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Over the years I’ve met many successful and innovative GMs who stand out in my mind for their ability to drive customers to their dealerships for sales, service and parts. One of the things they have all had in common is that they are committed to continually developing and refining processes to support their staff, systems, tools and customers.
Invest in Tools—and Processes
The other day I was talking to a GM who is excited about a tool his dealership recently acquired—and has been using with some very impressive results. He explained that his team had drawn on the product’s features to make it their own, to integrate it with their sales and service departments. They developed processes, procedures, documents and communications around the tool to support the way their dealership does business and the way its customers buy cars. And it’s been paying off with some of the best ROI, trades and closing rate the dealership has seen in years.
A key factor in the success of this GM’s dealership is that he understands the importance of not only investing in the right tools for his team; he also knows it’s critical that they’ve got the processes to back them up.
Develop Processes That Are Customer-Based
In speaking with dealerships across the country, I’m always surprised by the number that still cling to old school ways of doing business, relying on processes that date back to a time when walk-ins drove the automobile industry. At these dealerships, their systems have changed, their tools have changed, the way their customers buy has changed, but many of their processes haven’t.
On the other end of the spectrum are dealerships with GMs at the helm who are dedicated to making sure their processes support all the different ways customers are drawn to a showroom—Internet, phone, email, microsites, third-party leads, marketing, and yes, old-fashioned walk-ins. They understand there is no one-size-fits-all process. And they know that if they are going to empower their staff to sell the way people want to buy, they need to provide them with the right tools—and processes.
Specialized Processes Versus Specialized Staff
I’ve talked about this before; how it’s easy to get caught up in the specialization trap, creating separate tiers or departments based on types of leads. I’ve discussed how, in today’s world, leads overlap and that a customer who started as an Internet lead can then become a phone lead and end up a walk-in lead. Things aren’t nearly as clear cut as they once were. They’re much more fluid. Dealerships don’t need specialized sales people; they need cross-trained sales people who are flexible enough to adapt to this new reality. And the most effective way of guaranteeing their success is to ensure they have the specialized tools and processes necessary to thrive.
Make Vendors Part of Your Process
Before purchasing another tool, remember that you’re not just looking for a product, you want a partner, too. Ask yourself—and the vendor—if they have a process in place that supports their product and your dealership’s sales structure. Do they offer staff training, best practices, scripts, support materials and calls? Are they truly “with you”? Are they there to provide not only a service, but also their insight and expertise?
If not, you might want to keep looking. But don’t be discouraged, it’s all part of the process.