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Joe Webb

Joe Webb Founder / Trainer

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Run Your Dealership the Chicago Bears Way

Are you ready to follow in the footsteps of the Monsters of the Midway?
Is it in your best interest to run your dealership like the Chicago Bears runs their team?
Is it time to “Bear Down”?
The answer is Yes… and not just because I’m a Bears fan.

Chicago Bears superfansMuch like the Chicago Bears, your dealership likely is a storied franchise. In this analogy, the OEM is like the NFL, providing policies, guidelines, and rules to adhere to in an effort to remain a viable brand. And your dealership operates under this umbrella. You, as a corporation, have a history. A story. You have decades of faithful fans. The Chicago Bears is the NFL’s oldest team (originally the Decatur Staleys) and many dealerships have a similar longevity among their community. Maybe not to the tune of 95 years, but some of you aren’t too far off. You’ve made an impact in your town and you desire to continue your winning (or surviving) ways.

Papa Bear HalasThe Bears are not the best franchise. As a fan, I must admit this. Still, they are my favorite team. Like many dealerships, the Bears don’t always have the best ownership. Sure, the history of a dealership may shine a little dimmer without a renowned leader the likes of Papa Bear George Halas, but most are owned by an individual or family that carries with them a reputation. Like most dealerships, the Bears rarely have the best management or coaches. Almost never are their players the most talented or physically gifted. But damn it if they don’t try to win every single time.

I believe the Bears have the biggest hearts, and they bring that intensity to the field the same way automotive professionals should be trying to succeed every day on the showroom floor and service drive. The Bears try harder. They hit harder. They hurt more when they lose. And all you can ever ask of anyone on your team is to TRY. And to never stop trying. To take what they do personally and to leave it all out on the field. Or, to quote every over-used sport soliloquy, your team should be like the Bears because they always seem to be giving 100% effort. And that is what has made them legendary.

Your dealership could learn something from the Chicago Bears.

DitkaBut history, legacy, work ethic, teamwork, “super fans”, and desire can only get a team so far. Inevitably, it takes critical thinking and analysis. So I was excited to see the headlines recently when the Chicago Bears hired a Director of Analytics. This is nothing new. “Moneyball” has been bandied about by sports organizations for years. The Chicago Bears aren’t the first to dive into this philosophy. And you wouldn’t be the first dealer either to hire someone with this sole job responsibility. But you can be like the Bears by finally coming around to the idea. The Director of Analytics was a newly created position for their organization. The individual they hired, Mitchell Tanney, is responsible for identifying, extracting and analyzing data to support decisions for both in-game situations and personnel evaluation in an effort to predict future outcomes.

Listen to the General Manager of the Chicago Bears, Phil Emery, and try to tell me this position doesn’t make sense for your dealership. Emery said, “We needed somebody with an expertise in filtering through subsets of data to make sense of them in terms of which pieces are important and which pieces can be put together to give a clearer picture of projecting performance, whether it’s on the field or in scouting projecting players moving forward.” I don’t need to connect the dots for you.

There is a vast amount of data at your dealership’s fingertips. But all of that is worthless if you don’t have someone who can see the digits, convert them into trends, and enact changes in the company’s operations that will help them improve. Making decisions based on gut reactions can only get you so far. Making decisions based on cold, hard facts get you even farther. You aren’t in this industry to have an 8-8 record every month. You’re in this industry to always be in the playoffs, and to strive for the trophy. To do this, you’re going to seriously need to consider hiring a numbers-cruncher.

Walter PaytonThe change is already happening. While I’ve joked that every vendor and their brother was trying to sell “social media management” over the past couple of years, if you walked through the exhibit halls at the most recent digital automotive conferences, the biggest trend was “Dashboards”. Many vendors seem focused on aggregating all important data for a dealership into one portal/dashboard/platform/buzzword. Some were actually dynamic, fresh, and valuable.  Others were underwhelming and ill-conceived.  Nonetheless, the metrics dealers are generating (and ignoring) can be their salvation.  But having the data isn’t enough. You must be using it to change your processes, marketing, methods, and structures. The data is too valuable to just throw it into the lap of an Internet Director. Someone with a history of selling cars online and one semester online at University of Phoenix under their belt isn’t likely the candidate to be analyzing data and finding opportunities for growth. Your service tech, with all their certifications and advanced knowledge of mechanics, is still probably not the best person to drive a million dollar race car. A former quarterback is not always the best coach. You must put the valuable data into the hands of someone who can harness that power and convert it into performance.

Chicago Bears Super BowlIt is time to think about the personnel on your team. Do you have specialists? Do you have that playmaker that can put your team over the top in the division? This is a brutal and vicious game we’re in, and we need to be leveraging every ounce of energy we have to be the best at it. Like the Chicago Bears, we won’t always win, but hell if we don’t give it our all while we’re on the field. Go Bears.

Jessie O'Brien
As a Chicagoan, I might be slightly biased -- but great read, Joe. I especially loved the part about data. I often find people are quick to point out a problem, without presenting a solution. The metrics we receive from today's technology is GOLD -- but only when you choose to leverage it.
Jeremy DeLorm
That is a great article. I really like how your crossed over dealership management and how the Bears are ran. Very Cool!
Joe Webb
Thanks so much, Jeremy and Jessie. As a (former) Chicagoan myself, it all just tied together for me when reading about their new hire. It's time more dealers get on board with enacting change based on data.
Jason Hamblin
Joe, Good article and I could not agree more. Everyone has data but it is the companies that take action on the data that sets them apart. Only thing I disagree with is that "The Bears are the best Franchise!"
Tom Gorham
Joe, like Jessie, I may be biased, being a Chicagoan and a Joe Webb fan. But I loved this article! It's not enough to have the stats, we all have so much information available to us, it can make your head spin. It is making sense of all that data that is key. There is software available that can do that IF you no what metrics apply to that data to make it meaningful. I believe you have to understand your goals and how the metrics of individual initiatives applies to each of your goals. Conversion metrics aren't very meaningful to a branding platform, right? Once you can define each of the goals you set for your initiatives, the data should support the success or failure of the attempt. Thanks once agin for an insightful and entertaining article that provides meaning to what we do!

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