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2010

SEPTEMBER


AutoSuccess Magazine is published monthly at 3834 Taylorsville Rd., Building A, Ste. 1B Louisville, KY 40220; 502.588.3155, fax 502.588.3170. Direct all subscription and customer service inquiries to 877.818.6620 or info@autosuccessonline.com. 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, 3834 Taylorsville Rd., Building A, Ste. 1B Louisville, KY 40220.

PUSHING THE PENDULUM:

TomMohr

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SELLING CARS IN THE POST-CONTROL WORLD

PeterBond

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90-DAY NO CREDIT CHECK FINANCING

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SteveBrazill

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READY OR NOT JoeAbraham

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OPTIMIZE YOUR MARKETING, PART 2 DrakeBaerresen

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TUNE UP YOUR TEAM TO TURN UP THE SALES EVENT JimRadogna

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YOUR CUSTOMER’S PERCEPTION IS REALITY MarkTewart

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THE DEATH OF THE TRADITIONAL DEALERSHIP, PART 3

p g14 pg joe abraham

leadership solution

sales & training solution

marketing solution

SeanV.Bradley

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FREE ORGANIC SOCIAL MEDIA SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION

GlenGarvin

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LOOK GREAT ONLINE

RichardWinch

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ONLINE PIRACY:

MarkDubis

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THE TOP TEN AUTO DEALER WEB SITE BLUNDERS

SeanStapleton

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12 CRM BEST PRACTICES - HOW DOES YOUR DEALERSHIP MEASURE UP?

Susie Horne, Account Manager John Warner, Sales-Improvement Strategist shorne@autosuccessonline.com jwarner@autosuccessonline.com

CHECKERED FLAG ACHIEVES 190 PERCENT INCREASE IN ROs AND 25 PERCENT INCREASE IN MARKET SHARE

The Hijacking of Your Dealership’s Trademarked Name, Inventory and Leads

Brian Ankney, Account Manager super6@autosuccessonline.com

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How to Earn More Sales and Bigger Commissions With Reverse Selling

26 MattBaker

IS REAL Cutting-Edge Technology & Old-Fashioned Customer Service...

Dave Davis, Editor & Creative Strategist ddavis@autosuccessonline.com

SusanGivens

glen garvin

The DealerFire World

Thomas Williams, VP & Creative Director design@autosuccessonline.com

2300 Hurstbourne Village Dr, Suite 1200 Louisville Kentucky 40299 | 877.818.6620 / 502.588.3170 | AutoSuccessOnline.com / AutoSuccessPodcast.com | info@autosuccessonline.com

An Interview With EricHoopman

Susan Givens, Publisher sgivens1@autosuccessonline.com

feature solution


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SusanGivens

marketing solution

CHECKERED FLAG ACHIEVES 190 PERCENT INCREASE IN ROs AND 25 PERCENT INCREASE IN MARKET SHARE Checkered Flag Toyota has dramatically improved its business by improving its marketing and communication strategies. “The best customer you can ever find is the one you already have,” said Tim Rayfield, General Manager of Checkered Flag Toyota. Checkered Flag has increased their sales and service business by implementing a targeted one-to-one marketing strategy that targets what they consider to be the “perfect prospects” in their market. Since ad budgets have tightened up, dealers have shifted from expensive mass marketing to more cost-effective targeted marketing that generates better returns. Checkered Flag started by defining the perfect market and prospects to target. The perfect market was defined by aggregating the dealership’s sales and service history over the last five years combined with multiple consumer databases to identify where 90 percent of their business has come from in the past. “There are approximately 1.5 million consumers in the Virginia Beach market but only 60,800 have the statistical probability of buying or servicing a Toyota from Checkered Flag,” said Budd Blackburn, the founder of a targeted marketing company that works with Checkered Flag. “Checkered Flag has done well because they market to the consumers who have the highest statistical probability of doing business with their dealership and that are less expensive to reach.” “Since we know where most of our customers live we target those areas,” said Rayfield. “We send custom e-mails and mailers to in-market consumers who live in those areas and drive Toyotas or conquest vehicles that have a high historical crossover percentage and the response rates are fantastic. Our goal is to reach in-market consumers before our competitors, so we take them out of the market before they buy elsewhere. We are also picking up a lot of great one-owner trade-ins for a lot less than we would pay at auction, which has helped our certified pre-owned business.” Checkered Flag also markets more aggressively to consumers who have a higher

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potential lifetime value by targeting consumers who historically have had a higher probability of buying and returning for service. The dealership discovered that sales from customers who drive long distances to buy a vehicle at the dealership often have lower gross profits and a low retention rate for service and repeat sales. On the contrary, customers who live in Checkered Flags “perfect market” not only have a higher probability of doing business now but spend more and are more loyal. As a result, the consumers who live in the dealers “perfect market” have a higher probability of closing for a larger dollar amount and they have a much higher lifetime value because of their loyalty to service and sales. Based on these statistics, dealerships are asking themselves if it makes sense to give a better deal to a local customer who has a higher lifetime value than a customer who comes from far away and generates less long-term revenue. “Some sales managers get excited when they sell a customer from another city or state, but they really should be celebrating the local customers that will come back to them to buy and service more often and pay more per visit,” said Blackburn. Checkered Flag Toyota not only targets the right customer but they also speak to them the right way. The dealership sends customized messaging to each customer based on what they need at the time. “We used to spend too much money sending too many campaigns to our customers from different departments, and it confused our customers and cost too much,” said Rayfield. “For example, in the past a customer with a three-year-old Camry could receive e-mails and mailers from sales, service, finance and the manufacturer. Now we send one campaign that promotes multiple profit centers by customizing the message to what our customer needs at the time. Now our customer who drives a three-year-old Camry receives one targeted e-mail and mailer that has custom offers that give them options

to extend their warranty and service their vehicle or to upgrade into a newer vehicle for a similar or lower payment.” Checkered Flag has also elevated their brand image by paying more attention to what they put in front of their best customers. “We had multiple companies contacting our customers and sometimes the production value of the creative had the potential of hurting our brand,” said Rayfield. “Today we make sure that everything we send to our customer base is top notch and builds our brand image at every touch point. Our materials have a higher-end look and feel that builds trust and credibility with our customers, and it gets better responses.” Checkered Flag’s holistic communication strategy is helping them attract, sell, service and retain more customers for less cost than traditional mass marketing. Rayfield summarized it best when he said, “It works because we are marketing more effectively to customers who have a higher probability of buying and servicing more with our dealership.”

Susan Givens is the publisher of AutoSuccess. She can be contacted at 877.818.6620, or by e-mail at sgivens1@autosuccessonline.com.


SteveBrazill

leadership solution

READY OR NOT What may be done at any time will be done at no time. — Scottish proverb We are already into the final quarter of 2010, and a new year lies in ambush ahead, ready to pounce upon all who approach it unprepared. Have you thought about it yet? It’s time. This is the time to plan for the success you expect to enjoy in 2011. Are there companywide goals, objectives, conditions, restrictions or other considerations department heads must factor into their plans for 2011? If so, this is the time to communicate that before they begin crunching numbers. Hint: You can’t communicate expectations until you have developed them yourself. If you fail to give your people enough time to digest your expectations, you deny them the opportunity to fully apply their talents. October is a good month in which to hold preliminary planning meetings and to communicate expectations to staff. Your

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people have time to think — not rush — and it’s early enough in 2010 that you can plan, have inventory and marketing in place before the holiday crunch, then launch on January 2. Your October statement is also an excellent planning tool. Consider this: • It contains 83 percent of a full year of data on your operation, and the two months it’s missing are among the months least likely to be representative of your normal market. • Because it contains 10 months of data, the year-to-date totals can be converted to average month reference points at a glance. Your year-to-date P&A sales total of $2,272,412 is easily seen to be a monthly average of $227,241, for example. By starting now, you enable your team to prepare a draft forecast, share it with each other, revise it, meet again, polish and improve it. Your parts manager can’t plan for next year without seeing the service manager’s forecast, and the service manager can’t plan for new vehicle inspections and reconditioning

without seeing plans and projections for new and used unit sales. That process of multiple iterations allows them to conspire for success by multiplying their insights and leveraging their talents off each other. That can’t happen if you compress the process into one or two quick sessions in November or December. You can’t afford to give away days in early January without compromising the entire month and you can’t afford to compromise January without damaging the entire year. It’s been said that good management doesn’t solve problems; it anticipates them. Beginnings are fragile times and the strength with which your department or dealership enters 2011 will depend on how aggressively you prepare now. Steve Brazill is the chair of automotive marketing for Northwood University, Texas Campus. He can be contacted at 866.861.1515, or by e-mail at sbrazill@autosuccessonline.com.


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We applied the power of the vAuto franchise ... the results speak for themselves.

— Justin Hansel, Vice President Hansel Auto Group Santa Rosa, California

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The world of online auto sales is ever-changing and requires the best tools and partners to succeed. Dealerships need the ability to turn on a dime and make immediate changes to be both reactive and proactive in maximizing the effectiveness of their online marketing. AutoSuccess Publisher Susan Givens recently sat down with Eric Hoopman, owner and founder of DealerFire to discuss how dealers can dominate their online world and increase their sales.

dealer’s site has to be attractive to draw the customer in and keep them engaged, but it also has to function properly. In other words, the interface has to be intuitive and easy to use. We’re able to do this because everyone at DealerFire is pro-active in their field of expertise. That means keeping up with industry trends, being leaders in research and development, and bringing new tools and enhancements to clients in a timely fashion.

AutoSuccess: How did you get started building Web sites? Eric Hoopman: I started at NetObjects, one of the first Web software

AS: Can you describe some enhancements that dealers need today? EH: Dealers need the ability to edit and customize their own title

firms and, most famously, the developer of NetObjects Fusion, one of the most powerful and well-known Web design applications. At the time, NetObjects was an IBM subsidiary, having been acquired by Big Blue for an investment of $100 million in 1997. Eventually, it became apparent that there was a staggering need for custom Web sites. That led me to strike out on my own with Neleven. AS: What led you to build the DealerFire platform? EH: Our first client in the automotive marketing industry was from

Texas. While working on that and related projects, it became evident just how difficult it is to properly search engine optimize (SEO) a template-based site. To address this need, we began work on a custom Web site platform, aiming to provide a better solution for dealers, and one that would lend itself to bringing much better SEO capability for the automotive marketing industry. In fact, we’ve been focusing on this industry ever since, aiming to perfect our platform and extend our services and capabilities. And it has paid off — we won a 2009 Automotive Search Marketing Architecture (ASMA) Award in 2009. It starts with form and function. A

and meta tags. We give our dealers this power using our exclusive Ignite management system. This system is custom-built to give dealers user-friendly access to the tools they need to manage every aspect of their Web site. AS: What about SEO? EH: Dealers need to take SEO very seriously. All of our URLs are

reworked to be 100 percent user and search engine friendly. No one should be using URLs that are hard to understand, much less type in. This will help dealers rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) because both humans and spiders utilize these URLs more effectively. Spiders, for instance, crawl these pages more efficiently and index them more accurately, and that helps dealership pages appear much more consistently in relevant search results — and that leads to more traffic. AS: What types of hurdles do dealers encounter when trying to track their online marketing? EH: We sometimes run into a situation in which a dealer has worked

with us to develop and deploy their site, but uses an ad agency to run their marketing services, like AdWords or PPC. In that situation, a dealer might have trouble installing analytics or conversion tracking code, for example. It is important that dealers have the power to easily place a conversion tracking code or Google Analytics UA code into their site. It should be as easy as copy and paste for the dealer. Once they have pasted the code into the correct place, it takes only a single click to save that configuration and start tracking their site’s performance. Ultimately, we want to make it easy for our clients to get the results they need using our tools, even if they use another provider for some of their business needs. But I want to stress: Our services to clients run through the full gamut of capabilities. We ensure proper use of alt tags, for instance. We host sites in the cloud to maximize site speed and performance. Our sites are engineered to ensure one-click navigation and we provide custom forms and goal tracking — anything a client


needs to make sure their site performs beyond their wildest expectations. AS: The technology sounds formidable; how can a dealer stand out? EH: We recognize and focus on design and customization. At

DealerFire, we are committed to always providing our dealers with 100 percent custom design for every Web site we build. We understand that each dealer has unique needs and we recognize the value of a strong brand in today’s automotive marketplace. Knowing that, we never use a stock template or a cookie-cutter design. We make sure that each client’s site is completely customized to their specific need. We believe this is crucially important for branding and marketing because it helps the dealer stick out in the consumer’s mind by being different and having a unique look and feel. We also focus on providing custom tools and solutions designed to meet specific needs. In one case, a dealer needed to be able to sell vehicles at wholesale or auction within their 20 rooftop group before spending the additional time and manpower sending it to the auction. We met that dealer’s unique need by building a custom auction platform, similar to eBay. AS: How do you help dealers stay on the cutting edge? EH: Dealers need a Web site that is fresh and up to date. We do

not have product development life cycles like most companies. We approach our product with a real-time update and support system that “rolls with the punches.” This is really what dealers should look for in a provider. The Internet changes at an almost impossible speed to keep up with; if we locked ourselves into a 12- or 18-month development cycle, our clients would get updates that are already outdated or on the verge of being outdated. AS: How can dealers keep up with the continuously changing online world? EH: If there is some ground-breaking change in the way people

search or shop online, dealers need to have access to new features and new technology as quickly as possible. With access to new tools and technology, dealers can enjoy market advantage and market dominance. We start work on building technology to implement change or to adjust to change immediately. Usually, this results in some of the fastest turnaround times in the industry for product features and enhancements.

everyone is with a customer or unavailable. Support needs to be real time. We do not do support tickets; we do personal. I make sure that our customers can call us and speak to someone whenever they want without waiting on hold for a long time. If a customer needs a change or tweak to their Web site, they need to be able to simply e-mail what they want to our support team and, in most cases, we respond within a few hours (although it’s often faster than that). This way, the issue is addressed and solved as quickly as possible. We then go back each week or month and see if we can find support requests that are similar and then, based upon that data, we will tweak or make changes to the system so that all of our clients can benefit from each other — almost like an open-source model. When you send in a support request, you’re really sending in a vote or request for a system change or update. It works well, and our clients love it because we are constantly updating features for them every month. AS: How important is it for dealers to be able to take some control of their Web sites on their own, so they can react to market forces more quickly? EH: With an emphasis being placed on dealerships getting proper

SEO for their Web sites, we have listened to what the consumers want; we can now offer end-user meta tags and title tags management right in the Ignite management system that we provide to our dealers, so that they can tweak their site immediately based on what they see in their selling environment. We empower our dealers to achieve the success they want by not limiting the availability of specific tools and functions, as some providers do. We have a very open concept, and we love to help our dealers increase ROI in any way possible. AS: How do you see this industry evolving? EH: It’s an exciting time for the industry. The automotive world is

evolving and buyers are moving away from nationwide third-party sites and manufacturer brands. We know buyers first shop online — but what is coming is a change to where they go online to shop. More and more car buyers are bypassing the third-party and manufacturer sites and are going straight to their local dealer’s Web site. For the dealer, this means the pressure is on to deploy a fully modern site with top-flight SEO and competitive features. If you are a dealer, and your provider does not offer the types of search engine friendly Web sites and customizations you need, you are missing out on a fast-growing market of Internet shoppers.

AS: Why is support so important to dealerships? EH: Support in any industry is extremely important, but even more so

in automotive sales. The cost of inventory is higher, so the opportunity cost of inventory being inaccurate or incomplete is higher, as well. Dealers don’t want to open a support ticket and wait for someone to pass it on to someone else and eventually get a call back when

For more information about Eric Hoopman, founder and owner of DealerFire, contact him at 866.406.8374, or by e-mail at ehoopman@autosuccessonline.com.


JoeAbraham

leadership solution

Last month, I started to describe a marketing plan that was easy enough to use without paying a consultant all your profits to make it work. I call it S.P.A.C.E., a marketing funnel that works for virtually any business at any time — no consultants needed. The concept was a funnel that starts out with your target audience (“Suspects”) and narrows it down to people who are ready to talk to you (“Prospects”). Once you have a Prospect, the next step is to make them a first-time buyer — we call them “Accounts.” This is a Prospect who has reached into their pocket and pulled out at least a dollar to hand you in exchange for a vehicle, part or service. This step is less about marketing and much more about selling. The quality, morale and professionalism of your sales process and salespeople will determine how many Prospects turn into Accounts. Once you have an Account, the next step is to turn that first-time buyer into a repeat buyer. We call those “Clients.” I think we can agree that the result of moving first-time buyers to Clients is critical, because this is where profits really kick in. When you look at the amount of money it takes to find Suspects, convert them to Prospects, go through the sales and follow up process to make them an Account — then pay selling costs and commissions and cover overhead — we’re fortunate if we break even on that initial sale. The profits come when that same Account buys again and again and again. So take a look at your business development engine and ask what systems are in place to move someone from first-time buyer to repeat buyer without someone “remembering to do it.” I do have a bone to pick with marketing companies that sell dealerships all kinds of automated marketing machines — from e-mail autoresponder messaging to direct mail and telemarketing. I guess to a certain extent, those things do work. But there has got to be something better than that. Consumers today are tuning out old-school, in-your-face in your face marketing and moving more

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toward social buying. That has opened the door for marketing companies to now come in and sell “social media services” (which, in my opinion, is a total oxymoron).

TRAFFIC

Listen, a dealership that really understands it’s brand, target audience (Suspects) and value proposition does not need to spend countless thousands of dollars doing what the competition does. Consumers are going back to basics. They are buying where they feel the most connected and “taken care” of. Focus on that, like the folks at Marquardt Buick and Pontiac in Barrington, IL. They aren’t the flashiest dealer in town. They don’t do TV commercials or massive colorful ads that cost a hundred grand. During the heyday of the auto industry, they didn’t rake it in as much as other dealers did. But during this tight economy, they didn’t lose their shirts, either. They are still thriving. That is because they focused on targeting the right Suspects. Then they used optimized marketing to get those Suspects to raise their hand and become Prospects. When that happened, they treated those Prospects well and took care of them. Some became Accounts. Most Accounts became Clients. A big majority of Clients also entered the final category in the S.P.A.C.E. funnel. The final category in the funnel is when Clients turn into “Evangelists.” I don’t have to explain this one much, do I? We all know who the Evangelist is. They are our fanatical fans who can’t stop talking about us. Every business has Evangelists. It’s just that you and I just wish we had more of them. Well, there is something that you can do about it. Most businesses sit back and wait for Evangelists to appear. Great businesses like Apple and Google invest in, and build Evangelists. It is part of their strategic plan. There are steps they engage in to make sure a certain percentage of Clients turn into Evangelists. One simple step you can deploy right now is to identify who your Evangelists are. Most don’tt really know. Once you have dealerships don

S U S P E C T

P R O S P E C T

PART 2

OPTIMIZE YOUR MARKETING A C C O U N T

C L I E N T

E V A N G E L I S T

identified your dealership’s biggest fans (ask your sales team and service writers for help), then go to step two. Step two is to profile those Evangelists. What do they have in common? What makes them tick? Is there some golden thread you can pull through all of them that starts to show a pattern of the type of person who becomes a fanatical fan of your dealership? I think you see where I am going with this one.... If you do Step two correctly, you will have the perfect answer to the first question I asked you in this article. “Who is the person and situation for which your dealership is always the best choice?” The biggest “aha!” moments I get to have with business owners and management teams is when we go full circle through this process and truly define who they are here to serve. Do this process within your team and I can assure you that you’ll end up cutting your marketing spend by 25 percent (or more) and end up with better-quality leads, happier (and wealthier) salespeople and lots of Evangelist Clients. I commend this exercise to you for the benefit of your dealership. Joe Abraham is the founder of the BOSI Performance Institute. You can contact him at 866.461.5751, or by e-mail at jabraham@autosuccessonline.com.


DrakeBaerresen

leadership solution

TUNE UP YOUR TEAM TO TURN UP THE SALES EVENT Event-oriented advertising is the best way to sell a month’s worth of deals in a matter of days. Event sales allow a dealership to turn a slow month into a record-breaking gross profit win for the whole store. Effective sales events can drive hundreds of prospective buyers to a dealership in a short amount of time, such as a four- or five-day event. When an event is done right, the needle can be moved significantly. While thousands of run-it-yourself (unstaffed) sales events are performed across the United States every week, dealers and managers often find themselves focusing on what they are going to do during the event, rather than what we are going to do before the event. Not preparing a store and staff for the event is like a doctor attempting to do surgery without anesthesia — you don’t want to be on that operating table. There are five simple steps that a dealership can take to make their sales event very fruitful.

1. Get Psyched It is important to get the entire store psyched up for a successful sale. Managers must make their salespeople and the entire staff understand and believe in the concept of a sales event and that it is a big deal. Everyone in the store must be excited — this excitement will rub off on the customers. The perception that the sales event is a big deal can be one of the most influential factors that make the difference between a sales event and a great sales event.

up a fun spiff or game and, of course, spiff salespeople on sales. Have both daily spiffs and a cumulative team spiff based upon the total units sold goal. The idea is to make it fun. The more fun you have, the more excitement your customers will feel and the more vehicles you will sell. For managers, spiff on gross profit. A daily spiff structure that works well is to start the manager’s spiff at an easily attainable gross profit and then increase the spiff with every $5K of gross profit thereafter.

2. Selection! Selection! Selection!

4. Knowing is Half the Battle

Just as “location, location, location” is critical in real estate, selection is of equal importance in retail auto sales. During a sales event, prospective buyers will be looking for a range of vehicles from inexpensive to high line. Just as customers expect to have 31 flavor choices at Baskin-Robbins, so should the dealership’s inventory reflect many choices and trim levels. Sales events can entail a sizable investment to bring customers onto the lot. Secure the investment by having a great selection of highdemand vehicles.

Effective event advertisements will dramatically help bring the perception of the big sale to prospective buyers. The message and the marketing will bring in the customers. Be sure your people know the message in the marketing. The wonderful once-in-alifetime opportunity the customers feel will disappear immediately when the salesperson doesn’t know the details of the sale. Don’t pull the rug out from under your successful sales event. Discuss the marketing with everyone involved. Be absolutely sure that your salespeople vigorously study all of the advertisements for your event. Use sales, BDC and receptionist scripts. Give salespeople the opportunity to learn the script and speak it naturally to the prospective buyer. This way, everything that the prospective buyers sees and hears ties in with the sales event.

3. Put Out an Extra Carrot

For salespeople, spiffs are a great and inexpensive way to amp up the deliveries at your event. You have already spent thousands or tens of thousands on marketing. The marketing will bring them in. The salespeople will be the ones to send them home in new vehicles. Invest in your success with spiffs. Little spiffs can go a long way. Spiff salespeople on every guest that is converted to a demo. Make

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5. Communication

Last, but not least, always keep open communication between management and salespeople before, during and after the sale. Many problems begin with bad communication. However, most solutions begin with open communication. Utilizing the preceding steps can drastically help tune up your team to turn your sales event in to a big win. Sales events require energy, excitement and focus. Before the event begins, it is best to alleviate any potential hang ups by having a well-prepared dealership. E-mail or call me for your free copy of our Easy Sales Guide.

Drake Baerresen is the vice-president of sales and marketing at Turn-Key Events. He can be contacted at 866.900.7714, or by e-mail at drakeb@autosuccesonline.com.


JimRadogna

leadership solution

YOUR CUSTOMER’S PERCEPTION IS REALITY I get it. It’s tough out there. Customer access to information on the Internet continues to squeeze margins. Dealerships are just trying to make a buck in a fiercely competitive marketplace. You have to do whatever it takes to stay ahead of the competition. I also get that some may view compliance as unnecessary, overrated, annoying, a waste of time and money, and downright harmful to profitability. These are the perceptions and, as they say, perception is reality. Some employees may be tempted to step over the line ethically when trying to make a deal. After all, the chances of getting caught are pretty slim, right? That’s one way of looking at it. Another way is to ask yourself what’s really more important in the long run: flying under the radar or satisfying your customers? In my view, when it comes to compliance and ethical behavior, the true payoff is customer satisfaction and retention. It really comes down to one simple premise: Your customer’s perception is the only reality that should matter. “We have to advertise aggressively and do whatever it takes to drive traffic to the dealership.” Customer Perception — “I hate the way you advertise. Why is it that the deal is never what it seems? Like when you advertise a car for $7,000 and when I get there I find out that the $7,000 is only the up-front payment for a pre-paid lease and the residual is $11,000. Why can’t you just advertise the real price with no tricks?” “Customers make ridiculously low offers. If we don’t pack the payments they won’t feel like they got a deal. It’s all part of the game.” Customer Perception — I hate that damned “four-square” thing you do! It really tempts me to do something uncivilized with your green sharpie. I didn’t come here for a shell game; I came here to give you the opportunity to give me real numbers and perhaps sell me a car. If I didn’t like your car, I wouldn’t be here — why do feel it is necessary to play games with me?”

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“If a customer is willing to pay more than the ad price, I’m not going to talk him out of it.” Customer Perception — “It’s ridiculous that you have multiple prices. Why is it that you advertise one price on the Internet and a different price on the lot? Why must I have to try to negotiate down to the price that you have already advertised? I want a fair deal and don’t want to be treated like an idiot if I fail to turn over every rock to find your ‘best’ price.” “The only reason we advertise those loss leaders is to get people on the lot. No way am I going to sell a car and lose money.” Customer Perception — “I tried to buy a car at the price you advertised in the paper and you told me that the ad was a mistake and the real price is higher. I don’t believe that for a second.” “We need to close the customer at the highest payment possible so we can make some money.” Customer Perception — “You told me that the service contract and other accessories were included, but when I read my contract I see that you charged me thousands more.” “This customer is credit-challenged; she’s lucky to get approved at all.” Customer Perception — “You told me that the bank wouldn’t finance me unless I pay a higher price for the car and I buy a service contract to ‘protect the loan.’ I’m willing to pay a higher interest rate, but I don’t think it’s fair that I have to pay more for the car, too.” “Your customer’s debt-to-income ratio sucks. We need to give him a raise and hope the bank doesn’t stip for income.” Customer Perception — “You lied about my income on the credit application and told me not to worry because the bank won’t ask for proof. What else are you lying about? And what happens if the bank calls me — do you expect me to lie to them, too? It doesn’t seem like the right thing to do.” “That’s the perfect car for your customer. Do whatever it takes to send her home in it.” Customer Perception — “You told me that the car I bought is a ‘one-owner creampuff,’

then I find out that the ‘one owner’ was Hertz Rent-a Car! Why did you lie to me? I still might have bought another car from you if you had told me the truth.” “I’ll over-allow on the trade to make them happy; just close them at this payment.” Customer Perception — “You told me you would pay off my trade then I found out you added thousands to the price of the car I bought. I would have sold the car myself if I knew you were going to charge me more.” “We need get rid of those grounded demos.” Customer Perception – “I was told that the car I bought was new and had a full factory warranty. When I asked why it had 7,000 miles on it, I was told that the manager drove it back and forth to work. Then I found out that a good portion of the warranty was used up.” “If a customer asks about that painted fender, just say it was key-scratched and repaired.” Customer Perception – “When I asked you if the car have ever been in an accident, you said it hadn’t. Then my neighbor, who runs a body shop, checked out the car and told me tells me that it’s been wrecked.” “Let’s just roll the deal. Once they fall in love with the car and show it to all of their friends, they’ll re-write at a higher payment.” Customer Perception – “You told me my loan was approved, and then you called me back and told me that I need to put more money down and agree to a higher payment or you’ll take the car back. I wouldn’t have taken the car if I knew this was going to happen.” This article is intended as food for thought. You may agree or disagree. One final thought though: A consumer law firm or attorney general’s perception of the above scenarios probably wouldn’t be pretty. Jim Radogna is president of Dealer Compliance Consultants, Inc. He can be contacted at 866.704.8657, or by e-mail at jradogna@autosuccessonline.com.


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SeanV.Bradley

marketing solution

FREE ORGANIC SOCIAL MEDIA SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION That may be a powerful title, but what does it mean? Well, I am going to give you some ideas on how you can acquire, you guessed it, free organic social media search engine optimization. Let’s break it all down so it makes sense. “Free”

I don’t know about you but if it’s free, it’s for me. There are a lot of things that you can buy that may or may not be successful. There aren’t a lot of things (technology wise) that you can do for free and get massive results — that’s why you’re reading this article. “Organic”

This means placement on the search engine’s first page in the top-10 listing naturally, without pay per click or search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns. Why is this important? Pay per click and SEM (at least on Google) do not get as much visibility as organic search engine optimization. As a matter of fact, only about 20 percent of people actually click those pay-per-click ads and links. That means 80 percent of people are going to skip it and go to the organic listing. One reason for this is that people know and understand what an advertisement is. On the other hand, if they search something and the search engine serves up a Web site or link, then it must be what they are looking for — it must be important or relevant. Why else would the Google gods bring forth these answers to the questions you ask if they were not the right ones? “Social Media Search Engine Optimization”

For a lot of people, this might be the very first time you heard or read about this phrase. Social media SEO is a new concept and a different spin on social media. Most dealers are still struggling to simply understand social media and having even more difficulty trying to incorporate it into their business. The majority of dealers are not able to quantify the opportunity or calculate ROI on

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time and money invested in social media. I have a totally different spin on social media. While I acknowledge that there is value in the “social” aspect of social media (communicating with current customers and prospects, etc.), another strategy is to use the various social media sites as incubators for SEO. Sites like Facebook (the No. 1 visited site in the world), YouTube, Twitter, Ning, Flickr, Tumblr and others get tremendous amounts of traffic. Millions of people use these sites, so they get major search engine relevancy points with the search engines. So, if you open accounts on these sites and properly optimize content, you get multiple benefits. First, Google says that part of the way they rank sites in relevancy is that if other sites that are prominent and get a lot of traffic link to your site, that makes your site credible and relevant. So, if you have signed up for sites like the ones I mentioned above and you have hyperlinks from those sites to your dealership’s main Web site (back linking), that will increase your dealership’s SEO relevancy. Another opportunity that dealers can maximize on social media is optimizing all content uploaded. This might sound a little confusing, but it is not that difficult once you get the hang of it and develop good habits. When I say optimizing all content uploaded to your social media sites, I mean to make sure that all content (pictures, video, articles, blog posts) have: • Properly Named Root Files — When you take a video or a picture, you usually have an automatic file name such as “00251.jpg.” You should rename these files to whatever the content is. For example, if there was a picture of an F150 for ABC Motors dealership in Philadelphia. You might want to rename that picture “Ford_F150_Philadelphia.JPG.” • Proper Title — Make sure the title is relevant to the content, as well as geotargeted with dealership and/or model. For example, a picture of a Ford F150 for a

dealership in Iowa could be “Ford F150 Davenport Iowa.” • Proper Description — Since many social media sites allow you the opportunity to add a description to your content, make sure in the you start with a hyperlink – http://www. abcmotors.com. Be careful, because certain sites, such as YouTube, will not make a site a hyperlink if you don’t use the “http://” prefix. Specifically, if you have “www.abcmotors. com” in your description, all you have is your URL — it might not be a hyperlink, which will not count as a back link. • Tags and Meta Tags — Social media sites allow you to add tags, meta tags, and keywords to your content (pictures, videos, articles, blog posts, etc.) Make sure you use relevant tags and keywords to what you are trying to accomplish. Begin with the end in mind. I recommend that you use geo-targeted keywords and tags, franchise, model, competing brands (not the names of your competitors). There is no problem if you are a Ford dealer and you have a video on a F150 that you have in your tags “Chevy,” “Chevrolet,” “Silverado,” “Ram,” etc. You can also put descriptions that are relevant like “new,” “used,” year of the vehicle, etc. • Consistancy — You must be consistent. All of this has to match up. Your title tag, header, description, keywords and tags all need to be consistent. If you have any questions on this article, or you would like me to show you for free how you can do this for your dealership, please feel free to either call me or e-mail using the information below. Sean V. Bradley is the founder and CEO of Dealer Synergy, a nationally recognized training and consulting company in the automotive industry. He can be contacted at 866.648.7400, or by e-mail at sbradley@autosuccessonline.com.


GlenGarvin

marketing solution

LOOK GREAT ONLINE The Internet allows a consumer to view your showroom and the showrooms of competitors you have never even heard of all at once. Today, consumers can walk the lots of every store in their area in a single evening from the comfort of their own home. When they visit, are you putting your best foot forward? Are consumers able to see your entire inventory all the time? Let’s examine a few ways that technology can help you to be sure that when consumers visit you online you have the best opportunity to convert them into customers. I recently spoke with Hagen Durant, the general manager at Classic Chevrolet in Grapevine, Texas for his opinion on some of the ways technology helps him sell more vehicles online every month (and, since Durant’s dealership has been the nation’s top-selling Chevy store from 2005 through 2009 — and 2010 is looking good — he’s had some success in that area). Glen Garvin: How important is DMS

integration and automation to your online inventory? Hagen Durant: DMS integration is a

crucial piece of the online vehicle marketing equation because our inventories are so dynamic. Cars are always coming in as well as driving off of the lot. You are going to want this to be reflected in the online inventory that you are advertising. Sometimes pricing can be a dynamic issue, as well. If you were wishing to change the advertised price of a particular vehicle, wouldn’t you want to be able to handle it in one place, as opposed to several? If our inventories and prices always stayed the same, this business wouldn’t be any fun. Because they change so frequently, you will need DMS integration to automate the dynamic ever-changing process. GG: How does customized data distribution help you online with both your inventory and online image? HD: You can distribute your inventory

Phone? Smart! Loyalty Driver E-newsletters are now available on all smartphones

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to hundreds of sites, if you want to. Sometimes it’s going to cost you, while other sites will list your vehicles for free. Craigslist is free and very effective. Other sites may cost you a few bucks. Social media is free, but I have never felt comfortable about keeping my inventory on these advertising platforms. However, I do make it easy to find my dealer Web site through my social media advertising. I have found value in social media because it is a very effective linkbuilding tool. It is also a great way to expose the general public to your brand.

“Customers have immediate access to every car and dealership in your market. So do you. It is important that you use this information to make your inventory and dealership as attractive as possible for online shoppers. Utilize integration and automation to keep your inventory up to date and priced competitively. There is no time for TO online, so you must make sure that every online opportunity is maximized.” GG: How do local market pricing tools help you to stay competitive online? HD: Local market pricing analysis tools

have been very helpful in setting the price correctly as soon as a pre-owned vehicle makes its way through reconditioning. It has allowed us to make necessary tweaks that help us manage a healthy rate of inventory turnover. Without tools like this, we are only subject to what the pricing guides, and our friends in the business, have to say. Having a clear idea of what the pricing trend is in your market for a particular vehicle allows you to stay competitive more easily. Having these prices on your Web site, as opposed to what you are “hoping” the car will bring, can attract more people to your car lot. Today, in this business, people don’t have to move an inch to shop your pre-owned vehicles. They don’t have to move an inch to shop your competitor, either. Customers have immediate access to every car and dealership in your market. So do you. It is important that you use this information to make your inventory and dealership as attractive as possible for online shoppers. Utilize integration and automation to keep your inventory up to date and priced competitively. There is no time for TO online, so you must make sure that every online opportunity is maximized. For your free copy of the online inventory checklist, please call or e-mail me using the information below. Glen Garvin is the general manager at Dealer Specialties. He can be contacted at 866.584.2375, or by e-mail at ggarvin@autosuccessonline.com.


MattBaker

sales & training solution

PUSHING THE PENDULUM:

How to Earn More Sales and Bigger Commissions With Reverse Selling Based on the sizable response I saw to my last AutoSuccess article, “Learning the Language: Three Communication Tactics to Increase Closing Percentages,” I thought I might share a few tips on yet another powerful sales technique — but you’re not going to like it. This technique is extremely tough to master and may take too much time and effort for you to tackle. Read this article at your own risk.

the close. To a professional who’s vested in Pendulum technique, it’s an opportunity to challenge the customer’s behavior. By prompting the customer to verbally acknowledge why they’re interested, the customer begins to sell themselves. If the customer starts to back up when you begin to talk price, you’ve learned something about them that can pull them back in.

For those of you who are brave enough to have made it through that last paragraph, let me prep you for what you’re about to learn. This technique is referred to as “The Pendulum,” and is both uncomfortable and unconventional for 99.9 percent of all salespeople. Its focus is on doing the opposite of what normal salespeople do, using the momentum of the customer against the customer to lessen objections and throw out defenses.

Competitive Edge

About Pendulum

The element of surprise is powerful. Pendulum capitalizes on this power. Pendulum is a technique that catches customers off guard by responding to their questions or comments with the opposite of what they think you’re going to say. I refer to this technique as “Pendulum” because the pattern of the conversation between salesperson and customer greatly resembles that of a pendulum in motion. You push the buyer in a negative direction, gravity then swings the buyer back toward a more positive and favorable position. To help you initially understand the principle, here’s a simple example of a conversation where Pendulum is used: Customer: “I really like this car.” Salesperson: “Interesting. Based on what you’ve been saying, I wouldn’t have imagined that this car would interest you. Did I miss something?” Customer: “Well maybe you didn’t hear me when I said this color is exactly what I’ve been looking for, and I really need a sedan because I take clients to lunch.” To the average salesperson, this customer’s initial comment is a red flag to move in for

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The traditional selling methods focus heavily on feature and benefit selling, and if the customer throws even the slightest hint of interest, typical salespeople will often go aggressively in for the kill. Sometimes this results in a sale; most of the time, it does not. To close more deals and make more money, you need to do what your competition is not: respect and acknowledge the buying habits of your customer. Here’s one of our rules: “People buy for their reasons, not yours.” You could go on all day about what your cars can do. But all of that will mean nothing if it is not important to the customer. Those who are able to use Pendulum capitalize on the technique’s ability to make customers honestly state why they’re making the purchase. However lucrative Pendulum may be, it can also be detrimental. Ensure your attempts don’t backfire. Be sincere in your approach. If your customers get angry with the direction you’re pushing, stop. Overcoming Defenses and Objections

One way to use Pendulum is with a buildup and take-away approach. I refer to this as a strip-line. Consider the first paragraph of this article for instance. My comment, “I thought I might share a few tips on yet another powerful sales technique,” is the buildup. My next comment, “but you’re not going to like it,” is the take-away. The mention of “another powerful sales technique” acts as a hook, drawing you in. The take-away, on the other hand, pushes you to the negative as a way to make you push back getting you closer to my favorable result, which is you reading more of

this article. Did it work? Well, if you’re reading this now, the answer is, “yes.” I didn’t need to hound you, persuade you or motivate you to do something I wanted you to do. You, as the reader, made the decision to continue reading. Here’s what a buildup and take-away approach would sound like in a sales situation. Let’s say a customer enters your lot looking for a wellkept used car. You happen to have a pristine used Toyota Camry on your lot: Salesperson: I’ve got something that might fit what you’re looking for, but you probably won’t like it. It’s a Toyota Camry. You know the customer would like to take a look — it’s exactly what they’ve been looking for. But instead of playing directly into the customer’s desires, you take it away. Had the salesperson responded to the customer with a statement like, “Well I have just the car for you,” chances are the customer would throw up defenses. Instead the customer will likely respond with something like this: Customer: “Actually, that sounds exactly like what I’ve been looking for. Can I see it?” Salesperson: “Are you sure you want to?” Customer: “Yes! I think it may be the one.” Salesperson: “OK. I’m curious, why do you think this may be the one?” The customer has engaged themselves in the thought of purchasing the vehicle before they’ve even seen it. Yet again, there is more to Pendulum than what I’m able to share here. If you are interested in more word tracks, role plays and explanations, please e-mail me at the address below with the subject line PENDULUM. I will send you a PDF copy of G&A’s Guide to Improving Sales Talent: Pendulum. Matt Baker is the vice president of sales for G&A Marketing. He can be contacted at 866.618.8248, or by e-mail at mbaker@autosuccessonline.com.


RichardWinch

marketing solution

ONLINE PIRACY:

The Hijacking of Your Dealership’s Trademarked Name, Inventory and Leads Most dealers aren’t aware of “online piracy,” a growing problem that’s the direct result of so many Web sites now duking it out for top search placement. In essence, online “piracy” is when a Web property embeds your trademarked name into their site’s metatags (or purchases your dealership’s name in PPC keyword buys). The upshot? When customers are specifically searching for you, they can muscle into your first-page “search turf.” Dealers need to pay as much attention to protecting their dealership’s online “turf” as fervently as they would their physical stores. After all, if you saw a billboard for your dealership that then directed people to your competitors, would you take action? Why Piracy is Booming

Online piracy is a crystal-clear indicator of how massive consumer search usage is today. Roughly nine in 10 car shoppers now use search engines, and 40 percent of all local auto searches specifically involve a dealership name — the “chum” online pirates feed on. Organic Search Piracy

The most common breed is organic search piracy, when Web sites embed your name(s) and inventory listings in their site’s metatags (they also use piratical link-building and microsite strategies), so that the everspidering search engines find them when a searcher is looking for you. We’ve tracked abuses from every kind of site imaginable: third-party, car-buying, rival dealer, OEM, technology, video, job, review sites, etc. Particularly costly are certain third-party sites (quasi-directories, “dealer-finders” or inventory aggregators) that are just using dealers’ names to generate leads. Clicking through to their landing pages, you’ll often see: “Get a quote from Dealer X (you),” with a form gathering detailed customer info. Often there’s an option to submit multiple leads to your local rivals! Consumers may think they’re submitting a lead directly to you, but these parasite pirate sites typically sell leads to the big lead providers, who can then sell them right back to you!

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Piracy Red Flags

It’s crucial to constantly know what comes up in search results when you perform searches of your dealership’s name. And it’s an eye-opener: you’ll quickly get a keen understanding of the huge traction review sites have on the first-page results (and why you must undertake an online reputation management strategy). You’ll have a realworld sense of how your SEO is performing — and it’s the first step in identifying potential piracy. • Search your name(s)/URL(s), reviewing listings coming up 10 pages deep. Click through to those that strike you as odd or unfamiliar. A page encouraging multiplelead submissions? An unfamiliar review site where seemingly only your negative reviews are posted? • If you identify a suspicious Web site, click the “View” tab at the top of your browser, and scroll down to “Page Source.” What comes up looks like an endless sea of gibberish, but this is the site’s meta tag coding. Wade through, searching for your name and the context it appears in. Because deciphering this coding is extremely difficult, gather the sites and have your Web site or SEO vendor, or an IT team member, help you understand usages. Basic Protection Tips

• Get your name(s) officially trademarked with the U.S. patent office (www.uspto. gov). It costs a little money, but it’s future leverage against trademark infringements. In the case of PPC infringements, Google will only remove the offending ad if your name is trademarked. • When you’re at one of these third-party sites asking you to fill out a lead for your dealership, do so from a personal e-mail. Alert your Internet department to watch for it coming into your CRM tool. Which lead source did it come from? Tell the provider to remove you from this site, so you’re not paying for leads you rightfully should have generated yourself. • If you’ve signed a contract with lead partners giving permission to use your name at affiliate sites (and you don’t want to be there), renegotiate your contract

stipulating you disallow that. • If you think you’ve uncovered an unauthorized Web site using your trademarked name for commercial gain, the best advice is to first take a direct, human approach. Contact the site and ask them to stop using your name. Many will comply with this straightforward approach, and if they don’t, you can escalate your dispute up to the cease-and-desist level. Take a Pro-Dealer & Pro-Consumer Stance

Consider this issue from an ethical angle. If you read some “insider” debates, you’ll hear arguments that relish enumerating the many fraudulent co-options of a dealer’s name, inventory (even reviews) where dealers “don’t have a legal leg to stand on.” Some SEO vendors will even gleefully advise SEO strategies to pirate your competitors’ names to gain an “unfair search advantage” — the “all’s fair in love and war” mindset. First, there are many types of piracy that dealers can legally take action against, and many sites that will honor your complaint even when the legality is fuzzy. For all those unethical, if possibly “legal,” instances of piracy, dealers should make their position heard. Do business with lead providers that don’t buy leads from pirates, or those that take action when you request they remove you from these sites. If you don’t value some of these ever-spawning dealer review sites listing you, ask to opt out. Too many businesses are now flirting dangerously with online strategies built upon in-authenticity and unethical manipulation — and it’s very bad for both consumers and dealers. Luckily, this short-term, grabbusiness-at-any-cost, cowboy approach typically backfires on the Web sites, dealers or SEO providers who practice them.

Richard Winch is CEO & Founder of eXtéresAUTO. He can be contacted at 866.476.4389, or by e-mail at rwinch@autosuccessonline.com.


MarkDubis

marketing solution

THE TOP TEN AUTO DEALER WEB SITE BLUNDERS 10. Putting a Link to the Manufacturer’s

Web site — You might as well walk your customers up the street to your competitor. Shoppers start their vehicle research on the OEM’s site and then filter down to the local dealership site. If you send them back to the OEM site, they will most certainly come across your competitor’s information in the directory and make a few phone calls to them too. Don’t link to third-party sites unless your dealership is featured on the linked pages and there are links back to your site. 9. Having a Video Automatically Start on

the Home Page — Many consumers “car shop” from work during the day, and having a loud introductory video start automatically is not only rude, but can be embarrassing for the site visitor discretely shopping the Web. It’s an instant way to make a bad impression. And often, the visitor can’t quickly find a way to turn it off; that really irritates them. If you want to feature a brief video on the home page, set it up so the visitor can simply click on it to view. Also, since they are already at your Web site, I advise not showing them your latest TV commercials. 8. Posting a Nagging Chat Box —Instant

messaging via a chat box is a great feature to have on a Web site. But when the box is large, intrusive and follows you everywhere, it quickly becomes annoying. Your chat box should appear, offer the visitor the opportunity to ask a question, and if in five seconds they do not pose a question in the chat box, it should disappear and a button should be at the top or bottom of the page which the user can click if and when they want to chat with you. 7. Making Your Home Page Look like a

Drugstore Window — Most dealer Web sites have way too much going on at their home page. When a visitor has too many choices and options, they will feel confused and leave. Dealer sites have about eight options on the top navigation bar and then about 17 suboptions under those eight navigation links. If I want to look at any inventory, I have six more

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buttons and filters I have to go through before I can see vehicles. 6. Reversing Type for Body Text on Web site — Many dealer Web sites and their Web site providers think it looks cool to have a black background and all the text in white. Yes, it looks cool for about three seconds. Then that white-on-black lettering starts hurting people’s eyes and they leave. Research has shown that sites featuring a majority of their text in reverse have a shorter length on their unique visits. Don’t take my word for this tip; go into your favorite bookstore and browse through any of the bestsellers and let me know how many of them have white type on a black page. It is okay to use reverse text in the navigation bar or in headlines, just NOT in the copy and descriptions of your vehicles. 5. Putting up Hurdles for Consumers to Contact You — If you have the chat feature on your site, visitors are more apt to ask a question. If they don’t feel comfortable using the chat window, make it easy for them to send you an e-mail. Do not require them to put in a phone number. Until they are sure they want to do business with you, they don’t want to get on the list of your BDC and get harassed with phone calls. Your contact form should just require a name and e-mail. 4. Putting a “Coming Soon” or a Dead Link — Do not have links on the navigation bar that take prospects to an empty page. Nothing irritates a visitor more than this. When they click on “special” or the “staff” link and see nothing, it shows you do not value the visitor’s time. Tell your Web company to not have those links appear unless content is populated on those pages. Same applies to your inventory. If you have a drop-down list of vehicles for sale, only show the manufacturers’ names of the ones you have in stock. If I click on “Hyundai,” I better see Hyundais for sale, instead of a page that says, “None available at this time.” 3. Using Tiny Text or Light Gray Color for the Copy — One of the biggest and fastest

growing segments on the Internet is people 55 years old and older. Guess what? Their eyesight is not as good as it was when they were 20. Make your default font 14 point, or implement one of those features where your visitors can adjust the text size themselves. Also, the trend for “cool” designers is to have all the text in light gray. This is hard to read so use a dark gray, black or other dark color for all body copy on the Web site. Navigation bar elements and headlines give you more flexibility for colors. 2. Not Checking Your Pages for Typos and Other Errors — Many Web sites have incorrect grammar, punctuation or incorrect information. Have numerous people proofread your pages and text to ensure accuracy. On a Web site I visited last week, I clicked on the “staff” page and up came placeholder photos. One employee showed up 13 times. Now it might be possible they have 13 employees named “Cliff Tate” or that he was part of a cloning experiment, but I doubt it. 1. Linking to Facebook or Twitter from your Home Page — Many dealerships spend an inordinate amount of money to drive traffic to their dealership Web sites. Why on God’s green earth would you want to send visitors away as soon as they get to your Web site? If you have a vendor or consultant that tells you that you can sell more cars on Facebook or Twitter than on your own Web site, then I strongly suggest you fire them.

Yes, you can have links to these sites, but not on your homepage. Social media is important and should be part of a marketing strategy, but put those links inside the site, on e-mails to prospects and customers, and on other marketing pieces. The goal is to have functionality on your site that helps convert visitors to customers. Facebook and Twitter will rarely do that for you. Mark Dubis is an automotive marketing strategist, writer, graphic designer, and one of the founders of Carfolks.com. He can be contacted at 866.402.6982, or by e-mail at mdubis@autosuccessonline.com.


888.396.5911

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TomMohr

sales & training solution

SELLING CARS IN THE POSTCONTROL WORLD The battle is over. The customer now controls the car-buying process, and it is up to the dealer to support, advise and encourage the customer along the way to the sale.

customer has shared her request with multiple dealers—he’s now on trial—and to do anything other than send a price quote response will imperil the deal and frustrate the customer.

Dealers must come to terms with three key realities of today’s digital ecosystem:

2. Speed is Key When a customer requests information from a dealer, she wants it quickly. Speed of price quote response has been shown to correlate highly to increased sales, especially when achieved within 10 minutes. Yet 25 percent of all leads don’t get answered at all, according to Cobalt, and the average response time on those that do is over five hours. Following up with a phone call within an hour is also key, but only 25 percent of all leads receive a call back.

1. Consumers Have Instant Access to the World’s Information Google-empowered consumers have access to all the data they need to make a purchase decision. Under the traditional view, the key is to hide information until the customer is in the dealer’s clutches. In the worst forms of this approach, the up is bagged, tagged and dragged through a Fargo-style sales process, “controlled” by the dealer at every step. The problem is that such an approach no longer works. The Internet customer will keep the dealer at arm’s length until the dealer has won her trust. To win that trust, she expects transparency. If a customer requests the price, the successful dealer understands that the

3. The Wisdom of Crowds is Accessible by All Consider the danger of the frustrated customer. She has powerful tools at her disposal to publicly vent that frustration, to the dealer’s great harm. In the Internet’s public square, ratings and reviews travel to every corner of the dealer’s market, propelled by Facebook and

Twitter, Yahoo and thousands of other sites. Through the Wisdom of Crowds a disaffected customer can profoundly impact a dealer’s business by essentially counter-advertising: alerting other prospective customers to the dealer’s poor business practices. This new digital reality has fundamentally changed the game. In this brave new world, dealer success rides on a well-built reputation, which rides on the favorable impression of past and current customers, which rides on the dealer’s ability to support and facilitate the customer’s car-buying process. In a very real sense, each deal is much more than just a deal. Yes, a car was either purchased or not. But under either scenario, a second dynamic is in play. Was the customer satisfied with the experience or not? On that, the dealer’s reputation — and his business future — hang.

Tom Mohr is the CEO of ResponseLogix. He can be contacted at 866.503.8322, or by e-mail at tmohr@autosuccessonline.com.

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leadership solution

THE DEATH OF THE TRADITIONAL DEALERSHIP Every year at the NADA Convention, the exhibit hall is full of CRM and BDC companies displaying their wares. Dealers spend massive amounts of money in a frenzy to buy the “magic button” CRM or BDC solution for many reasons. Unfortunately most of those reasons aren’t valid. Putting great tools in the hands of below-average people with below-average processes and little-to-no accountability equals a waste of money. Let’s look at some of the underlying reasons why dealers buy these tools. Dealers see their dealer friends, fellow 20 Group members and competitors buying these tools and feel the peer pressure to “keep up with the Jones’s.” Dealers start reading trade magazines and attending programs where a lot of the conversation is around customer relationship management and feel the force of momentum around this subject. Unfortunately, I have been in thousands of dealerships across the country and can say without a doubt that in the majority of dealerships, between 80 to 90 percent of their CRM’s or BDC’s functionality is not being used. Great technology and great tools alone do not move a traditional dealership into the new age of selling. In most dealerships with CRM tools, incremental sales and service numbers are not improved and massive amounts of money are being wasted. In almost 30 years in the business, I have witnessed the majority of dealerships putting massive amounts of time, energy and money on acquiring new customers and giving only lip service around the importance of existing customers. All research, data and plain logic shows that putting the emphasis on your existing customer base first will reward you more than any other single thing you can do. I conduct interviews with dealers every day, and it’s hard to find a dealer who actually knows what their dealership’s repeat sales numbers look like. Almost none of the dealers I interview can tell me what their sale-to-service retention percentage is. Very few dealers can give a detailed explanation of their CRM process and how it is carried out, and even to what degree it is carried out. Embarrassingly, very few dealers can tell me specifically and convincingly why a customer should buy from their dealership versus their competitors’. The traditional entrepreneurial dealer focused only on push-driven sales approaches is dead. Dealers have to be better business people

PART 3

MarkTewart

than ever before. Gone are the days of being successful in spite of you. The margin for ignorance and operating error is slim. Bury your old dealership and operating approach as you know it. Take the time to step away from your dealership and evaluate what you are doing versus what needs to be done. Evaluate the 4 P’s of your business – People, Process, Product and Positioning. Evaluate all the tools and technology you use and the effectiveness of those tools and the way they are being used or most likely not being used. You must integrate people and technology together into a cohesive sales and marketing process. Many dealers will need to come to the conclusion that they will never be able to set up a traditional process with people carrying out all the functions they want them to. Most of your salespeople and managers are not capable or willing to do all the things you want them to do. The truth for those dealerships is that they never have and they never will. If this is your dealership, you may have to let go of your ego and design a process with job descriptions that can actually succeed. You may decide to remove some of the traditional functions and narrow the focus of each person on your team. I have often heard dealers say, “I expect my managers or salespeople to do these things.” In return, I always ask the dealer, “Do they? And if so, how often?” Most of the time, the answer is either “no” or “very little.” It’s very clear — gone are the days where a dealer can accept that expectations are not being met. You must either improve your people and accountability of those people or completely redesign your dealership with processes and benchmarks that can and will be executed and monitored. I invite dealers to stop playing victim by blaming your people for not executing. You hired them, you set up the process and you created the accountability or lack of it. Therefore, it’s your responsibility and your job to fix it. For a free special report titled “10 Things You Must Do At Your Dealership To Be Successful” e-mail me at the address below with “10 Things” in the subject line. Mark Tewart is the president of Tewart Enterprises, and the author of the best seller, How To Be A Sales Superstar. He can be contacted at 866.429.6844, or by e mail e-mail at mtewart@autosuccessonline.com.

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SeanStapleton

marketing solution

12 CRM BEST PRACTICES HOW DOES YOUR DEALERSHIP MEASURE UP? In todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s competitive environment, you need every advantage possible. You canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t afford not to continually evaluate new technology enhancements for process advantages and the reduction the profit leaks. Look carefully at some of the best performing dealerships today. Do you realize they have several things in common? One thing is they have leveraged many of the recent advancements from industryleading CRM companies to provide new enhancements increasing their efficiencies. This level of functionality has never been available before. The CRM companies had to raise the bar; increase their functionality and accountability because dealers required more. Here are 12 best practices, collected from the automotive community, that you can use to evaluate your CRM ability to be successful in todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s market. 1. How well does the CRM integrate with your DMS? Can it push/pull real time? Does your CRM vendor have a certification with your current DMS provider? How secure is your data? How many vendors are pulling your data today? Remember, your data is one of your most valuable assets â&#x20AC;&#x201D; are you treating it that way? 2. Is your current CRM system â&#x20AC;&#x153;super user friendlyâ&#x20AC;? for all levels of the dealership, including Service? Overall ease of use can be the difference between success and failure. We all know one thing here: If itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not simple, it will not get used to the fullest. 3. Do you have inventory integration in your

CRM? Do you have access to your inventory? Can you see all the stores together including full details, pricing, pictures and more? It would be good to know what you are selling. 4. Do you have the latest ILM, CRM and Internet lead functions with advanced social networking support? Can you easily track, monitor and report on everything? Can you easily e-mail pictures and details about your inventory? Do you have e-mail read receipts that alerts your PDAs in real time? Do you have social media search links from customer dashboard? Why not?

5. Does your CRM help manage all aspects

6. What is your Mobile CRM situation?

Mobile everything is an absolute requirement. Honestly, this is one of the easiest and biggest changes you can make now to help in this new automotive environment. If you havenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t yet, you must go mobile as soon as possible. Responding to leads from a mobile device is a must have today. Just think about how much your response times affect your bottom line and you will realize how easy this decision is.

11. Dealer groups need to run enterprise

7. How is your CRM integration with your

a dedicated support team? Do they provide online training? Will they review your system usage and make â&#x20AC;&#x153;best practicesâ&#x20AC;? suggestions? How many customer updates did your CRM company release to support your changing needs last year?

12. How is your CRM support? Do you have

For some dealers, reading this list will assure them they are well prepared for this new retail automotive world. Others, however, will need to review their options, functionality, data integration and current vendors. How many profit leaks do you have after reviewing this list that you have not focused on yet?

8. Is your CRM integrated with your vehicle

valuations/book out today? Does it allow you to do trade appraisals, price inventory and apply changes easily to all of your marketing communication channels in real time? Does it dynamically build your inventory comments, with real-time incentives? Is it integrated into your inventory and sales process?

Why wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t you want to give your dealership or group the biggest competitive advantage possible? Moving to this new level of CRM functionality and accountability will absolutely provide you advantages designed for todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new opportunities and challenges.

9. How are your CRM reporting and

The new CRM advantages are in use now, are you prepared? Does your dealership have all of the most advanced CRM advantages possible?

measurement capabilities? Reporting must be simple to use, customizable and unlimited. Any way, any time, with a â&#x20AC;&#x153;set and forgetâ&#x20AC;? approach! You must have the ability to build your own custom reports. Reporting must include phone PBX integration â&#x20AC;&#x201D; you really need to track and measure all of the inbound and outbound phone calls possible.

If not, ask yourself why? Sean Stapleton is the CSO for VinSolutions. He can be contacted at 866.587.7629, or by e-mail at sstapleton@autosuccessonline.com.

10. How is your CRM with database marketing campaigns? You must to be able

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software. They have specific needs and if you run more than one store you need to have the ability to support the multiple store requirements. For example, centralized BDC / Internet department functions, dealer group reporting, and group wide customer and lead tracking, data hygiene filters (i.e. - duplicate customer alerts), etc.

desking? If you want the managers to use the CRM, it better have a good desking module, complete with a lot of options. It must be flexible and have full data integration to all of the critical dealerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s systems inventory, ILM, CRM, F&I and Service for maximum advantages. Good desking supports realtime incentives and duplicate lead alerts for enterprise users. It must pull in service ROs for follow up â&#x20AC;&#x201D; allowing you to evaluate customer value.

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to mine your database to the max. Can you easily market to unsold, sold, service customers, equity customers based on value, distance from your dealership, customer pay greater than X, OPT codes and OPT code decline? You get the point. You have gold in your data â&#x20AC;&#x201D; mine it.

for proper showroom traffic maximization? Can you track the activity in the showroom and perform unsold follow-up based on it? How easy is it really to use? Do you use it daily to drive your monthly sales goals?

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That’s a Billion Dollars in Gross Profit For Our Clients. (Yes, Billion with a “B”.) So what? Forget about the 15 years it took us to get to a Billion. Forget about the over 300,000 vehicles we’ve helped our clients sell. Forget our proven track record of over 10,000 events. Forget all that and ask yourself...

What does that mean to YOU? If you’ve never run a staffed event, or never run one with G&A, maybe it’s time to take another look. Our clients are already earning their next billion, we just thought you might want to join in.

Back by popular demand! Email “CUSHIONS” to mbaker@autosuccessonline.com for your FREE .pdf copy of G&A’s “Guide To Improving Sales Talent: Cushions, Deflections & Rescues” Please book early for remaining September and October events. Contact Matt Baker 1-800-688-1370 or mbaker@autosuccessonline.com to see if we might be a fit for your store.

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OUR MISSION: To be the industry’s best at leading dealerships to achieve maximum performance through marketing, training, consulting and motivation.


PeterBond

sales & training solution

90-DAY NO CREDIT CHECK FINANCING The automotive industry continues to be more challenging every day. Brand loyalty is at an all time low. If you are a Dodge dealer, your competitor is not just your surrounding Dodge dealers, it’s every dealer in your market. Brand loyalty was as high as 70 percent a few short years ago. Today it is around 30 percent. Manufactures are in an incentive war and people gravitate towards the best incentives offered at the time of purchase regardless of brand. August 2010 was the worst month in decades for new vehicle sales! We are in the midst of one of the longest recessions in memory and dealers are dealing with a much more informed buying public. Gone are the days of “easy financing” and credit approvals. A full 62 percent of people have one or more blemishes on their credit bureau. The good news is that some dealerships are setting records in

this challenging market. These dealers are innovative and think “outside the box.” One example to address the credit crunch is what is referred to as “90 day, no credit check financing.” There are a few recognized programs that provide such services. You must be very careful in selecting a resource for this type of service. I deal with a three billion dollar per year merchant services company that has been in business for 22 years. This service has been an impacting program. Dealers can make deals that otherwise could never be made! Service and parts departments have increased business more than 25 percent by doing business with people they wouldn’t otherwise have. Here is how the program works: A consumer who needs up to $5,000 can post date up to 20 checks over a 90-day period of time. The company charges a one-time $25 set-up

and charges a 12 percent service fee. The consumer who post-dates checks must have 15 percent available funds at the time of purchase. No single post-dated check can exceed $2,500. The dealer has no risk or liability if any post-dated check isn’t good. This is all done without ever performing a credit check. Also note, this is not a loan. It is a win-win. The consumer gets the vehicle they want because cash cures marginal credit, and the dealership makes a sale they wouldn’t otherwise sell or service. The consumer’s fees are less than normal credit card interest rates. Your competitors probably don’t have this advantage.

Peter Bond is the president of Automotive Resource Group. He can be contacted at 866.447.0238, or by e-mail at pbond@autosuccessonline.com.

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Do you want to be a part of one of the fastest growing software companies in the retail automotive market? vAutoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s pricing, appraisal, stocking and merchandising tools are an evolutionary step forward for used car departments. If you have strong retail automotive and/or technology solution provider experience in the dealership industry, then we want you to be part of our tremendous growth. Send resumes to: vautocareers@autosuccessonline.com. Learn more at www.vAuto.com. vAuto is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

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AutoSuccess August 2010