Welcome to the digital edition
of Digital Dealer magazine!
Just as you are trying to keep your store(s) on the cutting edge, we
are doing the very same thing as we venture into a new frontier in
the publishing biz.
We can get this digital version in your hands 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…
Automotive Retail and
Technology – Recipe for
Selling Cars in the Post-
It’s a Performance –
Make Sure Everyone FICHTER
Knows Their Roles Director of Operations
Sam Pack’s Five Star Ford
Five Tips for Prepping
Staff for System Change
T ABLE OF CONTENTS
PRESIDENT AND CEO
VICE PRESIDENT AND
FEATURES EDITORIAL DIRECTOR
Digital Dealer Cover Story cbanks@Dealer-communications.com
18 Joshua Fichter
Director of Operations PUBLISHER
Sam Pack’s Five Star Ford 607-264-3359
Digital Dealer Vendor Profile CONTENT COORDINATOR
22 Dominion Dealer Solutions MARIA BURKEL
COLUMNS ART DIRECTOR
AAISP Notes PRODUCTION MANAGER
8 Automotive Retail and Technology – ELIZABETH BIRCH
Recipe for Riches PRINT PRODUCTION
10 Selling Cars in the Post-Control World COVER PHOTOS
12 Take Video Off the ‘To Do’ List 314-432-7511
Rob Lange www.Dealer-magazine.com
NATIONAL ADVERTISING SALES
14 It’s a Performance – Make Sure Everyone Knows adsales@Dealer-magazine.com
Their Roles 607-264-3359
Dealer magazine makes every attempt to ensure the
16 Driving Better Closing Results accuracy of all published works. However it cannot be
held responsible for opinions expressed or facts supplied
Phil Sura 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
Technology Trends Horizon Communications, Inc. and will not be returned.
Send material for publication to 330 Franklin Rd., Suite
25 Five Tips for Prepping Staff for System Change 135A, PMB 386, Brentwood, TN 37027. The editor re-
serves the right to edit material; submission of material
Sandi Jerome 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
DEPARTMENTS or other expert assistance is required, the services of a
competent professional person should be sought. From
4 Digital Dealer E-mail a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Commit-
tee of the American Bar Association and a Committee
6 News of Publishers.
A PUBLICATION OF
C O M M U N I C A T I O N S
DD 2 April 2010 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
D IGITAL DEALER MAIL
Dealer welcomes your letters and after
verification will run them signed or unsigned.
Letters may be edited for space and clarity.
Hi Chuck Barker, I would like to ask you: Do you know of The Te
When I saw the heading of your article in a way that I can get my GSM to understand gazine
the December issue of Digital Dealer maga- what I am saying to him? How do I go about Intern
Are Yo et Sales:
zine, “What Type of Manager are You?”, I this without him thinking I am being conde- or Just u a Creator,
page 10 a Bad
had to write you. I am in a peculiar situation, scending? Any input you have is welcomed. Online
Wants Buyers Hav
and I wanted to ask your advice as it relates Name withheld by request
Leads Respond to
to your article. the Ri
page 20 ght Way
Your article was right on point! It’s been Dear Reader,
How to ology Tr
Use Cu Find and ends:
page 25 stomer Intern
better lately, but my GSM often cuts the Sometimes these tough spots we find ourselves Data
salespeople down, often tells them that we in find a way to work themselves out; so be as Jenkin Director
don’t need them, that we could replace them tolerant as you can given the situation. You be the Group
right away. I have tried several times to tell leader that shows how to do it right by respecting
him that if he treats them that way, it will your team, supporting them and continuing to O
of Autom otive
of Autom als
Association Profession als
transfer to the customer. encourage them. Act with positive ‘role model’
Internet Sales online.org
Internet AAISP line.or
L I C AT I
Recently the management staff had a meet- like behavior with everyone you come in contact
ing with the dealer, and he feels the same way with. Manage the way you would a. want to How do I go about it, without him thinking I
ironically as your article illustrates. We should be managed and b. the way other managers am being condescending?”
pump them (salespeople) up, make them feel should manage. In view of the fact that your dealer has
we are here to catch them if they fall. I also The actions of your GSM can catch on with shown positive inclination toward his people,
want to be able to explain why our new car other managers who then find themselves treat- he would be your best ally in your quest to get
deals are down. They are down partly because ing their people the same way. So stay resilient things improved. I would begin by printing
times are tough and the salespeople don’t want to your professional cause. my article and any others supporting this solid
to work for 100.00 mini deals. But, mostly it’s Let’s have a look at your question for me: leadership behavior and give him a copy and
because when you tear down the salespeople “Do you know of a way that I can get my suggest that this should and could be our store’s
daily, you can’t expect them to be motivated GSM to understand what I am saying to him, culture. Request he read it at a sales management
and pumped up to take the next customer. is exactly what you talk about in your article? meeting to set the leadership expectations bar for
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
and professionally treated. Next, your friend the
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
people who have offended them when an apology
is submitted for their past behavior and promise
to become more professional in their interactions
with them going forward.
Send letters to: 2000 Town Center • Suite 1900 • Southfield, MI 48075
FAX: (248) 351-2699 • e-mail: email@example.com
DD 4 April 2010 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
There’s a Reason Why More
Top Dealers Choose Dealer.com...
“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.”
Alan Krutsch Director of Marketing Walser Auto Group
SEARCH MARKETING | DEALER WEBSITES | LEAD MANAGEMENT | PERFORMANCE ANALYTICS
888.785.5418 | www.dealer.com | firstname.lastname@example.org
2010 Top Rated Web Provider 2009 Net Promoter® 2009 Deloitte’s
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Top Awards for Websites, Top customer service ranking in the Ranked number #214
SEO, and Internet Lead nation’s software industry fastest growing company
Management (second only to Adobe Systems) in North America
D IGITAL DEALER TECH NEWS
giving dealers immediate access to potential
vehicle condition issues on www.manheim.
com, including OVE.com and Manheim
Black Book introduces Simulcast.
addition to Activator’s The AutoCheck snapshot features a quick
Advanced Conversion and easy view of the potential issues in a vehi-
Toolkit cle’s history, directly from online presale list- Polk launches automotive
Black Book’s Online Division announced
ings, and gives dealers the option to purchase lists online
full AutoCheck reports. Having access to this
the introduction of a new product enhance- R. L. Polk & Co. has launched Automotive
important vehicle history information helps
ment that boosts leads already coming from Lists Online, a new web-based system that
dealers make better decisions in buying the
its Activator sales conversion tool by up to enables dealers and direct marketing agencies
right vehicles at the right value and gives their
30%. Activator’s Advanced Conversion to quickly order highly-effective automotive
customers confidence that their inventories
Toolkit has been enhanced with the addition marketing lists for use in vehicle sales and
are safe and reliable.
of Activator using new technology to generate service marketing campaigns. The new online
“The combination of Manheim’s data and
high-impact pop-ups that give website shop- list ordering system identifies consumers that
AutoCheck’s industry-recognized vehicle his-
pers incentives to get a value for their trades are most likely to own a particular brand of
tory reports will give dealers a new level of
and make dealership appointments. vehicle, who are in the market to purchase a
buying intelligence with quick, easy access to
Conversion results to date show that, specific vehicle and who are likely to spend
the information they need,” said Scott Waldron,
because these shoppers are seeking trade-in within a particular budget amount, among
president, Experian Automotive. “Working
values, they are close to making a buying other criteria.
with Manheim allows us to bring a consistent
decision. Activator uncovers them, identifies “We created this system to make list order-
them, allows the dealer to contact them and ing faster and more efficient for our custom-
close the sale. ers,” said Laura Murray, product strategist at
Black Book’s online products currently Polk. “Three product packages are currently
appear on over 7,000 dealership and available, based on our most popular and
manufacturer web sites around the coun- requested Total Market Predictor list combi-
try. Activator has proven to increase leads nations—vehicle ownership by make; vehicle
coming from dealership web sites by up to ownership by make, plus in-market timing;
repository of reliable, auction-announced infor-
50% with average closing rates of 15%. The and vehicle ownership by make, plus year
mation to used-vehicle dealers.”
30% increase delivered with this “Advanced model.”
As part of its renewed relationship with
Conversion Toolkit” enhancement is in addi- Five additional packages are under develop-
Manheim, Experian’s AutoCheck will con-
tion to Activator’s traditional results. ment that will target likely motorcycle owners
tinue to incorporate Manheim’s auction-
“Over a period of several months, our cus- and individuals by automotive service prefer-
announced information, such as frame or
tomers taking part in our initial pilot program ence – those who prefer to do the servicing
unibody damage, into its vehicle history
experienced a significant lift in the number themselves and others who would rather take
reports. This information has been found
of web site leads generated from their web their vehicle in for service.
to be among the most important aspects of
sites,” said Mike McFall, Black Book Division Automotive Lists Online also enables users
a vehicle’s history that used-car buyers want
president. “When our customers are success- to enrich their lists with an array of data ele-
to know before making a purchase.
ful, we’re successful,” he concluded. ments such as Target Score Predictor, eth-
“Manheim is dedicated to providing its
www.BlackBookUSA.com nicity/language preference, household age,
customers with the information they need
income and marital status. The system offers
to make smart vehicle purchases,” said Nick
Experian Automotive Peluso, senior vice president of customer man-
free customer file uploads (e.g. dealer file sup-
pression) which enables users to de-dupe a
expands vehicle data agement, Manheim. “Building on our exist-
prospecting file in order to obtain pure pros-
service offerings with ing relationship with Experian Automotive
pects or target only their current customers
helps ensure that dealers have access to the
Manheim best information to determine the right
according to certain attributes, such as likeli-
hood to be in-market.
Experian Automotive has enhanced its vehicles for their inventories.”
Automotive Lists Online can be accessed
vehicle data service offerings with Manheim, www.experianautomotive.com
directly at http://automotivelists.polk.com.
a leading provider of vehicle remarketing ser- www.manheim.com
vices. In addition to providing auction data to
Experian’s AutoCheck reporting service, a free
vehicle history snapshot will now be offered,
DD 6 April 2010 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
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D IGITAL Dealer AAISP NOTES
Automotive Retail and Technology –
Recipe for Riches
here might not be a more fun industry hundreds of millions of dollars. It’s likely we’ll see more blockbuster deals
than automotive retail technology. Other companies, such as ADP Dominion
, this year. Investors again are looking hard at
If you have a good idea and a little and DealerTrack have been buyers, adding to the automotive retail space and some of the
bit of luck you might hit it big sooner than their portfolio of services. larger firms have money to spend.
you think. I’ll often ask new players in the space about It’s an indication of the growing confidence
A lot of it has to do with technology. Prior their plans for getting acquired. Typically, that automotive is a fundamentally strong
to the Internet, innovation in the automo- they’ll recoil and insist their goal is to build sector that will continue to grow in the next
tive space was slow and steady. But once the a great product. No doubt, that’s true. But couple of years.
web hit the mainstream in the mid-to late getting into this space to build a company The collapse of the auto industry the last
‘90s, young people -- restless, dreaming of only to turn around and sell it is not a bad 20 months kept many deals from happening.
building the next big thing -- jumped into thing. It’s called capitalism. In fact, a couple of big deals close to being
the automotive retail space. done fell apart at the finish line in fall of 2008.
And hit it big, they did. Remember some of Right now, it’s a bunch of rumors. As a rule,
these names? Mark Campbell sold StonAge. I do not report on rumors involving specific
com to Autobytel, took his millions and built
“Once the web hit the firms. However, there is a growing trend the
a mansion somewhere on the west coast. We mainstream in the mid-to last few months of technology-type companies
haven’t heard from him since. that are either on the market or are looking
Jon Christiansen and Greg Baszuki basically late ‘90s, young people to add to their portfolios.
created InvoiceDealer.com while eating pizza Investors are getting itchy trigger fingers
in the living room with $150,000 from family – restless, dreaming of and the pressure is building too for firms to
and friends in 1999. In 2004, they sold Dealix get something done. These companies are
(renamed from InvoiceDealers) to Cobalt for building the next big sitting on a lot of money and would like to fill
more than $60 million. holes in their product solutions. That means
Sean Wolfington is another name that thing – jumped into the over the course of this year the industry likely
belongs in the pantheon of people who have will see some interesting, and potential block-
either created or jumped on board early with
automotive retail space.” buster deals occur.
a company only to sell it for millions later. —Cliff Banks The landscape on the technology side likely
His family was influential in creating Cyber will look much at the end of 2010 than it did
Car and AutoMark which it sold to Reynolds I often hear how the automotive retail space at the end of 2009. Stay tuned, this could be
and Reynolds in 2001 for a rumored price is behind other industries with its adoption of a fun year.
that exceeded $100 million. Wolfington then technology. While dealers tend to be cautious
joined with BZ Results and sold it to ADP in – and rightfully so -- our industry has been
2006 for a reported $125 million. a great laboratory of ideas and is far ahead of
Wolfington is back, this time as chairman most industries comprised of small businesses.
of the board for VinSolutions. There’s no Being an industry that entrepreneurs
secret the gameplan is to build it up, get as and investors find attractive only serves to
many customers as possible and then sell. bring better products and solutions to the
These are just a few examples. The last dealership.
decade was a golden age for firms supply- The unbelievable success the last several
Vice President and
ing services and solutions to franchised car years that technology companies experienced
dealers. It was either get acquired or get big. in the automotive retail space continues to
Companies such as AutoTrader.com and Cars. attract both big name investors and the
com went big and now have revenues in the smaller angel investors.
DD 8 April 2010 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
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D IGITAL Dealer INTERNET SALES
Selling Cars in the Post-Control World
he battle is over. The customer now response will imperil the deal and frustrate customer. She has powerful tools at her dis-
controls the car-buying process, and the customer. posal to publicly vent that frustration, to the
it is up to the dealer to support, advise Further, the successful dealer understands dealer’s great harm. In the Internet’s public
and encourage the customer along the way to that it’s not enough to just respond with a square, ratings and reviews travel to every
the sale. Dealer actions that seek to control price quote. The second principle of today’s corner of the dealer’s market, propelled by
the process — such as hiding information — digital ecosystem is the power of speed. When Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo and thousands of
simply don’t work anymore. a customer requests information from a other sites. Through the Wisdom of Crowds a
Dealers must come to terms with three key dealer, she wants it quickly. Speed of price disaffected customer (and especially many dis-
realities of today’s digital ecosystem: quote response has been shown to correlate affected customers) can profoundly impact a
• Consumers have instant access to the highly to increased sales, especially when dealer’s business by essentially counter-adver-
world’s information. achieved within 10 minutes. tising: alerting other prospective customers to
• Speed is key. the dealer’s poor business practices.
• The wisdom of crowds is accessible by all. “In the Internet’s public This new digital reality has fundamentally
The first principle of today’s digital eco- changed the game. In this brave new world,
system is the accessibility of information. square, ratings and dealer business success rides on a well-built
Google-empowered consumers have access reviews travel to every reputation, which in turn rides on the favor-
to all the data they need to make a purchase able impression of past and current customers,
decision. Often, consumers are better armed corner of the dealer’s which in turn rides on the dealer’s ability
than dealers. This simple fact cuts the legs out to support and facilitate the customer’s car-
from under the traditional view of how cars market, propelled by buying process with transparency, prompt-
should be sold. Under the traditional view, the ness, fair pricing and good service. In a very
key is to hide information until the customer Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo real sense, each deal is much more than just
is in the dealer’s clutches. In the worst forms a deal. Yes, a car was either purchased or not.
of this approach, the up is bagged, tagged and thousands But under either scenario, a second dynamic
and dragged through a Fargo-style sales pro- is in play. Was the customer satisfied with
cess, “controlled” by the dealer at every step. of other sites.” the experience or not? On that, the dealer’s
Most dealers have progressed beyond these —Tom Mohr reputation—and his business future—hang.
extremes, but remnants of the traditional
approach linger. For instance, only 38% of Yet 25% of all leads don’t get answered Tom Mohr is CEO of ResponseLogix, and has
dealers share the price when first requested, at all, according to Cobalt, and the average worked closely with auto dealers for 25 years.
according to JD Power. Twenty-five percent response time on those that do is over five Prior to ResponseLogix, Mohr was president of
of dealers will never share the price until the hours. Following up with a phone call within Knight Ridder Digital, where he was on the
customer is on the lot. an hour is also key, but only 25% of all leads board of Cars.com.
The problem is that such an approach no receive any call at all.
longer works. The Internet customer will keep Lack of transparency and poor, slow If you wish to discuss this article with
the dealer at arm’s length until the dealer has response to Internet requests comprise twin other dealers, or with the author, please
won her trust. To win that trust, she expects threats to a dealer. It’s not just the lost deal: go to the “Discussion Forums” at www.
transparency. If a customer requests the price, such practices can cost the dealer his reputa- Dealer-communications.com and enter
the successful dealer understands that the tion. Which brings us to the third key prin- the “Internet Sales” forum or e-mail
customer has shared her request with mul- ciple of today’s digital ecosystem: dealers must him at tmohr@Dealer-communications.
tiple dealers — he’s now on trial — and to respect the power of the Wisdom of Crowds. com.
do anything other than send a price quote Consider the danger of the frustrated
DD 10 April 2010 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
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D IGITAL Dealer INTERNET SALES
Take Video Off the ‘To Do’ List
or many dealers the message is becom- many of us will not even consider viewing million U.S. visitors viewed 31 billion
ing clear that it’s time to get video off an ad unless it has photos. It’s that instinc- videos in just one month according to
the “to do” list and onto the Internet tive disregard that tells you that you need comScore; this is up from 146 million visi-
to capitalize on what customers have dem- to take the extra step by providing video, tors and 12.7 billion videos from the same
onstrated is their preferred method of receiv- or again risk being viewed as irrelevant. timeframe in 2008.
ing information. The customer once again has demonstrated According to Ad Age, for dealerships
A recent panel of automotive marketing their desire for a medium that has become looking to build their brands online, video
experts unanimously agreed the biggest chal- mainstream. represents a low-cost, low-risk way to con-
lenge facing dealers this year will be finding While TV has provided the consumer nect with in-market consumers in the chan-
ways to sell more cars while spending less. with information in the past, online videos nel where they will do the majority of their
By being aware and taking advantage of have become more impactful. The big dif- product research. Recognizing this, six-in-10
this consumer buying trend, you’ll have a ference between TV and online video is car dealers say they will incorporate videos
chance to do both. that information viewed via TV is more on their web sites and in marketing efforts
What we have here is a natural progres- likely to cause the customer to make a because the effect of the dynamic content
sion similar to 12 years ago, when it was first mental note and continue watching their of video has proven to engage customers
suggested that dealers include a photo of the program, while after viewing an online video longer, more often and effectively.
advertised vehicle in their online classified they are already in front of their computer, The fact is that there is a monster oppor-
advertisement. have searched for specific information and tunity out there and you need to be part of
Many at the time questioned the value, are poised to take action. It’s the dynamic it. The customer has spoken.
although it was what the customers told content in videos that cause customers to What if the additional exposure increases
us they wanted. From there, to stay visibly stay on sites longer, view more inventory the time customers spend on your website
relevant, it evolved and became necessary than originally intended, and in many viewing inventory, ultimately motivating
to include multiple photos to meet the cases, contact the dealership to gain more them to buy from your dealership? You
demands of online shoppers. Today, many information, visit the dealership or make could spend more time selling to proven
dealers include 30 to 40 photos, providing an immediate purchase. in-market car shoppers, instead of trying
a graphic walk-around of the car. We’ve now If you’re still hesitant, take a look at this to find them.
become so conditioned as customers that information. In November 2009, 170.6 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
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”
and enter the “Internet Sales” forum
or e-mail him at rlange@Dealer-
DD 12 April 2010 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
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D IGITAL Dealer INTERNET SALES
It’s a Performance – Make Sure Everyone
Knows Their Roles
or dealers, your the starting salary is noted, as well as mid-range known that we often work insane hours.
store often (and high) expectations for the position. If That being said, it is necessary to assign
tells the story applicable, specify commissions, performance specific work hours expected for the posi-
of your life. This is especially true for those bonuses, percentage of profit, and any potential tion and include the dealership’s operating
second- and third-generation dealers. Every raises for long-term employment. hours as well.
day, your dealership puts on a show for the Purpose of the position ‘And other duties assigned’
consumer. The customers are your audience Specify the objectives of the position. This The beauty of the car business is that no
and you are the director. When you open the section allows you to place a little weight on two days are the same. Every customer is dif-
doors, you are pulling back the curtain for all their shoulders and makes them understand ferent and each day there is a new circumstance
to see. You’ve brought in the cast and paid their how important of a role they play in the overall to handle or concern to assuage. Including
wages. Now, are you sure everyone knows what success of the dealership and the team. “and other duties assigned” tells the employees
they are supposed to do? While we hire talent Job description/list of duties they are responsible for those random chores
to run our dealerships, we don’t always guide Beginning with the most important tasks that essentially help “take care of business.”
them with written job descriptions. We must. first, list every duty required of them to per- Hopefully, we are all hiring those candidates
“Places, everyone, places,” the director form their position. As the list continues, detail that are looking to take on more responsibil-
shouts. You have put everyone in position, what their role is in the completion of each ity and willing to fill up that rare free time
but can you ensure your cast understands what task. Are they simply delegating the work and during the day with goal-oriented objectives
needs to be done? ensuring it is done or is it their personal respon- on their own.
Many of your sales managers and service sibility to complete it? This statement of duties should be pro-
writers have been given the title and respon- Hierarchy and team vided to every new employee on day one
sibility because they’ve succeeded on the sales Define who they will be reporting to and to overcome any unforeseen conflicts in the
floor or as a service tech. They’ve filled in what individuals will be reporting directly future. After all, it is usually the bad perfor-
during the absences of other managers and to them. Many new employees come in mance from an employee that causes the store
excelled. When promoted, though, few are with the expectation that due to their title to lose a sale or valuable customer, but in the
given quality-written job descriptions detail- of manager, everyone without the title of end, it will be you who shoulders the blame.
ing what their position entails because we feel manager reports to them. This can be a sen- Preparing written, detailed job descriptions
they already know what is asked of them. Or sitive situation in those dealerships where for every position in the dealership (no matter
perhaps a job description wasn’t provided solely the Internet department team reports how big or how small) provides total account-
because many don’t know what to include. solely to their director and that director ability because they now “know their role.”
A job description simply states the roles reports to the general manager only. It is With their roles clearly defined, you are
and responsibilities required of the position, best to clarify this “structure” of the depart- setting them up on a path for success. As the
along with a reporting structure and details ments upfront so there is no confusion director, you’ve given them their lines, their
involving hours and expectations. It should and specify who is on their “team.” New blocking, and all of the notes necessary for
address future questions, employees’ potential employees understanding their supervisory them to perform for the public day in and
for growth/earnings, functions of the job, skills role is imperative to their success and the day out. The rest is up to them to put on a
needed, and how actions will be conducted. streamlined processes you’ve created within good show.
Job title your dealership.
Confirm the title of their position. Ideal candidate/skills needed Joe Webb is the president of DealerKnows LLC, an
Representative, associate, consultant, special- The new employees must be told the skills automotive digital marketing consultation firm.
ist, coordinator, manager, and director all mean they are going to need to be successful in the
different things to different people. Having the position. If there are certain solutions, software,
job title spelled out will deter them from asking or programs that are imperative they know If you wish to discuss this article with
for a special designating word on their business going in, it is best to detail it here. If they are to other dealers, or with the author, please
cards (i.e. the ever-popular “sales specialist” have completed certain tasks during their past go to the “Discussion Forums” at www.
being chosen over “sales representative.”) experiences, describe how the ideal candidate Dealer-communications.com and enter
Salary range for the position will utilize those abilities. the “Internet Sales” forum or e-mail him
This serves as a reference guide to compa- Hours at jwebb@Dealer-communications.com.
rable salaries within the industry. Make sure We’re in the auto industry and it is well
DD 14 April 2010 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
D IGITAL Dealer INTERNET SALES
Driving Better Closing Results
Experts share their closing secrets
he close is the ultimate measure- Rather than forcing X number of calls, the the lead provider generates traffic to the Jim
ment of the effectiveness of a sales focus and pay was directed to shows and Ellis sites, those leads hold more value which
process. Retailers around the world closes. Both measurements jumped. Show is factored into the analysis. Those providers,
go through countless steps to drive interest ratio jumped from 42% to 63% and the clos- responsible for driving web traffic, will receive
in their product but it is wasted energy if it ing ratio moved from 33% to 52% (close/ some additional grace. Wayne also considers
doesn’t translate into sales. Really nice and show). Follow up on every lead (presently the true value of the lead providers before cut-
talented Internet directors lose their jobs every at five attempts in 21 days…with a goal of ting them off. If the closing ratio is low, AND
month when they forget that their responsi- nine attempts). they are not sending traffic, those providers
bility is to push unit sales. • Long-term follow-up of the unsold leads. are fired quickly. Quality leads are critical to
There is not one standard within the indus- This included a series of e-mails based on the the Jim Ellis team.
try for metrics beyond the basics; close by current status of the client and scheduled The Mile One team consists of 65 dealer-
lead source and a monthly budget. What is a reminders for outbound call follow-up (180 ships in the northeast. The better Mile One
good closing ratio today? Should a dealership days). dealerships exceed 20% with their closing
determine a cost per close per lead provider Bottom line: the Chevrolet dealership in ratios. The group tracks in excess of 15%. The
and cut off providers that do not meet a cer- 2008 delivered 454 units from 9,141 leads goal of the group, according to David Metter,
tain minimum standard? If I have the budget, with five BDRs. In 2009, the same dealership is to drive organic and VIN specific leads for
should I simply continue to buy leads to drive delivered 460 units from 4,165 leads with two each dealership. David and his team devel-
sales? Are there tools to help? These questions BDRs. The additional nine dealerships for oped strategies to cut out the fat by developing
were given to a group of directors. the Hubler group consolidated leads to the metrics that allow them to score leads with
Diane Anderson is e-commerce director at two BDRs at the Chevrolet dealership in July. 50 data points. One company supporting
Hubler Automotive Group in Indianapolis. For the second half of 2009, those additional the Mile One team is RL Polk, which devel-
Diane was hired as the BDC manager for 2,851 leads accounted for an additional 294 oped a lead scoring tool. Metter compares it
Hubler Chevrolet in February 2009 and deliveries (10%). to buying individual stocks. You would not
was then promoted to take over the group Wayne Ussery is the e-commerce director invest money in a company without some
in June and create a centralized BDC. The for the Jim Ellis Group in Atlanta. type of analysis. Metter wants to have the
Chevrolet closing ratio moved from 5% to Wayne considers a cumulative close rate ability to focus on the people most likely to
15% (recent months) while the group (10 of 10 % to be the floor. The Jim Ellis Group buy and he wants to know what the best
stores) is now averaging 11%. Diane actually strives for higher percentages, but most stores possible match is for a prospect (type of unit,
accomplished this while cutting both staff and average 9-12% for a close rate against total price…). This approach has also cut turnover
ineffective lead providers. Her staff includes leads. All leads must be tracked to accurately with Internet salespeople to 3%-4%. “If you
two full-time business development represen- get a true ratio. Wayne does not believe that have a stable sales team, you can always get
tatives (BDR) and one part-time employee. a true closing ratio is a diluted top number. better closing ratios,” according to Metter. If
Third party providers were cancelled for poor Some dealerships for example have a practice you can provide the salespeople quality leads
performance and to streamline the current of deleting out of market customers. Wayne with a good pay plan, people stay. The Mile
initiatives. “It made more sense to get the also includes phone leads, tracked by sales One team has performed well at being process
department up to par before wasting money people gathering data and inputting into the oriented and tactical with their approach to
on leads that were not being managed cor- CRM system, as well as chat sessions. e-commerce.
rectly,” stated Diane. The Ellis Group does break out closing Apple Auto Group is based in the
Diane initially focused on producing a ratios by lead source. They monitor the cost Minneapolis area and it includes two Ford
quality process in the following areas: per sale, as well as the “trending closing ratio”. dealerships and a third location for pre-
• Management of the leads as they came “We make the choice to cut off a lead source owned. Michael Groves is the e-commerce
into the CRM tool (Auto Jockey) when the trending reaches a low, sometimes director. The group has a minimal accept-
• Phone skills with inbound opportunities based on just closing ratio, but other factors able performance goal of 10.5% for their
• Phone skills for outbound follow-up are also considered,” according to Wayne. If closing rate. The expectation is 12.5% with
DD 16 April 2010 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
15% being a stretch goal. This includes all you to make smart decisions on where to coming in on an appointment special.
Internet, phone, and live chat leads com- invest your marketing dollars. Michael also 4. The goal should not just be grabbing
bined. Michael also grades his staff on how believes that it is imperative to break out data any lead provider that you can find. Higher
many leads to appointments are set as well as including closing ratios by lead provider. Any volume doesn’t always lead to a better depart-
appointments set to show. The BDC’s job is lead provider over a cost of $200 per sale is ment. You may frustrate your team by provid-
to get the maximum amount of customers in the red and they may be cancelled. Some ing leads that add little value.
through the door as possible. When a guest providers may be higher than $200 but are 5. Develop a means to score the leads.
gets to the dealership the hand off process has a necessity to hit certain volume levels. One 6. Focus on quality. As in the case of
to be streamlined and consistent to ensure provider for example was slightly more than Hubler, you may need to take a step back-
a maximum level of customer service. All $200 per sold unit but that provider was spe- wards to get the basics in place before moving
set appointments are confirmed by a sales cifically tied to the sale of 27 units. The Apple forward.
manager. The customer is then greeted by team will still bend on this formula for good 7. Seek knowledge. It is only hard if you
that sales manager and introduced to the sales business. The end result is that Michael’s team refuse to improve. Attend the next Digital
consultant. The sales consultant is responsible delivered 166 units (only e-commerce deals) Dealer Conference, read the magazine,
for starting and warming up the VIN specific during the month of December from 988 and subscribe to a blog (Digital Dealer
unit that the guest is interested in looking at. leads for a 16.67% closing ratio. This placed will be starting a blog and you can join
This also includes confirming that the car Apple Ford 50th in ranking for ecommerce Dealer Refresh).
has fuel and that it is ready for a test drive, sales for all Ford dealerships.
to ensure a good guest experience. Phil Sura is a VP of the Automotive Division
All Internet leads are tracked into their Here are some suggestions: of UnityWorks Media.
Autobase CRM. The dealership also tracks 1. Develop a process that tracks all leads.
sales calls which are routed into a global Don’t eliminate leads to make your numbers If you wish to discuss this article with
BDC. All calls are uploaded to the BRM look artificially high. You will never know if other dealers, or with the author,
tool for notes and they are followed up for you are doing a good job. please go to the “Discussion Forums”
180 days. Michael believes that you need to 2. Track the performance of each lead at www.Dealer-communications.com
have a source of truth for all data to ensure the provider and set store standards with closing and enter the “Internet Sales” forum
least amount of data error. Accurate data with ratios and cost per sold unit. or e-mail him at psura@Dealer-
notes, e-mail history and the source allows 3. Develop a process which treats guests communications.com.
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DigitalDealer-magazine.com April 2010 DD 17
Director of Operations
Sam Pack’s Five Star Ford
DD 18 April 2010 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
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. how many sales we lost, because I had too their Internet departments into the BDC –
Well, I got into the car business on a bet many leads, I couldn’t follow-up properly. which we never did.
with my parents back in 1996. They wanted I was handling 200-250 leads a month by
me to get out of what they called a ‘dead-end’ myself and selling the car cradle to grave. There are different ways to handle leads.
job and try car selling. I said okay as long as So, it wasn’t real good, a lot of it was if the We have always been a cradle to the grave
long as they would pay my bills if I failed at customer never responded, I never responded store with our Internet department. Our guys
it. Low and behold, 15 years later and I am and that was just reality. — with the exception of signing the customer
still waiting to cash in on paying my bills. up in finance — do everything, from the first
When did you start adding staff? contact, to the demos, to the negotiation to
I started with Allan Vigil Ford in Atlanta Over the course of time, it appeared we everything else. So, you can’t handle as many
and sold there for 18 months. Then I moved needed additional people. Also, my wife was leads as a business development center. We
to Texas where my family was at the time going to have our first child. So, I asked them didn’t feel like moving it to a stand alone
to work for Sam Pack’s Five Star Ford in who was going to replace me for that time. business development center where you had
February of 1998 as a retail floor salesperson. the callers was the right way to go. But I know
In August of 1998, they asked me if I wanted They asked who I wanted. I told them, a lot of dealerships who do it successfully.
to try Internet sales. I said sure, what was it? Kelly Blackwell, and they agreed.
They said well, there’s the computer and you We use Dealer Socket as our lead manage-
go figure it out, so that’s what I did. Kelly sat down in front of the computer ment tool, and all of the leads come in to an
and said, ‘Okay, tell me about the Internet, e-mail address. We can manage all of our
Why do you think they asked you to do I’ve never been on it before.’ He proceeded leads and follow up by source, so based on
that? to sell 29 and a half cars that month. We still the source it is coming into we can manage
I was the type of salesperson who was joke about that today, because the Internet is and see how easily different sources perform.
always looking for a prospect to hand out not about technical, it is still sales. We have a complete follow-up process for 180
postcards to people whose cars would be days from when a lead comes in.
coming up. And I was always the type of It was off to the races then.
person who would grab those and work them. Our numbers more than doubled immedi- What do you see as being a big challenge
I think a lot of it had to do with how they saw ately in March of 2000. If you have the right still for dealers?
me from a follow-up standpoint. I’m not a number of people working, with the right Having been involved with Internet sales now
techie person, but I have some technical skills. number of leads and follow up, in general for 12 years, I see dealers still having problems
Also, it is just my nature to take something on you are going to sell more cars. putting the right number of people to the right
that is a little different. I worked the process number of leads that they are getting. What
to get the customer to visit the store. We added our third person in January that number is, opinions vary. There is cer-
2001. I left internet as my focus to start a tainly something to be said if you have someone
That was the early the days of the Web. business development center here at the deal- handling 80 leads a month, and you’re doing
Yes, that was back in the day when every ership in the start of 2002. Since then, our a front-to-back process, then they’ve got too
Internet customer had a 700 beacon score Internet department has grown to 11 internet many leads. If they are just the person on the
and cash to plop down, and was willing to sales managers with a full-time director. And, phone, they can handle a whole lot more leads.
pay for the convenience of buying online. It I’m still not certain we have enough people,
was a different time. especially with some conversations we have You’ve expanded beyond just being an
had in the past couple of days. Internet sales guy.
But, like a lot of dealers, the management I moved into business development for five
at Five Star wanted the proof ahead of time. How do you handle the Internet leads? years, trying several scenarios. We’ve had big
So, I was a one-man show for a year and a A lot of dealerships went with Ford on the staffs, smaller staffs, a mix of salespeople, then
half. Hindsight being 20/20, there’s no telling business development center idea and rolled just salespeople.
DigitalDealer-magazine.com April 2010 DD 19
Then in February of 2008, we started on a
new path, which is the Director of Operations
title. It involves the sales side right now and
working through on processes and how we
can leverage technology to help us more, 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
only focus is managing the social networking,
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 Joshua Fichter credits support from the senior management and an attitude
you have 2,000 fans, and all of them have an of constant learning as the reasons the three stores are so successful.
average of 180 friends, with the right message
and the right people getting involved, you
could reach nearly 360,000 people with a to four different Digital Dealer Conferences, As you look back on the last several years,
message for free. So, I think, there is a lot of and April will be our fifth. We just returned what is the one or two things that you
potential in that, and we are wrapping our from another training. We are constantly look back on and shake your head and
heads around that. listening and talking and seeing what other ask, ‘What was I thinking?’
people are doing, because we aren’t going to Well, I have one. We saw the trend of sales
You’re also focusing on reputation think of everything ourselves. Even though going down and made the mistake of cutting
management. our numbers are good, we aren’t as good as the number of people we had in the Internet
We have been working with DealerRater. we think we are. That is just human nature. department.
com for about two weeks. We are just right It is always good to step back and evaluate.
now getting our hands wrapped around It wasn’t drastic – we were down one person.
online reputation management. I think a lot Are you using the web to market your fixed Not having that one person caused our closing
of dealers are getting into that, and what is operations department? ratios to go down on top of losing sales. So, we
the right way to do it? I don’t know if anyone We haven’t done much of that in the past. got caught up with this negative syndrome.
knows the right way right now. We do run multipoint inspections service
ads on the local newspaper site just to build Although sales did go down overall nation-
We’re also launching a new website for all awareness. We also e-mail consumers who ally, the percent of retail sales that the Internet
of our stores, and a new group site that will haven’t been in for service in the last 6-12 makes up in relation the dealer sales didn’t
hopefully be up before this article comes out. months, 12-18 months and over 18 months. go down. In fact it grew. The power of the
Internet continues to show us that more and
I’m also trying to get away from using lots Sam Pack’s stores have been strong nation- more people are looking for information and
of vendors as plug-ins, and move to a digital ally among Ford stores with Internet sales. coming through that Web portal.
services provider so to speak. So I can get As far as Ford source leads are concerned,
better reporting and analytics. Then we can in 2007 and 2008 the North Richland Hills On the flip side, what was the one thing
go to the next phase, which is better advertis- store was number one for Ford-sourced lead you look back on and say, ‘Yea, I know
ing, remarketing and behavioral targeting. sales volume. And in 2009 we got edged out what I’m doing.’
Funneling everything through one vendor in the last month by one sale by my good I don’t know if I have ever said that.
that can manage all the analytics will give us friends at Galpin Ford.
a better idea of what is happening. There are Well there has to be one thing, from the
a lot of irons in the fire right now. Our Carrollton store ranked 12th while dealership perspective, you can say, ‘We
the Lewisville store finished 16th. took this direction, saw it and jumped on it.’
So, a lot of changes? Well I think that is really 12 years of
We are reviewing everything right now. So these were leads that Ford was provid- embracing the Internet as a place to do busi-
I think it is good to do that. My Internet ing you? ness rather than fighting it. Tony Pack, our
manager will shop other dealers, but it goes Yes, this particular award or ranking is for dealer principal, back in 1995 was one of the
beyond that. It stems from support from our leads provided by Ford, which matches leads first dealerships to sign up with Autobytel. He
upper management that encourages us to con- in their sales tracking system to sales reported had a vision of the power of the Internet and
stantly look for ways to improve. We’ve been by dealers. we have made that come to life.
DD 20 April 2010 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
It has taken several people — me, our sources. We have done away with those. We get a lot of e-mail leads more than
Internet director, Kelly Blackwell and man- the phone. The phone rings too, but in
agement, to say we need to keep moving Kelly Blackwell came up with this. He would the scheme of things, used car providers,
forward. There was a time when Kelly said rather have less leads so he can focus time on Autotrader.com, you’re going to get more
he needed more people and I pushed back the quality leads. I think from a buying leads phone calls than e-mail leads, but from a new
saying you are just cutting your other people’s standpoint, there will probably be a shift down lead standpoint, and you’re going to get more
throats. But, with more people, he got more to leads coming to dealerships via the social e-mail leads than phone calls. I think that is
leads and we sold more cars and grew. networking sites. Not that you are going to sell a big difference with used cars.
on there, but customers are finding you there.
So I guess the biggest part of this is for Tony And then, from a standpoint of the search Are you guys looking at mobile initiatives?
Pack and our general manager Terry Rich, engine optimization and marketing, we’ll use We are. Our new site will be optimized
and all the way down the team, Internet is our own site to generate leads. for mobile. I just haven’t gotten my head
not only a niche market, but it is becoming wrapped around how it is going to work. It
more of a mainstream area to participate in What’s your perspective on the type of is coming, but how it plays out at the dealer
and we better be doing it and doing it right. information you provide to someone who level, I am not quite certain yet. I know we
sends a lead or calls? Do you provide a price need a website that will show up on a phone
Management has been great providing the and range of vehicles? the way a customer is going to want to see it.
right support. If you embrace it you are going We provide price 100% of the time, and we That is step one.
to be successful at it. If you ignore it, then you try our best to offer multiple vehicle options.
will get exactly what you put into it We are not afraid to give it to the customer. I Step two, we need to be able to adapt to the
still contend that a customer on the Internet way the customer wants to communicate, so
When you look short at the term future, wants to do business with the local dealer, as if it is text, make it text. There are going to lots
let’s say the next year or two, are you seeing long as the local dealer provides them with of changes as we’ve already seen. Accepting
any trends? the service and information in the form that that change is inevitable, and stay with it and
I think one of our focuses has been to look they want to receive it. stay a step ahead of it is the goal.
at the lead providers that have been providing
quality, not quantity. There is a lot of overlap What’s your mix, do you get a lot of e-mail
from major players buying leads from secondary leads, or is it mostly phone?
the test drive took
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DigitalDealer-magazine.com April 2010 DD 21
D IGITAL Dealer VENDOR PROFILE
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.”
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 @utoRevenue produces quantifiable results by sending the
management to showroom customer management to service right message at the right time through the right channel.
retention marketing, Dominion Dealer Solutions presents some Through skilled consultants, innovative systems, networked
of the industry’s leading software providers. The list of businesses communications and tools, @utoRevenue drives customer
in the Dominion group is impressive: lead generation through retention and loyalty with relevant, consistent, and bi-directional
carloan.com; customer relationship management tools through messages.
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 AVV Web Control provides dealers with secure web-based tools
dealers nationwide. to convert prospects into repeat customers through a proprietary
lead and customer management program.
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 Carloan.com specializes in delivering high-quality, high-intent
Dominion Enterprises, “and that piece doesn’t really fit our core special finance car buyers by utilizing cutting edge lead
strength. We’re a marketing technology firm, helping dealers generation and scoring technology.
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:
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
Autobase offers an entire suite of cutting-edge marketing
intelligence reports each month.
solutions and time-tested sales processes that drive and close
significantly more business in the showroom and service lane.
DD 22 April 2010 DigitalDealer-magazine.com
Dealer Specialties provides a comprehensive suite of inventory
DataOne Software offers comprehensive and robust automotive management solutions, websites, Internet marketing tools and
dataset support products and services that span all aspects of enhanced vehicle listings distributed online. Dealers can choose
the automotive and associated industries. from full-service data collection to industry leading in-house
products to manage their inventory, giving them the best value
for their changing needs.
Working in tandem, The DataCube and SelectQu service over
Dealerskins delivers visually-engaging and search engine
12,000 dealerships nationwide. The DataCube Software Solution
optimized automotive websites that convert car shoppers into
is specially created to help dealerships sell cars and book service
car buyers through the use of consumer-centric products, easy-
appointments online. SelectQu is a bi-directional data transfer
to-use-tools and superior customer support.
program managing in excess of 100,000 daily data transfers at
over 12,000 dealerships.
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.
DigitalDealer-magazine.com April 2010 DD 23