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Jared Hamilton
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Marc McGurren

Marc McGurren Partner

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Knock Knock??? Are you listening to your customers???



I truly am blessed to travel this great country and help car dealerships provide for themselves and their families in ways I could never imagine…but over the past 13 months of traveling I continue to see patterns and habits that permeate our industry.


Over the next several weeks and months I plan to journal, blog, write, whatever you want to call it about my experiences as an automotive consultant.  Maybe, “confessions of an automotive consultant” will be the underlying theme.


More importantly my desire is to share with you the reader how you too can better equip yourselves, your team, and ultimately help you sell more cars.  We work in an amazing industry where we literally can write our own paycheck.  


So let me help with writing your paycheck…


First lesson, and one that I continue to preach from the rooftops, is from the old adage of “knock, knock…who’s there?”


In our Internet and BDC departments we receive knocks everyday from customer’s wanting to know:  Who is there?  Who is paying attention?  Who is listening?  Who is hearing me?  Who will help me?  Who is going to treat me the way I want to be treated?


At the Driving Sales Executive Summit in 2011, I sat listening to Jared Hamilton speak on how as car dealers we must be different from our competition.  He went on to say something that has stuck with me to this day!  


“I know and believe that there are great car dealers in our industry, the problem is that we all just look and act the same way.”


I have the privilege to look under the hoods of countless dealers’ CRM’s and processes and I continue to see the same mistakes from the east coast to left coast; from west Texas all the way up to the Cheese Heads of Wisconsin!  What is happening is that so many ISM’s, BDC Agents, and the likes continue to not listen to the “knock knocks” and pleas from customer begging for answers to questions and to just be treated as a individual…not just a number or to-do in a CRM.


I am as process driven as it comes and believe without great processes, dealers can only achieve a limited amount of success.  With correct processes, procedures, and leadership I believe dealers can easily achieve moderate to good successes in our Internet and BDC Departments.  Where the needle is moved, and dealers can go from good to great is taking those processes and personalizing them.  


Meaning, sometimes these processes can make our agents become robotic and relying too much on the predetermined templates to communicate with the customer.  


Where PCG is finding great successes with dealers is coaching, training, and changing the thinking of ISM’s, BDC Agents, and salespeople to look for the hidden treasures information inside the “lead” we receive and then personalizing the first few emails.


I believe templates are made to create dialogue, and once two-way communication takes place – salesmanship must come into play.  But, in order to dramatically increase that two way communication, we must answer the “knock knocks” we are receiving.


So ultimately I am saying and recommending the following:


Use a well crafted template on a first response to the customer, but in the first 4 sentences, personalize it to the customer.  Not all leads are created equal, but here is a list of tips that anyone can implement. 

  • Lose the “Dear Mr./Mrs.” – this comes across too stuffy.  Replace this with something more friendly and personal:  “Hello Brian” “Hi Kristen”
  • Thank the customer for their inquiry vehicle purchase request.
  • Confirm the information and reiterate the what you received from your lead provider.  
    • This is especially important on 3rd party leads.  If you are in the north and they ask for a 2WD SUV, make sure to confirm that is what they are looking for as 90% of what you would sell would be 4WD/AWD.
    • Confirm the package and equipment they are interested in.  Give the customer a link to the entire inventory of that particular model they are interested in.
  • Answer any and all questions in the same language the customer uses.  Meaning, if they ask for how nice the car on a scale from 1-10.  Let them know it’s a 9, not just clean and nice!  If they ask if the vehicle has tan interior, let them know it has tan interior, not mocha latte pearlized with ebony accents.  
  • If a customer submits trade information, let them know you are extremely interested in seeing the vehicle…regardless if it is a wholesale piece.  
  • If no questions are asked, still speak to how nice of a vehicle they are looking at is, especially if it is a used vehicle!  One owner, non-smoker, great miles, etc!
  • Pay attention to where the customer is located and speak to that.  If it’s some distance to your dealer, address how you serve customers all over the area, including where they live and speak to them how you understand their time is valuable and will not waste their time if they make the trek to your dealership.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but mere examples of how dealers can make sure their customers are being “heard.” Dealers do not have to do every single one of these in the first few sentences, just make sure there are personalized calls to actions.


Dealers do not have the luxury of second chances for first impressions when it comes to our Internet and BDC Departments.  We live in a very competitive world where we must stand out and be different.  Will you the reader answer the knocks you receive and dare to be different?  My plea is just that…dare to be different.

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