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Nicki Allen

Nicki Allen Operations

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Are industry standards helping or hurting you sell?

 

Let me preface this post by saying that I’m not trying to directly attack any specific company. I do, however, believe in being straight forward and I’m sure I’ll get plenty of calls and emails about this post; I am 100% ok with that!

I’ve been dwelling on this subject for several weeks now. With my short attention span, I normally move on in a matter of days, but this is a topic I can’t seem to shake so easily. Are we becoming so focused on meeting these industry ‘standards’ that we are losing sight of the actual customer experience? I currently have a Mazda point outside the Dallas- Fort Worth metroplex and recently attended an Internet Mastery Workshop. The workshop included results of a 3-part Internet mystery shop, website evaluation, reputation management, social media, etc. Now I’ve been to these before and normally I take the information provided, evaluate what changes I think are needed, and shrug off the rest. Let me give a little bit of history before I go any further…  I have a very strong internet team in my Mazda store. We are currently #1 in our region for closing % and #5 nationally for the rolling 12 months. We are also in a VERY competitive market in DFW, with 9 Mazda stores within 50 miles of my doorstep. We carry the highest CSI regionally and are always in the top 20 nationally, so I take great pride in the job my guys do. With all of that being said, you can imagine my frustration when my mystery shop book came around and the 3 scores for the internet shops were 60, 62 and 36! I reviewed the booklet that breaks down all of the mistakes we made (and of course they show only the mistakes, never suggestions on how to do it the ‘right-way’). I started playing out in my head the talk I would need to have with the guys on how they are doing a sub-standard job (according to this mystery shop).

When I returned to the store, I was all ready for my ‘review’ of the horrific mystery shops with my team, when all of a sudden it hits me… who  are they to say my team is doing such a bad job? If our results are really topped out at 62 high score, maybe the grading scale or the evaluation criteria are the issues. I started thinking back over the last 5+ years about all of the changes that have been done and undone. All the time spent on making adjustments and transitions and the hours of ‘reviews’ with employees, when I realized none of those things have EVER improved our closing %’s or sold  more cars for us.  It had simply wasted a lot of time and energy. Before anyone starts jumping up out of their desk chairs thinking I’m saying that processes and procedures aren’t important, let me clarify, that is not what I am implying.  I believe in ongoing training and that processes/procedures are the backbone of any well run business. However, I also feel like our industry has gotten so wrapped up in following these ‘industry standards’,  and too much effort is spent hitting quotas and targets, rather than doing what it takes to sell cars.  Or that our auto responders hit exactly 1.25 minutes after the lead was submitted, because we are told those things will get us to 20% close ratios with 40% appt set averages;  we’ve become somewhat robotic.  It’s RIDICULOUS!!!!! All that time spent trying to be perfect could actually be used in contacting another 2 people a month. At what point do we as dealers (you know, the people that ACTUALLY sell the cars) find the balance between adhering to necessary controls, and taking actions that we know will best benefit the customers and our dealerships?

Shawn Morse
Nicki Nice post. I would have to agree that your team is top notch.
Marc McGurren
Nic - love it! Just look back at what GM forced us to do with "killing the clock." I still see dealers with a 20 minute response time on a 24 hour grading scale - yet their closing rates still are beyond horrible. I think the balance comes in as a dealer to "appease" the OEM's by doing what they ask but we can't get sucked into being cookie cutter and doing what everyone else is doing. We have to innovators by being one step ahead and ultimately do what's best for us and the dealership. The OEM's *can help - but I see them so many a times actually hindering the process rather than helping. I will say this - I am not envious of that person's job at the OEM level. How can the OEM's still support us as dealers w/o stifling us with their industry standards. So - I say listen to the OEM's. Take what you can from your crummy mystery shop score, make changes to appease them...bc we have no choice, yet still communicate and sell the way we want to. Oh the juggling games....HA! Great post Nic!
Hagen Durant
Excellent post. I've always tried to fit what hey push into my game. If they catch me off guard, then we'll make the changes and improvements moving forward. In my experience, they have never led me down a dreadful path. Cooperation goes a long way, and a good track record of it can open doors in the future. On the other hand, I can definitely recognize that there isn't a single token procedure that would encompass a solid iSales department. I would like to see these requirements reach a dynamic that instills dealers with the ability to "sell cars well", and help customers leave happy. I'll be the first to say that there isn't a uniform means of approaching this. "How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meats?" HD
Hagen Durant
Definitely.
Nicki Allen
Morse- thanks! Our awesome CRM plays a HUGE part in us being able to stay on top of it! :) McGurren- the 24 hour GM requirement is a perfect example. It seems to been counter productive in my opinion. It required so much outsourcing on a dealer level that your team that breathes your culture doesn't get the first chance to build a relationship with the customer a lot of times. Knowing your business and the way you operate that could really hurt your chance at getting that sale!

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