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Digital dealer april 2010


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Digital dealer april 2010

  1. 1. 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 quickly, 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… Welcome to the digital edition of Digital Dealer magazine! Michael Roscoe Editor-in-Chief
  2. 2. JOSHUA FICHTER Director of Operations Sam Pack’s Five Star Ford page 18 April 2010 AAISP Notes: Automotive Retail and Technology – Recipe for Riches page 8 Internet Sales: Selling Cars in the Post- Control World page 10 It’s a Performance – Make Sure Everyone Knows Their Roles page 14 Technology Trends: Five Tips for Prepping Staff for System Change page 25
  3. 3. DD 2 April 2010 ABLE OF CONTENTST APRIL 2010 PRESIDENT AND CEO MICHAEL ROSCOE VICE PRESIDENT AND EDITORIAL DIRECTOR CLIFF BANKS 248-351-2620 PUBLISHER GREG NOONAN 607-264-3359 CONTENT COORDINATOR MARIA BURKEL ART DIRECTOR JOE BIRCH PRODUCTION MANAGER ELIZABETH BIRCH PRINT PRODUCTION NICK THOMAS COVER DESIGN JOE BIRCH COVER PHOTOS RANDY ANDERSON CIRCULATION SUBSCRIPTION RICH JARRETT 314-432-7511 NATIONAL ADVERTISING SALES 607-264-3359 Dealer magazine makes every attempt to ensure the accuracy of all published works. However it cannot be held responsible for opinions expressed or facts supplied herein. Nothing may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. All rights reserved. The publisher encourages you to submit sug- gestions. Submitted materials become the property of Horizon Communications, Inc. and will not be returned. Send material for publication to 330 Franklin Rd., Suite 135A, PMB 386, Brentwood, TN 37027. The editor re- serves the right to edit material; submission of material constitutes permission to edit and publish that mate- rial. This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is presented with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Commit- tee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers. A PUBLICATION OF C O M M U N I C A T I O N S FEATURES Digital Dealer Cover Story 18 Joshua Fichter Director of Operations Sam Pack’s Five Star Ford Digital Dealer Vendor Profile 22 Dominion Dealer Solutions COLUMNS AAISP Notes 8 Automotive Retail and Technology – Recipe for Riches Cliff Banks Internet Sales 10 Selling Cars in the Post-Control World Tom Mohr 12 Take Video Off the ‘To Do’ List Rob Lange 14 It’s a Performance – Make Sure Everyone Knows Their Roles Joe Webb 16 Driving Better Closing Results Phil Sura Technology Trends 25 Five Tips for Prepping Staff for System Change Sandi Jerome DEPARTMENTS 4 Digital Dealer E-mail 6 News
  4. 4. To learn more: 888-260-4906 BZ Results, an ADP, Inc. Company, 2000 Nooseneck Hill Road, Coventry, Rhode Island 02816 ©2010 ADP, Inc. – Dealer Services Group / BZ Results and the BZ Results logo are registered trademarks of ADP, Inc. How are you Handling your online repuTaTion? simple • online • resulTs BZ has the sTraTegiC plan to help you: • attract more customers • Transact quickly and easily • Convert shoppers into buyers • retain customers for life
  5. 5. DD 4 April 2010 IGITAL DEALER MAILD Hi Chuck Barker, When I saw the heading of your article in the December issue of Digital Dealer maga- zine, “What Type of Manager are You?”, I hadtowriteyou.Iaminapeculiarsituation, and I wanted to ask your advice as it relates to your article. Your article was right on point! It’s been better lately, but my GSM often cuts the salespeople down, often tells them that we don’t need them, that we could replace them right away. I have tried several times to tell him that if he treats them that way, it will transfer to the customer. Recentlythemanagementstaffhadameet- ingwiththedealer,andhefeelsthesameway ironicallyasyourarticleillustrates.Weshould pumpthem(salespeople)up,makethemfeel we are here to catch them if they fall. I also want to be able to explain why our new car dealsaredown.Theyaredownpartlybecause timesaretoughandthesalespeopledon’twant toworkfor100.00minideals.But,mostlyit’s because when you tear down the salespeople daily, you can’t expect them to be motivated and pumped up to take the next customer. I would like to ask you: Do you know of a way that I can get my GSM to understand what I am saying to him? How do I go about thiswithouthimthinkingIambeingconde- scending? Any input you have is welcomed. Name withheld by request Dear Reader, Sometimes these toughspots wefind ourselves in find a way to work themselves out; so be as tolerantasyoucangiventhesituation.Youbethe leaderthatshowshowtodoitrightbyrespecting your team, supporting them and continuing to encourage them. Act with positive ‘role model’ likebehaviorwitheveryoneyoucomeincontact with. Manage the way you would a. want to be managed and b. the way other managers should manage. The actions of your GSM can catch on with other managers who then find themselves treat- ing their people the same way. So stay resilient to your professional cause. Let’s have a look at your question for me: “Do you know of a way that I can get my GSM to understand what I am saying to him, is exactly what you talk about in your article? How do I go about it, without him thinking I am being condescending?” In view of the fact that your dealer has shown positive inclination toward his people, he would be your best ally in your quest to get things improved. I would begin by printing my article and any others supporting this solid leadership behavior and give him a copy and suggest that this should and could be our store’s culture.Requesthereaditatasalesmanagement meetingtosettheleadershipexpectationsbarfor all his stores.This way everyone is in the loop. I would gently explain to him that (without any names) you have witnessed salespeople being treated disrespectfully and you know the store can only grow its people when they are respected andprofessionallytreated.Next,yourfriendthe GSM should be spoken to as a friend would, referring to the articles and suggesting together you guys vow to make a positive change. Then, announce it at a sales meeting to the team. I have found that salespeople typically forgive the peoplewhohaveoffendedthemwhenanapology issubmittedfortheirpastbehaviorandpromise tobecomemoreprofessionalintheirinteractions with them going forward. Warmest regards, Chuck Barker Dealer welcomes your letters and after verification will run them signed or unsigned. Letters may be edited for space and clarity. Send letters to: 2000 Town Center • Suite 1900 • Southfield, MI 48075 FAX: (248) 351-2699 • e-mail: The Technology Magazine for Dealers Managers December 2009 Association of Automotive Internet Sales Professionals O FFICIAL O FFICIAL Association of Automotive Internet Sales Professionals Association of Automotive Internet Sales Professionals P UBLICATI O N P UBLICATI O N JOSEALONSOInternete-CommerceDirectorJenkins Auto Group page 18 JOSEALONSOInternete-CommerceDirectorJenkins Auto Group page 18 Internet Sales:Are You a Creator,or Just a Bad Prophet? page 10 Online Buyers Have Wants Alsopage 18 How to Respond toLeads the Right Way page 20 Technology Trends: How to Find andUse Customer Data page 25 Internet Sales:Are You a Creator,or Just a Bad Prophet? page 10 Online Buyers Have Wants Alsopage 18 How to Respond toLeads the Right Way page 20 Technology Trends: How to Find andUse Customer Data page 25
  6. 6. 2010 Top Rated Web Provider Top Awards for Websites, SEO, and Internet Lead Management 2009 Net Promoter® Score Survey Top customer service ranking in the nation’s software industry (second only to Adobe Systems) 2009 Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 Ranked number #214 fastest growing company in North America SEARCH MARKETING | DEALER WEBSITES | LEAD MANAGEMENT | PERFORMANCE ANALYTICS 888.785.5418 | | Alan Krutsch Director of Marketing Walser Auto Group “In simple numbers we went from a site that was converting at a rate of two percent, and now we are converting at thirteen percent. The functionality of the site and the ability to convert visitors into leads has been beyond what our initial goals were.” There’s a Reason Why More Top Dealers Choose
  7. 7. DD 6 April 2010 IGITAL DEALER TECH NEWSD Black Book introduces addition to Activator’s Advanced Conversion Toolkit Black Book’s Online Division announced the introduction of a new product enhance- ment that boosts leads already coming from its Activator sales conversion tool by up to 30%. Activator’s Advanced Conversion Toolkithasbeenenhancedwiththeaddition ofActivatorusingnewtechnologytogenerate high-impact pop-ups that give website shop- pers incentives to get a value for their trades and make dealership appointments. Conversion results to date show that, because these shoppers are seeking trade-in values, they are close to making a buying decision. Activator uncovers them, identifies them, allows the dealer to contact them and close the sale. Black Book’s online products currently appear on over 7,000 dealership and manufacturer web sites around the coun- try. Activator has proven to increase leads coming from dealership web sites by up to 50% with average closing rates of 15%.The 30% increase delivered with this “Advanced ConversionToolkit”enhancementisinaddi- tion to Activator’s traditional results. “Over a periodof several months, ourcus- tomerstakingpartinourinitialpilotprogram experienced a significant lift in the number of web site leads generated from their web sites,”saidMikeMcFall,BlackBookDivision president. “Whenourcustomersaresuccess- ful, we’re successful,” he concluded. Experian Automotive expands vehicle data service offerings with Manheim Experian Automotive has enhanced its vehicledataserviceofferingswith Manheim, aleadingproviderofvehicleremarketingser- vices.Inadditiontoprovidingauctiondatato Experian’sAutoCheckreportingservice,afree vehicle history snapshot will now be offered, giving dealers immediate access to potential vehicle condition issues on www.manheim. com, including and Manheim Simulcast. The AutoCheck snapshot features a quick andeasyviewofthepotentialissuesinavehi- cle’s history, directly from online presale list- ings,andgivesdealerstheoptiontopurchase fullAutoCheckreports.Havingaccesstothis important vehicle history information helps dealers make better decisions in buying the rightvehiclesattherightvalueandgivestheir customers confidence that their inventories are safe and reliable. “The combination of Manheim’s data and AutoCheck’s industry-recognized vehicle his- tory reports will give dealers a new level of buying intelligence with quick, easy access to theinformationtheyneed,”saidScottWaldron, president, Experian Automotive. “Working with Manheim allows us to bring a consistent repositoryofreliable,auction-announcedinfor- mation to used-vehicle dealers.” As part of its renewed relationship with Manheim, Experian’s AutoCheck will con- tinue to incorporate Manheim’s auction- announced information, such as frame or unibody damage, into its vehicle history reports. This information has been found to be among the most important aspects of a vehicle’s history that used-car buyers want to know before making a purchase. “Manheim is dedicated to providing its customers with the information they need to make smart vehicle purchases,” said Nick Peluso,seniorvicepresidentofcustomerman- agement, Manheim. “Building on our exist- ing relationship with Experian Automotive helps ensure that dealers have access to the best information to determine the right vehicles for their inventories.” Polk launches automotive lists online R.L.PolkCo.haslaunchedAutomotive Lists Online, a new web-based system that enablesdealersanddirectmarketingagencies to quickly order highly-effective automotive marketing lists for use in vehicle sales and servicemarketingcampaigns.Thenewonline listorderingsystemidentifiesconsumersthat are most likely to own a particular brand of vehicle, who are in the market to purchase a specific vehicle and who are likely to spend within a particular budget amount, among other criteria. “Wecreatedthissystemtomakelistorder- ing faster and more efficient for our custom- ers,” said Laura Murray, product strategist at Polk. “Three product packages are currently available, based on our most popular and requestedTotal Market Predictor list combi- nations—vehicleownershipbymake;vehicle ownership by make, plus in-market timing; and vehicle ownership by make, plus year model.” Fiveadditionalpackagesareunderdevelop- mentthatwilltargetlikelymotorcycleowners andindividualsbyautomotiveserviceprefer- ence – those who prefer to do the servicing themselvesandotherswhowouldrathertake their vehicle in for service. AutomotiveListsOnlinealsoenablesusers to enrich their lists with an array of data ele- ments such as Target Score Predictor, eth- nicity/language preference, household age, income and marital status.The system offers freecustomerfileuploads(e.g.dealerfilesup- pression) which enables users to de-dupe a prospecting file in order to obtain pure pros- pects or target only their current customers according to certain attributes, such as likeli- hood to be in-market. Automotive Lists Online can be accessed directly at
  8. 8. Are you getting the same results with your current website provider? The tactics we use to build dealers’ SEO campaigns have proven to deliver high visibility for our customers, such as Newton Nissan of Gallatin. A Dealerskins website guarantees that car shoppers can not only easily find your dealership online, but also quickly find the vehicles they’re looking for through our specially-designed user interface. Nothing engages online car shoppers better than a Dealerskins website. 866.751.7444 Shift gears with a Dealerskins website TODAY. We’vegotthebest Nissanwebsiteinthe Nashvillemarket! -Mike Rezi, Internet Department Manager, Newton Nissan of Gallatin “ “
  9. 9. DD 8 April 2010 Automotive Retail and Technology – Recipe for Riches T heremightnotbeamorefunindustry than automotive retail technology. If you have a good idea and a little bit of luck you might hit it big sooner than you think. A lot of it has to do with technology. Prior to the Internet, innovation in the automo- tive space was slow and steady. But once the web hit the mainstream in the mid-to late ‘90s, young people -- restless, dreaming of building the next big thing -- jumped into the automotive retail space. Andhititbig,theydid.Remembersomeof these names? Mark Campbell sold StonAge. comtoAutobytel,tookhismillionsandbuilt a mansion somewhere on the west coast.We haven’t heard from him since. JonChristiansenandGregBaszukibasically createdInvoiceDealer.comwhileeatingpizza inthelivingroomwith$150,000fromfamily andfriendsin1999.In2004,theysoldDealix (renamedfromInvoiceDealers)toCobaltfor more than $60 million. Sean Wolfington is another name that belongs in the pantheon of people who have eithercreatedorjumpedonboardearlywith a company only to sell it for millions later. HisfamilywasinfluentialincreatingCyber CarandAutoMarkwhichitsoldtoReynolds and Reynolds in 2001 for a rumored price thatexceeded$100million.Wolfingtonthen joinedwithBZResultsandsoldittoADPin 2006 for a reported $125 million. Wolfington is back, this time as chairman of the board for VinSolutions. There’s no secret the gameplan is to build it up, get as many customers as possible and then sell. These are just a few examples. The last decade was a golden age for firms supply- ing services and solutions to franchised car dealers. It was either get acquired or get big. CompaniessuchasAutoTrader.comandCars. com went big and now have revenues in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Othercompanies,suchasADP,Dominion andDealerTrackhavebeenbuyers,addingto their portfolio of services. I’lloftenasknewplayersinthespaceabout their plans for getting acquired. Typically, they’ll recoil and insist their goal is to build a great product. No doubt, that’s true. But getting into this space to build a company only to turn around and sell it is not a bad thing. It’s called capitalism. Ioftenhearhowtheautomotiveretailspace isbehindotherindustrieswithitsadoptionof technology.Whiledealerstendtobecautious – and rightfully so -- our industry has been a great laboratory of ideas and is far ahead of mostindustriescomprisedofsmallbusinesses. Being an industry that entrepreneurs and investors find attractive only serves to bring better products and solutions to the dealership. The unbelievable success the last several yearsthattechnologycompaniesexperienced in the automotive retail space continues to attract both big name investors and the smaller angel investors. It’s likely we’ll see more blockbuster deals this year. Investors again are looking hard at the automotive retail space and some of the larger firms have money to spend. It’sanindicationofthegrowingconfidence that automotive is a fundamentally strong sector that will continue to grow in the next couple of years. The collapse of the auto industry the last 20monthskeptmanydealsfromhappening. In fact, a couple of big deals close to being donefellapartatthefinishlineinfallof2008. Rightnow,it’sabunchofrumors.Asarule, I do not report on rumors involving specific firms. However, there is a growing trend the lastfewmonthsoftechnology-typecompanies that are either on the market or are looking to add to their portfolios. Investors are getting itchy trigger fingers and the pressure is building too for firms to get something done. These companies are sittingonalotofmoneyandwouldliketofill holes in their product solutions.That means overthecourseofthisyeartheindustrylikely willseesomeinteresting,andpotentialblock- buster deals occur. Thelandscapeonthetechnologysidelikely willlookmuchattheendof2010thanitdid at the end of 2009. Stay tuned, this could be a fun year. IGITAL Dealer AAISP NOTESD Cliff Banks Cliff Banks Vice President and Editorial Director “Once the web hit the mainstream in the mid-to late ‘90s, young people – restless, dreaming of building the next big thing – jumped into the automotive retail space.” —Cliff Banks
  10. 10. Know It All. Consumers Do. With 88% of consumers starting their shopping process online, “Instant Experts” are everywhere. Today’s pre-owned buyers often know more than the “pros” selling the car. Now, you can level the playing field. INSTANTLY. Call 800-730-5665 or visit us at the 8th Digital Dealer Conference, Booth #725 and find out how the revolutionary new sales solution exclusively from FirstLook can help you start closing more customers, more profitably— with higher customer satisfaction—today! 800-730-5665 I know exactly what the Internet says I should pay for your car.
  11. 11. DD 10 April 2010 Selling Cars in the Post-Control World T he battle is over. The customer now controls the car-buying process, and itisuptothedealertosupport,advise andencouragethecustomeralongthewayto the sale. Dealer actions that seek to control theprocess—suchashidinginformation— simply don’t work anymore. Dealersmustcometotermswiththreekey realities of today’s digital ecosystem: • Consumers have instant access to the world’s information. • Speed is key. •Thewisdomofcrowdsisaccessiblebyall. The first principle of today’s digital eco- system is the accessibility of information. Google-empowered consumers have access to all the data they need to make a purchase decision. Often, consumers are better armed thandealers.Thissimplefactcutsthelegsout from under the traditional view of how cars shouldbesold.Underthetraditionalview,the keyistohideinformationuntilthecustomer is in the dealer’s clutches. In the worst forms of this approach, the up is bagged, tagged and dragged through a Fargo-style sales pro- cess, “controlled” by the dealer at every step. Most dealers have progressed beyond these extremes, but remnants of the traditional approach linger. For instance, only 38% of dealers share the price when first requested, according to JD Power. Twenty-five percent of dealers will never share the price until the customer is on the lot. The problem is that such an approach no longerworks.TheInternetcustomerwillkeep the dealer at arm’s length until the dealer has won her trust. To win that trust, she expects transparency.Ifacustomerrequeststheprice, the successful dealer understands that the customer has shared her request with mul- tiple dealers — he’s now on trial — and to do anything other than send a price quote response will imperil the deal and frustrate the customer. Further, the successful dealer understands that it’s not enough to just respond with a price quote. The second principle of today’s digitalecosystemisthepowerofspeed.When a customer requests information from a dealer, she wants it quickly. Speed of price quote response has been shown to correlate highly to increased sales, especially when achieved within 10 minutes. Yet 25% of all leads don’t get answered at all, according to Cobalt, and the average response time on those that do is over five hours.Followingupwithaphonecallwithin an hour is also key, but only 25% of all leads receive any call at all. Lack of transparency and poor, slow response to Internet requests comprise twin threats to a dealer. It’s not just the lost deal: such practices can cost the dealer his reputa- tion. Which brings us to the third key prin- cipleoftoday’sdigitalecosystem:dealersmust respectthepoweroftheWisdomofCrowds. Consider the danger of the frustrated customer. She has powerful tools at her dis- posal to publicly vent that frustration, to the dealer’s great harm. In the Internet’s public square, ratings and reviews travel to every corner of the dealer’s market, propelled by Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo and thousands of othersites.ThroughtheWisdomofCrowdsa disaffectedcustomer(andespeciallymanydis- affected customers) can profoundly impact a dealer’sbusinessbyessentiallycounter-adver- tising:alertingotherprospectivecustomersto the dealer’s poor business practices. This new digital reality has fundamentally changed the game. In this brave new world, dealer business success rides on a well-built reputation, which in turn rides on the favor- ableimpressionofpastandcurrentcustomers, which in turn rides on the dealer’s ability to support and facilitate the customer’s car- buying process with transparency, prompt- ness, fair pricing and good service. In a very real sense, each deal is much more than just a deal.Yes, a car was either purchased or not. But under either scenario, a second dynamic is in play. Was the customer satisfied with the experience or not? On that, the dealer’s reputation—and his business future—hang. Tom Mohr is CEO of ResponseLogix, and has worked closely with auto dealers for 25 years. Prior to ResponseLogix, Mohr was president of Knight Ridder Digital, where he was on the board of If you wish to discuss this article with other dealers, or with the author, please go to the “Discussion Forums” at www. and enter the “Internet Sales” forum or e-mail himattmohr@Dealer-communications. com. IGITAL Dealer INTERNET SALESD Tom Mohr “In the Internet’s public square, ratings and reviews travel to every corner of the dealer’s market, propelled by Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo and thousands of other sites.” —Tom Mohr
  12. 12. IOL Video Online Interactive multimedia marketing with Video-To-Pictures, voiceovers, and live video options IOL Hosting Virtual Garage Search engine optimized (SEO) vehicle display pages with Virtual Garage vehicle bookmarking Integrated Price Analysis Real-time market comparisons with millions of vehicles in your local area List It LikeYou Mean It! HomeNet’s fully integrated, end-to-end marketing solutions help the automotive industry to sell more cars and save time. Engage more shoppers and turn them into buyers with over a dozen best-in-class solutions, like these: Inventory Online (IOL) Internet Marketing Suite Our flagship IOL platform turns every car on the lot into a richly compelling, online point-of-presence— and a gateway into your showroom. HomeNet’s award winning IOL includes DMS polling, enhanced VIN decoding, unlimited photos, price analysis, automated distribution to hundreds of 3rd-party sites, and more! 610-738-3313 Title Sponsor
  13. 13. DD 12 April 2010 Take Video Off the ‘To Do’ List F or many dealers the message is becom- ing clear that it’s time to get video off the “to do” list and onto the Internet to capitalize on what customers have dem- onstrated is their preferred method of receiv- ing information. A recent panel of automotive marketing experts unanimously agreed the biggest chal- lenge facing dealers this year will be finding ways to sell more cars while spending less. By being aware and taking advantage of this consumer buying trend, you’ll have a chance to do both. What we have here is a natural progres- sion similar to 12 years ago, when it was first suggested that dealers include a photo of the advertised vehicle in their online classified advertisement. Many at the time questioned the value, although it was what the customers told us they wanted. From there, to stay visibly relevant, it evolved and became necessary to include multiple photos to meet the demands of online shoppers. Today, many dealers include 30 to 40 photos, providing a graphic walk-around of the car.We’ve now become so conditioned as customers that many of us will not even consider viewing an ad unless it has photos. It’s that instinc- tive disregard that tells you that you need to take the extra step by providing video, or again risk being viewed as irrelevant. The customer once again has demonstrated their desire for a medium that has become mainstream. While TV has provided the consumer with information in the past, online videos have become more impactful. The big dif- ference between TV and online video is that information viewed via TV is more likely to cause the customer to make a mental note and continue watching their program, while after viewing an online video they are already in front of their computer, have searched for specific information and are poised to take action. It’s the dynamic content in videos that cause customers to stay on sites longer, view more inventory than originally intended, and in many cases, contact the dealership to gain more information, visit the dealership or make an immediate purchase. If you’re still hesitant, take a look at this information. In November 2009, 170.6 million U.S. visitors viewed 31 billion videos in just one month according to comScore; this is up from 146 million visi- tors and 12.7 billion videos from the same timeframe in 2008. According to Ad Age, for dealerships looking to build their brands online, video represents a low-cost, low-risk way to con- nect with in-market consumers in the chan- nel where they will do the majority of their product research. Recognizing this, six-in-10 car dealers say they will incorporate videos on their web sites and in marketing efforts because the effect of the dynamic content of video has proven to engage customers longer, more often and effectively. The fact is that there is a monster oppor- tunity out there and you need to be part of it. The customer has spoken. What if the additional exposure increases the time customers spend on your website viewing inventory, ultimately motivating them to buy from your dealership? You could spend more time selling to proven in-market car shoppers, instead of trying to find them. Do nothing, and you’ll lose sales to the 60% of dealers who are posting videos. It’s time to get video off your “to do” list and onto the Internet so they can help you sell more cars. Rob Lange is the national sales training direc- tor for Kelley Blue Book. If you wish to discuss this article with other dealers, or with the author, please go to the “Discussion Forums” at and enter the “Internet Sales” forum or e-mail him at rlange@Dealer- IGITAL Dealer INTERNET SALESD Rob Lange
  14. 14. Friends? Share! Loyalty Driver enewsletter content connects you to social networks. Friends share great content... making new connections for you. Innovative Enewsletter Solutions | 866-964-6397
  15. 15. DD 14 April 2010 It’s a Performance – Make Sure Everyone Knows Their Roles F or dealers, your store often tells the story of your life. This is especially true for those second- and third-generation dealers. Every day, your dealership puts on a show for the consumer. The customers are your audience and you are the director. When you open the doors, you are pulling back the curtain for all tosee.You’vebroughtinthecastandpaidtheir wages.Now,areyousureeveryoneknowswhat they are supposed to do?While we hire talent to run our dealerships, we don’t always guide themwithwrittenjobdescriptions.Wemust. “Places, everyone, places,” the director shouts. You have put everyone in position, butcanyouensureyourcastunderstandswhat needs to be done? Many of your sales managers and service writers have been given the title and respon- sibility because they’ve succeeded on the sales floor or as a service tech. They’ve filled in during the absences of other managers and excelled. When promoted, though, few are given quality-written job descriptions detail- ing what their position entails because we feel they already know what is asked of them. Or perhapsajobdescriptionwasn’tprovidedsolely because many don’t know what to include. A job description simply states the roles and responsibilities required of the position, along with a reporting structure and details involving hours and expectations. It should addressfuturequestions,employees’potential forgrowth/earnings,functionsofthejob,skills needed, and how actions will be conducted. Job title Confirm the title of their position. Representative, associate, consultant, special- ist,coordinator,manager,anddirectorallmean differentthingstodifferentpeople.Havingthe jobtitlespelledoutwilldeterthemfromasking foraspecialdesignatingwordontheirbusiness cards (i.e. the ever-popular “sales specialist” being chosen over “sales representative.”) Salary range This serves as a reference guide to compa- rable salaries within the industry. Make sure thestartingsalaryisnoted,aswellasmid-range (and high) expectations for the position. If applicable,specifycommissions,performance bonuses,percentageofprofit,andanypotential raises for long-term employment. Purpose of the position Specify the objectives of the position. This section allows you to place a little weight on their shoulders and makes them understand howimportantofaroletheyplayintheoverall success of the dealership and the team. Job description/list of duties Beginning with the most important tasks first, list every duty required of them to per- formtheirposition.Asthelistcontinues,detail what their role is in the completion of each task.Aretheysimplydelegatingtheworkand ensuringitisdoneorisittheirpersonalrespon- sibility to complete it? Hierarchy and team Define who they will be reporting to and what individuals will be reporting directly to them. Many new employees come in with the expectation that due to their title of manager, everyone without the title of manager reports to them.This can be a sen- sitive situation in those dealerships where the Internet department team reports solely to their director and that director reports to the general manager only. It is best to clarify this “structure” of the depart- ments upfront so there is no confusion and specify who is on their “team.” New employees understanding their supervisory role is imperative to their success and the streamlined processes you’ve created within your dealership. Ideal candidate/skills needed The new employees must be told the skills they are going to need to be successful in the position.Iftherearecertainsolutions,software, or programs that are imperative they know goingin,itisbesttodetailithere.Iftheyareto havecompletedcertaintasksduringtheirpast experiences, describe how the ideal candidate for the position will utilize those abilities. Hours We’re in the auto industry and it is well known that we often work insane hours. That being said, it is necessary to assign specific work hours expected for the posi- tion and include the dealership’s operating hours as well. ‘And other duties assigned’ The beauty of the car business is that no two days are the same. Every customer is dif- ferentandeachdaythereisanewcircumstance to handle or concern to assuage. Including “andotherdutiesassigned”tellstheemployees they are responsible for those random chores that essentially help “take care of business.” Hopefully, we are all hiring those candidates that are looking to take on more responsibil- ity and willing to fill up that rare free time during the day with goal-oriented objectives on their own. This statement of duties should be pro- vided to every new employee on day one to overcome any unforeseen conflicts in the future. After all, it is usually the bad perfor- mancefromanemployeethatcausesthestore to lose a sale or valuable customer, but in the end, it will be you who shoulders the blame. Preparing written, detailed job descriptions foreverypositioninthedealership(nomatter howbigorhowsmall)providestotalaccount- ability because they now “know their role.” With their roles clearly defined, you are setting them up on a path for success. As the director, you’ve given them their lines, their blocking, and all of the notes necessary for them to perform for the public day in and day out. The rest is up to them to put on a good show. JoeWebbisthepresidentofDealerKnowsLLC,an automotive digital marketing consultation firm. If you wish to discuss this article with other dealers, or with the author, please go to the “Discussion Forums” at www. and enter the“InternetSales”forumore-mailhim IGITAL Dealer INTERNET SALESD Joe Webb
  16. 16. DD 16 April 2010 Driving Better Closing Results Experts share their closing secrets T he close is the ultimate measure- ment of the effectiveness of a sales process. Retailers around the world go through countless steps to drive interest in their product but it is wasted energy if it doesn’t translate into sales. Really nice and talentedInternetdirectorslosetheirjobsevery month when they forget that their responsi- bility is to push unit sales. Thereisnotonestandardwithintheindus- try for metrics beyond the basics; close by lead source and a monthly budget.What is a goodclosingratiotoday?Shouldadealership determine a cost per close per lead provider and cut off providers that do not meet a cer- tainminimumstandard?IfIhavethebudget, shouldIsimplycontinuetobuyleadstodrive sales?Aretheretoolstohelp?Thesequestions were given to a group of directors. DianeAndersonise-commercedirectorat Hubler Automotive Group in Indianapolis. Diane was hired as the BDC manager for Hubler Chevrolet in February 2009 and was then promoted to take over the group in June and create a centralized BDC. The Chevrolet closing ratio moved from 5% to 15% (recent months) while the group (10 stores) is now averaging 11%. Diane actually accomplishedthiswhilecuttingbothstaffand ineffective lead providers. Her staff includes twofull-timebusinessdevelopmentrepresen- tatives (BDR) and one part-time employee. Thirdpartyproviderswerecancelledforpoor performance and to streamline the current initiatives. “It made more sense to get the department up to par before wasting money on leads that were not being managed cor- rectly,” stated Diane. Diane initially focused on producing a quality process in the following areas: • Management of the leads as they came into the CRM tool (Auto Jockey) •Phone skills withinboundopportunities • Phone skills for outbound follow-up Rather than forcing X number of calls, the focus and pay was directed to shows and closes. Both measurements jumped. Show ratiojumpedfrom42%to63%andtheclos- ing ratio moved from 33% to 52% (close/ show). Follow up on every lead (presently at five attempts in 21 days…with a goal of nine attempts). •Long-termfollow-upoftheunsoldleads. Thisincludedaseriesofe-mailsbasedonthe current status of the client and scheduled reminders for outbound call follow-up (180 days). Bottom line: the Chevrolet dealership in 2008 delivered 454 units from 9,141 leads withfiveBDRs.In2009,thesamedealership delivered460unitsfrom4,165leadswithtwo BDRs. The additional nine dealerships for the Hubler group consolidated leads to the twoBDRsattheChevroletdealershipinJuly. Forthesecondhalfof2009,thoseadditional 2,851 leads accounted for an additional 294 deliveries (10%). Wayne Ussery is the e-commerce director for the Jim Ellis Group in Atlanta. Wayne considers a cumulative close rate of 10 % to be the floor.The Jim Ellis Group strivesforhigherpercentages,butmoststores average 9-12% for a close rate against total leads. All leads must be tracked to accurately get a true ratio. Wayne does not believe that a true closing ratio is a diluted top number. Somedealershipsforexamplehaveapractice of deleting out of market customers. Wayne also includes phone leads, tracked by sales people gathering data and inputting into the CRM system, as well as chat sessions. The Ellis Group does break out closing ratios by lead source. They monitor the cost persale,aswellasthe“trendingclosingratio”. “We make the choice to cut off a lead source when the trending reaches a low, sometimes based on just closing ratio, but other factors are also considered,” according to Wayne. If the lead provider generates traffic to the Jim Ellis sites, those leads hold more value which is factored into the analysis.Those providers, responsiblefordrivingwebtraffic,willreceive some additional grace. Wayne also considers thetruevalueoftheleadprovidersbeforecut- tingthemoff.Iftheclosingratioislow,AND they are not sending traffic, those providers are fired quickly. Quality leads are critical to the Jim Ellis team. The Mile One team consists of 65 dealer- ships in the northeast. The better Mile One dealerships exceed 20% with their closing ratios.Thegrouptracksinexcessof15%.The goalofthegroup,accordingtoDavidMetter, is to drive organic and VIN specific leads for each dealership. David and his team devel- opedstrategiestocutoutthefatbydeveloping metrics that allow them to score leads with 50 data points. One company supporting the Mile One team is RL Polk, which devel- oped a lead scoring tool. Metter compares it to buying individual stocks. You would not invest money in a company without some type of analysis. Metter wants to have the ability to focus on the people most likely to buy and he wants to know what the best possible match is for a prospect (type of unit, price…).Thisapproachhasalsocutturnover with Internet salespeople to 3%-4%. “If you have a stable sales team, you can always get better closing ratios,” according to Metter. If you can provide the salespeople quality leads with a good pay plan, people stay. The Mile Oneteamhasperformedwellatbeingprocess oriented and tactical with their approach to e-commerce. Apple Auto Group is based in the Minneapolis area and it includes two Ford dealerships and a third location for pre- owned. Michael Groves is the e-commerce director. The group has a minimal accept- able performance goal of 10.5% for their closing rate. The expectation is 12.5% with IGITAL Dealer INTERNET SALESD Phil Sura
  17. 17. April 2010 DD 17  15% being a stretch goal. This includes all Internet, phone, and live chat leads com- bined. Michael also grades his staff on how many leads to appointments are set as well as appointments set to show.The BDC’s job is to get the maximum amount of customers through the door as possible. When a guest getstothedealershipthehandoffprocesshas to be streamlined and consistent to ensure a maximum level of customer service. All set appointments are confirmed by a sales manager. The customer is then greeted by thatsalesmanagerandintroducedtothesales consultant.Thesalesconsultantisresponsible forstartingandwarminguptheVINspecific unit that the guest is interested in looking at. This also includes confirming that the car has fuel and that it is ready for a test drive, to ensure a good guest experience. All Internet leads are tracked into their Autobase CRM. The dealership also tracks sales calls which are routed into a global BDC. All calls are uploaded to the BRM tool for notes and they are followed up for 180 days. Michael believes that you need to have a source of truth for all data to ensure the leastamountofdataerror.Accuratedatawith notes, e-mail history and the source allows you to make smart decisions on where to invest your marketing dollars. Michael also believesthatitisimperativetobreakoutdata includingclosingratiosbyleadprovider.Any lead provider over a cost of $200 per sale is in the red and they may be cancelled. Some providers may be higher than $200 but are a necessity to hit certain volume levels. One provider for example was slightly more than $200persoldunitbutthatproviderwasspe- cificallytiedtothesaleof27units.TheApple team will still bend on this formula for good business.TheendresultisthatMichael’steam delivered 166 units (only e-commerce deals) during the month of December from 988 leads for a 16.67% closing ratio.This placed Apple Ford 50th in ranking for ecommerce sales for all Ford dealerships. Here are some suggestions: 1. Develop a process that tracks all leads. Don’t eliminate leads to make your numbers look artificially high. You will never know if you are doing a good job. 2. Track the performance of each lead provider and set store standards with closing ratios and cost per sold unit. 3. Develop a process which treats guests coming in on an appointment special. 4. The goal should not just be grabbing any lead provider that you can find. Higher volumedoesn’talwaysleadtoabetterdepart- ment.Youmayfrustrateyourteambyprovid- ing leads that add little value. 5. Develop a means to score the leads. 6. Focus on quality. As in the case of Hubler, you may need to take a step back- wardstogetthebasicsinplacebeforemoving forward. 7. Seek knowledge. It is only hard if you refuse to improve. Attend the next Digital Dealer Conference, read the magazine, and subscribe to a blog (Digital Dealer will be starting a blog and you can join Dealer Refresh). Phil Sura is a VP of the Automotive Division of UnityWorks Media. If you wish to discuss this article with other dealers, or with the author, please go to the “Discussion Forums” at and enter the “Internet Sales” forum or e-mail him at psura@Dealer- Mobile xrm eCsiservice drive control manager auto trade Social CRM Internet lead manager Smart Response Real-time integration Showroom control manager CallTrak Automated targeted marketing Web SitesRevenue finder enterprise reporting Dealer dialer iCRM auto alertsonline Service Scheduler Auto desk unsold research 5005 West 34th Street,Suite 200 | Houston,TX 77092 | For more information about XRM, call 888.583.0956 or send an e-mail to Hands down the best CRM tool we have ever used, bar none. The vendors we used in the past don’t come close. Shahin Salehoun (GSM), Fred Haas Toyota World Introducing XRM...Your Single-Source Solution at Booth #903 at the 8th Annual Digital Dealer ConferenceVisit CAR-ResearchXRM_halfpage2.pdf 1 3/16/2010 11:13:51 AM
  18. 18. DD 18 April 2010 Joshua Fichter Director of Operations Sam Pack’s Five Star Ford COVER STORY
  19. 19. April 2010 DD 19  Number one for two years among Ford dealerships in Internet sales, Sam Pack’s Five Star Ford in North Richland Hills, TX, and the group’s other two stores in Carrollton and Lewisville, are some of the most respected dealerships in the country. Joshua Fichter, director of operations for the North Richland Hills dealership credits support from the senior management and an attitude of constant learning as the reasons the three stores are so successful. Tell us how you got into this business. Well, I got into the car business on a bet with my parents back in 1996.They wanted metogetoutofwhattheycalleda‘dead-end’ job and try car selling. I said okay as long as long as they would pay my bills if I failed at it. Low and behold, 15 years later and I am still waiting to cash in on paying my bills. I started with Allan Vigil Ford in Atlanta and sold there for 18 months.Then I moved to Texas where my family was at the time to work for Sam Pack’s Five Star Ford in Februaryof1998asaretailfloorsalesperson. InAugustof1998,theyaskedmeifIwanted to try Internet sales. I said sure, what was it? They said well, there’s the computer and you go figure it out, so that’s what I did. Why do you think they asked you to do that? I was the type of salesperson who was always looking for a prospect to hand out postcards to people whose cars would be coming up. And I was always the type of personwhowouldgrabthoseandworkthem. Ithinkalotofithadtodowithhowtheysaw me from a follow-up standpoint. I’m not a techieperson,butIhavesometechnicalskills. Also,itisjustmynaturetotakesomethingon that is a little different. I worked the process to get the customer to visit the store. That was the early the days of the Web. Yes, that was back in the day when every Internet customer had a 700 beacon score and cash to plop down, and was willing to pay for the convenience of buying online. It was a different time. But, like a lot of dealers, the management at Five Star wanted the proof ahead of time. So, I was a one-man show for a year and a half.Hindsightbeing20/20,there’snotelling how many sales we lost, because I had too many leads, I couldn’t follow-up properly. I was handling 200-250 leads a month by myself and selling the car cradle to grave. So, it wasn’t real good, a lot of it was if the customerneverresponded,Ineverresponded and that was just reality. When did you start adding staff? Over the course of time, it appeared we needed additional people. Also, my wife was goingtohaveourfirstchild.So,Iaskedthem who was going to replace me for that time. They asked who I wanted. I told them, Kelly Blackwell, and they agreed. Kelly sat down in front of the computer and said, ‘Okay, tell me about the Internet, I’ve never been on it before.’ He proceeded to sell 29 and a half cars that month. We still joke about that today, because the Internet is not about technical, it is still sales. It was off to the races then. Ournumbersmorethandoubledimmedi- ately in March of 2000. If you have the right number of people working, with the right number of leads and follow up, in general you are going to sell more cars. We added our third person in January 2001. I left internet as my focus to start a businessdevelopmentcenterhereatthedeal- ership in the start of 2002. Since then, our Internetdepartmenthasgrownto11internet salesmanagerswithafull-timedirector.And, I’m still not certain we have enough people, especially with some conversations we have had in the past couple of days. How do you handle the Internet leads? A lot of dealerships went with Ford on the business development center idea and rolled their Internet departments into the BDC – which we never did. There are different ways to handle leads. We have always been a cradle to the grave storewithourInternetdepartment.Ourguys —withtheexceptionofsigningthecustomer upinfinance—doeverything,fromthefirst contact, to the demos, to the negotiation to everything else. So, you can’t handle as many leads as a business development center. We didn’t feel like moving it to a stand alone business development center where you had thecallerswastherightwaytogo.ButIknow a lot of dealerships who do it successfully. We use Dealer Socket as our lead manage- ment tool, and all of the leads come in to an e-mail address. We can manage all of our leads and follow up by source, so based on the source it is coming into we can manage and see how easily different sources perform. Wehaveacompletefollow-upprocessfor180 days from when a lead comes in. What do you see as being a big challenge still for dealers? HavingbeeninvolvedwithInternetsalesnow for 12 years, I see dealers still having problems puttingtherightnumberofpeopletotheright number of leads that they are getting. What that number is, opinions vary. There is cer- tainlysomethingtobesaidifyouhavesomeone handling 80 leads a month, and you’re doing a front-to-back process, then they’ve got too many leads. If they are just the person on the phone,theycanhandleawholelotmoreleads. You’ve expanded beyond just being an Internet sales guy. Imovedintobusinessdevelopmentforfive years, trying several scenarios. We’ve had big staffs,smallerstaffs,amixofsalespeople,then just salespeople.
  20. 20. DD 20 April 2010 Then in February of 2008, we started on a newpath,whichistheDirectorofOperations title. It involves the sales side right now and working through on processes and how we canleveragetechnologytohelpusmore,that kind of stuff. What are you looking to do this year? We are looking at the buzz words right now — social networking, and online repu- tation management. I have a person whose onlyfocusismanagingthesocialnetworking, ensuring that we have constant contact and content going out. But it’s not sales content — its content to stay in front of customers. We‘re quickly building that up and for the potential to reach people we have never reached before. If you look at the statistics, if you have 2,000 fans, and all of them have an averageof180friends,withtherightmessage and the right people getting involved, you could reach nearly 360,000 people with a message for free. So, I think, there is a lot of potential in that, and we are wrapping our heads around that. You’re also focusing on reputation management. We have been working with DealerRater. com for about two weeks. We are just right now getting our hands wrapped around online reputation management. I think a lot of dealers are getting into that, and what is the right way to do it? I don’t know if anyone knows the right way right now. We’re also launching a new website for all of our stores, and a new group site that will hopefullybeupbeforethisarticlecomesout. I’m also trying to get away from using lots of vendors as plug-ins, and move to a digital services provider so to speak. So I can get better reporting and analytics. Then we can gotothenextphase,whichisbetteradvertis- ing, remarketing and behavioral targeting. Funneling everything through one vendor that can manage all the analytics will give us a better idea of what is happening.There are a lot of irons in the fire right now. So, a lot of changes? We are reviewing everything right now. I think it is good to do that. My Internet manager will shop other dealers, but it goes beyond that. It stems from support from our uppermanagementthatencouragesustocon- stantly look for ways to improve.We’ve been to four different Digital Dealer Conferences, and April will be our fifth. We just returned from another training. We are constantly listening and talking and seeing what other people are doing, because we aren’t going to think of everything ourselves. Even though our numbers are good, we aren’t as good as we think we are. That is just human nature. It is always good to step back and evaluate. Are you using the web to market your fixed operations department? We haven’t done much of that in the past. We do run multipoint inspections service ads on the local newspaper site just to build awareness. We also e-mail consumers who haven’t been in for service in the last 6-12 months,12-18monthsandover18months. Sam Pack’s stores have been strong nation- ally among Ford stores with Internet sales. As far as Ford source leads are concerned, in 2007 and 2008 the North Richland Hills store was number one for Ford-sourced lead sales volume. And in 2009 we got edged out in the last month by one sale by my good friends at Galpin Ford. Our Carrollton store ranked 12th while the Lewisville store finished 16th. So these were leads that Ford was provid- ing you? Yes, this particular award or ranking is for leads provided by Ford, which matches leads intheirsalestrackingsystemtosalesreported by dealers. As you look back on the last several years, what is the one or two things that you look back on and shake your head and ask, ‘What was I thinking?’ Well, I have one.We saw the trend of sales goingdownandmadethemistakeofcutting the number of people we had in the Internet department. Itwasn’tdrastic–weweredownoneperson. Nothavingthatonepersoncausedourclosing ratiostogodownontopoflosingsales.So,we got caught up with this negative syndrome. Althoughsalesdidgodownoverallnation- ally,thepercentofretailsalesthattheInternet makes up in relation the dealer sales didn’t go down. In fact it grew. The power of the Internet continues to show us that more and morepeoplearelookingforinformationand coming through that Web portal. On the flip side, what was the one thing you look back on and say, ‘Yea, I know what I’m doing.’ I don’t know if I have ever said that. Well there has to be one thing, from the dealership perspective, you can say, ‘We tookthisdirection,sawitandjumpedonit.’ Well I think that is really 12 years of embracing the Internet as a place to do busi- ness rather than fighting it. Tony Pack, our dealer principal, back in 1995 was one of the firstdealershipstosignupwithAutobytel.He had a vision of the power of the Internet and we have made that come to life. Joshua Fichter credits support from the senior management and an attitude of constant learning as the reasons the three stores are so successful.
  21. 21. April 2010 DD 21  It has taken several people — me, our Internet director, Kelly Blackwell and man- agement, to say we need to keep moving forward. There was a time when Kelly said he needed more people and I pushed back sayingyouarejustcuttingyourotherpeople’s throats. But, with more people, he got more leads and we sold more cars and grew. SoIguessthebiggestpartofthisisforTony Pack and our general manager Terry Rich, and all the way down the team, Internet is not only a niche market, but it is becoming more of a mainstream area to participate in and we better be doing it and doing it right. Managementhasbeengreatprovidingthe rightsupport.Ifyouembraceityouaregoing tobesuccessfulatit.Ifyouignoreit,thenyou will get exactly what you put into it When you look short at the term future, let’s say the next year or two, are you seeing any trends? I think one of our focuses has been to look at the lead providers that have been providing quality, not quantity. There is a lot of overlap frommajorplayersbuyingleadsfromsecondary sources. We have done away with those. KellyBlackwellcameupwiththis.Hewould rather have less leads so he can focus time on the quality leads. I think from a buying leads standpoint,therewillprobablybeashiftdown to leads coming to dealerships via the social networkingsites.Notthatyouaregoingtosell onthere,butcustomersarefindingyouthere. And then, from a standpoint of the search engine optimization and marketing, we’ll use our own site to generate leads. What’s your perspective on the type of information you provide to someone who sendsaleadorcalls?Doyouprovideaprice and range of vehicles? Weprovideprice100%ofthetime,andwe try our best to offer multiple vehicle options. We are not afraid to give it to the customer. I still contend that a customer on the Internet wants to do business with the local dealer, as long as the local dealer provides them with the service and information in the form that they want to receive it. What’s your mix, do you get a lot of e-mail leads, or is it mostly phone? We get a lot of e-mail leads more than the phone. The phone rings too, but in the scheme of things, used car providers,, you’re going to get more phonecallsthane-mailleads,butfromanew leadstandpoint,andyou’regoingtogetmore e-mail leads than phone calls. I think that is a big difference with used cars. Are you guys looking at mobile initiatives? We are. Our new site will be optimized for mobile. I just haven’t gotten my head wrapped around how it is going to work. It is coming, but how it plays out at the dealer level, I am not quite certain yet. I know we need a website that will show up on a phone the way a customer is going to want to see it. That is step one. Steptwo,weneedtobeabletoadapttothe way the customer wants to communicate, so ifitistext,makeittext.Therearegoingtolots of changes as we’ve already seen. Accepting that change is inevitable, and stay with it and stay a step ahead of it is the goal. but thanks to ResponseLogix, he sent out five price quotes while he was gone. Immediacy wins! Steal sales from your competitor by responding to internet leads with a multi-vehicle price quote response in 10 minutes, 95% of the time. Nothing has a greater impact on sales than a powerful, positive first impression. ResponseLogix is the robust marketing solution that will significantly increase your conversion of internet leads to sales, no matter what your sales person is doing. Visit and drive your e-sales. thetest drive took longerthan 22at mph he had planned, Digital Dealer Conference Stop by Booth 205 and see how you can get from Zero to YES in 10 seconds. Attend Tom Mohr’s session “Rapid Response: The Key to Doubling Sales.” 031710A_RES_ad_7x4.875_oldlady.indd 1 3/17/10 11:11 AM
  22. 22. DD 22 April 2010 So, what is Dominion Dealer Solutions? Turns out, it is more than meets the eye. Dominion Dealer Solutions provides technology expertise for most departments in a dealership. From inventory management to showroom customer management to service retention marketing, Dominion Dealer Solutions presents some of the industry’s leading software providers. The list of businesses in the Dominion group is impressive: lead generation through; customer relationship management tools through AVV, Autobase, and @utoRevenue; web sites through Dealerskins, XIGroup and Dealer Specialties; inventory management through Dealer Specialties; and industry research through Cross-Sell. Together, these businesses serve more than 60 percent of auto dealers nationwide. Dominion Enterprises collected these well-known brands in order to offer car dealers unmatched marketing technology tools. “The only thing we don’t offer is a DMS” says Robert Berndt, president of Dominion Dealer Solutions, a division of Dominion Enterprises, “and that piece doesn’t really fit our core strength. We’re a marketing technology firm, helping dealers with all of their customer-facing needs.” Truth is, Dominion Dealer Solutions is more than just the sum of its parts. Here’s a rundown of its businesses: Autobase offers an entire suite of cutting-edge marketing solutions and time-tested sales processes that drive and close significantly more business in the showroom and service lane. @utoRevenue produces quantifiable results by sending the right message at the right time through the right channel. Through skilled consultants, innovative systems, networked communications and tools, @utoRevenue drives customer retention and loyalty with relevant, consistent, and bi-directional messages. AVV Web Control provides dealers with secure web-based tools to convert prospects into repeat customers through a proprietary lead and customer management program. specializes in delivering high-quality, high-intent special finance car buyers by utilizing cutting edge lead generation and scoring technology. Cross-Sell helps dealerships make better inventory decisions, develop effective selling strategies, and find additional finance sources by delivering over 5,000 fully customized vehicle market intelligence reports each month. IGITAL Dealer VENDOR PROFILED Robert Berndt, president of Dominion Dealer Solutions is often asked, “What does your company do?” “Almost everything,” is his regular response. “We feature many of the industry’s leading technology brands, names you know by heart – it’s not sur- prising you don’t know Dominion, but you do know our brands.”
  23. 23. April 2010 DD 23  DataOne Software offers comprehensive and robust automotive dataset support products and services that span all aspects of the automotive and associated industries. Working in tandem, The DataCube and SelectQu service over 12,000 dealerships nationwide. The DataCube Software Solution is specially created to help dealerships sell cars and book service appointments online. SelectQu is a bi-directional data transfer program managing in excess of 100,000 daily data transfers at over 12,000 dealerships. Dealer Specialties provides a comprehensive suite of inventory management solutions, websites, Internet marketing tools and enhanced vehicle listings distributed online. Dealers can choose from full-service data collection to industry leading in-house products to manage their inventory, giving them the best value for their changing needs. Dealerskins delivers visually-engaging and search engine optimized automotive websites that convert car shoppers into car buyers through the use of consumer-centric products, easy- to-use-tools and superior customer support. XIGroup provides cost-effective websites and superior customer service to franchise and independent car dealers. XIGroup offers a unique blend of customizable designs, easy to use tools, and search engine expertise.
  24. 24. DD 24 April 2010 In the fall of 2008, Robert Berndt, who had recently assumed leadership of this newly formed division, faced a challenge. For the previous three years, Dominion Enterprises had engaged in a buying spree, plucking some of the best providers in automotive marketing technology. “The goal was to allow these businesses to thrive as individual, standalone businesses, providing them with RD resources and some basic administrative oversight,” says Berndt. But, the industry was nose-diving, and the buying habits of clients were changing. Dealers were increasingly opting to work with as few vendors as possible. The existing line-up of businesses forced customers to work with each, individual business – not an ideal customer service arrangement. Berndt began to make changes. Working closely with the businesses’ management teams, he began to reorganize for optimal customer service, invested in technology and marketing infrastructure, and changed the name of the division. The decentralized Dominion automotive group became Dominion Dealer Solutions. This name more closely reflected the essence of the division – providing integrated marketing technology and expertise to car dealers. But, the individual brands would remain independent. “Our primary strength is our expertise within these businesses. We do not want to compromise their entrepreneurial talent or diminish their brands in any way,” says Berndt. He continues, “Our goal, to help car dealers attract, retain, and service customers for life, cannot be met if we don’t build on those strengths.” This building process has relied heavily on feedback from customers. Dealers such as Rodger Lau, executive vice president at Jeffrey Tamaroff Automotive Family, provide regular feedback to their counterparts at Autobase and Dealerskins. “Bryan Anderson, the founder and general manager of Autobase, is a true business partner. We talk all of the time about improvements in the software to benefit my people. Bryan not only listens – he acts on those suggestions,” says Lau. As the businesses build technology bridges, they bring exponential value to their own customers. For example, Autobase CRM customers can now take advantage of the web-based service- scheduler, @utoScheduler, provided by @ utoRevenue. This integration augments the existing contact history found in an Autobase customer record with a full account of all related @utoRevenue marketing efforts. When used in tandem with Market Center, the all- new campaign tool from Autobase, this integration aggregates all campaigns into a single list, whether their origin was Market Center or @utoRevenue. This seamless integration offers customers two major benefits: a single access point for critical customer information, and a continuum of consistent branding throughout the lifetime of the customer / dealer relationship. XIGroup customers have also benefited from an inventory integration project with Dealer Specialties. In response to requests from customers that needed more frequent updates on their websites to reflect pricing and availability changes, XIGroup worked with Dealer Specialties to develop real-time inventory updates for all joint customers. Dealers now do not have to worry about manually updating their website with mid-day price and inventory changes. Those changes on a dealer’s XIGroup website are seamlessly done through the Dealer Specialties IVM tool in real time, making this combined offering between our two companies the most unique in the marketplace today. These types of software advancements and integrations allow dealers to simplify their workload. Dealers can concentrate on crafting the marketing message and then rely on the Autobase-@utoRevenue system to implement it. Likewise, the XIGroup-Dealer Specialties inventory tool allows dealers to concentrate on retailing their cars effectively instead of spending time completing price fields on multiple websites. Damon Cartelli, general manager of the Fathers Sons Dealer Group, admits that “the more automation I can bring to my dealerships, the better the financial results. I prefer to work with vendors that can supply multiple tools with a simple customer service interface.” Berndt reports that these examples are the beginnings of the intended cross-business partnerships within Dominion Dealer Solutions. “Most of our customers use multiple products from our businesses,” says Berndt. “We will continue to learn how to make their jobs more productive with our technology.” In a recent conversation, Cartelli confided, “My dealerships work with @utoRevenue, AVV, SelectQu, Autobase, Dealerskins, and Dealer Specialties. It looks like I’m a ‘Dominion’ customer now.” That was music to Robert Berndt’s ears. # ActivEngage...............................15 AutoSoft.....................................26 AutoRevo.....................................4 AutoUSA....................................28 BZ Results.....................................3 Car Research..............................17 DealerPeak (Widestorm)..........12 Dealerskins...................................7 FirstLook.......................................9 Homenet....................................11 IMN Loyalty Driver....................13 NADA Used Car Guide..............25 ResponseLogix...........................21
  25. 25. April 2010 DD 25  Five Tips for Prepping Staff for System Change P robablythebestthingthathappenedto measacontrollerwaschange.Iworked for one dealer that liked to buy dealer- ships, so I learned about buy/sells. I worked for a dealership group that liked to move general managers around (and sometimes out), so I learned how that position either succeedsorfails.Iworkedforafewthatliked tosavemoneybychangingcomputersystems – and that change was the best learning pro- cess for me. By changing computer systems youlearnalotmorethanyouprobablywant, like how to handle emergencies, where data is stored, and how your computer system processes data. ThebestcomputerconversionsthatIhave seenhavebeenwherethecontrollerandother managers are completely prepared. Having a great install team from the DMS provider or easytousesoftwarehelps,butIfindthatsuc- cessisinthehandsofyourkeymanagement. How? One of my favorite stories is about a wise man who is famous for being able to tell what others are thinking. Someone who wants to prove him wrong carries a live bird hidden in his hands behind his back. The persongoestothewisemanandasks,“Ihave a bird in my hand, is the bird alive or dead?” If wise man says “dead”, the person can openhandstoletitflyaway.Ifhesays“alive,” the person squeezes the bird dead behind his back.Thewisemananswers,“Theanswerto that question lies in your hands.” Makingachangegoeasilyisinyourhands. There are five keys to handling change: 1. Get the other humans involved.Ifyour keymanagementwasinvolvedinthedecision, then they have a vested interest in making sure the change goes well. If you’re changing computer systems or buying new software – make sure they are involved in the selection. As a computer consultant, I always recom- mendedassemblingatechnologycommittee of a parts manager, controller, service advisor or warranty clerk, Internet manager, and the dealer/GM.Theyshouldseethenewoptions and vote on the one they like the best. 2. Schedule the change for the best time IGITAL Dealer TECHNOLOGY TRENDSD Sandi Jerome In a marketplace full of numbers, how do you know which ones to trust when valuing a vehicle? Look to NADA. Our analysts take the industry’s most comprehensive data and turn it into reliable values that are relevant to your business. Auction. Trade-in. Retail. Loan. Whether you need them for wholesale or resale. Retail or repo. Leasing or lending. Insurance or assurance that you’re making the right decision about any used car. It’s all the information you need. All the time. All from one source. NADA. Experience the full power of NADA’s vehicle information. Visit to learn more. Every value. Everywhere you need them. auction trade-in loan retail
  26. 26. DD 26 April 2010 of the year or month. If you’re converting computer systems, the best time of the year isafteraquarterendsandthebesttimeofthe month is between the 10th and 20th. 3. Make a plan for everything that can go wrong. Let’s say that you’re changing com- puter systems. What if you can’t open up a repair order on the morning of “go live?” Do you have a plan to still get the work com- pleted? Remember that we used to fix cars all the time without a computer. How can youcalculatepayments?Canyouhand-write contracts? 4. Have a backup plan for #3 items.Your backupplanfornotbeingabletowriteservice ontheneworoldcomputerwouldbetohave a download of your parts inventory – so you canchargeoutpartsandyourcustomer’shis- tory and vehicle file downloaded so you can figureoutwhattheyhavehaddone(ifyou’ve gone away from hard copies.) Do you have some blank repair orders? Great. Otherwise, what can you use to create a repair order? Excel? Quickbooks? 5.Clearyourscheduleandeveryoneelse’s. Duringchange it is important that youfocus on this one change and not have meetings planned, vacations schedules and even ask employees to delay doctor’s appointments. Have each key manager prepare a staffing planofhowtheyaregoingtogetthroughthis changewiththecurrentstaffandifyoumight need some temporary help while your staff goes through training. During a computer conversion,employeesareonly25%produc- tive.Areyouokaywithonly25%ofthebank deposit getting to the bank? How about only 25% of your sales? If you use these five steps for every change – especially a computer conversion or new softwareinstallation–youmightendupwith a live bird when it is all over, but the answer is in your hands! SandiJeromeisaformercontroller,CFO,system administrator, FI, assistant GM, and fixed operations manager with over 20 years experi- enceintheautomotiveindustry.Sheistheowner of Sandi Jerome Computer Consulting. If you wish to discuss this article with other dealers, or with the author, please go to the “Discussion Forums” at www. and enter the“Technology”forumore-mailherat Our Users Ranked US #1- • Speed in Getting Changes and Modifications Made • Maintenance of Your Daily Business with Minimal Interruptions • Problem and Concerns being Fixed Correctly the First Time You Call • Prompt Follow-up to Handle the Needs of You and Your Staff An endorsed provider 877-427-4367 • • an Affordable, Simpler, Innovative DMS The Most Likely Recommended DMS Delivers – NotSimplySoftwareasaService,ButSoftwareWithTheService! When asked in the recent NADA 2009 Bi-Annual Survey of Dealership Satisfaction with Dealer System Providers’ Products and Services “Having a great install team from the DMS provider or easy to use software helps, but I find that success is in the hands of your key management.” —Sandi Jerome
  27. 27. April 2010 DD 27 
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