Welcome to the digital edition
  of Digital Dealer magazine!
Just as you are trying to keep your store(s) on the cutting e...
November 2009




          The Technology Magazine for Dealers & Managers


                                             ...
CIAL
                                                                  FF I

T ABLE OF CONTENTS




                      ...
D IGITAL Dealer E-MAIL
Digital Dealer welcomes your letters and      tips you could share with me that might        way ou...
D IGITAL Dealer

                                            mobile initiative that expands web site
                     ...
D IGITAL Dealer AAISP NOTES
   Cliff Banks




The Winds of Change
                                                       ...
D IGITAL Dealer INTERNET SALES
   Mike Baker


                        Unlock the Secret to Real Success with
            ...
D IGITAL Dealer INTERNET SALES
   Steve Elson


                        Drive More Walk-in Traffic from
                  ...
D IGITAL Dealer INTERNET SALES
   Jason Ezell



                       Handling Internet Leads:
                       Ar...
D IGITAL Dealer INTERNET SALES
   Brian Epro




                       Dispelling Social Media Myths


D
         oesn’t ...
You can't climb to your
                                              highest potential alone.
                           ...
D IGITAL Dealer INTERNET SALES
   Pat Ryan Jr.



                       Apply Google’s Secrets to Achieve
               ...
• Leads consumers to make purchasing            Pat Ryan Jr. is the co-founder and chief
decision based on price to value ...
D IGITAL Dealer COVER STORY


                                                         Angela Martin
                     ...
ANGELA, TELL ME WHAT FIRST                  a month from our three-person depart-      Was the business using technol-
ATT...
Our clients are very loyal to            necessary decisions and continue to        approach. They don’t have the amount
F...
company, but they obviously under-              We don’t really have a budget. If              As far as the online upkeep...
D IGITAL Dealer INTERNET MANAGEMENT
   Rob Lange



                      Back to Basics: Customer Interaction
           ...
Digital Dealer  Nov 2009
Digital Dealer  Nov 2009
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Digital Dealer Nov 2009

  1. 1. Welcome to the digital edition of Digital Dealer magazine! Just as you are trying to keep your store(s) on the cutting edge, we are doing the very same thing as we venture into a new frontier in the publishing biz. We can get this digital version in your hands 2-3 weeks faster than the print version, giving you the freshest information possible. You can click on links at the end of each article to email the author of such. And you can click on the ads to link to that advertiser’s website (and you’d REALLY be helping us out by doing just that). It’s quite intuitive…I don’t think that someone who uses the Internet to make a living will have any trouble easily figuring it out. Please let me know what you think about it… mroscoe@Dealer-Communications.com Michael Roscoe Editor-in-Chief
  2. 2. November 2009 The Technology Magazine for Dealers & Managers Internet Sales: Unlock the Secret to Real Success with your YouTube Inventory Videos page 12 Dispelling Social Media Myths page 18 ANGELA Apply Google’s Secrets to Achieve MARTIN Google-like Success Technology Trends: page 20 INTERNET DIRECTOR INTERNET DIRECTOR Mobile Connectivity: Feldmann Imports The Light at the End page 22 of the CRM Tunnel page 29 CIAL FF I O e e ottiiv o v tom alls om a s Autess on ff Auffessiio n no on o Pro org rg o iattiioales P rnlie.e.o a es nlin n N oc i so c Sa l Assernett S.AAISPo Ast erne wA AISPo IO n t ww . IIn w ww PU B L I C AT
  3. 3. CIAL FF I T ABLE OF CONTENTS O vee oti v mo ti ls uto m na ls uto io na off A fess io o A ss on Profe .o tion Pro .org rg ciatiSales o line e ociatt Sale sPonnlin N Ass orne .AAISP s Astern e w AIS IO In te ww .A In w w w PU B L I C AT The Technology Magazine for Dealers & Managers NOVEMBER 2009 FEATURE PRESIDENT AND CEO MICHAEL ROSCOE Digital Dealer Cover Story 22 Angela Martin VICE PRESIDENT AND EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Internet Director CLIFF BANKS Feldmann Imports cbanks@Dealer-communications.com 248-351-2620 EDITOR LINDA DI PIETRO COLUMNS ldipietro@Dealer-magazine.com AAISP Notes PUBLISHER 10 The Winds of Change GREG NOONAN 607-264-3359 Cliff Banks gnoonan@Dealer-magazine.com ART DIRECTOR Internet Sales JOE BIRCH 12 Unlock the Secret to Real Success with Angela Martin PRODUCTION MANAGER your YouTube Inventory Videos Feldmann Imports ELIZABETH BIRCH Mike Baker PRINT PRODUCTION DAVID MANTHEY 14 Drive More Walk-in Traffic from Leads you COVER DESIGN Already Have JOE BIRCH Steve Elson DESIGN CONSULTING PUBLICATION DESIGN, INC. 16 Handling Internet Leads: Are you Too Pushy? COVER STORY PHOTOGRAPHY Jason Ezell MARK ROBERTSON CIRCULATION SUBSCRIPTION 18 Dispelling Social Media Myths RICH JARRETT Brian Epro 314-432-7511 rjarrett@Dealer-magazine.com www.Dealer-magazine.com 20 Apply Google’s Secrets to Achieve Google-like Success NATIONAL ADVERTISING SALES Pat Ryan Jr. adsales@Dealer-magazine.com 607-264-3359 Internet Management Dealer magazine makes every attempt to 26 Back to Basics: Customer Interaction Still a Must in ensure the accuracy of all published works. the Digital Age However it cannot be held responsible for opinions expressed or facts supplied herein. Rob Lange Nothing may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. All rights reserved. The publisher encourages you to submit suggestions. Submitted materials 27 Shrinking Staff – Growing Problem become the property of Horizon Communications, Inc. and will not be returned. Send material for Josh Vajda publication to 330 Franklin Rd., Suite 135A, PMB 386, Brentwood, TN 37027. The editor reserves the right to edit material; submission Technology Trends of material constitutes permission to edit and publish that material. This publication is 28 Can your IT Department Reduce DMS Costs? designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter Sandi Jerome covered. It is presented with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional service. 29 Mobile Connectivity: The Light at the End of If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent profes- the CRM Tunnel sional person should be sought. From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Stan Thomas Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers. BDC/CRM 30 Faith, Refresh, Rejuvenate and Renew Chuck Barker A PUBLICATION OF DEPARTMENTS 6 Digital Dealer E-mail 8 News DD 4 November 2009 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
  4. 4. D IGITAL Dealer E-MAIL Digital Dealer welcomes your letters and tips you could share with me that might way our BDC staff can support the sales after verification will run them signed or help us in writing this process. staff with the phone calls the salespeople unsigned. Letters may be edited for space took, while at the same time holding the and clarity. Send letters to Thanks again, DDmail@DigitalDealer-magazine.com. Steve Lindsay sales staff accountable for their calls. Lindsay Honda If you are using a call recording and Lindsay Acura tracking service I would see if you can set Chuck Barker, Columbus, Ohio up a call sync feature to your CRM! In your September 2009 Digital steve@lindsayacura.com I hope this helps! Dealer magazine article, “The Jeff Jones Character of a Dealership is Defined by Steve, its People, not its Walls,” you Thanks for the kind words on the cover Phil Sura, mentioned sending upon request “lead- story. I regularly read your articles in ership enriching ideas.” I'm humbly I think trying to gain more customer Digital Dealer magazine. I have a ques- requesting. Thank you in advance. contact with your staff is the right idea. tion: what is a respectable average Mike Springer We have had a call center with dedicated closing rate for our dealership web site GM phone staff setting appointments for the and OEM (Ford, Chevrolet, Hyundai Anderson Ford dealership before. There are pros and cons and VW) web leads? How about third- Lincoln, NE to both; we noticed the callers developed party leads? mikes@andersonautogroup.com rapport with the person on the phone and Any information would be appreci- would want to deal with them when they ated. Jeff Jones, came in instead of the sales staff. However, Regards, I enjoyed your great cover story inter- it seems some of the call center staff would David Cuene view in the September 2009 Digital do a better job of handling the call than Broadway Automotive Dealer magazine and thanks for the the sales staff. It is a tough decision, for Green Bay, WI helpful information! I am a now we are going to provide continuous dcuene@broadwayautomotive.com Honda/Acura dealer in Columbus, phone training to our sales staff and hold OH, and we are currently rewriting our them accountable for the calls they take. Hi David, BDC-Internet process. We are trying to We are using a “call sync” feature that The way that dealerships track the move away from the Internet salespeo- automatically imports calls (prospects) basics range tremendously. It reminds me ple working the leads from start to into our CRM. Here’s how it works: At of the desk managers who always end up finish and involve the BDC to gain the end of the call the salesperson is with an 18 percent closing ratio against more customer touches (especially required to enter their agent code before walk-in traffic. If you start to dig into the phone calls) and longer follow up. hanging up the phone. This will sync their numbers, you discover that certain I wondered if you might have any name with that call in our CRM. This customers are not being counted for differ- ent reasons. Some customers are not counted because they were really service customers, even though they spent time looking at the new models. Other customers are not counted because they didn't spend a long enough period of time at the dealership. In reference to tracking closing ratios with the Internet, there will be differences based on brand, market conditions (Cash for Clunkers impacted numbers) and the abilities of the team in place. I connected with one of the stronger directors of a group that tracks true numbers and their domestic and import dealerships. Here is what they report: Close rate ranges with web site leads: 10.5-18.6 percent during September Close rate ranges with leads from the manufacturer sites: 10-13 percent Close rate ranges from third-party sites: 4-6 percent Best of luck with the month-end close. Phil Sura DD 6 November 2009 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
  5. 5. D IGITAL Dealer mobile initiative that expands web site reach for all 154 Sonic dealerships. Anticipating consumer needs, the group’s web sites now automatically format dealership web site content for Carfax to offer the specific mobile devices shoppers use AutoUSA reports customers integrated to view dealership information. 500 percent increase Automotive shoppers on-the-go now in e-mail and phone access at Manheim.com have expanded access to auto dealership Carfax has announced that information, including inventory and leads for dealers Manheim customers will now have high definition vehicle videos, specially AutoUSA, a leading provider of the integrated access to Carfax Auction optimized for their particular hand-held highest quality, Internet-generated Quick Check and Vehicle History devices. Working in partnership with consumer leads to auto dealers nation- Reports via Manheim.com. Reports Dealer.com, the global leader of online wide, has announced a 500 percent are now available on the site’s 24/7 “Bid marketing solutions for the automotive increase in e-mail and phone leads for or Buy Now” tool, OVE.com. Access industry, the unique new mobile web dealers since April 2009 from its pay- for users of Simulcast, Manheim.com’s site initiative launched on September 1. per-lead Inventory Listing Network, LIVE bidding tool, will follow some- Historically, consumers have had powered by Vast.com. time next month. Dealers researching limited access to dealership web site AutoUSA’s Inventory Listing vehicles online with Manheim now information on hand-helds because sites Network currently provides exposure to have access to Carfax information with were not optimized for the Internet 15 million unique in-market car shop- a single mouse click. browsing formats of the devices. In the pers monthly, and is expected to grow Sue Boehlke, senior vice president, recent past, Sonic Automotive dealer- to an estimated 20 million buyers by Manheim Online Solutions and ship web sites have included a mobile year-end, for a dealer’s used and new Technology said, “Manheim is always format by merely “shrinking” the web inventory listings. Inventory is posted looking for ways to enhance its online site for smaller viewing screens or by at top automotive sites such as Kelley marketplace with solutions that provide providing a format that was specific to a transparency, build trust and improve Blue Book’s The Trusted Marketplace, single hand-held device such as the the online customer experience for AOL Autos, CarPerks.com, iPhone. While this was an improve- dealers. The online integration of Overstock.com, AutoMedia.com, ment, it still limited the consumer Carfax helps us provide for these goals.” experience because each hand-held CarDomain.com and AutoUSA’s used Previous independent studies prove device has its own particular viewing car web site, AutoUSAused.com. that using a Carfax report improves specifications and full mobile web site The service also includes a pay-for- inventory turn and increases profit. It’s access, regardless of hand-held type, was performance pricing plan in which critical that dealers pay the right price not available. Now, with Sonic's recent dealers only pay for the valid leads they for cars customers want. In addition, mobile initiative, dealership web site receive each month. When inventory used car shoppers get the information content is optimized to provide becomes depleted, dealers only pay for needed to make faster buying decisions. consumers quick access to site content leads on available inventory listings. “If you want to win at auction you that is relevant to mobile users includ- Dealers who sign up for AutoUSA must have better information,” said ing: new and used inventory, parts and Inventory Network can have their Dick Raines, Carfax president. “We’re service departments, directions and inventory appearing online within a excited to work with Manheim to dealership contact information. week, with a phone number shown provide vehicle history information so The innovative, comprehensive on each listing, allowing consumers dealers can pay the right price for cars online operating system created by to contact the dealer while viewing that fit their customers’ needs.” Dealer.com and Sonic has enabled the the listing. www.manheim.com, www.carfax.com advanced mobile application develop- There are no long-term contract ment, including integration of commitments, and dealers can opt out performance metrics into existing online of the program at any time with a 30- Sonic Automotive reporting tools. This technology part- day notice. AutoUSA also employs a Group partners with nership helps position Sonic’s stringent scrubbing process for incom- Dealer.com in mobile dealerships to stay at the forefront of the ing leads from the Vehicle Listing consumer experience, anticipating user Network that eliminates duplicates and initiative needs and delivering web site content filters out leads with missing or incor- Sonic Automotive, Inc., the nation’s where, when and how consumers seek it. rect contact information, such as phone third-largest automotive retailer, has www.dealer.com and e-mail addresses. announced the launch of a customized www.sonicautomotive.com www.AutoUSA.com DD 8 November 2009 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
  6. 6. D IGITAL Dealer AAISP NOTES Cliff Banks The Winds of Change winning culture in your organization. T hose of you that know me operations managers, parts managers might be wondering why I’m and body shop managers. It’s also the time to refine and tweak writing a column in Digital In other words, anything you and your store’s processes, optimizing the Dealer magazine. That’s because – until your managers need to run your dealer- dealership for when sales do come back. last month – I had been with another ship, as well as selling and servicing Now also is the time to get the right magazine, competing vigorously more cars, you will find on our site. staff in place. With thousands of deal- against the Dealer Communications We’re going to have the largest selec- ership employees now looking for properties for nearly 10 years. tion of best-practice, how-to columns work, finding and keeping the right But, as we have all been reminded written by the industry’s leading staff should no longer be an excuse. As this year, “change” is a constant in life, consultants. Just like you see in the one service director at a Ford dealer- and this is one change I am excited magazines, the site will include profiles ship told me recently, he has the “pick about. I am happy to say, I am now the featuring innovative dealers and their of the litter.” vice president and editorial director for secrets – at least, the ones they’re willing The point is, times such as this are Dealer Communications. to share. when foundations are laid for future From a market perspective, this has The Dealer web portal also will fortunes. That is our goal here at been a turbulent time in the automo- feature news, blogs, forums and social- Digital Dealer – and its parent Dealer tive industry, especially for dealers. It's networking communities, video, Communications. We want to times such as this in which leaders step calendars and user-generated content, provide you with all of the informa- up. I believe Dealer Communications all segmented by department. tion you need to help you build those and its team is uniquely positioned to And we’re going to offer a mobile foundations. continue being the leading source of component that will let you access the To be honest, we’re building a foun- management information for dealers site from the road. dation here at Dealer Communications and their managers as we move forward The next two to three years will be an also. In the end, it’s all about making in the 21st century. Frankly, I want to exciting time in this industry. And I money conducting business the right be a part of that. predict 2011 through 2015 will be way – with integrity, brains and I’ll be responsible for all of the edito- heralded as a golden era in automotive toughness. rial content for the company, including retail. Dealer magazine, its digital initiatives, Most of you have restructured your Cliff Banks is the vice president and editorial the six weekly e-newsletters, the digital businesses and your departments to be director of Dealer Communications, Inc. magazines, webinars and the soon to be profitable in a year in which nine He can be reached at 248-351-2620. launched Dealer web portal. million new vehicles are sold. Imagine You’re going to hear a lot about the what will happen when sales are back at If you wish to discuss this article with web portal in the weeks to come. It will the 12 to 14 million unit levels. other dealers, or with the author, be the “go to” online destination for Dealers and vendors alike will be please go to the “Discussion Forums” dealers and general managers, as well as awash in money. With nearly 3,000 at www.DigitalDealer-magazine.com having micro-sites for Internet sales fewer dealers, many of you will be and enter the “AAISP” forum or managers and e-Commerce directors, selling more vehicles than you ever e-mail him at cbanks@DigitalDealer- pre-owned managers, sales managers, thought possible. magazine.com. F&I managers, service directors, fixed Now is the time to begin instilling a DD 10 November 2009 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
  7. 7. D IGITAL Dealer INTERNET SALES Mike Baker Unlock the Secret to Real Success with your YouTube Inventory Videos Rich content and nice images aside, it’s all about search engine results videos helps the SEO of each listing gain T he use of videos to market vehicle for more than 72 percent of all U.S. inventory is a popular push by searches, but Google shoppers tend to be a higher page ranking. many vendors today, but not all more affluent consumers as well. • Be sure to list the videos on your web online video marketing is created equal. What is not well understood is that the site and link YouTube and other sites’ list- An online video walkaround presentation secret to success from posting videos to ings back to your web site. is nice, but won’t necessarily generate YouTube is having those video listings In closing, the use of YouTube postings leads if people who want that vehicle rich with search engine key words and of auto videos is not about the video expe- don’t see it. tags so they likewise post high on Google. rience for the shopper per se, it is about To bolster the odds that the model Google’s ownership of YouTube certainly using a little known loophole in the promoted by an online video can be works in favor of this. So while listing system, which currently helps you to get found by buyers looking for that particu- videos on YouTube is certainly cool, the that vehicle listing high up on search lar make and model, the video has to real reason for doing so is to get your results pages of Google. As to Yahoo and appear where buyers are shopping. More vehicle listed on Google and in the MSN and other search sites, combined and more, the place consumers are shop- market or markets where consumers are they only constitute less that 25 percent of ping is on search engines like Google and shopping for those vehicles. the entire search market and they are really YouTube. In fact, on the noted research firm not in the game for video. Their ability to Dealers can shoot and upload inven- Forrester Research’s web site, a recent find these listings or provide relevant infor- tory videos themselves to YouTube and study indicates that using this approach mation is almost non-existent. other online video sites or they can use a you can have as much as a 50 times Research shows that shoppers start at a service to do this for them. Advantages of advantage to having a posting appear on search engine and navigate to other sites such a service is that the provider takes the front of Google over using a tradi- or listings from there. It is up to you to do this time-consuming function off the tional web page. the leg work to reach buyers where they dealer’s shoulders and the automation Here are some useful tips, for use start looking for the inventory dealers tools they employ easily populate videos whether you’re uploading inventory have on their lots, at a time when they are to not only sites like YouTube, but more videos to YouTube and other online video most ready to buy a vehicle. traditional car shopping web sites like sites yourself or using a listing service: Most dealers are too busy trying to sell cars.com and Autotrader.com. • Be sure to tag listings with SEO-rele- cars to be able to spend the time it takes Still, placement of videos on these sites vant information so search engines will to keep up with the ever-changing land- does not guarantee buyers will actually see up the listing and rank them in their scape of the Internet. One of the reasons them. To improve the odds that they will, indexes. Google indexes YouTube listings you might want to employ an outside video-listing companies employ a variety in about four to eight days on average, firm to help you build a program that of search engine optimization techniques. though there are services that can have works this week, next week and beyond is Thus, when a consumer types “White them appear within hours. that the only rule that is constant about 2007 Ford Fusion in Ames” into a search • Be aware that index rankings – known as the Internet is that the rules will change engine like Google, models fitting those page rank on Google – frequently change without notice. keywords in the Ames, Iowa area appear how rankings are determined, which can on the resulting search pages. OK, but affect the relevancy of a listing. The rules Mike Baker is president of how can you improve the chances that here can be unpredictable. The relevancy AutoUpLinkUSA, a leading provider of the white 2007 Ford Fusion you have rules are affected by a number of factors online vehicle inventory listing and image listed will appear in the top search page that vary by market, time of year, volume of publishing marketing services. positions, the most prominent and effec- listings and a number of parameters, which tive positions? generally are unpublished by search To get that white 2007 Ford Fusion engines. Services that provide discovery and If you wish to discuss this article with video before the eyes of consumers well testing of search engine “relevancy” factors other dealers, or with the author, along in the sales funnel – those buyers can help increase listings’ index rankings. please go to the “Discussion Forums” within the last few weeks of buying – • Be sure to post the same videos to a at www.DigitalDealer-magazine.com means the video must appear on Google. number of media sites, not just YouTube and enter the “Internet Sales” forum or The Internet traffic monitor firm Hitwise or one of the more mainline car-shopping e-mail him at mbaker@DigitalDealer- notes that not only does Google account online sites. More listings of the same magazine.com. DD 12 November 2009 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
  8. 8. D IGITAL Dealer INTERNET SALES Steve Elson Drive More Walk-in Traffic from Leads you Already Have How to use walk-in incentives to lure today’s online shoppers walk-in incentives – targeting high H ow do you pry people away phone calls just to reach a prospect. And from their computer screens then you still need to convince her to set quality prospects, eliminating wasted and get them to step inside your an appointment (and hopefully she incentive inventory, taking the logis- dealership? Coaxing prospects to make a shows up). Offering your leads a walk-in tics off your hands, and providing personal appearance is one of the main incentive reduces the follow-up effort campaign measurement. challenges for dealers. Blame the required and increases the show rate, Internet! As car buyers increasingly rely simply by providing a bit of extra moti- Here are some best practices for man- on Internet research, visits to dealerships vation for the prospect to come in. aging walk-in incentives effectively: have plummeted. The average number In addition to raising your show rate, of visits to a dealership by a customer walk-in incentives can also increase the 1. Target incentives to the right in- looking to purchase a car has decreased market prospects: Limit an offer to from seven in the year 2000 to only 1.5 people who have indicated they’re truly in 2008 (Network Q, April 2005)! “Dealers are addressing in-market. Instead of showing an offer to This amounts to far fewer chances to every visitor to your web site, target it to meet prospects in person. The upside is the new shopping visitors exhibiting shopping behaviors, that if you’re one of the 1.5 dealers a such as navigating to vehicle inventory buyer chooses to visit, you have a more landscape by maintain- pages or making repeat visits to the site. educated buyer who won’t take as much time to close. But if you’re one of the ing attractive web sites 2. Target special incentives to 5.5 that a buyer would have visited pre- prospects needing extra motivation: Internet, you don’t even get a shot. and following up leads Offer sweeter incentives to in-market Dealers are addressing the new shop- shoppers who haven’t been responsive. ping landscape by maintaining aggressively with For example, you can escalate the value attractive web sites and following up of a walk-in incentive to a good lead leads aggressively with CRM applica- CRM applications.” who hasn’t set an appointment after a tions. Amidst this scramble, one highly —Steve Elson week’s effort. effective yet overlooked marketing tactic is the walk-in incentive. 3. Test to find the best incentives: Your Walk-in incentives are precisely the intuition may be valuable but it is not a kind of tactic that entices shoppers to lead capture rate for your site and other replacement for testing. Test incentives visit a dealer. Walk-in incentives help marketing tactics. against one another. Figure out if you differentiate a dealership from competi- So why has the time-tested walk-in really need to give away that promo- tors, who may all be offering essentially incentive fallen out of favor? First, there’s tional item worth $30, or does a $20 indistinguishable OEM or finance the risk of wasting time and funds by item work just as well? incentives. When a shopper is research- attracting gift seekers who aren’t truly in- ing online and deciding where to visit, a market. Then there’s the challenge of 4. Consider different incentives for small gift such as a $25 gas card can tip limited resources, as it requires time to different prospects: If your dealership the decision to visit one dealership plan a giveaway promotion. There’s the sells to different audiences, you may find instead of or sooner than another – or logistical challenge of procuring and unique incentives resonate better with even entice him to add an extra visit to stocking items, and ensuring that these each type of customer: it may be a $50 the list. items don’t “grow legs” and walk away on dining voucher in one instance, or Many dealers have loads of leads but their own. There’s the issue of picking tickets to a prestigious golf event in never get to meet most of them. the right incentive, with the inherent risk another. Consider the audience you’re Speaking with people face-to-face and of investing in an ineffective promotion. trying to reach – those in the market for sitting them in vehicles is the best way to And then there’s the challenge of meas- a family-hauling vehicle or a sleek sedan help them make a purchase decision; and urement – how do you measure the ROI – and then test! dealers do everything they can to on such investments? increase the show rate of their leads. But Fortunately, new technologies and it’s hard work. On average, it takes nine partners allow you to apply smart continued on P-32 DD 14 November 2009 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
  9. 9. D IGITAL Dealer INTERNET SALES Jason Ezell Handling Internet Leads: Are you Too Pushy? 60-plus day leads O nce you receive leads from tion about them such as how long they your web site, how do you were on your site and on which pages Your 60-plus day-old Internet leads move forward with them? Are they spent the most time. This informa- are generally ready to visit the dealership you effectively working toward a sale? tion will help you tailor your response. and have a firm idea of what vehicles Or are you unintentionally pushing When you send the requested infor- they want to come in and test drive. your shoppers away? mation, use the opportunity to build In the past 60 days, you’ve built In 2008, 29 percent of automotive rapport. Introduce yourself and discuss strong relationships, shown them what Internet users (AIUs) requested a referral the benefits of shopping at your dealer- cars you have available that align with to a dealer through any type of automo- ship. Use the value proposition what they’re looking for and helped tive web site (J.D. Power and Associates approach to let your shoppers know them narrow down their search. 2008 New AutoShopper.com Study). what makes your dealership stand out It’s time to start pushing a sale. What can we learn about the role your from other dealers in your area. Remind them of the vehicles you’ve web site plays in the buying process and This will not only arm the shopper talked about before, alert them of new how you can benefit from it? with plenty of information to help inventory that matches their specifica- You have three categories of Internet them begin the vehicle purchase tions and talk to them about coming leads – fresh leads, 30-day leads and 60- process, but it will also strengthen your into the dealership to view or test drive plus day leads – and each of these has to reputation as the dealer who offers assis- your vehicles. be handled in its own way. Dealing tance instead of just a sales pitch. Once they visit, you’ll have the with Internet leads isn’t about following perfect opportunity to launch into a your sales process. It’s about adhering to 30-day leads serious sales effort and work toward the buyer’s process. Once your Internet leads reach the converting those leads into sales. 30-day status, shoppers likely will have Taking the time to carefully cultivate narrowed down the types of vehicles your Internet leads with a soft-sell they’re interested in. It’s just as impor- approach will put you at an advantage as “Dealing with Internet tant now as it was in the beginning to you build a relationship with your poten- avoid being too pushy or eager to make tial customers before selling them your leads isn’t about a sale, as that could turn your shoppers inventory. Your shoppers won’t see you as into your competition’s customers. just another car dealer, but they’ll trust following your sales Now is the time to switch into you as a great resource for information “discovery mode” and help your shop- and be more likely to make their next process. It’s about pers find the vehicles that will fit their vehicle purchase at your dealership. lifestyles. Because you already have the adhering to the background information that you gath- Jason Ezell is one of Dealerskins’ origi- ered during the initial conversations, nal founders and currently works as a buyer’s process.” you can use it to direct shoppers to their private consultant to the company and —Jason Ezell next vehicles. dealers nationwide. He has been a ven- Once you and your shoppers have dor representative on the J.D. Power further narrowed the search, it will be a Internet Roundtable and speaks to Fresh leads quick and easy process to find a variety NADA Dealer 20 groups nationwide on Your newest Internet leads simply of cars that will interest them. Send web site strategy. want information such as accurate your potential customers a brief list of pricing, available options and more vehicles in your inventory that match If you wish to discuss this article with detailed descriptions. Don’t be overly their specifications to let them know other dealers, or with the author, aggressive with them. that you’re there to help. please go to the “Discussion Forums” Before you respond to these leads, By sending this information, you’ll at www.DigitalDealer-magazine.com take a moment to get more information not only be top of mind when the and enter the “Internet Sales” forum or about your potential customer. You shoppers decide to test drive vehicles, e-mail him at jezell@DigitalDealer- should be able to log into the control but you’ll also be eliminating several magazine.com. panel of your web site and find informa- steps of the search process for them. DD 16 November 2009 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
  10. 10. D IGITAL Dealer INTERNET SALES Brian Epro Dispelling Social Media Myths D oesn’t it seem like everyone is pushing social media these days? While new social media “Give customers impeccable service, valuable solutions come to market every day, there remain very few real statistics information and a way to spread that information about how social media is working for dealers and whether it’s actually bring- to friends and colleagues and they will do the ing in paying customers. To help you sort through the noise, below are some social media marketing for you.” of the common myths associated with —Brian Epro social media marketing and what you can do to get in the game without in social media, it does not have to be customers. Give customers impeccable spending a penny. complicated or time-consuming. service, valuable information and a way Which brings me to my next point… to spread that information to friends Myth 1: Social media hasn’t reached and colleagues and they will do the auto customers yet Myth 3: Social media is complicated social media marketing for you. As long Social media has slipped into every The best kind of social media as you have a way to track where your industry and nearly every customer’s campaign begins with a loyal customer articles, coupons and offers show up on life. While it’s true that not all people base who appreciates and sends on the various sites, your social campaign can are tweeting on Twitter or posting to a information you share with them. I ride right alongside your traditional Facebook page, there are a host of know an Internet sales manager who marketing services. other social applications out there. had a customer post one of their e- Social media is not only here to stay, Have you ever read or posted an newsletter articles to his Twitter, but it is slowly creeping into the plans opinion or review on a web site? That’s Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. of every dealership. However, instead of a type of social application. What That’s a triple social media hit for the forcing a social media plan, go back to about watched YouTube? If the answer dealership completely driven by one your traditional ways of doing business is yes, you have participated on a social customer! This dealer didn’t have to do – excellent customer service, valuable media site and more than likely, so anything “outside of the box” to create information and the invitation for two- have your customers. The idea that a social media hit, they merely enabled way communication – and your social media is not used in automotive their customers to post e-newsletter customers will do the work for you, free circles is outdated. articles to different social media chan- of charge. nels. The ISM is letting the dealership Myth 2: No other dealer is doing it, customer do the social networking for Brian Epro is director of Automotive why should I? him, which should be the goal of any Services Group at IMN Loyalty Driver. All it takes to dispel this myth is viral campaign. typing the words “dealership + Facebook” into Google. You’ll find Myth 4: Social media needs to be a If you wish to discuss this article with pages and pages of dealerships that have separate campaign other dealers, or with the author, posted their store profile on Facebook While social media is spreading like please go to the “Discussion Forums” and are building “fans” on their page. wildfire right now, dealerships don’t at www.DigitalDealer-magazine.com Recently more than 600 dealers were have to do anything particularly costly and enter the “Internet Sales” forum or identified as having a Twitter account. or time-consuming to get it going. As e-mail him at bepro@DigitalDealer- However, while it is true more dealer- noted above, the best social media magazine.com. ships than ever before are participating campaigns come directly from DD 18 November 2009 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
  11. 11. You can't climb to your highest potential alone. You need wingmen to win! In Never Fly Solo (McGraw-Hill), former combat decorated fighter pilot and leadership speaker Lt. Col. Rob “Waldo” Waldman shares a flight plan for success in business and life. Whether you are a senior executive, a mid-level manager, or entrepreneur, your success depends on the mutual support of trusted partners to help you maximize your potential. Fighter pilots call these partners wingmen. In Never Fly Solo, former combat decorated fighter pilot and leadership speaker Lt. Col. Rob “Waldo” Waldman shares business critical concepts for success in business and life. You’ll learn to: • Commit to the core wingman values of integrity, service and excellence • Transform relationships with colleagues into interdependent partnerships for success • Take courageous action and ask for help when adversity strikes • Communicate effectively in high stress situations Available 12.01.09 in bookstores everywhere. Advance order at www.YourWingman.com. 100% of Waldo’s advance purchase profits will be donated to veterans! If you would like Waldo to speak at your company meeting or if you want to sponsor his “Never Fly Solo” book tour, call 1-866-925-3616 or e-mail info@yourwingman.com
  12. 12. D IGITAL Dealer INTERNET SALES Pat Ryan Jr. Apply Google’s Secrets to Achieve Google-like Success higher with consumers and is more E very company would like to enjoy the success of Google – the “...Dealers must come likely to be chosen versus competitors’ fastest growing company of the ads. In addition, when optimizing Internet age. Walk into a room and ask to terms with one vehicle ads, maximizing consumer rele- a crowd how many had used Google vancy goes beyond what page a today or even this week and virtually essential fact: In the consumer should look at and focuses every hand goes up. No surprise since on which of the 1.5 dealers the over 70 percent of searches in the U.S Internet age, every consumer should visit. use Google – over nine billion per month [Hitwise, May, 2009]. dealership is an Hitting the consumer MARK So how does Google dominate the In order to create ads that are rele- world of Internet search? The answer is Internet dealership.” vant, dealers must first focus on what simple: People use Google because it —Pat Ryan Jr. is most relevant to their consumers. helps them find what they are looking Most consumers make their purchas- for – in short, Google maximizes ing decision based on what they value. consumer relevancy. Yet, despite With that in mind, dealers must focus Google’s virtually unparalleled success, • “Car talk.” A dealer’s use of on the characteristics of their vehicles few online advertisers, especially online automotive jargon such as, that are more likely to “hit the vehicle advertisers, leverage Google’s “This car has eyes.” This use of M.A.R.K” for their potential buyers. powerful, yet simple secret in manag- insider language does not appeal We use this acronym to describe the ing their own Internet business. to the masses. four most relevant drivers in the consumer’s buying process: Evolution equals revolution In order to meet the needs of With over 80 percent of consumers consumers whose buying habits have 1. Mission: Does the vehicle fit my researching online for an average of 6.5 fundamentally shifted since the advent mission? hours before visiting a dealership, of the Internet, dealers must do away dealers must come to terms with one with these ineffective advertising and • e.g. Safe, fuel efficient, family car that essential fact: In the Internet age, every selling techniques in their online busi- seats five (including three car seats) and dealership is an Internet dealership. ness and must instead focus on has a cargo area instead of a trunk to fit Despite this powerful data, too many maximizing consumer relevancy – the my dog dealers are still approaching their degree to which your vehicle meets the online strategy using “old school” needs of your customer. 2. Affordable: Is this vehicle affordable advertising methods such as: The key to maximizing consumer given my financial means? • Generic VIN or window sticker relevancy lies in consumer optimiza- data. Example: Online ads that tion, a concept that I have introduced • Payment range is the primary factor list the four most common in previous columns. Consumer opti- vehicle attributes in the first line: mization applies the Google Consumer 3. Risk: How much risk on reliability “power locks,” “power windows,” Relevancy model to online vehicle am I taking? “power steering” and “air condi- advertising, underscoring that with tioning.” These attributes have every vehicle, certain features, qualities • One-owner, still under warranty, not been vehicle differentiators and benefits are more important than service history, low mileage, JD Power for decades and are not the others. Emphasizing what consumers Quality Ratings, projected total cost of unique or relevant features that care about while minimizing what they ownership online shoppers look for. don’t – increases the relevancy of your vehicle to the prospective buyer. As a 4. Key differentiators: What are the • Generic narratives. Stating the result, just as search engine optimiza- key differentiators of this vehicle versus obvious such as, “This vehicle is tion optimizes a web page so it ranks my alternatives? equipped with a 4.6 liter higher, consumer optimization opti- engine…” mizes an online vehicle ad so it ranks continued next page DD 20 November 2009 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
  13. 13. • Leads consumers to make purchasing Pat Ryan Jr. is the co-founder and chief decision based on price to value equation executive officer of First Look by INCISENT Technologies, the leader in If you wish to discuss this article with With a clear understanding of the automotive retail performance solutions, other dealers, or with the author, consumer’s M.A.R.K factors, dealers are which was ranked as the #4 Fastest please go to the “Discussion Forums” better enabled to consumer optimize Growing Software Company in the at www.DigitalDealer-magazine.com their online ads. The first step in this United States in Inc Magazine’s 2008 and enter the “Internet Sales” forum or process centers on pricing. Because Inc500, as well as the #1 Fastest e-mail him at pryan@DigitalDealer- consumers rarely choose a pre-owned Growing Company in the Automotive magazine.com. vehicle on price alone, it is critical to get Sector. Ryan is a widely followed thought pricing right from the start. While leader and speaker in the industry. consumers search for models that meet their mission and are affordable, dealers must stay in the game using consumer optimized pricing techniques, which manage the fine line between overpric- ing vehicles so you’re not “out of the game” and giving away gross profit upfront through under pricing. With optimized pricing in place, consumers will likely continue their online search by scanning ad previews, which should speak to a consumer’s needs or the M.A.R.K factors. During this critical time, the key is to highlight the unique attributes or benefits that set your vehicle apart from the compe- tition including: • Equipment and options (heated seats, rear seat entertainment, leather, etc.) • Lifestyle features (family car, sporty, fun, tough utility, etc.) • Vehicle history (Carfax one owner, original warranty, low mileage, etc.) • Certification program features (extended warranty, etc.) • Value (price compared to sticker, Kelley Blue Book or previous dealer price, etc.) This concept, known as “consumer optimized advertising” can move you beyond generic online ads created with VIN explosions to high impact ads that promote the unique benefits and value of every vehicle. With consumer opti- mized advertising, dealers can convert online browsers to on the lot buyers, thus setting up their business for stronger profitability. By applying the techniques of consumer optimization, dealers will be positioned to create a new power shift – the shift away from irrelevancy. Now is the time to take the lessons of the Google relevancy model to achieve online and on the lot success. DigitalDealer-magazine.com November 2009 DD 21
  14. 14. D IGITAL Dealer COVER STORY Angela Martin Internet Director Feldmann Imports Angela Martin, the 32-year-old Internet director for Feldmann Imports in Bloomington, Minnesota, says she didn’t plan a future that included selling cars over the Internet, but after nine years having success using the best online technology to move Nissan and Mercedes-Benz units off the lot, she says she wouldn’t change a thing about her accidental career. As the lone Internet sales manager for the family-owned dealership in 2006 she was moving about 25 cars a month. Today, with two additional Internet sales people on board, Martin’s team sells about 67 cars a month. Martin says she’s constantly experimenting with new technology. She credits her management for its willingness to be quick adopters of whatever works and says thanks to that, online sales now account for about 30 percent of the dealership’s business; and that number is still growing despite today’s challenging market. DD 22 November 2009 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
  15. 15. ANGELA, TELL ME WHAT FIRST a month from our three-person depart- Was the business using technol- ATTRACTED YOU TO BE AUTO INDUSTRY? ment. As technology and the Internet ogy smartly when you arrived? I moved to the West Coast after department advances there is a great In 2001 when I began my automo- college without a job or any money. I need for someone to be able to focus tive career, there was not much was down to $200 and was about to solely on that area of the business. I technology available other than e-mail. give up when I decided to make some truly believe that this department is as I would say that the automotive busi- quick cash selling Hondas. I ended up important as any other in a dealership. ness was definitely ahead of other in the Internet department after a short It is the one area that came in strong businesses at that time with even time on the sales floor. This is where it 10-plus years ago and continues to gain having a dedicated department. all began for me. This was 2001 and the more and more momentum everyday. I joined Feldmann Imports when Internet department was relatively new. It is an exciting place to be. technology really began to explode. We We basically responded to inquiries by are a very technologically advanced e-mail that was famous for the upfront company and always looking for the pricing and saving the customer from a next great thing to arrive. We began lot of negotiation time. “As technology and the SEM and pay-per-click advertising The attraction to the Internet aspect before any of our competitors and were of the automotive business is what has Internet department able to dominate that area for a while kept me involved for nine years. It is before everyone else jumped on board. constantly changing and I learn some- advances there is a We worked with AutoMotion in their thing new everyday. After a four-year developmental stages of video test drives stint in Oregon I decided to move back great need for someone and were the first dealer in this area to to my home state of Minnesota. That is provide that to our customers. Most when I landed with Feldmann Imports, to be able to focus recently we have added online negotia- almost five years ago. What initially tions to all our new and used vehicles attracted me to Feldmann Imports was solely on that area of that is provided by Widestorm. This has that they had a dedicated BDC for the been one of our best investments. Internet department, incoming and the business.” The technology changes from 2001 follow-up phone calls and service to 2009 have been amazing and department. The smaller family-owned —Angela Martin Feldmann’s continues to be a leader in dealership was the other factor that this market. I do spend time research- brought me here. After being involved ing and seeing what is successful for with a large dealer group, I wanted to other dealers. feel involved and the Feldmann family is Can you describe what that posi- very involved in the dealership and tion entails? It’s a tough market. How are your dedicated to their employees. I would Feldmann Imports consists of stores performing now? choose to be with a dealership of this Mercedes, Nissan, smart and pre- All of our stores are performing well. size over a large group because of the owned. All the dealerships are located We have maintained the same amount involvement and true passion of the in Bloomington, MN. My position of units as the previous year. We have Feldmann family and the employees includes managing our three Internet actually had an increase of sales in a few here. It is fun to come to work everyday managers and a part-time assistant. I areas, which has been very gratifying to and know that you are making a differ- also review leads, incoming phone calls, all of us at Feldmann Imports. Our ence in the dealership and providing our reporting of our sales and percentages, increases have been in the sales of pre- customers with a unique experience. keeping our web sites updated with owned vehicles, primarily certified current specials, updating new and Mercedes-Benz. We are on track to sell How did you land as Internet sales used inventory, preparing our monthly 220 additional pre-owned vehicles this director for Feldmann Imports? newsletter, producing mass e-mails, year; new Nissan and Mercedes sales Becoming the director of the Internet reviewing site statistics and conver- have recently started to pick up. We department has been something that sions, special events and much of the expect to surpass our 2008 total units. has evolved over time and growth. marketing and advertising for the About a year and a half ago it became Nissan and Mercedes store. There is How did you manage to get these apparent to the management staff that a definitely a lot of responsibility with results? director was needed for this growing the director position, but the manage- We have continued to try different department. ment and Internet team provide great advertising and marketing plans as well I started at Feldmann Imports as the support and encouragement. The as developing microsites with ADP only Internet manager selling around Internet department attributes to about digital solution to drive more traffic to 25 vehicles per month. We gradually 30 percent of the Nissan Mercedes and our web site. We have placed our adver- began adding people to the Internet pre-owned sales; and that percentage tising dollars in the right places that team. Now we are averaging 67 vehicles continues to grow. have produced new business for us. DigitalDealer-magazine.com November 2009 DD 23
  16. 16. Our clients are very loyal to necessary decisions and continue to approach. They don’t have the amount Feldmann Imports. Many have allow it to grow. Feldmann Imports has of volume or sales staff that we have at purchased numerous vehicles from us been involved in the Internet aspect for Nissan and Mercedes, so they distribute and continue to do business with us many years; it was very refreshing to be the leads to all the sales staff. If the because of the way they are treated able to step in and have the support of Internet departments continue to grow here. For example, we provide an everyone from the beginning. as rapidly as they have in the past few airport shuttle to all customers. We years, there could be a time in the store their cars for free and provide a What’s the process for receiving future when all sales staff will be trained ride to and from the airport. We also and distributing Internet leads? to handle internet leads providing tech- offer weekly massages, manicures and All of our leads are routed into nology and the consumers continue to shoe shines to all our clients. Most of Higher Gear and are assigned to utilize it to make purchases. these are unheard of at a dealership. Internet managers from there. All three First-time customers are always of them handle the pre-owned leads. I Do you have one or several web surprised with these unique services we have two designated to Nissan and one sites? offer. Everything we do here revolves to Mercedes. The Internet managers all We have one main page that includes around making sure our customers are work very well together and are some of all our brands. Then we have an indi- pleased and remain loyal to us. the most dedicated and determined vidual site for each store; so we have individuals I have ever worked with. four web sites in all. Give me an overview of the Because we work out of the BDC, the importance of Internet sales for Internet managers work very closely What lead-generation tools work your business. with the sales floor staff as well. We best on your sites? Like I mentioned earlier, Internet utilize a select group of salespeople to The best lead-generation tool that we sales contribute to 30 percent of our assist with appointments. These indi- have right now is the ‘negotiate online’ business and continues to grow. It is a viduals have to sell a certain amount of tool. On each vehicle listing there is an vital piece of this dealership and we are vehicles and maintain a high CSI in icon that says, “negotiate now”, the so lucky here to have the opportunity to order to receive appointments from our consumer is able to submit the exact continue to grow the department. Our Internet staff. vehicle they want along with any trade general manager, Joe Feldmann has information. The system then produces placed an enormous amount of trust in Does it differ at individual stores? different financing quotes or lease me and this department to make the Our smart store has a different quotes. Widestorm is a relatively new DEALERSHIP PARTNERS IN PROFIT: Dealership name: Vehicle video vendors: Feldmann Imports AutoMotion Web site URLs: Online lead generators Feldmanns.com, FeldmannNissan.com not including the OEM FeldmannMercedes.com sources: AutoUSA Web site provider/host: Autobytel BZ Results Cars.com Web site vehicle photos ZAG and videos taken by: AutoUplink Third-party sites where inventory is posted: Vehicle Marketing: Autobytel Digital Motor Works Cars.com Homenet CarSoup DMS provider: Vehix Reynolds and Reynolds Vehicle history reports: BDC software/vendor: Experian Auto Check Higher Gear Other vendors Contact at once not listed: IMN Widestorm CRM program: Higher Gear DD 24 November 2009 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
  17. 17. company, but they obviously under- We don’t really have a budget. If As far as the online upkeep, our used stand how consumers prefer to do something is going to give us a car manager and I work very closely on business. This style of sale produces an competitive edge in our market, then keeping ourselves competitive in the immediate response to the customer we will give it a shot. We track our market. We look at it daily and adjust with detailed information for them to marketing efforts very closely to ensure where needed. We are very lucky to base their decision. that we have the correct systems in have such a great management staff that I believe the third-party leads are place. Over the last few years the is so versatile. becoming less effective and the leads majority of our marketing expense has coming directly from our own web site shifted to online means. What else, technology or sales provide us with the best leads. philosophy, sets you apart as a Are you big in the social network- dealer group? How do you use SEO? ing arena? Our motto is “Service, sales and We actually switched to BZ Results I am a fan of social networking service” and that is truly what we are all about a year ago mainly because of because it is a very important way to about. We pride ourselves on the way issues with SEO on our previous web communicate with many of our we serve and treat our customers. I site. So with this in mind we built each Generation X and Y customers. With think our customers feel that the page to contain relevant information that said, we are working on setting up minute they walk in the door. I actually about that portion of our business. a few different social networking sites hear from customers very often how ADP has worked very diligently with us and putting together a plan to get different it feels when they enter our to make sure we have good results with ourselves into this area. I see this as a dealership. the search engines. We review reports great opportunity to brand our dealer- We are also a technology-advanced constantly and work to make sure the ships and the best part is they are free! company that strives to be involved content of our pages is relevant and with the latest advances. We utilize a consistent with the results we are What new technology trends are few different tools that help us with looking to achieve. you spotting? inventory and customer retention. I have always been a big fan of How are you finding those ‘better’ mobile web sites. The amount of What’s your typical workweek like keywords for SEM? growth in mobile device capabilities and what do you do to relax out- The review of weekly reporting of over the last few years has been side of work? keywords and phrases gives me a great amazing. People are using their mobile There is never a dull moment. My snapshot of what is working and what devices as their computers much of the day usually starts with checking sold isn’t. Over the years we have identified time. If this continues, all web sites will units from the previous day and the keywords that get us conversations need to be mobile-ready. I see this tran- reporting which were Internet sales. and continue to add and take words sition similar to when the Internet Then I review used inventory and out. We have actually been able to departments started, some dealers were take the sold units off our web sites decrease costs in this area due to just on board immediately and others took and re-price used inventory that needs tailoring our keywords and phrases to their time. The dealerships that were to be adjusted. Next, I will listen to those that are most effective. willing to make the changes were incoming sales calls from the previous successful with it long before the day. Then I review our web site How do you use e-mail cam- dealers that thought the Internet was reports and statistics, update the web paigns? just a phase. The mobile switch will be site with changes and specials. There Our strongest campaign is our another interesting change for dealer- are days and weeks that I focus on the monthly newsletter because we are able ships across the country. newsletter or special events and to pack so much information about promotions. Throughout the day, sales, service, parts and specials into one Do you stress pre-owned sales and every day, I am working with the mailing. We usually see a big increase of how does the group manage the Internet managers and sales managers web visitors in the days following the inventory? to help put deals together. It makes newsletter. We are able to track what We definitely have a very strong for a busy, yet exciting day. articles are viewed most, which allows pre-owned department. It is an area Relax? I haven’t had much of that us to focus on the areas that our that has continued to grow rapidly for since my son was born three years ago. customers have the greatest interest. us. We have an outstanding pre- My time outside of work consists of We also use e-mail campaigns when owned inventory. At this time our playing trucks and riding bikes to the a new program or special is announced Nissan and Mercedes dealerships park with Blake, my son. It is actually or if we have a great service special share a pre-owned inventory space. the most fun I have ever had. We have going on. I try to limit the amount of Because the stores are right next to a blast together and there is never a dull e-mails to two or three a month and each other, we are able to keep the lot moment from sun up to sun down. I target just the customers that the in between the two stores. All of our love every minute of my life. I wouldn’t particular special pertains. desk managers are trained to work on change a single thing about it! both new and pre-owned vehicles, so What about your marketing they are able to rotate between loca- amartin@DigitalDealer- expenses? tions and brands. magazine.com DigitalDealer-magazine.com November 2009 DD 25
  18. 18. D IGITAL Dealer INTERNET MANAGEMENT Rob Lange Back to Basics: Customer Interaction Still a Must in the Digital Age either provides the customers comfort S ince you are reading this, you likely read many industry maga- to move forward with a dealership visit zines, read and/or contribute to a “Allowing salespeople or an immediate purchase or provide number of online automotive forums them with a reason to eliminate your and blogs, and attend related confer- to be inefficient dealership from consideration. What I ences. Much of the information in heard defied belief and if it were not so online forums relates to the impor- on the phone is a damaging to dealerships, could be tance and “how to” of automotive considered comical. It is time to take marketing, understandably so. All of disservice to the the kid gloves off and deliver a dose of these resources stress the importance shock therapy, as this is too important of attracting the customer to make a salesperson by not to dance around by simply providing a sale. One of the biggest challenges nice little list of things to do. This needs dealers face is consistently trying to providing instruction to be addressed head on. position and reposition their market- Think about how much time and ing efforts to capture online shoppers on how to become a money your dealership invests each and drive them to the dealership. It is month to position your dealership and a learning process as technology is better communicator attract the greatest number of online ever-changing and dealers must stay buyers. Recall the creativity and fine- on top of the various tools being used and earn a tuning involved in working within by customers to satisfy their automo- constrained marketing budgets to build tive needs. It is like playing with a greater living.” an online brand and dealership aware- Rubik’s Cube all day, every day, and —Rob Lange ness. Consider the value of just one just when you think you have it fig- customer over the lifetime of ownership ured out someone changes the color of quality of this interaction seems to have with front-end-sale profit, F&I profit, the blocks, forcing you to start over. taken a back seat and could very well be warranty work, regular service, referrals With that in mind, many large dealer- costing your dealership a lot more than and repeat business. The idea that even ships hire specialized people to just one sale. one sale may have been needlessly lost specifically handle online marketing When customers phone a dealership, should create greater resolve to get back efforts, while smaller dealerships ask the perceived level of professionalism to basics, regularly “inspect what you Internet managers to wear both mar- can ultimately and sometimes immedi- expect,” and provide continuous train- keting and sales hats; a very time ately determine whether you or your ing to help your sales team do a better consuming task. Gone are the days of competition earns their business. I job with inbound phone calls. Anything signing off on the newspaper ad, advis- recently listened to many phone less and your marketing efforts become ing the sales team of the upcoming conversations originated by customers, activity rather than achievement because week’s featured vehicles and waiting after viewing a specific vehicle adver- if the sale is lost once the customer has for customers to walk through the tised online by a dealership, and the initiated contact, all is for naught. When door. The marketing juggling act results can be summed up in one word you equate a poorly executed inbound never ends. – scary. By the time the customers call phone inquiry to walk-in traffic it is the With the behind-the-scenes activity they have, in effect, already approved equivalent of allowing salespeople to in making sure your dealership is prop- the dealership, been provided a virtual prejudge a customer’s intent to purchase erly positioned online and the time walk around by viewing online photos and dismiss them without management necessary to get the job done, I suspect and reading your “seller’s notes.” They interaction and that in most dealerships a very important part of the sales may have also reviewed the vehicle price is a cardinal sin, yet too often is it accept- process has been neglected and recently and are still interested enough to put able with phone conversations. Allowing my thought was repeatedly confirmed. themselves in what many consider a salespeople to be inefficient on the The interaction with the customer vulnerable position by initiating phone is a disservice to the salesperson through an actual phone conversation personal contact. At this point it is your by not providing instruction on how to is the last hurdle to convince them to sale to win or lose. What happens on continued on P-32 come to your store. However, the the call is critical. It is the step that DD 26 November 2009 DigitalDealer-magazine.com

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