Over the past few years, adaption and collaboration have become essential elements for dealerships in this ever-evolving landscape of new car sales and service.
With a distinctive approach to partnership and a commitment to continuous improvement, Germain Motor Co. (GermainCars.com) has managed to not only navigate the challenges brought on by COVID and shifting markets but also to thrive and drive success.
Germain Motor Co. boasts over 20 franchises across Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Arizona and Montana. As with any multi-location business, keeping the customer experience uniform and top-notch can be a challenge. However, Germain has developed an approach to partnership and technology that addresses any concerns promptly before they become issues.
Shaun “Niff” Kniffin, the director of marketing and technology for Germain Motor Co., notes how the dealer group’s partnerships and technology — in particular, its collaboration with CallRevu, a technology solution specializing in call tracking and analysis — have played a pivotal role in optimizing its lead generation and customer engagement strategies, helping the company journey through market changes and fluctuating customer dynamics.
As a result, challenges in regard to call management and lead generation have been minimal. “In short order, we have not struggled as many stores reportedly have,” Kniffin says. “This is not due to what Chip and Dan Heath refer to in the book, ‘Switch,’ as ‘positive illusions,’ where we might think we are better than what we really are, but a serious, objective result of our committed effort to optimize our mar-tech stack and our centralized data platform (CDP).
“CallRevu has been an integral part of the Germain list of partners — not just a vendor — since 2011. When inbound call traffic begins to show signs of degradation, CallRevu can instantly notify our team that customers are not being taken care of or there is an issue in the technology architecture that needs to be addressed.”
A significant aspect of this partnership is the monthly review calls with CallRevu’s account manager, Katie Wagner, and the management team at each location, Kniffin says. This consistent collaboration has allowed Germain Motor Co. to spot trends, improve customer experiences and enhance appointment conversions in fixed or variable operations.
“It’s important for us to see this trend data over several months so that we can see improvements or declination in the performance data,” he says. “I think that’s the biggest challenge a lot of dealerships have anymore, is that they buy (new) technology and then they don’t implement process to back it up.”
ADJUSTING TO CHANGING BUSINESS CLIMATES
As market dynamics shift, Germain Motor Co. recognizes the need to evolve its customer engagement strategies.
“I think it is important to note that the business changed during COVID,” Kniffin points out. “Selling vehicles was relatively easy when inventories were soft, demand was high and asking prices were non-objectionable. Today that situation has changed, and no longer can the industry remain lax on creating urgency or moving toward appointment-driven conversions,” he continues.
He stresses the importance of making a connection with the customer. “As an industry, we have to insist on creating favorable customer experiences on the phone, text, chat and in our email responses.
“Awareness is the first step of change,” he adds. “And some stores are not really aware of how many calls they’re missing or what their conversion rates are. Or is there a problem with the architecture of the phone system? Because sometimes technology will fail you and you may not even know it.” He rests assured knowing that if a similar situation would arise at a Germain dealership, it would quickly be getting an alert from CallRevu.
CallRevu’s impact is particularly evident in the fixed operations segment, where dealerships often face challenges in managing call volumes. Through transcribed phone calls and detailed analyses, Germain Motor Co. identifies trends, refines campaigns and ensures that every opportunity is maximized.
“As an industry we have to insist on creating favorable customer experiences on the phone, text, chat and in our email responses.”SHAUN “NIFF” KNIFFLIN
PARTNERING FOR SUCCESS
The success of Germain Motor Co.’s partnership with CallRevu extends beyond mere vendor-client dynamics. It’s a true partnership built on relationships, success and collaboration.
“For the past 12 years, our partnership with CallRevu has allowed us to remain completely transparent when it comes to training and development as we monitor how our customers are being responded to and spoken to,” Kniffin says. “The requirements to obtain customer information and logging that information in CRM is critical to our long-term and sustainable communication strategy both at the store level and the corporate level.
“As CallRevu documents inbound calls in CRM, that increases accountability. The other part of this integration is the ability to monitor that our phone system programming is working correctly on minute-by-minute basis. The moment that CallRevu detects there is a potential problem with call completion or calls not reaching the agents, we can be immediately alerted. We have interceded in situations where we were experiencing an issue with a phone system and even larger issues, such as outages at the carrier level.”
It’s a partnership that he says continually gets better.
“They constantly bring out new additions to the technology, which make the product better. And, you know, I think that’s just one of those things where, if you don’t see it, you probably don’t believe it,” Kniffin concludes.
A ROADMAP FOR THE FUTURE
Germain Motor Co.’s journey showcases the transformative power of collaboration and continuous improvement. By embracing technology, fostering partnerships and creating a culture of accountability, it has managed to thrive even in the face of challenging times. This company’s story serves as an inspiration for dealerships across the automotive industry to recognize the value of innovation, partnership and customer-centricity. As the automotive landscape continues to evolve, Germain Motor Co.’s example demonstrates that a commitment to continuous improvement and a strong partnership ethos are the driving forces that propel dealerships toward success in an ever-changing market.