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Imagine you are blind, it's 9:00 AM and you just walked from the tarmac to witness the training of a brand new Automotive Internet Sales team.  You're excited to meet the people and watch them learn as you learn.  You've got your note taker all charged up and you get a phone call from the lead trainer saying he missed his flight and won't make it until the end of the day...but that he's done you a big favor and                          called the dealer and there on their way to pick you up.  What do you do?

 

Quite naturally, you're terrified.  Here you are in the airport, with zero agenda, thirty minutes away from the biggest moment in your career and you want your mommy.  But of course you represent the number one training/consulting firm in your industry, so you gotta take this shot.  You've been through the trainings, you know this stuff and you can teach it.  You just have to let them get to know/like/trust and believe you.  You make that your only mission...well, that's if you think like me!

 

I experienced this firsthand and let me tell you; it was exhilarating!  Standing there with seven brand new Internet Coordinators, three more experienced ICs and an internet director with over fifteen years in the car business...it was the rock star stage spotlight all over again.  We conducted preliminary introductions, then began to synergize!

 

Throughout the week, my goal was to show them not only how much I knew…but how much I truly cared about their success.  We discussed the numbers, we talked about the minds of the prospective customers and even dove into how important their personal success is to the entire automotive industry.  I had to show the entire place, that although I don’t have physical sight, I do have an amazing vision…and if they bought into it, they would reap the benefits.  Wow, did they ever.

 

I felt the love and respect from the moment I walked in the door.  From the managers, to the frontline employees, even a few customers expressed how they felt the excitement of change…an upgrade in quality.  My career was completely altered by these encounters.  I now have even more esteem for my company because I was privileged enough to come into contact with a dealer group that was tired of the old and ready to completely embrace the new.  We…were able to introduce them to the “new” they were searching for and more.  As per their testimony, it also changed the lives of the people with whom I interacted.  This is what Dealer Synergy is all about, a new approach to doing business in the automotive industry.

 

More importantly, this experience inflated my self-confidence balloon.  I already knew there was nothing I couldn’t accomplish, but the ability to transcend that belief into others was what I questioned.  Honestly, I thought I lacked it.  Well…I was proven absolutely positively wrong!  If you're thinking there’s something you can’t do, you’re more than likely in the wrong column as well.  Here’s the Bottom line…If I can jump on an airplane to a far away/strange land by myself and make out alright, then don’t tell me you can’t succeed at selling some cars over the internet!

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Money Motivation

Money Motivation

 

Do you enjoy it small, or would you love to increase the size of your paycheck?  Coordinators round the world are being asked this question every day.  No one likes a sub-par paycheck.  If we can agree there, then I would like to share some action steps you can take that will be sure to enlarge the numbers in your bank account.

 

The first thing we have to realize, understand and embrace; is that as internet coordinators “WE ARE IN SALES!”  The individuals who do exactly this in life (not just in our business) are the ones who prosper.  In order to be successful here, every day on the phone we must sell three things…and here they are:

  1. Ourselves
  2. The Dealership
  3. An Appointment with the Dealership.

 

When we make or receive a call, we have to be the most friendly, /excited, /knowledgeable business person in our galaxy; and then we must sound like it. What do real business people do?  First off, they always know the name of the person with whom they’re speaking.  If you catch yourself asking “by the way, what is your name?” more than sixty seconds after your greeting, then you might be guilty of being unprofessional.  When people are preparing to spend (especially large amounts), they want to talk to professionals…don’t you?  In addition to the old rebuttal, we need to internalize: How about this, if we don’t handle our calls in the most professional manner possible, we could NEVER expect people to buy vehicles from us...OK?

 

“Here at XYZ Motors”…Do you find yourself using this sentence starter?  You could be selling your dealership.  This is exactly what you want to do if you are truly money motivated.  Think of it this way: a dealership is worth lots of money right?  If I constantly sell the dealership…then over time I’ll make lots of money…it’s that simple.

 

How do we sell appointments you say?...Good Question!  The easy answer is to sell the aforementioned products extremely well.  If we do a great job of selling the dealership and ourselves as a package, the appointment is a synch…unproblematic.  However, we do understand appointments to buy cars aren’t selling like hotcakes these days; so here are a few extra incentives you can put on the table for your prospects.

 

Tentative appointments:

People seem to be more afraid than ever of commitment.  Appointments give the impression of rigidity, so what can we do to flip the connotation?  Use the word tentative to soften the word appointment.  Statistics show that American people keep sixty percent of their commitments…no matter how strenuous.  What does that tell us?  We should just get our customers to agree to show up, then follow up.  (The OH-SO important follow up…which deserves its own article entirely…as it shall have.)

 

Talk to your personal phone trainer or internet director about helping the customers to understand the benefits of setting appointments verses just popping by the establishment.  Dealerships are once again worth millions and should be treated with respect.  As doctors, lawyers and realtors, so are car guys.  Maybe we could title them something a bit more astute like:…“Vehicular professionals”…I’m taking suggestions.

 

Either way, having a more professional approach to our jobs will help us to grow our compensation.  I’ll leave you with an old saying from the old See-Do-Get wisdom vault, “If we wanna get paid more, then we gotta do more for what we get paid for.”  Think and comment about it…THANKS!  Until next time, go out there and sell more cars, more profitably, more often!!!

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Johnstown Used Cars

To sell Johnstown Used Cars you are competing with a great number of negative regional factors.

1. Numerous direct Johnstown Used Car competitors (like a big city)
2. Small Town Price Haggling Mentality
3. Johnstown Used Car dealers have a bad reputation with public
4. We moved Locations which has endangered us of losing some customer base and being seen as the newcomers in our new location

How do you combat things like this in such a short period of time that they become as least costly as possible?

We have successfully been competing in this market because of a few great advantages that we offer. As a part of the Thomas Automotive Family we've been in business for over 100 years, everyday improving for the car consumer. We offer the best in programs for our consumer. Programs like our 4+ year warranty reimbursement, where you can buy a used car extended warranty that is 4 years or more and if you never need it we will refund you the value of the warranty.

Another program is our No Pressure Sales Environment. Changing the public outlook on the car industry is no easy task but this great program takes on that challenge. Involved in this program is the fact that we pay our sales people a salary, so they don't feel the need to pressure our customers into buying a car that doesn't fit their needs just to make ends meet. Inside this program is built in our No Haggle, Market Pricing. We give you the best deal upfront so there is no need for the consumer to argue with another adult over what is fair.

The Thomas Rewards Card program is a loyalty program that is very popular with our consumer. We give you 10% back on every dollar you spend at our dealership. For example, keep bringing your car to be serviced at our dealership and build up your rewards dollar value up to $500 then just take that off the price of your next new or used vehicle. What a great deal!

Finally, and our favorite, is that we give back to the community here at Thomas Team Honda. We give to many charities and even have charity car cruises that help children and families in our area. We extended our hand to the less fortunate in our community and we hope that this type of business sense expands around the area.

Let us know if there is more we could be doing as, like I said, we strive everyday to get better. We'd love to hear from you. Visit our website hyperlinked at the top of this post or just give me an email at drobertson@thomasdealerships.com
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For Real Results, Don’t Forget Your CRM!



There is endless chatter about social media in the dealer marketing world these days and why wouldn’t there be? Over 500 million people are using one of the “Big 4”—Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and Linked-In. In addition, of the two-thirds of Americans who now visit social networking sites, 43 percent visit them more than once a day. Significantly for the retail industry, and automotive dealers in particular, 68 percent have become a fan or friend of a product, service, company, or group on a social networking site. Without a doubt, dealers need to harness the power of social media. Most of the social media chatter and discussion, however, currently revolves around dealership Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, while almost none of it focuses on one of the most powerful tools in a dealership’s arsenal…the CRM/ILM system.



Yes, tapping social networking can be a little overwhelming and tricky, but if you utilize your CRM and ILM systems, along with some key best practices, you can eliminate much of the confusion and create a straightforward strategy. For example, knowing whether or not a customer belongs to a social site is helpful (and you can do that directly through your CRM/ILM system, with the right plug-ins); but seeing how many friends or contacts that customer has on each site gives you a powerful advantage. Based on the user privacy settings, you can actually go directly from the CRM tool to a customer’s social media page to gain even more information about that customer.



Imagine the selling opportunity with a customer that has over 200 contacts on Facebook alone. If this “influencer” has a good experience at your dealership, then recommends your dealership to his/her friends via a post on the wall, and those 200 contacts have their own friends, the customer’s experience becomes viral across all of those contacts. Your marketing efforts can grow exponentially by targeting just one prospect and then spreading the positive message by word of mouth or, in this case, “text of mouth”! And this is just one opportunity you can leverage combining the right CRM system and plug-ins, as well as the following simple best practices:



1. Enhance your CRM data to include social media information for each of your customers and prospects.



2. Use the enhanced data to create outbound CRM/ILM-based campaigns that target social network influencers in your database.



3. Target your social media campaigns. Don’t just email the same content asking everyone to be your friend, make the request relevant to the recipient.



4. Train your store to review the social media data (recent posts, friends, etc.), in addition to the customer’s history of interactions with your store, before they interact with the customer.



5. Measure, measure, measure!



Bottom line: just as you should never forget your CRM and ILM systems when planning your email and direct mail campaigns, be sure to include these critical systems as you map out your social media plan…it is a lot easier than you think, just try it!



Mike Martinez is chief marketing officer at izmocars.com. For more information about izmocars and iCRM social media plug-ins, go to www.izmocars.com/solutions/icrm.html.
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AutoTrader.com will announce later today it has signed an agreement to acquire Kelley Blue Book and its properties CDM Data and CDM Dealer Services, Dealer Communications has learned.

In exclusive interviews with Dealer Communications and the Wall Street Journal, AutoTrader President and CEO Chip Perry and Kelley Blue Book President and CEO Paul Johnson talked about the background and the strategy for the deal.


It’s the second major acquisition for AutoTrader in a little over a month, which announced in September it was buying vAuto, a used vehicle inventory management tool for dealers.

Kelley Blue Book, which was founded in 1926, is one of the oldest and most well known brand names in the automotive industry. It had come close to being sold a few times the last several years, including in 2008 when an earlier deal between AutoTrader and Kelley fell apart at the finish line primarily due to the collapse of the credit markets.

Kelley Blue Book retained the services of J.P. Morgan in July to again explore the option of selling the company. “Sometimes things come down to timing,” Johnson says. “People in the industry see the future as brighter and there is a resurgence in the M&A (mergers and acquisitions) markets.”

Several firms expressed interest and submitted bids to acquire Kelley. "KBB is one of the most attractive properties in years (for sale)," says Perry, who described the competition to buy it as "competitive."


AutoTrader, whose majority owner is Cox Enterprises Inc., announced in May that Providence Equity Partners had acquired a 25% stake in the company. At the time, Perry said the investment would “enable us to pursue the many organic growth opportunities, as well as strategic acquisitions, that will help improve the products and services we offer our customers.”

Terms of the AutoTrader-Kelley deal are not being released. However, industry insiders estimate the deal was in the neighborhood of $550 - $600 million. The deal is expected to close by the end of the year.

Both Kelley Blue Book and vAuto will operate as subsidiaries of AutoTrader. Johnson and Dale Pollak, vAuto’s founder and chairman, will report to Perry.

Except for additional products and services it will receive from AutoTrader, Perry says “almost everything Kelley does now is not going to change.”

However, Kelley, in a partnership with Vast Inc., had been working on a pay-per-performance classifieds lead model for new and used vehicles since the summer of 2009 after a partnership with AutoTrader ended prematurely.

Perry says Kelley’s model will move to more of a classified subscription model that is used by AutoTrader.

The challenge for AutoTrader will be to maintain Kelley’s brand as being the unbiased source for vehicle information and valuations. The plan is to enhance the consumer experience on KBB.com by custom fitting several of AutoTrader’s products for the site.

For example, classified listing model will play a much bigger role on KBB.com. In addition, KBB.com will also get AutoTrader’s Trade-In Marketplace, which provides consumers with an instant price for their vehicle redeemable at auto dealerships across the country participating in the program.

Perry says the partnership will enable dealers to access the Kelley audience.

When asked whether AutoTrader’s buying spree was done, Perry said the company is always on the lookout for opportunities, but that most of its growth would be from products developed internally.

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