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Brian Pasch

Brian Pasch CEO

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Part of me does not want to write this post because I have written about the importance of Google Places in the past.  Part of me says that I need to send another reminder out because of my experience at a 20 Group presentation today.

This article is not specifically about Google Places but a mirror into the failure of OEM dealership education in regards to digital marketing.

Of the 20 dealers in attendance at today's meeting:

  • - Over 50% of the dealers had less than 10 reviews posted on Google Places
  • - One dealer did not have a Google Places listing
  • - Three dealers had yet to claim their Google Places listing
  • - Over 60% of the dealers did not include the "Used Car Dealer" category
  • - Over 70% of the dealers were missing appropriate photos and videos.
  • - Over 90% of the dealers had the wrong geo-targeting setting

Google Places is Significant

I'm not listing these statistics to embarrass anyone but Google Places is the #1 free source of online traffic and leads for a car dealership.  For example, a Miami Honda dealer's Google Places page shows 37,000 times a month. 

Guess what?  What appears on Google Places impacts ALL of a dealer's advertising dollars because when someone searches for a dealership "name", Google Places is right at the top of the search results with "a story". 

What is the story your Google Places page is showing?   Consumer reviews have a big part in how this story is played out.

Dealers in The Dark

My experience today is a reflection of the state of our industry.  The rate of change in digital marketing strategies has not been matched with OEM education.  In fact one dealer executive named Chris asked me:

"Brian, our OEM has not informed us on the importance of Google Places, consumer reviews, or showed us how to leverage Google for advertising.  Is any other OEM doing a better job at educating their dealers?"

I did not have an answer for Chris.  Most every time I speak at 20 Group meetings, the very basics of today's digital marketing strategies are NEW revelations to dealer principals and General Managers.

The fact that most dealers in the room had no training on inspecting their #1 source of free traffic, Google Places, is an indictment of delayed or broken OEM educational processes. 

Is Google Places important?  Would you like thousands of free advertising impressions and visitors to your website each month?

I Decided To Be Part of The Solution

I love speaking at conferences and 20 Group events because I want to be a part of the educational solution.  I love the fact that organizations like DrivingSales and PCG Digital Marketing have great conferences scheduled throughout the year to assist dealers build knowledge and strategies to leverage the Internet.

But Chris's question was sincere and demands further thought. 

My candid presentation may have made him feel exposed, uncomfortable, and uninformed.   He was one of the dealers who had a Google Places listing that was not claimed.  I think he was very glad that I brought it to his attention.

But it's not just Google Places that had dealers looking cross eyed!

Google Boost?  What's that?  Bounce Rate?  What's a good percentage?  Google Webmaster Tools? What?  Retargeting?  What's that?

You get the idea.  Dealer's in attendance were puzzled at some of these phrases and they should not be.

The more I travel the more I am convinced that dealers are READY to learn and READY to change but the OEM's are not nurturing their franchise dealers in a TIMELY manner.

OEM Education Has Failed

It's time for our industry to admit that our educational processes have failed to keep the dealer community up to date with leveraging the #1 source of advertising and branding; the Internet.

That's why I continue to beat the drum; dealers need to invest in educating their entire executive team.  That includes Dealer Principals,  Fixed Operations Managers, Internet Sales Managers, Marketing Directors, and of course the common acronyms GSM and GM.

I should be attending 20 Group meetings to address more than the basics but I can't because the basics are NOT being covered.

Dealers who want to invest in education will be rewarded.  Where should Dealer Principals and General Managers start?  

  • 1.  Visit and book your executive team for October 9-11th in Las Vegas.
  • 2. Visit and send your tactical team to a regional training event in great cities like Chicago, Dallas, St. Louis, Huntington Beach, Seattle, Vancouver, and Toronto.

Waiting for your OEM to provide training that is timely is like waiting for the Easter Bunny.  If you want chocolate, go out and get it.

If you want cutting edge, timely education, register and engage at places that offer what you need.


Terrence Gordon
Brian - good post and I agree. OEMs have left it up to their "designated vendors" to provide the online marketing products, but nothing is required by the OEM in regards to training or education. It's a growing problem. Many of our clients are requesting (many demanding) online marketing trainings . Up until now, they have been told WHAT to do...just not WHY.
Chris Hanson
Brian, you give a ton of info to the dealer world. Real life, usable info but I have to disagree with this post. A lot. Every OE is different of course. For instance, Subaru does a stellar job on the digital front. Perfect? No. Do they cover everything? No. But it's a focus for them and I hear all the time from the dealers that Subaru supports them on digital way more than the other brands they sell. But is that really the issue here? At the end of the day, who's responsibility is it? The dealer or the OE? Could the OE do better on educating? Yes! Could the dealer do better on wanting to be educated? Yes? Information is EVERYWHERE if you want to find it. My point here is that I'm not sure why you have taken the negative in calling out OE's instead of just doing what you do. Get the word out on your workshops. Invite. Educate. We as an industry need it and thank you for that.
Dennis Galbraith
Chris, I agree with your view on Subaru. I spoke for the certified pre-owned group several times in Las Vegas. Subaru really takes dealer training seriously. As you point out, the dealer participation from those who were in attendance was great, but there should have been more stores there to take advantage of the opportunity. I also share some of Brian's frustration. Most Auto OEMs appear to be quick with the mandates and weak on the training. However, I need to take what you say to heart. I suspect there would be fewer mandates if response to the training efforts were better. Sometimes it does seem like the only way to help some stores is to mandate the proper activities or embarrass them with lost opportunity. Those of us who care about dealers need to find more ways to motivate and inspire as well as educate. That may take vendors and OEMs working more closely together. I am currently developing a franchise training program in the motorcycle industry, and this thread is moving me to take it up to a higher level. Thank you so much!
Brian Pasch
Chris, My passion at times get the best of me. I'm glad to see that Subaru has taken a lead in dealer marketing education but as a whole, the industry has failed its dealers. For example, dealers are often measured by CSI scores but why would OEM's not address the importance of online CSI impressions from consumer reviews on places like Google Places,,, etc. The dealers in my last 20 Group were very glad to be shown the power of just one important tool; Google Places. The impression they gave me, was that since this IS so important, why wouldn't their OEM give them the heads up. I offer any OEM my services to build a customized dealer education program that is relevant and effective. Between my staff and great industry professionals like Dennis, we could craft a powerful solution to the wide gap in dealer understanding.
Chris Hanson
Dennis, Up until the end of March, I've spent the last two years working with SOA and their Subaru dealers and I experienced what you did - attendance was awesome and the dealers and Subaru were very engaged! What I really found out was that now. Today. There is a very HIGH demand for learning digital from dealers and the OE. The problem we had was that there just wasn't enough of us. Once you do a workshop, the dealers want more. They want dealer visits. That was a beautiful thing and we did as many as we could. We are the trainers, the educators and it's our job to show the OE's and dealers the importance of digital and how it effects their business. And then it's their job to take action. We are currently at a time more than ever, where we have more OE's and dealers who are all ears. I know people at not only Subaru but Audi, Chevy, VW and Saab and digital is on the forefront and they want to take action.

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