Notifications & Messages

Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
Hey - It’s time to join the thousands of other dealer professionals on DrivingSales. Create an account so you can get full access to the articles, discussions and people that are shaping the future of the automotive industry.
David Johnson

David Johnson Social Media Aficionado

Exclusive Blog Posts

Why Security Is More Important than You Think for Your Business

Why Security Is More Important than You Think for Your Business

Having a business means that you’re likely going to have to keep security in mind. Whether you are looking to increase customer trust or you want to …

Interview with Scott Pechstein: What's Up With "Digital Retail"?

Interview with Scott Pechstein: What's Up With "Digital Retail"?

Scott Pechstein, Vice President of Sales at Autobytel, Inc., talks about the buzzword of the moment: "digital retail." …

What's Keeping Your Company's Directors Up at Night?

What's Keeping Your Company's Directors Up at Night?

Although we typically define executives by their ambitions, their anxieties can be equally telling. If you’re losing sleep over handling cyber se…

Top Reasons It's Time to Breakup With Your Vendor

Top Reasons It's Time to Breakup With Your Vendor

Vendor relationships are business, and while that is not to say that relationships develop with the people you work with - at the end of the day, it is abo…

The Perennial Sales Starter Kit

The Perennial Sales Starter Kit

Outside of having some online training that I could do on my own time, a 2-Day Sales Training Course, shadowing the top Sales Consultant (at my initiative)…

Are they? I think, in a way, they are. You hear about it all the time, in every forum, every dealer twenty group and in all the industry magazines. Best practice this, best practice that, this is what you should be doing if you want to sell more cars!

I say, take it with a grain of salt. Look at where the auto industry is today, we're behind the times, it's always been that way, many times it has been said, "The auto industry is a late adopter of any new technology." I think the reason why this is, is because there are too many auto dealers out there that are always looking for industry best practices without thinking about their own dealerships best practices.

Wikipedia defines best practices as a technique, method, process, activity, incentive, or reward that is believed to be more effective at delivering a particular outcome than any other technique, method, process, etc. when applied to a particular condition or circumstance.

Wow, that doesn't sound bad, now does it? No, it doesn't. In fact, it's not the actual best practice idea that I want you to think about, it's about the idea of blindly following what another dealership has done with the assumption that it will produce the same results for you. Now, I'm not saying that you shouldn't look into these so called "best practices," because you should. But instead of looking at them as the holy grail, use them to create practices that are best for your particular dealership. In other words, test, measure, test some more, measure again then rinse and repeat. This testing process should never end, in fact, you should make it a habit to continually improve upon your own numbers by measuring and testing on an ongoing basis.

The 5 Fundamentals Of Developing DEALERSHIP Best Practices

Embrace The Chaos and be proactive. Times change, people change, and culture is always shifting. The most important aspect of any marketing strategy is to make it flexible enough so that it won't break when things don't go according to plan. Adhering to industry best practices and not developing your own dealerships best practices is the quickest, surest way to failure.

Be a student, but surpass the teacher. Be proactive in your pursuit of knowledge but a master of adaptability.

Don't Let Fear Stop You from taking on new challenges and trying new things. I see a lot of dealers that won't try anything new because they fear they will lose market share, they are content with doing what has always worked, then lose their minds when it doesn't. In order to grow your business and take over market share, don't be afraid to adjust industry best practice by testing and measuring what works best for your particular dealership.

Use industry best practice, but mold it to fit your needs. Being fearful prevents growth, proceed with caution but don't let fear overtake you.

Put Your Ear To The Wind and pay attention to what it says. Predicting what's going to happen, in most instances, is near impossible. But if you listen to the constant change that is going around you and adjust business practices accordingly your dealership will always stay relevant. People are buying differently, mediums have changed and they put more emphasis in what their peers think than ever before, are you listening to them? If you are, then creating dealership best practices will be a much easier task!

Listening is one of the greatest business practices not being utilized today, what are you listening to?

Communicate Up and Down and Inside and Out. Open communication has been preached on forever but it's something that rarely occurs, good communication anyway. Instead of this being about internal dialogue I want you to think about external dialogue and listening to what your customers have to say. I encourage you to open up dialogue with them, get their opinions on what you can do better, believe me, if you ask they will tell! The best way to turn an industry best practice into a dealership best practice is by asking your customers how THEY would like to purchase a car, get service, or buy parts, then adjust accordingly.

Effective communication is more than a fundamental, it's the bedrock upon which ALL successful businesses are built.

Add Value. Everything you do, every email you send, phone call you make, ad you place and every time you talk to a customer should add value to their lives. If you care passionately about your customers it will become much easier to add value. Take a look at what you're doing now, which processes can be adapted so that they add value?

Adding value builds a stronger win-win relationship with your customers. Stronger relationships equal more sales, more referrals and more repeat customers.


While these fundamentals will get you started never forget that you must always test, measure, then test again. Never be comfortable with where you're at, always push the envelope, be creative and grow. Keep in mind that just because a specific email is working now doesn't mean it will ALWAYS work, the same can be said for a phone script, a liner ad, or a radio spot. Adapt and grow.

David Johnson is the Social Marketing strategist of and Next Generation Dealer Services.

I would call it more likely "Best Practice = Brain Food" depends on the receptor how she or he is seeing an opportunity from somebody elses "best practice" to benefit. As you had stated "the auto industry is a late adopter...because there too many dealers looking always for better practices..." - I am not seeing that really as an issue. When you talk to the "old team rosters" in dealership around the nation (with old roster I mean the staff, who is in the dealerships since 1987), they "know what they have to do and actually harming with old practices the progress - as it is in Digital marketing, Process Handlings, Lead handling, etc. My self was a "victim" in 2001, when I came into the US and started selling cars successfuly. The "just invented" email leads through the starleads program of Mercedes were untouched by all of my peers with the explanation "these Internet customers are not real customers but time-wasters", guess what, I made it a successful business branch of mine, and even today the same sales people at this store don't have any relation with the eCommerce. Would it have helped them, when they would have had followed some of the best practices out there. I think yes. On the other I totally agree with you on -Do not follow blindly every other idea - too often there are too many chefs in the kitchen who may just spoil the soup, even so when you just ask for chicken soup.
David Johnson
Maybe I could have saved all the words and just said, "Do not follow blindly every other idea," as you so eloquently put it. LOL This post was written after a conversation I had with a dealer client of mine who is ALWAYS looking for best practices to implement, and he does so blindly. I offered up the idea to him that he should manage his results by testing new ideas and alternatives until he tweaks what he has learned into what works best for his dealership. Simply put, "Do not follow blindly every other idea." Thank you for the comment VJ, it is very much appreciated!
David, believe me I know what you are talking about. Too often do I run into the same scenarios, like you just had with your dealer. Chasing the shiny object, looking for the dilemma solving Silver Bullet still does not exist, and possible will never be. Hope to connect for more mind and brain storming with you in the future. Enjoy the weekend. VJ
David Johnson
Thank you VJ, and you as well!
Gary May
Great exchange! Best practices, which has been part of my company's tagline since 2007 and as you point out David, is absolutely good. As a matter of fact, it's great. Without them, and the flood of errors still made in automotive retail, we'd actually be further behind that we are. Executed more completely the (accurate and honest) recommendations of the events, seminars, magazines, vendors and consultants would have better results. In being inside dealerships all over North America almost every day I witness what should be best practices used a the latest "it'll sell cars for us" perspective. That builds one thing: massive failure. In my opinion that's what kills effective and profitable results. Therefore dealers (and frustrated vendors and consultants) get turned off by the pitch, engagement and lack of thorough, consistent results. We're all responsible since we're all in this together. Best practices are only that when applied correctly daily and tracked. If you do not apply something new in your dealership for AT LEAST three months including staying absolutely on top of it, what you will end up with be poor to average practices. And don't forget, don't start anything without clearly defined goals. You can't hit what you can't see and you MUST start with the end in mind. Best regards (and practices!) Gary May IM@CS

 Unlock all of the community & features  Join Now