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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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Gary May

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There you were, grand opening day. Glistening bright showroom, gleaming inventory, balloons, refreshments and customers. Fast forward however many years and maybe a few of those items have faded. But the one thing that can't go away: customers! More businesses are waking up to the fact that it's about the customer and some even realize more specifically that it's what they can and will do for your business.

Whether you're involved with social media or not, crowd sourcing (and all its forms and descriptions) is one of the best and most efficient ways to move your business. There is no question that your business must move from the inside but it moves more quickly if your second greatest asset (yes, your greatest asset still is your people) helps from the outside. It may be the greatest step in avoiding greater amounts of failure than necessary (read: failure is necessary, just not to much).

Now if you believe that means you need to have a ground-moving meetup or tweetup, stop there. If you have plans to crush your competition with a Facebook page or more Twitter followers because someone says you're great, put away your soap box now. What you simply need is your customers to help move your business forward with direct interaction. You know, real conversation! Have you collected an opt-in email database? Have you surveyed random sales and service customers within one hour of their visit using free online services? Ask and you'll be told.

That being said, if your engagement online is mature and you get compelling responses, all the better. Remember that your customers having a say in your business is not an "in a silo" activity. Your greatest opportunities are in the great areas of volume and you should likely reward your most helpful clients as well (in legal ways).

Businesses must move forward to keep up with their customers today. Keep the conversation to your management team, and you'll likely keep your results as they are today. The suggestions from a 47 year-old mother of two or a 22 year-old fresh-out-of-college-with-a-first-job kid are likely more in-line with what will make you successful. Go on, do it...surprise yourself!

Or you can be like too many businesses today that are getting hammered in reviews, CSI rankings, word-of-mouth and other media only to decide how to move forward alone. When you try to do that alone, you'll get tired...and more lonely! Ever heard of the customer that got into a great conversation with the GSM or GM, came back for another chat during their first service, ended up working for the dealership and is not only killing it now, they've brought everyone with them?

Oh yeah, that would never happen to you! You're not looking outside for help anyway....

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

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