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…
The Technology Magazine for Dealers & Managers
Unlock the Secret to Real
Success with your YouTube
ANGELA Apply Google’s
Secrets to Achieve
MARTIN Google-like Success
INTERNET DIRECTOR Mobile Connectivity:
Feldmann Imports The Light at the End
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The Technology Magazine for Dealers & Managers
FEATURE PRESIDENT AND CEO
Digital Dealer Cover Story
22 Angela Martin VICE PRESIDENT AND
Internet Director CLIFF BANKS
Feldmann Imports cbanks@Dealer-communications.com
LINDA DI PIETRO
AAISP Notes PUBLISHER
10 The Winds of Change GREG NOONAN
Cliff Banks gnoonan@Dealer-magazine.com
Internet Sales JOE BIRCH
12 Unlock the Secret to Real Success with Angela Martin
your YouTube Inventory Videos Feldmann Imports ELIZABETH BIRCH
Mike Baker PRINT PRODUCTION
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
18 Dispelling Social Media Myths RICH JARRETT
Brian Epro 314-432-7511
20 Apply Google’s Secrets to Achieve Google-like
Success NATIONAL ADVERTISING SALES
Pat Ryan Jr. adsales@Dealer-magazine.com
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.
30 Faith, Refresh, Rejuvenate and Renew
Chuck Barker A PUBLICATION OF
6 Digital Dealer E-mail
DD 4 November 2009 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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?
email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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:
Best of luck with the month-end close.
DD 6 November 2009 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
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
D IGITAL Dealer AAISP NOTES
The Winds of Change
winning culture in your organization.
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
D IGITAL Dealer INTERNET SALES
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
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
D IGITAL Dealer INTERNET SALES
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
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
D IGITAL Dealer INTERNET SALES
Handling Internet Leads:
Are you Too Pushy?
60-plus day leads
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
D IGITAL Dealer INTERNET SALES
Dispelling Social Media Myths
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
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D IGITAL Dealer INTERNET SALES
Pat Ryan Jr.
Apply Google’s Secrets to Achieve
higher with consumers and is more
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
• 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-
• Equipment and options (heated
seats, rear seat entertainment,
• 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
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
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
D IGITAL Dealer COVER STORY
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
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
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
Web site provider/host:
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
DMS provider: Vehix
Reynolds and Reynolds Vehicle history reports:
BDC software/vendor: Experian Auto Check
Higher Gear Other vendors
Contact at once not listed:
DD 24 November 2009 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
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
D IGITAL Dealer INTERNET MANAGEMENT
Back to Basics: Customer Interaction
Still a Must in the Digital Age
either provides the customers comfort
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
D IGITAL Dealer INTERNET MANAGEMENT
Shrinking Staff – Growing Problem
and b) are still in the market. Budget
ecessity breeds creativity, they
say. Faced with tough choices, “Dealers who have cut about $1.50 per prospect for a service
some dealers have had to be like this.
creative with their staffing models in their Internet staff have
the Internet department – with mixed • Make it your managers’ respon-
results. AutoNation, Inc. has found removed people from sibility. Consider that each respondent
that stores that have kept their stan- still in the market needs a manager
dard model – one dedicated Internet the area that, right TO, just like a floor prospect would.
salesperson per 80-100 leads – have Who knows better than your managers
closed higher over the first six months now, has the biggest what it will take to get these prospects
of 2009 than those who cut their in the door?
Internet department staff and modi- opportunity to impact
fied their process. Every opportunity is important in
“Without enough properly trained total sales.” this environment. Cutting back on
Internet salespeople, some of our stores your Internet leads reduces your best
—Josh Vajda source of traffic to generate sales right
modified their staffing structure and
allowed some floor salespeople to also Internet department to ensure you now, and cutting back on the staff that
work e-leads,” said Ken Gregson, direc- have ample coverage to manage the handles your leads reduces your effec-
tor of variable operations and training leads appropriately? tiveness and sales volume. Put the right
at AutoNation, Inc. “Others used a resources in the right places – and train
combination of appointment-setters “Only if the people you move have them – and you’ll capitalize on your
and either fewer dedicated Internet the right strengths, skills and are trained best opportunities.
salespeople or some floor salespeople appropriately,” says Gregson. “Going
handling e-leads. A handful even tried forward, we have to hire salespeople Josh Vajda currently serves as the director
no Internet department and gave all e- with the plan to eventually put them in of Sales and Account Management for
leads to floor salespeople. These hybrid the Internet department. If our floor AutoUSA, a leading provider of quality
staffing models closed between 1 and salespeople aren’t right for Internet sales automotive Internet referrals. He has held
2.25 percent below the average of stores or aren’t trained, they won’t be effective numerous positions of increasing responsi-
that kept the traditional dedicated and won’t positively impact our sales.” bility since joining AutoNation, Inc. in
Internet salesperson model.” If your dealership is not in a position 1997 and has led the company's efforts in
During the downturn, stores have to hire additional Internet staff or move training and development, customer satis-
seen an overall drop in traffic of over 25 floor salespeople into the Internet faction and sales operations.
percent, and most of that drop has been department, consider inexpensive
in showroom walk-in traffic. Because marketing solutions to manage the
serious buyers and shoppers continue response or follow-up gap:
to use online methods to reach out to
dealers, Internet leads per dealership • Start with a survey. Take your If you wish to discuss this article with
have remained close to last year’s levels. “dead” Internet prospects – leads that other dealers, or with the author,
Dealers who have cut their Internet are more than three or four weeks old please go to the “Discussion Forums”
staff have removed people from the area and less than 90 days old that your at www.DigitalDealer-magazine.com
that, right now, has the biggest oppor- sales staff has stopped working – and and enter the “Technology” forum or
tunity to impact total sales. have a service call each one to deter- e-mail him at jvajda@DigitalDealer-
Will you increase your production if mine if they a) were pleased with the magazine.com.
you move your salespeople into the interaction with your dealership so far
DigitalDealer-magazine.com November 2009 DD 27
D IGITAL Dealer TECHNOLOGY TRENDS
Can your IT Department Reduce
his summer I wrote an article we’ll see more systems charging by ship must have a feature later, which
about how many people you how many users you have. This is the gets added at full price. So with these
need per user in your IT model I expect from the emerging three trends, how can your IT depart-
department. I got a lot of questions DMS systems based on SQL data- ment save you on DMS costs? It is
and complaints about my statement, bases, since per client access user time to get your IT department
“Your IT department or system license fees are the norm for them involved in the DMS selection deci-
administrator should not support the along with your own support responsi- sions. Your IT department
DMS system.” Anytime a writer bility of the server and database. Next, understands the equipment, terms,
makes a broad statement like that, be I see more fragmenting of the DMS and conditions of your proposal and
ready for a debate. I will have to agree system costs by application. For how that will either decrease their size
with many of my IT friends that the example, some DMS systems don’t or require more staffing as in a
work they do involving the DMS sys- include F&I, and others don’t have client/server situation. For about 10
tem has benefits that can’t be payroll. This is a full circle trend; years, I helped dealers select DMS
quantified in a dollar amount. popular DMS companies charged as systems and get good pricing and I was
One example e-mailed to me was “everything is included” for one price often surprised that other consultants
from a small dealership group. Last but then had to start increasing the didn’t get the input of the IT depart-
month, the hard drive on their DMS fees when they add on subscriptions ment. In fact, I’ve heard them say that
server went down. Although their they only work with the dealer or
DMS provider was very cooperative CFO and won’t waste time with the IT
during the process, it was completely staff. Before you pick another DMS
up to the IT department to physically system, make sure your IT department
install a new hard drive on the server “It is time to get is involved early in the process and in
and coordinate the reinstall the DMS the end reads the full proposal and
software and backup files. They clocked your IT department contract before you sign.
over 100 hours performing this process.
On the flip side is an ASP system that involved in the DMS Sandi Jerome is a former controller,
doesn’t have a hard drive at the dealer- CFO, system administrator, F&I, assis-
ship. If the hard drive that your selection decisions.” tant GM, and fixed operations manager
dealership resided on went down, you’d —Sandi Jerome with over 30 years experience in the auto-
wait for your DMS provider to get that motive industry. She is the owner of Super
back up again and your IT department Consulting Group and DealerStar.
wouldn’t be involved in the process for
more than a minute or two. and features that involve payments to
If your DMS system is an ASP solu- third parties that developed these new
tion, do you need an IT department? “add-ins” or modules.
What about other DMS systems that Last, I see a tremendous increase If you wish to discuss this article with
require an IT department or system from the support amount the dealer- other dealers, or with the author,
administrator as part of the contract? ship agreed to when they bought the please go to the “Discussion Forums”
All of these situations are changing the system to the price they are paying five at www.DigitalDealer-magazine.com
basis of future DMS support costs. years later when the contract is over and enter the “Technology” forum or
As a technology trend, I see three and the dust settles. Many systems are e-mail her at sjerome@DigitalDealer-
things happening in the ever-escalat- getting installed with bare bones at magazine.com.
ing DMS support costs. First, I think huge discounts and when the dealer-
DD 28 November 2009 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
D IGITAL Dealer TECHNOLOGY TRENDS
Mobile Connectivity: The Light at the
End of the CRM Tunnel
RM software was designed to
support the processes busi-
nesses use to manage their “ILM software has signiﬁcantly improved
prospects and customers. As new tech-
nologies have entered the market, the online lead management processes and
ways in which companies do business
have changed, requiring more compre- results. However, just like any technology, its
hensive and versatile solutions.
architecture must continue to evolve to meet
In the auto industry, one of the
biggest changes in operations has ever-changing needs.”
occurred in retail sales with the —Stan Thomas
consumer shift to online shopping.
Instead of visiting showrooms, most
buyers now visit web sites to research
and find vehicles. According to a 2008
study by J.D. Power, third-party web ing needs. And these days, those needs complete control of their operations
sites are used for referrals and recom- demand mobile connectivity. wherever they are – in the office, at
mendations; OEM web sites are used home or traveling.
for product information; and a dealer- While CRMs like SalesForce and
ship’s web site is searched for inventory. Goldmine entered the mobile space Mobile is the new big thing in CRM
years ago, most automotive CRMs have that will ultimately help dealerships
Approximately 20 percent of online only recently started including mobile achieve the full potential of customer
vehicle shoppers are also using third- functionality in their feature set, like relationship management.
party portals to request online quotes. lead alerts that can be sent to a PDA or
Dealers can receive hundreds of these other mobile device. Stan Thomas is the CEO of
Internet-generated leads a month, all of PMDS/DealerUps. He has pursued his
which require processing, tracking and There are also new mobile ILM passion for the automotive industry work-
follow-up. applications that allow dealers to both ing for several successful dealerships, where
receive and respond to incoming e-mail he held key management positions in sales,
Many CRM systems now come with leads using web-enabled cell phones, business development and F&I. In his
built-in Internet Lead Management PDAs or iPhones – with full bi-direc- current position, he is charged with lead-
(ILM) tools to help dealers more effec- tional CRM data capture. ing the organization and ensuring the
tively manage these new sources of company delivers on its mission to
prospect and customer information. Dealership owners and managers improve dealership processes with progres-
When the dealership receives an who want to retrieve more extensive sive tools and support that yield results.
Internet lead, the ILM captures the CRM information still have to go
data and pushes it into the CRM. The online to get the data. Or call in for
lead information is then automatically updates if they’re out of the office. If you wish to discuss this article with
e-mailed to sales for follow-up. other dealers, or with the author,
These “old school” processes are on please go to the “Discussion Forums”
ILM software has significantly the way out with the advent of fully at www.DigitalDealer-magazine.com
improved online lead management mobile-enabled CRMs. Dealers will be and enter the “Technology” forum or
processes and results. However, just like able to track leads, monitor deals and e-mail him at sthomas@DigitalDealer-
any technology, its architecture must manage staff productivity right from magazine.com.
continue to evolve to meet ever-chang- their mobile device, staying in
DigitalDealer-magazine.com November 2009 DD 29
Faith, Refresh, Rejuvenate and Renew
Build now and watch your business expand
the wilderness survival or sailing would take 20 minutes but I made it
t was a dark, dreary night last
January when I left Raleigh, NC emergency preparedness training I and gave thanks.
for the drive back home to the had years before that told me to be Why would I recreate this event for
lovely Shenandoah Valley. I got off to calm and don’t freak out which is you? I created a word picture for you
a later than usual start a little past always easier said than done. As I in that my hope would be for you to
9:00 pm for the four-hour drive reckoned with the notion that I had to empathize with the scariness and
home. Leaving Raleigh, it started do this and there was a way I was uncertainty of this situation. The
raining fiercely but not so much a guided to figure something out. I real- message is simple; oftentimes we
problem in that I was on I-85 north ized in my dilemma that I actually cannot always see the outcome or end
bound to I-95 then I-64 into destination of our efforts. The journey
Charlottesville and over the moun- even becomes a bit blurred but we
tain. Midway on that drive the rain have to remain faithful in the things
turned into snow, and I do mean we know to be true. In this story it
snow. I-64, much to my surprise was “Faithfully embrace was the yellow line. In some stores it
closed so I now had to take an alter- may be remaining staunchly faithful
nate route, Hwy. 33. My major changes now and on the processes and the discipline
concern was crossing the mountain on required to get us to where we want to
33 into the Valley which is a two-lane tomorrow will deliver be. Maybe it is having faith in that we
winding road up one side of the can indeed affect a positive change
mountain and then down the other newfound treasures.” and get our business to increase.
side opening up to the Valley. Hmm, Having faith in your people that they
—Chuck Barker can do great things with the right
do I get a hotel room in C-Ville or go
ahead and give it a go? The snow- encouragement. Have you ever given
storm appeared to lessen quite a bit as up on a project or process because it
I cruised through a snow covered, took longer to see a result and maybe
vehicle-less ghost town C-Ville so I short-circuited your success due to
felt I could make it. It was about one could barely see the road if I looked impatience? Sure, everyone has at
quarter of the way up the mountain down just beyond my drivers side some point. Those who give in to fear
that the reality of what a bad choice I mirror and before the front of the and anxiety, those who are paralyzed
had made set in. The snowstorm was vehicle. What I discovered there was by uncertainty and confusion, and
only fooling me by taking a short the double yellow line in the middle those who pull back and withdraw
break passing through C-Ville as if to of the road that ultimately became my and wait are guaranteed to see their
lure me into its blinding and scary salvation. As I muddled along at a worst fears realized. Stick with it and
dark hole now on 33. Dark, horizon- snail’s pace, I knew if I could manage have faith in good processes and your
tal snow like crazy, no cell reception, to follow the yellow line it would take people. Like in my story above some-
zero visibility and it is now past mid- me where I wanted to go safely. Sure, times it takes patience to get to where
night and I am alone and really tired. I had moments of fear thinking the you belong. Much like a fine wine, if
I could not see the end of my hood worst like someone pulled a bad joke you rush it you mess it up. If you take
much less the road and this road and moved the line so it would take methodical steps and invest time,
could usher you off a 2,000 foot drop me right off the mountain. Weird, energy and patience in the process you
given one wrong turn of the steering huh? Your mind plays games on you end up with something to proud of.
wheel and they might find you in sometimes when the stakes are this Refresh your outlook and the way
2014. OK, so what to do? Can’t turn high. I chose over and over again that you see the store growing and in
around, can’t stop on the road for fear I would “trust” in the lines visually doing so you will refresh your team.
of some idiot just like me attempting and trust that my prayers for safety Put on a brand new pair of glasses and
this treacherous drive in these condi- would be answered. It took me over see things through the eyes of
tions running into me and shoving one hour and forty-five minutes to
me off the mountain. Maybe it was cover the distance that normally continued next page
DD 30 November 2009 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
someone like me who can walk into teamwork, show enthusiasm for you adopt a business as usual
your store and in one hour sees what everything you do, motivate, give approach it simply implies that you
can be made better. Refresh yourself leadership workshops, and renew do not care about building. It implies
and your team by establishing new energies back to the solid new that you are staunchly hovered down
positive techniques for people improved ways to do things. In being in a defensive position and the major-
improvement, phone skills processes, a real leader you have to renew your ity of the points are usually scored
Internet processes, floor up processes personal energies to understanding when you are offensively committed.
and effective communications tech- and implementing the things that you Faithfully embrace changes now and
niques. Identify individual strengths should be doing. Not just the tomorrow will deliver newfound
and weaknesses of your employees and mundane stuff of paper shuffling but treasures. Just follow the double
all the other good stuff. Just refresh also the real stuff that makes things yellow lines.
the whole place! Waiting for things to happens with your people. You have If you are interested in gathering
change is a losing proposition. Refresh to understand that there is a vast some leadership enriching ideas send
your entire outlook and the future will difference between manipulating and an e-mail to cbarker@DigitalDealer-
reveal to you refreshing outcomes. influencing others. Manipulation magazine.com and I will get them out
Next, in order to rejuvenate you deliberately uses and abuses other to you. Also, if you have a similar story
often have to make changes. people to act out your intentions. I would love to hear about it, confi-
Sometimes it is in the personnel, Influence, on the other hand, requires dentially of course. The time is so
sometimes it is a total 180 to the way buy-in on the part of the person being critically right to make the decision to
we have handled things in the past. influenced and a willingness on their implement these positive growth
The definition of rejuvenate is to part to support your goals. You changes in your store and you will
make young again; restore to youthful cannot influence another without have a distinct advantage over your
vigor, appearance, to restore to a having the buy-in taking place. People competitors because most of them just
former state; make fresh or new again. respect other people who have the don’t get it and never will. Your team
Jazz the place up a bit, put up new power to positively influence others and your customers will respond in
motivational posters, paint the walls and get things done. Negative influ- very positive and surprising ways.
where needed, bring in someone from encers are a thing of the past because
the outside (new face) to motivate as Leadership 101 says; negative Chuck Barker’s experience ranges from
your team on the new sales concepts begets negative. You cannot insert an executive with a Fortune 200 com-
for this market, train your people on negative notions and expect a positive puter corporation to the automobile
21st century communications, hire result. Manipulation is the dark side business. He has held positions as business
new and better people, etc. of management. When you manipu- development manager, sales manager, act-
Rejuvenate the excitement in recog- late others, you give away any chance ing GM, ADP executive regional
nizing people for their good works as of gaining respect. It doesn't matter manager specializing in CRM and his
simple as some may be, because it is in whether the manipulation is overt or own current company, Impact Marketing
the small things that are recognized covert; manipulation has no role in a & Consulting Group, LLC, located in
that give way to the big things they true leader's skill set, influence does. Virginia. His firm delivers CRM process
can do. Rejuvenate your entire team’s Renew (or adopt for the first time) strategies, 21st century CRM sales train-
spirit by giving them hope that they your allegiance to the single most ing, CRM e-business deployment and
are set to do great things, not just take important role you play, and that is CRM management leadership workshops.
what comes. Just like you would to positively influence your people. More information can be located at his
coach a little league baseball team At the end of the day the success or web site: www.impactgroupcrm.com.
when things need to improve, you failure of the team falls directly on
give them hope for winning by point- the shoulders of the leader. Good and
ing out what individual and team bad outcomes are directly your If you wish to discuss this article with
talents they are in possession of. The responsibility. Make something posi- other dealers, or with the author,
recognition of these facts inspires the tive occur by renewing your spirit of please go to the “Discussion Forums”
team and rejuvenates them into doing solid leadership. Your people deserve at www.DigitalDealer-magazine.com
things they may not have felt possible. your best and if it is not enough then and enter the “BDC/CRM” forum or
Renew your commitments to be a move over. e-mail him at cbarker@DigitalDealer-
leader and do the things that non- Now is a terrific time to make magazine.com.
leaders don’t do. Develop real changes in your dealership because if
DigitalDealer-magazine.com November 2009 DD 31
Internet Management, Lange (cont. from P-26) Internet Sales, Elson (continued from P-14)
become a better communicator and 5. Find an outsourcing partner: The
earn a greater living. It could also be right partner can overcome the chal-
devastating to the dealership lenges of planning, buying and stocking
because you not only lost a sale and incentives. Outsourcing partners not
all of the profit that goes with it, only take away the headache of inven-
you lost the possible repeat and tory planning and fulfilment, they also
referral business as the story is told bring expertise in running effective
Advertiser ......................pg # to other potential customers around promotions.
water coolers, at cocktail parties and
kids’ sporting events. 6. Use all your channels: Don’t restrict
your promotional activities to just your
ActivEngage ......................13 Two simple key points to improving web site. Make sure that your promo-
your customer experience and sales tional strategy includes your other
results: marketing channels: direct mail, tele-
phone sales, and SMS.
Autobase ............................7 1. On your individual vehicle listings
or on your web site provide customers a 7. Incorporate incentives into your
direct phone number to only the sales- lead follow-up: Allow your appointment-
people who know your marketing, setters to offer incentives. Test different
AutoPoint ............................3 know your inventory and most impor- rules (for which types of leads should get
tantly have proven they are capable of incentives and when in the follow-up
efficiently handling inbound phone process to offer them) to figure out how
calls. Do not force customers through to maximize efficiency.
AutoSoft ............................21 your switchboard and the pain of listen-
ing to and selecting from a menu of 8. Don’t be defeated by technology (or
department choices with the possibility the lack of it): Presenting the right offer
of being transferred multiple times. to the right people at the right time can
be enabled by dynamic content insertion
2. Inspect what you expect. Many technology on your site and by rules-
dealerships subscribe to services allow- based promotion tools for CRM
Dealer.com ..........................9 ing them to monitor inbound phone applications. Getting access to the right
calls, but do they use them? Listen and technology does not mean that you have
critique these calls in sales meetings (in to fight long battles with the IT depart-
a positive manner) as a way to help ment or make big capital investments.
DealerPeak (Widestorm) ....6 salespeople improve, allowing them a There are SaaS (software as a service)
chance to earn a better living and earn providers that offer quick implementa-
greater dealership profits. tions without technology upgrades at
the dealership. Some providers offer
Dealerskins ..........................2 You’re already investing the market- variable ‘pay per use’ fee models, so you
ing dollars, now it’s time to maximize don’t incur large fixed costs and only pay
your return and it all depends on the for results.
professionalism exhibited by the
Dealix ..................................5 salesperson. Provide the tools to get Face-to-face discussion is how to close
the job done and you will be sales. As you work on attracting more
rewarded with higher sales, better leads into the showroom, don’t pass up
compensation, happier salespeople the traffic boost that well-targeted walk-
Homenet............................15 and satisfied customers. in incentives can deliver.
Rob Lange is the national sales training Steve Elson is director of Business
director for Kelley Blue Book. Development for HookLogic.
IMN Loyalty Driver............17
If you wish to discuss this article with If you wish to discuss this article with
other dealers, or with the author, other dealers, or with the author,
NADA Used Car Guide......11 please go to the “Discussion Forums”
please go to the “Discussion Forums”
at www.DigitalDealer-magazine.com at www.DigitalDealer-magazine.com
and enter the “Internet Sales” forum or and enter the “Internet Sales” forum or
Rob Waldman ..................19 e-mail him at rlange@DigitalDealer- e-mail him at selson@DigitalDealer-
DD 32 November 2009 DigitalDealer-magazine.com