Welcome to Part 3 of a live dealership case study in which I am working on. It has been two weeks since Part 2 was published. I was away in Chicago consulting another client and also handling the Internet Sales 20 Group. I came home to a major hurricane which slowed things down considerably. But here is what we were able to accomplish.
We have been working on pre-installation processes with eLead by installing email headers, templates, and other important parts of the CRM. It has been a simple process as the CRM company is accommodating. eLead will be spending the week at the dealership training and installing the CRM at the dealership which means we will be live in a few days.
Once again, the major challenge is that it is OEM mandated and certain things are not able to be done while others are being developed as we speak. As much as I respect what OEMs are doing to make all dealers in the same brand unified I feel that they make it difficult for a dealership to create a unique image to stand out from the competition.
We are in the process of updating employee pictures. This is a tough task because the owner wants all pictures to be the same exact size. The challenge is getting the pictures to show up on the website in the same size. I am still trying to figure out with the vendor what is going on and this is the one time where I feel they are not helping me as they should.
We drastically improved the way the specials pages look with come great content and even more specials. We started to add video testimonials to the website which was a challenge also because the videos did not want to upload from my end. In addition, we made proper changes for the new month and any news pertaining to changes.
I have begun to focus on Facebook this past week. I have been posting engaging content and getting people responding it. In terms of twitter, I know we have followers but for some reason I am looking for the login which no one can seem to find. I might have to setup a new account but I will give it a week before I do it.
I have continued to blog and syndicate content. The content has been getting some views which tell me that people are reading it. We had an announcement from the OEM that there is a hurricane relief discount available to people in certain areas that lost their vehicles to flood and hurricane damage. I was quick to post it and promote it on facebook before any competing dealer can think of doing the same, if they normally do it.
It was disappointing to me that when I left for a whole week and asked sales people to start getting their own videos and pictures that not a single person took an action. They got all excited about the fact that they can brand themselves but they took no action at all. I addressed that with management because the process takes all of one minute and I am even here to get the content up. All they need is to have a form filled out, snap a picture or capture a 30 second video and have me handle the rest. I hope that they fix the situation and get to it. However, one person did get a picture for me that is now posted.
I added more content to the Flickr account.
I have not had to be involved with this.
Online Reputation Management:
I discovered a challenge that I have never had before. In all of my years doing this I was always able to grow a dealership’s online reputation without problem. I sat in and listened to reasons why the service department has a hard time getting reviews and I am noticing from the sales department why they are not doing.
The sales department is not pushing for it at all. The service department explains that whenever they ask for a review to get posted that customers do not want to post it. The understanding that I am getting is that a lot of the customers here are generally in aged in the mid 40s and range as high as 70+. They do not want to leave an email address and they prefer to leave a survey in pen and paper. This raises a challenge to me, a social and digital warrior that believes that everyone and everything should be online. I am thinking that we need an iPad in service and sales with a 4G connection and we should work closely with the customer to get what we need by guiding them or assisting them. It is obvious that post cards with links to review sites do not work well for the customers as they do not pay attention to them.
I have never been a fan of spiffing customers for reviews. However, cars.com has a really neat format of how to generate reviews. Cars.com offers to place customers into a contest where the customer has a potential of getting $100 for leaving a review. There is an email template for it. I am thinking of also creating a process strictly for cars.com to let customers know about the offer not just as delivery but also after delivery where they can be guided through. I mean, “Who wouldn’t want a chance to get $100?” It is also my goal to learn from cars.com if the review can somehow be syndicated just like the way DealerRater does it with google.
If anyone has suggestions of how to get reviews from customers that are more mature and not as computer savvy, I am open to some responses on here.
Dealership Process and Operations:
While walking around the dealership looking for things that needed improvement I noticed a binder with parts specials that looked sloppy. I took it upon myself to let management know about this and created a new professional looking binder with better specials and more transparency.
I have been spending time watching how the sales department functions from how sales managers are managing their people to how they work deals. I have to say that when it comes to working deals and selling cars they do a great job and they have decent grosses. The managers get involved in deals and are aggressive to sell cars. This dealership is generally number one in its district. The other things that I have been observing are how the one internet coordinator functions throughout the day. The GSM complains about the coordinator because he finds him playing on his cell phone a lot. The fix to the problem was that I monitored CRM activities in the old CRM and read comments along with emails that were being sent to the customers.
I noticed something interesting and disturbing. When an internet appointment comes in the internet coordinator sits with them and talks with them sometimes as long as 20-30 minutes. When I approached management they agreed and said that it needs to be fixed. I had the perfect fix for that. At the Internet Sales 20 Group, Ralph Paglia introduced the “Showroom Appointment Reception Agenda”. This form is a professional way for the coordinator to meet the customer that they communicated with. What is amazing about this form is that it explains in a quick and transparent fashion what the customer will accomplish on this visit which is a 4-5 step process. The coordinator turns over the customer to a sales consultant and moves on with their job. This takes 1-2 minutes. We are implementing this as of this week as the new CRM is installed. There were major changes made to the document that Ralph provided which I will describe in the next section.
Call monitoring is not very strong in the dealership. The dealership relies on cars.com and their website provider to have toll free numbers. It is amazing that the newspaper always had a local number. No one really ever listened to phone calls. In fact, all sales calls are being handled by sales consultants and not the internet coordinator. This is a whole other issue that I will be tackling soon if I get the chance to. The way I monitor the calls is I stand in the showroom and listen to the sales consultants talk to phone ups. I then log into to my limited tools and listen to the conversation. My plans are to do the same with service and parts soon. While taking many notes, I have discovered flaws in phone skills and will be planning on phone training sessions at this dealership after the CRM is installed.
The only real challenges in the improvement and transformation of the dealership are dealing with ownership in this case. The dealer principle is not hands on yet has very interesting opinions to how things should run. As far as sales and service is concerned, she lets the managers do their thing and make money for the store. But when a highly paid expert that has built numerous success stories is brought in a challenge is created. Now, I am not saying that challenges are not fun. This is a unique challenge where I am working with a personality that involves me trying to figure out how they think.
Every best practice email installed needs to be edited because the writing does not work for them. This stalled the processes of installing emails into the CRM by two weeks. Take website content, wording of some serious best practices just never work and they need to be changed. My challenge is that I need to change content and write it as if I was this other person. Again, it is an interesting challenge.
The best practice implemented by Ralph Paglia was another example where 60% of the content was rewritten and another 20% was omitted just to satisfy their feelings. Now I am not saying the document became a bad document but it had changed the TO process from internet coordinator to sales person in a way that I personally would have done differently.
I respect the challenge and although at some point it is frustrating it is what makes me better at my job and what ultimately brings more success to the dealership.
That is all for Part 3. If anyone has questions, always feel free to contact me.