Congratulations to Eric Nichols, Internet Sales Manager in Riverhead Long Island!
Eric is Delivering 52+ units per month in a 2.5 person department-
AIS - How Long have you been in the Automotive Sales Industry?
EN - 5 and 1/2 years. I was in the United States Navy before that for 4+ years.
AIS - How did you go from Navy to a Car Dealership?
EN - I worked some dead end jobs until my brother, Brian gave me a job in a BDC.
AIS -What type of training did you go through?
EN - Nothing except what was regurgitated down from the managers at the dealership, who were making it up as they went or heard something from somebody or the OEM. Until we hired http://www.DealereTraining.com / Stan Sher.
AIS - How did you meet up with Stan Sher and his company?
EN - Ironically, the GM brought him in after seeing that Stan Sher was a trainer for the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association. At first, Stan "Mystery Shopped" my dealership. Needless to say, I wasn' t that thrilled at first LOL! However I have become close with him and have learned a lot. Basically all of the ideas I had that were swirling in my head, Stan helped me articulate them and implement them.
AIS - So, I am going to transition the conversation for a little bit...
Tell me about your department in detail...
* Website Provider - http://www.dealer.com
AIS - Do you like them?
EN - Yes, no issue to date.
* CRM - http://www.dealersocket.com
AIS - Do you like them?
EN - I actually LOVE them!! It is my biggest tool! It is my command center. It is my complete accountability for my GM. After, Stan Sher helped setup processes in the CRM and create a guideline for how to measure the results in the BDC the tool has become my best friend.
AIS - Since you got excited when I mentioned the CRM, lets go a little deeper...
How do you use your CRM?
EN - We have an automated Email Action Plan, Data Mining, Lease Retention, Unsold Showroom Follow Up, Internet Leads, Incoming Phone Ups... Everything.
AIS - Any Social Media Integration with your CRM?
EN - Not at this time. Although we learned from Dealer eTraining the importance of incorporating social media into follow up especially with leads that have no phone number or leads that are unresponsive.
AIS - What is your internet lead process?
EN - First, there is ONLY 1 "automated" email template... The 1st one. Then we send manual emails for the next 14 days... THEN it goes into the "automated category" until day 44. Then it goes into a MONTHLY Email Protocol. We incorporate value builders and stress the importance of our positive online reputation in our process.
AIS - How long do you follow up with a prospect?
EN - 180 days... 90 days is NOT Enough Anymore. In fact, some OEMs require longer processes. We noticed that our customers have extended their buying cycle to as long as 180 days.
AIS - How do you handle the Phone Call Follow Up Process?
EN - It is different...
As soon as we get the lead, we IMMEDIATELY make the phone call. If we do not connect, Then we call them AGAIN, later on that day.
So, another way of explaining it is for the first 10 days we call TWICE a day... Morning and night, for a total of 20 calls in ten days.
Then we go from 10 days to 12 days to 14 days...
Then we call 21 -26 - 31 THEN we start calling monthly.
AIS - Who is your inventory solution?
EN - We have our own photo studio then we upload to http://www.VAuto.com
AIS - Who is your call monitoring solution?
EN - Call Measurement powered by DealerSocket
AIS - What is your Online Reputation Management Strategy?
EN - We were using Dealer.com but just cancelled to go to www.flipstreammedia.com - THEY ARE AWESOME! We are of the highest rated Honda dealerships in New York on DealerRater, Google Places, and other sites. It is a requirement of all of our staff members to attain at least one review per week.
AIS - What are you doing for Social Media?
* Carmind - http://www.carmind.com
AIS - What is your video and or VSEO strategy?
EN - We are using Flip Stream for it all. We learned basic in-house strategies for VSEO from Stan and use these practices at times.
AIS - What other additional resources, tools, websites, blogs etc... do you use as part of your "success strategy".
- Stan Sher / Dealer eTraining Blogs and Videos
- Sean V. Bradley / Dealer Synergy Videos
- All Google tools... ESPECIALLY Google Analytics
- Driving Sales - I actually wrote an article on Driving Sales
(I will POST it HERE)
“Use the Source” By Eric Nichols
For the first time in automotive history dealers can now get an accurate idea of where their marketing dollars are going and how well they are performing. Yes I am taking about the all mighty source. No not the force, “THE SOURCE”. It may not be able to help you move items around or read people’s minds, but it does something even better…. MAKES YOU MORE MONEY…
In my years as a BDC rep and a BDC director, I have learned that the source can be mastered and understood now more than ever before. How is that you ask, quite simple with the following simple steps I have come up with you will be able to not only save on your marketing dollars but will you can profit off of it.
Step 1- Understanding Sourcing…. The traditional advertising types radio, TV. Newspapers never gave you an accurate idea of if your marketing efforts where effective. When sourcing you need to use the parent, child approach.If your paying for all these campaigns you need to know what is working
PARENT= SOURCE meaning the broad spectrum source.
EXAMPLES OF SOURCE CODES
Fresh-up- A fresh up is any customer that comes to the dealership for no other reason but driving by or just walking into the dealership.
“NO ADVERTISING YOU ARE DOING BROUGHT THEM IN”
PHONE UP- Any customer who calls into your dealership that cannot be sourced to any specific advertising or 1-800- tracking #. Meaning if a customer calls your dealership using one of your individual 1-800 #’s and it shows up under that marketing effort, such as website, auto trader, cars, autousa, vehix, dealix etc……..THEY ARE NOT A TRUE PHONE UP THEY ARE WHATEVER MARKETING EFFORT THEY ARE TIED TO. INTERNET, TV, RADIO, ETC… EVERY MARKETING EFFORT SHOULD HAVE INDIVIDUAL AND SEPARATE TRACKING #’s FOR EACH AD.
Internet- any prospect that comes from any form of digital advertising online. It’s pretty simple as stated before if they send a lead/email into you it is pre-sourced in your CRM and labeled where it came from. Same with the internet phone calls your call tracking will say what website it came from. “INTERNET IS NOW ALWAYS GOING TO BE THE MAJORITY OF YOUR CUSTOMERS YOU TALK TO. LIKE IT OR NOT ITS FACT.”
INTERNET/FRESH-UP- Last but not least my own creation. So before I explain to you what an Internet/Fresh Up is. Let me ask you a question.
A customer walks into your dealership and you ask how did you hear about us? They are going to say the either one of the above sources. It is your job to dig to see where they came from. ASK ASK ASK.
Statistics say out of 100% of all traffic
8% emailed before coming in
12% called before coming in
80% came in without emailing or calling.
Now that 80% is a curious thing do you think that 80% just came in for the heck of it, No something brought them in. Now are you ready for the Shocker out of that 80% of unknown origin. 75% of that # saw you on the internet, Car buyers will hit your website or your car listing about 7 times before they come in and the time searching is 15hrs or more online shopping. All you need to do is ASK... Don’t take the easy way out it’s your money either you ask or make sure your people ask.
- YOU COULD POTENTIALLY BE EITHER..
- WASTING MONEY ON BAD ADS
- CANCELING MARKETING EFFORTS THAT ARE MAKING YOU MONEY. Example... My dealer principal wanted me to cancel a major listing company because we were not tracking well with leads. I put the foot to my people to ASK ASK ASK….. And low and behold it was one of the top reasons for my walk-in traffic sales.
So the point is that just because they are a walk-in doesn’t mean that you can’t source them correctly. Yes they did not email or call but a certain marketing approach brought them down find out what it is. If it’s the internet you need to know that. Hence INTERNET/FRESH-UP. It’s neither a true internet nor is it a true fresh-up.
CHILD = TRACKING CODE
Don’t worry no long drawn out explanation on this one. Tracking code is the exact marketing listing, basically whatever company you are using that is promoting your listing. Simple as that.
So now that I have explained the different sourcing structures, how do you us put a plan into effect to get these sources? The only efficient way to do this is the following way and it may sound like a pain in the rear but it’s the only effective method.
HAVE A GREETER AT THE FRONT DOOR TAKE ALL INCOMING UP SHEETS AND LOG THEM INTO YOUR CRM… MAKE THEM RESPONSIBLE FOR IT. WE ALL KNOW THAT SALES REPS DON’T CARE AS LONG AS THEY MAKE A SALE THEY DON’T CARE WHERE THEY COME FROM AS LONG AS THEY COME IN. IT IS ON MANAGEMENT TO ENFORCE THIS. Having the greeter enter all info into the CRM will also ensure an accurate count of how many showroom visits you truly have. I have worked with managers who don’t collect log sheets, they throw them out to increase their closing ratio, they lose them the list goes on and on. As a GM, GSM, Dealer principal, BDC Manager it is on you to make sure that this is followed to a tee. The reason being is not only proper sourcing but proper follow-up is completed. And as you know that means more money in all of your pockets. Times are hard in our business now make the most out of everything you get in the door.
TO BE CONTINUED..... EPISODE 2: THE RETURN OF THE DUPLICATE
AIS - GREAT STUFF!
AIS - What types of advice do you have for other ISMs or Internet Departments reading this article?
EN - EASY... Analytics. Analytics. Analytics...
VERIFY everything. Be sure. NEVER Guess. I learned that by mastering your CRM reporting, Google Analytics, and other reports that you will always be able to monitor the success and/or shortcomings for the BDC department as well as the dealership.