Digital dealer magazine february 2009Document Transcript
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
Approach to the
Market page 12
Your Best Online
Presence in 2009
A Good DOC Will
Keep you Healthy
ANTHONY page 32
New and Pre-owned Retention: The
Sales Manager/Internet Secret Ingredient
Director, Behlmann page 34
Buick Pontiac GMC
and Pre-owned Cars CIAL
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The Technology Magazine for Dealers & Managers
FEATURE MANAGING EDITOR
LINDA DI PIETRO
Digital Dealer Cover Story ldipietro@Dealer-magazine.com
26 Anthony Bartoli, New and Pre-owned PUBLISHER
Sales Manager/Internet Director GREG NOONAN
Behlmann Buick Pontiac GMC and gnoonan@Dealer-magazine.com
AAISP Notes PRODUCTION MANAGER
10 How to Endure, Survive and Even
Thrive in Tumultuous Times PRINT PRODUCTION
Mike Roscoe DAVID MANTHEY
Anthony Bartoli DESIGN CONSULTING
Internet Sales Pontiac GMC and
PUBLICATION DESIGN, INC.
12 Redesigning and Refocusing your Pre-owned Cars COVER DESIGN
Approach to the Market JOE BIRCH
14 Your Best Online Presence in 2009 and Beyond YVONNE NIEMANN
Peter Batten CIRCULATION SUBSCRIPTION
16 Be the Authority 314-432-7511
NATIONAL ADVERTISING SALES
18 Snake Oil Online? adsales@Dealer-magazine.com
Joe Webb 607-264-3359
Dealer magazine makes every attempt to
22 Salvage Sales with the Internet in a Downtime ensure the accuracy of all published works.
However it cannot be held responsible for
Daryl Sanders opinions expressed or facts supplied herein.
Nothing may be reproduced in whole or in part
without written permission from the publisher.
24 What Can SEO and SEM Do For Your All rights reserved. The publisher encourages
you to submit suggestions. Submitted materials
Dealership? become the property of Horizon Communications,
Inc. and will not be returned. Send material for
Elissa Giroux 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
32 A Good DOC Will Keep you Healthy publish that material. This publication is
designed to provide accurate and authoritative
Sandi Jerome information in regard to the subject matter
covered. It is presented with the understanding
that the publisher is not engaged in rendering
BDC/CRM legal, accounting or other professional service.
If legal advice or other expert assistance is
34 Measuring Customer Retention: The Secret Ingredient required, the services of a competent profes-
sional person should be sought. From a
Jim Roche Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a
Committee of the American Bar Association
and a Committee of Publishers.
36 ‘Go Away and Leave Me Alone!’
Paul Gillrie A PUBLICATION OF
6 Industry & Tech News
8 Digital Dealer E-mail
DD 4 February 2009 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
D IGITAL Dealer INDUSTRY & TECH NEWS
Kelley Blue Book now Dealer.com wins top vAuto, Carfax unlock
releasing values weekly international emerging profit for auto dealers
A study released today proves that
Kelley Blue Book is now publishing
its used-vehicle values weekly via its
media award dealers can maximize profitability by
Dealer.com is a Leader Award winner
web-based product KarPower Online. immediately evaluating cars at trade-in.
in the 2008 Summit Emerging Media
Prior to this, only the Kelley Blue Book vAuto and Carfax deliver a powerful
Award (Summit EMA) competition for
Trade-In Values were updated weekly, tool that dealers are using to identify
its work with Checkered Flag Motor Car
while other values were published in cars that command a premium price on
the Kelley Blue Book Official Guide the retail market. According to vAuto,
The 2008 competition included
every other month. The Blue Book dealers consistently price Carfax 1-
approximately 700 entries from numer-
Official Guide also has an updated Owner cars an average of $1,000 more
ous countries for which only 12 percent
publishing schedule with its frequency than cars without the Carfax 1-Owner
earned recognition. Dealer.com’s work
moving from every other month to designation.
was recognized in the Consumer
monthly. Blue Book Official Guide “In these tough economic times,
Product Website category.
customers received their first monthly dealers need to know which cars and
Summit EMA award winners are
edition in November of 2008. light trucks can be aggressively mar-
selected for their leading-edge use of
In addition to striving for greater keted the second they hit their lots,”
new and emerging web technologies.
accuracy through more frequent said Keith Jezek, president and CEO of
Checkered Flag’s Dealer.com web site
updates, Kelley Blue Book has added Chicago- and Austin-based vAuto.
includes the latest in new media tech-
an ‘Auction Value,’ which is what a Consumers prefer cars that have had
nology to keep site visitors engaged and
used vehicle is expected to sell for at a only one previous owner. Using the
increase lead submission. The goal
wholesale auction. An additional vAuto tool, dealers can price their vehi-
with Checkered Flag’s Dealer.com web
change includes a name change for the cles at the top of the market. The study,
site was to create a customer-friendly
company’s Wholesale Value, a long- based on more than 3.5 million online
web site with one-click navigation and
standing benchmark for automotive listings, also indicates that Carfax 1-
feature rich content to attract and
lending, which is now the ‘Wholesale Owner cars increase inventory turn.
encourage visitors to shop for cars
Lending Value.’ The Wholesale Combined with a higher resale value,
online. The site incorporates cutting-
Lending Value will be updated weekly Carfax 1-Owner cars maximize a
edge search marketing, video,
reflecting the value of a vehicle that has dealer’s profit per unit.
consumer reviews, a dealership blog,
been fully reconditioned, inspected and “By using vAuto in conjunction with
online credit approval, online service
is frontline ready. Finance companies the Carfax 1-Owner designation, I con-
scheduling and more.
can now use Kelley Blue Book’s tinue to see an increase in sales as well as
The Summit EMA competition is
Wholesale Lending Value without any an increase in per car gross,” said Gary
based on the premise that advertising is
additional calculation to mitigate risk Duncan, Duncan Automotive Network
consistently at the forefront of the tech-
and better manage lending portfolios. of Christiansburg, Virginia.
nological evolution of communication.
Dealers, manufacturers, finance com- Previous studies show a minimum
Some of this year’s judges included: Lisa
panies and others in the automotive sale price lift of $300 for Carfax 1-
Charlebois of Ogilvy & Mather,
industry can access all of Kelley Blue Owner cars. Carfax has programs in
Vanessa DiMauro of Leader Networks
Book’s weekly values through a paid place to make sure dealers take full
and David Snyder of FL2.
subscription to the company’s Internet- advantage of their inventory’s profit
based valuation system, KARPOWER potential. www.carfaxonline.com,
Online through syndication or via our www.vAuto.com
service provider RouteOne and others.
DD 6 February 2009 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
D IGITAL Dealer E-MAIL
Digital Dealer welcomes your letters and
after verification will run them signed or
unsigned. Letters may be edited for space
and clarity. Send letters to
Jim Skeans, While you are there please take a look at NADA, but none on my own. I'm in the
I have just read your excellent article the other management tools, available process of finding ways to better train
in the November 2008 Digital Dealer from our web site for free. dealership staff on DMS systems for ACS,
magazine, “Leverage More Information Good luck, our preferred provider of DealerStar and
from your Financial Statement/DOC.” Jim Skeans webinars are one of the options. If I can
I would appreciate you e-mailing your find a good seminar provider, I might add
complete list of favorite ratios with the Hi Sandi Jerome, some specialty classes like data extraction
formulas to me. Thank you. Great article in the December 2008 and of course the new popular one, data
Best regards, Digital Dealer magazine, “Data “pushing.” Thank you for the suggestion
Mark Krieger Extraction – Is it all Over?” I am won- and I'll get busy!
Vice President dering if you are at all entertaining the Thanks!
Krieger Autogroup idea of webinars where you could show Sandi Jerome
Muscatine, Iowa us the how tos of pushing info. ADP has
email@example.com coach classes that we can pay for, just Daryl Sanders,
wondering with all the information you I enjoyed your article, “10 Strategic E-
Hello Mark, have if you would consider that option mail Rules for Internet Car Shoppers” in
Glad you enjoyed the article and thanks for many digital dealer business issues. the December 2008 Digital Dealer mag-
for reading Digital Dealer magazine. Looking forward to hearing from you. azine. As a Chrysler/ Jeep/Dodge sales
The ratios and formulas are included Thank you, manager, I frequently have issues with
in the spreadsheet “Key Financial Ratios” Ann Potter what you mentioned: customer pricing
available for downloading from the Controller/IT eligibility. If at all possible, could you
“Free Tools” page on my web site, Ryan Motors offer suggestions or even a copy of the
www.jimskeans.com. Buffalo, MN questionnaire that you send prospects? I
The spreadsheet also illustrates how to firstname.lastname@example.org would understand if you are not
link the elements of the formulas to your inclined to disclose your technique, but
financial statement or accounting report Hi Ann, any help would be appreciated.
download for complete automaton from Great to hear from you and I've done Thanks,
your one-time setup efforts. some webinars for DealersEdge and BJ Holmes
General Sales Manager
Falls Chrysler Jeep Dodge
Cuyahoga Falls, OH
While I normally advocate an auto
response that introduces the salesperson
and store, and then in the next e-mail a
quote can be sent, Chrysler, Dodge, and
Jeep are exceptions to the rule. They have
so many pricing rules and incentives
(about an inch- thick document), that
covers employees, friends, family, acquain-
tances, people who once knew someone,
and on and on, to quote a price might
cause the dealership to put foot in mouth.
So I advocate four brief questions in the
auto response that will help qualify the
person’s eligibility for an advantageous
price. If I don’t hear back from the
prospect quickly, then I suggest going
forward with a price quote with quali-
fiers in small print assuming certain
DD 8 February 2009 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
D IGITAL Dealer AAISP NOTES
How to Endure,
way to approach this market. You need
to hear from the top consultants and
trainers in the industry. You need to see
what the leading edge companies have
to offer to give you your best shot.
You need…the 6th Digital Dealer
Conference & Exposition.
Every speaker submitting a proposal
Even Thrive in
to speak at the April event has been
instructed to focus their presentation
“This current economy
Tumultuous Times is only going to
hasten the move to
dealerships. Now more
oes the title above pretty much
wrap it up? Is that what you than ever, your
and your store(s) need at this
very moment? The knowledge of how attendance at this
to endure in these tumultuous times?
The ability to survive in these tumul- event is critical.”
tuous times? And can you imagine…a —Michael Roscoe
plan to even thrive in these tumul-
tuous times. specifically on “How to Endure,
Survive and Even Thrive in
The dealerships that will be able to Tumultuous Times.” Whatever their
reach these three goals are the ones that knowledge, whatever their experience,
are doing everything they can to accom- whatever their specific expertise…they
plish them. Of course, cost cutting is will be presenting it with the focus on
the first action that is taken during one metrics that traditional advertising how to endure, survive and even thrive
of these cycles. Typically, when times are could never provide. You can defini- in tumultuous times.
good, fat builds up in the form of tively track ROI.
expenses that are not necessary to the Now more than ever, your atten-
success of the business. So finding and This current economy is only going dance at this event is critical. It will take
cutting the fat is the first, and most to hasten the move to e-commerce in place at the Mirage in Las Vegas on
painless way to bring down expenses. dealerships. Sure, retail automotive has April 19-21. There is nothing else you
been steadily increasing adoption of could possibly do during those 21/2
As I am well aware from being in the technologies and processes to market to days that will be as valuable to your
publishing business, advertising is also new and existing customers…and we business at this time. You need to be
one of the early casualties when we go knew we would get “there” eventually. there, and your dealer needs to be there.
through the slow part of the economic But now…it’s a must. Check out the web site for details,
cycle. As the old saying goes, “50 www.DigitalDealerConference.com.
percent of my advertising is wasted…I As such, you need to have your best
just don’t know which half.” shot in knowing how to endure, survive
and thrive in these tumultuous times. If you wish to discuss this article with
But…this time we have something You need to be in front of your com- other dealers, or with the author,
we’ve never had before. The petitors in marketing to prospective please go to the “Discussion Forums”
Internet…and technology, which and current customers. You need to do at www.DigitalDealer-magazine.com
allows you to not only know what this in a way that provides ROI. You and enter the “AAISP” forum or
dollars you’re spending are need to find out what the best in the e-mail him at mroscoe@Digital
wasted…but which are going to the business are doing. You need to know Dealer-magazine.com.
best option. There’s tracking and what the top minds believe is the best
DD 10 February 2009 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
D IGITAL Dealer INTERNET SALES
the pros of the past and applying those
concepts to the customers of today. He
still loves to prospect for new cus-
tomers everywhere he goes, including
restaurants. He loves to call and
engage with customers in the data-
base to prospect and share key points
with other sales people. A final point
about Cronin is that he has learned
to take the great sales concepts from
the past and apply them to the new
paradigm that exists with the influ-
ence of the Internet.
Many of Internet directors I visit
with today are selling at least at the
same level in their departments while
the front end of the sales team is suf-
fering. Andrew Oxendine is a one-man
show with direct Internet sales but he
is still selling 18 to 20 units for
URING THE ‘80S AND ‘90S, I Mercedes Benz of Alexandria. Andy
supported, consulted and worked with Warner from Beechmont Ford in
a number of dealerships across a five-
state region. That was a period of time “If you started a
when the best operations would attract
and keep solid sales producers for 20 new dealership today,
years. I would love to visit with those
veterans since they possessed keen what would you
insight concerning the auto industry.
They were committed to their profes- expect and how would
sion, their customer base, and the
manufacturer that they represented. you operate it?”
These were the guys who would sell 25
to 40 units each month without taking —Phil Sura
a “fresh customer” unless forced by the
sales manager on a busy Saturday. adopted member in the business, you Cincinnati, Ohio just celebrated the
They lived on repeat and referral are committed to that person. You birth of his first son and he is selling
business. They would pass out busi- would not think of going anywhere 90-plus units monthly out of his
ness cards to everyone that they met else to purchase your next car. We Internet team – a record.
and they would dare to venture out have lost some of that enthusiasm and Volker Jaeckel is the e-commerce
of the dealership to introduce the focus over the years. Employee director for Son’s Auto Group in
latest models in the field. Many turnover has become a major issue for Atlanta. VJ has been getting great
became like family to a number of many operations for a number of results with blogs (2,800 visitors over a
their customers because these veter- reasons, primarily shrinking margins. recent eight-week period), which
ans kept written notes (or at least Loyalty is very rare and many sales- showcase information about the
mental notes) on the following: people simply bounce from store to BMWs. VJ cut the traditional advertis-
• Number of kids and their ages (high store or in and out of the industry. A ing out and is focused on leveraging
school kids needed that first car) number of the veterans mentioned technology and “old fashion German
• Type of business where they worked above have retired or moved away sales sizzle” to drive sales in his depart-
• The neighborhood where they lived from the auto industry entirely. ment. VJ actually got his start in
• The places that they went on vaca- There are exceptions. An example is Internet sales in Michigan when no
tion and if the car was used Michael Cronin, Internet manager for one else wanted to deal with it at his
• How the car/ truck was going to be Diamond Auto Group in Worchester, dealership. Today, VJ is setting record
used (primary use) and the key con- MA. Cronin loves his job and his pro- Internet sales for Son’s Auto Group.
cerns (safety, economy) fession and he can’t contain his VJ, Andy and Andrew love the
• Clubs and organizations enthusiasm for this industry. He is pas-
If you have a family member or an sionate about studying concepts from continued on P-DD38
DD 12 February 2009 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
D IGITAL Dealer INTERNET SALES
Your Best Online
research and buy a vehicle right on your
web site. Consumers buy vehicles every
day on eBay, why not from your dealer-
ship? One company to check out is
Presence in 2009
Ai-Dealer (www.ai-dealer.com), provider
of complete end-to-end shopping cart
technology for dealerships. Montesi
Volkswagen of North Haven, CT
/ w w w. a i - d e a l e r. c o m / M o n t e s i -
currently offering shoppers this tool with
easy step-by-step instructions that make
Tools for attracting more the process a snap.
customers to your online turf Get mobile and you’ll reach more con-
sumers. There are more mobile phones
in the United States than there are
T’S 2009; is your dealership web site people, and the newest smartphones
ready for the new year? A powerful offer powerful web browsing and search
online presence can pave the way for capabilities. Launch a mobile version of
increased leads and sales, so now is the your dealership web site and consumers
time to take a close look at what you’re can find your inventory, review options,
offering and step up your game. The fol- and even view vehicle videos, from any-
lowing are some of the best tools and best where. Head to www.gumiyo.com for
practices to implement today for a stellar more details on how to get started.
2009 and beyond. Although we’re experiencing a shaky
economy, consumer use of the Internet is
Crank down the volume and unlikely to falter. Eighty percent of
add substance serious, in-market vehicle shoppers do
An internal study conducted by their research online (2007 Cap Gemini
Chrome Systems found that consumer study) and that number is on the rise. It
usage of automotive retail selling sites can only help your dealership to con-
(including dealership sites, portals, and cars that are easier on the environment. tinue to build your web site. Set the stage
OEM sites) peaks between 11:00 am and Consider going ‘green’ with a web page now and reap the benefits in the new
1:00 pm. This means that most con- that highlights your fuel-efficient vehi- year and beyond.
sumers research and shop for vehicles cles. Check out the Ron Tonkin
while at work or on their lunch breaks. dealership’s Tonkin Green (www.tonk- Peter Batten is general manager for
Use this knowledge to your advantage. ingreen.com) for some ideas. Chrome Systems, where his focus is on
Forgo loud music, time-consuming You can also create specialized search making it easy for web site builders, appli-
downloads, and flashy presentations. functions to make it easier for consumers cation developers, and dealers to present
Make all rich media optional to “play”. to find what they want. The majority of vehicle information that can be easily used
What consumers want is fast, easy-to- web sites currently require consumers to and acted upon by consumers. In his six
access content like build-a-car tools, clear enter a vehicle make, model, and style to years with Chrome he has held several posi-
pricing information, detailed options, start their search, but many consumers tions including: product management,
reviews, fuel economy, and images. If do not think in these terms. Enable con- content development, sales, and operations.
you make the essentials easy to find and sumers to search by body style (coupe,
view, consumers will keep coming back sedan, or convertible), or by features like
for more in-depth research, and are more gas mileage, minimum price, and If you wish to discuss this article with
likely to submit a lead or visit your store. maximum price. Check out the NADA other dealers, or with the author,
Guides web site (www.nadaguides.com) please go to the “Discussion Forums”
Consider specialization for examples of specialized searches. at www.DigitalDealer-magazine.com
More consumers want information and enter the “Internet Sales” forum or
tailored to their individual interests and Make shopping easier e-mail him at pbatten@DigitalDealer-
specifications. A big consumer concern There are some great new tools that magazine.com.
right now is fuel economy and finding make it easier than ever for a consumer to
DD 14 February 2009 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
D IGITAL Dealer INTERNET SALES
Be the Authority
helpful during their shopping process.
Get your staff together and have
everyone write up what they like and
dislike about the vehicles in your inven-
tory. While your first priority is to sell
How the information you put on the cars, remember that in order to gain
consumers’ trust, you need to be honest.
• User reviews: The New
your web site can boost your credibility Autoshopper.com Study also said that
nearly 70 percent of online car shoppers
use consumer-generated content while
vehicle shopping. In fact, nearly 63
percent of those shoppers use this infor-
mation as a resource, and 95 percent of
them believe these reviews are helpful in
the buying process.
OW, MORE THAN EVER, it is Ramsey adds in the previously men-
important for your dealership to main- tioned digital marketing report that
tain the trust of your customers. consumers place the most trust in the
With the economy at such a low opinions of friends and family, as well as
point, consumers are becoming less con- those of strangers with experience when
fident in their purchasing power, and trying to make purchasing decisions.
they are looking for someone to trust. Draft a list of people who have
Geoffrey Ramsey, CEO of eMarketer, recently purchased vehicles from your
said in the report, Digital Marketing dealership and ask them to write a quick
Now: Seven Strategies for Surviving the review of the cars they purchased and of
Downturn, “consumers explicitly want their experience with your dealership.
advertisers to advertise.”
So begin letting your customers • Contact information form: This
know you are an authority in the auto is the single most important thing to
business by making your web site the have on your site as it creates a call to
one-stop shop for vehicle information. action from your visitors.
Since the 2008 New Autoshopper.com “…consumers are These are just a few suggestions that
Study by J.D. Power and Associates will help you become a credible source
established that the amount of time becoming less of auto information in and around your
potential car buyers spend looking for community.
information online is on a steady rise, it’s confident in their Once you’ve got these down, get a little
time to kick your web site into high gear. creative and test some other marketing
Ensure you’re the place auto shoppers purchasing power, tactics to see how they work for you.
know to go to when looking for facts
and figures about vehicles by having the and they are looking Paige Presley is the marketing analyst/
right information on your web site. writer for Dealerskins in Nashville, TN.
for someone to trust.” She enjoys mixing her passions for all things
Here are a few key items to —Paige Presley technology and for following consumer
include: trends by staying involved in market
• OEM information: Many people research for the auto industry.
go directly to an OEM web site to learn information and whether or not you
more about vehicle features and pricing have it in stock.
information before looking for a local If you wish to discuss this article with
dealership for inventory information. • Dealer/staff opinions: The New other dealers, or with the author,
Save them the time of going to two or Autoshopper.com Study noted that please go to the “Discussion Forums”
three web sites by providing all of those dealer ratings and reviews are popular at www.DigitalDealer-magazine.com
specifications on your site, so when among auto shoppers. About 38 percent and enter the “Internet Sales” forum or
shoppers have questions about a partic- of online auto shoppers use these e-mail her at ppresley@DigitalDealer-
ular vehicle, they can go directly to your reviews as a resource, and 87 percent of magazine.com.
web site to see all of the features, pricing them believe the information was
DD 16 February 2009 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
YOU HAVE CUSTOMERS
WE HELP YOU GET
A LOT MORE MILEAGE
OUT OF THEM.
Innovative e-newsletter solutions.
D IGITAL Dealer INTERNET SALES
Snake Oil Online?
a significant role in your store’s survival.
The other online vendors offer amazing
tools that will help you shift your deal-
ership’s culture online as well, but may
not have the same influence on sales as
Let’s face it. Dealers are cutting back
ITH SO MANY VENDORS their spending. Even the dealerships
AVAILABLE TO YOUR DEALERSHIP, it leading the game know they cannot be
becomes difficult separating the worthy involved with every opportunity. We
from the not so worthy. What vendor is must evaluate what vendors we will
right for you during these trying times is succeed with, and whether we are willing
one of the more difficult questions to to back the vendors we choose with our
ask. Some dealerships are even creating own optimal effort. It is a two-way street.
vendor relations manager positions just As a dealer, you must work for your
to have one person dedicated to fielding vendor as much as they work for you. As
endless calls, sitting through sales a vendor, you must ensure your product is
pitches and managing the plethora of capable of delivering great successes con-
companies pounding on your dealer sistently for clients. If your product,
door. Someone must determine what, program, or service is hit or miss in its
actually, is worth your time? success rate, it may be time to go back to
For those of you who know me or have the drawing board and develop an initia-
read my columns, you know that in my tives. With the Internet-based programs, tive that all dealers covet. Easier said than
articles I share my own experiences, opin- though, many seem to be targeting such a done, I’m sure, but belief in your product
ions, musings and struggles. What I write is small segment of your business that, while is not always enough.
never meant to be an indictment on any the service may yield more sales, the So when walking through the exhibit
one individual or service, just my own per- overall impact is minimal. halls at the NADA convention (or any
spective. (With a preface like this to an When I would meet with a vendor rep- other conference for that matter), keep in
article, I know many of you are saying “Uh- resentative, I would always ask how many mind that your goal should be to find a
oh...who is he going to tick off?” That’s not sales they would expect us to generate vendor willing to help you grow your
the case.) I just want people to remain from adding their service. On several business by leaps and bounds, not baby
focused on their own interests and not let occasions, the reps’ answer to this ques- steps. Don’t be marveled by the miracle
the interests of others affect their own judg- tion was, “Even if you sell three cars, the medicine being pitched. Be pragmatic.
ment. This is near an impossible feat in the program pays for itself.” I despise this While online initiatives remain the way to
world of vehicle sales, but I’ll type on. answer. I believe every vendor’s program go in today’s marketplace, realize they
Many of us are attending NADA in is, at the very least, valuable enough to sell don’t all cure what ails you.
New Orleans this month. We’ve visited three cars. Selling three more cars,
the recent Digital Dealer Conferences and though, is not a dealer’s goal. Three more Joe Webb is the president of DealerKnows,
walked through the vast exhibit halls. The cars sold in this economic climate will not LLC, specializing in automotive e-commerce
NADA convention, much like the Digital make or break a dealer. Dealerships consulting and assisting dealers and vendors
Dealer conference, is filled to the brim should focus on forming partnerships with the advancement of their online efforts,
with worthy programs, services, and with vendors that will sell them 30 (not solution successes, and processes through
products trying to earn your business. All three) additional vehicles. I equate those hands-on training. He has worked in the
of these vendors can add one new dimen- representatives whose intent is to sell dealership trenches and now shares his
sion, for the most part, to your sales or their product for the promise of three knowledge of e-commerce, online advertis-
fixed operations needs. However, I ask sales to new-age snake oil salesmen. ing, and Internet initiatives nationwide.
again, what is worth your time? There are programs out there that can
At my previous dealership, I fielded the help your dealership move 30 or more
incoming calls from all new sales vendors vehicles a month.
looking to promote their wares. I’d sit • Forward-thinking web site providers If you wish to discuss this article with
through countless presentations of their • Proven SEO/SEM companies other dealers, or with the author,
services and create my own analyses that • State-of-the-art CRM solutions please go to the “Discussion Forums”
I’d share with the owner and general man- • Customer retention programs at www.DigitalDealer-magazine.com
agement. Over the past few years, the • Inventory listing sites and enter the “Internet Sales” forum or
amount of Internet-focused programs • Big-name lead providers e-mail him at jwebb@DigitalDealer-
seems to have tripled, as have the calls and • Lead scoring companies magazine.com.
showroom visits from their representa- These types of online services can play
DD 18 February 2009 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
D IGITAL Dealer INTERNET SALES
way to do this is to set up a file system.
Put all the talking prospects in the same
file and then review each lead weekly to
stay in touch while they are waiting to
make a decision to buy. If an appointment
with the Internet is made, then move prospects into a “set
appointment” file. This file requires
reviewing each of these prospects daily to
in a Downtime
see if there is anything needed to move
3. Focus on conquest sales to Internet
leads. Each phone conversation should
take on a more engaging tone. Not that
you don’t immediately work toward
setting the appointment. But when
sensing a client backing off, you need to
provide additional choices to reel them in.
HE INTERNET AUTOMOTIVE MAR- Don’t get too anxious to sell that car and
KETING CHANNEL CAN BE COMPARED TO
DEEP-SEA FISHING. With something like
1,200 automotive lead gathering sites “Adapt, change, be
(not counting dealer web sites), the lead
generators have packaged “leads” that positive, find a way,
have been hooked by seeking a price
quote. These leads are in various stages of and work together
the buying cycle. For example, a lead gen-
erated via spam e-mail, is probably the among departments…”
worst kind of lead there is. It tends to
gather the curious or the idle, which have
no intention to buy another vehicle.
This “worst kind” is like hooking a
minnow; you will never get it to the boat. tug too hard. You might lose the fish.
If you did, you’d throw it back anyway. you’ll be ready to haul in the nets full of While you have them on the “line” take
These kinds of leads could represent fish to fry. that opportunity to discover the other
between 10 and 15 percent of all leads. So, how do you adjust your in-store choices they are considering. Be mindful
Too many dealers let these minnows dis- processes to succeed in these changing that the generally accepted stats are that
courage the use of this selling channel. But times? one half of the 55 buyers out of 100 will
let’s look on the positive side of the equa- select a different kind of vehicle. Learn to
tion. It is generally accepted that 55 out of 1. Make more calls to the leads in your focus on conquest sales in these down-
100 purchased leads will buy a vehicle in net. The lead counts are down in all times. Use that opportunity to bring up
the six- to nine-month time frame. markets. This translates into you’ll spend comparative products if you can’t reel
Let’s get this perspective: To hook a less time working up quotes and sending them into the boat right away. Prod and
lead, the retail dealer must cast a line out fewer e-mails, therefore, you can make push for their alternative choices, and
into the web via a zip code purchase. more phone calls. My research shows that quickly offer your dealership and your
Then, via defined processes, the dealer you’re only talking to about 20 to 25 product advantages.
Internet sales manager begins to reel in percent of your leads. Consequently, you
what is hooked on the line. However, now have an opportunity to double that 4. Change the bait often. Change e-
there is a challenge because of the lengthy percentage of leads talked to. Therefore, mail content from price focus to product
time frame from getting them hooked to this effort will greatly increase your online information content. Don’t bug potential
getting them into the boat. But my con- engagements to give a clear opportunity leads with “buy now” pricing e-mails.
tention during these tough economic to double your sales when these prospects Most likely this will put them off. This is
times is that you must be patient. In addi- are ready to buy. the time to focus more on conquest sales
tion, you should kindly cultivate those and throw out additional product
Internet prospects that are in your lead 2. Keep track of each lead, don’t let it content. One of the highest concerns of
management tools. Eventually, when swim away. After reaching each prospect, the American public is product safety.
these prospects feel the freedom to buy, don’t let them get lost in the shuffle. The Therefore, it is a good idea to build e-mail
DD 22 February 2009 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
content that highlights your product’s the purchase. The operative word is ‘how’, ing out the nets. We must be organized
safety message. Imports should promote not ‘if’. Every dealership finance depart- for every catch during these changing
the number of their cars built in America. ment needs to mentally turn the corner. times. It begins with the captain of the
Since environmental issues remain a Don’t rely on the same two or three boat. Starting with the dealer, every
concern, every manufacturer should have sources of the past. Utilize every possibil- department needs to sit down together
a “green” message. You should also have a ity and contact 20 other sources if and find new ways to gather the Internet
good e-mail content story on the advan- necessary. Just because the rules have leads into the boat. Adapt, change, be
tages of buying from your dealership, and changed does not mean you stick your positive, find a way, and work together
from you. Why should you send these head in the sand. Too often the finance among departments; these are vital
kinds of e-mails? Because, when reeling a department dictates with unreasonable requirements in today’s market.
buyer into the boat, the hook requires rules and conditions for the Internet
more than a price. A successful landing prospect. By working in tandem, allow Daryl Sanders is the owner of Internet
requires content and relevant information this prospect to supply you information Dealer Solutions, Ltd. He has installed his
that enables a prospect to picture himself before they come in. Many finance evolving sales system in over 100 dealerships.
in your car. departments have blocked potential sales He has a business degree in marketing from
to Internet prospects. In the car business Ohio State University. As an offensive tackle
5. Keep obstacles away from the view of over the years, I have learned to figure out at OSU, he was an NFL number one draft
the fish. Talk about financing issues earlier how to make the sale first, and then figure pick in 1963 for the Detroit Lions.
in the process. Don’t spend time fretting out how to make more money.
or complaining about the finance issues Maintaining positive attitudes and If you wish to discuss this article with
facing our industry. It’s best to talk about preparing the nets is the key to success. other dealers, or with the author,
the elephant in the room; so face financ- Every commercial fisherman repairs the please go to the “Discussion Forums”
ing head on. After sending your e-mail rips in the nets before going out to sea to at www.DigitalDealer-magazine.com
price quote, the Internet sales manager fish. We have a rip in our economy, but and enter the “Internet Sales” forum or
should get the prospect to fill out a credit steady yourself and take aim. There are e-mail him at dsanders@Digital
application right up front. He needs to many fish in the sea. Get prepared. Don’t Dealer-magazine.com.
show how he can help them in this part of let economic stress keep you from throw-
DigitalDealer-magazine.com February 2009 DD 23
D IGITAL Dealer INTERNET SALES
What Can SEO
rankings. Savvy SEO analysts make it a
point to keep informed and implement
new technologies that prove to be
and SEM Do For Search engine marketing
The primary advantage of SEM, or
pay-per-click advertising is that vendors
can set up campaigns that are very tar-
geted and specific. If a dealer needs to
focus on moving a particular make or
model, an ad can be created to attract
customers looking for that exact make
Separating hype from fact and model in your area, and then link
“To increase the
effectiveness of SEM,
N TODAY’S MARKET, the Internet a site should be well
plays a vital role in connecting dealers
to their customers. Dealers who are not designed; ensuring
web savvy are falling behind their com-
petition, and the reason is simple. that phone numbers
Estimates reveal that more than 90
percent of consumers begin their search are highly visible on
for a vehicle online. The vast majority
begins by entering search terms into every page and forms
Google or other search engines. Making
sure a web site “gets found” should be a are easy to find
top priority for every dealer.
Unfortunately, many companies have and fill out.”
jumped onto the Internet and search
marketing bandwagon. As a result, —Elissa Giroux
dealers hear a lot of conflicting informa- are diverse, including structural design,
tion from multiple sources. What’s updating content and linking. them directly to the inventory page.
right and what’s wrong? What delivers The ideal solution incorporates a Conversion rates are very high with this
results and what’s a waste of money? multi-faceted approach, from the way type of ad. Once on your site, con-
Search marketing experts are all too the web site is initially designed to sumers are a captive audience. To
familiar with dealers’ varying success updating content according to dealers’ increase the effectiveness of SEM, a site
rates when they attempt to dive into goals. In addition, analyzing opportuni- should be well designed; ensuring that
the world of search engine optimiza- ties in local markets and developing phone numbers are highly visible on
tion (SEO) and search engine partnerships with companies benefit every page and forms are easy to find
marketing (SEM) without knowing the dealers in terms of links. and fill out. Customers looking for
facts. To help dealers get it right the It’s important for dealers to under- service or parts can also be linked
first time, it’s important to separate the stand that they must also take directly to those departments’ pages.
hype from fact. responsibility for effective SEO by Another benefit of SEM is that
taking advantage of back-end tools and results can be easily tracked, therefore
Search engine optimization keeping content and inventory fresh, all ROI is easily measured.
The advantage to having a well-opti- of which affect how well search engines
mized site is obvious; when consumers can find a site. It’s also important to An unbeatable combination
enter keywords into Google or another realize that trends in SEO come and go, Both SEO and SEM are good solu-
search engine, a dealer’s web site will and what worked yesterday will not tions for attracting customers, but used
appear high on the list of results. But necessarily work today or tomorrow. together their power is multiplied.
obvious does not equate to simple. The New trends such as blogs and social net- Statistics show that when both SEO
strategies vendors use to optimize a site working have an impact on a site’s SEO and SEM are combined, the results are
DD 24 February 2009 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
far more effective. customers. Unfortunately, many SEM Questions to Ask Your Search
Here’s an example: If you’re doing firms aren’t much better. If you do hire Engine Marketing Provider
SEO, you want to write descriptive an expert, you want to make sure you Is your provider asking you to sign
content on your site that describes know how much they are spending on a contract or make some other long-
exactly what you offer. If you’re doing various keywords, and if they can give term commitment? If a provider
SEM, you want to be sure your paid ad you reports that track results. A rep- doesn’t deliver in a reasonable time-
and link appear if someone is searching utable provider will have no problem frame, you should have the freedom
for specific keywords, i.e. “Honda showing you exactly how they are to try other solutions.
Accords Atlanta.” But if Google sees spending your money. To help with How much do you have to spend per
that your site has content about Honda this sometimes confusing task, see a month (what fees are involved)? Some
Accords, it will be more likely to match complete checklist of questions to ask a providers charge management fees,
the paid search ad with this relevant potential SEM provider (located in a which can drive up your per-lead cost.
content, and your site will be ranked sidebar to this article).
higher in the organic rankings. Focus on placement: But not where Do you have flexibility? You should
Conversely, if you’re doing SEM you you think. There are a lot of SEM firms have the ability to change campaigns
want to make sure your web site is well out there that may promise you the on the fly in response to market con-
optimized for the paid search ad to be number one ranking on Google, but ditions or specials that you or a
effective. And to some extent, it’s a pure they won’t tell you which keywords they competitor may be running.
numbers game. If you utilize both SEO are going after. What if your top
and SEM, your site will be listed in ranking is for keywords that no one is Can you choose when your ads
more places and it’s more likely that one using? Realistically, dealers need to run? If you know about what hours or
of them will be clicked on. focus on seeing themselves at the top of days of the week potential buyers are
listings for the right terms. Garnering looking for cars, you’ll want to be
able to turn your campaigns on and
Five steps to creating effective top placement for “Honda dealer off to ensure you’re running at
SEO/SEM campaigns Atlanta” may not deliver the same con- optimum times.
Outline goals: Is it really important version rates as “2005 Honda Accord
to be ranked number one with the key- Atlanta.” The latter term is more spe- Can you track your results? With
words that you have in mind? Or, is cific and will likely deliver a higher money tight, it’s important that you be
your goal to attract more traffic to your conversion rate. able to track your return on invest-
site and increase conversion rates? Be patient: Effective SEO takes time. ment. You should know where every
Perhaps you want to reduce the cost of If a dealer is expecting to see instant phone call and e-mail submission is
your leads, or increase closing rates. All results once a web site has been opti- coming from, so you can connect the
these goals can be accomplished with mized, disappointment is inevitable. leads generated for every dollar spent.
effective SEO and SEM campaigns, but Achieving a top ranking is a long-term
not necessarily in the way you think. A strategy and can take months. One Is it easy to use? Even the most
savvy Internet marketing provider can reason is that effective SEO results sophisticated technology isn’t going
help you establish goals and then come depend largely on what links you have to do you much good if you can’t
figure out how to use it. Look for a
up with appropriate strategies to help pointing to your site. When Google simple user interface.
you accomplish them. and other engines perform a search,
Know your vendor’s strategy: How part of what they look for is links Is your supporting web site opti-
will the provider help you accomplish coming into your site from other mized for conversions? As important
your goals? This should not be kept sources. Getting these links built up as your ad campaign is, a high quality
secret. There are many different takes time. A realistic timeframe for a web site that’s been built to turn visi-
methods and approaches to SEO and site to show up in SEO rankings ranges tors into leads is the most important
SEM, and most vendors use a combina- from a few weeks to several months. part of the equation.
tion of various kinds. Is your vendor SEM on the other hand, can deliver
going to work with web site architec- instant results. If a dealer wants a fast Can I divide my spend throughout
ture, navigation and back-end turnaround, a targeted SEM campaign different departments such as new
structure, or will it focus on optimizing is the medium of choice. and used car sales, service, parts,
web site content? Your comfort level finance, specials etc.?
will increase greatly if your provider can Elissa Giroux is search operations
explain their strategies in simple terms, manager with Dealer.com. Can I control what I spend? Only
you should be able to decide how
and then back up what they say they much per lead you want to pay.
will do with reports that clearly show
how progress is tracked. If you wish to discuss this article with Is my inventory updated in the
Hire experts: Many dealers believe other dealers, or with the author, search engines in real time? Every
that when it comes to SEM, they can please go to the “Discussion Forums” time you upload new inventory, ads
do it themselves. But they really don’t at www.DigitalDealer-magazine.com should be automatically generated
have the expertise and raw data to and enter the “Internet Sales” forum or and posted on Google. This connects
determine which keywords are going to e-mail her at egiroux@DigitalDealer- buyers directly with the inventory
deliver traffic to your web site and once magazine.com. they’re seeking, which increases con-
there, convert that traffic into potential version rates and closing rates.
DigitalDealer-magazine.com February 2009 DD 25
D IGITAL Dealer COVER STORY
New and Pre-owned
Sales Manager/Internet Director
Behlmann Buick Pontiac
GMC and Pre-owned Cars
DD 26 February 2009 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
Success is part of the Behlmann Buick Pontiac GMC tradition. Through its
partnership with Explorer Vans, the St. Louis, Missouri-based dealership is the
premier van conversion company in America, as well as the St. Louis area’s number one
GM certified pre-owned dealer. It’s also a classic family-owned dealership, founded by Ken
and Linda Behlmann in 1972 and now owned and managed by their son, Dan. Today,
Behlmann Buick Pontiac GMC, one of the most successful GM dealerships in the United
States, proudly sells and services Buick, Pontiac, GMC, Chevrolet, Cadillac, Saturn,
Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ford, Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Kia and Lexus.
Anthony Bartoli joined the Behlmann family in 2001, stayed for a few years, left in
2005, and then returned in 2007, where he remains today as one of the dealership’s sales
managers and its Internet director. From the first day he started using the Internet to sell
cars, he’s been in love with both the technology and the process. Although web technology
might be complex, Bartoli believes the sales process for consumers must remain simple.
Read on to learn more about how he and his Internet team consistently bring in 50
percent of the sales for this highly successful dealership.
P LEASE TELL ME ABOUT YOUR BACK-
Prior to entering the sales industry, I
had been in the restaurant business man-
aging restaurants and even owning my
someone who worked in the industry and
he seemed to make a very good living.
I was excited about the challenge and
was very successful right from the start. I
was one of the dealership’s top performers
he had signed up to attend the first
AAISP conference (Digital Dealer confer-
ence now) in the spring of 2006 and we
had to send someone since we had already
paid the fee. Reluctantly, I drove down to
own for some time. After leaving the and even earned salesman of the year in Nashville thinking this was a waste of
restaurant business, I became involved in my first year of selling cars. The dealer- time and money for the dealership. Wow,
home alarm dealerships, which were very ship is a family-owned business and the what an amazing experience! Meeting and
successful in their time. However, the Behlmann family and managers were talking to people who actually were in the
market became saturated, resulting in sig- great to work for. When the Internet Internet trenches was incredible. What a
nificant and sudden changes in the alarm manager quit, I tried to get into the wealth of knowledge. I was constantly on
industry market share. So I started Internet department and was told that my laptop when I wasn’t in seminars. I
looking for something else to do in 2001. was no place for a workhorse/closer. I came back energized and was immedi-
I had discovered that I had a gift for sales- worked the Internet leads anyway on my ately generating over $2,200 a deal for the
manship and decided to try out the auto own until they found someone to fill the store off Internet sales. The way I thought
sales industry. position a week later. I sold 11 cars in about sales completely shifted and I had a
In late June 2001 I answered an ad for eight days and then went back to strictly whole new outlook. I continued to focus
salespeople at Behlmann Automotive floor traffic. on Internet sales from there on out and
through TK Worldwide. I didn’t know Later in February 2005, I was recruited believe that it is the future of the automo-
much about cars and was reluctant to to manage a Chevy dealership. While tive business.
enter the auto industry. I thought you had there I was given the task of overseeing the Dan Behlmann asked me to return to
to have a passion for cars and be some- one-person Internet department as well. Behlmann Buick Pontiac GMC in June
what of a gear head. However, I knew When the Internet person left our store, of 2007 as a sales manager and Internet
DigitalDealer-magazine.com February 2009 DD 27
D IGITAL Dealer COVER STORY
director. I eagerly accepted and now
oversee the whole Internet operation,
from monitoring leads on and off hours,
maintaining the web site, developing
Internet advertising, managing the vehicle
inventory, budgeting, managing third-
party vendors, etc. I am part of a sales
management team with two other man-
agers, and we each concentrate on
How many people work in your
When I returned to Behlmann in June
2007, we had one person handling the
Internet. In just over one year we have
grown and expanded our Internet sales
division to include an Internet director
and five Internet managers. “What sets Behlmann’s apart is our people and our main mission, which is to
exceed our customers’ expectations,” says Bartoli.
What percentage of your dealership’s
overall sales is generated from the
I can track and account for 67 percent unknown factor and a given factor. The It wasn’t easy getting our web site to
of our traffic generated from the Internet, given factor is that I can usually add where it is today. When I first came here
but that figure is probably closer to 75 another 10 percent to what the Internet we had a web site built in a basement.
percent with the floor traffic that goes did to indicate what was really brought They were getting about 500 hits a
unlabeled from the various web sites. into the floor. We’re on over 75 different month on. When I came here I brought
With our contact management tool, ILM sites, so we’re pulling in traffic from a lot in Dealerskins and had them do our site.
and CRM, we can track leads. During the of sources. Within a month we were at 2,000 visitors;
delivery part of the sales process, for now our Dealerskins Behlmann.com web
example, we actually confirm where they What tools or lead generators have site has had over 11,000 hits in a single
originated. We know what percentage of really worked on your site to pull in month. We also tried the Dealerskins
repeat business we get. We always ask the leads? SEM service. They provide a wide range
buyer this final question: “What brought Our web site is the number one source of services and they are all economical,
you in today?” They might tell us they for our leads. It is as easy as 1-2-3 buttons. cost-effective solutions.
were on Behlmann.com or First: select your vehicle; second: value When I ran a Chevy store and first got
Autotrader.com, MSN Auto, saw the car your trade; and third: finance. Our cus- involved in the Internet I firmly believed,
on GM’s web site, whatever the case may tomers say that of all the auto web sites and still believe, that the process of
be. We want to track what percentage that they researched, including OEM, our buying on a web site should be as simple
we’re doing from the Internet and where site is by far the easiest to use. as 1-2-3. One, do your research. Two,
we’re spending our ad dollars. There is an Dan Behlmann really believes in the value your trade. And three, apply for
unknown element in that a new employee Internet and has dedicated a good portion financing. As a result our motto here at
might forget to extract that key marketing of the advertising budget to driving Behlmann is the deal on the Internet is as
information from a new customer. So I people to our online dealership. We do easy as 1-2-3. We try to drive everyone to
honestly think our Internet close ratio is not purchase leads at this time. Between Behlmann.com, which is probably our
higher than our reports might indicate. our web site, GM third-party leads, number one site that I continually focus
Traffic into our store is probably higher Autotrader.com and Cars.com, we gener- on. We have a free Cobalt site. We use
than 75 percent. Month after month, ate over 100 leads per person per month. Autotrader. We have a special finance site
we’re at 50 percent or more in sales, just called Easy Auto Credit Help to help cus-
from the Internet team alone. What interactive media resources do tomers get pre-approved.
People come to Behlmann’s for a variety you utilize? Please tell me what services But our web site has it all: research, a
of reasons, such as the history of the deal- they provide and why you decided to configurator, customer testimonials, build
ership; perhaps a car was explained better, go with them. your own vehicle, and financing applica-
the price, perhaps value, our web site, Our Dealerskins web site is a great inter- tions (for special finance). You can also
whatever the case may be. The floor guy is active site for us. We went with Dealerskins value your trade using an online appraisal
probably not going to tell you it was an because it does an excellent job with a great from. It’s not a range; we give customers
Internet deal. To recap, there’s an price to value combination. an exact number based on the trade-in
DD 28 February 2009 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
vehicle information they provide. Of like to read stories from other Internet my attention to mobile marketing and
course, our web site also lists our current sales directors/managers about what texting. But my two biggest goals right
specials, information on our teams, works and doesn’t work for them. I was now are to get Black Book Online and to
including backgrounds and bios. just amazed when I went to my first introduce a newsletter.
Internet sales and marketing show in
Do you help design/update your dealer- Nashville. I literally called the general Please take me through the process
ship site? For example, update inventory, manager and told him, “I’m ready to from when an Internet lead is received,
create specials, add photos, etc. come home.” He asked if I was disap- to how it is eventually closed (via a sale
This is something we do constantly. As pointed in the show. I said, “On the or a long-term prospect).
a sales manager I am always watching our contrary.” I felt as if we were reinventing The lead comes into our VinSolutions
lot and it is not any different with our web the wheel. I couldn’t wait to get back and ILM and is distributed by a round robin
site. I treat it as another showroom and I start working the Internet. system to the five Internet managers.
am always monitoring it. I oversee or per- They will send an e-mail and then
sonally handle the selection of our specials If you could keep one tool from your attempt to phone the customer. We try to
to ensure that the vehicles are right. We current interactive tool chest to gener- answer the client’s questions and set an
take our own pictures. That is another ate leads, what would it be? appointment. We are set up to contact the
thing we do well, and will strive to do That would be our Behlmann web site. customer through the life of that client.
better as our finances allow it. We usually That’s my baby. I work closely with the Once they buy, they go into a different
have anywhere from 12 to 50 photos of a guys over at Dealerskins, completing this contact cycle for sales and service.
vehicle and we also photograph our new web site and getting them on board with
vehicles as well. That way, our clients see my vision for it. They try to make it How important is follow-up in closing
the actual color and options of the vehicle happen for me. That’s my number one Internet leads?
instead of a stock photo. interactive tool. Are we looking at other I think follow up is the most under-
things? Absolutely. We’re looking at estimated and most crucial part of the life
How do you use e-mail campaigns to texting, which I think has huge potential. of the Internet lead. We have had so many
generate leads? We’re looking at Black Book Online. clients say that either we were the only
We use several different e-mail cam- I always consult with the team on what ones to respond back or we stayed in
paigns to generate leads. We send out we implement. From everything I’ve read touch with them and answered the ques-
different e-mails from time to time and in these magazines, one of the most treas- tions they asked, versus sending out some
always try to avoid the spam filters. We ured marketing resources a dealership has generic auto-response. Right now we’re
also try not to over-communicate with is its newsletter; it’s an ongoing source for on two different customer or sales lead
our customers. We can’t send out a new leads. So, we’re also working on a systems or networks. If it comes in
message every time GM changes an newsletter; I believe a newsletter is money through the Internet, the floor doesn’t
incentive. Instead, our goal is to send out well spent. have the information they need; if it
a different e-mail every two months. We Getting back to texting, I see my kids comes in through the floor, the Internet
also run a “buy back” e-mail campaign texting each other constantly. This has to team may not know about it. Eventually
that’s been quite successful for us. be the way of the next generation because we would like to have a single, unified
it’s so easy. view of our customers between the
Can you give me an example of a suc- When I was down at the Digital Dealer Internet and the sales floor.
cessful e-mail campaign that pulled in conference this last October, I texted a
a good number of leads? dealership from my phone and the next There are a lot of new tools in the space
Sure. One of our Internet managers thing I knew someone from the dealership getting attention – blogs, social net-
modified an e-mail template and created a was texting me back asking how they could works, SEO and SEM – do you use any
“We have not talked in a while” message help me, then two minutes later their of them? If so, how have they worked?
campaign that had an incredible response inventory was on my phone. That’s pretty If not, do you have plans to use any of
from our client base. This pulled people strong. The Internet has no boundaries. these tools?
back into the market better than any I talk to other dealers and ISMs all the We use SEO and it is so important that
other campaign we have done. We still time. They tell me we should be on this your web site provider gets that right and
run this campaign and it still brings in other site or use a certain third-party lead you stay on top of it. You have to monitor
customers. It hasn’t grown old yet. I think provider. But, we’re doing pretty well as it that activity and results continually. We
it’s important for ISMs to exchange ideas, is. We don’t buy any leads; we have all the used SEM and we discontinued it because
such as what e-mail campaigns are leads we can handle. And you can only it was handled ineffectively. We are
working. I read Digital Dealer magazine work so many leads per guy. looking at setting that up again. I believe
every time it comes out because I’m Getting back to your question, I’d keep SEM works; I just have to have the right
always looking for new ideas. I would our web site. I should add that once the people in place to manage it. Our Internet
expect that anyone could learn at least web site is intact, the newsletter is up and team has set up social networks like
two new tips out of every issue. Pick those running, and Black Book Online is MySpace, Facebook, BlackPlanet.com,
two tips, apply them and see if it works. I running on our site, then I hope to turn etc. I have not seen a lot of results from
DigitalDealer-magazine.com February 2009 DD 29
that yet but it is something that is free and thing but now it is video and texting. We probably had a bag to carry it in. They
can’t hurt when done correctly. Another try to keep our Internet staff trained with were really big. CDs were just coming
tool we are planning to use is blogging. I the newest ideas out there by sending out; DVDs weren’t available yet. VCR was
am looking forward to having that set up them to the Digital Dealer conferences. I the way to go; you taped everything.
in the near future. have gone every year myself since spring There was no Tivo. Now, who tapes any-
of 2006, and have taken the whole team thing? And that wasn’t that long ago. I
What trends in automotive sales are to each one. We do online webinars with guess I don’t have one single answer for
you noticing and how is your dealer- different people in the industry such as improving the Internet because I might
ship or auto group adapting to those Cory Mosley. Vendors have sent in their have to give a different answer next week.
trends? people to train us as well. We also stay on
The Internet automotive sales trends top of trends by reading the different What sets your dealership apart from
are much like computer and cell phone sources available, such as Digital Dealer others in the market?
technology. They are constantly changing magazine. As I think I said before, I learn You treat people like you want your
and evolving. Just when you think you at least two new things from each new mother-brother-father-sister treated and
have one thing mastered, technology issue of the magazine. give them the answers they ask. We always
seems to move on. E-mailing was the big answer a customer’s or prospect’s question
As a sales professional, what do you online. If you answer their question, you
like most about the Internet? already have the winning edge. You don’t
Dealership partners in profit: The Internet offers limitless options on have to have the lowest price. Because
how and when you can present your how many dealers are actually answering
Dealership name: product to the consumer. I can communi- customer questions?
Behlmann Buick Pontiac cate any time of the day to one of our What sets Behlmann’s apart is our
GMC clients and send our entire inventory so people and our main mission, which is to
that the client can view it on his or her exceed our customers’ expectations. In the
Web site URLs: own time and terms. I know that I per- restaurant business we called it the “wow
www.behlmann.com sonally would rather receive an e-mail factor” and I like that analogy. We believe
from most people rather than a phone in our brand. There is no confusion when
Web site provider/hosting: call. There is an increased reliance on the you believe and stand for the brand; it
Dealerskins Internet and electronic communication, comes across to the consumer. Our loca-
such as texting, blogging, e-mail and tion, our history: we have been in business
Vehicle marketing: instant messaging. This reality gives the since 1971 and in our current location
Internet professional a huge advantage since 1991. The Behlmann family is well
over the traditional salesperson. We are known in the St. Louis area. We are still
able to reach out to a mobile customer the number one Explorer Conversion Van
DMS provider: base and offer an efficient and low hassle dealer and people from all over the
Reynolds & Reynolds way to shop for a car. country come to us for their van needs.
From his eye-opening high-energy experi-
CRM program: If you could enhance the Internet, how ence at his first Association of Automotive
Reynolds & Reynolds
would you improve it? Internet Professionals conference in
The automotive industry, and espe- Nashville to his most recent taste of mobile
cially the Internet, changes constantly so marketing at the Digital Dealer conference
Vehicle history reports: it’s hard to tell. A year ago I never thought in Grapevine, Bartoli is in a constant search
Experian Auto Check about texting or receiving inventory on to find out more about the Internet. To listen
my cell phone. There’s always something to his enthusiasm, it’s obvious there are not
Third-party sites where new and it’s sometimes hard to keep up. enough hours in the day for what he wants
inventory is posted: For example, why is one company to learn or read or talk about, what he’d like
mobile-ready and another site provider to test or implement. If he’s not attending a
not? I tell my guys all the time; compare conference, he’s talking with another dealer.
AutoExtra.com this to the computer industry. Tomorrow And if he’s not talking to other dealers, he’s
AutoMart you’re going to wake up and hear some- monitoring the Behlmann web site or their
AutoTrader.com thing is new. It used to be auto-responders online leads or the sales room floor.
Car.com were in, now auto-responders are out. It Ultimately, though, it’s clear that what sepa-
Cars.com used to be you had to respond to an rates Bartoli and Behlmann from many in
inquiry within 48 hours, now you’re the industry is their family commitment. To
behind the eight ball if you don’t contact Bartoli, taking care of customers is as simple
them within seven minutes. We were as 1-2-3, no matter if they’re on your web
Kelley Blue Book talking the other day here at the dealer- site or in your store.
ship about how technology changes.
Other vendors: Think back to 1982: if you had a cell abartoli@DigitalDealer-
vAuto phone, very few people had them, you magazine.com
DD 30 February 2009 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
“Dahl Ford has increased vehicle sales and
service revenue PLUS reduced our overall expenses using
Ownership Lifecycle Management from Auto Point.
We highly recommend it."
Call Auto Point - or call us.
KV Dahl III, GM
Tim Thompson Amy Larson Randy Oler Dan Wich
General Sales Manager BDC/Public Relations Parts & Service Director Service Department Manager
OWNERSHIP LIFECYCLE MANAGEMENT
Do Your Customers Get the Point?
Go to www.autopointsite.com
or call 866-348-9717
D IGITAL Dealer TECHNOLOGY TRENDS
A Good DOC Will
you wait too long – you won't get the
results you need. The problem with a
timely DOC is the car deal delay. You
Keep you Healthy
have two ways to solve this: either post all
car deals the next day or use the F&I
DOC to report sold vehicles. Posting car
deals the day after they are sold means
that you’ll have a lot of corrections or
things change like the buy rate or cost
adjustments, but if it is an easy process in
your DMS system, then why not post
them the next day? Start listing all the
objections to this and try to eliminate or
minimize so you can become timely. If
that is just not possible, then add a memo
account to post the “deals per F&I” and
VERYONE GETS SICK FROM TIME TO then use that number instead of the CUC
TIME AND WHEN WE DO, we depend on a account to multiply your actual gross
good doctor. The same holds true for your profit average times the “deals per F&I”
DOC – daily operating control. A good to get an estimated vehicles sales figure.
DOC will help make your dealership Finally, your DOC needs to provide an
healthy as long it provides the expense accurate view of how the month will turn
information your managers need to make out. Most DOCs or MIS reports ask you
changes that affect profit. In addition, it how many days this DOC is through and
must be timely and provide an accurate how many days in the month. There is a
view of how the month will turn out. reason for this and it is the line or column
Let’s talk about these three elements of a that does a projection. Find that line or
good DOC and how you can make yours column and see how accurate it is. If you
more valuable. Expenses are one of the want a simple profit estimator, visit my
most important items to report on your web site’s free download page and get my
DOC. Many of you think that expenses Net Profit Estimator file in Excel
are only accurate after the month is com- (www.sandijerome.com, Free Downloads
pleted and all the invoices are posted, but “Expenses are one of on the left menu, then Enter Download
using your purchase order system can help Page). It’s easy to use and my dealer and I
fix this problem. First, find all your the most important would bet monthly with it on to see who
expenses for items under contract like could get closest to the number. Just like
cleaning services and the DMS system. items to report on when you go to the doctor, nobody likes
Post the amount per the contract into the surprises – so let’s use these tools to get
accounts payable account for the month; your DOC.” our dealership healthy.
early in the month instead of when the bill —Sandi Jerome
comes in. For example, if your DMS con- Sandi Jerome is a former controller, CFO,
tract is $5,300 a month, make that entry system administrator, F&I, assistant GM,
now. Now it will be on tomorrow’s DOC. match and training your accounts payable and fixed operations manager with over 20
When the bill comes in next month – not clerk to post invoices daily will help. It is years experience in the automotive indus-
only does it force you to reconcile to the tempting to wait for all the invoices and try. She is the owner of Sandi Jerome
contract and investigate differences, but the matching statements to post, but we Computer Consulting.
also your DMS charges will show all need to become more of a daily reporting
month long as an expense. Yes, this might office instead of monthly. When your
make your accounts payable account a managers see these big expenses appear on
If you wish to discuss this article with
little cluttered but if you clearly identify the the DOC, then they can question or
other dealers, or with the author,
postings: “March ‘08 DMS charges per investigate the items. As DMS systems
please go to the “Discussion Forums”
contract,” then it will be easier to reconcile. become more GUI, their DOCs are
Using a strict purchase order system improving. Some of them enable you to
and enter the “Technology” forum or
will also help. If you require all your click on a DOC or MIS line and then see
e-mail her at sjerome@DigitalDealer-
vendors to get a purchase order – espe- the detail for that line.
cially your advertising agency or The next element of a healthy DOC is
providers, then you'll get invoices to to be timely. Just like taking medicine, if
DD 32 February 2009 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
D IGITAL Dealer BDC/CRM
come visit you, and
2. If they currently visit you, you want
them to visit you more often.
Simply said, the single metric I am
talking about in measuring customer
retention is the average number of visits
Think about it for a minute. All things
flow from this key metric: average
number of visits per year. Overall revenue
increases if you improve the average
number of visits per year. Revenue per
The Secret Ingredient
customer increases if you improve the
average number of visits per year. A con-
sumer’s probability of purchasing another
vehicle increases if they visit your dealer-
ship more frequently.
So how do you increase average visits
per year? By communicating with your
USTOMER RETENTION HAS ALWAYS BEEN customers throughout the ownership life-
AND IS MORE SO TODAY, a critical factor of cycle, with contextual and timely
a dealer’s success. We all know the basic communications delivered in using multi-
Marketing 101 saying, “It costs 10 times channel methods. By doing this you will
more to go out and find a new customer increase average visits per year for acces-
than it does to retain a customer you sory sales, service visits and the
already have.” Well, believe it or not, there probability that they will buy the next
are dealers out there who have ignored vehicle from you.
customer retention altogether and are now It is clear that a dealership’s overall
learning a very painful lesson. health is dependent on its ability to effec-
If you are one of those dealers not doing tively retain its existing customers. My
anything, don’t think for a minute that the advice: communicate through the lifecycle
dealer down the road doesn’t want your and measure average visits per year.
customers. The economy is down and
vehicle sales are at a 20-year low. Jim Roche is founder and CEO of Auto
For you savvy dealers who already have “…the single metric Point. He has been developing and delivering
customer retention programs in place, technology products to automotive dealers for
there is one golden rule, “Building cus- I am talking about over 23 years. Prior to founding Auto Point,
tomer retention only works if the Roche was CEO of Ocentrix, Inc., a Seattle
customer benefits from the retention in measuring customer start-up that developed an ASP-based DMS
strategies.” If you are unsure, ask yourself for dealerships. Roche was also vice president
the following questions: retention is the of product management for Autobytel, Inc.,
• What are your customers’ expectations president of Carabunga and senior vice presi-
and how can you exceed them? average number dent of operations for Newgen Results
• What differentiates your dealership Corporation. While at Newgen, he was part
from other dealerships in the eyes of of visits per year.” of the team that oversaw Newgen’s explosive
your customers? —Jim Roche growth from zero to 5,000 dealerships and its
• How do your interactions with your successful IPO in 1999.
customers affect their satisfaction and tomer retention program(s) like you never
buying behavior? thought of before.
So how do you measure your program It doesn’t matter if you are a high-end If you wish to discuss this article with
is the next question most dealers ask. dealer in Los Angeles, or you are a small other dealers, or with the author,
Indicators of customer retention that can mid-west dealer making double-digit please go to the “Discussion Forums”
be easily measured include repeat sales, sales. The overall objective of your cus- at www.DigitalDealer-magazine.com
service visits, and referrals to others. But I tomer retention efforts is the same and it and enter the “BDC/CRM” forum or
believe there is a single metric that if is two-fold: e-mail him at jroche@DigitalDealer-
tracked properly, will allow you to 1. If a customer hasn’t been to visit you in magazine.com.
measure the effectiveness of your cus- quite some time, you want them to
DD 34 February 2009 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
D IGITAGillrieealer DMS WORKSHOP
‘Go Away and
buying, selling, contracting or expanding,
there are always DMS issues and questions.
Often the solution is a simple one; some-
times it takes more finesse.
Even in the best of times, no dealer likes
Leave Me Alone!’
investing the time and effort it takes to
solve the technology cost-benefit equation.
It’s easy to let the very daunting circum-
stances in existence today provide all the
reasons a dealer needs to procrastinate and
avoid thinking about computers and the
Have you seen what’s going future. Eventually they find they are liter-
ally forced to make some decisions.
Negotiating “under the gun” is never a
on in the auto industry? good idea. Dealers are finding that the
“month-to-month” option that was there
for them in the past no longer exists. When
a temporary arrangement is available, it is
often fraught with dangerous ramifications.
In an industry where costs are dropping
O ONE CAN BLAME A DEALER and in a market where the buyer is in
WHO FEELS THAT WAY RECENTLY. Certainly, charge, extending the status quo is very
it seems to be the common sentiment. likely the more expensive choice. If your
Dealers want to know exactly what is vendor rep is encouraging you to do
going to happen and see things improve nothing, it probably means that you are
before they make any decisions. Some are paying too much and he doesn’t want to
paralyzed, unable to act. Are they the rock the boat.
smart ones or are they missing some great
“Be greedy when others are fearful and “There is no better
fearful when others are greedy.’’ – Warren
Buffet time to take action and
Since it is our business to help dealers
with technology in their operations, we’ve reap the rewards.
given a lot of thought to the actions dealers
can take in these very tumultuous eco- tuitive thinking. It’s important to remem- In the real world,
nomic times. ber that you are not buying a computer.
You are contracting for computer services. technology is always
The first instinct is to cut It’s just like changing to a new cell phone
expenses plan. You can often get a better deal (and a getting cheaper.”
Who could disagree? When it comes to free phone!) if you are proactive. There’s —Paul Gillrie
dealership technology, the most obvious always a better deal for those who ask for it
first step is to reduce your overall DMS and are ready to make a decision. You may It’s time to start negotiating if:
costs and improve your store’s efficiency. want to get some professional help to max- • Your DMS hardware and/or software
Our mission is now, and has always been, imize the savings. have become obsolete and need replace-
to help dealers in this quest. There is no ment. Are you running out of space or
better time to take action and reap the It may be time to start negotiating memory? Do complex operations (e.g.
rewards. In the real world, technology is We talk to dealers every day. Everyone is month/year-end financial statements)
always getting cheaper. Right now, a dealer cutting costs. Some are looking toward the move at glacial speed? Do you need a
has more clout than ever before when he is future. They realize that increased revenue is function that can’t be added to your
dealing with DMS providers (and others the only long-term solution. They are current system? In many cases, you can
who offer dealership technology). Why not actively seeking the opportunities and bar- update your system and actually reduce
seize this leverage that is born of increased gains that the vagaries of the market are costs. You just need the right strategies
competition and a slow economy to spend exposing. Some are finding they can acquire and information.
less and get more for your tech dollar? the competition at a fire sale price. Others • You are growing, expanding, and adding
Sometimes the path to these savings are establishing additional profit centers in facilities, franchises or new points. You
requires some “out of the box” counterin- their current facilities. Whether they are need to expand your DMS capabilities to
DD 36 February 2009 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
match. You may be asked to assume exist- add services? Reduce services? Are there important addenda to the standard vendor
ing obligations of the selling dealer. Many charges for items that are no longer contract, he gets some nasty surprises down
dealers swallow a poison pill without used? Should some maintenance be the road. Clauses that look innocuous
knowing what it is. Know your options so canceled? enough now may turn out to be dangerous
you can make the right choices. • You need a new phone system. You’ve later on.
• Your business is shrinking. You may heard that new IP telephone systems can Whether you are evaluating systems,
have sold or closed a store. You just can’t save you money and integrate with your renewing with your current vendor or
keep paying so much for your technol- DMS (and CRM). Is that the right direc- looking for the right fit with a new vendor,
ogy. Don’t assume you can’t stay with tion? Most dealers find they want to the key is careful, well-informed considera-
your current vendor. DMS vendors are evaluate their options, so they will not tion and execution.
facing a tough, highly competitive regret their choice later.
market. You may be surprised by an Paul Gillrie is a leading consultant and advo-
innovative solution to your problem. What negotiating mistakes do cate for automobile dealers in their quest to
Alternatively, it may also be time to seek dealers generally make? reduce technology expense in their dealerships.
out a new provider. Know all your There are four areas where a poorly negoti- He founded The Paul Gillrie Institute in
options and be sure you are getting the ated deal can fall short of the mark: 1992 and this scrupulously independent
best possible deal. 1. The dealer misses important items that research “think tank” now provides dealers and
• Your current contract is coming to an will have to be added later – when he has their advisors with the most current, accurate
end. Don’t wait until the last minute. no leverage and will pay too much. analysis and consumer reports on the technol-
You never want to make a decision under 2. The dealer buys items that he doesn’t ogy issues facing them daily.
pressure. You need time to research, get need, won’t use or just don’t work. He nev-
competitive bids and analyze current ertheless pays for them for the next five to
expenses and new options. We used to seven years. If you wish to discuss this article with
recommend starting a year before your 3. He simply pays too much. How can he other dealers, or with the author,
contract expired; now we think 18 get it right when he doesn’t know what the please go to the “Discussion Forums”
months is probably better. right price is? Often additional costs at www.DigitalDealer-magazine.com
• A review of your DMS bills raises some emerge that were not apparent when the and enter the “DMS” forum or
issues. Has the vendor made a modifi- deal was signed. e-mail him at pgillrie@DigitalDealer-
cation to your agreement? Has your 4. He agrees to a contract that leaves him magazine.com.
monthly bill gone up? Do we need to exposed. Because he neglects to insist on
DigitalDealer-magazine.com February 2009 DD 37
Internet Sales, Sura (continued from P-DD12)
Internet and they are passionate about of Internet leads. This specific team has
the car industry. They saw the oppor- some very successful operations.
tunity associated with connecting to
customers differently. The pros of the What about you?
Advertiser ......................pg # past would drive to a construction area 1. How are you redesigning your
to showoff the latest F150 during a operation to fit today’s market?
lunch break. The Internet director of
ActivEngage ......................33 today is using a blog or a video of the 2. How are you refocusing your
new F150 and they are going to the team to adapt to today’s buyer?
customer online. The advantage is that
AutoListener......................35 the effective Internet managers (new 3. How are you leveraging the
pro) can connect to a larger number of online space to cut expenses?
people much faster than the old pro.
Auto Point ........................31 The old pro could only physically 4. How are you studying the trends
drive to one or two job sites each day in other industries to see what has
to connect with their customers. worked?
AutoSoft Intl. ....................37 This has been the most volatile time
for auto dealers since the 1920s. 5. How are you making certain that
Projections are that we will lose 2,000 the salespeople (including the Internet
AutoTrader.com ..................2 to 3,000 dealers through consolidation teams) are being trained on the word
or simply shutting down points. Most tracks that still work today?
of the dealers I visit with are going
AutoUSA............................40 through the process of cutting staff. 6. Are you still passionate about the
One group that has not had a layoff auto industry or have you lost that
and is acquiring dealerships is Mile passion because of the pressures of the
BZ Results/ADP ....................5 One. David Metter is recognized as economy? It shows either way.
one of the most progressive leaders in
the retail automotive circles when it 7. If you started a new dealership
cars.com ............................39 comes to adapting to online strategies. today, what would you expect and how
His team started to make this transi- would you operate it? Why not apply
tion two years ago. He admits that he those standards today?
DealerPeak (Widestorm) ....8 didn’t foresee the major market
decline, but he saw an opportunity to You have a tremendous opportunity
leverage the Internet with an aggressive today to change. If you take the teaching
Dealerspan ........................15 SEO strategy, progressive web sites, points from the sales masters of yester-
and video to cut advertising expense day and apply them to the new world of
and sell cars the way that people technology, you will be successful. Even
Dominion ....................20-21 wanted to buy them. Here is a key if the brand that you represent goes out
point; 13 percent of the salespeople of business, there will certainly be other
within the Mile One team are respon- OEMs coming into our country
eBay Motors ......................7 sible for selling 43 percent of the units. looking for dealers to represent them.
The 13 percent represents the Internet Stay positive, passionate and focused
departments. The turnover rate for the and you will never lack opportunity.
Homenet............................19 Internet team is 4 percent. Salespeople This economic turndown is a season
who stay at the same dealership that will pass. It may be another month
IMN Loyalty Driver............17 develop the critical relationships with or an entire year but it will pass.
the customers over time. You can’t Redesign and refocus your team today.
have the superstar sales people of the
Panasonic ............................9 past if your turnover rate is 100 to 200 Phil Sura is a VP of the Automotive
percent each year (which is the norm Division of UnityWorks Media.
in the aggressive markets).
Reynolds & Reynolds ........11 Other dealer groups have started to
move aggressively to redesign how they If you wish to discuss this article with
operate. One large group in the other dealers, or with the author,
TK Carsites ........................13 Midwest requires their entire sales team please go to the “Discussion Forums”
to be able to handle any type of lead, at www.DigitalDealer-magazine.com
including Internet leads. To work at and enter the “Internet Sales” forum or
VinSolutions ....................23 this operation, you must be able to talk e-mail him at psura@DigitalDealer-
to traditional walk-in customers, take magazine.com.
phone ups, and address and stay on top
DD 38 February 2009 DigitalDealer-magazine.com