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As I was talking strategy with a good friend of mine who is a GM of two rooftops we got into a discussion about which strategy is most effective in the automotive internet sales world i.e. coordinators vs. floor sales people making the calls. 

We all know that the hardest part in the Internet Dept. is getting people on the phone.  As you know you have what is called connection percentage or ratios that prove that less that 20% of the calls that are made on a daily basis actually result in getting the customer on the phone.  The day-to-day mission turns into e-mails and phone calls and some really progressive departments have implemented video e-mail. 

As I discussed into detail with the GM it really takes a dedicated person to be on the floor taking ups and having the opportunity to have Internet leads sent to him/her.  What happens unless this person is very dedicated is that he/she makes 10 phone calls in the morning if you're lucky and then an up walks through the door.  Now doing fact finding with the customer, caring the customer up, building value, presentation/demonstration, silent trade appraisal and my favorite working numbers, F&i then a through delivery and hours have passed by.  Equally relevant, while all this is going on Internet leads aren't waiting for him to get finished they're coming in while all this is happening and by the time the sales person gets back in front of the computer after taking lunch when the deal was complete his/her response time is around three hours!!  Now I haven't even mentioned the follow up month to date that should be going on during this time. 

My friend's response was the cost of having coordinators which I understand affects the bottom line.  What is interesting to me is that we'll spend $150K on advertising for the month now when the sales person sells that customer we don't split the deal or put an additional pack on the deal to help recoup the cost of advertising.  And even better yet we all know the customers that we don't sell that most of these customers are never logged into the CRM or they leave without a T.O. and if they are logged the notes read "showroom up" not detailed notes of why we couldn't put the deal together.

Having people who's job is to pound the phones all day with a experienced director there for a T.O. and/or to work numbers for the customer that want's the "best price" is the most effective strategy I have seen unless the sales people that get leads aren't allowed to take ups.  I would rather have 5 coordinators making a total of 500 calls a day versus 5 sales people barely making 100 calls per day.  The numbers don't lie the more calls you make the more people you're going to get on the phone, the more people you get on the phone the more appointments you're going to make, the more appointments you make the more people are going to show, the more people that show the more cars you're going to sell!!  Appointments sell cars....

This is Internet sales 101 however, unless there is leadership in place that understands the dynamics of a E-Commerce Dept. there will be a struggle between the owners and those that understand the basics of Internet Sales.  What's even more funny is when I asked how many appointments his sales people set per day he was angry and tells me that they don't set enough appointments and that's why they aren't selling more cars.  Duh, how can they set more appointments they're selling cars, waiting for an up and making 10-20 calls a day.  Sounds like a oxymoron to me. 

Good luck and good selling!!  

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Rubber. Meets. Road. Sean V. Does it AGAIN!

For every one on this board that didn't get to make it to Internet Sales 20 Group in LA.....Shame on you! Once again, Sean V. and his band of industry phenoms blew it out of the water! Every once in a while I will catch my wife off guard and I'll say, "I can't wait until tomorrow." She always responds, "Why, what's happening tomorrow?" to which I respond, "I get better looking every day!" Then she punches me and moves on. This is kind of like thinking about what these people could possibly do to trump this trump of the last trump! No matter how good it gets, the next one always seems to get better. In this digital world that we live in, information changes dramatically between these events. The speakers at the IS20G are the people who are right in the middle of these changes...whether they are writing about them or making the changes themselves! I don't care how many conferences that you have been to...I guarantee you have never been to one like this. The interaction is a game-changer.

I will say that Sean V. Bradley is the finest moderator in the country, in ANY industry. Whether he agrees with the speaker or not, he will explore EVERY angle of the conversation. He encourages...no, he INSISTS on participation from everyone. Attendees will tell you that they get as much from other dealers as they do from the speakers. First, a presenter will speak to a point, then a dealer will chime in on the effectiveness of the method. Then another attendee will ask THAT dealer specific questions. It's awesome to be a part of these discussions. Then, as if that is not enough, at the end, you get a chance to get together with accountability partners to formulate a plan to execute what you have learned. IS20G was over less than a week ago and I have already had communication with MY accountability partner...and I'm a General Manager!

Now, to my friends who DID attend...

Rubber. Meets. Road.

Ideas are easy, execution is hard. Why don't we lift weights? Because they're frickin' heavy, that's why!

 

 

From the book "The Greatest Salesman in the World".  A book, second only to the Bible, in shaping my life.

I will leave you in the capable hands of Og Mandino...

My dreams are worthless, my plans are dust, my goals are impossible.

All are of no value unless they are followed by action.

I will act now. Never has there been a map, however carefully executed to detail and scale, which carried its owner over even one inch of ground. Never has there been a parchment of law, however fair, which prevented one crime. Never has there been a scroll, even such as the one I hold, which earned so much as a penny or produced a single word of acclamation. Action, alone, is the tinder which ignites the map, the parchment, this scroll, my dreams, my plans, my goals, into a living force. Action is the food and drink which will nourish my success.

I will act now. My procrastination which has held me back was born of fear and now I recognize this secret mined from the depths of all courageous hearts. Now I know that to conquer fear I must always act without hesitation and the flutters in my heart will vanish. Now I know that action reduces the lion of terror to an act of equanimity.

I will act now. Henceforth, I will remember the lesson of the firefly who gives of its light only when it is on the wing, only when it is in action. I will become a firefly and even in the day my glow will be seen in spite of the sun. Let others be as butterflies who preen their wings yet depend on the charity of a flower for life. I will be as the firefly and my light will brighten the world.

I will act now. I will not avoid the tasks of today and charge them to tomorrow for I know that tomorrow never comes. Let me act now even though my actions may not bring happiness or success for it is better to act and fail than not to act and flounder. Happiness, in truth, may not be the fruit plucked by my action yet without action all fruit will die on the vine.

I will act now. I will act now. I will act now. I will act now. Henceforth, I will repeat these words again and again, each hour, each day, every day, until the words become as much a habit as my breathing and the actions which follow become as instinctive as the blinking of my eyelids. With these words I can condition my mind to perform every act necessary for my success. With these words I can condition my mind to meet every challenge which the failure avoids.

I will act now. I will repeat these words again and again and again. When I awake I will say them and leap from my cot while the failure sleeps yet another hour.

I will act now. When I enter the market place I will say them and immediately confront my first prospect while the failure ponders yet his possibility of rebuff.

I will act now. When I face a closed door I will say them and knock while the failure waits outside with fear and trepidation.

I will act now. When I face temptation I will say them and immediately act to remove myself from evil.

I will act now. When I am tempted to quit and begin again tomorrow I will say them and immediately act to consummate another sale.

I will act now. Only action determines my value in the market place and to multiply my value I will multiply my actions. I will walk where the failure fears to walk. I will work when the failure seeks rest. I will talk when the failure remains silent. I will call on ten who can buy my goods while the failure makes grand plans to call on one. I will say it is done before the failure says it is too late.

I will act now. For now is all I have. Tomorrow is the day reserved for the labor of the lazy. I am not lazy. Tomorrow is the day when the evil become good. I am not evil. Tomorrow is the day when the weak become strong. I am not weak. Tomorrow is the day when the failure will succeed. I am not a failure.

I will act now. When the lion is hungry he eats. When the eagle has thirst he drinks. Lest they act, both will perish.

I hunger for success. I thirst for happiness and peace of mind. Lest I act I will perish in a life of lure, misery, and sleepless nights. I will command, and I will obey mine own command.

I will act now. Success will not wait. If I delay she will become betrothed to another and lost to me forever. This is the time. This is the place. I am the one.

I will act now.

Who's your Danny?

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This scene was the inspiration for my blog, "My Lean, Mean, Lead-Handling Machine".  You're spending a lot of time and money on lead providers, SEO, SEM, website goodies, etc........Are Lucy and Ethel handling your leads?  Why go to all of this trouble and expense if you are not serious about training.  This clip is one of the funniest moments in television history.  When you think of those little candy chocolates as $3000-$4000 missed car deals, it's not that funny.

If this reminds you of your Internet Department, then pay close attention to every word you hear at Internet Sales 20 Group.

Who's your Danny?

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Your website provider should be able to provide you with a monthly report that lists the number of hits your site has garnered, the sources of those hits, how long the average visitor spends on your site and what they are visiting on your page.

Your website provider should be able to provide you with a monthly report that lists the number of hits your site has garnered, the sources of those hits, how long the average visitor spends on your site and what they are visiting on your page.

Most dealerships now have an Internet department. Some stores have gone full speed by appointing an Internet manager, hiring representatives to follow up on leads and creating an advertising budget. Other stores have approached the digital age more cautiously, just dipping their toes into the vast pool of online media.

I visit dealerships across the country, and there seems to be no similarity at all in how Internet sales are handled and accounted for. Some dealers think they are maximizing their online sales revenue just by answering every e-mail and chat request.

There is a lot more to it. It just depends on how much money, time and resources you are willing to commit to the project. Full speed or not, from an accounting standpoint, it may make sense to set up a separate department to manage the income and expenses you derive from online sales. Here’s a six-step plan:

1. Hack Your DMS

It should be very simple to set up a new department on your dealer management system (DMS). Assign your new department a number and name, set up income and expense accounts and assign them a factory financial statement line number so they show up on your monthly financial statements. This step forces you to decide how you are going to track your Internet sales, as most factory charts of accounts don’t have separate accounts set up for Internet sales, cost of sales and expenses.

2. Track Your Sales

To properly track your Internet sales, you must set up separate sales and cost-of-sales accounts for each model of new vehicles you sell. Do this for your used inventory as well. If you don’t track these sales, cost of sales and gross profits separately — whether on a spreadsheet or in your accounting software — so you can subtract them from your financial statements, you will probably not have a clue if the money you are spending for this department is worth it.

3. Establish Your Structure

Decide whether your Internet personnel should handle the lead all the way to the finish line or hand the lead over to one of your regular salespeople. If it changes hands, you have to decide how you want to record the deal on your books. If not, note each Internet sale on the deal jacket so accounting knows which sales account to record it in, where to post the commission and where to list other costs associated with the sale.

4. Separate Your YTD Expenses

Once you have the department and the general ledger accounts set up, you can move the year-to-date (YTD) expenses from the accounts you have posted transactions to all year to the new accounts. That will allow you to start your department analysis in the current month.

Once you begin posting the sales and cost-of-sales accounts separately, you can easily see whether your Internet department is profitable. Make sure you allocate the correct payroll costs for the personnel working in this department. It should be based on the percentage of time they are spending there. Now you can calculate the average gross profit per unit sold, the commission or cost to sell it, and the variable expenses associated with it — the same as you would with your new- and used-vehicle departments.

Make sure you have set up accounts for Internet-centric expenses such as website design, in-store Internet usage, monthly web hosting maintenance fees, search engine optimization and lead-management software costs, not to mention your manager and sales representatives’ salaries and commissions.

5. Separate Your Fixed Expenses

If you really want to do it right, you should be allocating some of your semi-fixed and fixed expenses to the Internet department. How much is up to you. This can be a real pain to analyze and allocate, so you may want to have the department up and running for a while before you take this step. Your office manager or accounts payable expert can probably tell you which expenses pertain to your new department.

For the most part, your largest expenses are going to be personnel and electronic media software and usage fees for each click, etc. These are the ones you need to pay the most attention to, as they are variable and controllable costs. If the cost of each sale is larger than the revenue you are generating, you will need to decide how to drive more people to your site that may buy, or start reducing some expenses so the department is not a drain on your dealership’s profits.

6. Order Your Reports

The profitability of any department depends on performance. Your Internet manager should track how long it takes to respond to a lead and how many leads are closing as actual sales. Your website provider should be able to provide him or her with a monthly report that lists the number of hits, the source (e.g., Google search terms), how long the average visitor spends on your site and whether they are visiting different departments.

With the right information at hand, you should be able to compute your cost for each lead and unit sale. Better yet, you can make intelligent decisions on how to improve your website, your inventory mix and your process for handling Internet leads.

Under Review

Once you have set up new accounts for the income and expenses generated by your Internet department, you can determine whether the department is profitable. If it isn’t, you need to act fast. Look at your site from the perspective of a potential customer and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is your site graphically appealing and easy to navigate?
  • Does it look as nice as your competitors’ sites?
  • Is your inventory easy to find?
  • Are your vehicles listed with good photos, videos and descriptions?
  • Are your online prices competitive for your market?
  • Do you know how many of the same vehicles are for sale in your market area?
  • Do you make it easy for customers to contact you?

Source - http://www.autodealermonthly.com/article/story/2013/10/a-web-of-lies.aspx?utm_campaign=Enews-20131029&utm_source=Email&utm_medium=Enewsletter 

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My Lean, Mean, Lead-Handling Machine

Hi, my name is Johnny Dealer.  I spend my mornings listening to incoming sales calls from the previous day.  I then, go into a deep depression.  I guess I am like most dealers, but today, I'm going to do something about it.  I am going to create a system that will eliminate missing all of these opportunities.  I am about to create a Lean, Mean, Lead-Handling Machine.

Here is how I'm going to do it.

First, I'm going to TOTALLY commit to my new lead department.  I am going to commit finances, facilities, training, equipment, and most importantly, PEOPLE.  I am going to hire a real-life Manager to run this department and I'm going to pay this person just like the rest of my managers.  After all, this department is every bit as important as the others in my dealership.  I know that the future of this department is wholly dependant on MY buy in.  I AM IN!

What am I going to call this department.  BDC?  Internet Department?  I think I am going to call it the Appointment Department.  That is the most accurate name I can think of, plus, calling it the Internet Department only makes me feel more techno-ignorant.  I want these employees to know that the appointment is the objective.  We'll hand them of to specialists when they get here.

I want to make this Lean, Mean, Lead-Handling Machine to run smoothly and most importantly, be reliable.  I can't have it breaking down at inopportune times.  I think I'll begin with my people.  I'm going to take my time and only hire the best and pay them well.  Training?  Of course.  I think I'll do this in two stages.  First, I'll get my hands on the best phone scripts and email templates in the industry.  We will train them relentlessly until they can recite them in their sleep.  After that, I will teach them our incoming lead concepts.  1. We got what you want. 2. You got what we want. 3. You're special, we're special. (see my article, "Incoming Calls are as Easy as 1,2,3.)  I want my people to not only memorize the word tracks, but I want them to UNDERSTAND the content and CONVEY the motivation to the customer.

This machine is beginning to take shape.

Now, I must set up a process that works for everyone.  Everyone in my store needs to know this process, inside and out.  When a lead comes in, who takes it?  At what time do they turn it to a Manager?  Can they discuss price?  If not, who then?  How about follow up?  When and how often do they get back with a customer?  Do they do it by phone, email, video, or in person?  When do they stop trying?  I will make sure that ALL of these questions are answered in my process.....my WRITTEN process.  How can I expect my people to perform if they are not clear on my vision.

I spend a fortune on tools in my service department.  Every time I turn around, my manufacturer has generously shipped and billed a new piece of equipment that is now needed to work on the new models.  In my new Appointment Department, I'm not going to cut corners on their tools.  They are going to need their own area, with fast computers, great phones with headsets, and a great CRM.  The equipment and resources they have are a reflection on my commitment to this department.

How can I make this machine consistent?  If I dump a specific number of leads into my machine, how can I be sure of exactly how many car deals will come out the other side?  This will boil down to tracking and expectations.  I have learned over the last 30 years, that if you want to see numbers increase, simply track them.  What are my expectations?  I guess I will leave that to the experts.  I want to set appointments with 60% of my fresh leads and 40% of my leads that are a week old or more. 50% of them will show.  I want to sell 45% of the appointments that show up.  I know everyone has different numbers that work for them, but these work for me.....for now.  That leads me to "expectations".  I know that my people will perform to their expectations.  It is MY job to not just manage people, but manage their expectations.  I promise make my expectations so clear that they become their expectations.

When my machine is built and running effectively, I vow to soup it up.  You know, like a turbocharger.  I can start getting innovative with video appointment confirmations, fancy .pdf proposals, bringing in trainers, hiring phone coaches, data mining, lead screening, video search optimization, email marketing, social media promotions, and the like.  Heck, my new machine will even be able to handle service leads!

If is a big two-letter word.  But...

  • IF I manage this department with the same vigor that I manage my Finance Department, Sales Department, or Service and Parts Departments, it will succeed.
  • IF I dump 300 fresh leads into my new Lean, Mean, Lead-Handling Machine, then, it will produce 180 appointments, 90 of them will show up, and 40 of them will buy.  This does not even include re-hashing my lost opportunities from the last several months!
  • IF I continue to commit to my new department, every time I dump 100 new leads into my machine, I will get 13 more sales.

My mission is simple now......Find more leads to feed the machine!

Who's Your Danny?

 

PS - My apologies if your name is, in fact, Johnny Dealer.  Any negative references to this name is strictly coincidental, especially if you actually live on 123 Elm Street, Anytown, USA. or work at ABC Motors.

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http://www.dealersynergy.com 856-546-2440 

Sean V. Bradley has 15 years Automotive Internet Sales experience selling over 110 INTERNET units per month when he was an Internet Director at Pine Belt Automotive in NJ 

 

Joe Cala was the Internet Sales Manager at Nelson Mazda in Tulsa Oklahoma that took their department from 7 units - 80 units per month online. Joe then went on to Gateway Toyota, a Penske store to become the Internet Director for 6 years. Joe was delivering 150 INTERNET units per month. Cala also worked for Autotrader.com for a year.

Both Cala and Bradley have extensive Automotive Internet Sales experience and have created a 5 part Internet Director responsibilities series. 

If you would like more information please go to www.automotivedigitaltraining.com or call them at 856-546-2440 

 

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