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Hunter Swift

Holding Your Salespeople Accountable

When I sold cars I remember multiple times when the sales manager would tell the salespeople to make their daily follow-up calls and some salespeople would simply respond that they had completed their calls, even when they hadn't.  It became a constant battle.  Apart from not making the calls, these particular salespeople were notorious at finding ways to cut corners and cheat the system.  I know not all salespeople are like the ones I worked with but how do we encourage our salespeople to be accountable for their daily, weekly and monthly activities? In today’s dealership, 80% of the leads received come through the phone and/or internet.  That means that 80% of your business is dependent on your salesperson’s ability to schedule appointments that drive people into the showroom.  CRM utilization becomes critical when managing these processes that are attached to your leads. A CRM tool should allow salespeople to achieve new levels of production with unsold AND repeat custome... Read Post

People Do Business With People They Trust #NADA2014

As a vendor, these last couple weeks were pretty busy as we prepared for NADA.  It is amazing how much goes into an event like this in order to be successful.  NADA consists of some very long days and my body is still trying to recover.  The show was very good for us and I imagine it was for others as well. The first thing that stood out to me; dealers had positive outlooks on the current and future conditions of the auto industry.  Dealers were eagerly looking for new and innovative products to buy.  There are sure a lot of vendors out there now.  Competition is good; it sparks innovation and keeps vendors having to improve in order to keep being competitive. As dealers shopped different vendors it was interesting for me to hear what the technology, features, and benefits they liked.  But what was more interesting to me this year, was how many dealers seemed very interested in learning more about the companies, the leaders, the culture and its... Read Post

Why You Should Focus On Your CRM To Drive Traffic

I was recently reading an article on DrivingSales from Keith Shettery called “Traffic Is Everything” about the focus and solution for most dealerships in driving more traffic. Although I agree with Keith that driving traffic is important, I think an important part that is missing, is that most dealers look to drive traffic through "online reputation, SEO, PPC, CPM, websites, cable TV, radio, print, direct mail, email", etc and then we hope salespeople will use the CRM or even enter the traffic that comes into the dealership in the CRM. There always seems to be this focus on leads and traffic that cost dealers money for a lead with little information and not even guarantied exclusivity. At every tradeshow I attend, almost all the speakers talk about driving more traffic. I agree with Keith that "traffic is everything" I wanted to write this article becuase I feel ... Read Post

YouTube's Recommended Videos Hurting Your Biz?

I was recently talking to a dealer who has been incorporating YouTube videos into his emails and marketing efforts. I noticed an issue and have been unable to come up with a fix or work around and wanted to reach out to the Automotive Industry for help. The issue has to do with YouTube’s Recommended Videos. Scenario: Dealer records and publish a video to YouTube… “Why Buy From Us”. He embeds it into an email to send to his customers. Customer clicks on Video Thumbnail and watches video. After the video concludes YouTube populates 16 Videos they recommend (As well as 20 Suggested Videos on side of page). The issue is the videos it is populating as recomended/suggested are for the dealership’s competitors. I have searched all through the channel setting and I see no way to turn this off. If it is your video on your channel it seems like you should be able to control this. But YouTube is free to use, so I maybe we cant do anything about it. ... Read Post

Why You Need Mobile CRM NOW!

Current technology is geared toward mobility, convenience, easy accessibility of information, and staying connected. I can still recall a time when a cell phone was something of luxury; a commodity that only a few select considered a need. Today, according to Erin Touponse, President of the ElmGroup Consulting, “92% of adults in the U.S. own smart phones.” Society has gone mobile! This is something of a phenomenon when you consider how dependent we have become to our mobile devices. If you’ve ever gone a day without your mobile device, then you must know the anxiety that begins to set in from feeling a sense of disconnection from “the world.” Technology has also empowered consumers by allowing them the amenity of information at all times. With such a shift in the buying process, naturally, businesses must adapt to their customer’s buying habits and mimic the way in which a customer prefers to communicate. For these reasons, dealerships cannot help bu... Read Post

The Importance of Clean Data

There has been much talk recently about “Big Data” which, to me, only emphasizes the importance of "Clean" Data. According to Kurt Bollacker, “Data that is loved tends to survive.” Having clean data is necessary for you to extract revenue from your most precious resource: your customer and prospect database. Clean data increases opportunities, saves money, and helps you maintain a positive reputation with satisfied customers. Luckily, there are tools available to dealers that can help keep data clean and updated with the NCOA, CASS, DNC, Phone/Email Validation and Phone/Email Append. Increased Opportunities Come When: The mailer you recently sent doesn’t go to the customer’s old address, as your customer recently moved to a new address. Your mailer arrived at the proper address because your data has been updated with the National Change of Address (NCOA). Your mailer for the huge tent sale this weekend is received prior to the event, not... Read Post

Yelp's Review Filter Complaints

  Having a “good” online reputation can send many new customers your way. However, a negative online reputation can cost a business in lost revenue. We are asking are customers to rate us, and Yelp is one of the biggest online reviews sites. But some business are happy with how Yelp is handling their reviews. Yelp has an automated filter/algorithm that suppresses reviews they deem ‘suspicious.’  It’s doesn’t always seem either consistent or fair, but that’s the way it is. A friend of mine recently posted this on facebook of her husband's medical practice.: "Yelp cannot be trusted - they are extorting small businesses!! Because my husband will not pay Yelp's advertising fees, they have blocked all 17 of his five star reviews, and only posted his 4 negative ones, 3 of which are posted by patients who are not in his patient records (fake patients). Yelp has been informed that these patients are not in my husband... Read Post

Vehicle Inactivation in CRM

  I was recently talking to a dealer about how to handle his "No longer owned" vehicles in his CRM. I was surprised to learn that his CRM didn't have this feature. In my opinion, having a CRM with the ability to automatically Inactivate Vehicles, is one of those features that is a must have. DealerSocket has 4 ways we recognize a vehicle as “No longer owned” (inactivated) on individual customer records. 1.       Vehicle Trade In - Customer Trades in their car that they originally purchased from the same dealership. Ex. Bob buys a 2003 GMC Yukon from ABC dealership, 5 years later… I decide to trade that same vehicle to ABC dealership and buy another car.  The DMS sends DealerSocket this information as part of the Sold Transaction and we recognize that the Trade In was a car Bob previously purchased and we “Inactivate it” as a vehicle that is no longer owned on that customer record. ... Read Post

Slow Sales Can Equal High Revenue

Turn slow sales months into high revenue with CRM best practices. Auto dealers, like most businesses, face months that are traditionally slow in sales. If you can predict sales downturns in advance, you are in an advantageous position to focus resources on other areas of potential revenue. You can create revenue during slow sales months by mining your DMS and marketing to customers who may be in a position to spend money. The most productive non-sales searches include: 1. Sold, Not Serviced 2. Serviced, Not Sold 3. Declined Service 4. Lost Service 5. Unsold Follow-Up 6. Happy Birthday Phone Call 7. Lost Service Customers 8. High Dollar Customer Pay RO’s 9. Service Contracts or Extended Warranties Dealerships can integrate these search categories into their annual business practices, implementing them when the traditionally slowest sales months inevitably rear their ugly heads. Use this calendar foresight to alert general managers, service managers and sa... Read Post

Mobile CRM

  10 years ago “Web-based” was the buzzword.  Fast forward to today and now it’s “Mobile”.  Almost everyone now has a cell phone. Over half of those are smartphones. Society has come accustomed to neverleaving home without their smart phone. For most, their phone is the first and last thing we look at each day. More email is read on mobile now than on desktop email clients or via webmail. I recently attended Ralph Paglia's AutoCon2012 event in Las Vegas. Almost every keynote speaker mentioned the word "Mobile". One even reference that the future is all about "mobile". For the first time dealers are seeing that "mobile" is the future.  Smart dealers are investing in mobile websites, mobile friendly email templates, texting, service scheduling apps and more.   Another important area for improvement for dealers regarding "Mobile" is for their CRM. Last February at NADA, DealerSocket ... Read Post

Negative Selling

  With the president election in full swing I have noticed that the majority of president hopefuls often use negative selling and mud-slinging attack campaigns. It has grown to something I expect from politicians but not from salespeople. Yet recently I experienced some negative selling tactics that I thought I would share. The first occurred when I was a shopping for a new car a couple months ago. I had decided on what make and model car I was planning to buy but wanted reassure myself that I was making the best choice by looking at some other vehicles. When I visited a different dealership and I mentioned I was doing some research on two vehicles, I was surprised at the salesperson's approach. He immediately began to negative sell by talking about how bad the gas mileage was, that it didn’t score the highest safety ratings, and weaknesses in its performance while failing to point out any of the strengths of his brand. It was a big turn off for me a... Read Post

My Car Buying Experience

One of my first jobs out of high school was selling cars and I have worked as a vendor with a CRM company in the industry for 7 years.  I enjoy working in the auto industry and take pride in helping dealerships be more successful either through the products I sell or through the processes I teach from my experience. About every three years, I find myself as a customer in the market for a new vehicle.  Recently, that time had come and I was looking for a new vehicle.  I am not loyal to a particular dealership, but I usually buy my cars from the dealership that has the vehicle I want, and at the best price.  Since I am only in this situation every so often I thought it would be wise to document my experience, with the hope that dealers and industry specialists could use it to improve their processes. I sold my car to a private party and needed to buy a vehicle within the next day or two.  In deciding my next vehicle, I did my entire search online.  I l... Read Post

People Do Business With People They Trust

As a vendor these last couple weeks were pretty busy as we prepared for NADA.  It is amazing how much goes into an event like this in order to be successful.  NADA consists of some very long days and my body is still trying to recover.  The show was very good for us and I imagine it was for others as well. The first thing that stood out to me; unlike years past when the economy was worse and dealers were not spending as much; dealers had positive outlooks on the current and future conditions of the auto industry.  Dealers were eagerly looking for new and innovative products to buy.  There are sure a lot of vendors out there now.  Competition is good; it sparks innovation and keeps vendors having to improve in order to keep being competitive. As dealers shopped different vendors it was interesting for me to hear what the technology, features, and benefits they liked.  But what was more interesting to me this year, was how many dealers seemed very... Read Post

Technology, Processes and People

This week I attended Digital Dealer (sigh!), the exhibitor room was full of vendors selling all types of technology.  I counted at least 7 booths that offer a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Tool.  As dealers visited each booth I noticed they were often comparing the different features each vendor provided.  One thing that stood out to me is for the most part all CRM companies offer the same type of technology.  They all allow you to input customers, receive leads, automate marketing campaigns, and reporting.  It is important that the technology isn’t the only thing that you are looking at. Technology should enable processes.  Consistent processes create consistent business. One of the ways to enable process is through the automation of business rules designed to target specific groups of people.  If the data is there, the technology should be able to enable processes like: A customer life cycle (customer for life) Finance termin... Read Post

Impressed by OEM’s Marketing Campaign.

A couple months ago I came across an ad for the new Mercedes SLK. I was really impressed with the marketing campaign that Mercedes-Benz incorporated with some pretty innovative ideas and incorporating some new technology. The ad was introducing the new SLK and although I wasn’t interested in the SLK I clicked on something called “Speed Date”, I invite those who haven’t done so to do it. http://www3.mercedes-benz.com/mbcom_v4/us/slk/en.html What stood out to me was the integration with Facebook. As the movie begins, it pulls your image from your Facebook profile picture and inserts it in various parts of the film. In the movie you are stranded in the desert with an overheating car who hitches a ride with a beautiful girl (Ksenia Lauren) driving a SLK. Throughout the movie you can choose different outcomes and it shows off different features of the car. The interactive movie really did a good job putting me actually into the movie and experiences it firsth... Read Post

Could you replace the AutoResponder?

I was recently in a meeting with someone from a popular 3rd party lead provider who was talking about leads and the open rates of the AutoResponder emails compared to the open rates of first and second emails. I was unable to get a source of this data but it was something like: Open Rates: AutoResponder: 97% First Email 56% Second Email: 20%   This got me to think. We live in a society that people want their info now! Just look at the instant response with text messages, and instant access to the internet for info. People who are submitting a lead are on the computer and are requesting info that they would like as soon as the request it. Most dealerships send out an AutoResponder. I advocate the use of an AutoResponder. It acknowledges that their lead has been received. It’s an instant personalized response that shows the dealership is quick to respond. It allows the dealership time to work on getting back to them, answer questions, etc. It is great for... Read Post

Knowledgeable Customers

Do your customers know more about the cars you sell than your salespeople? A couple of months ago, a friend of mine was in the market for a new car. He, like the majority of new car buyers, began his shopping experience online. He knew six months ago that his lease was ending and that he was in need of a new car. My friend looked at current models and then began to look at new model releases. He was interested in a car that was coming out about the same time he was going to be returning his lease. The next couple of months he was looking at spy photos, reading reviews, watching YouTube videos and he even went to the auto show to see the car in person. Knowing that I am also into cars, my friend would forward things to me that he would find every once in a while about the vehicle, like “check out this…” or “did you know that…” I could see that he was really excited about the car. The time had come when the new models began to arrive at ... Read Post

Dealership’s Use of Mobile

The last 2 months have been crazy for me. Between work, school, and my wife and I having our second baby, I have been very busy.  Because of my busy schedule, it has caused me to work more “mobile” than ever before. Almost every email I have read or responded to was from my phone, please excuse the brevity and any typos if you received an email from me recently. This week DealerSocket had its annual User Summit in Dana Point, California  The summit was a great opportunity for users of DealerSocket to come together and share best practices and also learn how to better use DealerSocket.  My presentation at the summit was about how dealerships can better use mobile.  I thought I would pass along some of the things I discussed. When I began my session I asked the attendees to raise their phones, I was very pleased to see that almost everyone had a smart phone; thank goodness I didn’t see any “Jitter Bug” phones.  In my resea... Read Post

Holding Your Salespeople Accountable

I am always surprised the answer I get when I ask a dealership about how many more cars they think they could sell a month if they improved their follow-up process.  This missed opportunity can often be fixed by implement a CRM technology, which is great for processes and campaigns. However, it is ultimately up to the salespeople to do what they are supposed to do. I have found that what you may think is being done in the dealership, often isn’t. When I sold cars, I remember multiple times when the sales manager would tell a salesperson to make his daily follow-up calls and the salesperson would simply respond that he had already completed his calls.  It became a constant battle.  Apart from not making the calls, salespeople are notorious at finding ways to cut corners and cheat the system.  This not only hurts the salesperson but, the dealership and even the customers. The first suggestion I have is to utilize reports in your CRM that track the number o... Read Post

Inbound Call Safety Net

I had to call a dealership recently about servicing my wife’s vehicle.  At 9:00 am I called the dealership’s main number and the phone rang eight times before it went to voicemail.  I called back and the same thing happened.  I needed an answer right away so I didn’t leave a message and called another dealership that was able to help me. I understand that the receptionist may have been busy, but this got me to think: How many calls does your dealership miss a day?   Does the customer end up calling other dealerships as well?   What do you have in place to insure that you don’t miss phone calls? One way to fix this issue is to integrate an inbound Call Center.  Majority of dealerships wouldn’t want all of their inbound calls to go to a Call Center, most people think that Call Centers are for prospecting but, what about just the phone calls that don’t get answered? If all of your calls get answere... Read Post

Email Templates

I was asked recently to help a dealership with their email templates. Thought I would pass a long some of the tips I suggested: The subject line is the single most important indicator of whether an e-mail message will be opened and read. Ensure that the subject line is clear, concise, and, if possible, contains personalization so the recipient will distinguish it as being unique. Studies have proven that consumers are more responsive to e-mail communications when they are sent in a consistent format, with the same “look and feel” from one mailing to another.   Dealers are advised to develop an “e-mail template” which will allow their content to change from month to month but still be consistently identifiable, over time, as a message from the dealership.   Send information that is relevant to the customer.   Provide both sales and non-sales content.   Use Data-Mining tools in your CRM to market t... Read Post

Internet Process - Back to the Basics

With more and more customers originating from the internet, it is important that your dealership has a good internet process to respond to every lead quickly and efficiently. If a customer submits a lead on a Third Party site, that lead is often sent to multiple dealerships. This is one reason why response time is so important because most customers usually buy from the first person who responds to them. What are you doing to make sure your internet depart is doing the absolute best it can do? One thing I have learned is not every customer that’s sends in a lead is in the market to buy a car right now. Often customers are online doing research and submit a lead or request a quote by mistake. For example, many customers don’t know that when they go to Cars.com or CarsDirect.com they are actually going to be sending a lead to a dealership. Often they just want to know if the car is in their price range. These customers are sometimes as much as six months ou... Read Post

Sales to Service, Service to Sales.

One of the biggest areas of improvement I often see at the dealership is fixing the disconnect, lack of communication and cohesiveness between the sales and service departments. How well is your dealership doing in integrating the two departments at your dealership?   Are you marketing to sold customers who have not been in for service?   If someone comes to your service drive with high mileage or is out of warranty, do you have a process of notifying someone in the sales department?   When one of their sold customers comes in for service, do you notify the salesperson to greet them in the service drive (and ask for referral)?   If a salesperson sells a vehicle, are they setting the customer’s first service appointment?   Do you send out sold anniversary letters and/or emails reminding the customer of their registration renewal, recommended services, their current trade-in value, and current sales specials... Read Post

If a person comes in looking for a vehicle you don’t have, what do you do?

 I have been involved in the auto industry for many years and have encountered this situation multiple times: a person comes in looking for a used vehicle that the dealership just doesn’t have. Most dealers I know either try to change the customer’s mind to a vehicle they do have in stock or simply state that they don’t have the vehicle and let the customer walk away. Some CRM technologies have a “Check New Inventory” feature which allows the salesperson to save the vehicle of interest, and the CRM will automatically notify the sales person when a similar or matching vehicle is received into inventory. Another feature allows you to pull a list of those looking for a certain vehicle which you can use as a “wish list” for purchasing vehicles at auction. Although these are great features, I have found there is a better way. Your CRM should have a way to search your historic sold data through some sort of listbuilder. If a customer ... Read Post