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Geoff Bedine

Geoff Bedine President | CEO

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Breaking the Chains of Desktop Detainment

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How a collaborative workflow can supercharge your dealership and free your employees for the critical fundamentals of growth and profitability

Over the past 10 years, automotive dealers have experienced an explosive growth of third-party software vendors, many touting “revolutionary tools” for automotive retail businesses. The problem, however, is that these tools and systems can have unintended consequences: they don’t integrate well, forcing staff to log into multiple systems, and have restricted a dealer’s ability to address what’s most important to their business—people. They have created an ailment apparent in many dealerships today called “desktop detainment,” where staff is tied to their desks completing simple deal related tasks.

That’s not the intended result of good technology. The right kind of technology enables managers to spend more time engaging customers, mentoring employees and closing more deals. Mobile-capable and integrated tools allow employees to be agile and accomplish their tasks in a fast-paced, ever-changing environment.

Fortunately, there are tools that are integrated in a larger solution that help to create a single and efficient digital workflow. These tools “free” employees from their desktop and empower them to do what is most important for business: engaging customers, coaching employees and closing more deals. That type of focus can maximize growth, enhance customer service, improve transaction speed and increase profitability.

How Do I Free Employees at My Dealership?

Let’s start with the appraisal process in the used car department. Typically, most dealers still have the manager responsible for the entire appraisal process.   A salesperson comes to the manager first (who is often stuck behind a computer trying to keep up with the many systems they are responsible for managing).  The manager gets up, walks outside, does the appraisal, returns to his desk and inputs the appropriate data into the appraisal tool.  In many cases, the salesperson never looks at the car or isn’t familiar enough with the vehicle to devalue the trade. With the exception of using technology instead of pulling a book out of their back pocket, the appraisal process hasn’t really changed.

Now imagine a highly efficient process that empowers a dealer to return to a successful fundamental strategy: the “silent walk-around” on a trade appraisal. The best mobile solutions have allowed some highly successful dealers to influence positive changes to their appraisal process by empowering sales people with a mobile solution. The resulting process has helped dealers to devalue trade-ins but has had the intended result of speeding up time to market.

The Traditional Appraisal Process (Involves only the Appraiser)

Average time spent by Used Car Manager: 12 minutes

AVERAGE TIME SPENT BY USED CAR MANAGER: 12 MINUTES

The Next Generation Appraisal Process (Engages the Salesperson)

Average time spent by Used Car Manager: 5 minutes

AVERAGE TIME SPENT BY USED CAR MANAGER: 5 MINUTES

 The consequences of this next generation appraisal process:

1.      Better closing ratios and less haggling on trades via an efficient “silent walk-around” and an informed sales representative.

2.      Improves morale in sales department — freeing the sales manager to be more efficient with their time management — reduces turnover and helps to grow future leaders.

3.      Speeds up time-to-market by having a fully photographed and optioned vehicle ready for initial online merchandising. Faster time to market always leads to increased sales and profitability.

4.      Creates transparency with the consumer and overcomes the appraisal objection.

5.      Closes more deals faster and differentiates the dealership from the competition. 

6.      Empowers a salesperson to sell their own trade when they are better informed about the features, options and condition.

Best-in-Class Mobility

Think about your software tools. Now ask yourself this question:

“Does my current solution empower my employees to do what they need to do, wherever they are at the moment and whenever they need to accomplish the task?”

The best mobile tools should allow your employees to do all of the above. Imagine a world where managers are no longer detained by their desktop computers, a place where salespeople go back to fundamental successful principles and an environment that empowers your employees to return to engaging customers, coaching and training employees.

Hold Technology Accountable for Results

When implementing changes in your current processes and technology tools, think about what specific and measurable results you want to see from the change. For example, by implementing the above change you should see some or all of the following results:

  • Increased “win” percentage of trade-in appraisals
  • Faster listing/syndication of used vehicles to market
  • Higher closing ratios
  • Increased sales volume
  • Increased gross profit on trade-in vehicles
  • Better compliance with photos, options and descriptions

Change can be Painful. But it’s a “Good Hurt.”

Do you ever get sore after a good workout? Does that mean exercise isn’t worth the positive results of health, well-being and longevity? Successful dealers realize that however initially uncomfortable change might be, positive and thoughtful change to their processes and systems can yield productive results for their business. Great solutions require great partners who allow dealers to do business the way they want to do business. Only better.

Good Selling!23d153390708677b60d8359ccf54d630.jpg?t=1

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Mark Begley
Geoff, although your intent is correct, I don't feel your methodology is. I agree we all need to break away from the desk. Far too many managers fail to get nearly involved enough with the sales process. That being said, the technology used doesn’t need to be from a one-stop-shop solution. Many of the technology solutions out there have a great module or two but then they suffer in other areas. I promote the prospect of choosing a core solution that has capabilities of seamlessly integrating the best-of-breed solutions a dealer may choose to utilize. For instance, when I was a general manager I was able to manage the appraisal process in a very efficient manner utilizing several solutions. A customer could actually start the process at home by utilizing AutoTrader’s Trade-In Marketplace that was built into my website. That information would automatically populate my vAuto tool and VinSolutions CRM tool alerting my staff there was a lead and alerting me there was an appraisal necessary. I could drive the vehicle and input my notes along with the appraised value for the vehicle and it would again, automatically update the deal before I even got back to the dealership. The sales manager was able to work with the salesperson and customer to complete the deal from the information I had input into the tool. Once a deal was made, the customer’s original input was transferred to Dealertrack for approval at the bank and would seamlessly integrate with my Autosoft DMS F&I solution making it ready for the finance department to deliver. So although there were many vendors involved with the process, I had the best-of-breed applications that worked for my dealership without having to settle for applications that weren’t exactly what I needed or wanted. Don’t fall into the one-solution paradigm. If that were the case, we would never sell any accessories in the store because why would you need a sport-tuned muffler when the car came with a muffler already? … just not the one you wanted.

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