers have complicated questions or issues that need extensive explanations, and other times they just like to talk. Either way, it’s never appropriate for a salesperson to interrupt them. But if your sales reps are constantly focused on the next line in the script, common courtesy can take a backseat to saying what they’ve been trained to say. Make sure your salespeople pay attention when customers are talking and only speak when the customer pauses. Your customers should always come before a checklist of things to say. Remember that the choice to use phone scripts as part of your selling process should be driven by the goal of creating positive results, so ask yourself whether using scripts will help or harm your staff ’s selling abilities. If you do decide to implement scripts, make sure your staff members are aware of the purpose of them (e.g., consistency). They should also know when it’s appropriate to deviate from the script to avoid making any of the mistakes mentioned above. So, should your dealership use phone scripts? Only you can decide.


“Sales have blasted off since we got two spinners.” — Dale Dillon, Tipton Auto Group “It is Great! You gotta have it. It’ll be the best thing you’ve ever done in your market.” — Jimmy Payne, Owner of Payne Auto Group “We got rid of newspapers to get three AutoSpins, and WOW what an ROI.” — Charlie Hicks, Owner of Ed HIcks Nissan, Infiniti & Mercedes “Wish I had this years ago! Wouldn't be without it! Best advertising I’ve ever done!” — David Sloan, GM of Greeley Subaru

s&ts sales & training solution


editor of AutoSuccess \ 877.818.6620 \

CUSTOMER SERVICE: Scenes From the Airport

My wife and I recently returned from a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland. Beautiful country, friendly people — I highly recommend it. We had a great time. Once we got there, that is. On the way, we experienced a crash course on what to do, and what not to do, in customer service. Since the Louisville airport is “international” only because it’s also a UPS hub, our trip required flying to Atlanta to make a connecting flight that would take us across the pond. We only had a

40-minute layover in Atlanta, which we thought was a good thing, until a band of thunderstorms delayed our plane by 45 minutes. That led us to the International Customer Service Counter for Delta at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and an amazing lesson in how to deal with customers. We stood in a long, non-moving line, commiserating with our fellow wayward travelers. Eventually, we got close enough to see our possible futures laid before us. There were three ladies working the counter: • One did her job dispassionately, putting forth minimal effort, but performing her duties. • One was hustling, on the phone with the call center, trying her best to get her customers on the next plane as soon as possible. • One actually made two people cry. It was truly a sight to behold. She blamed people for missing their flights (“You should have been here sooner”), she argued, she berated and generally did everything she could to somehow make bad situations even worse. As my wife and I stood at the front of the line, ready to go to the next available representative, we knew we were at the whim of the travel gods. Both the helpful and the vengeful representatives were about done with their respective customers. Our entire trip, basically, hinged on which one got done first. The gods smiled on us, because after getting a hug (a hug!) from the people she just helped, the representative with the big smile and the helpful attitude said “Next.” We dashed towards her. After a lot of effort on her part, she got us on a plane that left 20 minutes later — instead of the 17-hour layover we had been looking at. We hugged her (Karen H. gets a lot of hugs, I’d imagine) and were on our way. The lesson I’d ask you take from this story is to look at your sales representatives at your dealership, and put yourselves in the shoes of a customer walking onto your lot. Does that customer’s experience hinge on which salesperson they get? Do your customers have the possibility of two wildly different encounters depending on the luck of the draw? All salespeople have their own set of strengths and weaknesses, but customers pick up on effort. If they sense that the salesperson is trying to make the visit to your dealership a positive one, they’ll overlook a misstep here and there. If the encounter is adversarial, though, expect nothing by way of word of mouth or kind review, even if the sale is somehow completed.


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ls leadership solution


founder & CEO of Rapid Recon \ 866.268.3582 \


Vehicle reconditioning is an essential process for every used car department. It not only gets vehicles ready for consumers’ eyeballs, but when it gets them frontline ready fast, it can mean more gross on every sale. Every used car manager knows this intuitively. I’m not sure, though, they understand the real profitability impact behind this concept of time-to-market. Time-to-market is a span of time from vehicle acquisition — from trade or auction — to its frontline-ready appearance online or on the lot. I’ve talked to multiple dealers, used car managers and service managers about ways to streamline their recon processes. I help them identify bottlenecks and other delays that slow the flow of this work through inspection, UCM approval, parts, mechanical, body, detail and photos. I always ask, “What is an acceptable number of days for your time-to-market? Is it 15 days? 10 days? Five days?” If even three days could be shaved off their time-to-market, how might that impact gross? Can five days or more be eliminated? Where the right recon processes and the right recon intelligence is being used, it can be accomplished — and with consistency. To best understand the potential here, the concept of holding costs must be considered. Each vehicle you acquire and recon has a holding cost. This is a daily dollar figure that represents a portion of your overhead applied to each vehicle you take in trade, buy at auction or otherwise acquire, recondition and detail. NCM Associates notes from its 20 Group studies that this daily figure is on average $32 per vehicle. Holding costs add up daily for every vehicle in recon and not on the frontline — both online and on the lot — where consumers can see it and buy it. A used car manager who wants to achieve top gross for sold vehicles, of course, monitors recon to ensure vehicles are not over-reconditioned and to manage overall recon costs. It can be a shortsighted decision, however, to hold a vehicle up a day or more for OEM parts when, in reality, OEM parts are not required and aftermarket parts are readily

34 read, listen, watch, share, succeed.

available. It might be a better decision to spend a little more for the “readily available” part to move the recon along to get it frontline ready sooner. Let’s look at an example: Consider a sold gross of $3,200. This unit was in recon for 15 days, and once it got to the lot (or online) it sold in 25 days. Holding costs to frontline ready are $32/day x 15 days, or $480. Daysto-sold was another 25, adding another $800 in holding costs. Thus, total holding cost against sold gross was $1,280. Subtract this $1,280 holding-cost erosion from the $3,200 “sold” gross, and the true margin on this deal is $1,920. While a $1,920 gross is OK, reducing recon time by an additional five days would have meant another $160 in true gross. Reducing recon time to five days total, which is realistic when using the right process, adds $320 of true gross for a deal, generating a real margin of $2,240. You’ve probably tried to track recon’s phases using whiteboards or spreadsheets, only to find them falling into disuse rather quickly. There are just too many individual steps and pieces to reconditioning to follow and manage without technology to simplify the business. The right recon technology can equip management with what the real-time insights are for each step and each of the following steps. It also shows where there is workflow waste and inefficiency. What follows are some practical steps dealers can use to help shorten their time-to-market: • Speed approvals — Inability to get a work order approved by the USM can delay start of work from a few minutes to a few hours. Improving communication between recon and the UCM can reduce delays. • Set pre-approvals — Allowing some level of authority to approve needed work without UCM approval can keep work flowing uninterrupted. Consider assigning repair dollar “buckets” for vehicles of varying mileage — low, medium, high — based on the mileage averages of the vehicle you recon. • Structure phase times — Set a specific time frame for accomplishing specific types of work. Times can vary based on the condition of the vehicle. Monitor times and hold staff accountable for adhering to them. • Compensate for vehicle-completion time, not per vehicle — Focus compensation on a production-based measurement. Specified completion times per vehicle will stimulate parties involved to work smarter and harder to move units through recon in fewer days. Consider spiffs for meeting goals, but when considering spiffs, keep in mind the larger picture: reducing holding costs and turns that improve gross. • Equip for quality and manage by clock — Make no allowance for marginal quality work, but beware of tendencies to over re-condition. The additional recon cost is rarely recouped and often contributes little to the vehicle’s salability. Pay attention to visuals, such as dings and dents, scuffed wheels, glass and other elements buyers notice before any mechanical issues ever get noticed. How might your grosses improve if you could get cars frontline ready in fewer days? Never calculate the gross made on a used car sale without backing out its holding costs to determine its true gross. In any market, time-to-market is critical. A used car manager who ignores the holding cost impact on profitability does so at a cost to everyone working in the dealership.


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ls leadership solution


president of Tewart Enterprises \ 866.429.6844 \


If you are the leader of your dealership, I want to ask you some tough questions. Hopefully, these questions allow you to look in the mirror with honest introspection. For some, the questions will make you proud. For others, hopefully, it will create a moment of honesty and change. And, for some, these questions will be answered solely by the ego that will win over reality. Question No. 1:

What is the last training you went through? Question No. 2:

What did you apply at your dealership from something you gained at the training? Question No. 3:

Do you have ongoing recruiting strategies that are in place to find new team members? Question No. 4:

Do you have any type of interviewing, testing or profiling strategy to add some science to the art of your hiring decisions? Question No. 5:

Do you have written routing procedures for everyone’s job functions and expectations that are clearly communicated? Question No. 6:

Do you train and coach people every day in both formal and informal approaches? Question No. 7:


Do you set the tone for a positive and growing culture and environment of winning?



Question No. 8:

Do you hold people accountable or do you tolerate less-thanacceptable behavior and performance?

DealerElite and AutoSuccess Present:

Our Dealer Panel gives voice to dealers, GMs and sales professionals to share their experiences — sales techniques, new technologies and ways to motivate staff — giving our readers the benefit of their experiences. See page 38 for more...

Question No. 9:

Do you expect things from your team members that you don’t do yourself? Question No. 10:

When was the last time you clearly communicated and demonstrated to your team members that you care about their well being, both as a whole and as individuals? Question No. 11:

What is the last thing you did that communicated to your team in an unspoken manner that you will do whatever it takes for the dealership’s success?

“Can you name a time in the last six months that you personally ‘fell on the sword’ and took ownership of a challenge and problem, rather than blaming the team or individuals, even if it truly was not your doing?” Question No. 12:

Can you name a time in the last six months that you personally “fell on the sword” and took ownership of a challenge and problem, rather than blaming the team or individuals, even if it truly was not your doing? Question No. 13:

Do you and your team follow the necessary processes religiously, some of the time or hardly ever? Question No. 14:

How many initiatives have you started and stopped in the last year? Question No. 15:

How do your numbers stack up locally, regionally, nationally or against a 20 Group? No excuses or modifications, just purely where do you rank? Question No. 16:

What is your go-to excuse? (“Hard to get good people here,” location, brands, size, owner, etc.) Question No. 17:

Do you have someone you should have fired a long time ago? Question No. 18:

Do you know and state clearly and concisely in a manner that truly makes a difference what your SDP is? (Specific Defining Proposition: What makes your dealership a better choice?) Question No. 19:

If I asked you 10 questions from your doc or financial statement that would indicate your dealership’s performance, are you able to answer without looking? Question No. 20:

If I asked you 10 questions regarding key performance indicators, could you answer me without thinking or blinking? Do you know our numbers cold? For a free test drive of Mark Tewart’s 24/7 Online Training Channel, go to

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dp the dealer panel

Chris Saraceno AndrewDiFeo Marsh Buice Danny Benites Staying ahead of the wave of technology that the automotive industry rides can be challenging, but there are resources out there to help you keep current, along with general leadership and sales guides to maintain the basics and grow as a professional. For this month’s edition of our Dealer Panel, we’ve asked our panel for some specific resources they’ve found valuable, both from a technological basis and from the sales and leadership perspective. AutoSuccess: What book on sales, leadership or other related topics would you most recommend, and why? Chris Saraceno, VP and Partner of Kelly Automotive Group:

There are a couple of books that we recommend to all our sales consultants, and we ask new folks with no automotive background to do a report for us during their first month. We like Grant Cardone’s books If You’re Not First, You’re Last and Sell or Be Sold. We have a David Lewis book we recommend, Secrets of Inspirational Selling. For new leaders and managers, we have Dave Anderson’s book, No-Nonsense Leadership. We also have Jim Collin’s book Good to Great. It’s doesn’t have anything to do with automotive — it’s just about leadership. Andrew DiFeo, GM of Hyundai of St. Augustine: It’s been around for a while, but something I’ve read recently is The New Gold Standard by Joseph Michelli, which covers the principles of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel chain and their focus on creating what they call a “legendary customer experience.” Some of the general pillars that they focus on are understanding the needs of your customers, empowering your employees to treat the customers right and exceed their expectations, anticipating customer needs before they’re brought out and developing a training course around those pillars Marsh Buice, Sales Manager of Mark Dodge Chrysler Jeep: I could go on for days with this one, but here are a few of my

favorites: Resilience by Eric Greitens (you’ll highlight the entire book), The Shortness of Life by Seneca (it makes you appreciate life), Pushing To The Front by Orison Swett Marden (my favorite author), Choose Yourself by James Altucher (don’t wait for acceptance), Tao Te Ching by Stephen Mitchell (great short daily meditations), Rejection Proof by Jia Jiang (mind-blowing for salespeople), Take The Stairs by Rory Vaden, Toughness by Jay Bilas, anything by Steven Pressfield or Robert Greene, and the book that turned my life around was/is The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson (this book saved my life — literally). Danny Benites, GM of Greg Lair Buick-GMC: One of the most influential books that I have ever read was The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino. I have read it from cover to cover no less than 10 times. I have read chapters literally hundreds of times, individually, depending on things that I am dealing with. Start With Why by Simon







Specific Training Resources

Sinek is also one of my favorites. If you get a chance, check out his TED talk; you’ll be hooked. I am currently finishing his book, Leaders Eat Last. AS: What are some free resources (Facebook groups, podcasts, Webinars, etc.) that you’ve seen be effective or that you use regularly? CS: We love the AutoSuccess podcast. When we know there’s a new

podcast available, we’ll use that for the morning training. Or we might just have four or five leaders in the room when it’s a leadership episode, where we’ll listen to that and talk about it. And then there’s the “big four” blogs that we recommend every single one of our team members to take a look at, whether they be in sales, service or any other department. We recommend DealerElite, Automotive Digital Marketing (ADM), DrivingSales and DealerRefresh. We believe those are the four best online blogs for our people. AD: Obviously, AutoSuccess magazine is one of them. There are several

free publications that dealership employees can subscribe to. There are online forums such as Driving Sales, DealerElite, DealerRefresh — again, a community made up of salespeople up to dealer principals, blogging and talking about challenges we face and new technologies. Also, almost any vendor these days offers a free Webinar on a weekly or monthly basis to brush up on skills or learn new technologies. You can comb the Internet for these free Webinars. LotLinx, for example, just put out “The Year of the Dealer” video series, where they have professionals talk about different topics and trends in the industry and how we can take advantage of those trends.

MB: Because of time constraints, I’m not involved in many Facebook groups — I prefer the medium of podcasts. My favorite podcasts are Rory Vaden, Entrepreneur On Fire, Lewis Howes, EntreLeadership, James Altucher, Tim Ferris — all of them are 100 percent free and they bring some of the best talent onto their shows. This not only helps me learn but also gives me great recommendations for future books to read. I like podcasts because I can learn on the go — in the car, exercising, working in the yard or just laying in bed too tired to read. DB: There are so many. I’m a bit of a binge podcaster. I like the Dealer

Playbook and AutoSuccess podcasts. While I am the member of several Facebook groups, they’re not my favorite; the self-promotion and generalizations become distracting. Webinars are a great source and are really hot right now. I recently listened to one with David Metter with AutoHook about attribution. It was stellar. I also love reading industry magazines, like this one. Every time I read through them, I seem to pick up new ideas. If you have questions or are a dealer who would like to be considered for the panel, please contact us at

ms marketing solution


CEO & co-founder of DealerApp Vantage \ 866.604.6710 \


Is there value in a mobile app for your dealership? The true value lies in mobile engagement. Mobile engagement is the act of reaching a user through your app’s messaging capabilities. This is known as “push notifications,” “location-based messages,” “targeted messages” and “direct communication messages.” Dealers can use mobile engagement to deliver positive brand experiences, keep users informed and build valuable, long-term relationships. Engagement typically starts the moment a user downloads your app. Showing users your app’s value from the very beginning is essential to building a long-term relationship that keeps them coming back. However, it can’t stop there. Ongoing engagement with your app users is the ticket to keeping them. Studies show that push notifications doubles user retention. Make It Part Of Your Mobile Strategy

Why is mobile engagement such a big deal for dealers? Mobile is where your customers are spending most of their time. Studies show


that more than 80 percent of customers prefer mobile apps to traditional Websites. According to Flurry Insights, mobile has officially surpassed the television as the favorite screen. This means that your customers are willing to download and use your app — so mobile engagement must be part of your mobile strategy. Although it is important to market your app to increase downloads, your mobile strategy does not stop there. Your app’s success is mostly based on the activity generated through mobile engagement. Your first strategy should be getting your customer base to download the app. Then, right away, develop and maintain a system that will allow you to grab the attention of your app’s audience through mobile engagement. Send out a push notification as soon as a person downloads your app. This will make your app stand out and set the tone for the type of mobile relationship your app audience will come to appreciate and expect. As an example, Delray Acura and Delray Hyundai located in Florida created specific location-triggered messages as part of their mobile engagement strategy. As a result, their mobile app activity continues to increase significantly. Use It Wisely

The unique capabilities that mobile provides creates great opportunities for dealers. This new medium of communication and marketing allows dealers to reach their customers anywhere, anytime. Keep in mind, however, that it’s a privilege to reach a person in such a direct and intimate way; if dealers abuse this privilege, they will lose app installs. Develop a plan that makes sense for your market. Whether it’s for pushing specials, videos, tutorials or deepening customer relationships, there are many different ways to engage with your customers using mobile. By fostering a connection with your customers via mobile engagement, your dealership will succeed and be ahead of the competition.



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ls leadership solution


founder & president of DealerRE \ 866.347.6022 \


My wife and I are traveling back from St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. I was invited down as a guest speaker to share my knowledge of reinsurance to a group of car dealers at their 20 Group meeting. As you know, airlines offer a choice in the level of comfort you would like — or can afford. On long trips, I prefer to fly first class, because at 53, I’m in much better shape at the end of the trip flying at that level. Are you a first-class flier? Do enjoy the perks that come along with first class that make the trip much more enjoyable? Priority boarding; a bigger, more comfortable seat; a larger video screen to watch movies; a meal with your flight; no extra charge premium drinks; a place to recharge your cell phone; and, for me, room to pull out my laptop and write. Besides airlines, “first class” is a term used to describe “the best.” Many businesses within their respective industries are known for providing first-class goods or services to their customers: restaurants, hotels, contractors, health care providers and, hopefully, the service at your dealership. In this consumer-driven, competitive world, customers not only want but expect the best and at the best value. In our business, as a managing agency providing reinsurance as our primary expertise, it’s no different. We resolve to provide our dealers with first-class reinsurance, first-class service, first-class products, first-class training and first-class advice. Now, there are a lot of good companies in the income development business for the car business. Most offer reinsurance, but they would rather not, since they make more money when they talk a dealer into something other than reinsurance. But, it’s the dealers who are set up with a reinsurance program who are the most profitable. The only problem, if you

42 read, listen, watch, share, succeed.

ask most dealers, is that they pump hundreds of thousands of dollars into their reinsurance company but it takes several years to recoup a significant amount of that underwriting profit. Here’s why: The funds collected from the consumer for a warranty are placed in a trust fund. There they remain, inaccessible to the dealer, until those funds “earn out” or are no longer susceptible to claims. At that point, the dealer has access to the funds in the form of underwriting profit. A warranty company has a primary mission to pay claims for the consumer; and under an administrator obligor reinsurance program (where the administrator takes on the ultimate obligation, which is the only safe way to do reinsurance in my strong opinion), warranties and service contracts conservatively have to earn out before there is any underwriting profit. This has created a restrictive formula for dealers to access their funds. A five-year warranty earns out at 1/60th per month. So, it could be a l-o-n-g time before a dealer can enjoy their underwriting profit with standard reinsurance programs. What about first-class reinsurance? State of the art. Cutting edge. The best. How is it different? First-class reinsurance features what we call an Accelerated Profit Access Program, or APAP. Regular (coach)

reinsurance will get you there. While it is certainly better than driving the retro program to your destination — or no profit participation at all — first class is the way to go. Let’s compare the two. With regular reinsurance, if you wrote, for example, $1,000,000 in premiums in your first 12 months as a large-volume dealer, you could expect about $70,000 in underwriting profit in the fifth quarter. In Year Two, if you write another $1,000,000, the underwriting profit you would have access to would increase to about $250,000. To recap, you have written $2 million in premiums and, as an owner in a regular reinsurance (coach) program, you could access about $250,000. This can be frustrating. You might say, “I have $2 million in my reinsurance trust account and, even though my losses have been low, I can only get my hands on $250k? I want my money to expand my….” You will have to wait if you’re going to use reinsurance money for that expansion. Now, let’s look at first class. These dealers in an APAP get to participate at a higher level. Let’s look at the same scenario where you write $1 million of premium in both Year One and Year Two. With APAP (first class), your underwriter would determine your loss ratio in the fifth quarter — let’s say it’s 40 percent. Because of the level of underwriting data a first-class company like this has, they would let you access $600,000 of your reserve after Year One and $1.2 million after Year Two. $70,000 vs $600,000 after Year One. $250,000 vs $1,200,000 after Year Two. Any questions on if it is always better to go first class?

ls leadership solution

JimmyVee & TravisMiller

founders of The Rich Dealers Institute \ 866.867.9618 \


Every day, dealerships across the country are looking for qualified representatives to work on their sales floor, in their service department, BDC or finance department. There are thousands of resumes and applications submitted across the country, and they all seem to land in one ever-growing pile in the middle of your desk.

values. This is how you will build your tribe. Once people feel like they have found some place they belong, they will be less likely to move on.

Let’s be honest. The hiring process is a major drain on resources — it costs time and money and, at the end of it, even if you are lucky enough to bring on a top performer, you could still be back in the lurch if you don’t have employee retention under wraps.

Simplify The Training Process

But there’s a simple way out of this cycle, and by following these three simple steps, you can masterfully reduce the time you spend hiring by increasing your employee retention stats. Increasing employee retention means that when you do hire top performers, they are more likely to stay with you for the long run. It also means that you’ll build a reputation for being a place where people want to work, which will lessen the task of hiring when you do have to participate in it. Here’s how to increase employee retention: Build A Powerful Purpose

By clearly establishing the purpose, cause or belief that drives your business, you will create a culture that your employees can embrace. Having a purpose makes the work within your company worthwhile and encourages your employees to embrace the importance of what they do every day. Having a purpose can make even what may at first seem like a menial job into a meaningful assignment. Start With Why by Simon Sinek is a great read if you are looking for pointers on how to create a purpose-driven business. (Note: “Family run for over 40 years” is not a purpose.) Create A Unifying Culture

Start by outlining the values that you want your business to be run by, and get buy-in from your existing team by asking them to weigh in on what they believe the company’s values should be. Then, create a culture that supports these values. Creating a culture like this goes beyond merely stating your purpose and puts the pedal to the metal. If you are going to list something as a value, you must live it every day — not just pay it lip service when it is convenient. Make decisions based on these values and do so out loud so your people see how and why these values work. After you have established a culture, hire people who appreciate what you have built and can embrace the


Starting a new job can be intimidating, even for people with lots of experience. By simplifying the training process, you allow new employees to get easy wins early in the game. The easier it is for new employees to hit the ground running, the happier they will be. This does not mean your training should be incomplete or undetailed, as this will lead to problems later down the line. Rather, make training a consistent part of your entire team’s daily procedures while simplifying the initial onboarding work. This will reinforce standards for senior employees and introduce new employees to the concepts with relevancy and repetition. As recipients of Orlando’s Best Places To Work Award two years in a row, we can tell you that these simple steps make a world of difference in increasing employee retention. We’ve used the same strategies in our business from its inception. For a complimentary Traffic Scale Report, which compares the quality of your traffic to other dealerships in your area and helps determine whether or not there’s potential business you’re missing out on, visit and use coupon code ASM1510.

ls leadership solution


founder & principal of \ 866.855.5643 \


I was fortunate enough to work in a top-100 new car dealership from the very first day of green-pea training. I was a salesperson, sales manager, team leader, desk man and department head. Whatever you wanted to call me this month, I didn’t care. But I did care, and cared deeply, about two objectives — hitting forecast, and building a team who could do it every month. I wasn’t the only one on this team. Far from it. But what I learned about process only made it easier to see that without structure, basics, discipline and leadership, sales teams fail and turn over constantly. As leaders and sales managers, we spend an awful lot of time making sure the phones ring, the ads are spot on, Website prices are lower than everyone else’s, and Ups continue to walk through the door. While advertising and marketing is the first mechanism for the sales process, it’s only one of many. Your sales basics in the sales and Internet departments, have as big an impact as all your promotions combined. Unfortunately, they are often the most overlooked. If salespeople aren’t following basic sales process, either the process isn’t complete or clear, or they’re short-cutting and managers are continuing to tolerate it. Let’s start with salesperson basics, known to many as the steps to the sale. Here’s an example of one: 1. Meet and greet 2. Wants/needs analysis 3. Presentation 4. Demonstration 5. Trial close 6. Write-up 7. Negotiation or trade evaluation 8. Close 9. Delivery 10. Follow-up Not your exact steps? Chances are they might not be the same as those of other managers, salespeople, or the Internet department either. Address the following: 1. Agree upon your sales steps. Get your sales managers together and ask: “What are our

dealership’s sales steps?” Once you’ve decided — and written it out — take the next step. 2. Put some teeth into it. Make sure your sales team knows the sales steps, and more

importantly, that you will not tolerate shortcuts when structuring a deal. When you prove that your system makes them more deals, they’ll quickly fall into line and become believers. 3. Circle your wagons. Once your newly disciplined structure is entrenched, don’t let up, and don’t

let other managers slip into old, non-productive ways. Solid work and performance habits require

consistent execution of the basics. Use your CRM, business planners and your Internet statistics to pinpoint individuals’ strengths and weaknesses. Here, you’ll be able to spot challenges that vary from salesperson to salesperson. It may be the demo to write-up point, or transition from the write-up to the close. 4. Inspect expectations. At the end of each month, conduct 15-minute meetings with each salesperson. Strategize ways to help them overcome problems through role playing, additional training, etc. Then regroup each month to see how they’re trending. Here is a formula for dialing in your sales teams basics: Your Monthly Totals Demonstrations Given


Write-Ups/Proposals Presented


Manager Intro/T.O.

(÷) (÷)







Sold Units



Your Monthly Statistics Total Customer Contacts

51 Total Customer Contacts

51 Total Customer Contacts

51 Total Customer Contacts

51 Sold Units


(=) (=) (=) (=) (=)

Demonstrations Ratio


Write-Up/Proposal Ratio


Manager Intro/T.O. Ratio


Closing Ratio


Income Per Sale Average



Start with these basic steps, and make them part of your monthly game plan. It’s a powerful reminder that sales basics and inspection processes never go out of style, and are the least expensive, most powerful way to achieve results.

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