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JD Rucker

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The “Points” Aren’t Where They Used To Be, and “Drive Time” is 24/7

Drive Time

Salespeople in automotive learn very quickly that standing on the point during drive time is the easiest way to grab an up.  You have first shot at the fresh meat as they roll onto the lot.  If they’re shopping, you’re eager to assist, right?  I vividly remember my first dealership having actual marks on the pavement, like some kind of treasure map, with x’s and o’s indicating the points which MUST be manned during peak traffic times.  There was one out front in the median between the entry and exit lanes, another at the end of the sidewalk in front of the new Chevy’s, and two more placed in the middle of the inventory lines.  Each day at t 11:45 AM sharp the loud speaker crackled to life and an authoritative voice boomed, “Gentlemen, It’s DRIVE TIME!” 

Drive times lasted from 11:45 AM to 1:00 PM, and resumed from 4:45 PM to 7:30 PM.  Every sales agent who was not actively engaged with a customer, in person, in the dealership scurried to the points and remained there until they grabbed a fresh up, or died trying.  If you were caught off-point, without a customer, during drive time, you were written up.  It was that serious.  Water breaks (for the weak) when the temperature hit 90 degrees, and bathroom breaks for “emergencies only” were our only solace from the lot.

These tactics were a bit intense, but they worked.  Too well, in fact, since each up generated a feeding frenzy I liken to throwing chum into a pool of sharks.  There were all out brawls, races to customer’s windows, and Spy vs. Spy-style subterfuge employed by the hungry, hot, tired sales people who often didn’t care if the up was good or bad, just so long as we could go INSIDE!   The idea was that every person who drove onto our lot was greeted promptly and if they were shopping, we were selling.  Nothing wrong with that.  The problem is that some sales people, managers, and dealers still believe the points are on the lot. 

This may come as a surprise to many of you, but the fresh meat is no longer outside your showroom windows, driving up uninformed with an open mind and time to spare.  The family trips to car dealerships to “look around” are long gone.  Even the much-loathed retort of “We’re just looking” has been silenced forevermore.  Today if you stand around on a pavement point greeting cars during drive time you’ll be nothing more than a concierge directing the APPOINTMENT of your colleague to her desk (or snaking them, which, if you still do this, a pox upon your house!)

The points have moved.  There are several locations to post up, and none of them are on the sidewalk.  First, you need to be present in search results pages on Google, Yahoo, and Bing, on page one, at the top and/or right hand column, in the sponsored results. Some people click the first result they see.  Be that.   But that’s not nearly enough.  More savvy shoppers look past the paid ads, to the organic listings, these are also your points.  You need to back up your paid ad with organic listings because the combination instills confidence in the shopper that you are, in fact, an authority on the matter.  Imagine all 10 organic listing on page one are your points, you should be stationed at as many of them as possible during drive time. 

Guess when drive time is?  It’s now.  Someone in your market is shopping for your product at this very moment, online.  I don’t care if you’re reading this at 11:45 AM, or 4:00 AM.  It’s drive time right now.  Standard websites might get you placement on one of the available points.  That means 9 points are unmanned.  Unacceptable.  There are no water breaks, or bathroom breaks from these points.  You know where else they’re “just looking”?  Facebook.  Be there. 

Facebook is equivalent to the point in the median between the entry and exit lanes of your brick and mortar dealership.  There are people coming and going all day long, maybe they are there for service and parts (a.k.a. cat videos and stalking their ex-boyfriend), but why not take a swing at them?   You got in front of every live body that crossed your point and made sure if they were shopping you were selling, right?  Do the same thing on Facebook.  There are countless ways now to decipher who is in the market for a new vehicle online, and to offer up assistance, before they ask, where they spend time.  Do that. 

There are more points, your website for example. Are you manning that post 24/7?  Is there a phone number with a live receptionist on the other end?  Is there managed chat, so they can reach out with any questions, 24/7?  Twitter, Pinterest, other social networks could be considered points, albeit the points in the back lot where the noobs get sent.  Don’t waste an awful lot of time on it, but have a presence, and pay attention to all your points, all the time.

The most important points are easy to man with a solid combination of content marketing and effective social media management and marketing.  You must CONSTANTLY generate quality content on, and off, your dealership’s website.  This is not a “set it and forget it” effort.  Quality content consists of unique text, images, video, and content-appropriate links.  Don’t copy and paste, and don’t half-ass your content.  Take the time to make it reader-friendly.  Don’t stop at your own site, that’s only one-third of the battle.  You need quality content off-site as well, and you must get on Facebook.  Posts to your front-facing page are a great start, advertising is a nice second step, next target your audience and deliver compelling in-feed marketing messages.  Get on the point. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, IT’S DRIVE TIME!!

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