Community

Share your automotive expertise

2 Write a Blog Post

Filed in: Marketing, General Mgt

2013 DrivingSales Executive Summit Recap Part 1

By Eric Miltsch on Oct 19, 2013

 

Wow. Five and half years years ago I received a phone call from Jared Hamilton. He asked, no - told me, I had to head out to Las Vegas to attend a new event he was holding specifically for "progressive dealers." I had no idea what he meant by that; as a relatively new dealer on the scene I just assumed every dealer was progressive. It sounded awesome and I knew I had to be there. so off to Vegas I went. 

Jared described a conference that would speak to dealers about their current problems, provide greater awareness and help dealers actually improve operations. I recall him telling me how this was going to be the best thing ever and that someday, eventually, it would be the biggest & best retail conference. I also remember getting off the phone saying to myself, "I like that kid - he's a dreamer, but I like him." 

True to his word Jared has delivered on that promise to the retail industry. After five years the DrivingSales Executive Summit has become the defacto retail automotive conference to attend. Nearly 3000 people have attended all five events over the years, thousands more have followed along online to soak up the knowledge from the speakers and the attendees. (The event has even been a national trending topic on Twitter. Twice.) 

Jared and his superstar event planning team have attracted the best industry speakers, world-class keynotes from outside the industry and the best retail dealers to contribute their experiences with attendees. This year was no exception. In fact, this year's event was extended to include a special pre-DSES Canadian section for our dealer neighbors to the North. This group of dealers, vendors and speakers nearly equalled the same number of attendees from the 1st DSES. 

The Canadian portion of the event signifies a new shift in the retail industry. The Canadians appear to be even thirstier for the information flow US dealers have been sipping at the past few years. The speed at which they're absorbing and implementing this content is staggering. These dealers needed their venue due to the culture changes and DrivingSales was able to respond with the help of Jay Radke. (Did you know that Canadians are the largest consumers of YouTube content in North America?) Jay assembled an all-star cast of successful Canadian dealers such as: Robert Karbaum, Aleksandra Banas, Dave Hicks, Doug & Andrew Maciver. Brent Wees (Glovebox) was also invited to share his knowledge on responsive web design and mobile strategies. Bringing everything to a close and validating everyone's presentations was Al Awadia (Google).

Later on Sunday master of ceremonies Charlie Volgleheim opened up in the festivities tighter than ever and with his unique blend of professionalism and wit. Jared Hamilton wasted no time in delighting the attendees with what to expect over the next couple of days. He then delivered what I believe to be one of his strongest keynotes to date. He whipped the audience into a frenzy with fixed operations stats and performance data over the years and how this segment has fared against other dealership departments. Bottom line - it isn't pretty. His presentation ended like the finale of a fireworks display. He rattled off performance numbers in a Ran Man-esque manner that was not only impressive but made clear and simple sense: dealers need to pay attention to their fixed ops activities, how they manage this department and how their marketing activities can impact their fixed ops efforts.  

- 62% of drivers research the service technicians recommendations before coming in.

- 43% of drivers search online when deciding where to take their car for service. 

- Dealers must go with a fixed ops approach in your BDC structure.

Scott Hernalsteen took the stage next and shared some of their and insights on how to help improve merchandising efforts. While he offered some general best practice reminders, the data points can clearly help any dealership with regards to their 3rd party merchandising efforts: 

 - VDP views increase by 34% when vehicles arelisted below MSRP.

- 186% more VDP views when priced below the market and also have multiple customer photos.

- 70% of new car buyers actually pay more than the price they saw online.

 - 26% more people traveled 30+ miles to a dealership when there are custom vehicle comments

Up next was Leif Babin, US Navy SEAL Officer. This was an intense keynote with one simple message: Leadership. Also important to note, Leif is only the second person in DSES history get a standing ovation after his presentation. (Gary V. was the 1st) 

Rather than try to convey the emotions his keynote elicited, I'll share some of the hard hitting items Leif provided us: 

 - If the team fails, everyone fails. 

- Laws of Combat: 1. Cover & move. 2. Simple. 3. Prioritize & Execute. 4. Decentralize Command.  

- Orders need to be given in a clear & concise manner so everyone understands them.

- When it's overwhelming, relax, look around and make a call. 

- Talk through what could go wrong with your team so they're prepared. 

- Your team needs to understand not only what what to do, but why they need to do it. 

- Leaders take ownership when things go wrong. 

- (And my favorite) It's not what you preach, it's what you tolerate.

I'll follow up tomorrow with the rest of the DrivingSales recap - so much more to review. 

Comments

The conference was great! This recap is spot-on. Jared certainly opened my eyes to some fixed-op shortfalls that we have and will start working on. Looking forward to part 2. Thanks Eric

Oct 19, 2013

When you say "research the service technicians recommendations" are you referring to online reviews and what is a "fixed ops approach in your BDC structure?"

Oct 20, 2013

Thanks Jake - appreciate you checking it out.

Mike - I interpreted Jared's comment meaning that customers are seeking out a 2nd opinion in the form of additional online research; they're checking on the tech's recommendations.

As the BDC structure, fixed ops should also be a focus. Phone reps should be trained on the specific scenarios, customers scenarios and the revenue opportunities - the BDC doesn't need to be limited to just sales appointments, if it is you;re leaving a lot of money on the table every single day.

Oct 20, 2013

Comments 1 - 3 of 3

You must be logged in to comment

Login Create an account

Add your comments:

   

Eric Miltsch's Recent Posts

Related Posts

  • Buyer Intent

    Often, dealerships wonder why ad agencies don't buy generic search terms related to their models.  Honda dealers want to know why they aren't showing up for one-word searches such as "Civic" or "used Honda".  The reason is actually quite simple: it all comes down to buyer intent. If an automotive dealer wants to buy one-word search terms, they should realize that they will be capturing visitors that may not be ready to make a purchase just yet.  In most cases, given a limited budget, a better solution is to avoid using these terms and instead focus on purchasing deep funnel long tail terms that signify clear buyer intent.  This is also known as Zero Moment retail. For example, someone looking for a car might search ‘used car’ in Google.  In this case, the shopper doesn’t know what he wants, other than that he wants to buy a used car.  At this point, he is most likely researching what is available rather than settling on a particular vehicle to purchase - he has what is ca...Read post

  • Passive Intent - A Thought Technology I Learned from Warby Parker

    Passive Intent a phrase you wont find anywhere. Because for the most part it's somewhat contradictory. However the intention of being passive seems like an idea that we probably could all get behind.Read post

  • Should Dealers Target Everybody or a Selection of Buyers with their Advertising?

    At first glance, it's an easy question with an instant answer. Car dealers want to target everyone within driving distance with their message. As Ripley said in Aliens, "It's the only way to be sure." Upon closer examination, problems start to pop up. Even if we assume that "everybody" is actually a large portion of the audience (since you can't reach everybody from a literal sense), there are still holes in the strategy. Those who have extremely large marketing budgets could do it, but even then they really shouldn't. Here's why: At any given moment at most 3% of the adult driving population is in or near the market for buying one of your vehicles and that's if you have a very popular brand. For many brands it's under 1%. Reaching all of them requires large mass-media buys and a shotgun approach. Based upon diminishing returns, the second $10,000 can be less effective than the first, the third $10,000 will be less effective than the second... etc. Targeting is getting much, much...Read post

  • Yelp! WTF

    I’m not complaining about this at all. We could use more of these 5 star reviews to actually stick. But, it does make me wonder… Read post

  • Celebrate Summer with All-Star Baseball

    Every year, thousands of Major League Baseball games are played with millions in attendance. These same baseball fans are gearing up for the long awaited All-Star Game coming up July 14th.  Believe it or not, your dealership can leverage these enthusiasts’ excitement to drive sales and service business. How, you ask? With creative, relevant marketing. Check out these three ideas to celebrate summer with All-Star baseball. Get Active Here in Cincinnati, if the Reds combine 11 strikeouts during a home game, LaRosa’s (a local pizzeria) allows every fan with a ticket from that game to redeem it for a free pizza. This is an example of how a local business can get involved with the sport of baseball to promote their brand. Similarly, your dealership could offer discounts for events that transpire during the All-Star Game, such as offering $10 oil changes if a local player hits a home run or a similar promotion that may fit your particular business model.  Create a Contest Everybody l...Read post

  • 5 Simple Link Building Strategies for Small Businesses

    When someone new to digital marketing reads about link building strategies, it’s likely a confusing and stressful experience. The reason is, most people try to complicate the process to sell services by convincing you there’s something proprietary about their methods. Now, most businesses should consider SEO or link building services if they want to get results, but the cost is something many small businesses simply can’t afford. But instead of just forgoing link building altogether, you need solutions that fit your business, right? That’s why I’ve put together a list of five simple link building strategies that small businesses can start immediately. So take notes and start building links!   Sponsor Something Locally or Create Your Own Event Local businesses are often asked to sponsor events, children’s sports teams, and school functions. And while many see some of these are charitable or simply promotional, most of the organizations looking for sponsorship wou...Read post

  • Preempt Lease-End Competition for Your CPO Inventory

    The combination of consumer demand, increasing off-lease supply, and record-setting lease penetration is creating what could be sustainable momentum for the certified pre-owned (CPO) market. To provide context, consider the following market dynamics: Lease originations exceeded 3.5 million in 2014, Manheim reports—their highest level since 2000. CPO sales increased nearly 11% last year and accounted for 20% of used car sales in 2014, according to Edmunds.com. TrueCar notes that CPO sales this year will total more than 2.5 million units, predicting 2015’s supply of one-to-five-year-old used vehicles, including CPO, at 10.4 million units. As these market dynamics unfold, used car managers will need to source CPO inventory more wisely than their competition. To help stay ahead and grow market share, I suggest two strategies: Obtain CPO inventory from nontraditional sources. Get ahead of banks and lenders, lease-conquest marketers, and other dealers before lease-end. Executing ...Read post

  • Managed vs Self-Serve Chat

    The automotive industry is really starting to come around to the idea that they must have chat on their websites. It has moved from being a luxury to becoming a requirement due to the increased use of mobile and the trend towards real-time communication. Now, the debate has been shifting to an old question: manged or self-serve? There are advantages and disadvantages to each that we've discovered and we'd love to hear from the DrivingSales community about their opiinon. As we covered on a recent blog post, the reasons for managed are plentiful: 24/7 Coverage Professional, Consistent Responses Experience of Managing Chat Constantly Proven Scripts Over Off-The-Cuff Replies For every argument, there's a counter-argument. Self-serve chat software has its own advantages: Live Answers to Inventory Questions Direct Appointments Instead of Inquiries Dealership Personality Again, we offer both so we have all of the horses in this race. We simply want to know what you guys think. What...Read post