Interview with Whitney Willis Snow - Internet Director of Willis GM & Winner of AIS's "Dealership of the Month" Award December 2010
(READ the FULL Interview UNDER the IMAGE :)
Automotive Internet Sales “Dealership of the Month” goes to…
Willis Automotive of Smyrna Delaware
Willis Automotive of Smyrna Delaware are killing it on the Internet! They literally rose from the ashes and turned their organization around in some dark times. Willis Automotive of Smyrna is part of the Willis Automotive dealer group. They have 3 stores, Willis Automotive of Smyrna, Willis Ford and Willis Automotive of Middletown. They started their Internet initiative about a year and a half ago, right in the middle of the automotive collapse. As a matter of fact, they were one of the GM dealerships to get a letter. They lost their Chevrolet Franchise in Middletown Delaware. But this group did not let the economy beat them. They regrouped and created a NEW strategy and persevered through difficult times and are now set to reap all of the rewards from all of their hard work and tenacity. We are going to interview the Internet Director, Whitney Willis Snow-
AIS- First off, congratulations Whitney to you and your team! You just closed November 2010 with 48 units! That is AMAZING. You went from 5 units on the Internet and losing a franchise to 48 units and almost $100,000 GROSS in 30 days! I am so proud of you and very excited to share in your success.
WWS – Thank you, but it is a huge team effort. I am blessed to work with such an amazing group of people.
AIS – Whitney, your full name is Whitney Willis Snow… So, I am assuming you are an owner…?
WWS – We have a family business for over 60 years now… My mother, father, uncle, brothers etc… This is literally a family business. A small dealer group with 3 stores. I am the Internet Director and the youngest of the family in the business.
AIS – Tell us about the organization…
WWS – Simple, we are a family owned dealership with a ton of integrity. As I mentioned we have been in business for 6 decades and are very active in our community. Our reputation is everything to our family. How we treat our people… not just or prospects or clients, but how we treat our employees and each other. We strive to do the absolute best we can possibly do each and every day.
AIS – How were you engaging the Internet?
WWS – Not very much at all… We didn’t really have a strategy, no real dedication or commitment to the Internet as a “department”. As a matter of fact, when I first started working the Internet at our dealership I would simply email the prospect back once and then “hand over the lead to a salesman”.
AIS – Ok, what changed and why…?
WWS -We decided to actually build a “real” department with a strategy, focus and put resources behind it.We hired Dealer Synergy to assist us in creating the Internet Sales strategy and Standard Operating Procedures. We hired a new web design company to re-design our dealership website. We then focused on driving a lot more traffic to the dealership organically with SEO, VSEO and Social Media as well as buying leads from 3rd party providers.
AIS- What was the most challenging thing for you and the fledgling department?
WWS – That is easy… “Teaching an old dog new tricks” LOL! No, seriously… getting this accepted by the showroom floor and the sales managers. It was VERY difficult in the beginning. We had so many people that were pessimistic, resistant, non-cooperative even to the point where we felt like people were purposely trying to sabotage the department. It was crazy! I felt like, here we were, dumping a ton of resources trying to grow the business and help everyone… from salesmen to managers, but there were people that felt like we were taking away from them, or that they knew how to do things better.
AIS – How is that possible?
WWS – As I mentioned, this is a family owned dealership. Our staff has been here for a very long time. We don’t have a lot of turn over. Everyone just needs to realize to get a bigger “piece of the pie”, the “whole pie” needs to grow! We are all working towards the same goal!
AIS –What happened with the Middletown store?
WWS – Bottom line is during the whole automotive economic collapse GM sent us a letter and we lost one of our Chevrolet points. It was very hard because we have been in business for such a long time. But we decided not to shut down the dealership, we turned it into a Pre-Owned and NAPA Car Care Dealership.
AIS – How has the Internet affected your dealership business?
WWS – Point Blank… the new Internet Department SAVED us from losing our business. NO Exaggeration… The units we have been selling out of the Internet Department kept the doors open.I don’t think we could have survived the automotive economic situation without our Internet Department. We have increased internet volume and gross each month. As a matter of fact we have also increased the dealership’s total volume of sales as well as the dealership’s total gross profit.
AIS- How is everyone at the store now a days with the department…?
WWS- MUCH BETTER… there is a lot of more communication, a lot more appreciation for the department and a lot more respect for not only the department but for all of the team members in our department.
AIS- How many people are in your department?
AIS – What are the biggest challenges for your team?
WWS – The same, I’m sure, as all internet departments… handling people J dealing with price, objections in general, attitudes, etc…
AIS – Any advice?
WWS- Absolutely… be prepared. We have a plan of action for EVERYTHING. Phone Process, Email process… objections and rebuttals and of course “What If” process… What if this happens, what if that happens… what if, what if, what if… you have to be prepared for everything and PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. Sharpen the saw. That is why we are part of the Internet Sales 20 Group (www.internetsales20group.com) and very active on www.automotiveinternetsales.com
AIS – Yes, you are! Congrats on winning the Dealership Video Testimonial!! That was AWESOME!!
Anything else you would like to add to the readers?
WWS- Yes… Don’t let ANYONE tell you that you can’t do something! Don’t let ANYONE discourage you from your goal/mission. You can do anything you put your mind too!
** Also, if anyone wants to call me directly for any advice or questions, it would be my pleasure. I believe in Synergy and in the whole Internet Sales 20 group concept. With that being said, if you HAVE any IDEAS or resources that you think are worthwhile that can help me to continue growing my department…PLEASE feel free to contact me and let me know!