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Gary May

Gary May President

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Things That Pissed Us Off In 2010 (Yes, They Pissed You Off, Too!)

We know it, you know it, they know it. Almost everyone knows it. Because if everyone knew it we wouldn't have ben put through it. But we were, you were and they were. Disclaimers: These are not in order of importance. Many companies are being called out, not all. This is a singular perspective.

So here it goes:

1. Automotive marketing overall: Sucked, still sucks, will likely continue to suck.
2. Dealership websites: 1995 called and wants its sites back. Give us a break and some new suppliers!
3. OEMs that don't publish new inventory: Get over it. customers leaving your brand are.
4. Automotive trainers that re-branded as web consultants: A new suit can't cover 1982 style.
5. Reputation management companies: Fudge is brown. So is bull%^&*. Fake customers? Envelope stuffers? Hooters girls? Please leave...
6. Motivational speakers that re-branded as automotive trainers: See line 4.
7. Social media companies: Charging dealers $3,000-5,000 plus per month? Larceny is still a crime.
8. DMS companies: Still make clients sign in blood for 15 year old technology, for 15 years? Nice. FAIL.
9. Website company dashboards: No, use this thing called Google Analytics. Quit fudging numbers. Block dealers' and your IPs for starters!
10. Inventory marketing portals: The luster is long gone. Run or acquire some companies for revenue!
11. Sales reps: Stop selling and start helping. Don't know much so you can't help? Sell elsewhere.
12. Ad agencies (Tier 1): Quit the facade. Traditional doesn't sell. Experiential does. Learn to like social. Get help.
13. Ad agencies (Tier 3): Quit lying to yourselves and your clients...You don't get digital. Get help.
14. CRM companies: If you don't do that, say you don't do that. Otherwise add it for free. Pariahs.
15. Website companies using Flash: 2003 called and wants their websites back. It's called HTML or PHP.
16. Facebook Personal Profiles: Businesses, we've been yelling. Set up pages. Not "friend" profiles!!
17, Social media companies: Setting up APIs and RSS feeds from OEMs is not social. It's plagiarizing.
18. Social media companies: Setting up inventory feeds as posts? If that's social, I'm tall, rich and hot.
19. Traditional media/ad networks still selling to dealers "old school". Shame on you (and your bosses).

Dealers, you're not in the clear either:

1. Hiring any service, including social, as a "pay for it and leave it" service? No such thing. Period!
2. Hiring any company because you "liked the rep when they were at ________ before". Failure...
3. Not taking the time to get educated on new aspects of your business? Hand the keys back to the OEM
4. "Trying" new things?! Sample spoons are for ice cream. Business is for big boys and girls. Just Do It!
5. Cutting your nose to spite your face? Chances are you're too lean. Hire the right people, not resumes.
6. Leaving everything up to the factory (especially some luxury brands). Wake up! It's your business!
7. Believing the you can turn your store's reputation over to an outside company?!?! I've got a bridge...
8. Not flinching on a new $4,000+ service to a company you're already cutting a $15k check to? Dumb.
9. Spending $3,000 on a 3-day conference 3+ times when you can get a month for that?! And get more!!!
10. Spending any money on your business and not taking ownership of the new spend. Why, why, why?
11. Paying any amount of ad money to traditional media and it's not integrated and tracked?! Foolish.

New-age definitions when you don't understand the spend:

CPM: Can't Provide Much
CRM: Can't Remember Much
ILM: Incredibly Lousy Marketing
CSI: Coached Senseless Investment
SSI: Serving Senseless Initiatives
I/O: Incredibly overpriced
OEM: Overlord, Empire, Master
PDI: Petty detailed injustices
Social: Someone outside control incompetently and loosely
IMS: Inventory Means Something
DMS: Decades-old Money-draining (or Mediocre-Moduled) Systems

We could go down the path a long way but here's the simple version of the message: quit doing things old ways, with old thought processes, with old beliefs, with old defenses, with old intentions, with old management. If you want to run a dealership the old way, get stuck in 1964, 1974, 1984, 1994 or 2004. If you want to thrive in this and the coming markets, wake up to the reality that business will not be the same. Even if we sell 17 million new cars again, it'll never be the same.

Some may be able to, by all appearances, just skim along on the surface, mesmerized by everything going on around them and still put up the numbers. For most of the businessmen and businesswomen in the retail part of our industry, it's a deep dive kind of time. Your success depends on you and how you build your business's presence, results, growth and more. Less than 5% of your colleagues are engaged, firing on all cylinders and moving forward in today's market.

There are a lot of things that pissed us off in 2010. And we may never do a post like this again. But somebody needed to do it. This might motivate some, light a fire in others and have some in stitches. No matter what, it's time for moving some more metal. There's not too many ways to do that today.

Are you pissed off enough to do something? We've been helping those that want to do something for the past three years and three months. Are you next?

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

You can read more IM@CS posts here on or on our blog.

Dave Erickson
This is great stuff! There is so much here that I'm totally astonished you were able to slap it all down in one post. You have an awesomely accurate and refreshingly honest insight into the industry. It does suck that we have to live through all of this for absolutely no good reason. It pisses me off too. I'm sitting here wondering who I can blame and what my part in all of this is. It's easy to blame the GM and GSM but the harder part is looking at what our part is and how we contribute to this list. No matter what our role. Internet Manager, Service Manager, Desk Manager and the same goes if we're a Product Manager, Marketing Manager, Account Rep… I can't tell you how often I've thrown out at numerous vendors suggestions asking my contact to throw it at their manager for possible inclusion in their Product Requirements Document (some features, etc.) and they seem to have no concept of what that is, which tells me there really is no proper software development in their company, but then again, with us dealers as their clients who needs all that. Seriously, but the sad thing is they created at least one requirements doc which was their initial concept that brought them some level of success to begin with. If they continued with that. Who knows what would happen. If they reached out to their customers. If the dealers reached out to their customers. Some awesome things could happen. Things that could eliminate so much of the list that pisses us off. Sorry to ramble. So, back to my point. Your article caused me to ask myself - what are my faults? Where do I fall in this list. Surely I can't be immune. For me, as an Internet Manager that would have to be taking on additional responsibilities or allowing the GM to assign me additional responsibilities which I have neither the time nor resources to complete. Perhaps even taking an honest look at what I've already taken on. Perhaps I no longer have the time to do everything thrown at me. Perhaps it would be better to take the hands on experience I have acquired in something to ensure we hire the right people for the job. Perhaps this all boils down to asking for help. Is it fair that GM's expect some guy who mostly has to earn his living through sales to also manage their social media, SEO work, track lead providers, train some new employees, administer shitty ass CRM, structure deals, get deals bought, while he is digging cars out of storage, going on dealer trades, trying to work deals, responding to new leads, hammering the phones, staying late almost every night, updating the website, being the person who has to get to the bottom of unhappy reviews and who is about to be asked to "get us onboard with this video thing" and who to shortcut the whole process because he's exhausted and has more work piling in doesn't want to bring every deal to the desk when it's easier and quicker to do it yourself, but perhaps he would be a good guy to yell at for "doing the desks job" and who should keep his top button buttoned. So yes I think for me and perhaps many other internet managers out there our role in the disfunction of the dealership is creating subpar results by allowing ourselves to be utterly overwhelmed. Perhaps I'm able to beat some of my competitors just because I scarifies some long term work for quick results just to get some extra deals this weekend. I'm not so sure my competitors are not doing well because they are working on long term solutions only. I'd love to think they were but I have yet to see a single contact from any of my competitors even creep on driving sales. I just think they are bogged down deeper. So perhaps the way out is to ask for help and to get it from experts likes of yourself. Thanks again Gary for making us think.
Chris Theisen
Gary as I stated on your blog site I knew I liked you for some reason. I didn't literally give a standing ovation but I did virtually. My one to add is this; don't pigeon hole yourself into dealing only with auto industry vendors. Numerous solutions exist outside of the auto industry that do the same or a better job for the same or usually better pricing. There are industry vendors who do a good job and who have their place so thats not a blanket statement but if dealers would just open their eyes and minds a bit you would be surprised at what is out there. You owe it to yourselves and your business to pursue these options at the very least. Great post and obviously you are not included in the bad auto vendor listing. Keep spreading the good word :)
Bill Playford
Thanks for saying what many are afraid to. I think you hit this point many times in your post (rant?), but the lack of commitment really pisses me off. Change is not something you dabble in. While most of the business world has moved on, dealers and their personnel are still wanting to hold on to the "old fashioned" way. Unless you are making bespoke suits, move on! You cannot afford to keep straddling the fence. You need to make a decision to adopt modern business practices, or stick to what you did twenty years ago. If you don't understand how retail has been evolving, then pick up a book, subscribe to some business magazines, and read some trade journals that are outside the car business. If you can audit some marketing and strategy classes at a local college, it will be worth every penny. Just because you've listened to dozens of sales pitches does not mean that you understand how something works, nor does it mean you understand how it will impact YOUR customers. You need to dedicate yourself to having a fundamental understanding of how your business functions, and how to adapt it to the changing times. The only person that can do that for you is you. If you do not subscribe to the theory that the car business is changing, I’m OK with that. Commit yourself to doing things the “old fashioned way.” Don’t keep offering mixed messages of “hassle free service,” and then force your customers to wait at the dealership for 45 minutes for help. You are just poisoning the Internet process, and reinforcing the stereotype that going to the dealership is a miserable experience. Either commit to the Internet, or just get out of the way.
Ed Brooks
I love #4 "Automotive trainers that re-branded as web consultants: A new suit can't cover 1982 style" and #6 "Motivational speakers that re-branded as automotive trainers: See line 4". Every other day I see a 'consultant' bash anything and everything new. "Just get back to basics", "THIS is what's worked for years". The systems they developed years ago worked like gangbusters and they find it hard to admit the retail environment has changed. Damn Al Gore and the internet. If a dealer wants to hire a consultant today, my first question would be "How do you feel about the internet?". If the answer is anything short of "it's changed the world and offers up a tremendous number of new opportunities for a dealer" run like the wind.
Shawn Vieira
Can not agree more. My biggest gripes have been and will continue to be 1) CRM - Yes it has 10,000 different reports, but not one that I want or a way to build it so I will keep using my excell spreadsheets 2) any company that has a long term contract (more than 60 days) 3) companies that say their product does X, Y and Z but won't let you play around in a demo site without signing a contract first. Thus making your info the demo. ~ let me see the backend tools and play with them. 4) any company that still forces you to learn Unix to operate their system (the two big DMS's) 5) platforms that WERE modern 5-10-15 years ago still being touted as cutting edge 6) companies that force you to use a certain web browser to use their product. The major browsers are Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari. Make sure it works on all of them. It shows that the company came up with the idea and contracted the original build out to Microsoft and bought the rights to it, if you can only use it in Internet Explorer. Which means the company selling it did not create it and most likely has no way of updating, improving it. 7) Owners who believe salesmen, using the same pitch that they use to sell a car. example "offer is only good until the endo of the month", "we will waive the setup fee", etc...

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