The DrivingSales community is a wonderfully inviting and accommodating community. However, for those who are here for the first time, I can understand that it can be a tad intimidating. Especially if “digital” is not your first language, some of the topics and conversations can seem overwhelming at first glance.
I wanted to write something for first-time users to DrivingSales.com, to ease them into the culture and experience that is found here. My goal is that if new users are more comfortable on their first experience, we will convert a higher percentage into active users. After all we are in the business of conversions, and the more people we have contributing, the more we will all get back from it. We are all in this together.
This article is for both the brand-new, hip, young digital girl/guy in the automotive world, and the veteran that is looking to broaden their horizons. Together we all have vastly different skill sets, and on DrivingSales, we can all work together.
Yes, today every site asks you to create a profile, leaving you with another password you can’t remember. However, a DrivingSales account will help launch you into the community. First and foremost, as you spend time on DrivingSales you will begin to foster online relationships. Creating an account allows you to connect with others in the community, and allows you to be easily contacted as well.
I always enjoy meeting people in person that I have communicated with on DrivingSales. It’s amazing how the conversation can naturally flow from the online community to IRL (In Real Life). At the last DrivingSales Executive Summit I had the fantastic opportunity to meet community members for the first time, even though we have shared many conversations in the past.
In addition to your new profile being like a DrivingSales online business card, it also tracks your activity and notifies you when anyone responds to a post or article you have been participating in. This can be very helpful if you need to recall information weeks or months down the line. Just last week I looked up a YouTube link that I thought I had lost.
Once you have a profile started, head to mine: http://www.drivingsales.com/profile/24699 and click “Add Connection.” I don’t bite, I promise.
Throughout DrivingSales you will see that every member has a number beneath their name. That’s their “dScore” and, in short, it is a measurement of their contributions towards the community. Low number = low contributions, high number = Rock Star.
It’s relevant to time as well, meaning if a user goes dormant for a few days the score will begin to decline. This way, you know at any exact moment where a member stands in the community.
What this means to you is that you can use dScore as a measuring stick when taking suggestions or advice from other community members. A high dScore would suggest they are a more trustworthy source. However, it’s just a guide; you definitely don’t want to discriminate against a great idea because of a number.
You can see the full-length official description of dScore here:
The forums on DrivingSales make up the bulk of the activity on the site. The goal of the forums is knowledge: share and gain as much as you can. Think of it like a 20 Group that never ends, where you can “talk shop” with your colleagues till the cows come home.
You will see a wide variety of topics in the forums: questions on how to solve a problem, industry news and events, general sales & service topics, opinions, best ideas, and so much more. For example, the current all-time most commented topic is “The Most Important Website Metric” and the most-viewed post is "Favorite or creative spiff ideas.”
It doesn’t always have to be “digital” – many conversations surround dealership operations, fixed ops, and day-to-day activities.
Topics are just the beginning – what makes the forums so useful is the communication in the comments section. Depending on the subject matter, the comments from the other DrivingSales members can range from a lengthy debate to a brainstorming session.
Sometimes conversations can get quite heated, especially when there is a stark difference of opinion. Yet, what is great about DrivingSales is that there is always a level of respect and professionalism amongst the members. So you can get right into a debate, but remember to keep classy.
Now, since this is a guide for new members, I will guess that you haven’t posted yet. What are you waiting for? Jump right in! Even if it’s just to introduce yourself. There are no dumb questions or comments. Everyone here is very supportive and eager to help.
If you have a question to ask or have something to share, I highly encourage you to post away. Just click the “Ask a Question” button on the front page and you are off to the races. Or, if you want to start small, start commenting on the other posts.
This section is a little bit hidden, but it should be a MUST-visit for all. It’s like the pizza place in the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas – a little hard to find, but well worth it once you arrive.
Here you can find some fantastic ideas that others from the community have contributed, most with detailed descriptions, how-to guides, and statistical results of how well it worked. Not to mention, they are great conversation starters where the DrivingSales community can discuss how to take a great idea and make it even better.
If you have a great idea that you can share, I strongly encourage you to do so. The better we operate as an industry as a whole, the better off we all are.
Blog articles on DrivingSales are separated into two sections: Exclusives, and Community Blog Posts.
The Exclusives section are articles that are only available on DrivingSales, whereas Community Blog Posts are likely to be circulated elsewhere on the web.
Exclusive blog posts are important, because you know that they were written specifically for the DrivingSales audience. This drastically increases the relevancy for the reader, and should encourage you to read as many as you can.
Now, that isn’t to say that the Community Blog Posts are not good, as there are many articles I have found that were terrific. However, as time is a precious commodity, if you are looking to maximize your ROI on a short budget I would make sure to check the Exclusives section first.
Blog articles on DrivingSales are separated into several sections:
The categories make it easy to separate what you are most interested in. For example, someone from the financial side of the business can hang out in Finance & Insurance, while an Internet manager can spend her/his time in Internet/BDC.
Since you are new to the site, don’t limit yourself to just the latest posts. Look back over the past few weeks and read everything that has gone on to really familiarize yourself with the community.
Many users are not aware that you can tailor your notification system to suit your needs. By default, your account is set up to notify you of pretty much everything. However, if you are looking for a tailored-down experience, you can change any of the settings yourself.
Did you know you can share a news item? It’s super easy – just head to the news section and click on the “Share Auto News” section. Or, if you know that a particular story may create a debate, you can also share a news story in the forums.
The News section itself is a terrific place to stay informed. It’s curated by the community to provide the most specific automotive news for the community. You will always find a different perspective here, as the content is coming from individuals across North America.
Speaking of news, DrivingSales also has its own content stream, including their very own reporter, Dave Martinson!
DS News provides a steady stream of targeted automotive news and stories that you need to hear right away. It features the heavy-hitting stories from the automotive industry, including big news from the OEMs like recalls, new models, and marketing shifts. On the flip side, DS News is always up-to-date on the latest and greatest from the technology side, with features on things like the new Facebook Places updates and Google’s latest upgrades to mobile extensions.
Between DS News and the community-moderated news, you will be fully informed about everything that is happening in the automotive world.
One of the most important sections of DrivingSales is the Vendor Ratings. Here is where you can research all the vendors in our industry and get an unbiased view of how they stack up.
It is the first place you need to go when you are looking for a vendor solution, whether you are looking at mobile apps or fixed operations solutions.
DrivingSales Vendor Ratings are also fully transparent, and each rating is verified by a phone call from the DrivingSales team to ensure accuracy and honesty.
As Jared says:
We promise to provide a completely neutral platform for Dealers to anonymously rate and review their Vendors. We promise to verify that every single rating is accurate, trustworthy and from an actual dealership employee (we don't like cheaters). We promise to present this unbiased data to the entire industry via our website, DrivingSales.com, and our quarterly publication, the Dealership Innovation Guide.
Reading ratings is only half of the equation. It is also highly encouraged that you rate your vendors as well with your unique experiences. The more ratings in the system, the more value it holds for the entire community.
There are over 1,000 companies within the system already, and almost 20,000 reviews, so chances are your vendors are already included in the list. However, if you have a new vendor to add, it’s a very simple process. Just head to: http://www.drivingsales.com/ratings/companies/add and put in the details of the company.
Best of all, reviews are time-sensitive, meaning that they only last for 365 days. This ensures that if a vendor is beginning to decline in their quality, it will be reflected in their ratings.