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Since this is my first blog posting to be published on DrivingSales.com, please let me introduce myself...
My name is Ralph Paglia and I joined the ADP Dealer Services Division, headquartered in Hoffman Estates, IL as their corporate “Director – Digital Marketing” responsible for business development with OEM and National Accounts in April, 2007. Prior to joining ADP, I was the Director of CRM and eBusiness Operations at Courtesy Chevrolet in Phoenix, AZ. Courtesy Chevrolet’s Phoenix dealership is the largest total sales volume Chevrolet dealership in America… For the first 6 months after leaving Courtesy, I maintained an ongoing consulting relationship with Bill Gruwell, the owner of Courtesy Chevrolet and his sons Mark and Scott Gruwell.
I first became familiar with AskPatty.com while working for Courtesy Chevrolet in the Spring of 2006. Since most of the people reading this blog posting have probably heard about AskPatty.com, I would like to have this posting reflect Courtesy Chevrolet’s experience with AskPatty.com while I was employed at Courtesy Chevrolet. I would also like to comment on the lessons we learned and the ways we were able to get value from our participation in the AskPatty.com program.
When we initially signed up with Askpatty.com our motivation was to receive leads from women we anticipated would enquire about new and used vehicles through the AskPatty.com web site that was constructed for us at www.askpatty.com. Since we were the first dealer in a relatively large metropolitan area (Phoenix) to sign up for the program, we had several Internet Sales Specialists chomping at the bit to receive these leads. Of course, we did not know then what we know today…
First of all, we were amazed that the people at AskPatty.com insisted that we train our staff and assign specific people to the AskPatty.com program. We were initially put off by that whole approach as we were at that time a bunch of guys who thought “hey, we gives you da' money and you gives us da' car buyers… right?”. Well, we were initially mistaken as the program turns out to be a genuine and legitimate example of a group of people who mean what they say. So, I went back to square one and hired a couple of women to be our AskPatty.com Internet Sales Specialists. Now, I don’t have enough time in this posting to share all the stories around the women we hired and the trials and tribulations we went through as an organization that was traditionally dominated by testosterone fueled, mega-ego, high pressure car salesmen, but let it be known that for the first time in over 20 years of my automotive career, I turned to my wife for advice on what to do at work.
My lovely bride happens to be a professor within the Women’s Studies program at Arizona State University (ASU), and is an accomplished feminist author… Her name is Dr. Elizabeth Archuleta. Based on her guidance, I set up a separate area just off the showroom floor and then configured it with office cubicles and workstations for our AskPatty.com team of Internet Sales Specialists. After taking the AskPatty.com required training, passing the tests, then setting up the “About Us” page at www.askpatty.com we were ready to get started… Katie, bar the doors!
What we soon learned is that AskPatty.com is not a third party lead provider, nor do they say that they are… What they are is an endorsement and certification provider. Think of them as the Good Housekeeping seal of approval for a dealership that wants to serve the automotive needs of the female consumer. Until we realized this value, we were under whelmed by the volume of leads we received directly from AskPatty.com, and we suspect that other dealers expecting them to be a lead source would discover the same thing. Eventually, we figured it out… AskPatty.com is a franchise, a brand that we could use to market Courtesy Chevrolet as a “Female Friendly Dealership”. But wait, there’s more…
Like many dealerships, we had traditionally not done a great job of hiring and retaining female sales professionals. We discovered that the AskPatty.com program is a great way to attract, recruit, hire and train women sales professionals. We did this within our Internet Sales Teams, but there is no reason why it would not work for the showroom sales teams as well. And, to our delight we discovered that when we hire AskPatty.com Internet Sales Specialists, and then market this role using the internet, we started selling more cars to women car buyers than we had in the past. Think about it, a whole new category of sales professionals selling new and used cars to customers who we previously missed because of the way we treated them… Sound like incremental business?
Working with the truly exceptional management team at Courtesy Chevrolet, we were able to implement the use of AskPatty.com as a marketing campaign that was tied to a unique sales process executed by a dedicated team of women who truly believed in the concept of a female friendly car buying experience. Their passionate enthusiasm shows through to the customers. Under Scott Gruwell’s leadership, the AskPatty.com Internet Sales Specialists helped us grow by over 30% during the second half of 2006 and going into 2007, becoming a key part of the store’s focus on maximizing sales volume through the use of niche marketing campaigns.. In 2006 Courtesy Chevrolet sold over 7,700 new Chevrolet cars and trucks, which was over 1,000 units ahead of the next closest Chevrolet dealer. Courtesy’s success in using the AskPatty.com franchise as part of their Digital Marketing strategy to grow sales worked exceptionally well for increasing used vehicle sales. Courtesy’s total sales, not including wholesale, went over 11,000 vehicles in 2006. Of those 11,000 sales, over 3,000 were used retail sales and over 4,000 of the 11,000+ total sales originated from Courtesy’s BDC and Internet Sales Teams, including our AskPatty.com female friendly sales professionals.
The development of interactive marketing campaigns that make use of a dealership’s participation within the AskPatty.com female friendly car buying program combined with the implementation of multi-channel marketing strategies using a blend of new technologies and traditional media is a great way for dealers to capitalize on the AskPatty.com franchise. Using the highly competitive and fast paced Phoenix market as a backdrop, we developed Digital Marketing practices around the AskPatty.com certification and branding that were successful and contributed to our overall success. Recognizing this, I was selected to receive the “Hardest Working Internet Sales Professional” award by the non-profit Association of Automotive Internet Sales Professionals (AAISP) for 2007.