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Is your dealership prepared for 2014?


Christmas is over and New Years just passed. They say the New Year brings positive change and opportunity. Since the big celebration, 2 days have passed and there are 363 days left in the year. So I ask the magic question, "Is your dealership prepared for 2014?”

Being that we are in such a competitive industry that changes by the month it is common for sudden changes to be made at the dealership level. These changes usually involve Budget (spending), Human Resources, Vendor Selection and the question of what to do with the Internet Sales or BDC department. It is no secret that changes are being made in the glorious New Year as evident by how many more job postings are out now as opposed to just a few days ago. While changes may or may not be made at the dealership it is still important to consider if these moves are really the right thing to do.

Let's evaluate the four things that I brought up in detail.

Budget (Spending): Will the dealership continue on the same path as last year just because business was good or is the dealership increasing/decreasing spending?

This is a very important factor to consider because the tools made readily available change, the incentives given by the OEM change monthly, OEM requirements may change, staff may change and even Google may make changes. The fact is everything around is changing with companies buying out other companies to bring better technology to the table as well as eliminate competition. There is even talk of 2014 being a big year for more dealerships to be bought and sold.

When we look at spending we need to look at the costs associated with employees. Some dealerships downsize management to save spending while others increase a budget to afford additional management with increasing business. A dealership is profitable when the right tools are in place and the right people are hired and properly trained. If 2013 was a bad year for your dealership then it is time to evaluate strategy right now.

Human Resources: Are you planning on recruiting new sales people?

This is very important. Let's take a minute and think about the fact that each and every employee in the dealership is a human being that is trying to make an honest living. Each employee deserves the proper management, mentorship and training. In fact, if you are still hiring someone and launching him or her less then two weeks later then you really need to stop for a second and evaluate your situation. If you are not sure what you want to do with employees then do the dealership and the employee a favor and stop toying with emotions. When you hire someone to generate profit for your business it is your duty to provide him or her with the appropriate tools and training to help them maximize opportunity.

Sales professionals that get recruited and hired need to have proper training and guidance. Do not hire five people and get rid of two. Those two other people do not deserve to waste their precious time being treated poorly when they can find a normal career opportunity. Dealers do not like when people quit inappropriately and without notice. The saying of "treat others they way you wanted to be treated" applies here.

Vendor Selection: Are you worried that your service provider was sold to another vendor? How is the support and training that your vendor is providing your people?

I urge all dealers to evaluate and qualify your vendors. Review what services you have and make sure that these vendors are providing proper support with training to your staff. As a matter of fact sit down with your management, service and sales staff to make sure that they are using the resources properly. If your dealership has marketing tools that should help make sell the cars simpler then make sure your staff knows how to use the tools. Technology assisted objection handling should be practiced at the dealership.

If a change needs to be made then make a plan. NADA 2014 is right around the corner and there is no better way to look at opportunity.

Internet Sales/BDC: Did you fire yet another BDC/Internet Manager? Are you thinking about what better ways your Internet leads and Phone calls need to handled?

Let's stop and take a look at what the problem is. If you had a BDC Manager working at the level of a Sales Manager and they were earning a six-figure income then everything should be fine. If that same BDC Manager was not worth what they made then take a look at what it was that made you unhappy. If a dealership employs a BDC Manager at $70k or less and they are not getting the proper results it is because they are getting what they pay for. Internet and BDC Managers need to be involved in training. There are so much more aspects to the job then most other positions in dealerships. The Internet manager has to constantly keep up with marketing trends and improving ways that the dealership is bringing in more people. Sales Managers do not have as much responsibility. In fact they desk deals, talk to customers and should be managing their sales staff.

My suggestion to dealers is to figure out what they want to achieve and how they want to achieve it. Once you know that, hire the right manager and create a process of managing that manager. The process should include reports and meetings to discuss what is going on. Do not just hire someone, throw them in the department and let them work without expectations being set. Automotive Internet Sales and Business Development is a fast changing aspect of the business. Dealers that have been avoiding the trend and the educational opportunities need to start taking advantage of them now in 2014. Again, stop hiring people without the willingness to properly give them a chance. Dealers that hire Internet and BDC Managers and make a change in 90 days or less never give themselves a chance to really evaluate ROI.

- Final Thoughts -

At this point you should know if you need to make appropriate changes at the dealership. If there is anything to take away from here it is the importance of expense control, vendor selection and showing the proper appreciation and respect towards the people that you hire. Think about these things as you operate your business and your business will not only be more profitable but also a better environment to be a part of in 2014.  We at Dealer eTraining would like to wish you a Happy and Prosperous new year.

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