Digital dealer june 2010


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Digital dealer june 2010

  1. 1. What Are Your online Ads Missing? 610-738-3313 Inventory Online (IOL) Marketing Suite is a complete internet merchandising solution. Call today to see what your ads are missing.
  2. 2. ROY REUTTER Sheehy Auto Stores page 16 June 2010 Internet Sales: Five Must Do’s to Reel Customers In page 8 Mastering the Internet Sales Process page 10 Management Systems: ASP vs. In-House Servers: Which DMS Model is Best? page 12 Technology Trends: Can your CRM be your ILM? page 20
  3. 3. DD 2 June 2010 ABLE OF CONTENTST JUNE 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 JIM KIRBY 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 16 Roy Reutter e-Business Director Sheehy Auto Stores COLUMNS AAISP Notes 6 Will It Help Us Sell More Cars? Cliff Banks Internet Sales 8 Five Must Do’s to Reel Customers In Rob Lange 10 Mastering the Internet Sales Process Tom Mohr Management Systems 12 ASP vs. In-House Servers: Which DMS Model is Best? Mike Esposito Web Sites 14 Design Your Site to Create More Sales Joe High Technology Trends 20 Can your CRM be your ILM? Sandi Jerome Advertising 21 An e-Marketing Update Jim Boldebook DEPARTMENTS 4 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 June 2010 IGITAL DEALER TECH NEWSD New automotive advertis- ing network puts dealers on top of search engines and social networks TheAutomotiveAdvertisingNetworkwas launchedattheDigitalDealerConferencein OrlandoFloridalastmonth.TheAutomotive AdvertisingNetwork(AAN)isthefirstdealer powered advertising network that provides members with unlimited leads and online promotion of their inventory on national, regional and local web sites that are strategi- cally positioned to appear on top of the most popular search engines, social networks and blogs. Thenetworkwascreatedbyindustryveter- ansBrianPasch,SeanWolfingtonandDavid Boice to help dealers generate more leads for less cost.The member dealers are using their collective power to compete with third party leadproviderswhohistoricallyhavehadabig advantage on the search engines because of their national footprint and corresponding search authority. Participating dealers pay a small member- ship fee to join the Automotive Advertising Network ($995). And they receive: • Unlimited leads from ready-to-buy con- sumerswhoareactivelysearchingforavehicle in their market. • Promotion of dealership and inventory onCarDealerSale.comaswellasregionaland local websites in their primary markets. •Promotionofdealershipandinventoryon the most popular social media sites with Live inventorypostedonyourFacebookFanPage • Unlimited car inventory publishing on popular blog platforms andWordPress plug- in for optimized inventory listings • Banner advertising on the AAN local websites. Also, AAN members will never see competitor ads on their Inventory list- ing pages. the first search optimized, dealer centric advertising platform. • Access to the networks automotive press releasepublishingsystemandunlimitedpress release publishing on national and regional web sites. ResponseLogix SmartFacts analytics available in June 2010 ResponseLogix, Inc. announced the June availability of SmartFacts 2.0 – powerful analytics to help optimize the performance of auto dealers’ Internet sales departments. Using state-of-the-art cloud computing technology,SmartFactsdata-driveninsightis now easily accessible online and allows deal- ership owners and managers to proactively managetheirinternetsalesteamsandincrease productivity. “SmartFacts2.0newgraphicsandenhanced data analytics help general managers create internetcarsalesbestpracticesbyidentifying, andthenreinforcingorteachingthebehaviors that get the best results,” said Tom Mohr, president and CEO of ResponseLogix. “By trackingdatasuchasresponsetimes,number of calls or e-mails the dealer management can compare actual results and individual sales people can see what they need to do to improve their own results.” Detailedcomparisonsareprovidedforkey data points including: time saved in quot- ing and following-up with leads, percent of leads contacted, number of customers with renewed interest in purchasing a car, dealer- ship response time to new and reactivated leads, and tracking of consumer behavior to communicationsfromthedealership.Dealers with multiple franchises will have the infor- mationavailableasindividualreportsforeach franchise. “I am a huge advocate of data to help set goals and drive sales; SmartFacts highlights our strengths, pinpoints our weaknesses and provides us with a greater degree of account- ability,”saidAndrewDiFeo,generalmanager ofHyundaiofSt.Augustine.“Icandrilldown to the individual associate and provide spe- cific performance coaching.There is a direct correlation between how many e-mails and phonecallsasalesrepmakesandthenumber of cars sold.” Auto/Mate eBook gives dealers a ‘10-step guide’ for selecting, changing DMS providers In an effort to help a growing number of franchised auto dealers considering a change in their dealer management system (DMS) provider, Auto/Mate, the highest ranked DMS in the 2009 NADA Annual Survey of Dealership Satisfaction, is releasingThe Dealer’s10-StepGuidetoChangingYourDMS eBook. “We wanted to give dealers a quick-read rundown of the best practices they should consider, given a more dealers are looking to changeproviders,”saysMikeEsposito,CEO forAuto/Mate,oneoftheleadingDMSpro- vidersforfranchisedautodealers.“TheeBook is chock-full of practical insights and lessons learned from dealers who have successfully madetheswitch,aswellasinsightfromsome top industry experts.” The eBook’s publication comes at a time whenmanyautoindustryobserverspredicta greater number of dealers are contemplating changing their DMS providers as a way to reduce operational costs and provide more in-storeefficiencies.Initsbi-annualreviewof DMSsatisfactionamongdealerslastOctober, NADA reports a 7 percent decline in dealers who are “very” or “somewhat” satisfied with their current DMS providers and 19 percent of dealers and general managers who plan to switch their DMS vendors. “The eBook is our effort to help dealers understand how important it is to approach a DMS change with a well-assembled team and plan of attack,” Esposito says. “It’s not uncommon for dealers to overlook or miss key steps that result in a DMS installation that is more disruptive and painful than it needs to be.” The Auto/Mate eBook, The Dealer’s 10-Step Guide to Changing Your DMS, is available for free downloads at the Auto/ Mate web site: downloads/ebook.pdf
  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 2010 Diamond Award “Best Website Provider” Auto Dealer Monthly 2010 Dealers’ Choice Awards 2009 Automotive Search Marketing Association Most Comprehensive Search Marketing Platform Award SEARCH MARKETING | DEALER WEBSITES | LEAD MANAGEMENT | PERFORMANCE ANALYTICS 888.785.5418 | | Tammy Darvish, Vice President, DARCARS Auto Group Ranked 19th, Automotive News Top 125 “We have partnered with because they provide us with the tools and cutting edge knowledge to allow us to connect with tens of thousands of customers very competitively and effectively.” There’s a Reason Why More Top 125 Dealers Choose
  7. 7. DD 6 June 2010 Will It Help Us Sell More Cars? G etreadyforanexplosionofnewtech- nologyandnewapplications.What’s driving all of this new innovation is the battle between Google and Apple as they race to bring new applications to the market. Meanwhile,Facebookshouldbepartofthe discussion, also. A recent article speculated that Facebook could become the new search engine of choice for consumers. Although, I doubt that will happen, Facebook clearly is intentonbecominganInternetjuggernaut– both in consumer and business applications. Every day, there seems to be a new spin on the competition. Already, there are articles about how the iPhone has lost its cool factor andcouldbesupplantedbyGoogle’sAndroid phoneinpopularity(Onearticleclaimedthe Android had overtaken the iPhone in sales last month). Last month, Google unveiled its Google TV application. Apple’s TV offering pretty much has crashed and burned, but someone is going to get it right. At some point, we’ll be able to obtain whatever content when we want it, where we want it and how we want it – whether it’s on an iPad, Android phone, laptop or TV. It has challenges, but my money’s on Google. As these applications hit the market the challenge for our industryiskeeping up with the technology and how to apply it to selling andservicingmorecars.Theotherday,David Metter, (he heads up MileOne Automotive’s marketing initiatives) tweeted the following, “Just got an iPad. Can’t wait to figure out which business apps exist. 1 yr from now, they will be all over our Dealerships.” Metter’s point is well taken. During the most recent Digital Dealer Conference in Orlando, companies were giving away iPads in drawings at their booths. At the next con- ference, in LasVegas (October 12-14 – yes, I know.It’sashamelessplug),insteadofgiving themaway,theconversation willbehowyou can use an iPad to sell more cars. Again, the question is, how does all of this help us sell more cars? Fortunately, I think we’re answering the right questions. For example, there seems to be a backlash against all of the hoopla surrounding social media in the automotive industry. During my conversations with people at the Digital Dealer Conference, the general agreement appeared to be that the industry isspendingtoomuchtimefocusingonsocial networking – primarily, Facebook. The one question that keeps coming up is, does it really help us sell more cars? The consensus appears to be no. I wrote about this several months ago admitting I was a “Social Networking Skeptic.” Despite that, you have to be there. At what level?That can bedebated.Thetrickis,findoutwhoisdoing well with and decide whether their strategies will work for you. RoyReutter,ourcoverfeatureinthisissue, saystheSheehygroupdoestheabsolutebasic withFacebook.Meanwhile,JoeOrr,ourcover feature in March, has found a Facebook for- mula that works for Dick Hannah Honda. Both approaches are right and are working. It’s going to depend on your strategy, the culture of your store and whether you have the right person in place to generate sales using Facebook. Orr works hard at it and is focused on it. One area you need to be playing in right now is Google Maps. Google recently upgraded the analytics for its Maps applica- tion, which is in Google Places (formerly knownasGoogleLocalBusinessCenter).The levelofanalyticsandofwhatyoucaninclude about your dealership is advertising on ste- roids. It includes videos, customer reviews and ratings, and a ton of other information about your dealership or group. Savvy dealers already are all over this and are using it to capture market share. It’s another tool to help you dominate search results.ManagingGoogleMaps,though,isa challengeandrequiressomework,according to several Internet directors I’ve talked with. Another trend at the Digital Dealer Conference was the focus on integrating your traditional and web-based advertising. This still is pretty far off our radar screens as an industry, but it is one of the most critical areas on which you need to focus – using TV, radio (and even print) to drive traffic to yourwebsiteandthenmakingsureyouhave the content on your site that you’ve prom- ised the consumer. Hint – we’re not talking about merely including your URL on your traditional advertising channels, or running yourTV commercials on your site. It’s much more involved than that. Thechallengeiskeepingupwiththetech- nology and how to apply it to selling and servicing more cars. That’s one reason this magazine, Digital Dealer exists – along with our twice a year Digital Dealer Conferences Expositions. We want to help you stay currentwithnewtechnologyasitburstsonto the scene. IGITAL Dealer AAISP NOTESD Cliff Banks Cliff Banks Vice President and Editorial Director
  8. 8.® Asking $16,416 J.d. Power And AssociAtes® /Pin retAil $15,679 mAnheim mArket rePort Auction $11,700 nAdA AverAge trAde-in vAlue $11,750 vAuto dAys suPPly 107 Autocheck vehicle history* CLEAN 6 SourceS. 60 SecondS. 1 smArt today’s market, it’s hard to know exactly how much a used vehicle is worth.But your profitability depends on an accurate appraisal.get it right and get it fast — with nAdA AppraisalPro® . with just a click, book out a vehicle and print your appraisal offer.that’s all you need to close more deals in less time. All for the lowest price on the market. All from nAdA. Order NADA AppraisalPRO today for just $150 per month. Visit for more information or call 866.974.6232 to set up your own personal demo. SM * A separate subscription is required to the experian Autocheck service.
  9. 9. DD 8 June 2010 Five Must Do’s to Reel Customers In A s the tools needed to compete for Internet sales proliferate, it’s become more difficult for dealers to assess their digital marketing efforts, ensuring that they are best equipped to outsmart the competition. New tools and features are regularly rolled out, enticing dealers to upgrade their various services. Dealership personnel sometimes spend just as much time fine tuning hardware needs as they do working with custom- ers to sell cars. While so much time and effort is spent assessing the marketing arsenal, it becomes apparent that, given time limitations, basic elements of maxi- mizing online sales have taken a back seat. This could cost your dealership sales as the fundamentals are pushed aside and given less consideration. I think others have had the same thoughts and this was evident as I looked through the agenda of the recent Digital Dealer Conference in Orlando, Florida. While the focus of past Digital Dealer Conferences has generally been on all aspects of online marketing, the latest schedule had a refreshing twist. It’s cer- tainly important to continually learn how to refine marketing efforts to drive customers to the dealership and the con- ference thoroughly addressed this topic. However, what I arguably consider being the most important part of the sale, and was included in this conference, was more sessions on communicating with the customer. While marketing is important and with- out it there would be no customer, I have to continue to stress the importance of communication because if there’s one sure way to improve sales, it’s by simply getting better at working the leads driven to the dealership. A few more sales per month, while working with the same investment, translate positively and directly to the bottom line. Remembering that it’s important to make sure you have the basics covered, I wanted to provide a simple checklist to help shore up the foundation of your online efforts. 1. Understand the buying motivations of today’s online car shopper. The premise of all of your online efforts and communication is and should be knowing what influences customers to head in the direction of your dealership and not to a competitor. 2. Be where the customers are. Upwards of 80% of shoppers begin their vehicle search online. Make sure you are accessible on the most visited sites, your widely used local sites and niche sites. 3. Maximize inventory distribution and presentation, minimize time to market. Stretch a net and provide compelling vehicle content to set your inventory apart and drive more interest. 4. Feature top converting web site content. It’s not just about getting them to your web site, it’s about getting them to engage and move forward. 5. Be an effective communicator to drive more appointments, more dealer- ship visits and sales. Have a follow-up process in place that customer’s are more likely to respond to, opens doors to customer interaction quicker and more often than ever before, and then helps manage the conversation by “speaking the customer’s language” and talks in terms of “benefit to the customer.” Rob Lange is the national sales training director for Kelley Blue Book. If you wish to discuss this arti- cle with other dealers, or with the author, please go to the “Discussion Forums” at www. and enter the “Internet Sales” forum or e-mail him at rlange@Dealer- IGITAL Dealer INTERNET SALESD Rob Lange While marketing is important and without it there would be no customer, I have to continue to stress the importance of communication because if there’s one sure way to improve sales, it’s by simply getting better at working the leads driven to the dealership.
  10. 10. What are Your online ads Missing? 610-738-3313 Inventory Online (IOL) Marketing Suite is a complete internet merchandising solution. Call today to see what your ads are missing.
  11. 11. DD 10 June 2010 Mastering the Internet Sales Process A re you completely buttoned down in your sales processes to manage the 12 key steps in Internet sales? Atmycompany,forthepastthreeyearswe havecloselystudiedtheInternetsalesprocess. By observing our dealer customers across the country, we have begun to discern best prac- ticesthatconsistentlydeliversuperiorresults. Our goal is to support the industry’s search for best practice, and so we want to share what we learn. Achieving optimal sales results is a func- tion of process execution and quality. There are 12 process steps, and in order to drive to outstanding results each step has to be executed. Not just that, each step must be executedwell.It’sthatcombinationofprocess execution and quality that will differentiate the winners from the losers. So what are the key process steps? 1. Respond to an Internet lead with a multi- vehicle price quote in 10 minutes. 2. If there is a phone number in the lead, call the customer in 10 minutes. 3. If there is no phone number in the lead, e-mail the customer in 10 minutes and request a phone number. 4. If the customer e-mails back their phone number, give them a call within 10 minutes. 5. If you reach the customer, go through a nine-pointcallscriptleadingtoanappoint- ment request. 6. If you don’t reach the customer, leave a compelling,shortvoicemailandbegin2X a day, five-day follow-up calling process. 7. Ifcustomerdoesn’te-mailyoutheirphone number, go through nine-point script via e-mail, and seek to win an appointment. 8. If you can’t win an appointment in five days,leaveittoacompelling,transactional automated follow-up e-mail campaign to trytodrawthecustomerintothepurchase process. 9. If an appointment is set, e-mail and call for confirmation the day before. 10. If the appointment doesn’t show up, e-mail and call to follow up and seek to answermorequestionsorconfirmannew appointment date / time. 11. If your follow-up campaignyields areac- tivation, call / e-mail the reactivated cus- tomer within 10 minutes and follow the process towards an appointment. 12. If an appointment shows up, have them askspecificallyforyouandbethereforthe meet / greet / lot walk / test drive / sale. Each of these steps merit more detail The 10 minute, multi-vehicle price quote is key. Itdifferentiatesyoufromthecompeti- tion on responsiveness and service quality, while changing the discussion from “can you beattheotherguy’sprice”(anadversarialcon- versation) to “do I want new or used, naviga- tion system or not, what can I afford,” etc (a consultative conversation). In achieving this step, it is best to seek a technology solution so you can deliver these personalized, multi- vehicle quotes to the customer with quality, every single time. Make the phone call in 10 minutes! All this talk about “call in less than two hours” is simply off base.The consumer has expressed their interest. They have engaged you, the dealer. Every minute you ignore them is a minute lost to that customer’s other priori- ties. Don’t let them move on! Engage them right away. Of course, the issue is that it’s hard to do given dealership realities. To achieve this outcome requires structure and focus. Structurally, a smaller dealership may give its receptionist the assignment of making the initial call back right away on Internet leads, with a $10 bonus for every confirmed appointment.Inalargerdealership,aseparate Internet assistant or perhaps a BDC can take onthisrole.Here’sakeypoint:it’snotrealistic forthesalesreptogetbackthatquicklygiven test drives and other priorities. Get someone else to make that first contact. Then transi- tion over to the sales rep for follow-up if the first call results in a voice mail. If there is no phone number, e-mail the customer. Keep it short, to the point: “(CUSTOMER NAME), I just sent you an e-mail with some alternative vehicles for you to consider. Would like to take you through these choices while they’re still available, so I can get a better understanding of exactly what you’re in the market for. What’s your phone number? I can call you right now. Yours, John Doe Internet Sales Manager.” If the customer e-mails their phone number, call the customer right away -- no more than 10 minutes. If you reach the customer, recognize that a liveconversationwithacustomerisprecious. Don’twastetheopportunity!Authoritatively and collaboratively, walk through the nine key points that will tell you whether this is a customer you want to do business with: 1. Formally introduce yourself and your dealership. 2. Present the reason for call. 3. Explain dealership’s selling process. 4. Go over the multi-vehicle price quote in IGITAL Dealer INTERNET SALESD Tom Mohr Achieving optimal sales results is a function of process execution and quality.
  12. 12. June 2010 DD 11  Our Users Ranked US #1- • • • • AutoSoft, the Most Likely Recommended DMS Delivers – Not Simply Software as a Service, But Software With The Service! When asked in the recent NADA 2009 Bi-Annual Survey of Dealership Satisfaction with Dealer System Providers’ Products and Services 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 877-427-4367 detailincludingvaluesellingthepre-owned options. 5. Compare the features and benefits of the alternative vehicles shown in quote. 6. Discussfinancingoptions,includingcom- pletion of a credit app. 7. Confirm customer’s purchase time frame. 8. Confirm whether customer wants a trade-in. 9. Set up an appointment for a test drive. If you don’t reach the customer, leave a compelling voice mail that goes something like this: “Hi this is John Doe, sales assistant from DEALERSHIP calling regarding your request for a quote on a _______. Our Internet sales manager _________ sent you an e-mail a few minutes ago with a number of alternative vehicles, and he/she would like to go over them with you while the vehicles are still available. Justcall___________andaskfor________, your Internet sales manager who can help you with all of your questions. Otherwise we’ll try back later.” Then call twice a day – mid-morning and around6:30PMworkbest–forfiveconsecu- tive days, seeking to make contact. If you reach the customer, walk through the nine key points. If you don’t, after five days of follow-up, let your automated e-mail follow- up system take over. If the customer doesn’t e-mail you their phone number, you’re left to e-mail com- munications. Seek to engage the customer inane-mailexchangethatwalksthroughthe nine key points. If you can elicit interaction, you’remuchmorelikelytoleadthecustomer to an appointment. Ifyoucan’tgettoanappointment,it’stime fore-mailfollow-up.Butmakesurethatyour e-mail campaign is designed to not be pro- motional: ISP’s consider that spam. E-mail follow-up must be transactional – asking simple questions, such as, “14 days ago you sent us a request for a Toyota Prius. Are you still interested?” Then have action buttons that allow customers to reveal their interest vs.requiringthemtosendyoubackane-mail. This is best achieved through a technology companythatspecializesininteractivefollow- up marketing campaigns. If you get an appointment, it’s best prac- tice to both e-mail and call to confirm the appointment at least eight hours prior to the appointed date and time. In your confirmation,besuretoremindthecustomer why it’s good for them to show up—“I have set aside the vehicle you requested and will keep itavailableforyourvisit.Withthehotincentives themanufacturerhasinplacerightnowIwant to be sure your vehicle is still on the lot.” If the appointment doesn’t show up, call and e-mail the customer two hours after the scheduled appointment time (no more, no less). Indicate: “Hi (CUSTOMER NAME), this is _____ from ____. I put down in my calendar that you were going to stop by for a test drive. I might have gotten it wrong in my calendar and so I want to check in with you. I stillhaveyourvehiclesetaside.Areyouavailable later this afternoon to come by?” Perhaps you’re in the e-mail follow-up phasewithacustomerthatnevershowedup. What happens when the customer responds to your follow-up with a buying signal? I call that a reactivation. Reactivations are more precious than first-time leads! Call the customer in 10 minutes.Take the sameapproachasnotedaboveforafirst-time contact.You’llfindthatreactivatedcustomers, if responded to right away, will convert at a much higher rate than first-time leads, and therefore deserve your best attention. Of course, it eventually all comes down to the customer arriving on the lot. You know what to do then. The realities of dealership life make execu- tion of these 12 steps difficult. It’s especially difficult to execute these steps with quality. The best dealerships are relentless in pursuit ofperfection.Theydefinetheirstructure,hire, train,monitor,coachandrewardinwaysthat support and advance process execution and quality.It’sultimatelyanactofleadership,and ifyoucommityourselfandyourorganization tocontinuousimprovement,youwilleventu- ally become masters of the Internet. 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“InternetSales”forumore-mailhim
  13. 13. DD 12 June 2010 ASP vs. In-House Servers: Which DMS Model is Best? T he time has come. Your dealership’s DMScontractwithalarge,expensive legacyproviderisending.Yoursearch for a new DMS partner is beginning.Which DMS is best? The answer is: it depends what your needs are. One thing that’s certain is when it comes to making such a critical management deci- sion; there is little, if any, room for error. This article won’t go into detail about the process for choosing the right system (for a free 10-step guide, dealers can e-mail the author of this article). But assuming that a dealership has already analyzed their current DMSexpensesandpotentialcostreductions, assessedthemarket,createda“needs”listand drawnupapotentialvendorprospectlist,one of the first choices they may be faced with is whether to choose a DMS in an Application Service Provider (ASP) model, or in-house server model. With ASP, the DMS provider maintains a hostedenvironmentofserversattheprovider’s location that houses all the software and data adealeruses.Dealersdonothavetopurchase or maintain servers With a DMS in-house server model, the dealership is required to purchase the server andinmostcasestheDMSvendorwillmain- tain the server. Contrary to what dealers may hear from various sales representatives, neither the ASP nor the in-house format is the one, “best” technology. What is best for your dealership may depend on whether you have a single store, multi-store franchise along with many other factors. Following are the primary considerations when it comes to choosing between deploy- ing the DMS as an ASP or in-house server: 1) ‘New’ technology vs. ‘old’ technology. Advocates of ASP claim it’s a new tech- nology and the future of things to come. In reality, ASP is an evolution of a 40-plus year old technology developed in the 1960s and known then as “time sharing” applications. Today, due to high-speed Internet connec- tionsandadvancesinservertechnology,ASP solutionsaremoreviableandapopularchoice for businesses in many industries. The in-house client/server model, though hardly old but perceived by some as un- trendy, is in reality, a tried and true technol- ogy that is not going to disappear any time soon. Many businesses prefer to keep their computer operations in-house for several reasons, including reliability, cost, control of data, and more. The bottom line is, both formats offer dealerships what is needed: a low-cost, effec- tive DMS solution. The choice should not be made based on which technology is new or trendy, but on which system best fits the dealership’s needs and wants. 2) Purchase of hardware A perceived advantage of the ASP model is the minimum amount of hardware that has to be purchased to get the system up and running. In most cases the ASP provider will require the purchase of a VPN router that is compatible with the vendor’s network. This router can run from $2,000 to $3,000. With the in-house server model, dealers are required to purchase a server. Though legacy providers have been known to charge anywhere from $20,000 to $60,000 for high performanceservers,today’snon-legacyDMS vendors offer industry standard high per- formance servers that costs no more than $4,000–$6,000. As servers only need to be replacedeveryfivetosixyears,thedepreciated cost is negligible. 3) Speed With a broadband connection, access to theASPserverscanbeveryefficient.However the connection needs to be of high quality. If the Internet connection is sluggish for some reason,accesstothedealer’sdatamaybeslow. In all cases access to the ASP is through a VPN (virtual private network) which in essence gives the dealership a secure “pipe” through the Internet to the provider’s loca- tion. However it is still through the Internet and as such the response time can be awful at times no matter what speed the connec- tion (Did you try to get on the Internet the day Michael Jackson died? The speed of the Internet was at a crawl.) An in-house server, on the other hand, runs at a consistently high speed and will always have a much greater response time then the ASP. If there are problems with the Internet connection, it doesn’t affect access to the dealer’s data at all. 4) Dealership control of data One potential problem with the ASP model is the dealership does not maintain control over its own data. No matter how much a provider may assure the dealer it will never happen, in the event of a dispute between dealership and vendor, it would be possible for the dealership to be cut off from its own data. On the other hand, the in-house server model eliminates this concern. Dealerships IGITAL Dealer MANAGEMENT SYSTEMSD Mike Esposito Contrary to what dealers may hear from various sales representatives, neither the ASP nor the in-house format is the one, “best” technology.
  14. 14. June 2010 DD 13  maintain complete control of their data and network at all times. 5) Back-up of data Generallyacceptedbackupprocedureisto haveafullcopyofyourdatabackedupoffsite every night. With the ASP, since the data is housed in servers at the provider’s location it isthereforeoffthedealershipsite,howeverthe dealerneedstoensurethattheproviderbacks up its hosted site to another location just in case there is an issue at the primary hosting facility. With the in-house server model, the dealershipcanchoosetoeithermanuallyback up onto tapes every night, or have the DMS provider do an automatic remote back up. A remote backup is where the in house server automatically transmits all of the data every night to a remote facility controlled by the DMS provider. 6) ‘Less’ vs. ‘more’ maintenance ASP providers tout the fact their model eliminatestheneedtomaintainaserver,saves spaceandtakesalltheDMSmaintenanceoff the dealership’s hands. But since in-house solutions can run on a server the size of your typical tower PC, it doesn’t take much addi- tional space, and in-house vendors can also providealltheneededmaintenanceremotely. 7) Upgrades to the software In both cases updated software will be needed to be loaded on the server whether the server is hosted at the ASP site or is in the dealership. In the case of the ASP, the vendor will load all of the software updates on their servers and will then notify the users when it has been done. In the past (and still currently with some DMS vendors) software updates were handled by sending the dealer- ship CDs with the update information and thedealershippersonnelhadtoloadthemon theserver.CurrentlymostDMSvendorswho supply an in house server will automatically load the software updates remotely on to the inhouseserverandthennotifythedealership that it has been done. 8) Remote access to network Many dealers are under the assumption that with ASP, they will be able to have full accesstotheirnetworkfromanylaptop,any- where. In reality, ASP access from a remote location requires the installation of a Virtual PrivateNetwork(VPN)onalaptop.Remote access to the DMS is accomplished the same way with an in-house server model. 9) In the event of catastrophe… It rarely happens, but ask any dealer who hasbeenthroughit.It’sanightmare.Whether a mudslide, tornado or hurricane, the last thing a dealer needs to worry about is the DMS. An advantage of ASP is that if disas- ter strikes, all the data is safely off site. All the dealership needs to do is re-establish an Internet connection. However, if there have been widespread telecommunications out- agesintheareaaswillhappenincatastrophic situations, it may be impossible to quickly re-establish the VPN connection to the ASP. In addition the connection issue is out of the controlofthedealershipinthattheirInternet ServiceProvidermaybeswampedwithother clients who are in the same situation as the dealership. When disaster strikes a dealership with an in-house server, the server may be lost. This is why the data should always be backed up remotely, and why most DMS providers do this automatically. In the event of catastro- phe, the dealership can call the vendor who should be able to ship out a new server with alltheupdatedinformationintact,overnight, if necessary. Determining what’s right for you It’s up to each dealership to determine which DMS system is right for their needs. Both in-house and ASP models have their advantages. In many cases either one would be a good choice. Ultimately, a DMS vendor that offers both in-house server and ASP solutions provides the most flexibility. It give the dealer the most security, in that, if the deployment by one method is not satisfactory to the dealership then it is an easy change over to the other deployment method. As a dealership grows and its needs change, it is good to know that your DMS provider offers both solutions so you can maintain your relationship with that pro- vider yet change the method of deployment of the DMS. Mike Esposito is president CEO of Auto/ Mate Dealership Systems, makers of AMPS (Automotive Management Productivity Suite), acomprehensiveDMSwithmorethan20inte- grated modules to service every dealership need. 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“DMS”forumore-mailhimatmes-
  15. 15. DD 14 June 2010 Design Your Site to Create More Sales Y ou probably already know some of the basics of good web design, but do you know the reasons why those standards are in place? Are you using the most up-to-date best practices? Whiletheaestheticsofdesignaresubjective and up to each individual’s perception, there is actually a science behind the functionality of beautiful and effective web sites. Many researchers have studied the way consumers interpret content on web sites. By applying their findings and best practices to your own website,youcanbetterserveyourcustomers and grow your business. Develop your web site with these three objectives in mind: 1. Help your car shoppers meet their goals. 2. Fit within the limitations of shopping behavior. 3. Improve the overall shopping experience. If you follow these guiding principles, you will make your customers happy, and in the process, generate more sales. Help your shoppers meet their goals The biggest hurdle when designing your web site is determining your goals and how they align with those of your site’s visitors. Thepurposeofyourwebsiteistosellvehicles andgenerateserviceappointmentsandparts’ requestsbyprovidingyourshopperswiththe information and tools they need to make informed buying decisions. When a car shopper visits your web site, thatpersonmaybeatanystageofthebuying process from early research to ready to pur- chasethevehicle.Eachshopperisuniqueand will require different information to make a final buying decision. Your web site should providealltheinformationtheyneedtomake that decision. Here are some simple web site suggestions that are useful to consumers in any phase of the shopping process: • Provide more relevant content. Consumers want to do their vehicle research inonecentralplace.Providethemwithdetails suchascurrentincentives,pricing,inventory, photos, vehicle locations, service scheduling, and recall information. • Modularize your content. Sectioning off information helps users comprehend infor- mation and recall more of the details later. • Use specific language to describe your dealershipandyourinventory.Broaderterms can easily be misinterpreted, but precise details paint a clearer picture of how your business operates and what you have to offer your customers. Fit within the limitations of shopping behavior Your customers can only process so much information at one time. This means that whenyou organize contentonyourweb site, you need to make it easy to digest and hard to forget. Here are a few tips on how to keep the content simple and easy to remember: • Include a brief introductory paragraph. Readerswillbetterunderstandwhatthatpage is about and remain engaged. •Keepelements,suchasimagesandvideos smallsothatyourpagesdon’ttaketoolongto load. Longer load times increase the chances that users will forget what they just viewed whilewaitingforthenextpagetoload.Avoid autoplayingavideo,whenloadingapage,to prevent disturbing others. • Offer ways to compare multiple vehicles on your web site. Consumers are looking for detailed vehicle information and don’t want to use multiple web sites. Make it easy for yourcustomerstoremainonyourwebsiteto learnaboutmanytypesofvehicles.Youdon’t want to lose customers to a competitor’s site. •Improvetheoverallshoppingexperience. Your customers live in a digital world and havemanyonlineresourcesavailabletothem when shopping for a vehicle. Therefore, it’s vitalforyoutocreatethebestshoppingexpe- rience for your customers and remove the need to use other web sites. Work with your websiteprovidertoensureyouareproviding thefollowingtoimprovetheoverallshopping experience and increase your sales: • Timely inventory updates – give your customersthemostaccuratevehicleinforma- tion possible. • Quick and targeted response to leads– gather important details on your customers such as keywords, referral information and vehicles searched. Tailor your response to these attributes. • Accurate data–ensure you post correct vehicle information including availability, pricing, features and equipment. This will guaranteeasatisfiedcustomerwhentheyvisit your dealership. • Engaging content–provide videos and social media links to engage your customers and create an ongoing relationship. • Mobile/iPad options–savvy consumers are shopping on their phones. Utilize mobile technology to appeal to this group and cap- ture more sales. It’s important to stay ahead of the curve on new technology. Followingthesesimplerulesfordesignand developing quality content will allow you to connect with your shoppers, satisfy their needs and increase your revenue. Work with your provider to convert your web site into a highly effective selling tool by implementing these best practices. Joe High is a group general manager with Dominion Dealer Solutions, managing the Dealerskins and XIGroup businesses. High started at XIGroup in 2001, working his way up from the customer service department to project/operationsmanager.InNovember2007 he became XIGroup’s general manager and in March 2010 was promoted to his current role overseeing Dealerskins and XIGroup. 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” forum or e-mail him at IGITAL Dealer WEB SITESD Joe High
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  17. 17. DD 16 June 2010 Social media? Prove to me it sells cars, says Roy Reutter. Mobile marketing? Not doing much with it, he says. Instead, Reutter, who is the director of e-business for the Sheehy Auto Stores, prefers to spend time focusing on the tools that actually help to sell more cars. It’s that attitude instilled by the group’s president, Vince Sheehy, which has enabled the 46-year-old company to grow into one of the top groups in the country. In fact, not much has changed since we last talked in 2006 with Reutter. The organization is using the same processes it did then and continues to operate with a steadfast focus on using what works. One thing has changed, however. The Internet now accounts for nearly 35% of all of Sheehy’s vehicle sales, which is a big increase from 2006. Roy Reutter Sheehy Auto Stores COVER STORY
  18. 18. June 2010 DD 17  When we last talked with you, it was 2006. What has changed in those four years? Well, a few things have changed. Our advertisingbudgethaschangeddramatically. In 2003-2004 the amount we spent on digi- tal marketing was about 6% of our overall advertising budget. By November 2006, it was about 16% of the overall budget. And now, it is close to 35% of the budget. What do you attribute that increase to? To quote our president, Vince Sheehy, “The Internet has changed everything.” What sort of things are you spending that money on? Of course, there are many things, but the most significant is search engine marketing. Wealsospendmoneyondevelopingourweb sites. Is that the pay-per-click? Yes. When did you start ramping up your SEM initiatives? We slowly increased it until January this year, and then we decided to jump in a big way. It is not like it is a crazy amount, but it is double what we had spent earlier. Now some people would argue that pay- per-click has seen its best days. Obviously, you think differently. We certainly like the metrics. I know how many clicks, e-mails and phone calls we get andthat’ssolidconcretetrackinginformation. If you tell me social networking is replacing it, I will say you are crazy. Are you doing anything with social networking? We do the absolute basic. Until someone can show me that it drives car sales, that’s where it will stay. Maybe in a year or two it will be more than it is now. We have a Facebook page, but it is mostly a fan page. We don’t spend a lot of time doing it. We have some really smart people that workhereinourInternetdepartmentthatdo not have any hesitation in doing new things and experimenting. And they aren’t opposed to social networking, but they don’t really spendalotoftimeonit,becausetheyhaven’t seen it generate many sales. However, we still havealotofotherthingswedothatsellscars. I remember sitting in one of your sessions at the first Digital Dealer Conference in Nashville, and you were showing an Excel spreadsheet with elaborate reporting. And that was several years ago. Have you tweaked your reports? I’m looking at it right now. It has really grown to where I am able to identify things very quickly. Let’s say I’m concerned about our traffic, I can look at the spreadsheet and determine the source of traffic, what hap- pened and what changed. Right now I am seeing that one of our stores is down in lead volume. And they shouldn’t be, but I can look at it and see why it is down. So I am able to identify the issues quickly.Itaddresseswherewearenow,where we were in the past, what the projections are and if we are on target for hitting our projections. I can look at the spreadsheet and instantly seewhereweareoffandwhereweareselling. Do you have someone that manages the searchenginemarketingandpay-for-clicks for you? Yes, our web host,, actually does it. There is no possible way I could manage that for 16-17 stores effectively. One of the knocks against PPC is that the dealer often ends up competing against himself because of Tier Two (ad asso- ciations) and Tier One (manufacturers) involvement. That is a good point – it does happen. But ultimately, if you can dominate a page, then you’re in good shape. I’m not sure there is a way to solve that. I just try to benefit from it. Do you still buy from third-party lead providers? Yes, they have a place, although our focus is more on our developing leads from our ownwebsite,becausethosearetheleadsthat close better. However,whenitcomestothird-partyclas- sifiedsitessuchasCars.comandAutoTrader. com, they play a major part in our sales. Your advertising spend has changed.What has changed about your process? We still have the same process except it has become much faster today. We’re able to get our inventory online much faster now. Pictures and video are done faster. Our response time to the customer is now within minutes, not hours.The speed that technol- ogy allows us to operate is one of the major differences and what has changed the most. We like to focus on the speed of the response time, but the speed with which wecanaccomplishtaskstodayhaschanged the game significantly also. If a dealership or group focuses on leveraging those effi- ciencies, is that an advantage? Certainly.Forexample,ifsomeoneistrad- ing in a car today, we will get it online before they are out of the building. Being able to put our inventory online much faster means we can sell the vehicle faster. It’s helped with inventory turn.Today, we don’t wait until the vehicle comes out of the service shop and detail to put it online. How do you handle the leads? Is it through a business development center? Each of our stores has a dedicated Internet department. So,therumorsoftheInternetdepartment’s death are exaggerated? You know, if people are saying that, they may mean the entire dealership is involved in Internet sales. In that case, it makes sense. Otherwise,Idon’tknowwhattheyaremean- ing when they say the department is dead. How do you manage between the show- room and the Internet?
  19. 19. DD 18 June 2010 Our CRM tool, Reynolds’ Contact Manager, enables us to track leads separately. We’re able to funnel them to the appropriate department. What is the process you use to respond to leads? Is it same for all of your stores? We follow the same process for all of the stores. We have been doing it for 7-8 years and it is a process that works. I’m looking at our Alexandria dealership right now and it has 38 vehicles sold through the Internet department waiting for delivery today. The key for the Internet department is preparation. The web site has to be right – includinginventory,specialsandpricing.The phones have to be manned properly and we havetorespondtoleadsquicklyandcorrectly. There is a lot that goes into selling cars in the Internet department. The Internet department handles the pro- cess from beginning to end? Correct.Theyhandleitfromstarttofinish. As your marketing budget has grown for the Internet department, have you added significantly to the staff? That is another area that has changed. We use to have one to two people in each store. Now we have three to four people. At least 25% of our entire group’s staff is in the Internet department today. What’s the optimum for the number of leads per month? For me it is about 100 per month. In the past people talked about it being 80 leads per person. But with technology and a more-skilled staff we handle more leads while responding faster and more effectively. Has the consumer changed at all? The consumer has changed in a way that the Internet has changed. A lot of people – insteadofshyingawayfromtheInternet–are adapting to it. They understand they have more choices and can get information faster. They under- standtheydon’thavedon’thavetotravelfrom showroomtoshowroomgettinginformation. They can get an Internet quote in two min- utes. It is all about convenience and speed of doing business. You talked a little bit about how technol- ogy has gotten better. I assume you use Blackberry phones or something along those lines? Yes, we do use Blackberry phones, mostly for lead notification so we can respond quickly. It is not our practice to respond to customers on our Blackberries.We just want our Internet salespeople to know the leads are there. We use our CRM tools to do the proper response, and we want to respond quickly with videos. You can’t do that all on a Blackberry. You can respond, but you need to do it right. Are you doing any mobile marketing? Very little. I don’t believe the market is there yet for automotive. We set up several test mobile sites that generate about 1% to 2% of our overall traffic. We have done zero when it comes to text marketing. I see you have chat on your web site. Yes, I am a big chat fan. It is a way for the customer to communicate with us silently. We know that a lot of people shop during the day while they are at work. So instead of goingonaphone,chatisaveryquietwayfor themtocommunicatewithus.Therearealot of features for chat that I am still exploring, and probably will employ some of them in the near future. How is your chat set-up? Do you have someone managing your chat for you? We currently have a company that takes care of our chat. I see you have a Live Chat button on your service page. Do you service chat live with customers also? We put the chats everywhere. Does that then go to a service-related person? Yes,theyjusttaketheserviceappointment andsendane-mailtoourservicedepartment. It is just a convenient way for customers to communicate with us. Do you evaluate the type of questions that are asked in chat the most? Yes, along with the lead comes the tran- script, which has both ends of the conversa- tion. So we are up to speed with what went on and we can tweak the scripts if need be. What has been the craziest thing that was asked through chat by a consumer? Someone offered us $300 to make sure we got their credit application approved. That one was crazy. It’s not every day someone tries to bribe you. I see the Race to 4,000 videos and promotion. Yes, we do that every year. We have a Sheehy 4,000 Sales Event where we donate a portion of each sale to Race for the Cure. We have donated over $500,000 to Race for theCuresincewestarted.Thisyearourgoalis $80,000to$100,000.We’vebeendoingitfor years for the community. Everyone wins.We have great deals on vehicles and we sell a lot ofcarsandraisemoneyforRacefortheCure. In your opinion, what are the most impor- tant things for stores to be focused on today? I think to keep it real simple is important. Technologyhasenhancedtheprocessbutwe still need to do the basics. But really, it goes back to a lot of common sensethings,andbacktohowweinteractwith the customers. It comes down to answering the customers’ questions and respecting the people on the other end of the computer or the phone.They have questions they need to have answered, we answer them. Technology enables us to show the vehicle faster,andprovidethecustomerwithabetter view of what the vehicle looks like, and its condition.Thisenablesthemtomakeadeci- sion better and faster. We’ve gotten better about the people we hire. We definitely look for people who have some Internet type savvy. They know how to do things online and how to work on a computer. That has also spread to many of our showroom sales staff. A lot of people say you have to look for people with experience. I don’t specifically look for people with car sales experience. We have to have people that are not afraid of technology or learning new skills. I look at our staff today and they are very equipped to conduct business in an Internet environment.
  20. 20. June 2010 DD 19  What kind of turnover do you have in the Internet department? We have very little. The little we do have comes from promoting people within. We just had two Internet managers promoted – one to finance manager and one to used car manager. It happens often. I’m happy to see ourpeoplemoveup.Itispartofdevelopment and it’s good for the group as a whole. Where do you find people? Thebestsourcetofindpeopleisinternally. That is where we want to start.We believe in developing our staff. We have taken several peoplefromourdetailshopandourinventory management staff. We do post on Craig’s List as well and CareerBuilder. How do your Internet sales compare with the group’s overall sales? Itusedto10%ofoverallsales.Thenitwent to 15% to 20%. Now Internet sales are 38% to 40% of our total sales. Year to date, we are at exactly 38%. We’ve sold 6,084 units and the Internet sold 2,297. How is the interaction between you and the general managers today? Many stores still say that is a problem. I am very proud of our general managers, everysingleoneofthem.Theyseethebigpic- ture.They understand how Internet budgets line up. And they do a great job staying on top of new technology. Ialsohavetosaythesameaboutourpresi- dent. Vince started this thing back in 2002 and was way ahead of the curve. He under- stood the Internet was going to transform the business and he gave us the tools and resources to succeed. What do you consider to be important to your management success? I spend most of my time in the stores. Almost 75% of my time is spent in stores, notacorporateoffice.Ibelievethisisacritical element for a director to continue to educate everyone on an almost daily basis on all that is Internet. Not just the Internet managers but the sales managers and GMs. How do your grosses compare to when we last talked to you in 2006? They probably are a little bit less than they used to be. And that’s probably been driven by the fact the competition has gotten better and manufacturer programs are changing. Are you involved in driving business to your service department using the web? It has never been a major part of our busi- ness,butwearegettingmoreinvolvedwithit. Wearedoingmorewithserviceappointments and parts availability online. It is interesting to see how you have changed. I went back and read the article last night from 2006 and there are some changes. But then the process hasn’t changed a bit. Some “experts” criticize dealers who are employing thesameprocessesastheydidyearsago.That amusesmebecausethat’snotourexperience.I haven’tseenorwitnessedabetterprocessthan whatwe’vebeendoing.Ourpeoplebelievein theprocessbecausetheyaresellingmorecars. Untilitdoesn’tworkanymore,we’regoingto keep using our process. 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 XRM...Exceeding Dealership CRM
  21. 21. DD 20 June 2010 Can your CRM be your ILM? I recently moderated a roundtable of Internet and BDC managers at the 8th Digital Dealer Conference in Orlando, Floridaandoneoftheobjectivesoftheattend- ees was to find a good ILM, DRM, ERP and CRM software. Formanyofus“oldtimers”outthere–some of these acronyms puzzle us. ILM stands for Internet Lead Management software. DRM is Digital Response Management, and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) is another name for a DMS. Some of the providers of combined CRM/ ILMsoftwareexhibitingattheconferencewere AVV Web Control, Izmocars, AutoRaptor, CAR-ResearchXRM,DealerUps,andiMagi- cLab. Most feel that they are not only ILM providersbutalsoaCRMsolutionfordealers. So the question I asked my dealer friend Tommy (who was shopping for an ILM,) “What is the difference between CRM and ILM?”Hegavemeasimpleexplanation(thank you,Tommy,) “ILM is normally missing ser- vice department information like last service dateandfutureserviceappointments.”Ifound that it is also a lot less money; he was looking seriously at a product that would do all his ILM objectives for only $200 a month for both dealerships. Try getting CRM for that price! But what if he needs CRM too for data mining his service customers? Will he end up withanotherdatabasetomaintainandanother monthly payment? Accordingtooneofmyroundtablepartici- pants,CorbinWade,thee-commercedirector for Wade Auto Centers, “Less is more when it comes to software programs. The less you have to manage and keep updated the more time you have to focus on your main goal — selling cars.” But he added, “CRM tools are a must in our group. They offer a way for us as dealers to manage, retain, interact, and win customers every day.” Autobase claims to be a “true CRM” prod- uct. Steve Lausch, the marketing manager at Autobase says, “Rather than simply having a CRM component to manage its leads, a true ILM functions as part of the dealer’s overall CRM strategy. It naturally lives within and flowsfromastrongCRMsolution,delivering the many benefits of a single marketing data- baseforeverycustomerwhohasevertouched the dealership. We’ve seen it too many times: CRMcan’tbesuccessfullytackedontoILM.” Stan Thomas of DealerUps expanded on this,saying,“ILM isatoolofjustonedepart- mentthathandlesinternetleadswhereasCRM encompasses a whole multitude of dealership departments and processes, from Internet, sales floor, phone ups, BDC/CRC, FI, and Service. CRM takes all singular departments, likeILMandbringsthemtogetherasagroup. CRMhastheabilitytocrossreferencethecus- tomers or clients from department to depart- ment and store all data in one location.” The answer to the question of whether or not your CRM can also be your ILM is to defineILMforyourdealership.Ifyou’relook- ing for CRM of your leads, then most CRM tools and even my DealerStar DMS handles that. Just enter the leads into your leads/pros- pectdatabasewithasourceof“Internet”orby thetypeofleadprovider,suchas,“AutobyTel.” Youcanthentrackthemlikeanyotherleadto obtain closing ratios, gross profit by provider, appointment tracking, etc. If you want more DRM features like auto- matic responses, price quotes, instant notifi- cations, respond time analysis – then you’ll need more than what most CRM or DMS providers have. After looking at SmartQuotes from one of theexhibitors,Responselogix,Ihadtowonder if you’d still need an Internet department, but theyfeelyoucanreduceInternetsalesmanager turnover by freeing time for more sales calls. WithSmartQuotes,yousetuphowyouwant to send a quote to a customer and it does it allforyou—24/7.Theyworkwithabout30 CRM companies and two members of my roundtable use it – mostly because of how great the follow-up works. If you’re like my roundtable members and tryingtodefineCRM,ILM,andDRM–then maybe it is time to make a wish list and then the next time you’re shopping, see if one of the great exhibitors at the 9th Digital Dealer Conference in Las Vegas October 12-14 can provide most everything on your list. SandiJeromeisaformercontroller,CFO,system administrator, FI, assistant GM, and fixed operationsmanagerwithover20yearsexperience in the automotive industry. She is the owner 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 IGITAL Dealer TECHNOLOGY TRENDSD Sandi Jerome # ActivEngage...............................23 AutoSoft.....................................11 AutoUSA....................................24 BZ Results.....................................3 Car Research..............................19 DealerPeak (Widestorm)..........13 Homenet......................................9 IMN Loyalty Driver....................15 NADA Used Car Guide................7
  22. 22. June 2010 DD 21  An e-Marketing Update Advertising Jim Boldebook I t’s hard to believe that virtually no one understood the concept of e-marketing just 15 years ago. In 2010 the digital transformationofeveryaspectofadvertising, marketingandcommunicationismind-bog- gling.IaskedCBC’se-marketingexpertGreg Johnsonforacurrentoverviewof‘advertising in the e-lane’ and for his thoughts on the future growth of digital marketing. Dealermagazine:Greg,whatpercentageof total advertising budget are most dealers spending on e-marketing this year? There are some dealers in smaller markets spending very little on e-media, but I would say most of the dealers we work with are spending anywhere from 20% to 30% of their total budget on e-related advertising. Dealer magazine:That’s more than double of what was being spent just five years ago. The growth has been exponential, and we see it continuing to take a larger share of budgetsinthecomingdecade.Dealersmight be spending as much as 40-50% of their budgetsbytheendofthisdecade.Nowkeep in mind that I’m including total e-spends including web site development, mainte- nance, e-mail marketing, SEO, SEM, and social networking. Dealer magazine: Where did this budget come from? Most of the spend has come directly from print.Priorto1975,almost60%ofdealerad budgets went to print. In the ‘80s, through the mid-nineties, almost half of the print budgets slid into broadcast. Then, begin- ning in the late ‘90s, dealers gradually shift dollars from other categories into digital. Today, digital marketing has replaced most of traditional print such as newspaper ads, yellow pages and the like. Dealer magazine: Where is the e-money being spent? There are six basic sub-categories: web site development and maintenance, digital advertisingsuchasbanneradsandthird-party referralwebsites,searchengineoptimization, searchenginemarketing,e-mailandtextmar- keting, social marketing such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. Another developing sub-category is mobile-marketing.The lion’s share of dealer digital spends is apportioned to web site development and SEO, but of course it varies greatly depending on the geographic location and size of the market. Dealer magazine: I know it’s hard to believe, but there are still quite a few deal- ers out there who have not gotten aboard the e-train. Where do you jump on? My first recommendation would be to get a good understanding of the investment necessary, the potential benefits and the importance of merging e-efforts with tra- ditional advertising. I know Dealer/Digital Dealer magazine puts on the Digital Dealer Conferencetwiceayear.It’sagreatforumfor attending workshops and meeting up with some of the top consultants and experts in the Internet world, specifically engaged in the automobile business. Dealer magazine: Assuming a dealer is considering changing web site companies, what tips would you pass along? Greg: First of all, make sure you go with a websitedevelopmentcompanywhospecial- izes in the automobile business. There are a number of great companies out there. A general web site developer will not have the tools and experience necessary to compete in the current state-of-the-art automotive Internet field. I would talk with at least three different companies before making a decision. Ask dealer friends for their opinions including those in your 20 group. Some of the things you want to discuss are: • How your web site will merge with your existing computer system, so that consumer searches will bring up pages of inventory on your site, as opposed to a third party site. • Easy-to-use self-administration areas on your web site that will allow authorized personnel at the dealership to upload and updatevehiclespecialswithoutgoingthrough the web site company. • Robust SEO that will be built into the website to insure the highest possible level of recall in consumer searches. •The ease in navigation. Less is definitely more when it comes to navigation by e-chal- lenged consumers. You want to make your siteeasyenoughforabeginnertoaccessbasic information. Dealer magazine: What are some of the basic elements every web site should have? What I call basic ‘phonebook’ info. You should consider incorporating your address and phone number with your logo so people don’t have to click on drop-down boxes just to get basic contact info. Remember, many people are using searches on the Internet in place of traditional phonebooks. Make it easy. If you’re featuring vehicle specials, you should have at least a thumbnail picture of the vehicle (with click to enlarge and details) along with either a price offer or an invitation to get an instant price quote or Internet quote. Dealer magazine:What does it cost to get a well-designed web site these days? Most of the automotive web site compa- nies have moved away from charging large development fees up-front in favor of amor- tizing costs over a longer contract.Typically, youcanpayanywherefrom$1,000amonth to $5,000 a month, depending on the com- plexity, which includes a reasonable amount of maintenance. Most web site companies also offer SEM programs,whichcanoftenbepackagedwith the site fees. Of course that is an entirely dif- ferent category of expense based on market size, keywords and bidding aggressiveness for those words. Dealer magazine: What about web site videos? continued to P-22
  23. 23. DD 22 June 2010 Greg:Videosonyourwebsitearethefast- est growing aspect of site development. It’s easytodoanditaddsaverydynamicdimen- sion to the site. You can use videos for basic dealershipinformation,service,andofcourse vehicle specials. I would just caution you to makesureyourvideoqualityisdecent.Abad imagehasanegativeeffectonanybrand.You may consider working with a professional video editor to take video shot by someone inthedealership,andtheneditingittomake it look a little more professional. Dealermagazine:Whataboutsocialmedia sites such as Facebook? First of all, don’t jump into this unless you really understand the technology.While you maybeexcitedaboutthepotentialofadding 1,000 ‘fans’ to a Facebook site, you may not be physically prepared for the monitoring of all the activity that can occur very quickly on a site. You have to have thick skin and understandthatnoteveryoneisalwaysgoing togiveyouincrediblyglowingreviews.You’ll get the ‘warts and all’ with open authoring on a social site. Think and plan before you jump into it. Dealer magazine: Any closing thoughts? One of things you need to consider in development of a web site is ‘optimization for mobile applications.’ This is growing by leapsandbounds.Mosttraditionalsitesdon’t work well on iPhones and mobile devices. As time goes on, this type of optimization will be pretty much academic, but it is not there yet.This is especially true if you have a home-grown site that has not been updated in awhile. If you’d like a free copy of Greg Johnson’s latest White Paper: “10 Ways to Maximize Marketing E-ffectiveness” send me an e-mail with ‘10 Ways’ in the subject line and I’ll be happy to send along. JimBoldebookispresidentofCreativeBroadcast Concepts (CBC), an advertising/marketing agency working with some of America’s most successful dealerships. If you wish to discuss this article with other dealers, or with the author, please go to the “Discussion Forums” at and enter the “Advertising” forum or e-mail him at jboldebook@Dealer- Advertising, Boldebook, continued from P-21 Don’t miss the Visit WATCHFOR EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION! Come to The Mirage, Las Vegas to learn about new ideas, new revenues and new efficiencies for greater profits. Don’t learn from your competitors...IT’S TOO LATE THEN! New Ideas, New Revenues, New Efficiencies, Greater Profits ... and see 100 quotes from dealership attendees! CONFERENCE EXPOSITION 9TH9TH October 12-14, 2010 • Las Vegas, NV
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