With five decades in the industry, it would be easy – tempting, even – for Dealer Principal David Kimmerle to implement his old ways from when he joined Sanderson Ford in 1961. Nothing could be further from Kimmerle’s reality.
“I don’t understand how, in this day and age, you can even think about doing things the old way,” Kimmerle said. Established by Don Sanderson in 1955, the dealership boasts two locations in Glendale, Arizona, just half an hour from Phoenix. Despite deep roots in the community, both stores continually strive to overcome unique challenges in the market.
“The telephone is virtual reality in that you can meet with someone as if you are together, at least for the auditory sense.” - Ray Kurzweil
You look in the mirror before stepping on the sales floor. You stand up straight, look people in the eye, smile and start another day in the dealership.
Your face-to-face people skills are just one part of the sales process, though. Often, before the customer sets foot inside the dealership, they’ve already contacted you, or another member of your sales team, on the phone or via email. To bring them into the showroom, you’ve got to make sure your voice and text skills are up to the task.
With 2017 just around the corner, you might be considering a change in your CRM. Maybe the contract with your current vendor is ending, or maybe your CRM just isn’t delivering the value you need — and you’re ready for an upgrade. But before you splurge on a CRM with bells and whistles you may not need, however, it’s important to identify what you do need — the features that really move the needle when it comes to revenue.
For decades, auto dealers have combed the Earth in search of the ever-elusive sale or tool or marketing program to steal car buyers from their competitors’ backyard. For years, direct mail salespeople by the dozen have promised to have the secret proprietary formula for success. Dealers have tried and sometimes succeeded and sometimes failed, but one common theme has always stayed true: What works today will likely work a little less each month until finally it no longer returns an adequate ROI to continue.
The only way to succeed is to keep your eye on what is coming and be prepared to adopt new techniques and platforms, all while optimizing what is working best now.
As dealers plan their used vehicle department performance goals for the coming year, I’d suggest focusing on reducing the amount of time it takes to get vehicles retail-ready and online.
This suggestion follows recent studies that show it takes dealers an average of 10 days, from the time they acquire an auction vehicle and recondition it, to the time they post the retail-ready vehicle, with prices and photographs, online. The study data also suggests that reconditioning and detail work, as a whole, takes five to seven days, on average, for dealers to complete.
Today, dealers are more confused about their digital strategy than ever. Their digital footprint looks fine from afar, but up close it’s fragmented and the dots are not connected. They employ multiple vendors to provide programs and services, but fail to deliver a unified message across marketing platforms.
There’s information overload regarding Big Data. To auto dealers, that equates to “paralysis by analysis.” The savvy dealers are becoming digital disrupters by harnessing technology to change consumer online behavior and forever alter the competitive automotive landscape. Shopping for a car is no longer a linear path to purchase. Dealers chase consumers through multiple online channels, who typically crisscross between them to meet their needs and whims. The successful dealers are able to immediately provide the right message at every intersection, across every channel.
Terminating someone is never pleasant and not to be taken lightly. As a former service manager, I only had to fire one service advisor — and I did not make that decision lightly. However, in most cases it is the employee’s choice to get fired. What do I mean? Certainly it’s the manager’s responsibility to train employees and develop processes. But anyone with experience in training will tell you that some people refuse to follow processes, refuse to try new things and refuse to step outside of their comfort zone. Employees often resist change because they think their way is best, they have of the fear of failure or they just don’t care enough about their performance to make the effort. It is their choice.
What if I told you that you could generate a 15 percent higher gross profit from the leads being sold from your Website? One of the primary ways to do this is by having a conversation with your consumers — but not in the way you think. I don’t mean having a live conversation with a salesperson (although that’s what you ultimately want). No, I mean letting consumers have an in-depth conversation with your Website. Doing so can drastically reduce negotiations on trade and vehicle of interest.
Bill Stasek Chevrolet, located in Wheeling, Illinois, is the largest Corvette dealer in the Midwest as well as a Chevrolet Business Elite dealer. Brothers Bill and Bob Stasek have worked together for years to achieve this. They have developed dealership processes and have built a dedicated team who pays special attention to every customer’s needs and makes every customer experience something positive to remember.
Because of this, Stasek Chevrolet enjoys customer retention in excess of 85 percent. This is truly an incredible stat, and it wasn’t easy to achieve. Several years ago, Bill and Bob Stasek decided to develop a customer retention program. They considered several ideas — loyalty cards, point systems and more. They visited several dealerships with existing programs and listened to just about every idea they could find to increase customer retention.
It seems like the most popular phrase of 2016 is “Work smarter, not harder.” When you’re working long hours at the dealership, it seems like that’s easier said than done. Most of the programs available take more work to learn than to actually use — you almost need an engineering degree to figure them out. I wanted to share with you the latest tools my dealerships are using to improve follow up and, once you get them set up, they can run in the background automatically for you.