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Digital dealer magazine january 2009


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Digital dealer magazine january 2009

  1. 1. Welcome to the digital edition of Digital Dealer magazine! Just as you are trying to keep your store(s) on the cutting edge, we are doing the very same thing as we venture into a new frontier in the publishing biz. We can get this digital version in your hands 2-3 weeks faster than the print version, giving you the freshest information possible. You can click on links at the end of each article to email the author of such. And you can click on the ads to link to that advertiser’s website (and you’d REALLY be helping us out by doing just that). It’s quite intuitive…I don’t think that someone who uses the Internet to make a living will have any trouble easily figuring it out. Please let me know what you think about it… Michael Roscoe Editor-in-Chief
  2. 2. Welcome to the digital edition of Digital Dealer magazine! Just as you are trying to keep your store(s) on the cutting edge, we are doing the very same thing as we venture into a new frontier in the publishing biz. We can get this digital version in your hands 2-3 weeks faster than the print version, giving you the freshest information possible. You can click on links at the end of each article to email the author of such. And you can click on the ads to link to that advertiser’s website (and you’d REALLY be helping us out by doing just that). It’s quite intuitive…I don’t think that someone who uses the Internet to make a living will have any trouble easily figuring it out. Please let me know what you think about it… Michael Roscoe Editor-in-Chief
  3. 3. Welcome to the digital edition of Digital Dealer magazine! Just as you are trying to keep your store(s) on the cutting edge, we are doing the very same thing as we venture into a new frontier in the publishing biz. We can get this digital version in your hands 2-3 weeks faster than the print version, giving you the freshest information possible. You can click on links at the end of each article to email the author of such. And you can click on the ads to link to that advertiser’s website (and you’d REALLY be helping us out by doing just that). It’s quite intuitive…I don’t think that someone who uses the Internet to make a living will have any trouble easily figuring it out. Please let me know what you think about it… Michael Roscoe Editor-in-Chief
  4. 4. January 2009 The Technology Magazine for Dealers & Managers Internet Sales: Dealers Who Dared to Change DIANA page 12 Store Management’s Keys to Building Internet Sales page 18 WEAVER Internet Marketing & Technology Trends: If Space is Cheap – How CRM Manager Much can you Keep? Tom Wood Automotive page 30 page 26 DMS Workshop: Profit is Opinion, FF I CIAL Cash Flow is Fact O ttiive ve mo om o alls s page 36 Auttossiion a Aufes s on off ro fe g rg o ro ttiion es P line.ero on s P ia al e nnlin a o. oc i so c Sa l N Assernett S.AAISPo Ast erne wA AISPo IIn t ww . IO n ww PU w B L I C AT
  5. 5. “Dahl Ford has increased vehicle sales and service revenue PLUS reduced our overall expenses using Ownership Lifecycle Management from Auto Point. We highly recommend it." Call Auto Point - or call us. KV Dahl III, GM Dahl Ford Davenport, IA Tim Thompson Amy Larson Randy Oler Dan Wich General Sales Manager BDC/Public Relations Parts & Service Director Service Department Manager OWNERSHIP LIFECYCLE MANAGEMENT Do Your Customers Get the Point? Go to or call 866-348-9717
  6. 6. CIAL T ABLE OF CONTENTS FF I O tive ive mo t ls mo ls u o iona Auttossion a nooff Aoffess g e ion s Pro n nerg r iattioales P rnlie.o .o oc ia so c Sale n N li Assernett S.AAISPo Ast erne wA AIS Po FEATURE In t ww . IO In w w w PU The Technology Magazine for Dealers & Managers B L I C AT JANUARY 2009 Digital Dealer Cover Story MANAGING EDITOR 26 Diana Weaver LINDA DI PIETRO Internet Marketing & PUBLISHER CRM Manager GREG NOONAN 607-264-3359 Tom Wood Automotive ART DIRECTOR JOE BIRCH COLUMNS PRODUCTION MANAGER AAISP Notes ELIZABETH BIRCH 10 Mike Roscoe PRINT PRODUCTION DAVID MANTHEY Internet Sales Diana Weaver DESIGN CONSULTING PUBLICATION DESIGN, INC. 12 Dealers Who Dared to Change Tom Wood Phil Sura Automotive COVER DESIGN JOE BIRCH 16 Making Every Lead Count COVER PHOTOGRAPHY FRANK MCGRATH Paige Presley CIRCULATION SUBSCRIPTION RICH JARRETT 18 Store Management’s Keys to Building 314-432-7511 Internet Sales NATIONAL ADVERTISING SALES Daryl Sanders 607-264-3359 20 A Jolly Good Fellow Dealer magazine makes every attempt to Joe Webb 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 24 360º Market Navigation: The Secret to without written permission from the publisher. All rights reserved. The publisher encourages Winning in a Down Market you to submit suggestions. Submitted materials become the property of Horizon Communications, Pat Ryan Jr. Inc. and will not be returned. Send material for publication to 330 Franklin Rd., Suite 135A, PMB 386, Brentwood, TN 37027. The editor reserves the right to edit material; submission Technology Trends of material constitutes permission to edit and publish that material. This publication is 30 If Space is Cheap – How Much can you Keep? designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter Sandi Jerome covered. It is presented with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is BDC/CRM required, the services of a competent profes- sional person should be sought. From a 32 Don’t Settle for Less Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association Chuck Barker and a Committee of Publishers. 36 DMS Workshop A PUBLICATION OF Profit is Opinion, Cash Flow is Fact Jim Skeans DEPARTMENTS 6 Industry & Tech News 8 Digital Dealer E-mail DD 4 January 2009
  7. 7. T ABLE OF CONTENTS CIAL FF I O tive ve mo tials mo nals uto Au tossion off A fess io on o Profe rg rg on ro .o ciatiSales Ponlie.o ciattiSalesPonlin ne N so Ass orne t .AAISP Astern e w AIS In te ww .A IO In w w w PU B L I C AT FEATURE The Technology Magazine for Dealers & Managers JANUARY 2009 Digital Dealer Cover Story MANAGING EDITOR 26 Diana Weaver LINDA DI PIETRO Internet Marketing & CRM Manager Tom Wood Automotive PUBLISHER GREG NOONAN 607-264-3359 COLUMNS ART DIRECTOR JOE BIRCH AAISP Notes 10 Mike Roscoe PRODUCTION MANAGER ELIZABETH BIRCH Internet Sales Diana Weaver PRINT PRODUCTION 12 Dealers Who Dared to Change Tom Wood DAVID MANTHEY Phil Sura Automotive DESIGN CONSULTING PUBLICATION DESIGN, INC. 16 Making Every Lead Count COVER DESIGN Paige Presley JOE BIRCH 18 Store Management’s Keys to Building Internet Sales COVER PHOTOGRAPHY FRANK MCGRATH Daryl Sanders CIRCULATION SUBSCRIPTION RICH JARRETT 20 A Jolly Good Fellow 314-432-7511 Joe Webb NATIONAL ADVERTISING SALES 24 360º Market Navigation: The Secret to Winning in a Down Market 607-264-3359 Pat Ryan Jr. Dealer magazine makes every attempt to ensure the accuracy of all published works. However it cannot be held responsible for Technology Trends opinions expressed or facts supplied herein. Nothing may be reproduced in whole or in part 30 If Space is Cheap – How Much can you Keep? without written permission from the publisher. All rights reserved. The publisher encourages Sandi Jerome you to submit suggestions. Submitted materials become the property of Horizon Communications, Inc. and will not be returned. Send material for BDC/CRM publication to 330 Franklin Rd., Suite 135A, PMB 386, Brentwood, TN 37027. The editor 32 Don’t Settle for Less reserves the right to edit material; submission of material constitutes permission to edit and Chuck Barker publish that material. This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is presented with the understanding 36 DMS Workshop that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional service. Profit is Opinion, Cash Flow is Fact If legal advice or other expert assistance is Jim Skeans required, the services of a competent profes- sional person should be sought. From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers. DEPARTMENTS 6 Industry & Tech News 8 Digital Dealer E-mail A PUBLICATION OF DD 4 January 2009
  8. 8. D IGITAL Dealer INDUSTRY & TECH NEWS printers. AMPS is available as both a cost-effective in-house and ASP solution. O ActivEngage offers Auto/Mate receives multiple languages first-place STAR for live chat Award for DTS ActivEngage has announced the launch of multiple language translation implementation Auto/Mate Dealership Systems, a for live chat on auto dealership web sites. Now dealers can engage web site leading provider for cost-effective retail AutoUSA sets automotive management solutions, has visitors in their preferred language, announced it is the 2008 first place without having to employ multi- Implementation Award winner for enrollment benchmark lingual staff members. The new Data Transfer Specifications (DTS), AutoUSA, an industry leading technology offers dealers a huge com- an annual award presented by NADA’s provider of the highest quality Internet- petitive advantage through increased Standards for Technology in generated consumer leads to auto personalization for their web site visi- Automotive Retail (STAR). Auto/Mate dealers nationwide, has announced that tors’ communication preferences. was honored for adopting more STAR in October, the company enrolled its ActivEngage’s new service translates DTS standards and using them in the 600th dealer in the live chat text to and from web site visi- development of more OEM interfaces Premier Dealer Program, setting a new tors in real time. When a visitor starts a than any other dealership management benchmark in program sign-ups by an chat session, ActivEngage detects the system (DMS) provider. PDP partner. visitor’s preferred language from their “OEM dealer communication system The Premier Dealer browser settings. The chat operator (DCS) integration has been a strong Program was developed to help drive then asks the visitor if they would like focus for us because we know how much more in-market auto buyers to a dealer’s to chat in that language. The expanded time and money dealers save when these web site with increased visibility and service includes the 15 most frequently processes can be streamlined,” said Mike positioning on the web spoken languages by non-native Esposito, president and CEO of site. Dealers receive exclusive lead terri- English speakers in the U.S., including Auto/Mate. “We’ve always been strong tories, top placement in Edmunds’ Spanish, French, Russian, Chinese and supporters of STAR’s work in developing Dealer Locator, dealer-branded adver- Korean. In addition, the new service voluntary standards for this area, and are tisements throughout, can distinguish between a language as it honored to be recognized by them for our custom-designed dealer PDP program is spoken in different countries, for accomplishments this past year.” web pages and dealer example French Canadian versus the Formed in 2001, the STAR organiza- endorsement messages. French spoken in France, or Spanish as tion is the voluntary information AutoUSA was the first it is spoken in Mexico versus Spain. technology (IT) standards body for the partner to offer the Premier Dealer Chat operators can enable or disable retail automotive industry. The organiza- Program, which was launched in 2006. translation for a portion of the chat tion acts as a catalyst in fulfilling the Since then, AutoUSA’s program partici- session or the entire session, based on business information needs of dealers and pants have consistently reported increases the site visitor’s preference. Both the manufacturers with voluntary standards in lead quality and closing ratios as a result original and translated chat text are that reduce the time and effort required of the additional web site shown to the visitor and the operator, to support dealership IT activities. exposure, and the portal’s popularity as a and the entire chat is stored in the data- Auto/Mate’s Automotive Management trusted source for vehicle reports, research, base for future reference. Further, Productivity Suite (AMPS) is an easy- articles and comparisons. operators can chat with multiple visi- to-use comprehensive dealership For more information on the tors at the same time, using different management system with over 20 inte- Premier Dealer Program, languages. grated modules to help dealers more call AutoUSA at 800-243-9935. efficiently and effectively manage their business. It supports an unlimited O number of users, workstations and O DD 6 January 2009
  9. 9. D IGITAL Dealer E-MAIL Digital Dealer welcomes your letters and after verification will run them signed or unsigned. Letters may be edited for space and clarity. Send letters to Jim Skeans, Hi John, mulas that generate them if you Please forward to me the instructions The ratios and formulas are included wouldn’t mind. Thank you and happy for the create-once system to analyze in the spreadsheet “Key Financial holidays! important ratios (November 2008 Ratios” available for downloading from Tammy G. Jolley Digital Dealer magazine, “Leverage the “Free Tools” page on my web site, Jerry Duncan Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Inc. More Information from your The spreadsheet Harriman, TN Financial Statement/DOC.” I would also illustrates how to link the elements also like the list of your favorite ratios. of the formulas to your financial state- As an AutoMate user, I would like to ment or accounting report download for See Jim’s response to previous letter. clarify the instructions given by Praveen complete automaton from your one- Tamvada. There are no reports set up in time setup efforts. While you are there Daryl Sanders, the OfficeMate product. You have to please take a look at the other manage- I read your article in the November design and set such reports in the ment tools, available for free from our 2008 Digital Dealer magazine, module. In addition, the download is web site. “Internet Sales Phone Calling is the Key not as simple as stated and once the data According to AutoMate the issues you to Overall Success.” I work at an Acura is imported to Excel, it is my experience having with downloading to Excel and dealership is Covina, CA. I am in the that a significant amount of clean up has advanced reporting have been resolved Internet department and I am experi- to take place in order to display a mean- with the latest version of their software, encing a unique problem. ingful report. AutoMate also did not which, they tell me is free to you but I have adjusted my work hours to explain that certain reports designed in may require that you upgrade some 11am to 8pm. I did this to hopefully OfficeMate have to be sorted each time hardware. have better success in contacting cus- the report is run. DMS providers tend Good luck and if you need any help or tomers later in the day. I average over to over simplify the effort. We at further clarification just let me know. 600 calls a month, and my problem is Bleecker are probably one of AutoMate’s Jim Skeans constant voice mail messages with no best users of the system and I have been return calls. I also send e-mails and a model for them regarding the Mr. Skeans, change up the hours and days – still OfficeMate reporting capabilities. I was given your article from the with the same results. I will call imme- John Riley November 2008 issue of Digital diately after leads are received, and still, Controller Dealer magazine, “Leverage More voice mail after voice mail. Bleecker Auto Group Information from your Financial Do you have any suggestions? Dunn, NC Statement/DOC.” I would appreciate Mike Schroeder your list of favorite ratios with the for- Internet Sales Thomas Acura Covina, CA Mike, After speaking with you and learning a little more, there are a few issues we can address. 1) You currently have over 230 leads per month. 2) You have not been sending quotes first. 3) Your CRM tool forces a next step, which is creating a follow up nightmare. That number of leads is way too many to follow at once and I would suggest you quote first every lead. Call each lead at least three times in the first week. Send all leads an e-mail weekly (that is a broadcast e-mail) for four weeks. By doing this, you should generate more sales success. Let me know how it works out. Daryl Sanders DD 8 January 2009
  10. 10. D IGITAL Dealer AAISP NOTES Mike Roscoe Got my hair cut yesterday. high level of service they provide. Does I’m not talking about throwing keys on your hair salon offer shaves? Does your the roof or doing the desking dance. I’m I know what you’re thinking… “Who hair salon put a hot towel on your face? talking about the fundamentals of selling. cares, Roscoe?” Well, you might…if you Does your salon shine shoes? Does your The steps of the sale…attention, interest, read on. barber…I mean, stylist, shave your neck conviction, desire, close. Getting them to with a straight razor? Does your hair salon say “yes” a number of times before asking When’s the last time you went to a bar- offer an annual program wherein you pay a closing question. Overcoming objec- bershop for a haircut? (This question is one fee and can get your hair cut as fre- tions and smoking out the hidden more for the guys than the gals…but I quently as you like? objections. The fundamentals of selling think you’ll see the point, ladies.) I don’t have not changed! mean a salon. I don’t mean one of those I thought barbershops were almost Fabulous Sam’s or sports-cuts franchises. extinct. The only places I ever see them People like to be sold. Professional And I certainly don’t mean a place that’s anymore are in small towns. Yet here in salespeople don’t push. They sell… got one of those cutesy names like “Cut the middle of a high-end strip center, in professionally. Loose” or “A Cut Above” or “Hair We the 14th wealthiest county in the country, Go.” I mean a real barbershop. resides a modernized barbershop. If you have been taught the fundamen- tals of selling, now is the time to make Well, that’s what I did…I went to a “Roscoe…what the heck does this have sure that you’re doing it by the book. If barbershop. The lady who usually cuts to do with selling vehicles with the you haven’t been taught the fundamen- my hair at a salon is off due to the bless- Internet?!” tals of selling, teach yourself if your ing of pregnancy. So I went to the next dealership won’t. If they don’t have nearest place, which is a barbershop. It’s got everything to do with selling videos/tapes /CDs, etc., buy them your- vehicles using the Internet. See, if this self. Or start reading books on sales (I Now this isn’t a place with an old-fash- barbershop were just like the old ones, I recommend the first book I ever read re: ioned barbershop rotating sign. It doesn’t never would have set foot in there. But selling, Tom Hopkins’ “How to Master smell like grandpa’s hair oil inside. It once I did…they sold me with the serv- the Art of Selling”). doesn’t have rickety, hard wooden chairs ices they provide…services that were once and year-old hunting and fishing maga- available but for some reason are hard to Remember, selling is not talking people zines to read. And there isn’t an old guy find today. into something they don’t want. Selling is hunched over clipping away at the few arousing emotions so that people will customers who wander in. Now do you get it? Now do you see come to the inevitable conclusion that they what I’m saying? No? OK, let me want (or need) what you have to offer. This barbershop is modern. It’s spot- explain it. less. There is no smell in the place. There And no amount of technology can ever is a waiting area with comfortable chairs It’s just like selling cars with the do that. and the latest men’s magazines (non- Internet. People like the different ways pornographic…although I’m not sure they can purchase a vehicle today…just what does or doesn’t qualify for that like I like the chairs, the TVs and the description nowadays). Oh, and three annual payment program at my barber- If you wish to discuss this article with big screen HD plasmas on the walls shop. But the reason I “bought” from other dealers, or with the author, showing sports programming. This is the barbershop (and why I will keep please go to the “Discussion Forums” not a place for a woman to get her going back) is because of the old-fash- at hair “done.” ioned service I got. IOW, the way you and enter the “AAISP” forum or communicate with customers and e-mail him at mroscoe@Digital This barbershop is thoroughly modern prospects has changed…but the way you except for the services they offer and the sell them has not. DD 10 January 2009
  11. 11. D IGITAL Dealer INTERNET SALES Phil Sura Dealers Who in to discuss strategies associated with how to leverage the Internet to drive business. • Dave was also a strong supporter of Dared to Change shifting his dealer ad association dollars into an online focus. I have witnessed other dealers, like Tom Kerry with Frost Cadillac push for similar measures with their associations. Why wouldn’t you want to invest all of your marketing dollars into a strategy that will drive better results? A number of dealers talk about the “broken advertising funnel”. W “So what is your HEN YOU THINK OF PEOPLE WITH VISION, whom do you think of? vision and how are you Possibly politicians like Ronald Reagan and President-Elect Obama. Perhaps applying that vision you think of great business leaders like Bill Gates and Walt Disney, or sports at the dealership?” personalities like Vince Lombardi, or great minds like Einstein and Edison. —Phil Sura In all cases these visionaries had the ability to recognize opportunity and For years the idea has been to have the turn ideas into reality. So what is your OEM, dealer association and the indi- vision and how are you applying that vidual dealer to all focus on different vision at the dealership? Here are a few components of advertising. This strat- dealers who dared to change. egy should be challenged because of the Saturn of St. Paul is a national leader; influence of the Internet and ineffec- winning multiple Summit Awards for tiveness of traditional advertising. This outstanding market share and CSI • Dave believes in the adage, “The will continue to be a political discussion rankings with their four store locations. speed of the team is determined by the because of the influence and power of Richard Herod is the director of e-com- speed of the leader.” Dave took the the ad agencies that may not always be merce. The dealership has increased the time to study and understand the evolving with the times. Internet sales count from 20 monthly basics associated with the metrics and sales in 2007 to a level of 85 units in the key focuses associated with setting • Once the foundation of basic September 2008. Prior to being the e- up an online strategy. If you don’t understanding was in place with the commerce director, Richard proved his understand and track the basics like entire management team, a champion sales abilities for Saturn of St. Paul by unique visitor count, average stay on was selected to draft a strategy that selling and then managing one of the site count (and why this is important), would take the operation to the next individual dealerships. In his college conversion rate, bounce rate, closing level. Dave considered a national search days, Richard had supported himself by ratios and ROI for each source, you to identify an “expert” to drive the building web sites, so he did have some will not grow. It is no longer acceptable online focus, but in the end Dave orientation to the Internet but he will for a president, dealer or general appointed a trusted key employee, admit that he is not a technical wizard. manager to use the excuse that he/she Richard Herod III to head up e-com- A major part of the success enjoyed by doesn’t understand or believe in the merce initiatives. Dave empowered and Saturn of St. Paul goes to management Internet or say, “I hired Tommy to take turned Richard loose with this new role style of Dave Roen, president of the care of that end of the business”. and he didn’t micromanage his choices. company. Dave recognized that he A budget was given with some general needed to take a more aggressive posi- • Dave also insisted that his entire guidelines to keep Richard headed in tion with his online strategy early 2007. management team (sales and fixed) the right direction. As long as Dave saw Dave took some of the following steps learn the basics. The team had work- to change: shops where different reps were invited continued on P-DD14 DD 12 January 2009
  12. 12. Internet Sales, Sura (continued from P-DD12) the tangible measured results, Richard article in May 2008 called, “What there were 137.5 million U.S. online was permitted to run the entire show. about the Smaller Dealer?” video viewers in 2008 and this number is expected to grow to 154.2 million in • Richard developed a strategy to index.asp?article=1904 2009. An online video viewer is a focus on driving the eyeballs to the sight Forrie Spangler is a single point viewer who downloads or streams video (SEO and SEM), driving the time on Subaru dealer in Johnstown, at least once a month. YouTube is now the site with a video strategy, a focus Pennsylvania. He dared to change by the second most used search engine, with Google including adding video following a number of the same steps only behind Google. The influence of content through YouTube (tagging each that Dave Roen took. His team is video will only get stronger. The dealers video with key search words) and a focused on driving customers through who are actively engaged with video process to effectively handle leads on a an online focus. Forrie has migrated his have a tremendous advantage over the timely basis. If leads go beyond one ad dollars from traditional media to an majority of the dealers. hour, the closing ratios are dramatically online strategy in a community where A third dealer who dared to change is impacted negatively. Richard’s video dealers are not web focused. When a Toyota dealer in Pueblo, Colorado. strategy with his web site included things get tough, it is natural to want to Kris Aragon is the Internet director. adding video content to the following move back to old habits (full page ads in Kris has been focused on driving the areas: testimonials, new car model spe- the local paper) but Forrie is staying the organic search and leveraging video to cific videos with dealer branded course. Forrie measures his unique drive the time on the site and conver- messages, and videos of each of the pre- visitor count to determine his ROI with sion of leads. Kris has driven his owned units with different dealer the dollars that he has invested to drive conversion rate numbers as high as 17 branded messages. The used car videos his online strategy. Forrie has also percent when you count both phone are also linked to the third-party sites placed video content with YouTube that ups and e-mail leads. Kris sent me the (Auto Trader and Car Soup). Video is being picked up with the organic Cobalt charts for confirmation. The added to the third-party sites allows for search. Forrie also has a video strategy chart for 2007 and 2008 track the a stronger click rate (cars with video get promoting video with the three key percent of e-mail leads against visitor more play than cars without video) and areas on his web site: new cars, used count on one side, and percent of it allows the dealer to brand his message cars, and monthly specials. The idea is phone ups against visitor count on the on these third-party sites. (“We have the to have more relevant and emotionally other. With the typical conversion rate largest selection of certified pre-owned engaging content by placing video in hovering at 3-5 percent for dealers, this Saturns in the entire state.”) each of these areas. is an outstanding job. (See chart below.) I was in a dealership in Atlanta visit- I have visited with some dealers who are • The key metric is the number of ing with an Internet director who tracking a percent conversion rate. sold units. As mentioned above this indicated his SEM rep didn’t believe Imagine what their bottom line would dealer who dared to change made a that the search was influenced by video look like if they could drive results like major impact on the number of units content. Dealers engaged with video Kris. Seventeen percent didn’t happen being sold. Dave’s vision is to make it as added to YouTube, Meta Café, Yahoo, by accident. Kris is very focused on the easy as possible for the customer to buy Blinkx, AOL and MSN would strongly metrics and he is very process-oriented. or service a car at his operation. argue this, unless you happen to be a He is also willing to invest time and Another dealer who dared to change dealer in their immediate area. energy into understanding new con- was highlighted in a Digital Dealer eMarketer, February 2008 reported that cepts and converting those ideas into reality. Kris’s general manager has also Month % of Visits % of Visitors empowered Kris to make things Generating Leads Generating leads happen. Kris has a budget to work within, but he makes the calls on how Sep-07 5.71% 8.22% to spend this money. Oct-07 4.96% 8.74% For Dave Roen, Forrie Spangler, Richard Herod III, Tom Kerry and Kris Nov-07 3.37% 6.81% Aragon, I applaud you for being vision- Dec-07 4.61% 8.81% aries and those who dared to change. Jan-08 4.86% 9.31% Phil Sura is a VP of the Automotive Feb-08 5.60% 9.42% Division of UnityWorks Media. Mar-08 5.85% 10.65% If you wish to discuss this article with Apr-08 5.18% 9.44% other dealers, or with the author, May-08 5.05% 8.73% please go to the “Discussion Forums” Jun-08 5.84% 9.49% at and enter the “Internet Sales” forum or Jul-08 6.00% 9.97% e-mail him at psura@DigitalDealer- Aug-08 1.88% 3.00% DD 14 January 2009
  13. 13. D IGITAL Dealer INTERNET SALES Paige Presley Making Every show up on an exception report, giving you clear visibility into a potential process failure and allowing you to step in before that lead moves to another store. With the web-based CRM or ILM, Lead Count your can extend your relationship with your customers throughout their buying processes, from the time they contact you to the time they’re purchasing a vehicle at your dealership. Whether you’re using a systems-based W or web-based lead management tool, you need to utilize it as much as possible to ITH THE ECONOMY CREAT- start developing sales processes unique to ING A SLIMMER LIST OF POTENTIAL your own staff, allowing them to initiate BUYERS, it has become more and more communication during the customer’s important to follow up and maintain communication with each and every lead that comes through your web site. “Now that leads are Consumers have become much more computer and Internet-savvy, and now fewer and further many are spending weeks, if not months doing research online before buying prod- between, it’s important ucts, particularly in the automotive industry. Because of this, your salespeople are getting to maintain the less face time with your potential customers, so they don’t have the opportunity to begin conversation with a relationship with the individual. The 2008 New process is less customizable. each and every one…” Study by J.D. Power and Associates For example, let’s say you set up a three- —Paige Presley looked into the habits of auto shoppers week, eight-step sales process in your and showed that 75 percent of buyers systems-based ILM, and one of your sales- research vehicles online weeks before they people stops at step five. That lead then online research phase, and then maintain make a purchase. It also said that the total completely disappears from the system, that relationship until that customer is amount of time potential buyers spend on and you have no idea where to pick up in ready to purchase a vehicle. Internet research has risen by nearly seven the communication process. Staying on top of each Internet lead hours in the past year. Back when the economy was booming, will get your dealership noticed, keep Most customers begin looking online this was not as big of an issue due to the potential customers from visiting other for information about 11 weeks before large volume of leads coming through. dealerships and, ultimately, help you drive they purchase a vehicle, according to our Now that leads are fewer and further your numbers up. research, and many of those shoppers between, it’s important to maintain the don’t contact a dealer until about six conversation with each and every one, Paige Presley is the marketing weeks out. and a systems-based ILM may not serve analyst/writer for Dealerskins in Nashville, So now, more than ever, it is crucial for your needs as well as you’d like. TN. She enjoys mixing her passions for all you to turn to your Customer Relationship With web-based CRMs and ILMs, things technology and for following con- Management (CRM) or Internet Lead however, this is not as much of an issue. sumer trends by staying involved in market Management (ILM) tools for help on con- You’re able to access the information from research for the auto industry. verting those leads into appointments. any computer with an Internet connec- Having a good CRM or ILM tool can tion, receive custom reports on the allow your dealership to thrive from your progress of each lead and customize your If you wish to discuss this article with online presence and assist in managing the sales process to include as many steps as other dealers, or with the author, communication process between your staff necessary for interaction between your please go to the “Discussion Forums” and potential customers. staff and your customers. at Many of these tools are systems-based, This means that with a web-based and enter the “Internet Sales” forum or which means the information is less program, you can set up a five, 10 or 20- e-mail her at ppresley@DigitalDealer- portable, the communication process is step process. If your salesperson stops not as easy to monitor and the sales communication early, you’ll see that lead DD 16 January 2009
  14. 14. D IGITAL Dealer INTERNET SALES Daryl Sanders Store Management’s availability. We often think these things need to be guarded like the crown jewels. But the truth is the more easily we make this available to our staff the more easily Keys to Building they can be responsive and professional with our Internet prospects. A key place where Internet sales need management support is in the pricing Internet Sales strategy for Internet prospects. It is important to offer a price in our first response because someone has gone to a web site and "clicked here for a price quote." When we then withhold a quote they get mad and generally will not respond to subsequent attempts to sell them a car. I recommend picking out a P vehicle in stock (if at all possible) and sending them an Internet price without ERHAPS THE WEAKEST LINK IN sending them the MSRP. I also send them GROWING INTERNET SALES DEPARTMENTS an Internet price on a less expensive is the lack of management understanding vehicle if possible. In addition, I recom- or support. There seems to be a growing mend sending the price on a used reluctance with the sales pressures we are certified. It makes no sense to require facing now in the automotive business to getting these prices for every lead that be transparent and forthcoming about comes in from the sales manager. pricing and availability. Yet it is these Management needs to support the qualities that are vital to successful Internet sales with easy quoting prices. Internet sales. We can’t just stop the discussion there. For some reason we keep thinking that While I advocate upfront pricing I don’t we should not divulge information until advocate e-mail or phone negotiation. Our we can get the prospect into the store. upfront price should not be our final price! This turns off Internet prospects. The It should be close but we need a little funny thing is that we worry about wiggle room so that in securing an leaving money on the table, so we think and engaging with people who can draw appointment we can promise there is room we have to hide the facts and figures. The prospects to the showroom appointment to move if they will come into the store. Internet sales reality is, if we will be trans- and close the sale. Management support needs to be mani- parent, give information freely, act The second thing we need to do is build fested in careful and committed budgeting. professionally, be responsive and act in a a successful sales process. This process More and more dealers are now planning timely fashion, our chances of winning includes scheduling of quote responses, to not spend additional ad dollars on the the sale grow considerably. phone call attempts, well thought out e- Internet department but are rather taking a But let’s back up. I heard of a store mails and a schedule for their distribution portion of the ad budget and allocating a recently that hired an Internet salesperson based on prospect response. percentage to the Internet. Most successful and did not even provide him with his The third thing we need to do is Internet sales departments are achieving 15 own phone, let alone his own computer. provide a work station that is off the to 30 percent and more of new car sales. He lasted two weeks. Store management "beaten path" in the store. It is important West coast import dealers are achieving needs to consider how to facilitate for the Internet sales person to not be dis- even higher percentages. Dealers that are maximum Internet sales based on our tracted when making all the daily phone tracking sources and costs are finding a goals and local opportunities. calls it takes to work the Internet data- lower cost per unit via the Internet than The first thing we need to consider is base. This station requires a computer traditional ad results. Internet costs per sale hiring the right people. Hiring someone that is not shared, a phone that can make should be under $300 per unit. And this who has not succeeded on the floor but is the long distance calls, and depending on figure should actually decrease over time as "pretty good with computers" does not how large the staff, an Internet depart- the database builds and is able to generate work. We need someone who is disci- ment signage and clearly marked space. sales over an extended period of time from plined and organized. We need someone The fourth thing we need is to support leads that have been in the database for six who loves making phone calls. We need our Internet sales department’s access to to 12 months. someone with patience and will work the information: inventory, pricing, incoming process. We need someone who is likable availability of vehicles, and dealer trade continued on P-DD37 DD 18 January 2009
  15. 15. D IGITAL Dealer INTERNET SALES Joe Webb A Jolly salesperson was costing you these valuable customers, you would fire them. The opposite should hold true. If a loyal, hard- working employee is producing for you, recognize him. Reward him with praise. Good Fellow Here are a few ways to do this and a couple of things to think about. Did your top salesperson last month get recognized in your weekly sales meeting? Did you encourage others to clap for him? Did you reward him with a plaque? What about a gift? (Gifts do not have to be monetary. Two days off in a row, for instance, has value to some.) H Do you recognize your employees in your advertising? Do you display pictures IP, HIP HOORAY! Good for you! of them in newspapers (for those of you You deserve a pat on the back! Great job! clinging to that sinking ship)? If you’re I couldn’t have done it without you! These broadcasting on the radio, consider high- sayings go unheard far too often in dealer- lighting their accomplishments. Make an ships nationwide and I think I know why. announcement about a great moment in Although I have recently left my role at an employee’s life. “XYZ Motors, located a dealership and am on the consulting on Yellow Brick Road, would like to con- side now, I am friendly with the dealer- gratulate sales professional Phil ship’s owners and co-workers and I still McPhillipsens for becoming a first-time actively engage with the vendor represen- father last week. When you are visiting tatives for the dealer. The time I served at our dealership for service or sales, don’t the dealership in a multitude of titles and forget to wish Phil the best.” What is the duties has prepared me for my current cost to you? If a top salesperson from venture. I still have a lot to learn though, another dealer heard that, do you think and recently proved this to myself. they may be interested in learning more I was sitting down for tea with Lori I am not alone in this regard.) The dealer- about your store’s philosophy of caring for Berkson, the Chicago sales manager for ship’s customer base is the most important your employees? Visible Customer, and we were discussing commodity. However, I do not believe You may offer “value cards” to your customer retention. To put it far too there would be much of a customer base customers declaring the benefits of pur- simply, Visible Customer’s program is all if it weren’t for good employees. From chasing from your store, but do not about retaining customers for dealerships, service to parts to sales, the stronger a staff overlook the value of praising your staff something I hold near and dear to my you have, the larger (and better) your cus- in front of customers. When I would heart. I wanted to learn as much as I tomer base becomes. take a T.O, I’d always say, “I’m glad you could about this new company. While Dealerships should celebrate their are working with (insert name here), talking, I inquired about her “pitch.” She employees. They should find new ways to (s)he is one of our finest sales consult- began asking a question. “What is the encourage their sales force and thank ants.” Even if I disliked the salesperson, most valuable commodity to a dealer- them for their continued hard work. I’d say it. Consumers like to believe they ship?” Lori has faith in my knowledge so Reward them for their efforts and nourish are doing business with someone of their she assumed I knew the correct answer. their needs. Not enough dealers do this. own caliber. Considering car sales reps Unexpectedly, we offered our answers at The key to a store’s survival in this eco- tend to be wrongly viewed as second- the same time and I, apparently, was nomic climate will be directly related to class citizens to some, it is important to wrong. She said the correct answer was the people who are representing the store show respect for the salesperson in front “the dealership’s customer base.” It makes on site. Any owner will tell you how of the customer. perfect sense. I had said, “the employees.” much it costs to lose a service customer Here is one that is self-serving. There This is just one example that the staff in for life. Think of the reciprocal dollars for should not be a dealership web site in the your store is often overlooked. service and future sales. Realize you are nation that doesn’t have a picture and brief I still hold true that Lori was right and not just losing the gross profit from one sidebar about each employee. At my I was wrong. I don’t think that I’m wrong car deal, but potentially all of their former dealership, every single manager, often, unless it is any debate I’ve ever had family’s sales, service, and parts needs. If salesperson, Internet manager, and BDC with my wife. In that regard, I am the one service writer, parts counterperson, world’s most losing arguer. (I’ve been told sales manager, Internet coordinator, or continued on P-DD22 DD 20 January 2009
  16. 16. Internet Sales, Webb (continued from P-DD20) rep had a picture (sometimes entertaining) Cecil Van Tuyl. “The better the people you everyone. Recognize what that something and paragraph write-up on the web site. It surround yourself with, the better you’re is. Embrace it. Share what makes you didn’t have much to do with car sales but going to do, for yourself and the con- special with your customers. Let them see more to do with them as people. It high- sumer.” I couldn’t agree more with him. what makes you great. They’ll be thankful lighted their families, hobbies, where they We know sales are expected to be down you did.” lived, and more. There was so much for quite a while. This slow period will I can only hope and dream that every content on that web page, sometimes it have an effect on the psyche of the belea- dealer is willing to embrace this belief. would hit higher on search engines than guered salespeople. We must celebrate Your second most important commodity my specials pages. Heck, I wrote so many them and keep their spirits up. Never may be what makes you most special. wacky blurbs about my co-workers, some- forget what a positive remark, a kind times we’d show up in Google searches of word, and a pat of the back can bring. Joe Webb is the president of DealerKnows, “guitar playing.” Every salesperson loves The more you sing the praises of your LLC, specializing in automotive e-commerce that page because it speaks to the fact that employees, the more consumers will find consulting and assisting dealers and vendors we recognize they are all special. you. Do you really believe people come to with the advancement of their online efforts, Lastly, it is not just “For He’s a Jolly your dealership to buy a car because of the solution successes, and processes through Good Fellow.” It is also “For She’s a Jolly free popcorn? Or do you think it could be hands-on training. He has worked in the Good Fellow.” If you are lucky enough to the quality of sales, service, and parts pro- dealership trenches and now shares his have strong female employees, honor fessionals you employ? knowledge of e-commerce, online advertis- them in every publication and site you On my final day at the dealership, ing, and Internet initiatives nationwide. have. You’ve been on You’ve during my Saturday morning sales visited The power of the meeting, I said my goodbye to my co- female shopper and their influence over workers: my friends, my team. I asked buying decisions is underestimated (just them to take away just one last thing. I If you wish to discuss this article with ask my wife). Showing support to the said, “Each and every one of you is impor- other dealers, or with the author, women on your team is essential for your tant. There is something amazing and please go to the “Discussion Forums” dealer’s reputation and will also gain you special about every single person in this at credibility with that sought-after audience. room. While we all share the same willing- and enter the “Internet Sales” forum or The Van Tuyl Group runs the largest ness and desire to wake up, come to work, e-mail him at jwebb@DigitalDealer- privately held auto group in the nation. On and do the daily grind with customers, its home page, they have a quote from realize there is something unique about DD 22 January 2009
  17. 17. D IGITAL Dealer INTERNET SALES Pat Ryan Jr. 360º Market empowering your sales team and sales managers with the ability to effectively dif- ferentiate against the competition. As a result, you can shift from selling “price” to Navigation: selling “value,” thus allowing you to drive more traffic, and close more customers more profitably. My experience is that even in today’s tough market, “evidence- The Secret to Winning based” retailers can outperform the competition in three key areas: 1. Retailing more cars 2. Closing more appraisals in a Down Market 3. Stocking more of the “right” cars 360º market navigation means to know what others don’t, so you can do what others can’t. How do you become an “evi- denced-based” retailer? First, ensure your How to thrive in a ‘bear market’ team always has the facts that provide the Y best evidence to make the best decision. There is no “silver bullet” piece of market OU’VE PROBABLY HEARD THIS data that can always give you the right facts STORY: Two guys are hiking in the for each decision. Having the right woods when they encounter a hungry resource at the right time is the key. bear. One guy starts putting on his Gathering a true 360º perspective of your running shoes. The other guy looks at market empowers your team with the him and says, “Why are you doing that? “intelligence” they need to outmaneuver You’ll never outrun that bear.” The man the competition, and the facts they need to replies, “I don’t have to outrun the bear, make “evidence-based” business decisions. I just have to outrun you.” With 360º market navigation you’ll With car sales down dramatically have the right information available to you market wide, it’s time to lace up your at the moment you need it: running shoes. To survive and thrive in Retailing more cars – Know what con- this bear market you need to outrun your sumers know and leverage it to drive more competition. And there’s really only one traffic from the internet and empower way of doing that. Take business away your sales team to close more customers from them. Even in this tough economy • How many similar vehicles are available more profitably. Here’s how: there are still people in your market in the market? • Know how your vehicle’s Internet buying cars and trucks. The question is: • What are the advantages of one vehicle pricing ranks against the competition. Are they buying them from you? over another? According to, 82 percent of Let’s face it; no one wants to be caught • How are your vehicles priced versus the consumers compare prices when shop- by the bear. competition? ping online – If you are out of the To outrun the bear in today’s pre-owned • What is a “fair market” purchase price ballpark you won’t make the list of five to market, you must be a disciplined opera- for this vehicle? 10 “semi-finalists” that consumers evalu- tor with a strong understanding of the • What is my trade-in really worth? ate in deciding which dealer they want to market and how consumers shop today. With the average consumer spending an buy from. Most importantly, you can’t leave the fate average of 6.5 hours researching online • Conduct Internet mystery shopping of your dealership to “gut” or “guess before they purchase (according to a to ensure that your ad effectively high- work.” Winning today requires decisive, recent J.D. Power study), consumers seem lights your vehicle’s advantages against the “evidence-based” management. to almost always know more about the competition so that you become the dealer The challenge in the age of the Internet market for a car than the pros at the deal- they choose to call, e-mail or visit. (Note: is that the amateurs know more than the ership. To win, dealers need to become the study revealed that 78 pros. In the old days, dealers knew far “evidence-based” retailers by ensuring percent of consumers focus on photos and more than consumers, giving dealers a their managers and sales teams know what your “seller’s notes”/vehicle description in dramatic advantage in the transaction. a consumer knows as well as those facts deciding which dealership to visit). The dawn of the Internet has empowered that are only available to dealers. Sharing this market intelligence with your consumers with an incredible amount of “Evidence-based” retailing maximizes sales team will empower them to sell value market knowledge including: your Internet ads and pricing while instead of price. DD 24 January 2009
  18. 18. • Know what a consumer feels is a “fair • Conduct Internet mystery shopping • Know what your customer’s neigh- retail purchase price” for your vehicle of similar vehicles ads to understand what bors are buying by reviewing DMV sales through Kelley Blue Book or NADA’s con- you would be up against at retail if you records for your core market. sumers site as well as Edmunds True Market took the trade in. Value. Capitalize on this by advertising • Overcome the “silent objections” by You have the evidence…now make the pricing that is “$1,000 below book,” which knowing what consumers consider a “fair decision. Of course all of the information signals to consumers your vehicles are fairly trade-in value” based on what they learned you need is out there, the question is how priced. Your sales team will be empowered online at Kelley Blue Book or NADA’s do you manage it, hone it in and make it to use it your advantage when the pricing consumer site as well as Edmunds True work for you? If you are not managing works in your favor, but will also be pre- Market Value. from a 360° view, you are at risk of being pared to overcome the fatal “silent • Obtain real sales data from real caught by the bear. This means having objection” when it works against you. dealers with J.D. Power’s Power the right market intelligence available at • Know what other dealers are selling Information Network, to learn what other the right time to make the right decision similar vehicles for, how profitably and dealers in your market are selling similar so you can close the deal, and close the how quickly through real sales data from vehicles for as well as their ACV. deal profitably. real dealers with J.D. Power’s Power Stocking more of the “right” cars – It’s Information Network. This information always easier to drive more traffic and sell Pat Ryan Jr. is the co-founder and chief will tell you when to hold gross or when to more cars when you have the cars that are executive officer of First Look by INCISENT cut the deal. “hot” with consumers. You can stock more Technologies. Closing more appraisals – In addition to “hot” vehicles at your dealership and in knowing the “basics” every dealer already your market if you: has access to such as wholesale book • Know what the fastest and most prof- values, auction data, vehicles history itable sellers are for your store. If you wish to discuss this article with reports (Carfax and Autocheck), and your • Know what the fastest and most prof- other dealers, or with the author, store sales history, you can close more itable sellers are in your market through please go to the “Discussion Forums” appraisals and retail more conquest trade- real sales data from real dealers with J.D. at ins by turning your appraisal into a “360º Power’s Power Information Network. and enter the “Internet Sales” forum or appraisal.” To do this, you need to: • Know what you are up against by e-mail him at pryan@DigitalDealer- • Know similar vehicles current Internet knowing vehicles’ Internet market days prices. supply in your market. January 2009 DD 25
  19. 19. D IGITAL Dealer COVER STORY Diana Weaver Internet Marketing & CRM Manager Tom Wood Automotive DD 26 January 2009