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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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Jared Hamilton

Jared Hamilton Founder - CEO

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Whenever I visit dealerships, I often see technicians standing around at the parts counter or waiting to talk with service advisors. This is a waste of you…

Dealerships are putting too much emphasis on social media and its not healthy for the stores, the consumers, or the industry.

Marketing is not the problem.

Despite the fact that most dealerships are still operating on an old marketing paradigm, most dealers are fairly decent marketers. They tend to manage large budgets and get predictable results with acceptable ROI. (The ROI part is semi-debatable, but that’s for another time.)

The biggest problem hindering most stores is not the marketing, it’s that they don’t deliver on their marketing promises.  It’s sad, but our industry standard for customer service is doing just enough to get the job done with today’s fresh customers but stops way short of creating an experience that customers can rave about. In other words, the root problem holding dealerships back is not what you are doing in 140 characters on twitter, it’s what you are doing on your showroom and service drive.

Think about these points:

·      Is the foursquare you use in your write up process designed for optimal customer experience or just to maximize gross?

·      If a customer asks for the price, or even payments, on a vehicle, how hard is it for them to get a straight answer?  Are your sales people trained in evasive tactics?

·      Are your sales people paid in a way that motivates them to maximize gross at the expense of the customer experience?

·      How long does it take to get through the finance office?

·      Is your trade evaluation process transparent or do your customers have to wrangle through a negotiation process after being hit with a super low offer to get to an “acceptable” deal?

These items are just examples of common pain points within dealerships that hinder customers from truly loving you.  I know this sounds a bit crazy, but if you were to bring your mom down to the dealership to buy a car, but you wouldn’t allow her to be subjected to your normal sales process… you have a broken process!  Lets face it; we could all do a better job in certain areas.

Social Media is the COOL thing to do:

Social media is about really efficient communications.  People now share information to the tenth power, and this power of “word of mouth” has WONDERFUL marketing implications for all business.  However, most dealerships don’t give the customers something good to talk about.  Even the most effective social media strategy is doomed if your dealership doesn’t operate in a super customer centered way.

Think about it like this, an effective social media strategy, or any marketing strategy, to attract customers to a dealership that is not customer focused is like taking aspirin to cure cancer.  It may make you feel better, but it’s far from a cure.  Are you looking to really cure your dealership of its current setbacks, or are you into chasing a shiny object ‘cause it’s the cool thing to do?

My Recommendation:

There is a massive opportunity out there for those dealerships who are willing to be innovative with their marketing, including being heavily involved in the social media sphere, while innovating at the operations level to provide amazing customer service… then get out of the way and let your customers do the talking.

This is proven to generate wild success.  Ask Eric Miltsch, Tom White jr, Andrew Difeo or Tracy Myers about how their stores have performed through the downturn, then ask them about the how they handle the pain points listed above.  These guys are more than marketing geniuses, they pair excellent marketing with brilliant operations, and each puts their own flavor to it.

Killer success does not come from killer marketing alone.  Huge success comes from the alignment of your dealerships marketing with your stores true value proposition, excellent customer service.

Everyone wants to be a business rock star but few are willing to put in what it takes to get there.   Most in business operate at the status quo and try and dress things up in fancy marketing. Innovate at the operation level and pair that with killer marketing and you will become the rock star.

What’s holding your store back from rock star status?  My guess it’s not just what you are saying on twitter or sharing on Facebook, it has more to do with giving your customers something to talk about.

Dave Erickson
Since many of us seem to be on the same page why don't we simply take it to the next level. Let's identify these dealers and do em in. Finish them off. Burn the whole damn village. Perhaps create a web site. A mission statement. An agreed upon checklist to identify them. Then we start moving ourselves across market areas. Like Genghis Khan or the Roman Legion sweeping across vast land areas. If they don't change/convert by the time we arrive in that market place they get finished off. Choked out. All combined skills, time, resources, and even hype created by this new war will finish them off and we are done with this old school shit forever. Surely this will happen anyway but I'm tired of living in between two worlds so let's expedite it.
@DAVE - let's just consider for a while being a part of the series "Twilight Zone"...The problem is that the "new school" guys are not any longer willing to keep up with the mess, created by "old school pupils". The concrete antique structures of "old school students" and the unwillingness to change and to adapt is pushing the new kids out of the automotive retail environment. What stays is the bitter taste os stale ideas and the Groundhog Day like repetitiveness of "My grandfather has sold cars, my dad has and our family is doing it since 60 years. There is nothing new to it and don't you dare to tell me what is right." For me is only one thing left to say...R.I.P "old" fellow
Stacy Mueller
Hey guys... I just wanted to point out this article I saw today ( from American Express. Essentially, they found that Americans will spend 9% more with companies that provide excellent service, but most feel companies aren't doing enough to earn that business. It immediately reminded me of this post and my comment earlier about the importance of customer service (especially how it relates to social media). Anyway, just thought I'd share...interesting stats so check it out.
Eric Miltsch
Yes. Finally. Someone else notices the elephant in the room. Several months back I went so far as not even using the phrase "Social Media" anywhere within a 2 mile radius of the stores. Unique buying experiences and incredible word of mouth propels our business; SM wasn't going to become a distraction for those people most responsible for creating those memorable experiences. While SM is typically the most "visible" activity, it's always been an extension of our uniqueness. SM didn't create our experiences & it certainly didn't separate us from local dealers - rather, it allowed us to broadcast & listen just a little differently. SM is not the panacea. Solidify your processes & empower the top talent to execute them better than your competition. Do those things and as Jared said above, SM is in fact the cool thing to do - simply because your culture creates the cool.
Bryant Gibby
I couldn't agree more. It's all about customer service. I work at a best-price store and everything we do is geared toward customer satisfaction and providing a great experience for our customers (although we could use a little help with getting our customers through F&I faster!). I think our sales process gives us a huge leg up from a social media standpoint as our customers usually have nothing but great things to say about us. Like Missy said, customer service will always prevail!

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