Page 1

Annually out of


-Went from 25 Units




95 Units online

-Internet Director PROMOTED to GSM

, Colorado ive Group, Denver ot m to Au aw Sh —Mike Shaw, Mike

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We have had a 16 percent gain in sales directly because of CallSource. We are now able to train sales people from the system and hold people accountable for sales calls. Wes Parker Covina Valley Kia


We Sell Fleets of Vehicles With 30 years of experience, IAA’s targeted marketing attracts buyers in 110 countries and promotes healthy competition through our live and live-online auction. Sell more vehicles, including those that have clear titles, are repossessed, have high mileage or are damaged. At IAA, we showcase every vehicle.

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

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increase floor traffic with strategic data-driven marketing


38 40 42

turning calls into categories saves time

instability of google+ local platform threatens compliance by dealers


time waits for no one


make way for the new tech in direct mail


killing the goose that lays the golden eggs

time is not on your service department’s side

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


outrun the bear


merchandising your virtual lot


three common causes for used vehicle inventory age issues DalePollak

16 20 22 24 JesseBiter

sound like you?

10 ChristianThornton

Brian Ankney, Account Manager

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

leadership solution

Dave Davis, Editor & Creative Strategist



marketing solution


are you ready to embrace change? JimmyVee & TravisMiller

secrets of the best automotive service consultants ChrisSaraceno

reconditioning: Knowing the Right Questions to Ask DennisMcGinn

the sixth profit center in your dealership for 2012 ChadSterling

are you an olympian? MarkTewart

generational trends: How to Sell Every Age Group JeffDoerrer

Spring forward or fall back? MarshBuice

26 34 37 46 JohnBrentlinger

closing the deal

08 10 18 28 32 36 44 SusanGivens

Thomas Williams, VP & Creative Director


Susan Givens, Publisher

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sales & training solution

closing the deal

A recent McKinsey consumer decision study found that up to 40 percent of consumers change their minds because of something they see, learn or do at the point of sale. In fact, more consumers hold off on making their final purchase decision until they are in the store. The McKinsey study also found that store interactions represent the most influential touch point during the closing stage of the sales process (accounting for 43 percent of effectiveness), closely followed by consumerdriven marketing activities, such as word of mouth/online research/reviews (31 percent). So, how can you enhance the in-store customer experience to maximize your close rates? The three keys are to provide consumers with the information, support and communication they want and need to make their decision. 1. Information

Customers gain a better understanding of a brand when they evaluate it in the dealership.


The McKinsey study found that the number of automotive brands a customer considers typically increases by more than 50 percent from their “initial consideration” to the “active evaluation” phase of the purchase process. This means that you need to reinforce your brand’s competitive edge once you have the customer in your store, not just present them with vehicle features. Show side-by-side comparisons that demonstrate your brand’s advantages. Make sure your sales consultants are equipped with accurate and current vehicle data so they can authoritatively answer any questions the customer has. 2. Support

There are many dealers who sell your make; let customers know why they should purchase from your store. If you have a store video or brochure, share it. A mobile device, such as a tablet, allows you do this from anywhere on your lot. Dealer-specific mobile apps can also help to build value and loyalty for your store, with features such as service reminders, car finder tools, flashlight, local gas prices and more. Give customers a reason to come back to the dealership and know there is after-sale support. 3. Communication

Incorporate multimedia into your sales process to more actively engage customers. Highdefinition photos and technology videos can help to “wow” customers and bring the vehicle’s features to life more vividly. You can even e-mail these photos and videos to create a lasting impression. Multimedia tools and technology also help your sales team look professional and cutting edge, setting a consistent tone with the online research your customers have likely done. “We equipped our sales team with iPads that have instant access to vehicle information, process tools and other resources, creating a more consultative relationship with customers,” said Cesar Chavez, GSM at Oakbrook Toyota. “This has upped our game by helping us to better serve our customers’ needs during the critical in-store selling process.” “The customer experience has always been important,” said Jim Hughes, principal of IntellaCar, the iPad selling system used by Oakbrook Toyota, “But given today’s explosion of information, media and vehicle choices, dealers need to focus their efforts on the in-store strategies that elevate the experience and have the most power to close the sale.” Susan Givens is the publisher of AutoSuccess. She can be contacted at 877.818.6620, or by e-mail at

podcast interviewee

Manufacturers spend billions of dollars each year driving customers into dealerships. However, with an increasingly complex consumer decision-making process, traditional marketing and sales methods are no longer as effective as they used to be. Today’s customers will consider more brands and shop at more dealerships than ever before prior to making their final purchase decision. The opportunity for dealers lies in effectively differentiating their brand and their dealership during the instore customer experience.

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Week of July 28 Chevy - MI Kia - VT Chevy - CAN Honda - OH Indep - SD Subaru - WA Indep - IN

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20 26 35 64 13 48 31

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Week of August 4 Toyota - IN Kia - ME

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spring forward or fall back? In many parts of the country, it’s been a scorching hot summer, but as temperatures heated up, so did the auto industry. Fewer days of clocking 12 hours of labor and not a single car sold to show for your team’s efforts, banks are loosening their noose of credit requirements and releasing their stronghold of LTV restrictions and more qualified buyers — not just “bottom feeders” — are turning into our lots. All of these are signs of a promising future to our once-bleak auto industry. As the industry begins to move from a stage of survival to one of growth, where do you stand? Will you be one who is willing to spring forward and merge into an industry that is rapidly changing, or will you be one of those unfortunate souls who instead decides to fall back, remembering the yesterdays destined to be penned in another chapter of the industry’s version of Tim LaHaye’s novel series, Left Behind? Make Every Day a Recession

Og Mandino wrote, “Never neglect the little things. Never skimp on that extra effort; that additional few minutes, that soft word of praise or thanks; that delivery of the very best that you can do. It does not matter what others think is of prime importance, however, what you think about you. You can never do your best, which should always be your trademark, if you’re cutting corners and shirking responsibilities…never neglect the little things.” Recessions have a way of exposing your flaws as well as testing your strengths to the very brink of a meltdown. It’s during these difficult times you make advantages out of adversities and instill fundamentals to eradicate your flaws. Make each day a reset-tion; each day you have the unique chance to begin again. Learn to appreciate the victories — no matter the size — and never forget those who helped you along the way. Also, vow never again to be casual in the details, for they’ll lead to casualties. Remember: The devil is always in the details. Less Bang, More Bling

Vehicles are rapidly becoming more and more advanced; manufactures are spending historic lows per vehicle in rebates and incentives and, thanks to the Internet, consumers now have access to everything — from cupholders to cost — about your vehicle. Gone are the “Buy a truck, get a hatchback free” ad campaigns. The “Shock and Awe” factors of mammoth

As the industry begins to move from a stage of survival to one of growth, where do you stand? Will you be one who is willing to spring forward and merge into an industry that is rapidly changing...

rebates are gone. As sales consultants, we no longer have the ability to satiate a consumer’s appetite with huge rebates; we have to return to basics and go back to selling the advantages our product has over those of our competitors. Consumers don’t need to know everything you know, but it is imperative you know everything they need. You wouldn’t dream of a stranger knowing more about your child than you do; conversely, a consumer should never know more about the product than the salesperson. You Say You Want a Revolution

Marketing genius Seth Godin put it best when he stated we are no longer in the industrial age, but instead in the connection age. With the explosion of Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and hosts of other social media, people want to be connected. No matter what others say, our business will always be relational. We must no longer defend the old paradigms with decrees of, “That’s the way we used to do it,” but instead embrace the change and tweak the advances to become advantageous to our industry. We demand the manufactures change models and make it mandatory salespeople educate themselves with product knowledge, yet collectively as an industry we are still donning bellbottoms and platform shoes. Like it, love it or leave it, we have to change with the times. As an industry, we’ve had a reprieve and a chance to rehabilitate; each of us have the unique opportunity to reset, go back to the starting line and try again. Although we all start the same, our finishes will be diverse. Some will spring forward, the rest will fall back; I’ll see you at the finish line on the blacktop.

Marsh Buice is the sales manager of Mark Dodge,Chrysler, Jeep. He can be contacted at 866.535.5006, or by e-mail at

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AutoSuccess would like to congratulate Alan Vines Automotive for their profound success in their Internet sales department. They deliver more units out of their Internet sales department than the average dealership sells out of their entire store. Alan Vines Automotive didn’t accomplish this astounding success with an army of staff, by being located in a major city or selling Toyota, Honda, Ford or GM. Their team is made up of a young Internet director, a total team of five appointment setters and an “IT guy.” They are a Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Hyundai dealership in Jackson, Tennessee. Furthermore, Internet Sales Director Durran Cage was just promoted recently to general sales manager. Dealer Principal Alan Vines felt that if a person can take an Internet sales Department delivering 25 units per month online to 95 units per month online in


AutoSuccess: Durran, please describe how you got started in car sales in general, and on Internet sales in particular. Durran Cage: I got started in car sales when I was 17 years old right

out of high school in Albuquerque, New Mexico at Zangara Dodge. My best friend was the owner’s son, so he allowed us to work there right after school and in the summer while attending college. Ken Zangara was an owner who came from nothing; he started off just selling cars and eventually worked his way up to owning a dealership. The dream he had eventually became my dream. While attending college, I worked at Circuit City selling TVs, coached high school basketball and sold cars whenever I had a break from school or during the summer. After I graduated college with a degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting, the owner of Zangara Dodge passed my information to the district sales manager of Chrysler because they were recruiting college grads to work in the field. I joined Chrysler as a district sales manager in August 2007. My region with Chrysler was located in Memphis, Tennessee and surrounding areas. At this position, I was given the opportunity to travel to numerous dealerships to assist them with marketing, inventory and training personnel. I was continually studying the importance of Internet sales in the automotive industry, and I tried to implement what I was reading in AutoSuccess and other magazines into the dealerships that I worked with. None were interested, with the exception of one, which is the store that I am working for now, Alan Vines Automotive. I was presented with an offer to grow an Internet department in Jackson, Tennessee, in which there was a strong lack of Internet sales and marketing.

AS: Describe the dealership’s Internet department, and how it has changed over the last 12 months. DC: Our dealership’s Internet department is composed of an Internet

director, assistant Internet director, and five Internet sales coordinators. In the beginning of the Internet department, it was an Internet director, an Internet coordinator, and two salespeople. We didn’t have much training or a follow-up system. We just simply worked a customer once or twice, and then moved on to the next one. Under our new structure and working with Dealer Synergy, we had an Internet director whose job is to focus on the 4 P’s: people, process, products and promotions. The Internet director makes sure that is everything is flowing properly from the ground up — from managing appointments to managing coordinators, the phone process, training, Website, inventory, etc. The

assistant is responsible for assisting the Internet director with reports and holding coordinators accountable to daily production. The Internet sales coordinator’s responsibilities are simple: Sell the appointment, follow the process, and T.O. the call when they can’t move to the next step. The Internet coordinator sets the appointment for the sales manager of that department (i.e used, Dodge, Hyundai) and the Internet director is responsible for confirming appointments. Once the sales manager greets the customer, it is then turned over to the appropriate product specialist who is qualified to handle the customer. This process synergizes the entire store to work together. AS: How long did it take you to go from 25 units online to 95 units online per month? DC: Four to five months. To be specific, it took about one year for me

to get the department from eight units to approximately 25 units per month. But, the massive jump from 25 units to 95 units came quickly; after we hired Dealer Synergy and they helped create and execute our new Internet sales business model, it took about four to five months. It was like turning on a faucet or a fire hose.

AS: How were you perceived or “received” by the dealership — specifically the managers and sales team — when you first started the initiative? DC: About how you would expect a “young” kid in Jackson, Tennessee

on a showroom floor would be perceived — more like a novelty. There wasn’t much validity or credibility in the title of “Internet sales manager.” In the beginning, the Internet was perceived as a necessary evil. And since there wasn’t much or profound success, “it was what it was.” AS: What were some of your challenges or frustrations back then? DC: There were many, but the most significant were:

• We didn’t have information, training, a road map or a direction. Yes, I had a college degree; yes, I was a successful Chrysler OEM rep; yes, I was a certified product specialist for my franchises; and yes, I went to all of the “free” training seminars from my vendors like Dealix, AutoUSA, and None of that, though, gave me any real substance or direction on how to create a multi-million dollar Internet sales department from scratch. None of it prepared me for how to manage a team of appointment setters

less than a year, that person should be running his entire dealership. AutoSuccess recently interviewed Durran Cage, as well as Sean V. Bradley and Karen Bradley, co-owners of Dealer Synergy, the training, consulting and digital marketing company that helped create the infrastructure for Alan Vines Automotive’s Internet sales department. The company also assisted in the process of consulting, recruiting, hiring, training, marketing and, most importantly, provides ongoing monthly support and reinforcement training for Durran and his team. This is important because Alan Vines Automotive’s profound success wasn’t an anomaly, a “freak” occurrence or just luck. It was predicted, projected, premeditated, planned, created, cultivated and perfected. It was a direct result of two things: a proven business model (beginning “with the end in mind”) and the “right” people in place following the plan without “Frankensteining” it.

• •

• •

and sales consultants. None of it prepared me on how to sell 95 units per month online. None of it prepared me on what reports to run, how to analyze them or how to create strategies for evolution of my department. There was a lack of communication between the departments. Showroom, Internet, sales consultants, managers, owner… all on different pages and sometimes it felt from different books. We had technology issues. For example, we had multiple tools that were cumbersome and redundant. We had Autobase and Imagic Labs, which drove us crazy having to duplicate efforts and not have true “integration.” So, we eventually dropped those vendors and opted for one new CRM. There was a lack of management support. At first, I wasn’t given prices or had the ability to work deals. I was more of a “figurehead” manager than a “real” manager. We had the worst people in the department. Specifically, if a salesperson was a failure on the showroom floor, we gave them “a shot” in the Internet department before we fired them. This is obviously one of the worst things that we could have done.

AS: How and why did you choose Dealer Synergy to help you take your Internet department to the next level? DC: Alan Vines, the dealer principal, recognized that we were at a point

of diminishing return. We had taken it as far as we could take it with no direction, no real business model, no training and no support. So, he asked me to thoroughly research all options for a consulting and training company. That is exactly what I did. I started by Googling “Automotive Internet sales,” “Automotive Internet Trainer,” etc…. Everywhere I went, there was Sean V. Bradley and Dealer Synergy.

AS: So, What exactly did Dealer Synergy do? What was their “plan”? Sean V. Bradley: We conducted a full-blown “Strengths,

Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threat” (SWOT) assessment based on the dealership’s “4 P’s: 1. Products — Making sure that the dealership has all tools, resources and products it is going to need — set up the right way with the right strategy— to be successful in the department, including: Website, ILM/CRM, call monitoring, inventory, pricing analytics, live chat, computers, (desktop, iPads, etc.), phones, headsets and video cameras. 2. People — It’s essential to have the right people in place, and the

right number of people. You also have to have proper pay plans set up, the proper chain of command, the right schedule and the proper employee profile. With these pieces in place, you’ve got to set up a plan for time management, organization, goal planning and accountability, and then you’ve got to have training, coaching, self education and motivational plans in motion.

3. Process — What to do, when to do it, how to do it and why you

are doing it. This includes areas such as: inbound and outbound

phone call processes, outbound e-mail processes, automated e-mail action plans, overall follow-up processes and engagement processes. You also need processes in place for qualification (how to qualify and identify wants, wishes and expectations), and objections, expectations and rebuttals. You’ve got to be able to answer the question “Why buy from us?” (your value package proposition), how to handle price shoppers and be able to answer all “What Ifs” (“What if this happens?” “What if that happens?”) 4. Promotions — You’ve got to drive traffic — you need opportunities

to do business. As per JD Power and Associates: a. You have a six percent OEM closing ratio. b. You have an eight percent third-party provider closing ratio (But more than 72 percent of the traffic you get from third-party providers originates from search engines). c. You have a 14 to 16 percent closing ratio from leads generated from your Website or from search engine optimization.

It makes the most sense to drive traffic to a dealer’s Website or through search engine optimization. That is the highest quality, highest grossing and highest closing lead. Karen Bradley: Our main focus at Dealer Synergy is consulting and training; however, we have a full-blown digital marketing arm of our company in house. We are able to go into any dealership in any part of the United States and either build an Internet sales or business development department from scratch, or fix a broken or under performing department. We are also capable of taking a successful department to a whole new level.

Once we met with Alan Vines Automotive, the first part of the Dealer Synergy process was to evaluate every aspect of their current initiative, situation and department using the “4 P’s” guidelines. After we completed the initial assessment and we were able to identify exactly where the dealership was at and where they stood, the next part of the process was to find out exactly how many units they wanted to sell. We do not just try to do as best as we can; we literally start with an exact number of incremental units the client wants to deliver per month, and then exactly map out the business model. Specifically, with Alan Vines, their initial goal was to sell 70 units out of their Internet department. Based on a modest estimate (we want to under promise and over deliver), we will use a 10 percent closing ratio. So, if they want to deliver 70 units, they will need 700 leads. Now, if we are going to have 700 fresh leads per month, plus the residual flow factor (carry-over leads from previous months), we are going to need at least five or six Internet sales coordinators setting appointments. That is about 120 to 130 fresh leads per appointment setter. The appointment setters were given a “non-negotiable” work plan: • Between Internet leads and incoming sales calls, they need to make or take 120 calls per day. • They have to have a minimum of an 11 to 14 percent connection ratio, meaning they must connect with 14 to 17 people per day. • They need to convert 25 to 33 percent into appointments, meaning four to six appointments per day. • Five appointments per day times five working days equals 25 appointments per week, or 100 appointments per month. • Of this, approximately 50 percent will show, or 50 people.

• From these 50 customers, the dealership will deliver approximately 18 to 20 units per appointment setter, which works out to approximately 90 deliveries a month, for huge ROI on every level. SB: Once the “roadmap” was created, we had to assist in the recruiting, screening and recommendation for hiring the additional appointment setters that were needed. AS: What was the training program like that Dealer Synergy put you through? DC: It was crazy. They have different levels of training. The initial

training starts before the trainers even step foot into the dealership. It took several weeks getting everything prepared, getting all of the “4 P’s” in order. Dealer Synergy doesn’t come out to dealership unless everything is in order; it is a waste of time and money to do it any other way. We spent a lot of time on conference calls and GoToMeeting conferences. That was the first training, because we learned so much about how to set things up properly and the psychology of the process. After that, they spent a week onsite covering everything you can imagine, such as, the overall process (what to do, when to do it, how to do it and why to do it), how to escalate the e-mail to the phone call to the appointment to the sale, handling inbound and outbound phone calls and e-mails, properly qualifying a prospect, handling objections and expectations and how to implement rebuttals and pricing concerns. What was powerful was not just the content but the delivery. Dealer Synergy had powerful exercises, role plays and break-out sessions. They also mystery shopped our competition, but the most powerful thing was to have them jump on the phones and make real calls and real appointments in real time with our prospects.

• Quarterly onsite re-enforcement trainings AS: What are the most powerful nuggets of training that you learned over this whole process? DC: Couple of things: First, I loved the FranklinCovey “7 Habits of

Highly Effective People” strategy and philosophy. I first learned it from a session at my Internet Sales 20 Group. I was so inspired that I had Mr. Vines get Sean and Karen to train our entire management team at our dealership. So, I went through the FranklinCovey course twice. It changed my life both professionally and personally. The second “Ah Ha” moment was with the Dealer Synergy “3 Minute” books. Sean would constantly go over certain metrics and ask me if I was using the “3 minute” books. At first I didn’t; it just didn’t seem worth it. But after hearing Sean grind me for a couple of months, I finally caved in and actually used them. It was night and day difference for accountability, transparency and projecting. I can honestly say that is one of the things that helped us become more successful.

AS: What do you want everyone reading this interview to know? DC: It takes a long time to be an overnight success. Seriously, I want

them to know that I have the most amazing team you can imagine. I owe all my success to my team. If it wasn’t for them, I couldn’t have done it. I was blessed to have an amazing assistant director, Tyler Stephens (I call him the young Lebron James). He was such an asset for me. I was able to confidently have him handle certain tasks, which let me focus on scaling the department. Mr. Vines believed in me from the very start and not once since day one did he say “no” to anything or in any way hold me back from building this department. I could not have been able to do what I did without the support of my dealer.

AS: What other forms of education would you credit to your success? DC: Hands down, being a part of Dealer Synergy’s Internet Sales 20

Group. Most dealer principals and GMs are in traditional NADA or NCM 20 Groups for a reason. So, when the opportunity came about for me to join the Internet Sales 20 Group, I jumped at it. It is one thing to think you are doing a good job, and another to truly see where you not only stand, but where you stand with other dealers who are focused on the same success you are trying to achieve or maintain. I have met so many other dealers, GMs and Internet directors from being a part of this 20 Group. I have developed my own personal network that I can synergize with, brainstorm with, bounce ideas off of and, most importantly, gauge my dealership over the benchmark my 20 group sets. AS: What is the most important value of Dealer Synergy to you and your dealership? DC: That’s a hard one; they have helped us in many ways, both with

the set up and implementation. I would have to say, though, that the monthly support is by far the most important and valuable service. That is the glue that keeps everything together. They do a tremendous amount on a monthly basis, such as: • Provide unlimited access to their trainers and consultants via the phone, video GoToMeetings, e-mail and social media • Weekly mystery shopping and call monitoring with graded report cards and attached MP3s • Weekly phone coaching and phone training, which has taken our teams’ phone skills to a whole new level • Monthly SWOT analysis of the department • CRM SWOTS • Monthly Internet director strategy sessions

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

If you want to see the video interview with Durran Cage, you can go to Or, if you have any questions about how Alan Vines Automotive became so successful online or if you would like a free strategy session, contact Sean V. Bradley at the information provided.


marketing solution

time is not on your service department’s side

Enter the Under-35 Demographic

Today’s consumers expect instantaneous response. Growing up on a steady diet of Expedia, WebMD and Fandango, this generation doesn’t want to wait an hour for a response or to book an appointment, much less a day. They need to be able to schedule their appointments when it works for them, whether it’s 4 p.m. or 4 a.m., and in the manner that is most convenient for them. In other words, they don’t want to call anyone to schedule anything; they want to do it all online and without any hassles. Of course, with most other industries, the ability to schedule something on the consumer’s terms is a given. According to Consumer Reports, in 2011 more than 70 percent of airline passengers booked their own flights online directly via the airlines’ Websites — at times convenient to them. Online Scheduling is Essential

But it’s not just the Millennials demanding a change in the way consumers buy things or book appointments; consumers of all ages are

demanding the convenience and flexibility of online scheduling. They’re becoming accustomed to going online and ordering up anything and everything they need — from $10 books to $100 hotel rooms to $1,000 dollar airline tickets. The question for you is this: If consumers are willing to book a $3,000 cruise online without assistance, why doesn’t every dealer provide the same ability to schedule a simple oil change? While yesterday’s consumer might have avoided your service drive because of pricing perceptions, today’s consumer is bypassing your dealership’s service department out of convenience. They are simply not willing to call your team and hope for a convenient appointment (and that’s if they get through to a service advisor on the first call). The time for change is now. If dealership service departments continue to insist potential customers call during pre-determined hours and leave a message, they will continue to lose business to the independent shops and the Pep Boys of the world who’ve made it convenient for customers to book a simple service appointment. Period.

Given the trends that show consumers are both keeping their vehicles longer, and that the longer they keep them, the less likely they are to service with you, I put together a few tips to help your service team stem the tide of lost repair business: • If you don’t currently offer a way for consumers to schedule an appointment online, get one. There are several robust solutions in the market that allow for online scheduling. • Many of today’s consumers don’t know what’s wrong with their vehicle. Ensure you offer them an option for “check engine light illuminated” or simply “I don’t know.” • Show all available times for open service appointments online so the consumer can select from the times that work best for them — not just times a particular advisor is working • Ensure that the software your department uses schedules for the entire shop’s capacity, not just individual advisor openings. This balances your day based on repair bays and technicians, not just advisor work schedules. • Increase service frequency and upsell opportunities by setting reminders and automated e-mails that coincide with manufacturer’s maintenance schedules and special offers. Help increase your CSI by making it easy for customers to schedule appointments, sending courtesy reminders and by keeping your advisors less harried during the day with calls. While your service department may have a long way to go to keep online consumers on their side, with many of today’s scheduling and booking options, you can catch up quickly. Jesse Biter is co-founder of Dealers United. He can be contacted at 866.239.4049, or by e-mail at

You spend a lot of time and money generating new leads. PCG Consulting works with your BDC and Internet departments to make sure you convert a higher percentage of leads into sales.



podcast interviewee

Regardless of what the famous song states, time is not on your service department’s side. Time, you see, is the enemy when it comes to holding onto your service customers as their vehicles age. In fact, recent studies show if a consumer keeps their car longer than three years, there is a better-than-average chance that your dealership will lose that customer to an independent shop. It leads industry influencers to question why the business is so easily given to another? Where does the loyalty go?

VIDEO DRIVES MORE BUSINESS, FOR LESS Online video ads decidedly draw more traffic than static ads because they combine the power of television’s sight, sound and motion with the power of search engines’ ability to speak directly to consumers who want to buy or service a vehicle now. These high impact videos are extremely effective as they stand out amongst the myriad of text ads, influencing consumers in a way that the written word cannot.

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sales & training solution

are you an

olympian? Did you watch the Olympics or hear news reports from the games? The Olympics are always fascinating for two reasons: The performances are amazing, and the back stories for each and every Olympian are just as amazing, if not more so. My question for you is, are you an Olympian? One definition of an Olympian, of course, is someone who competes in the games. Other parts of the definition can be: • Majestic in manner • Superior to mundane affairs • Surpassing all others in scope and effect If you are great at what you do, you are truly majestic. If you are great at what you do, you are definitely superior to mundane affairs, and you will surpass all others in scope and effect. If you are producing great results, you are an Olympian; if not, it is simply a choice to be so if you choose.

getting results or cannot get results. You will also hear people make excuses as to why others are having those results when they are not. The key word is excuses. Whenever you hear an Olympian interviewed, you often hear the same components. First, they set a goal. Next, they began a course of intense action that involved extraordinary planning, practice, coaching, mental preparation, persistence, perseverance and adjustment to set-backs. You often hear of breakthroughs that come through tragic conditions. You can be an Olympian at anything you choose if you are willing to set a strong goal and create Olympian habits. Listen to the stories that are told about the athletes. They all get up early every day and follow a habitual course of intense training. The athletes are continually seeking advanced coaching, where

Often, through fear-based and limited thinking, people make excuses for their lack of performance by saying why they are not

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When you watch a swimming event and examine the time difference between the firstand third-place finisher, it can be shocking how close they are. If you watch a volleyball match, you can see a long, grueling match often come down to one play. Watch a judo competition and you may see the winner get their result from one perfectly executed maneuver. In all of these examples, the difference between winning and losing can be slight. In business, if you were to put forth the effort demonstrated by the Olympic athletes, you will always win in the long run. You cannot be denied — it is as absolute as turning on a light. Would you do what it takes habitually if you knew you could not fail? So, go do it. Be an Olympian. If you would like my free Special Report “Ten Things You Can Do to Become an Olympian,” e-mail me at the link below with the “Olympian” 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 at

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massive gains can sometimes come from slight adjustments. The athletes are always seeking even one slight change that can make a difference. Every single athlete can describe conditions of self-doubt, or times where their will seems to be lacking, but they persevere and can see what has come from their persistence.

podcast interviewee



marketing solution

merchandising your virtual lot

When dealers display their inventory on the lot, it is a reflection of their values. If the vehicles are well presented, clean and of good title, they will attract shoppers who reflect those values.

Merchandising vehicles online is no different. The way vehicles are presented on a Website reflects the dealership’s brand and values. Good presentation and good inventory imply a good buying experience.
 However, a great disparity exists today between what we present to customers on the physical lot compared to what we present on the virtual lot. We spend the time and effort to beautify our inventory for the person who sets foot on our lot, but most consumers make up their minds before they ever arrive. Lot visits per car buyer are now at an average of 1.4 per transaction, yet a 2011 study conducted by Google found that car shoppers touch 18.2 sources before making a purchase. If most car shoppers perform their research online and make their purchase decision before they ever set foot on a lot, why are we not putting our best inventory foot forward where it really counts: online? In other words, most dealers are losing the Zero Moment of Truth with their inventory and leaving money on the table — and they will never even know it. What our studies have shown, based on empirical data, is that used vehicles properly merchandized, and all other attributes being equal (price, mileage, trim, etc.) require up to 30 percent fewer page views before they are sold, and increase consumer engagement by up to 50 percent. What this means is that unit carrying costs decrease, while turn rate, conversion rates and sales increase per unique Web visitor — meaning that your Website



works harder for you without any additional digital spend.

Looking at things conversely, all things being equal, dealers without a comprehensive digital merchandising process will need to bring more visitors to their Website to sell the same number of vehicles as a dealer with a comprehensive process, and so are competing at a disadvantage. All of these benefits result from following a straightforward process that should be baked into the digital vehicle merchandising process, just like shopping a vehicle for retail. At this point, you should be asking yourself, “Do we even have a digital merchandising process?” Your solution is simple: mobile apps tied to a Web platform with native inventory integration.

...a great disparity exists today between what we present to “customers on the physical lot compared to what we present

on the virtual lot. We spend the time and effort to beautify our inventory for the person who sets foot on our lot, but most consumers make up their minds before they ever arrive.

With the right mobile software, dealers are now able to get their fresh trades or auction purchases online faster and easier than ever before. The same extends to new inventory, as the most progressive stores are leveraging mobile solutions to take photos of new cars. Whether new or used, inventory with critical option information shifts the conversation from price to value. Consumers want more information and better photos on vehicle search results pages — a recent consumer panel conducted by the Boston Globe confirmed it. Give your customers package information before they even click through to the detail pages and you lower the risk of losing them to another site. By placing cars on your site faster, with richer data than ever before, you’re almost home. But, to take full advantage of your improved digital merchandising process, Google needs to find your vehicles easily and serve them up in search results more often. Most dealerships stumble at this point, hindered by third-party integration or outdated site architecture. Equipped with a next-generation Web platform that seamlessly integrates optimized inventory with mobile apps and critical option information, dealers get more written leads, phone calls and walk-ins. Your inventory turns faster and your gross profits increase. Revolutionize your digital vehicle merchandising process. E-mail me at the address below for a free inventory report card from our Google Certified Experts to see how you rank in your market. Charlie Bass is Vice President of Sales for String Automotive, Inc. He can be contacted at 866.383.7481, or by e-mail at

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marketing solution

make way for the new

tech in direct mail Direct mail is the No. 1 way to drive tons of traffic to your dealership. Most dealerships have had the experience of finishing a month strong after a slow start with a successful direct mail sale. For years, key mailers dominated the world of direct mail attachments. Tens of millions of keys landed in mailboxes from coast to coast. Customers were excited to see a key attached to a card or feel it through an envelope. Then came push button keys, credit cards and scratch offs. All have driven flocks of customers to showrooms around the country. Each was tremendously successful at first, and customers flooded dealerships and drove home in new vehicles. Slowly,

however, the effectiveness of each slipped away as customers became accustomed to them. Today, interactive mailer attachments are changing the game again. Electronic, interactive direct mail attachments engage customers right away. Just as with other new ideas, customers are drawn to the attachment because it is new and they have not seen it before. Next comes the interactive part of the initial engagement. The customer completes an action that reveals their personal number, code or any piece of information electronically with a LED display. It illuminates and engages. The customer is compelled by interaction with the mailer attachment to believe that they are more likely to have won a large prize. It’s that simple. More customers will visit the dealership because more customers believe that they are a winner and are drawn to learn their prize. A person who is in the market for a new vehicle is far more likely to visit this dealership during the sale to find out what they have won. Response rates increase and sales increase. With many of the new attachments, the customer experience at the dealership is controlled, as well. When the customer arrives at the dealership with their “winning” direct mail attachment, they are directed to a kiosk or scanner. At this point they learn the prize they have won. By scanning the attachment, the dealership is notified who this customer standing in the showroom is and how likely they are to buy a car. By accessing data like the Comprehensive Consumer Report, you can instantly know this customer’s approximate income, the last 10 years of vehicle registration, credit worthiness and more. Sales managers can receive e-mails or text messages and determine which salesperson to send over. How nice would it be to know you have an eager, qualified buyer in the showroom so you can send your best salesperson over to be sure you deliver a vehicle sale? Now dealerships have the power to maximize every opportunity like never before. What excited yesterday’s customers can have little to no effect with today’s buyers. By keeping your ideas fresh and exciting, you can engage the customer of today in a fun, exciting way, and at the same time use cutting-edge technology to tailor your sales process to those who come through the door. Rusty Donohoo is the president of Wilkin Marketing. He can be contacted at 866.384.3856, or by e-mail at


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Village Automotive Group

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marketing solution

instability of google+ local platform threatens compliance by dealers

It has happened again. Without notice, dealers woke up in August 2012 to yet another painful experience with their Google+ Local listings, formerly known as Google Places. Dozens of dealers contacted me to report that the review counts on their Google+ Local business page had been significantly reduced without warning or explanation. This is not the first time that dealers have been frustrated with the Google+ Local listings. Earlier this year, a Google update, in coordination with OEM-provided data, corrupted dealer listings and, in some cases, created duplicate listings. Dealers were outraged that their hard work was so easily trashed by Google’s failed attempt to add only dealers who were missing from the Google business listings. As an early champion of educating dealers on the visibility and importance of online reviews, when Google’s platform goes haywire I often am the first to hear about it. Dealers who have embraced online reviews to create a positive online CSI score using sites like Google+ Local, Yelp, Presto Reviews and DealerRater. com are losing patience with the instability of Google’s platform. When Google+ Local business pages have structural problems, like those outlined above, I empathize with dealers’ desperate pleas for help because they can’t call a Google customer support representative. The only way that dealers can get help when problems appear on their Google+ Local listing is to submit an online trouble ticket (the form can be found at Google promises a response in five to seven business days. Is Google In Over Their Head?

It is clear that Google is struggling with supporting their decision to enter into the online yellow pages business, which was recently supersized with Zagat-styled reviews. Google’s initial response via e-mail to me was that their spam filter system was eliminating suspicious reviews. Two examples given: reviews that were posted from foreign


countries, like Russia, or the same Gmail account posting reviews on seven different dealer listings in the same day.

What Google failed to acknowledge was that, for the hundreds of dealer rooftops impacted, these two scenarios do not explain the devastating loss of reviews seen by upstanding dealers. In fact, I personally know many of the stores impacted, and there is no way that 70 to 90 percent of their reviews were spam. It appears that once again, Google implemented a software change that was not thoroughly tested. In this case, the new algorithm is too strict in how it evaluates the quality of reviews. Google Needs To Move To A Paid Support Model

Google cannot afford to lose the confidence of the business community, which is directly affected every day from inaccurate Google+ Local business listings. The loss of reviews is not the only problem that frustrates dealers. Other issues include duplicate listings, wrong map markers and photos appearing on the Google+ Local listing page that they did not authorize. The solution? Google should offer a paid customer service model for Google+ Local business pages. Dealers would easily pay a monthly fee to be able to call a Google+ Local expert and get answers. This is not unrealistic. Yelp offers a monthly subscription premium business listing service that includes direct telephone support. Google must provide a call center solution if they want the full support of the business community. Right now, the reputation of the Google+ Local platform is sinking fast. Google+ Local Pages Too Visible To Ignore

Google+ Local business pages appear on Google Page One search results thousands of times a month for car dealers. Reviews influence online shoppers who have a choice where to purchase a vehicle. If two same-brand dealers are in the market and one has five positive reviews and the other has 75 positive reviews, the latter has a much better chance of winning that business. So, you can imagine the frustration of dealers who have worked for six to 12 months to get their review counts over 100 and then wake up on a sunny August morning to see that they now have only seven reviews, and the ones that were left are mostly negative. If any Google executive is reading this article, stop treating Google+ Local as if it is not a businesscritical advertising platform. It is very important to car dealers, and they are ready and willing to pay for a stable product that allows them to market their business online and provide a forum for customers to post their reviews. Develop a funding model that is a win-win for everyone. Join The Campaign For Change

Dealers, if you would be willing to subscribe to a paid support model for Google+ Local business pages, send me an e-mail at the address below with the subject line “I WANT GOOGLE PAID SUPPORT.” Please include your contact information in the body of the e-mail.

I would love to show Google hundreds of dealers and business owners who are willing to fund a better support system. The support system that exists now is unacceptable, especially from a company that controls Page One of search results and your online CSI scores. Brian Pasch, is CEO of PCG Digital Marketing and the founder of the Automotive Internship Program. He can be contacted at 866.849.1560, or by e-mail at


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sales & training solution

killing the goose that lays the golden eggs An old Aesop’s fable reads like this: A farmer went to the nest of his goose to see if she had laid an egg. To his surprise he found, instead of an ordinary goose egg, an egg of solid gold. Seizing the golden egg, he rushed into the house in great excitement to show it to his wife. Every day thereafter the goose laid an egg of pure gold. But as the farmer grew rich, he grew greedy. Thinking that if he killed the goose he could have all her treasure at once, he cut the goose open to find — nothing at all. Moral: The greedy who want more, lose all. So what does a slave who lived 600 years before Christ have to do with management at a dealership? Ignore the parable at your own peril. If you do choose to ignore it, three majorly bad things are sure to happen: low salesperson morale, high salesperson turnover and business will be mediocre at best. Okay, on to the goose killing. Lets first agree on who is the goose. It is not the buyer, and it is not the sale. They are of course, the

golden egg. If you make a mistake here, you will forever be relegated to management mediocrity. The goose is the means to get the golden egg, and that, dear manager, is your salespeople. There are a number of ways to kill the goose; let’s deal with a few of the most popular. First, set arbitrary sales goals which you simply pull out of your, um, ego. If your salespeople don’t hit those goals, just fire them and hire some more, then set arbitrary goals for them. That in itself will kill the goose at most dealerships. Just make sure that nothing matters except how many sales they get. Take nothing else into account. Nothing. Hire/fire; hire/fire; hire/fire. Make sure when you run the help-wanted ad, it says “Due to increased business...” Or, you could tell the truth, “Due to inept management, we need more salespeople.” Of course, that would be a raging non-sequitur. The second way to kill the goose is to not train your salespeople to close their own deals. That way, you can be the closer, you can do their job, you can be the big shot and you can take credit for all those deals you never trained the salespeople to handle. Talk about destroying the confidence of a salesperson. The third way to kill the goose is to always hire people who won’t rock the boat, who won’t challenge the status quo and who will never be half as good as you. Mark the really good ones down as “overqualified” and send them packing. If you think they will be too hard to handle, they’re too mature, they won’t follow your methods blindly… oh, man, you can’t hire them. They might sell more than you do. (Bobby Bowden can handle this one, “Its real simple; whoever gets the best players — wins.”) The fourth way to kill the goose (but there are many more) is this: Have one sales method that worked for you 20 or 30 years ago, and force every salesperson to use that method. This way, they will never get to do their own work. All they are doing is your work. Don’t accept the fact that times have changed, that buyers have different personalities, that salespeople have different personalities and that buyers and salespeople have changed. Just make them follow your 1970’s system come hell or high water. And, of course, if they try anything else, see rule one: hire/fire; hire/fire; hire/fire. Maybe you should remember what Tom Peters said: “Reward huge failures, punish mediocre success.” We have been rewarding mediocre success for so long, we think it is a good thing. So, just to make sure we’re all on the same page about goose killing, thus destroying our ability to get the golden eggs, let’s review: Set arbitrary sales goals, fire everyone that doesn’t meet them, don’t train your salespeople to be salespeople, hire only the ones you can control and make every salesperson use nothing but your methods. Then stand in the middle of the showroom floor in your shirt and tie and Rolex and prepare for mediocrity.

John Brentlinger is a sales and management trainer, executive coach and author. He can be contacted at 866.859.6504, or by e-mail at



leadership solution


Knowing the Right Questions to Ask

An optimal running rate for dealerships is five days. Most dealers believe they are achieving a two- to three-day turnaround, when that is almost always far from accurate. More commonly, dealerships are running closer to 10- or 12-day turnaround times, with the more efficient dealers achieving eight-day turns. If you do the math for a dealer selling 100 used cars per month, going from eight days to five days produces just over one additional turn (or another eight to 10 sales) per month. Of course, if the starting point is 10 or 12 days, then there is even more room for improvement. How does a dealer reduce their days in recon? Identifying hold ups and bottlenecks can be a difficult and time-consuming job when there is little insight or accountability into the recon processes. Most dealerships track reconditioning with a spreadsheet that is manually updated and,


more often than not, out of date with inaccurate information. The job of tracking the location of cars and their recon status becomes a time-consuming game of fact-finding and finger pointing. A workflow management tool, customized with a dealership’s specific reconditioning steps, can eliminate manual spreadsheets, create accountability and help manage resources more efficiently. The tool provides instant insight into the status of a vehicle in the reconditioning process, complete with updates and information on reasons for delays. It can even use e-mail and text to proactively notify technicians when a car is ready for their services. It is well understood that you cannot manage what you cannot measure, so in addition to flexibility, workflow software provides performance metrics for each step and for the overall performance or turn rate in recon. Having this information at your fingertips lets management see where bottlenecks are happening and address them with the appropriate staff members. In addition, all users of the system see the same information creating a culture of accountability. Equipped with a custom Web-based, real-time workflow system, dealers can reduce the number of days a car spends in reconditioning to realize better profitability and used car inventory turns. But getting there is only half the battle. The used car business is in a constant state of change. Matching the reconditioning needs of new purchases and trades to your available resources requires flexibility and constant attention to detail. A workflow management tool allows dealers to maintain optimal reconditioning performance over time. Dennis McGinn is the founder and CEO of Rapid Recon. He can be contacted at 866.268.3582, or by e-mail at

podcast interviewee

There are two questions that dealers with reconditioning problems commonly ask: “What is considered good performance?” and “How do I identify the bottlenecks?”

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marketing solution

increase floor traffic with strategic data-driven marketing ago, customers visited 6.7 “Ten years before dealerships they purchased a vehicle; five years ago, that number dropped to 4.3, and today it’s 1.8.

I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know when I say showroom traffic is down and continues to decline. Ten years ago, customers visited 6.7 dealerships before they purchased a vehicle; five years ago, that number dropped to 4.3, and today it’s 1.8. Aside from lobbying for a ban on the Internet, improving your Internet lead-to-sold customer process is critical. Just as important is to get to customers before they log on. And the way to do that is with datadriven direct marketing. Automotive Direct Marketing

There are basically three ways a dealer can advertise: traditional media, the Internet and direct marketing. Sure, you can buy more time on radio and television, but consumers are still going to go to the Internet. You can advertise online; of course, then they’re already on the Internet. Or, you can improve your direct marketing strategy, and that’s exactly what many automotive leaders are doing. In a recent poll of more than 900 executives, 60 percent said they were increasing their e-mail marketing budget. That’s because direct

Aside from lobbying for a ban on the Internet, improving your Internet lead-to-sold customer process is critical. Just as important is to get to customers before they log on. And the way to do that is with data-driven direct marketing.

marketing response rates haven’t dropped in the past five years — in fact, they’ve risen. Plus, by communicating with consumers directly, you reach them before they reach the Internet. But sending your hard-won customers a template e-mail or letter probably isn’t enough to hold on to their business; your marketing needs to be driven by data and a strong owner marketing strategy. Data Driven

The first question is, “Do you have access to the data you need?” That might seem self-evident, but I speak to dealer groups that have so much going on they’re no longer sure what they have or how to use it. Not only aren’t they making the most of their resources, many are paying for overlapping technologies. Others are using products that only reclassify and resort data, without offering the benefits of actually applying the information to better market to their customers. Sometimes, the data is being underutilized and not finding its way into the sales process; instead, it’s getting lost in the shuffle or hung up in the system. But let’s say you’ve got your data and it’s solid. The next question is, “Are you using it to drive your marketing?” Data alone won’t win you more sales and better customer relationships. It needs to be fully integrated into a multi-channel direct marketing strategy that is personalized to each customer and their current situation, determining not only what you communicate, but also when. And each element of a campaign should interact with the other, strengthening your message and ultimately resulting in more cars sold. Strategy

Russell Grant is the vice president of sales for J&L Marketing. He can be contacted at 866.503.8397, or by e-mail at


podcast interviewee

Data needs to be incorporated intelligently and consistently. To take your automotive marketing initiatives to the next level, you need a strategy that informs your daily operations and is fully a part of the sales cycle — if you don’t have a direct marketing strategy, you’re losing a critical opportunity. You’re forfeiting the ability to harness the power of data to communicate with your owner base, to develop communications — and offers — that are tailored and timed for each customer, to maximize response rates and increase your sales. In short, you become part of the downward trend in showroom traffic, rather than one of our industry’s shining exceptions.

A recent article quoted automotive research that showed the following: While sales are increasing, service business is decreasing! This recent downturn of service business has been a direct result of the drop off in sales that occurred during the economic downturn. It’s just math.... Slow car sales a few years ago equals slow service sales now. Consider the following: * Several studies have shown that the average dealership retains only 19 percent of their customers from sales into service. That’s awful for the future health of your dealership. * When you don’t retain customers into your service department, studies show that you don’t retain them for sales. Your service numbers directly reflect your sales numbers! * If you don’t retain your customers, you will be forced to spend more and more advertising money to keep up your sales numbers. Or you could easily and quickly solve these problems and make more $. Imagine the following: • 50 percent or more increase in Service RO’s • Huge increase in sales to service customer retention • Large customer pay increase • Surveys show that service loyalty massively increases sales loyalty • Imagine also increasing new and used car sales at the same time • Experience a 10 percent or more increase in vehicle service contract sales as a result • Increase your front end gross profit, as well!

There are only four ways to increase the net profit of your dealership: 1. Sell more vehicles. 2. Increase your gross profit per vehicle. 3. Increase your customer loyalty that will increase your repeat business for sales and service. 4. Decrease the time between sales and service visits. Have customers who buy more, more often! Here is the good news: And you can do all four things right now! To get a quick preview of this revolutionary idea, just do the following: Call 888 2 Tewart (888 283-9278) and ask for Jaclyn. She will set up a convenient time to quickly and easily review the details. It will take all of 10 minutes! There is more.... I will give you a FREE bonus just for reviewing this. For your 10 minutes I will give you my distance sales training program 30 days for free. Train your sales staff with the best sales content in the industry. Call 888 2 Tewart (888 283-9278) and tell Jaclyn that you want to review the 50 percent + program. P.S. My question is, what would happen to your bottom line if you doubled your sales and service repeat business?

leadership solution

are you ready to eMbrace change?

So your traffic, sales and profitability are good. And after such a tumultuous few years, good is, well, good. Good is better than nothing and better than before, right? So the very thought of doing something different and potentially getting back on that roller coaster of uncertainty is the last thing you want to do. We understand. We hear it from dealers and managers all the time. These days, being comfortable and feeling safe is the desired place to be. But is it really so safe? When Safe Is Risky

The reality of safe decision making and being overly cautious in business is that it’s actually the



riskiest decision you can make. If a business isn’t growing, it’s dying. You have to keep improving and moving things forward in order to avoid the crumbling bridge that lies behind you. If you don’t move fast enough, you can be swallowed up. We’ve seen that happen to many dealerships over the past few years. They didn’t suffer an ill fate because they “took a risk,” but rather because they tried to play it safe, and failed to adapt and grow with the changing tide. So if you are truly looking to avoid risk and keep yourself from losing what you currently have, then looking for and investing in smart growth strategies that improve business systems and processes such as marketing, sales, productivity and experience is not only not risky, but is actually necessary. The most profitable dealers harness this reality, and when other dealers grip the side of the mountain with white knuckles, take a breather, stick their head in the sand and play it safe (read, stagnate), they leverage the opportunity to invest in their growth and innovate. Smart dealers avoid gimmicks that offer short-term, one-time profit events and invest in growth strategies that deliver a long-term benefit to the dealership, its employees and the community they serve.


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Growth and change are the constants of success; without them, you are constantly at risk. Safety in business does not come in the form of avoiding new ideas, but embracing them. Playing it safe is the riskiest decision a dealer can make because you not only lose the opportunity you could have, but eventually the path erodes under your feet and you could lose what you already have.



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CHECK ! Always remember: Doing things the way T OUR OUT NDRIVE 39% MORE TRAFFIC USING OUR everyone does things is a sure way to get what e Only! Lightening everyone gets. Approaching common problems Limite&dTHU:T9:0im PM 0AM-9:00 MON. an uncommon perspective allows you to :00PM deals! from PROVEN E. & WED: 9:00AM-8 TUPRODUCTS! 67 create solutions that most dealers will never 3 4 5CODEKASE 00PM



JimmyVee & TravisMiller

Jimmy Vee and Travis Miller are founders of The Rich Dealers Institute and the authors of Gravitational Marketing: The Science of Attracting Customers and Invasion of the Profit Snatchers. They can be contacted at 866.867.9618, or by e-mail at

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sales & training solution


trends: The buying process can be difficult for salespeople and customers alike, and it isn’t getting easier. Customers scoping dealerships out online long before they walk into the showroom make the road even more challenging. So, when a customer visits a dealership, it becomes important to make the most of it. It’s necessary to realize that buying a car isn’t just filled with objections and needs; it’s also filled with preferences that vary by age, gender and income. There’s plenty of research that has been done on generational buying trends, and I’m sure many of you have heard those statistics. The challenge becomes how to turn those numbers and trends into information you can use at your dealership. Baby Boomers

The Baby Boomer generation is roughly defined as anyone born between 1946 and 1964. This means that they are anywhere from 48 to 66 years old. So, what do you need to know about them when they walk into your dealership? Fast Stats: 1. They prefer luxury cars, purchasing 41

percent of all new cars and 50 percent of all luxury cars. 2. They are interested in fun-to-drive and performance cars. 3. They have more money to spend.

How to Sell Every Age Group

Generation X

Generation X refers to those born between 1965 and 1981, which means that they are anywhere from 31 to 47 years old. Fast Stats: 1. They prefer roomier, family-friendly vehicles (minivans, SUV). 2. They are the highest purchasers of Audi and Volkswagen. 3. They are wary of mass-marketing tactics. 4. They will buy cars they perceive as having high value. 5. They think about size and family needs, rather than cost of ownership.

Again, it’s time to look at Generation X’s preferences and decide how to use them. While mass marketing initiatives are always part of a dealership’s business model, you might want to use other tactics, as well. I’m sure that any seasoned salesperson knows the tried-and-true “feature and benefit” selling system. Well, here’s your chance to bring it out. Generation X will buy a car they perceive as being high in value. They also think about their needs more so than what the cost of the vehicle is. You have the opportunity with Gen X to build the value and sell features before they will want to negotiate price. Salespeople should integrate more questions into their vehicle “presentation.” The questions will help to fully address the customer’s specific needs and wants. Also, the typical Gen Xer is thinking about the needs of their family when buying a car. Emphasizing family-friendly vehicles like minivans and SUVs will also benefit you. Generation Y

Lastly, Generation Y are those who were born between 1982 and 1999, which means that they are 30 years of age or younger. Fast Stats: 1. They are more interested in the customer experience than the car they’re buying. 2. They are interested in hybrids and electric cars. 3. They are looking for in-car technology. 4. They prefer used vehicles. 5. They account for 40 percent of buying population.

I’m sure you are thinking, “How do I use that information?” As a salesperson, you can’t always control who is drawn to your dealership — whether they are a luxury car buyer or not. You can, however, emphasize the luxury qualities of the car you’re trying to sell them. It might also be a good opportunity to up-sell them. They are typically more interested in fun-to-drive cars and are performance focused. It would make sense to emphasize how the car will handle when driving, and verbal affirmation before and after a test drive could be important.

Generation Y has witnessed change in the auto industry. In the time they have come into the market, many of them post recession, there have been many changes in the way dealerships are run and how business is done. In general, the customer experience is very important to them. This doesn’t just include their time in the dealership, either. It also consists of online usage and interaction over the phone. Gen Y is looking for a dealership with strong customer service skills.

It’s really about taking the things the buyer is interested in and using them to your advantage. The reason that it is useful to know these preferences is that they tend to be true for the given generational group. What better advantage than knowing what the buyer wants before they even tell you?

Understanding generational buying trends isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Buying trends among different age groups can help all salespeople understand how to better sell customers, and what exactly tends to be important to the customer. While it’s not easy, it can be done. If you’re interested in more ways to understand generational buying trends, and how to use them to your advantage, you can contact me at the address below with the subject line “GENERATION” to request G&A’s Guide to Generational Buying Trends. It will provide more information to help you earn potential buyers from each generation. Jeff Doerrer is the sales manager for G&A Marketing. He can be contacted at 866.855.6616, or by e-mail at


podcast interviewee

Those in Gen Y are interested in car technology. Any in-vehicle navigation feature, satellite radio capabilities and telematics products would be an opportunity to win a typical Gen Y buyer over. In that same regard, they are also big purchasers of hybrids and electric cars. If you’ve been trying to unload some of these newer trend vehicles, your dealership might want to target Gen Y purchasers. As this generation represents 40 percent of the total buying market, it is important to recognize and be aware of their preferences, as they will have a huge impact on the market for years to come.


leadership solution

sound like you?

In 2010, Google’s Eric Schmidt exposed that humanity creates more information and content every 48 hours than we did from the dawn of civilization through 2003. In the same vein, the average company creates more customerfacing content every few days than in entire decades of the 20th century. But the problem is — for all that content — most companies talk at you, not to you. For too many companies, formality, artificial friendliness and even legalese are the norm.

But, with all the content produced and all the technologies used to consume it, people can all too easily tune you out. And they can tune all of “you” out — your ads, video, Website, Twitter feed, chat, text-messages, blogs… all of it. This problem is not solved with more content (i.e. the equivalent of shouting louder). What the customer won’t think to tell you is that language itself is your first impression. Today, how you say your message is as important as what you say. Consider VitaminWater. The company’s Website ( loads a minimal home page with a catchy call to action. And the tone of that call to action is present on all of their product packaging, as well. Buy a few flavors and you’ll find that each flavor has a different, slightly edgy paragraph about the product. Then look at a Gatorade or PowerAde bottle — there’s nothing unique there. By comparison, that VitaminWater bottle is literally communicating with you. Navigate through the VitaminWater Website and peruse their Twitter feed, and you’ll continue to hear the same tone in their writing style. You can start to feel the personality in their content; it subtle, but it’s there. VitaminWater’s writing sounds like VitaminWater. The point? Sound like you. Only your brand can silence all the competitive content that’s drowning out your message. And it all begins with communicating to customers simply, directly and honestly, the way you would talk


to friends. Explain things like you were sitting next to them, and in similar language. When you write something, read it out loud before you tweet, post or send. Does it sound the way it would if you were actually speaking to a live human, face to face? If not, how can you make it more conversational? Your content needs a unique personality because that’s the secret sauce that cannot be duplicated. The tone of the language used in your content is your secret sauce. Writing is the primary means of customer communication today. And, to a customer, your text message is an e-mail is a tweet is a status update, meaning these messages are all just different ways for you to say the same thing to the customer. And, ideally, each of those mediums should echo the company’s tone and personality. Next, consider MINI. There isn’t an automotive brand with more personality, particularly in written content. The MINI ads, Website and online content all deliver the same feel: a modern, youthful personality. They back up a fantastic product with great writing that helps to differentiate them from all other vehicles, not just the small cars they sell against. MINI sounds like MINI. People want quality products they can trust from real people, not corporate conglomerates or faceless call centers. And all the content your organization creates — across all the channels you use to disseminate your message — must be synchronized. This doesn’t mean you communicate the exact same words every day across all media, but if the tone and personality of the content is not reasonably syncopated, then the customers who read and watch your content can end up feeling like they’re watching a duck that swims like a dog — something just ain’t quite right.

Customers use all your online channels (Twitter, Facebook, Website, etc.) to peer into what motivates you as a business. It gives them a glimpse of not only what the company is doing/ sponsoring/promoting, but they infer something about your company’s identity when they read your content. This is an enormous challenge as your company grows. You need lots of people who can communicate well in writing on your team, since one person can’t do it all. So, when you are trying to decide among a few candidates for a job opening, hire the best writer; it doesn’t matter what the role is; the writing skills will pay off. And the ability to communicate is a quality you want in any candidate. Clear writing is a sign of clear thinking. Good writers know how to communicate and can put themselves in someone else’s shoes. They make things easy to understand, and they know what to omit to avoid background noise. You can dominate, over time, because when your message is in sync and truly sounds like you, customers will be more likely to trust you, which (as any student of branding knows) results in more people buying more stuff for more years at higher prices from you. That’s the point of sounding like you. Christian Thornton is senior executive vice president of marketing and new business development for AULtec Inc. He can be contacted at 866.516.6238, or by e-mail at


sales & training solution

the sixth profit center in your dealership for 2012

I have spent the past 10 years not only hearing hundreds of dealers tell me what they are doing to move the needle at their stores, but also listening to the majority of vendors who think they have the answer. Nothing, however, has really moved the needle like it moved when Internet sales departments were introduced at the turn of the millennium — until now. When I ask salespeople if they would like a new department that allowed them to work normal (or at least more normal) hours, and still have an average of 40 to 100 “at bats” in a day — and hit about three to four percent of those out of the park — they’re in. When I ask managers if they’d like a new department where they could retain their current, high-quality customers and get an inventory of “good-history-no-mystery” one-owner trades, all while making F&I profit on these deals and retaining these customers in the service department for anther life cycle, they definitely want to learn more. Well, this department lives in your dealership right now, and is the new profit center of 2012 — and it will come close to matching the days of the Internet departments of old. We call this new department the “sales from service” department, and it has been there for all the years that you have been suffering the economic downturn, just lying in wait. It blows me away when I go over the benefits of this department and some say, “We tried that and it didn’t work.” Well, if that’s the case, you did something wrong. While it might seem that the problem was trying to get two gangs of bullies (sales vs. service) to learn how to play well together, that wasn’t it. Most likely, the problem was not having pay plans and dedication by management, starting from the top down. Sales or service, we are all money-driven people. The key is to create a separate department, where the sales representatives only take ups from the service department; it must be a professional-looking department, 100 percent separate from the retail floor. For this to work, your sales-service department staff has to do research on the coming day’s service appointments prior to them coming to the store — they have to be ready, and they have to have the right mindset. The mentality of an old-school service advisor who thinks he or she is going to miss out on an R.O. will kill you. These staff members have to have the same mentality as you do — to grow your dealership (not just their department) in any way necessary. For example: A customer might have 35,800 miles on their car and the warranty is getting ready to run out. We all know what happens then — they go and find a new friend named “Jiffy Lube.” These customers fall into a “defector” or “lost customer” classification. If we sell them a new car, however, you just retained that lifetime high-value customer for another warranty cycle; it’s a dealership-wide win. Some dealerships are offering considerable spiffs to service advisors that will trump the money they would have made, even from a transmission job.

There is no easier way to cultivate reviews for Yelp,, Google and your Website than utilizing the active service customer. Pay a spiff to the person who gets the most reviews in a month, but have the sales staff working the drive cultivate them for your advisors upon delivery of their serviced vehicle; they also can head off any future bad reviews on your store. You can team up your advisors with the sales-service staff and make it a competition that pays huge dividends. If seven out of 10 buyers are reading reviews on dealerships prior to buying a car from the store, the sky should be the limit on this spiff program, as well. Appearance is also critical to success. It might sound strange, but you can have your sales-service staff dress in their best suits, and you can have them dress in polos and shorts, and you will get the same response from your customers: Their walls go up, and so does their defense mechanisms. Put


your reps in lab coats, however with a monthly campaign program embroidered on it (such as “Vehicle Exchange” or “Buy-Back Program”) and use the word tracks below, the doors to their hearts open right up to that three to four percent closing ratio. If you are running a program that is CoOp approved and your marketing vendor is exclusive to your area, you are not out of line by approaching a sales-service drive customer like this: “Good Morning Mr. and Mrs. Smith. (Blank) Motor Corporation and ABC Motors have teamed up to offer an exclusive program only offered in our market at ABC Motors. (Blank) Motor Corporation and ABC Motors would just like to know if you could get into the new 2013 model of (present vehicle) for similar payments, with more power and better fuel economy, would that be something you would like some information on while your vehicle is being serviced.” If the customer says “yes” or remotely shows interest, you need to move them into the next phase. Ask the customer if they are going to be staying at the dealership for their service visit or leaving. If they are staying, take them to the dedicated department you’ve put together while they wait for their car and introduce them to the program details. If they say “no,” offer them a discount coupon for their next service visit to help retention. When the lab coats came into the picture, with a credible campaign program embroidered on them, the customers look at you like a factory representative, rather than a high-pressure sales representative. The walls of defense really do come down. Put this new program in play for 2012 and beyond — and stick with it — and you will experience the new profit center your store has been missing out on. Chad Sterling is a regional director of sales at Team Velocity Marketing. He can be contacted at 866.384.3859, or by e-mail at

On the #1 sales-improvement magazine for the automotive professional



marketing solution

turning calls into

categories saves time

General managers will agree that a dealership can rival any business in terms of long working hours and chaotic workflow. Any edge dealers can get to make their lives a little simpler makes a big difference whether or not they take their work home with them, or leave it at the lot. Because there are several moving parts of a dealership to manage, wouldn’t it make sense to create efficiencies wherever you could? By categorizing incoming phone calls, you can decrease the amount of time you spend listening to them, while making your advertising and marketing campaigns run more efficiently. That’s like getting double the fuel efficiency on one tank of gas. Incoming phone leads represent the first contact prospects have with your dealership and, therefore, can prove to be extremely time consuming. From legitimate sales calls to service inquires, parts requests, wrong numbers, hang ups and other non-leads, making sense of the sea of calls flowing into your dealership can be frustrating. Trying to pick out the actual sales calls from everything else can be like untangling a massive ball of Christmas lights. Wouldn’t you rather have nice, neat rows of Christmas lights separated by color? As general manager, you and your team are responsible for addressing each legitimate call so that no stone goes unturned when

maximizing each and every potential sale. At the end of the day, however, you can be responsible for addressing and saving multiple legitimate prospects. Yet, if those prospects haven’t been sorted effectively, then it’s possible you’ve missed out because it took you too long to find them. You’ve probably invested thousands of dollars in advertising and marketing campaigns, but how do you know if you are getting the most bang for your buck? Thirty percent of all calls that come through the designated “sales line” are not sales related, and can skew the cost-per-lead numbers. As the GM, you don’t have time to deal with that 30 percent — and you shouldn’t have to. Imagine a bucket with holes in it. That’s where each incoming call enters before it leaks out of one of the holes into a secondary level of buckets that hold calls from specific segments. Let’s say you have four buckets labeled “sales,” “parts,” “service” and “junk,” and each one provides tracking back to the source of the call (direct mail, Websites, e-mail blasts, etc). By differentiating each and every call from one another, GMs aren’t stuck listening to all sales calls coming into the dealership. Instead of spending hours going through the calls and finding the ones that need special attention, dealers can spend only minutes listening to specific calls. Let me repeat that: Dealers can spend two hours listening to every call, or 25 minutes listening to leads, depending on how the calls are sorted. Filtering and labeling each call helps organize the entire day’s traffic, saving you loads of time. This is time you can spend managing the floor and dealing with backend issues. More importantly, categorizing phone leads allows dealers to leave the lot at a decent hour, giving them an improved quality of life. Listening to select sales calls remotely has its advantages. Dealers can listen to them on the way home, or the way in to work the following day and assign follow up calls with their staff. All of this is possible with categorized phone lead management technologies that are designed to take work off of your plate so you can address other important areas of your business.

Andrew Price is the president of automotive at CallSource. He can be contacted at 888.821.3770, or by e-mail at

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marketing solution

outrun the bear It’s likely you’ve heard this old joke: Two campers walking through the forest encounter a grizzly bear that rears up and lets out a terrifying roar. Both campers are frozen in their tracks. The first camper whispers, “I’m sure glad I wore my running shoes today.” “It doesn’t matter what kind of shoes you’re wearing, you’re not gonna outrun that bear,” replies the second. “I don’t have to outrun the bear,” the first camper answers. “I just have to outrun you.” Dealers in competitive markets should keep this old joke in mind when approaching online reputation management (ORM). Knowing where your competitors rank is critically important. That is not to say the only goal is to make sure you have more reviews, or one star more than their ranking. The goal should be to capture as many positive reviews as possible from customers; not only those purchasing vehicles, but also from your service, parts or body shop. The ideal system also allows you to intercept negative reviews before they ever make it online in order to keep your ratings as high as possible.

“Customers who have positive experiences with your dealership will most likely never leave you a review online. Why? Think about your own behavior. Most of us only leave reviews when we experience poor service and want to vent to the rest of the world.” To quickly review a basic approach to ORM: Customers who have positive experiences with your dealership will most likely never leave you a review online. Why? Think about your own behavior. Most of us only leave reviews when we experience poor service and want to vent to the rest of the world. Without an established ORM process, unless your staff never disappoints a picky customer, the dealership will have more negative reviews than positive reviews. Achieving a strong, consistent online reputation requires proactive work. Encouragement, facilitation and follow-up are all necessary to ensure that happy customers share their great experiences.

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There are many great approaches to getting this done. Use the approach that gets you the best results by having a solid solution in place, measuring how your dealership is doing. Set initial benchmarks when you start, determine how often to ask for a review, measure how often you get one and then track how your ranking evolves over time. This would be easy if only one review site was important, but realistically Google, Yelp, FourSquare, DealerRater and many others must be taken into consideration. Depending on which site is most relevant on Page 1 of your local search results (which changes daily), you need to balance the number of reviews received from each site. When potential customers find your store online, they will likely find it listed along with your top competitors. Constantly monitor how your competitors are doing with online reviews, and make sure you are consistently beating them on each of the specific review sites. This way, “outrunning the bear” doesn’t become the goal, as much as “outrunning your competitors.” Online reputation management is not overly complicated; in fact, in principle it is simple. However, the amount of activity generated and the high level of monitoring required can get pretty cumbersome. Your employees can encourage customers to provide reviews, respond to published reviews and monitor how your ratings compare to top competitors in your local market. There are also great software solutions out there that can automate this process. Whichever path you choose, just make sure your strategy includes closely monitoring how well your competitors are doing to make sure potential customers continue to choose your store. Don’t ignore your online reputation. Get your running shoes on and get started today. George Nenni is the vice president of operations for Dominion Dealer Solutions. He can be contacted at 866.382.8622, or by e-mail at

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marketing solution

time waits for no one

manager at Infiniti of Clarendon Hills, said, “We are using Video SEO to target competing brands like Lexus in our local market. This allows us to highlight the advantages of our product over the competition to local car buyers who are actively searching to buy a vehicle.” The screenshot illustration below for the Google Page One results is for the search phrase “LEXUS RX WESTMONT” which shows Infiniti of Clarendon Hills having three videos on Google Page One highlighting the advantages of the Infiniti vs Lexus. This helps infiniti show up with targeted videos for customers searching for a Lexus. Start using online video today to aggressively increase your dealership’s online marketshare for both the brand you sell and the local competing brands in your DMA.

One dealership group aggressively using online video is Infiniti of Clarendon Hills, part of the Lisle Automotive Group, located on dealer row in the western suburbs of Greater Chicago Land. Peter Korallus, executive

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podcast interviewee

It’s no seceret that the average car buyers in today’s market look at three different brands when they are in the final stage of the buying process. It’s critical to use every tactic available to your dealership to gain an edge over local same-brand and competing-brand dealers — especially when you consider that car buyers have more than 35 different brands of vehicles to choose from, with similar features in each model class. Did you know that the average car buyer watches more than 45 minutes of online video in their normal daily life (Comscore, June 2012)? Google’s Zero Moment of Truth has watching online video as a “standard part” of the automotive consumer’s buying process. Are you using video to engage with your local prospective car buyers? Do you have video integrated into your overall online digital marketing strategy? If you haven’t done so, or if you need convincing on whether online video is important, then consider the top graph (from Google’s Automotive Buyer Study from late 2011), which illustrates online video’s effectiveness in connecting with car buyers. I think the point here is clearly made.

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leadership solution

three common causes for used vehicle inventory age issues

About a year ago, a Chevrolet dealer in Texas decided the time had come to “get in the game of selling more used cars.”

In fact, this is the lesson the Texas dealer learned after he and I examined why his plan to increase used vehicle sales came up short. Here’s a quick review of what we found as we diagnosed the reasons his used vehicles weren’t selling quickly:

The dealer had been selling about 60 cars a month and wanted to sell 100. The increase would come from two key operational changes — a larger inventory and an effort to price vehicles to the current market.

The wrong cars. The dealer admits his used vehicle manager “went with what he knew” as he acquired more vehicles to increase the size of the dealer’s inventory. This meant he purchased vehicles at auctions he thought would sell without analyzing market data to determine how easily and quickly the cars would sell. For example, the average market days supply of the dealership’s inventory ran well north of 120 days. (A definition: The market days supply measures the scarcity of a particular make/model of a vehicle in the market — a higher market days supply means a greater number of competing units. On average, velocity dealers aim to acquire vehicles with a market days supply of 70 days or less.)

After two months, the dealer thought he had made a big mistake. “Our inventory had ballooned, our sales hadn’t improved and we now had a big problem with aged inventory,” the dealer said. This scenario is common at many dealerships. It’s a sign that today’s used vehicle marketplace is more challenging and nuanced than it used to be. In the past, dealers could stock up on more used cars, step up their marketing and expect to see increases in gross profits and sales volumes. Today’s market, however, requires a greater degree of circumspection to acquire the “right” cars for a given market and determine the “right” price to attract today’s buyers.

Our examination of the dealer’s inventory showed another problem with the store’s inventory acquisition decisions: The average cost of the vehicles was about $18,000. By contrast, many velocity dealers aim for an average cost of inventory of $13,000. The reason: The lower figure means less direct competition for sales with the new vehicle department and more opportunities with budget-minded buyers. A gross-minded mark-up. Prior to the decision to increase used vehicle sales, the Texas dealer applied a standard $6,000 mark-up to every used vehicle. The mark-up provided enough room for salespeople to negotiate with customers and achieve the store’s average $2,400 front-end gross profit. As the dealer decided to sell more used vehicles, he lowered the mark-up to about $4,000. But as we compared the dealer’s prices to the market, we found that the lower mark-up still resulted in vehicles priced too high above the competition to attract buyers. On average, the priceto-market metric for the inventory ran 115 percent — in effect, every car was priced 15 percent higher than the prevailing retail price point for competing units.


GM Fred Martin Super Store

“We didn’t really have a sense for actual market prices,” the dealer said. “It’s no wonder our cars weren’t getting much attention.” Market-focused pricing adjustments. As noted above, the Texas dealer’s asking prices on vehicles were often higher than competitive cars in the market. In addition, our evaluation of the dealership’s inventory revealed that managers waited 30 days to revisit and adjust vehicle prices. The Texas dealer agreed that this interval meant his cars were more prone to age than sell quickly. “When I look back, I see why we really didn’t start selling cars until they were 40 or 45 days old,” he said. By contrast, many velocity dealers examine their pricing at least once a week to ensure their vehicles are priced “right” in relation to the competition. This analysis often assesses the attention each vehicle gets from online shoppers — indicated by the number of vehicle details page (VDP) “looks” each car receives. These dealers will then adjust prices with two goals in mind — to sell the car quickly and maximize its profit potential in the current market.



“In four months, we’ve only had two cars hit 60 days,” he said. “We’ve learned that if you get the right cars and price them for what they’re worth, the buyers will come in.” Dale Pollak is an author and the founder of vAuto. He can be contacted at 866.867.9620, or by e-mail at

podcast interviewee


I’m pleased to report that the Texas dealer is now firmly on track to achieve his goal for 100 monthly used vehicle sales. The dealership is consistently selling 90 units a month and, through the application of processes that ensure the “right” cars and “right” prices, he has eliminated the inventory age problems.


sales & training solution

secrets of the best automotive service consultants

as seen on

If you want to be successful in your position, one of the best things you can do is to study what others in your field have done to gain their success, and then take it further. Successful service consultants in the automobile industry consistently do the following 10 steps:

1. They plan their day the night before. They

review all appointments and service histories for potential sales opportunities before the customer’s arrival.

4. They keep in touch with customers by: • Calling the customer throughout the day with the status of the repairs. If a customer is waiting, they update every 15 minutes • Calling the customer with possible “up sells” and their advantages • Getting the service manager involved with any unsold items • Reviewing the cost of repair and scheduling a pick-up time • Making sure the customer’s vehicle is washed and vacuumed before arrival

were addressed • Thank the customer again for their continued business

7. They treat customers with respect, and in a courteous professional manner. 8. They help the customer understand that they are partnering with them to keep their car in good, safe operating condition. In turn, this will help them get the biggest return on their investment.

5. Upon the customer’s return for pick up, they: 9. They ask for advice and counseling when • Greet the customer faced with difficult situations. • Walk the customer to the cashier on arrival, explaining all services in detail 10. They work together as a team and offer • Review the invoice and multi-point suggestions to improve work load flow through inspection in detail the shop. Together, Everyone Accomplishes • Review when the customer’s next service is 3. They build relationships and trust by: More. due • Performing a thorough walk around of the vehicle with the customer (check lights, horn, • Ask for a completely satisfied survey — There is no quick fix to being the best only after the customer’s expectations have wipers, measure tires, record damage, etc.) service consultant in the automotive industry. been met • Updating the customer’s information at write• Walk them to their car, shake their hand and Everybody is looking for the silver bullet, but up if needed (phone number, address, etc.) there isn’t one. The best service consultants thank them for their business • Documenting the customer’s service concerns do all of these little things listed above on a • Supplying a maintenance menu and 6. On follow up, they: consistent basis. highlight services that are due • Contact the customer within 24 hours • Informing the customer of the free multiof their service to make sure they were And, ultimately, they enjoy the highest levels point inspection completely satisfied and all their concerns of financial success and achievement. • Providing the customer with an accurate repair estimate Chris Saraceno is the vice president and partner at the Kelly Automotive Group and • Addressing their transportation needs the co-founder of He can be contacted at 866.449.0488, or by e-mail at (shuttle, rental, loaner) 2. They show up for work early to: • Write up “drop off” appointments • Review the day’s staff, and any issues or concerns • Review specially ordered parts

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Success Story

Rick Case Honda Selling 60% More Cars in Service at the #1 Honda Dealership in Sales Rick Case Honda of Davie Increases Profitability with Integrated Marketing Strategy Many dealers face the ongoing challenge of how to effectively reach the right customers with the right message, bring those customers into their showrooms and service bays, and keep them coming back again and again. As consumer behavior patterns have changed in recent years, so has a dealer’s ability to attract and sell customers. The effectiveness of traditional mass marketing, TV, print and radio, has waned and given way to more successful marketing efforts that combine highly targeted traditional and digital components that include direct email and mail, internet, mobile applications and more. Dealerships that do not understand these targeted traditional and digital mediums and how to successfully integrate them continue to see diminishing returns with mass marketing which remains costly and nearly impossible to measure.

The most successful dealers are using targeted and digital mediums that are less expensive, more measurable and give a better return on investment than traditional mass marketing. The key to their success is integrating all their targeted traditional and digital advertising to maximize results, but this can also present a challenge as the average dealer works with multiple vendors to execute their entire marketing strategy which results in different strategies, messages and designs that too often are not integrated with one another. One innovative and extremely successful dealership, Rick Case Honda of Davie, the No. 1 Honda dealership in the Southeast and No. 3 for Honda nationally YTD, has taken things to the next level. They are not only integrating multiple marketing mediums to effectively attract, sell, service and retain more customers with one marketing partner to execute their strategy, but they are selling customers right inside their own service bays – you can’t get much more targeted and effective than that.



“We’ve increased sales in service by over 60 percent since launching this initiative back in November 2011,” said Richard Bustillo, General Manager of the Davie store. “We went from selling 45 units to 105 units per month on average.” Their integrated strategy included many steps that began with a comprehensive five-year historical analysis of their sales and service transactions to determine customer trends. Those findings were then compared to leading third-party and industry data to establish consumer patterns within their local market. “Our retention rates and gross profit numbers were already good and we were already mining our own customer base, we just weren’t expanding it. I wasn’t satisfied because I saw an opportunity to do both,” said Bustillo. The results of their assessment enabled Rick Case Honda to identify vehicle owners with the greatest probability of buying or servicing with their dealership, as well as identify samebrand owners who had never visited Rick Case Honda, and off-brand owners with a historical pattern of crossing over to Honda.

With their market more clearly defined, Rick Case Honda of Davie began implementing a comprehensive targeted and digital marketing strategy using variable direct email and mail campaigns that consistently speak to customers throughout the 60-month life cycle of their vehicle with custom messaging that includes: a thank you and welcome message for recent purchasers, maintenance reminders for newer vehicles not yet in-equity but that may

“We’ve increased sales in service by over 60 percent since launching this initiative back in November 2011,”... “We went from selling 45 units to 105 units per month on average.” RICHARD BUSTILLO General Manager


be due for recommended maintenance, and ongoing targeted email and mail sales communications to customers in an equity position. Using high-end creative campaigns, Rick Case Honda promotes its best sales offers with custom service offers that reflect the service status of the customer’s vehicle. For example, active service customers who routinely come in for service receive a $29.95 Oil & Filter Change coupon, while customers who are categorized as lost, or who do not regularly service with Rick Case Honda, receive the same offer but for $17.95 to encourage them to back. Rick Case Honda also aggressively targets conquest service customers within their primary marketing area who own Hondas but did not buy from them. This is unique because most dealers use the manufacturer’s service marketing program which limits a dealer to only communicate with customers that have purchased directly from their store and as a result also limits the dealer from contacting numerous conquest opportunities within their market. If a dealer only has 30 percent market

Rick Case Honda share, they are essentially missing out on an additional 70 percent of the area’s service market. Rick Case Honda recognized the opportunity to broaden its service marketing program with conquest customers and has greatly expanded their reach of potential service customers. Another component to their strategy is that every outbound targeted email and mail campaign directs customers to an online Campaign Conversion Site that not only displays the featured promotions of the email or mail campaign they have just received, but also shows them every sales and service offer that Rick Case Honda is currently running. If a customer is not in the market for the specific offers they just received they can check Rick Case Honda’s campaign conversion site, for other available offers. “This site is invaluable, it’s professional, it ties in with all our sales and service promotions and we’ve seen an increase in the customer traffic printing coupons from the site,” said Bustillo. “Plus it’s completely low maintenance for us because it’s updated every month by our marketing company.” Their advertising message is further supported by POS merchandising throughout the store that validates the promotion the customer recently saw online or received in the mail, like Rick Case Honda of Davie’s “Vehicle Exchange Program”. Their Vehicle Exchange Program is integrated across their targeted direct mail and email, web site, campaign conversion site, showroom and service lanes and has helped them increase sales from inside service over 60 percent, from 45 to 105 units per month, and total RO counts are up by over 30 percent, when compared to the same period last year. They are the No. 1 Honda dealership in the country for net profit and No. 1 in volume for the month of June.

“We were servicing an average of 3,000 customers monthly with an average spend of $350 per RO. Since implementing the Vehicle Exchange Program, we’ve increased our active customer base by over 1,200 customers and we average more than 3600 ROs a month now – that is what I call ROI,” said Bustillo. “Plus, when you factor in the boost our used car department has received from our increase in quality low mileage trade-ins and the $1,300 RO associated with reconditioning those vehicles to make them CPO units, this gets really exciting.” “Everyone focuses on the new car sales numbers but that’s only part of the story. The real beauty of this program is that it generates revenue for all three of our major profit centers. It increases our new car volume. It increases our service revenue because of the reconditioning required to turn a trade-in into a retail unit, and it has a huge impact on our used car business because it allows us to take in hard-to-find used cars for less than what our competition has to pay at auction. This allows us to make more money on every unit even though our pricing is very competitive,” explained Bustillo. Overall Rick Case Honda’s certified pre-owned sales are up 50 percent. “We no longer look at our customers as ‘Sales Customers’ or ‘Service Customers’ they’re all Rick Case Honda customers. Unifying our efforts has allowed us to get very good at doing one thing many times versus doing several things once,” said Bustillo. “The best customer any dealer can find is one they already have because customers who have an active service relationship with a dealership are seven times more likely to purchase with that dealership,” said Budd Blackburn, owner of Team Velocity Marketing, the company that Rick Case Honda uses for their sales and service marketing. Rick Case Honda also provides customers with a free mobile app that is custom branded for their store. This app gives the customer free

tools to improve their ownership experience and customer satisfaction. The Rick Case Honda Auto App features a one-click to roadside assistance, a car finder to help them find their vehicle in a crowded parking lot, a parking meter alert, a flashlight, a gas savings navigator, links to navigation and notifications that remind the customer when their vehicle is due for service and when they are able to upgrade their car for the same payment or sell their car when they have equity. This free app helps improve the ownership experience and encourages an ongoing relationship between the customer and the dealership. Once a customer takes delivery, Rick Case Honda stays in contact with them by thanking them for buying and asking for referrals and online reviews, which helps to build their reputation when consumers search for them online. They now regularly receive over 200 positive online reviews every month. To measure the effectiveness of all their marketing strategies and ensure quality customer care, Rick Case Honda uses a callmonitoring system to track their advertising, employees, and how their customers are treated by listening to every call that comes into their dealership. They receive daily, weekly and monthly reports that enable them to see which ad campaigns generate the best response and pre-empt any potential customer concerns before they escalate – which improves their overall CSI and helps create lifelong satisfied customers. Spend more than five minutes with Bustillo and his team and you will see that there are a lot of things happening at Rick Case Honda of Davie. They have great facilities and a lot of inventory; however, you will see that what pulls all these moving parts together and attracts customers to the dealership is not just their state-of-the-art facilities and highly reputable products, it’s a winning strategy created with a proven marketing partner and executed by a dynamic and dedicated team.

Success Story

Success Story

Rick Case Honda



Selling 60% More Cars in Service at the #1 Honda Dealership in Sales Rick Case Honda of Davie Increases Profitability with Integrated Marketing Strategy

• Define your ideal local market by finding the perfect customers and prospects with the highest statistical probability of buying and/or servicing with your dealership now and in the future.

• Create dynamic, cohesive campaigns that consistently speak to your customers throughout the 60-month lifecycle of their vehicle.

• Consistently target in-market same-brand prospects, and consumers who drive off-brands with a historical trend of crossing over to the brands you sell.

• Drive consumer traffic to a custom campaign conversion site that promotes all your sales and service offers to help increase your internet sales and service leads.

• Establish a sales-in-service program to sell vehicles from your own service bays for your in-equity customers before they shop the competition.

• Provide free mobile apps to improve the customer ownership experience and encourage

ongoing owner participation with the dealership – creating customers with the highest lifetime value for your dealership.

• Monitor inbound calls so you know what ads are generating better response rates and pre-empt CSI issues before they escalate.

• Work with a marketing partner like Team Velocity Marketing to implement an integrated targeted and digital marketing strategy across multiple mediums that promote all your profit centers, new, used, finance, service and parts.



BUYING A CRM: A MASSIVE DECISION, SIMPLIFIED An excerpt from the full CRM White Paper at

Buying a CRM is a massive undertaking. It takes a lot of research and requires knowing exactly what you want. Looking at a CRM demo represents your best chance to see how the system will work, and most importantly, how it will mesh with the way you run your dealership. Having sat through many a demo in his dealership days,’s Senior Director of Product Design and writer for DealerRefresh, Alex Snyder, offers his insights into what to look for when you’re sitting down for a CRM demo. Alex notes, “I look at a CRM as serving three core areas of a dealership: Process, Marketing and Decision Making. Sure, there are other elements involved, but those are the key.”

PROCESS Process is the most important of the trio. In order to sell more cars, get more service appointments and generally get more customers using your dealership, it all boils down to good follow-up. Process management isn’t easy, but if you want to own your market and make your customers happy, a right-fitting CRM will help you get the job done. As the decision maker, you always need to consider your audience: your basic users (primarily sales staff) and your managers. You’ll need to think about how they’ll use, and hopefully embrace, the system before you think about anything else.

What to Look for in the Demo The sales and BDC agents only need to use a few screens in the CRM: 1. Customer Entry Screen 2. Customer Details Screen

3. Forms 4. To-Do Screen

Here are some things to consider with each of the four:

Customer Entry Screen • How many screens does it take to enter a customer? Are they all pop-ups or new browser windows? The fewer the better. • What are the required fields and can you control those? (For instance, can you make adding an email address a required field?)

• How easy is it to edit the fields in this screen?

Forms • Is it just a printout of data from the customer details screen? • Can you actually edit the form before it’s printed? • Are the forms large PDFs that take forever to load?

• How easy is it to attach a vehicle of interest?

• Can you add customized forms?

• How easy is it to add a trade-in?

• Can basic users override the process by delaying calls or changing process triggers?

• After adding basic five-liner stuff, is it simple to get into the area where you add financial information for a credit application? • Does the screen promote the addition of an advertising source? If so, does it have things like ‘Walk-in,’ ‘Drive-by,’ ‘Internet lead,’ ‘Phone-up,’ or ‘Manual entry’? If those are present, ask why, because they’re unnecessary. Those are channels; not ad sources. Spend a lot of time here.

Customer Details Screen • How easy is it to view the history of communications? • Can emails and phone calls be completed from this screen? • Can forms be printed from this screen?

To-Do Screen

• Does sending an email or making a phone call require doing so from a different screen or pop-up? • Can you prioritize which calls are most important to make? This helps to tone-down sales agents cherry-picking their calls. • Is enough customer information shown for an agent to only use this one screen? The To-Do screen is where you want your people to spend most of their time in the CRM. Put yourself in the shoes of your sales people. Imagine what it’s like to interact with it every day as your job. Could you use this screen every time you step into the office? It may look cool today,

but will it continue to be effective and engaging a year from now?

Managers You want to be sure your managers have easy access to everything that’s transpiring throughout the day. Typically they do this through a dashboard. What should a manager dashboard have? 1. The ability to see that all agents are completing their follow-ups 2. Monitoring the traffic that comes into the dealership (floor, phone, Internet, and maybe even the service department, depending on your own needs) 3. Month-to-date sales 4. Appointments generated for the day, with the appointments that are scheduled to show up These are the bare minimums. The dashboard should be able to help managers hold their people accountable for a day’s CRM work at-a-glance. You should also look at how easy it is for managers to dive into reporting and generate lists of customers quickly. Search capabilities can help managers keep their staff busy. Managers should also have their own to-do’s, so be sure the To-Do screen is just as good for them as it is for your basic users.

Building the Processes The first thing you want to consider when looking at the process-building section of the CRM is whether it’s easily understood. If it isn’t easy, or if you aren’t assigning someone to own the CRM at your shop, you’re going to hate tweaking those processes, which is a key element to CRM utilization. You should also get a list of all the triggers in the CRM. These may be referred to as “if” items: “If customer entered into system…” Look through the list and see if it covers everything you want and maybe even gives you some new ideas. Then look at the actions. Actions are the “then” items: “…then send an automatic email.” Think of the combination of the triggers and actions: If customer entered into system – then – send an automatic email. Do the actions cover everything you want? Beyond triggers and actions, you have the basic “when’s” and “who performs the action” stuff. Make sure actions can happen at least by the minute, not in a nightly batch, and that you have the ability to assign actions to different people. A sales agent isn’t the only person working in the dealership, so you should be able to include others in your follow-up process.

It’s no secret: Sales is a numbers game. Speak to enough customers and you’ll sell enough cars. A CRM simply fuels the numbers game. Sure, you can throw an incredible amount of money at

your marketing, but you’ll close more deals with proper follow-up delivered by good process.

MARKETING Every email sent, voicemail left, and phone call connected can be viewed as a marketing impression. A good CRM will include a history of the communications your dealership has made with a customer, including any marketing you’ve done through the CRM. Here are some CRM marketing features to look for during your demo:

Email Marketing Email marketing is a very effective channel, but it’s easy to abuse. You don’t want to become a spammer. If your CRM does have the ability to send an email broadcast, you’ll want to consider:

• Can you exclude customers who already received an email within the last X days?

Targeted Marketing

• How do you build the email?

Targeted marketing is the key to a successful email blast, so you want to be sure you have that capability within your CRM.

• Does it give you some sort of spam score or a “likelihood of deliverability” score?

If your CRM has the ability to export a list of customers, you’ll want to consider:

• How deep can you target? Make > Model > Email address type > bought car within X months, years > Service R.O. closed within X time period, etc.

• How do you create the export list? • Will the CRM show that a particular customer was included in a list export within the customer’s history?

• Can you title or create a description for the list so you can remember it when you refer back to the customer’s history? Why would you want the capability to export a list of customers? There might be times when you’ll want to send a targeted mailer or possibly include a call center. If your CRM has the ability to search for a group of customers for your agents to call, you’ll want to consider:

• Will the returned searches stay on the screen while the calls are being made? If you’ve sold cars or have been a manager in a dealership, you’ve probably been instructed to make some last-minute, end-of-themonth calls because you’re a hair short of your objective. A CRM can help you quickly identify the customers you need to call to make sure you’re turning over every rock to hit your objective.

• How does the search functionality work?

DECISION MAKING The reporting and decision-making aspects of a CRM fuel the tweaking and accountability of the processes. They complement one another, especially when they’re both done right.

What to Look for in Process Reports This is the toughest part to evaluate in a demo because it’s difficult to gauge without using your own data. Your best bet is to make sure the data points you want to measure are available and then call a reference dealer to see if they’ve been happy with the reporting accuracy.

As we’ve established, dealerships should be concentrating on making sure all staff are using the CRM to contact as many customers as possible, so the first thing to consider is whether the reporting suite includes reports that cover utilization. This should include:

• How many phone calls are being made? • How many phone calls are being received? • How many emails are being sent? • How many emails are being responded to? • How many appointments are being scheduled? • How many appointments are being confirmed? • How many appointments are showing?

What to Look for in Marketing Reports Obviously you want to be sure you have tracking on your CRM’s marketing communications, but you also want to monitor traffic changes based on external campaigns. It isn’t all about floor traffic anymore, so be sure the CRM can at least track phone-ups, Internet leads, and floor traffic. Another fantastic tracking benefit is being able to view service traffic, so you’re able to gauge the effects of your fixed operations marketing. Service seems to be an area that most dealers don’t want to put money or effort into, but if you are interested

(and you should be) there are some good ideas to follow when considering your CRM. When looking at your advertiser effectiveness reports, you’ll want to be able to see: • The name of the advertising or lead source and associated costs • How many customers were entered into the system from a given source • How many customers actually bought cars from those sources It’s pretty likely that you’ll do email marketing from your CRM. If so, there are two reports you have to have: • The number of customers who receive an email blast • The number of times the email was opened There are many, many more reports that can be generated regarding email marketing, but these two are good starting metrics if you haven’t been paying much attention to this area yet.

Reporting Reporting is an absolutely essential piece of a good CRM. On a basic level, the job of your

CRM is to manage customer entry and follow-up by your customerfacing staff. On a richer level, reporting will show you how well your people are doing their jobs; sophisticated CRMs can take you very deep into this area. When you’re looking at a demo, watch how the CRM sales representative talks about reporting: If it isn’t brought-up, or if he or she just says, “What reporting do you want to see?” you should be leery.


Hopefully this gets you thinking about more options for your next CRM demo. On a final note, it’s really a matter of personal preference for what reporting items you will use beyond what’s been listed here. It’s best to develop a list of your needs before diving deeply into a reporting demo and then consider how well a CRM delivers on those.



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AutoSuccess September 2012  

The #1 Sales-Improvement Magazine for the Autmotive Professional - featuring Dealer Synergy