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Top of Mind Awareness, or “TOMA,” as referred to by marketers, is that product or service which a consumer thinks of first when considering a purchase. For dealers andmanufacturers alike, TOMA is on the top of their minds relative to their business and theircustomers.

It is no secret that over the last decade, both domestic and import manufacturers and dealers have suffered a loss in market share to mainstays like Honda, Toyota and Nissan, and are continuing to do so especially since we have been experiencing $3/gallon gasoline prices. Consumers are flocking to downsize or seek out a more economical ride when it comes to fuel costs.

We all know that these struggling manufacturers recognize that the products that they have to offer must be capable of being competitive in fuel efficiency, quality, style, and safety in order to be on the consumer’s checklist when car shopping. We also acknowledge that hey are now taking the steps necessary to correct this. But what happens to their owner base in the meantime? Or, more importantly, what happens to Your Owner Base while you are waiting for the right product mix to arrive that will motivate buyers to come back to your showrooms? More than likely, they will be lulled away from you or your manufacturer’s brand into the arms of one of these very formidable competitors.

For dealers faced with this challenge, the ultimate consequence will be continued loss of market share, customer base, and profits unless they decide to do something about it NOW!

Traditional advertising will not keep your customers loyal to you. One of the most incredible assertions dealers make to me every day is that when they are referring to their owner base, or their list of customers who have purchased vehicles or have had service performed at their dealerships, is that they assume they are “theirs.”

I am often compelled to challenge them on that assumption, since that was also the mindset of those Motor City manufacturers who churned out products each year knowing that “their customers” would be back to grace their dealer’s showrooms regardless of the products that they presented. Dealers seem to be anesthetized by the illusion that just because they sold or serviced a customer once, that their customers are then locked to them for life. My argument is that those customers are you customers for only as long as they are on your lot, in your showroom, or in your customer lounge. Beyond that, they are anybody’s customer. Toyota and Honda proved it.

On a smaller scale, but more importantly, let’s look at your business. What are you doing to retain the customers that you have previously sold or serviced? Do you even know who they are? Are you even maintaining a current data base of customers? Is it cleansed, merged, and purged regularly? Do you even know who they are? Are you even maintaining a current data base of previous customers sorted by sales or service, new or used? Are you tracking your customer visits? Frequency of visits and the amount of revenue each spends with you per visit?

This is your book of business and you need to nourish, cultivate, and protect this book as it you were the premier stockbroker on Wall Street. Once you have done this dirty work and have really spend the time and money necessary to get this data into a manageable format, you need to develop a strategy that will enable you to maintain constant contact through a series of “touch points” with your customers. I am not referring to the warm and fuzzy stuff you do while your customer is in your service lounge or in the showroom.

I am talking about keeping your dealership’s TOMA to your customers when they are not at your dealership. In order to keep a hold on your customers you need to be in constant contact with them. Develop a multi-channel marketing strategy that incorporates what you know about your customers into what you talk to your customers about when you do contact them. The most efficient method of staying in contact with your customers is through direct marketing. Direct marketing includes several forms of marketing media, including direct mail, internet, social media, and telemarketing. Sophisticated marketers know that the traditional media cannot reach customers with the level of personalization that is necessary to stay in contact with your customers. By employing direct mail, a dealer builds his own brand, and it is not as imposing as telemarketing can sometimes be.

Research indicates that Auto Buyers are turning to the Web to communicate with dealers via e-mail and they use search engines to acquire information about a prospective make, model, or dealer. The most effective choice for a retail dealer to stay in contact with their previous customers is direct mail. According to a recent study performed by Cap Gemini, consumers polled on whether they like to receive or if they would respond to a direct mail offer from an auto dealer told marketers that over 80 percent would prefer to receive and be “more than likely” to open and respond to an offer from an auto dealer. This percentage is much higher when the offer comes from the manufacturer or dealer pertinent to or known by the consumer. How a dealer chooses to use the power of direct mail is very important, too. Most dealers turn to direct mail as the “quick fix” that is going to get them through the month.

Direct mail has been a great source for providing the needed boost when sales lagged. Dealers love it because they can track its performance on an hour-by-hour or day-by-day basis. Employing direct mail in this way has been the cornerstone of the medium in the retail auto industry for the past 30 years. It has been proven over and over again to be an effective medium in driving traffic and sales in dealerships. What dealers might not see is that the medium has evolved as the auto industry has changed. It has matured into what should now be the foundation of a sound marketing strategy. Dealers must recognize the value of their customer database and the power of this medium that will get into the home when the salesperson can’t. It is the face of your dealership, your products, and your services, and you use it can help you or it can hurt you.

Many dealers look for the next new “hook” in their direct mail. A flashy new direct mail salesperson gets a dealer on the phone or in-person and lays out the latest and greatest gimmick that can “catch” the most uninformed prospect with an offer of “incredulous believability”. Some of these ads are violations of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act and dealers end up paying fines to their state attorney general’s office because the flash-in-the-pan direct mail company is insolvent.

Dealers use mail to target a beacon scores or FICO score range to prospects regardless of their affinity to your dealership or your manufacturer offering credit to those who can’t otherwise get credit. Buy using direct mail in this way does not help you hold onto your most valued possession — your former customers, as it may in some cases even alienate them.

If you run a newspaper, radio or TV ad, every dealer in the state knows what you are doing. If you mail your offer, no one knows your deal besides you and your prospective customer. Unfortunately, the opposite scenario holds true, also. When you least expect it, your former customers are receiving a personal invitation to test drive the latest new gas saver from your closest competitor. An, what do they think? “Hey, why didn’t my dealer invite me to his dealership? Maybe I will give Dealer X or Brand Y a try.” If you don’t keep in touch, I promise you, your competition will.

A dealer needs to touch their customer on a preplanned, regular basis, offering reasons for them to come back to your dealership for their vehicle needs. Each time you contact them, a dealer must give the buyer the warm fuzzy, show of appreciation. This can be accomplished by developing a VIP program, Preferred Coupons, discounts, test drive incentives, and savings offers. Give them a reason to come in and see your sales staff or service team. Your customers are just like you and me; we love to be appreciated and we love to be loved. Show the love. You’ll keep that TOMA with your customer base.

- Anthony J. TaCito, CEO

Original version appeared in the January 15, 2007, issue of Dealer Magazine.

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BDC vs. Sales Floor
Does your sales force communicate effectively with your internet/BDC department? If you are like a lot of dealers the chances are that the answer is “NO”. I have worked in a few dealerships over the years where I have experienced the same problems as an Internet director. Nowadays, I have been working with dealerships nationally on a training and consulting level where I still see the same problems arise.

So how do we fix this common problem?

I learned from my previous dealer about the power of having mandatory weekly meetings. I am talking about sales meetings with sales managers, sales consultants, internet/bdc coordinators, and the internet director. The meeting needs to be mandatory and held once a week. These sales meetings need to be a half hour to an hour long with the purpose of uniting the two departments together.
The meeting must cover any news or updates in the dealership regarding advertisements and store policies. If there is an advertisement running for that weekend, there needs to be a customized script or outline created for the BDC so that the calls are answered properly. This advertisement needs to be reviewed in this meeting so that everyone is on the same page when speaking to customers.

The biggest goal of this meeting is to allow both departments to see how they operate. The way to do this is to role play around the room the phone scripts using coordinators and sales staff. Also, it is important to role play the sales process of how the customer will be handled once they arrive to the showroom. It is important that sales consultants and sales managers know what is being said on the phones and how it is being said. Why? It makes a smooth transition from speaking on the phone with one person and working in the showroom with another. When the customer comes in and works with a sales consultant, there will never be a “he said, she said” situation because the sales representative will know what is being said on the phone and will have the knowledge to check the notes of the conversation in the CRM.

What will these meetings do to your people?

These meetings boost strong morale in the dealership. The meeting needs to be positive and motivational at the same time. While these meetings are serious, people need to laugh and enjoy being in that conference room for almost an hour. It is a great idea to have bagels and coffee in the room for breakfast. One of the most powerful things I did at the dealership was taking pictures and videos at these meetings for memories. We need to understand that people love memories and they appreciate being remembered. There is nothing more rewarding then to look at them one year later and remember how effective these meetings were.

As the communication improves in the dealership by utilizing this practice, both departments will work together. The sales staff in the dealership will start to see value in the internet department and will only show respect as they will realize that the BDC is there to help them make money. When you motivate and lead your people by building value in the right processes, you will only see positive change.
Let’s face it, when I left my last dealership I had sales consultants that were sad about me leaving because of how I ran my department. This is the effect that needs to happen in your dealership right now. If you are not having the success that you desire in your sales and BDC department performance, it is a great idea to consider how the departments communicate with one another.


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Automotive Internet Sales, Digital Marketing and Social Media Leviathan Sean V. Bradley, CEO of Dealer Synergy launches www.AutomotiveInternetSales.com PHILADELPHIA, October 28 – Sean V. Bradley has been the leading authority for Automotive Internet Sales, Business Development, Social Media and Digital Marketing for over 11 years. Sean V. Bradley has solidified Dealer Synergy as the most advanced Training and Consulting team in the industry today. Dealer Synergy has thee most successful Internet Departments and Business Development Centers in the country. Sean and his Dealer Synergy team have set trends in the Automotive industry via the 13 different national publications that he writes for as well as the thousands of Dealer Principals, GMs, GSMs and Internet / BDC Directors he has trained. Sean V. Bradley recently launched the Automotive Industry’s Most Powerful and Useful Social Media / Networking site called www.automotiveinternetsales.com (AIS). Automotive Internet Sales is built on the NING platform but totally customized by the Dealer Synergy Advanced Digital Marketing team. Sean watched a lot of the websites and social networking sites in the industry for years and identified their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (S.W.O.T.). There are some very good sites out there but most are done on a part time basis with little to no resources. Sean V. Bradley has created a complete www.automotiveinternetsales.com team to build the automotive industry’s best resource for anything and everything Automotive Internet Sales related. www.automotiveinternetsales.com is designed for Dealer Principals, GMs, Internet Directors, BDC Managers, OEM Reps, Vendors, Trainers, Gurus etc… There is NO hidden agenda, everyone is invited to join and participate. The only rule is that everyone needs to respect each other and provide valuable content and information for the community via blog posts, pictures, and video. AIS has a tremendous amount to offer the Automotive Internet Sales Community. Here is a breakdown of the site’s functionality: • Monthly Award for Automotive Internet Sales “Dealership of the Month”. And there will be an in depth interview with a SUCCESSFUL Internet Department / Dealership. • Like a “20 Group”… There is a “Best Idea” section of the site. • “Ask an Expert” section… • “Breaking News” Section. • “Social Media” section. • “Free Resources”… There are SO MANY things a dealership can do for FREE to improve their scenario… This section archives ALL of the FREE resources and ideas, tools, software and websites that can assist Dealerships get to the next level. • “Online Resource” section… There is a thorough list of online resources like AutoSuccess Magazine, Driving Sales, Dealer Refresh, InternetSalesManagers.Org etc… • “Online Reputation Management” resource section… • RSS feeds… • Industry Events Calendar… • Google Resources… • Various Contests and Give-a-ways… • And one of the most popular sections of the site is the “Top 10 Lists”… There is a VERY, VERY Thorough “Top 10 Lists” section, that has the “Top 10 List” for almost EVERYTHING! For example… The “Top 10 Website Providers”, “Top 10 Social Media Companies”, “Top 10 Automotive Internet Sales Trainers” etc… For more information on Sean V. Bradley, please go to www.seanvbradley.com or www.facebook.com/seanvbradley For more information on Dealer Synergy Inc. Please go to www.dealersynergy.com For more information on Automotive Internet Sales, please go to www.automotiveinternetsales.com or www.internetsales20group.com Source - Synergized Media Sean V. Bradley – sean@dealersynergy.com 856-264-0564
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Have you seen that Google is experimenting with a new Page One SERP design? I saw this today as I searched for Chicago Dealers and I was blown away how much Page One real estate was used for Google Maps listings.

I color coded the SERP in sections to show that:

  • Google Adwords was split on top and right shown in pink.
  • Two organic listings were displayed above the new maps region, shown in green.
  • That 7 spots were taken up with exploded Google Maps listings, shown in red.
  • The remainder of the organics were shown under maps which were cut off on the screen capture.
Google Maps Explodes Search Page

Google Maps Changes SEO Strategies


I don't see this type of display for all searches and maybe this is a new design for broad commercial searches but this is a game changer. What do you think?

What I can see is that Google review stars are SIGNIFICANTLY MORE VISIBLE which means that automotive reputation management processes must really be locked down. What I also see is that if you are not in the top spots for organic search, you will get crushed by this new design and experience significantly less clicks.

What I also would expect is that the Google Ads on the right side will receive less clicks. There is too much activity front and center that brings the consumers eye to the maps region. So this will also be a game changer for Adwords bidding.

Homework: Get your Google Maps listings updated with photos, videos, coupons, and make sure you have the geo-targeting set correctly. If this is a look at the future, the more complete and compelling your Google Maps listing is, the more calls and clicks you will receive.

If you need help, start by asking questions below.
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Despite the ups and downs of the last year, it appears the auto business is slowly moving upward on the activity meter. If this trend holds, 2011 should be a pretty good year for the auto business, but you need to start you planning now. Since we’re in October, it’s time to make plans to attend the NADA Convention in San Francisco February 5-7, 2011. To get the best hotel rooms and flights, you might consider booking now to save yourself the scramble later. This promises to be an innovative year on the exhibition floor. As in past years, there will probably be one, stronger theme throughout the hall. My prediction is Social Marketing. I think we can look forward to half the booth holders adding some form of social marketing to their offerings. This prediction is based on the trends we are seeing in the larger product businesses like Proctor & Gamble. Big business has discovered that you can reach a half million eyeballs using Facebook and engage the customer with the product for a lot less money than it costs to reach that same number of people using traditional media. Watch for auto dealers to ramp up their engagement with social media sources like Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare. To the skeptics that say, “Consumers don’t want to communicate with an auto dealership on Facebook,” you are wrong. What consumers don’t want is to be hit with sales messages on Facebook. The secret to Facebook and all social marketing is the concept of “giving.” This is hard concept for us in the car business to grasp. The value of Facebook to an auto dealer is to make friends with people who will eventually need to buy a car. You don’t make friends by saying, “Hey we have cars on sale!” You make friends by saying, “Acme Ford is participating in the March for Breast Cancer. We will donate additional cash to the March for every person that signs up to be on our team.” Or, another “giving” form of social marketing would be to say, “If you’re a Mustang fan, check out the Mustang Club that Acme Ford has formed. Sign up today and receive our free book, The Ford Mustang: American Classic, just for joining the club.” Do you see the difference between trying to push people with sales messages instead of pulling them with “giving” messages? A good way to learn more about using social marketing for your dealership is to go on Facebook and see how other businesses are engaging customers. The ones with the most friends are probably doing it correctly. Once you have earned the trust of a lot of “friends” on Facebook, you can communicate with a ton of potential customers without spending anything in the way of media dollars. Zero is a really nice price for marketing. If you are not savvy at Facebook, find someone who is to handle your Facebook site. Just make sure they understand “giving” vs. pushing.
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Dealers...Managers, quick quiz. How do you engage customers that walk on the lot after hours and on Sundays when you're gone and away from the dealership? Do you:
A) Wait and hope they come back when someone can help them?
B) Have one dedicated professional working those hours to engage the customer?
C) Currently employ a service system that can do this for you so that you can contact the customer at the height of their interest?
Read more…

(Jeff Kershner)

First off, we have to ask the question how so many Digital Dealer attendees got spam email from DealerElite.net asking people to sign-up? There were some pretty hefty names thrown around in that email too.


Pictured: Dean Wormer, Jared Hamilton, Joe Webb, Alex Snyder (standing in for Jeff), Gary May, Brian Pasch


Unfortunately one man gets to own this entire section. It is really sad we heard so much around this individual because his conference was actually the best one he’s done yet. And again, neither Alex or Jeff were present for any of this – these are just things we heard.

So let’s start off by saying that we heard “the wise asses at DealerRefresh are on probation and I don’t need them to promote my conference anymore.” So Mike Roscoe, we dedicate this section to you.

Our “piece of $h1t” buddy Jared Hamilton is completely banned from Digital Dealer conferences. This is the same guy who received the Lloyd Richardson award from Mike in 2008 for being the biggest giver in our space. Way to pay him back! By the way Mike, where is Lloyd? We miss him.

Speaking of banishment, another good man, Gary May, caught the wrath of Mike in an email that ended his participation in the conference. Alex got to see it and said it really shows someone’s true colors. The email was in regards to an IM@CS blog post from the Saturday after DD9 recommending that there is still room to improve the Digital Dealer conference for dealers. Maybe Gary will make that email public one day.

And in the spirit of how things should be presented to the public, we heard any non-Dealer Magazine media was not fully welcome to the event. Automotive News and Automotive Digest are two who we heard were snubbed.

Then we get to the ultimatums. When it is all about the benjamins, competition gets fierce. Many players like getting a paycheck, but also have a lot of passion for the industry too. However one individual seems to think that some of the players should dump everything to only participate in Digital Dealer. If rumors are true that both Brian Pasch and Joe Webb were told if they wanted to continue participating in Digital Dealer they had to give-up speaking at the DrivingSales Executive Summit or events that would support or build the DrivingSales brand, then that is just a travesty


14 Comments
Justin Duff

October 26th, 2010

I also heard that Dealer HD bought Ford. True story.

Jeff Collins

October 26th, 2010

Mike Roscoe is a narccist. DD is a great venue for the dealer body but sadly Mike Roscoe now has developed a “GOD” complex. I expect to receive a email notifying me that I too have been banished! Mike pull your head out of your butt and open your eyes. Try building relationships rather than tearing them down. The same people that made DD successful, can and will bury you. I think this would be a good time to start our own conference. The “DealerRefresh Summit” You heard it here first.

Len Critcher

October 26th, 2010

We had a serious issue with the Digital Dealer organization as both exhibitor and speaker back in 2008. Our experience has kept us away from the conference since. The purpose of such a conference should be to bring people together – to share in ideas, products, and best practices. The person in-charge should be a politician, not a dictator.

We thoroughly enjoyed the goodnatured and positive content/sessions we saw at the 2nd Annual Driving Sales Summit which we highly recommend as an alternative.

Justin Mathers

October 26th, 2010

ADP’s CRM tool is the single worst in the industry followed by a close second with Reynolds Contact Management. Anything they can do to get rid of that POS is good. AutoTrader is a cancer. First vAuto, now KBB. We all know they suck. It is only a matter of time before they destroy both those brands.

Chili Palmer

October 26th, 2010

I know you guys don’t appreciate anonymous post but I’m doing it because I need to keep speaking at Digital Dealer events. And Chili Palmer is the man telling you how it is (Get Shorty). When (not if) DrivingSales gets to over 500 attendees I will gladly give Roscoe the middle finger he deserves and hedge my bets with Jared.

I am so glad you guys finally put something out in the open about Roscoe. I see that it is all rumors and hearsay but I have seen and heard this stuff too many times going back to third Digital Dealer. It is time someone exposes that bastard for what he is.

I can only imagine the cussing and screaming going on at the Dealer Magazine office today. Mike is throwing a fit while the rest of the team is secretly agreeing with what is being said here. Cliff – get out while you can. Have you heard the saying “When you lie down with dogs you get up with fleas.”

Len -I’m glad to see you show some backbone and post up like a man. I’m sorry I couldn’t do it myself. But I couldn’t resist leaving this completely alone.

Ryan G

October 26th, 2010

Ah…so that cat is out of the bag on Roscoe. I will politely take this opportunity to share why I have completely avoided Digital Dealer for the past 4 years – because I stopped supporting Mike Roscoe after he shit on one of the best friends the auto industry has, whom I will leave unnamed for his own sake. There are a lot of good people doing great things in the auto industry and I get the feeling that this post will end up drawing a line in the sand between them and him.

I will also share that it was really cool to see the DSES via live stream. Hats off to Jared and his team for such a job well done all around. Feedback on the event has been great and I imagine that DSES will become (if it hasn’t already) the premier event for cutting edge auto professionals.

Layton Judd

October 26th, 2010

Sad to see people putting down any conference in the automotive space. There should be more and more information shared. Mike Roscoe stepped to the plate when no one else was willing and created a niche conference that has benefitted both the vendors and dealers. Jared has created another format that will allow dealers and vendors share ideas. Both conferences are excellent and with the size of our industry we should be glad that both Mike and Jared are planning on continuing to move forward.

Kim Clouse

October 26th, 2010

2 Years ago 2 friends of mine and I were doing a series of small speaking events around Texas, Oklahoma, and the Southeast called Auto Training Events. The group still exists on Linked In. I started it, and have not even logged on in over a year. During those events I had the AAISP links up on the site. I figured since 3 of us had opened the Digital Dealer booth at NADA (nobody was there) I would post the links that went to the Conference. I still have the rotten ass e-mail saved from our friend Mr. Roscoe and have been tempted to post it. I did not return to 3 conferences after that until this year. I thought it was a great conference but if these rumors are true I will not be surprised. The words in these posts are true, the people that made Digital Dealer can un-make Digital Dealer.
Wake up!!!!!!!

Ryan G

October 26th, 2010

@Layton that’s all peachy fuzzy but it’s clearly not how Roscoe sees it.

Layton Judd

October 26th, 2010

Ryan- If you knew me then you would know that peachy fuzzy is not what I am about. I will tell you that as a vendor in this space for a long time; we need to have more conferences! To put down Mike or Jared is the wrong approach support both and move on.

Marc McGurren

October 26th, 2010

My take on this situation for what is worth – DSES is a far superior conference for where we are at as a store than the DD8 conference I attended. DD is more 101 as IM@CS stated – call it like it is. Own it.

Did I get a ton a benefit from DD8? Yup. I met a ton of vendors, got exposed to industry leaders, and was challenged to raise the bar. All great things but the majority of the breakouts were sales pitches (I didn’t know any better). Hey – if that is what DD8 is about – showing a wide dealer base about emerging technologies that vendors offer – that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Will I most likely go back another time – probably so.

Why did I like DSES more – it was virtually vendor neutral except for a few plugs – but hey – you can’t blame them. Matt Murray did a phenomenal job talking about PPC yet never pitched their product. Yes – the name of his product was on some of the screen shots – but the talk was more about educating the dealer body about the importance of PPC in todays market – not how his product can take you there.

Also – less car people – more outside influences. We get in a bubble and like to pat ourselves on our back about how “innovative” we are yet – we are so far behind the curve as a industry it is sometimes scary. My head was spinning listening to some of the speakers we had as DSES.

Lastly – I truly believe there is room for everyone in this conference arena. I have learned relationships sell cars – not the car itself. If the rumors are true about how DD folks are handling all this – it will eventually bit them in the rear by burning those relationships…especially given the great alternatives being presented to us #DSES.

Hopefully this post won’t get me banned from DD myself. I heart DealerRefresh.

Jerry Evans @inspiredtrain

October 26th, 2010

How interesting. I got heat for daring to suggest that DSES was a better event than DD9 and it was suggested I would not be welcome at DD10.
As Layton mentioned, it is a huge industry that has room for many conferences, and I’m sure they all offer something useful to all who attend.
I will say this.
We as an industry know the importance of relationship building, follow up and staying connected with previous buyers, the ‘repeat’ segment of our customers is one of the easier sales.
If my budget meant I could only attend one event next year, I would choose DSES over DD9, simply because Jared responded to everything I asked, or tweeted, the positive and the negative.
The actions of the people connected with DD9 and their attitude to any negativity suggests to me if I did attend and had an issue, it would not be resolved professionally. It’s a shame as I certainly learnt from both events. Just goes to show customer service affects future buying decisions.
To those (who shall, for now remain anonymous) who suggested I would not be welcome, fair enough. Why would I pay $1,600 to feel unwanted. Be very careful, though, in this world of new media, bad news spreads far and wide my friends, and you never know, someone with influence and reach might decide to bite back.
Thanks once again for a great post, and to all who commented too, excellent discussion!

Eric Miltsch

October 26th, 2010

Way to go Jeff, glad you posted it…

I’ve never been to DD. Why? Everyone told me it was a big pitch-fest a few years ago. People I just met at DSES this year told me the same thing; I didn’t miss anything.

Yes, I understand these events have their place within the industry. Even more so, these events need leaders to help guide the direction and change needed for the business.

I saw Roscoe’s email to Gary. If that’s the type of leadership being offered up, feel free to add me to the DD banned list as well…probably one of the most unprofessional emails I’ve seen in a long time.

Dean Wormer, aka narcisstic bastard

October 26th, 2010

Seriously? This is what the Internet is for?

I know this is a “rumor” section…and absolutely no effort was made to substantiate these rumors through me, and therefore, totally one-sided. And I hesitate to do anything more than laugh at these types of things when friends say “Did you read…?” But some relevant info I’d like to share if I may:

Automotive News sent a salesman. Not an editor. Not a reporter. Not a journalist. Not even a blogger. Or an anonymous Internet poster. A salesman.

Automotive News, the self-purported “Bible of the Industry”…search their website for “Digital Dealer” and see what comes up. I don’t think they have ever even mentioned this important industry event. They sent a salesman to sell.

“You’re a delivery boy, collecting a bill, for a bunch of grocery clerks.”
~Marlon Brando as the insane Col. Kurtz in Apocalypse NOW.

That’s exactly what I said to the A-news rep while I squeezed a rag full of water on my bald head. I knew what he was there for. Just kidding…registration explained to him that we don’t allow competitors in our event. But I thought you’d get a kick out of the imagery…

Guys, a dealer wouldn’t allow a competitor’s salesperson on their lot to sell to their customers and potential customers. That’s not why they invested and took risks and paid for the advertising that brought them in. We don’t allow competitors onto our “lot”…the Digital Dealer Conferences. Not everybody will agree with or like this policy…but who amongst you wants to argue for letting competitor’s salesman onto a dealer’s lot? How about allowing competitor’s ads on the dealer’s website? Would you recommend that to your dealer clients…or to your dealer principal?

I have had salespeople and a publisher escorted out of competitor’s events. Just as I expect would happen to a competitive salesperson was on a dealer’s lot or in their showroom. Hey nothing wrong with tryin’…no hard feelings when we catch one or we get caught.

Look, Jared Hamilton’s a great guy. He’s spoken at DDs, has video-tapped at DDs, wanted to partner with me and now is a competitor. Competition is good. We will both make the other better. But it just doesn’t make sense to let a competitor on your lot. I am sorry if people don’t like that…or don’t like me because of it. But it’s a business decision…a sound business decision. And did you see what he’s got under his button-front shirt? I can’t afford freaking kryptonite! That $hit’s EXPENSIVE.

As for the individuals directly involved in rumors on or in this thread…

One of you didn’t mind spending time at my VIP tables at two clubs on two different nights during my conference. Didn’t say “Hello”, “Goodbye”, “Thank you” or even “Kiss my ass” the first night. Not a word. Not even when I “grooved” with your wife while talking to her. Dynamite lady BTW, very cordial to me…did she not get the memo?

2nd night I finally came over and talked to you to ask what the problem is, because that vodka is $400 a bottle and when it became obvious you were not going to dance for me like the girls the doorman sent over, I made an effort to talk to you, you know…to get my money’s worth. OK, that was embellished for comedic effect, but you get the point.

Two of you I spoke to on the phone directly. I clearly explained why these decisions are made and these policies are in place, and appealed to you to understand our position. One of you responded by openly misrepresenting facts and mis-characterizing the event after the conference and now by complaining about it openly and publicly and showing an email. The other responded by starting a rumor…and it got complained about openly and in a public forum.

One of you I invited up to my suite to discuss. I told you that it was suggested internally to me that we sell your booth to somebody else and find another speaker for your slot after you suggested in a public forum that if someone had been to Digital Dealer before, they should go to Driving Sales this October. I said, because of our unique relationship, I told them we leave it as is and I will talk to you in Las Vegas. Plus I was curious as to why someone who was speaking and had a booth would suggest people go to another event instead. I clearly explained why these decisions are made and these policies are in place, and appealed to you to understand our position. We discussed; I reiterated our position. I asked if you had any questions and you said “No”. Now it shows up here. Oh, and you said, “Mike Roscoe’s a crybaby” at Jared’s event. That HURT!

One of you, whom I tried to help when you left a dealership, saw me at the conference face to face. Said nothing to me about any of this. Now you come here and bad-mouth me because of an email from two years ago? Why didn’t you say something then? Or in Las Vegas, face -to-face? You were all smiles with me then.

Guys these were private conversations and private emails, not “The View”. Is this how you do business? Is it?

I guess “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” is right out the window here. But if the “glass houses” thing has any meaning, I have a question for one of you: why would you be involved in starting rumors when you’re boinking one of your older subordinates? You know who you are. Hey, I’m just askin’…

Ryan G, I would really like to discuss the situation re: how I “shit” on someone. I find that scenario disconcerting and would like to find out more, perhaps starting with what is your definition of “shitting” on someone. My email address is mroscoe@Dealer-Communications.com. Let’s try to set a time to discuss please.

Len Critcher, if you are so inclined I would appreciate a chance to find out what the speaker and exhibitor issues were in 2008. I have always had the attitude that we will make up for mistakes in such a way that the person is GLAD the mistake happened. My email address is mroscoe@Dealer-Communications.com. I am available to discuss at your convenience.

Jerry Evans, do we know each other? I don’t recognize the name. My bad if we have met and I’ve forgotten…like I stated previously, I am lousy at remembering names. Taken courses to improve…no help at all. I don’t recall personally being asked or tweeted anything by you, positive or negative. If you were treated poorly by a member of the DD team, let’s discuss and see if we can resolve it, nothing will change by complaining about it here. mroscoe@Dealer-Communications.com

Jeff Collins…have we met? Forgive me if we have and I’ve forgotten, I’m great with remembering faces, names…not so much. Is there anything specific you wanted to discuss or just posting some…uhhh…”constructive” critcism?

Marc McGurren, why would you get “banned”? Thanks for sharing your thoughts re: DSES…we will discuss what you’ve written as we discuss continually improving the Digital Dealer Conferences & Expositions.

Funny that one anonymous poster chose the handle “Chili Palmer” who I believe was a tough guy in a movie, right? Calls me a “bastard”…anonymously, so he can still speak at DDs…CLASSIC! He then applauded another poster for showing “some backbone” for posting up “like a man”. That is so deliciously RICH with irony!

Tell you what Chili…why don’t you prove to us that you are real…that what you wrote is legit. Be a man and state who you are. If you have in fact spoken before, I promise in front of God and everybody you will speak at the next Digital Dealer Conference. I will let you pick your own time slot. Hell, I’ll even make you an affiliated sponsor (a $1,995 value!)

I’ve dealt with a lot of people in the 16+ years since I started this business. You can’t please all the people all the time. As much as they try, dealers will have some people who don’t like them, feel they were treated poorly, yada, yada, yada. I believe I have been honest, direct, and up-front with the people who are slamming me here…except for the ones I don’t know and/or have not directly interacted with. I never claimed that I could please everyone all the time as it is impossible. If you don’t like any of our policies, feel free to contact me to discuss. Doesn’t mean we will change how we do business…but you never know. Or you can just comment and slam in forums like this “The View”-style. Your choice.

We had almost 1,800 people at the conference. Some of them love me, some of them like me, most of them don’t know me…some of them don’t like me and apparently, some of them hate me. I can live with that. I would like to be everybody’s friend, but this is a business and as such, there are competing agendas. That’s business biz…

On a lighter note, Animal House is my favorite movie and John Vernon was AWESOME as Dean Vernon Werner, appreciate the image. He died in 2005. I suppose some of you guys consider yourselves the rascally, rebellious Deltas? Well, then…in the spirit of Faber College’s best dean ever…”You’re all now on double-secret probation…NO MORE FUN OF ANY KIND!!!”

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go yell or scream or cuss or make threatening phone calls or whatever the heck it was somebody thought would be happening because of this silly little rumor thread. After all, I have an image to live up to…

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Uplead Technology helps retail, independent and BHPH dealers all across the United States and Canada. Our company is the only company with proprietary rights on our service system. We enable dealers to enhance the car buying experience for their customers while also generating more revenue for the dealer. We have the ability to capture off hours and closed day customers. You can utilize our services with all of your current means of advertising thereby incresing your floor traffic by as much as 200 to 400%. There are no contracts, no software or hardware to install and we are so confident that you will be pleased with our services that we offer a 30 day money back guarantee. This is not a want or a need; this is a must have if you are an automotive dealer. Feel free to visit our website, watch the quick 3 minute video introduction then feel free to browse our website. Should you have any questions afterwards please feel free to call or email me at (913) 709-8618 or begood98@yahoo.com Thanks in advance for your time and consideration and have a wonderful day.

Best Regards,

Bill Goodfriend

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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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Auto Quotes/ResponseLogix

As we are constantly looking for ways to improve our internet sales process, one of the things that has come to our attention that we are thinking of looking into further is auto quoting. There are several companies that offer services like this at a reasonable rate, one of them being responselogix. We are looking at trying to implement this at mainly our Honda store on a trial basis until we see how it works, but before we did I thought it would be a great idea to pick the brains of this community on the topic and see if anyone out there has had any expierence working with such companies and how your dealership has benefitted etc. To give you some background right now we are using a system where a rep recieves a lead then the lead is first called so the initial contact can try to be made. If the initial contact is made by phone the appt is attempted and if the rep does not set one then the quote must be sent out manually by the rep through a template email we have devised from some good quote templates we have seen. Obviously in an ideal world we would be able to set an appt on every call, but when this cant happen we want to be sure we are getting quotes out. Some of the concerns we have are as follows...any input provided would be great.

1.) If your using an auto quote service, is it seamlessly able to interact with your ILM/CRM, specifically iMagiclab?

2.) Ultimately, we would like to get a hold of each customer on the phone prior to quoting to see if we cannot first set an appt. without having to divulge a quote. If you using an autoquote service, is there a time frame you can set up to allow yourself a chance for contact before its sent out?

3.) One of the main reasons we would like to implement this is to be sure each and every customer, regardless of whom the rep is the lead is assigned to is getting a quote. If you are using such a service, are all your customers getting prices?

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Facebook Dealer Challenge - cheer me on

25 Oct 2010

Car Dealer Facebook Challenge

Facebook Challenge, Edit No Comments

Okay, I will be the first to admit that I am no Social Media super freak. I’m hearing on a daily basis from dealers that Facebook is a waste of time and useless. I thought it would be fun to try and reconnect with the dealer that I started my career with, the Chevrolet dealer in little old Alliston, ON population 10,000.

Ernie Dean Chevrolet started today with 35 fans. I am going to work along side Sam “the sheriff” Williams to try and generate 1000 Facebook fans by 2011.

I will keep the automotive marketing nation updated on the progress. Today we went from 35 to a whopping 60.

Ernie Dean Chevrolet

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Sean:

I believe in the thought process but the variables of market size, ethnicity, income level, and educational background taint those numbers more than anything else. We have been involved in 20 groups for the past 5 years and I know dealers that print multiple statements (phony financials) to exceed group performance averages. I also know that Dealers need more training and input from the Manufacturers to get a handle on internet marketing and sales.
We need you to work with GM, Chrysler, and Ford to get us caught up and moving forward.
There are no easy answers and thanks for listening,
Dave Walsh

Re:

Dave,

Thank you for your email in response to my article in AutoSuccess Magazine.

I too have sen fictional numbers from dealers but that is what an Internet Sales 20 Group Moderator can filter through... Plus, not everyone is going to be allowed into the 20 group. this 20 Group is ONLY for dealers that want to be successful...

I am excited for our November 20 group, there will be a lot of Dealer Principals, GMs and High Level Internet Directors... These people I personally interviewed before I allowed membership. They are ALL focused on Success.

I would love an opportunity to speak to you and brainstorm some ideas with you.

*** Please sign up for www.automotiveinternetsales.com ITS FREE and it is the technology that supports the 20 Group. I would love to hear your opinion on it-

SVB

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Hello to all Automotive Internet Sales Professionals, my name is Durran Cage and I am the Internet Sales Director at Gary Mathews of Jackson in Tennessee. My team and I are very thankful to be the first Automotive Internet Sales Dealer of the Month! This could not have been done without the efforts of my hard working Internet Sales Coordinators and Internet Sales Managers, Sean Bradley, Stan "the man" Sher, and the entire DS staff. Big thanks to you all! Automotive Internet Sales changes from day to day and not a day goes by that I don't learn something new, so I am excited to here and see all the ideas and suggestions listed on automotiveinternetsales.com and also posting some thoughts of my own as well.

A brief background of my history in the automotive business, I first started in the car business at 17 years old selling cars at Zangara Dodge in Albuquerque, New Mexico. While selling at the dealership I was also able to get my Bachelors Degree in Business Administration with a Concentration in Accounting, I then went to work for Chrysler as a District Sales Manager over West Tennessee, Memphis, and Mississippi Chrysler Dodge Jeep Dealers. The District Sales Manager position allowed me to go into 15-20 different dealerships on a weekly basis, and by doing this I was able to take bits and pieces from each dealership on what's effective and what has been proven to be ineffective in sales and service. I also started to see that there was a major piece of business missing in each dealership, the Internet Department. Can you believe that not a single dealership in Memphis or West Tennessee had an Internet Sales Department? I then took the opportunity to resign from Chrysler and join a very aggressive dealer by the name of Alan Vines who was ready to take the internet to the next level but was not sure if he could find the right person for the job... I joined Gary Mathews of Jackson in August 4, 2008, and it has been nothing but a blessing since. And with the recent help of Dealer Synergy, we were able to double our sales and we are continually trying to improve our department on a daily basis. As many of you know, it's not just about consistency within an Internet Department, it is more about consistent implementation and discipline of sticking to the basics and fundamentals of your Internet Sales Process. I look forward to obtaining new ideas and suggestions through automotiveintersales.com. Once again I am thank the Internet Sales Managers and Internet Sales Coordinators at Gary Mathews and DS staff for all the support and success.

If you have any ideas, suggestions, questions, or would like to contact me, you can do so by emailing durran@mathewsautomall.com or calling me directly at 731-394-6907 at anytime.

Take Care

Durran Cage


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Who is the BEST Automotive Dealership Website Company? And Why...???

Automotive Internet Sales is creating its TOP 10 LISTS! And the first section is Dealership Website Companies...

So, Please give me your feedback. Remember that is what this site is about... INFORMATION, IDEAS and FEEDBACK.

I look forward to all of your posts and thoughts.

SVB-

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Ok,

This is an oldie but goodie :)

I want to hear all of your opinions...

What is TRULY Vital for a SUCCESSFUL Dealership Website...?

I have Dealership after Dealership ask me these questions:

* Who is the best dealership website company?

* What are the best features for a dealeship site?

* Should I have a Flash site or not and why...?

* How many websites should I have?

* What is onsite versus offsite SEO?

* How often should I update my website?

* What content is important for my website?

**** And on and on the questions go... Please understand these are NOT the ONLY questions... I am simply trying to start the conversation...

I would love to hear from all of you as to what makes the MOST POWERFUL and Successful Dealersgip Website Solution and WHY?

I look forward to your posts

SVB-

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I have no problem weighing in on the subject, particularly when it comes to Internet Sales Departments. I have managed dealerships for 17 years with many different manufacturers in 3 different markets: San Diego, Orange County and Los Angeles. And for the most part I would say the answer is "it depends". :) I will try to explain my take here:

1.) Dealer 20 groups are typically of the same brand, and over wide markets. So, how many leads should be determined by manufacturer type, PMA, staff, dealership goals, and regional manufacturer's sales volume targets. There should be ratioed expectations, of course. However, the dealers that are really thriving right now are getting back to Sales 101 basics, and they are focusing more on the customer. In addition, there is a great talent pool out there so they are hiring slower and firing faster.

2.) I would want to discuss the origins of the dealership customers themselves. As internet salespeople, they are too often (if not always) called "leads" intsead of "customers". If your dealership is just buying leads and expecting unreasonable results, you need to be sure you have a full plate of your own local market by optimizing your web presense with your home site. How well are you indexing in the major search engine sites like Google, Yahoo and MSN?

3.) I would certainly discuss the quality of these leads, where they are coming from, and how much money those leads are costing. I would hope to discuss all of the lead providers, the quality of their leads overall, and talk to dealers that hold these people accountable for what they are selling you. After all, they are also selling those same leads to your competitors.

4.) I would discuss our home websites as well, particularly the quality of the sites. There should be discussion with other dealers about how they are able to make their dealership very user-freindly and accessible to the potential buyer as well as current owners. How do they optimize those sites? After all, your website is your new "front door".

5.) In terms of ratio expectations, an internet salesperson that can close 15% is great, but what about how they got there. These high-closing salespeople tend to make quick contact with their prospects, and are not afraid to call people.

6.) Good internet salespeople make contact early, but also listen very well to the needs of the potential buyer, which is why they typically average around 35% appointments, 30% of which are confirmed (by a manager or internet director). Of these 30/100 appointments, they should close 15 deals. Your best internet salesperson should be invited to these meetings to discuss their processes.

7.) There also needs to be more emphasis on the perception of the "internet customer". ALL customers now are "internet customers" and some discussion is certainly due to the fact that they are not all there to grind you out on a price. Too much money is left on the table with internet prospects because that money is taken off the table with incorrect perceptions. Not enough attention to selling the value of the dealership, the vehicle and the salesperson.

The internet departments accross the United States are all unique, but share a common goal. To sell more cars! The influence and effect on a dealership of internet departments deserve a 20 Group for sure. However, these Groups need to be more than just number factories and big lunches. Internet 20 Groups need to discuss the "hows" and the "whys" a bit more in detail, have in-depth best practice discussions and hold each other accountable like other 20 Groups.

I would want to have my dealership and the dealerships in my group have some targets to reach between 20 meetings, and hold myself and other members accountable for those targets. If there is some focus on these things, I think the numbers will take care of themselves.

Thanks and I am always available for discussion at rich@dealertraction.com

Rich Mertz

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Hey, If anyone knows of a QUALITY Internet Director for the Chicago area.... one of my CLOSEST clients just lost theirs with NO NOTICE... Argh!!!!

This is for a BEAUTIFUL, HUGE and Brand New Honda Dealership!!!!!

Contact me for more details

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