It's All About Experience

The Canadian Dealer Forum: Customer Expectations Have Changed… Have You?

56% of car buyers delay their purchase because they don’t want to have to go through the buying process. 99% of buyers expect their buying experience to be a hassle before they start. These are just a few of the findings from our 16-month research initiative on how customers feel about the car buying process.

Consumers expect more out of buying a car. Other industries from ecommerce to boutique shops have made buying and shopping easier. Those changes impact the car industry as those same consumers come to buy a car, and those expectations are only going to intensify.

We as car dealers have an opportunity to adapt. We can take the best new ideas from other industries and decades of dealership experience to create better experiences for buyers. How we do this is the main topic during our upcoming event The Canadian Dealer Forum in Calgary on June 22-23.

During the Dealer Canadian Forum I will be presenting Read Post

Training: Content, Preparation, Execution

I’ve seen inexperienced salespeople flourish as a result of a well-executed training initiative, and dealerships with low sales numbers can turn things around with the right training implemented correctly for their employees. But I’ve also seen enthusiastic and talented salespeople fall behind because of a lack of well-executed training. I’ve seen intense (and expensive) training programs fall totally flat and do nothing but cost a dealership money. Read Post

Resolving to Keep Resolutions for a Healthy Dealership


As a new year approaches and everyone is thinking about resolutions, I humbly offer the following list as possibilities for Dealership Operators:



Resolve to sell more from stock rather than managers arranging dealer trades all day long.  Are you ordering the correct New Car inventory if dealer trades are a daily activity?
Resolve to hold your sales staff accountable for product knowledge on your product as well as key competitors.  (Manager’s responsibility)
Resolve to find the balance between holding respectable gross on new cars and maintaining world class CSI. Remember: CSI = Customer Supplies Income
Resolve to assure that your Variable Ops departments and Fixed Ops Departments work as a team. 
Resolve to have the GM or Dealer Principal personally complete a physical inventory monthly.  Your flooring source will love this!
Resolve to commit to a sustained and consistent training program for your team.  Daily training = A Healthier Bottom Line
Resolve to t Read Post

Consider Using an Employee Satisfaction Survey in Your 2015 Planning

As we approach the halfway point of Q4, I imagine that many of you are scheduling inventory audits in the parts and sales departments and getting ready to have your 2015 forecast meetings to discuss the plans for making next year even better.  I would like to propose the idea of making an anonymous Employee Satisfaction Survey part of your planning process for 2015.

Now, let me begin by warning you that the results and comments that come from this exercise will most likely be painful and humbling, but the good that can come for your management team will far outweigh the pain.  I did this in my dealership back in Q4 of 2006.  I broke up the surveys into 3 groups, Fixed Ops personnel, Variable Ops personnel, and Management.  I wanted to hear from the people who made things happen in my store each and every day and there wasn’t anything off limits due to the anonymous nature of the survey. 

Was it painful?  YES 
Did I hear about things that I had no idea were going on in my st Read Post

Use Your Talent & Develop Your Skill

Sales Professionals, Absorb this!"Talent, you have naturally. Skill is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft.""I've never really viewed myself as particularly talented. Where I excel is RIDICULOUS, SICKENING work ethic.Please comment with your favorite quotes & then go out and break your personal records this weekend!

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Dealership Operations 101: The Meet & Greet

​I often like to reminisce about some of the seemingly lost arts of sales. When I got into the sales business over 25 years ago, I read everything I could get my hands on in regards to the art of building relationships and selling. I loved, and still love, reading Joe Girard, Brian Tracy, Tom Hopkins, Zig Ziglar and many others. Here's the thing.....I often wonder if the art of putting a customer at ease, bringing down barriers, and building rapport has gone the way of rear facing third row seating in station wagons and smoking on airplanes. Read Post

Effective & Sustained Training Falls Straight To The Bottom Line

In my 20+ years in automotive retail I was always a firm believer in the notion that the dealerships that spent the most time training their employees were the ones that would thrive rather than simply survive.  I am still a believer in that way of thinking, but with the caveat of “Training for Sustaining.” What do I mean by that?  Sometimes as a dealer executive it’s possible to get caught up in the egocentric method of training.  Have you ever had a conversation with someone that you could immediately tell really enjoyed hearing themselves speak?  I’m sure it is gratifying to them, but not so much for the person at the other end of the conversation.  When preparing to conduct a training meeting of any kind (i.e. sales meeting, managers meeting, staff meeting etc.) it is imperative that we keep the best interests in mind of those that will be in attendance.  What is the intended outcome of the training? Who are the participants? Is this session an open forum or lect... Read Post

We Don't Think That's a Good Idea Boss!

How many times have you returned to the dealership from a 20 Group meeting or factory conference with a list of fantastic ideas that you want to put before your team to get "Buy In" from the troops, only to hear doubt and complaints?  

     "That won't work in our market."  

     "Our staff won't embrace that idea."

     "The way we do it works, so why change it?"

Have you ever considered the possibility that your team doesn't want to embrace new ideas, processes, marketing, or training because they don't want the DP or GM to have an accurate measurement tool of exactly how much they aren't doing?  If you institute a new way of tracking floor traffic, internet traffic or service traffic that really gives accurate data of the number of opoortunites that are slipping through the cracks, it will certainly eliminate some comfort zones, but it will definitely improve p Read Post

TRUECar is taking some heat. Is this ad sexist?

Cool Corolla: Oxymoron or about D*** Time?

Automotive News
June 7, 2013 - 12:22 pm ET -- UPDATED: 6/8/13 5:20 am ET

Toyota staged a Hollywood-style party with celebrity chefs, performance artists and acrobatics to introduce the redesigned 2014 Corolla Thursday in California. Here's a look at what journalists, bloggers, social media and analysts have to say about the all-new compact.



"The 11th generation ... brings a clean-sheet redesign to the Corolla nameplate. Underneath the crisp, modern bodywork is a new chassis that stretches the wheelbase by close to 4 inches to boost interior space. And yet the front and rear overhangs are shorter, so the overall look is more taut. Extensive use of high-strength steel has kept the weight below 2900 pounds, no matter how much optional equipment a buyer selects. In our recent test of compact sedans, not one of the Corolla's competitors managed to tip the scales at less than 2900 pounds, so that's an impressive number."

-- Ben Stewart of&nb Read Post

Are you under-living your life?

Are you under-living your life?


How do we release all of the potential inside of us?


1st: What is potential?

         First Nature: What you inherited through the genes passed down to you from your parents, grandparents, etc


         Second Nature: Everything you have learned. All of the knowledge, skills, the habits, all of the information you have stored, is a part of your potential.


         Third Phase: Very simply, your inner desire, your aspirations, your goals.  Something inside of you that wants you to become more than you are.  The most important factor in this is EMOTION.  You can have a desire to do something, and you can have the abilities, but you can’t seem to get yourself to do it.  YOU CAN’T RELEASE YOURSELF.

            &nb Read Post

Spock vs Spock.....Audi style.

Ford, Shinola reveal watch celebrating 50 years of Mustang

Do you have Roaches?

In this age of transparency I wonder if dealerships were completely transparent with customers, would they want to do business with them.  If your answer is yes, then good for you!  Kudos & bravo! 

I believe that the things we think and say shape the people we are and the culture around us.  While I certainly hope that the following things would never be said in front of a customer, I challenge you to ask yourself if they get said in the back room, or the sales office, or the shop, or anywhere else that is not within ear shot of a guest.  

Have you ever heard these terms in your dealership?

Credit Criminal
Lay Down

The list can go on and on and I'm sure you could add a few of your own.  However, is this a protected secret language at your store and a time honored tradition or is it polluting your view of how important customers are to your business?

CSI Read Post

Did you know that there is a Smart Car Owner National Convention?

Quick Response vs Quality Response

One of the popular buzzwords (It's actually 2 words) in the industry when it comes to Internet Sales is "Response Time."  Oftentimes dealers fall into the trap of thinking that managing their response times on Internet Leads is the Holy Grail of Digital Operations.  I was chatting with a dealer recently who was frustrated because they had worked very hard to reduce their response time from an average of 5 hours 35 mins (YIKES!) to 25 minutes.  While 25 minutes is certainly respectable, and a massive improvement from where they were before, it is not anywhere near a best practice benchmark.  Anyway, the dealer was frustrated that the improved response time had not had a measureable effect on their conversion percentage to appointments.  So he and I began to dig a little deeper into what was going on.

Over the next couple of days the dealer and I started to take a look at what was going on in his CRM.  FULL DISCLOSURE:  I have the de Read Post

In the spirit of equality among the sexes:

Action is the Foundational Key to all Success

I definitely think Picasso was on to something when he was quoted as saying "Action is the Foundational Key to all Success."

That has been the basis of my philosophy when it comes to Professional & Thorough Follow-Up whether referring to my 20 years in the dealership world or my time with DrivingSales.

I have this friend and client in Canada named Wayne C.  Wayne is a tough car guy on the outside and a great human being on the inside.  I would like to share some of the experiences that Wayne and I went through in forging our business & personal relationship.  We went through quite a tumultuous process to arrive at where we are today.  A fairly good case study on follow-up on both sides.

Stages of follow-up with Wayne:

9/10/2012 ~ Emailed & Phoned Wayne to respond to his request for information
9/10/2012 ~ Received email containing pricing objections
9/10/2012 ~ Sent email explaining value & benefits
9/11/2012 ~ Sent email with a &q Read Post

Does not being transparent make you invisible to customers?


TRANSPARENCY.  Love it or hate it, it is relevant and plays a big part in your Digital strategy.

Let's see if we can look at things from a customer's perspective for a moment.  

Google the product you're looking for.
Read through the results on pages 1-5 to narrow your search. (Yeah, right!)  More like, Read through the first 3, maybe 4 results.
Visit a couple of the sites to gather information including pricing and availability.
Visit 3rd party sites. (Autotrader &

So is #5 happening?  You better believe it is!  If you aren't pricing your inventory and pricing it "On the Money" you are out of the Internet game.  Remember, we're looking at things from a customer's perspective.  So here's the rub, some dealers dig their heels in the sand and say, "Listing prices online just costs me gross and those moo Read Post

Identify the Problem Solvers in your Dealership

When was the last time that you walked onto your showroom and saw that gathering of sales consultants standing around in the "Ring of Despair" and thought to yourself, "I'll bet that's a productive and uplifting conversation?"

Truth is that there are Problem Causers (yes, I know that's not a word) & Problem Solvers in every business in America.  Car Dealerships are certainly no exception and I submit that the Problem Causers seem to gravitate toward car dealerships for some uncanny reason.  

As a leader, should your valuable time be spent putting out the fires caused by Problem Causers or fostering the growth and goodwill generated by Problem Solvers?  The answer seems quite clear at first blush, but the execution of the concept gets a little tricky.  We all know that misery loves company so unless you have a sales staff loaded with high performers and the bottom guy on the totem pole is still rocking 18 units per Read Post

Internet Lead Response, Inspect what you Expect

In my capacity at DrivingSales I get the opportunity to analyze the Internet Lead Response Process of many dealers. The results certainly are varied and surprises pop up almost daily. These surprises are often received less than favorably by the dealer and understandably so. Dealer Principals and General Managers are confident that their process and response times are solid, that is until they see some actual results. Read Post

Can you imagine if Google owned Ford Motor Co? This guy did.

Would this skew how Ford performed in Organic Google Searches?  :-)
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To Spiff or Not to Spiff? That is the Question!

Ok, full disclaimer.  I know that this is a polarizing topic in dealerships everywhere.  That having been said, without bias to either side, I would like to present an argument for both sides and see where the community lands.  Hilary Clinton once said, "Freedom means the right of people to assemble, organize, and debate openly.

So, SPIFF.  A dirty word to some dealers and a heavenly gateway to results for others.

Position A: I have spoken with many dealers who take the position that their sales consultants are very well compensated within the confines of their pay plan and should be expected to perform to certain standards without cash bonuses playing a part.  One dealer also expressed the very analytical opinion that the additional expense generated in manpower required to track such cash bonuses and assure that they are properly accounted for in payroll for tax purposes was not worth any "lift" they would receive from offering them. &nbs Read Post

Good stuff from.....Wait for it.........Lincoln! I'm SOLD!

I was so impressed with this article that I just had to share.  Technology rocks!

Good stuff!

Read Post

What are your competitors saying about you?

Here is an interesting question; What are your competitors saying about your dealership to potential customers?

Herbert Hoover was quoted as saying, "Competition is not only the basis of protection to the consumer, but is the incentive to progress."

So here's the challenge.  Whether you are a Dealer, a GM, a Sales Manager or a Sales Consultant, take the time to walk into your competitive facing dealerships and mystery shop them.  Find out what they do well and what areas need improvement.  Pay attention to things like:

* Initial Greeting

* First Impression

* What questions are asked to discover your needs

* Product Knowledge

* Professionalism of the Demonstration

* Pushiness

* And finally, and perhaps the most important, ask them why you should buy from them and why they work at that dealership rather than the one down the street. (Your dealership!)

This exercise will be beneficial regardless of the answers you get or how well the &quo Read Post

A thought as we head into 2013 from the great Napoleon Hill






Every person who wins in any undertaking must be willing to cut all sources of retreat. Only by doing so can one be sure of maintaining that state of mind known as a burning desire to win - essential to success. 
Napoleon Hill 
Read Post

Dear Dealership, "It's GO time!"

  What are a prospect’s expectations when they submit a “Request for Contact” on your website?            "Dude, we'll totally sell you a car."            “What’s it gonna take to get you into our dealership today?”            “If I could, would you come down today?”            “I don’t know if the manager will even let me do this…”            “You’re not going to believe this, in fact I think it may be a mistake!”   A dealership’s greatest opportunity for growth in 2012 is online, but old school, traditional tactics will not be tolerated by today’s savvy customers.  The shopper in 2012 is a well-informed, tech savvy shopper that demands a certain level of respect and an even higher level... Read Post