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Kheneil Black

Kheneil Black Digital Merchandising Manager

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Digital Automotive Merchandising : My first steps into the right direction

Here is my first stab at blogging…Enjoy!
 

I started selling new vehicles for a GM store a couple years ago, not knowing how well I’d do or where this career would lead, I dove in filled with wide open mind. The longer I spent on the show room floor is the more I realized some facts;
 

1. Roughly 80% of the people that came in looking for a car knew exactly what they wanted.
 

2. The general public was very apprehensive about coming in and speaking to a sales person unless they did their research online.

 

3. The general public was still clinging to the old attitudes of the stereotypical “lot sharks” of the “good old days” of car sales.

 

4. I was “too nice” for vehicle sales.

 

But something else also occurred to me, I loved being in the automotive business. As far as I knew, it wasn’t going anywhere and it was a large part of the economy.

 

Two and half years later after jumping in to automotive sales with two feet and switching to a more forward thinking dealership, I was given the opportunity to do something relatively new to the automotive industry.  

That “thing” was merchandising. Not just for used which is the traditional thing to do but for new vehicles. My dealer principle was a marketing genius of sorts and tasked me with the mission of putting detailed pictures and descriptions online for all the new vehicles.

There I was with 350 vehicles with another 125 on the way at the budding days of spring, not having a clue how I was going to approach this monumental task.
 

I had no prior photography skills, no digital marketing skills, and no photo studio to work with. But what I lacked in skills, I made up for with an endlessly positive attitude and wee bit of creative writing skills. On a side note I published a poem book just before joining the automotive industry which gave me the confidence to take on any type of creative writing project.
 

I felt confident enough to do the descriptions, but more importantly, I had to figure out a process to take pictures and catalogue the images. I was quickly trained on the point and click aspects of photography and some minor training on Adobe Lightroom for photo polishing. Armed with my newly acquired skills and attitude that I’m destined for greatness, I sprung into action and headed for the lot. I felt like I was running in circles for the first week not knowing how to choose the vehicles I wanted to start shooting.

 

I learned a couple crucial things from my team leader when creating a process, tracking is the key to organizing a plan of attack.
 

1. Verbalize the process; write it down, all the things you need to do in the process.

 

2. Track how long the process takes on a whole from start to finish. For example I timed how long it took me to choose a vehicle find the keys, find the vehicle, get the vehicle camera ready, take the pictures, polish the pictures, upload the pictures, and write the description.

 

3. Take the process and time the individual parts of the whole process, because this helps with finding easier or faster ways to do the individual parts of the process, optimizing the process as a whole. 

 

4. The last and final breakthrough was a big one for me, I chose to lump together all the vehicle models and colors that where the same allowing me to complete large numbers of uploads with just one set of photos.

 

Once I applied step 1 and 2 my numbers increased from 3 vehicles a day to 6. Once I applied step 3, I went from 6 vehicles a day to 10 and once I hit that last realization I was posting 15-20 vehicles a day! Just so we understand the scope of this project each vehicle had 50 pictures on average, not your standard 12-18 on used vehicles.

In full swing and making big progress in new vehicle merchandising ,my dealer principle announced in August that we where number one in our district for new vehicle sales and the victory was not by a small margin. Not really thinking to take any of the credit, I was just happy to know I was apart of a dealership with a winning formula.  Then my dealer principle announced as part of the whole thank you spiel, that our time on site increased from 7mins-12 min because the customer had more pictures to digest in there decision making process, which was directly related to the increase in new vehicle sales! With that knowledge, I knew I was doing the right thing. With that further validation of this position becoming a new necessity in a successful dealership of the future I was sure that there was much growth for me especially after being told I was the ONLY person in Canada doing new car merchandising for GM at the dealership level.

 

 

So now in maintenance mode I eagerly await the bigger possibilities as the vehicle merchandiser….Oh wait I guess its blogging? Let me know how I did. Feed back is a must. This may be my first time but don’t be gentle.

 

Thanks for reading!

Kheneil A. Black

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