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Gary May

Gary May President

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Most people that read this blog that are in automotive retail probably have one thing in common: they can do one thing really well. Sales, finance, management, etc you're likely not fresh in your position or field. You've been trained, taught, updated and (even if not very effective) sent to seminars, events and trade shows. People looking for more information, especially in this format, are those that want to learn...to be better, earn more or lead their field.

So, it's time for you and your colleagues. Time to do a few things. This is not a way to say that you're only doing one thing. Rather that the automotive retail, and even most of the headquarters, needs to venture outside of the comfort zone in regards to being more effective, using multifaceted strategies and new technology to deliver better results.

There is raging debate on what works and doesn't tied into whether or not fads and technology work: social media versus the tickler file, direct mail versus ads, text marketing versus a note, text codes/integrated mobile marketing versus billboards, Internet departments versus the floor, CRM versus the 3 by 5 and the salesperson's memory. Folks, what are afraid of? What investment is not worth it if customers will consume it? And why is the debate still going on at all? If it works for you, do it.

Oh, and then there's the budget and resource excuse. It used to be that the argument was simply "if I drop my newspaper and TV ads, traffic will stop". We all know today, without question, that's not the truth. Period. Now days it's "I can't staff competent people to handle live chat", or "how can I have someone post on social media ll day and still sell the cars they're supposed to?".

That's not the point. It's simple: do the same things, get the same results. Stop thinking of a technology, solution or new mouse trap as a stand alone aspect of your business! Everything creates either consideration or traffic that should convert. You might think about things this way:

1. Your website is the center of the universe. All traffic should ultimately go there. Leads convert there or because of the information gained there. While not the most dynamic part of your marketing, it is one of most easily tracked, can be modified nearly on the fly, enjoys the benefits of multiple sources and provides seamless integration. Oh, and you own it (or if you don't, you now know you should!)


2. Invasive marketing is meant to drive specific contact or leads but rarely meant to drive traffic to the website (which should change): direct mail, outbound calls, inserts and other forms of non-requested contact. Still works but typically not tailored correctly for higher conversion. If dealers started using their data correctly, ROI would increase (or start actually). Upside is that the receiver is not expected to do anything other than look or open their mail or drive by something while the downside is that tracking is poor and is not on the consumers terms.

3. Passive marketing is meant to involve your customers with your brand and includes events, ride-and-drives, social media, giveaways and more. Benefits are that it can be tracked more accurately than any other off-site media, costs are typically lower than (if not practically dirt cheap) traditional marketing, engages consumers at their want/need/desire level and offers great sharing and word-of-mouth.

Two and three are supposed to make one work better, consistently. It's incredible to think of someone that controls the marketing spend at a dealership or group using invasive marketing as the majority of their focus while the same person doesn't use the media they buy when they consume content! Put even more appropriately, why do you market or advertise expecting it to work when you've not successfully asked or tracked how your customers engaged, used and responded to your marketing? The first dealer that says they source successfully over 50% of the time, your staff is...well...not being honest.

It's our job to know what our customers want, not what we want them to want. If you're a top producer at your dealership, how can you deliver more? The answer isn't that you can't. Or that there's not enough time in the day. Or that you're waiting for the new model because nobody wants to buy what's being replaced. It's time to do a few more things well.

Are we recommending that you get into a fist fight with your GM about opening up the firewall that your IT director clamped down so tight you can't get an email out to your mother? No. What we are recommending is that you find the time and ways to make your time and results more effective and productive.

These things don't happen by themselves. We need to push ourselves into uncomfortable territory for a while and commit to seeing the results through.And don't lay down because your factory rep doesn't understand how your CRM works or what a tweet is or that you can actually talk with people on Facebook.

Do one new thing...then do two things...and they will come! Yes, silly, the customers.

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

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Catherine Edwards
Gary, you are right when you stated that even top producers can deliver more. This can be realized by providing any customer who submits a lead with a high-quality and rapid response. To be the one that wins the customer’s attention requires price transparency and a respect for the customer’s information-gathering process. Fortunately there are Digital Response Management (DRM) solutions that will execute multi-vehicle price quotes within 10 minutes regardless of what the salesperson happens to be doing at that moment, such as taking another customer on a test drive.

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