Edmunds just announced their Hackomotive 2014 contest where folks come up with ideas on how to improve the car buying process etc., and as a former employee I was initially excited to see this but within 60 seconds something caught my eye that was disappointing.
Last year's #1 Winner - My Motive which paints the picture that up until now the Dealer has made the consumer their "Bitch" yes, that's in there, and that this new My Motive lets the consumer turn the tables and finally make the Dealer their "Bitch" (yes it really says that).
Why does this bother me so much? We'll frankly because I was with them and helped launch their direct to dealer program and when I went to work there I remember in my interview saying: "I've been a dealer and for years we really haven't had much love for Edmunds so how are you going to fix that because, as a dealer, I need to know you're there for me if I buy your program."
My boss at the time shared the vision of Edmunds still maintaining their integrity with consumers but not really being focused on creating more content like 'confessions of a car salesman' anymore.
I bought into the idea that they would finally respect the dealer community and helped enroll well over 100 dealerships in their program in my first year with them.
Apparently I was wrong about their true motives and if all of this doesn't tick you off as a dealer, you need to get your head examined.
If you don't want to click over to their site, here are actual screen shots (Note - I've added the arrows and comments on the side)
In my not so humble opinion, vendors should work to help Dealers do two things: Get and Keep Customers. Rewarding a "Make the dealer my bitch" idea only furthers what many already believe about Edmunds.
Simply put, they don't care about your dealership, they only want your money and behind the scenes they're all still high fiving each other when they disrespect the dealer.
In this case, the high-five had a $10,000 bonus.
What's the best idea for 2014 going to be: "F@€K Dealers, buy direct from Edmunds" ?!?!?
I'd love to hear your feedback and please everyone, share this with other dealers ASAP but really I have a question for everyone seeing this:
ARE YOU DONE BEING Edmunds"BIT¢H"?
Helping the best get better, Mat Koenig CEO & Founder KonigCo & iCarMedia
Last year I wrote an article that I received literally HUNDREDS & HUNDREDS of emails, calls, social media messages from OEM reps, Dealer Principals, GMs, Sales Consultants, Automotive Professionals from all over the country. The article was so popular that I created a webinar that over 500 dealers signed up for. I then uploaded that webinar to www.automotiveinternetsales.com (Via YouTube) and that has almost 6,000 views. Because of the huge success of the article and the webinar I decided to create a curriculum for Associations such as the Detroit Auto Dealers Association (DADA) And the Greater New York Auto Dealers Association (GNYADA). Here is part two of that article. I am going to go deeper on ideas of prospecting in 2013, 2014 and beyond.
Remember the saying “Car Sales is like owning your own business”…? Then act like it! It is NOT 1983, its 2013. Don’t prospect like you did 30 years ago, like you did 20 years ago or even like you did 10 years ago! You need to get with the times and prospect with resources and strategies of this Millennium!
First and foremost, 92-99 percent of Americans go online BEFORE they ever step foot into a dealership! So, if you were going to go fishing, would you go to the beach and cast your fishing line in the sand? No, of course not! Then why would you do it at the dealership? You need to fish, where the fish are. So, lets start there.
Here are the MOST powerful online (Not the ONLY, just the most powerful) places to prospect for an Automotive Sales Professional:
It is important to create a strategy for each of these areas and stick with it. It is counter productive to start initiatives in multiple areas without a strategy, without consistency. In other words, either do it or don’t do it.
Lets start with the big (fishing) pond… GOOGLE!
If you know that almost every single person goes online BEFORE they step foot into the dealership, then you need to show up NUMEROUS times on the first page of Google. Think of your dealership, your OEM. They must have a Google strategy. So, if they have one and you believe “Car Sales Is Like Owning Your Own Business”. Then you too need to dominate Google.
Are you even showing up on Google? I am NOT talking about if someone types in your name into Google, do you show up. I am talking about if someone is searching for:
New Car Sales
Used Car Sales
Bad Credit / No Credit Car Loans
Service Repairs, Oil Changes etc…
Car Buying Tips
Car Maintenance Tips
Tips, Advice, Secrets
“How To Buy A Car”
The specific franchises you sell…
I can go on all day long but think about it PLEASE! Most people go online to research, find & surf, compared to people who go online to BUY. So, you should be coming up in Google (And other search engines) for the “Point Of Interest” shopper and for the “Point Of Purchase Buyer”.
Here are ways / strategies that you NEED to be enveloped in to dominate Google:
A Professional Website –Yes, that is right I suggest that ALL Sales “Professionals” have their OWN “Professional” website.
Search Engine Optimization – That website needs to have BOTH “onsite” and “offsite” SEO strategies. Just because you have build or purchased a professional website does NOT mean that site is optimized. Also, websites need continuous optimization.
Video Search Engine Optimization (VSEO) - VIDEO, VIDEO and MORE VIDEO! Sales Consultants can dominate Google with Video SEO. It is EASY and FREE!!
Online Reputation – Sales Consultants MUST have a POWERFUL online reputation strategy. Reviews INDEX on Google! The more reviews that you have online, the more times you and your name can show up on the first page of Google. There are also numerous online reputation sites that you can focus on:
Dealer Rater Reviews
Yellow Page Reviews
You can create your own review site or review blog
Pictures – Believe it or not but images index very well on Google. They can be straight images or within an image sharing site or engine like:
** Here is an AWESOME strategy:
Create an LLC (Legalzoom.com is CHEAP). The LLC can be something like “Philadelphia Car Sales” or “Cherry Hill Used Car Sales”
Make sure the “company” name is “Geo” (geographically targeted”)
Now that you have an OFFICIAL “LLC” or Corporation… you can create a BUSINESS page on Google!!
I would also create BUSINESS Social Media Accounts (rather than personal ones).
If you believe that car sales is “like having your own business”. Then you need to act like it! You need to seriously make it your own business. I do suggest that you ask your Dealer’s permission and or advice on anything you see in this article, before you just run and do it. These strategies are powerful and serious.
When a lead arrives from one of your suppliers, do you ever question its origin? In the initial days of the Internet, it was fairly straightforward. There were few options for the consumer online, and most leads arrived showing their points of origin. Now, more than 90% of your customers head online before choosing a dealership, and when they generate a lead, it’s tough for you to know where it really came from and how it got to you.
Let’s start by breaking down the two general “types” of Internet leads:
Information (3rd Party) Site
Direct interest leads are those generated by consumers who are seeking information on your make of vehicle, or specific vehicles in your inventory. By contrast, Indirect interest leads are generated as a result of a similar interest or related event, but not on a make or specific vehicle you stock.
Wait a minute: I get leads from people who didn’t submit a lead on a car I stock?
Probably. Recently, I went to a wine and food festival. Next to a beautiful new Buick was an entry form to win a trip to wine country. I completed the contest entry and two weeks later, I got a call from my local dealer regarding my interest in a new Buick.
OEMs are notorious for this “lead generation” method, but they’re not alone. There are companies who take leads from other sources – contests, home mortgages, credit bureaus (trigger leads), re-marketed leads – and sell them on the open market.
Is that why customers tell me, “I never submitted a lead?”
Not usually. In the overwhelming majority of cases, when you receive a lead from a reputable lead company, the customer did submit a request (whether they took the time to read what they were doing prior to submitting their information is another story).
Quite often, when a consumer submits a request online, they do so to many dealers at once, resulting in them receiving emails and calls from several people in a short period of time. Many of the emails are automated responses that don’t answer the questions they had, address the notes they put in the comments, or the expectations they had (like an instant price quote) when they clicked “submit.” Sometimes, they just want space and know that telling you, “I’m not interested,” “I’m not in the market,” or “I didn’t send you a request for information” is the easiest way to stop the calls and emails.
How do I make sure I get direct-interest leads?
First, work with reputable, established lead providers. Most have contracted with suppliers and sites to only receive customer-generated, direct interest leads. Second, capitalize on your search spend and site traffic by making sure customers on your website stay on your website.
Most customers leave your website because they don’t find what they are looking for, whether that’s a particular vehicle or information that they feel they can trust. When this happens, they go to independent websites that specialize in providing them with selection and information – and in turning that interested customer into a lead for you. If you can provide the customer on your website with tools and information they can trust – for trade in values, vehicle information, and even financing and payment options – you’ll convert more of your own traffic and reduce the defections.
So I'm at a two year old's birthday party this past Sunday when a seven year old walks up to my girlfriend and asks her to follow her on Instagram. It is literally amazing how technology that many professional adults are unaware of or not using is commonplace at this point to school children. I have young ones that I know who can use an Ipad, smartphone, or the Internet better than most adults nowadays. How many of you out there remember when you got 30 minutes for $30month with your new Star Tac cell phone? Or the fear of going over minutes on your cell and getting a $500 bill? Fast forward to today and who cares about minutes anymore? Today, it's all about the data plan and text messaging. I took a look at my last few cell statements and I have not used more than 900 minutes in forever...but send/receive 9000 texts month in and month out! Bear in mind I do not even have a home phone and haven't in years. If you are like me, it's almost aggravating when a friend CALLS instead of texts at this point...isn't it? So you are probably thinking... what does this have to do with automotive sales, or the title of this post? Well here it is: PERSON TO PERSON COMMUNICATION IS A FAST DYING ART! How will future generations communicate with someone or something that doesn't have a "send" button on it?...or a controller? I've seen children text each other from the same room! So, take heart sales professionals. The future competition is thinning itself out without even realizing it. The value of a REAL sales person is rising faster than Google's stock price on Wall Street. One that can COMFORTABLY communicate with another human being in person or over the phone. One that understands the importance of body language, tone and inflection, when to step on the gas, and when to hit the brakes. One that can find common ground with a potential customer...sell themselves...sell their business...and sell their product effectively in person and during a phone conversation. For all of the Truecars of the ever changing and technology dependent modern world one thing remains constant...when it comes down to the final phase in the buying cycle...PEOPLE WANT TO BUY FROM PEOPLE. There will be no automobile vending machines...no giant curtain to pull after building your car online. What there will be is very VERY few sales professionals left to handle...wait...this may scare the young ones...PEOPLE IN PERSON AND OVER THE PHONE. Frightening isn't it!!! So sales pros, keep sharpening your pencils, using sites like these to increase your knowledge base, attending 20 groups to perfect you craft, because in this writer's opinion, you'll be getting one hell of a raise in the years to come. We are all witnessing the death of the salesman (and women)...at least the truly skilled ones.
I had thought the days were behind us. Call it a hope, but I believed that the majority of businesses who were active on social media had pushed beyond the plague that once filled our feeds - the worthless post. I was wrong.
It was while auditing an account that followed numerous car dealers on both Twitter and Facebook that I came across the reality of the situation. There are still plenty - over half from the sampling of several hundred that I examined - that were posting the type of "content" on social media that drives people to unfollow, block, or simply ignore them. Recently I've been posting some advanced business social media tips, but it's time to take a step back and go over one of the basics...
If you're going to ask people to do anything at all on social media, whether it's to click on a link, share a post, or engage in any way at all, give them a valid reason to do so.
Don't get me wrong. I realize that social media is still new to many. I realize that not everyone is learning the best practices that it takes to make it successful. I was simply taken aback by the numbers of businesses that were making this profile-killing mistake. In the example above (not the worst example, mind you, but after seeing so many this was the one that was closest to the top for a quick screen capture), the dealership is asking people to do something. They want their fans to browse the inventory of a particular new vehicle. The chances of anyone clicking on this link are miniscule compared to the chances that they'll see this post and unfollow the dealership.
The same thing is happening on Facebook. In many ways, it's worse because people are much more stingy with clicks that take them away from Facebook than they are with clicks that take them away from Twitter.
This needs to stop...
Give them a reason
There are much better ways for a dealership to use social media than to try to get clicks to the inventory, but if you must do it from time to time, make sure there's something enticing to make it happen. For example, a Tweet might say...
The 1st batch of next generation #Mazda6 just rolled off the truck. [link] #SmokinHot even in December!
Our biggest sale of 2012 starts next week. Get a head start by browsing the #special inventory [link]
New incentives just hit for the #Nissan #Sentra. Claim dibs on yours, #Atlanta! [link]
Social media is about now. If people wanted to browse your inventory, they'd go directly to your website or find the car they're seeking on Google. There's no chance that seeing a Tweet or a Facebook update telling them to click to your inventory for no reason will ever work. Give them a reason.
Of course, posting links to inventory is not a best practice. It's something that should be done sparingly (if at all) and only when there's a valid reason to do so. Your goals with social media are many, but two of the basics are (1) improve your branding for future considerations, and (2) catch people in market with something compelling.
Compelling. Give them a reason. Otherwise, the seconds it took to post a meaningless update could have been better spent reciting a limerick.
People often ask me how I'm able to stay up on the millions of things that are happening in the world of automotive internet marketing on a daily basis. There are tons of blogs, social networks, and industry websites with enough posts to fill a full day if you plugged them all into an RSS reader. How does an automotive professional with limited time during the day stay ahead and not miss out on the important things?
It's one of the keys to success.
There are content producers galore in the industry. Everyone has an opinion on what to do with search, social, websites, analytics, CRM, classifieds, PPC, banner ads, and every other aspect of internet sales. Throw in the best practices and tips on how to actually work with customers and you have a huge mess. It's not that it's bad. It's that it needs to be curated.
The Twitter hashtag #automarketing is the easiest way to do it. Sure, there's going to be poor content that makes its way into the hashtag. That's inevitable. Many use it as a marketing tool to get their message out regardless of quality. However, the majority of what gets into the hashtag and stays at the top is high-quality.
Here's how it works. People read the blogs, social networks, and industry websites. They find content they like. They share this content on social networks like Twitter. Those who are very active on the internet side of the industry realize that certain hashtags like #AutoMarketing and #CarDealers get fed into Twitter chatter monitor widgets everywhere on the web. Thus, they put in the hashtag whenever they find something of interest.
The more that people curate and share the best content, the more powerful the hashtag becomes. It's not just the industry sites that get posted. Marketing sites that have content pertinent to car dealers often find their content shared with the hashtag as well.
If you want to stay ahead of the curve, this is one of the easiest ways to do it. Just do a search in Twitter for "#AutoMarketing" and you'll find content that curators have enjoyed. You can become a curator yourself by adding it to tweets of important industry posts. The more people that do it, the better the hashtag can become.
We need curation. You can save time by taking advantage of it. You can help by participating.
Can you imagine? Instead of working 60 plus hours per week, you show up at 9 AM on Monday and weekend is just four hours away! What would you do with all the free time? I would probably play enough golf to be on the PGA tour, lift weights and work out everyday, and then on Saturday, maybe go to Home Depot, buy some wallpaper, maybe get some flooring, stuff like that. Maybe Bed, Bath & Beyond, I don’t know.
For those of you who haven’t read The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss, you’ll be really disappointed to know that I am not starting a revolt to reduce dealership hours from 9AM-9PM Monday through Saturday to 1 4-hour workday. However, I am confident that I will save you a ton of time and be able to help you make more money.
Let’s get started..
Stop checking your email every five minutes!
Prior to reading the 4-hour workweek I was super guilty of this. By checking your email every minute you can’t get anything done. What happens is you start to work on something important like an email blast, website analytics, advertising, etc. Then you get an email from your factory rep with daily sales update, while checking this email you get a SPAM email that you have to unsubscribe from, and then you get a bill emailed to you that you print out to authorize payment for and before you know it it’s been a half an hour and you completely forgot about your email blast.
Instead of checking your email every 5 minutes, set 2 times per day that you check email say 12 PM and 5 PM. I’m sure it’s your habit to check their email the first thing you get into work each day, but you must break this habit! Henry Evans in the book The Hour a Day Entrepreneur uses a sports analogy, rather than start the day on the defensive responding to emails you want to start the day on the offensive. Making stuff happen, making profit happen.
It is a difficult habit to break, but you must keep Outlook closed and even turn off the email notifications on your iPhone. Some of you might have managers or the owners above you whose emails you feel obligated to quickly respond to, however if you explain to these individuals that you are only checking your emails at 12 PM and 5 PM each day in an effort to increase efficiency and for them to call you with anything urgent. You will find that responses to most of their emails can wait and that they will call you if they truly have something urgent.
Single tasking is the new multi-tasking!
Poker is a passionate hobby of mine and I play in the WSOP main event most summers, but the majority of my play used to be online before it got shut down in the US. When playing online poker I had 3 22” monitors set up playing 12 tables
simultaneously (there are people who play many more tables than this!). While it was fun and exciting to play so many tables, I found that my win rate was much lower than if I played only 3 or 4 tables. The reason… playing less tables I was able to focus more on maximizing as much profit from the hands I was ahead in and minimize loss in the hands I was behind in.
The same principles can be applied in the dealership. At one point, I would have my email, Facebook, Twitter, CRM, website editor, vAuto and instant messenger all open at the same time. Why? Because it was awesome and made me feel really important to have so many windows open. Naturally all of this leads to little focus and a lot of distraction. Now, I’ll try to keep only the things open I need, for the most part this is just one program. However, there are times where I’ll need multiple things open like if I’m desking deals for instance that I may need multiple things open.
In terms of getting things done. I set 12 month, 6 month, and 1 month goals and funnel each of these goals to specific daily to dos. I use Evernote the night before to prioritize the entire next day to do list. As I mentioned you want to head into work on the offensive making stuff happen. On a given day the priority might be a customer we are real close with closing, sometimes it’s working on the CRM action plan, writing a press release, sales training, etc. However, they are prioritized and align with my goals, instead of someone’s email.
Eliminate work other people can do
Prior to reading the 4-Hour Workweek there were countless things that I would do on a weekly basis and the entire time while doing them I would be thinking someone else really could be doing this for me. The reason I didn’t, I was too lazy to teach someone else how to do it. I am sure there are countless things that you could have someone else do as well. A few things that come to mind are reporting sales, sales logs, and dealer trades but I am sure there are countless other things that you can have someone else do for you as well.
Below is a great chart that is included in the 4-Hour Work Week on finding stuff to outsource to a personal assistant. I have found that there are enough people in the dealership to keep busy that a personal assistant isn’t necessary. Finance Managers are great people to utilize because they are detail oriented and while they aren’t selling products you might utilize their skills rather than have them checking Facebook while they are waiting for another deal. Other people that come to mind are secretaries or warranty administrators. I would recommend not having sales people doing stuff like this because there are a lot of sales people who will make these things a higher priority than selling cars.
Another thing that is mentioned in the 4-Hour Workweek that is a big time saver is empowering your employees. Now, truthfully I’ve yet to implement the majority of the stuff I am suggesting so these are merely ideas. However, Tim Ferriss shares about how he would get 200+ emails per day from the customer service side of his business about different customer complaints and how each should be handled. He would spend 9-5 replying to each email about how to handle the situation. Ultimately he empowered his customer service to fix any customer problem under $100 without contacting him and this instantly reduced his emails from 200 per day into fewer than 20 per week.
In the New Gold Standard is explained how the Ritz-Carlton empowers each employee up to $2,000 per day to take care of any customer issues and also to exceed their expectations. Naturally this empowerment must been managed, but both Tim’s company and the Ritz-Carlton note that such empowerment has had little to no effect on the bottom-line. Yet, the quick resolution of problems has undoubtedly increased customer happiness. Even if such empowerment does minimally affect the bottom-line, the freedom from constant interruption this provides you and your managers makes it well worth it.
Dealership specific example of how this could be effectively implemented would be to provide a structure for internet pricing for BDC or Internet Sales Reps so they don’t have to check with a Sales Manager for every price. Also for Service Advisors to take care of any problems and unhappiness on the service drive.
In Dan Kennedy’s book No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs Dan talks about one of the of the biggest threats to your time and energy, time vampires. Time vampires can come in the form of coworkers, vendors, and even customers who have no regard for your productivity and are constantly interrupting you with meaningless questions, stories, or gossip. Some time vampires he talks about in the book are Mr. Have-You-Got-A-Minute, Mr. Trivia, and Mr. Soap Opera. These people need no description, you know who I’m talking about.
A couple of things to drive a stake into the time vampires is to end the open door policy! If you are working on something and can’t be interrupted put your phone on do not disturb and put a big sign outside your office to not come in for a set period of time. I tend to bounce around from dealership to dealership and therefore don’t have an office so when I sit down to get work done I put on headphones. When people see me banging on my keyboard and working diligently with my headphones on they know it better be good to interrupt me.
The last time vampire is Mr. Meeting.
I have gone full circle on meetings. I used to be a Mr. Meeting. I thought that the old school car guys were crazy because they never seem to ever have meetings. However, after reading the 4-Hour Workweek and some of the other books I’ve mentioned I have realized that there can’t be anything less productive than a meeting. I used to take every meeting asked for by AutoTrader, Cars.com, CARFAX, and if you are vendor reading this and I forgot your company I apologize but the good news is I probably had a meeting with your company too.
So don’t let the vendors talk you into going over your account performance because this is simply an opportunity for them to upsell you on a higher version of their product or waste your time. Meetings should only be used to solve a pre- defined problem and must have a set agenda. So if you are having a problem or want to know about a higher version of the product, you set up the meeting with them.
Side note: one meeting I do recommend having is a morning meeting, most call it a save a deal meeting. I think it is so important that i will go over it in another blog post.
Have you read the 4-Hour Workweek and if so what did you get from it?
Are you applying any 4 Hour Workweek rules at your dealership or to your personal process?
Just Google "How To Buy a Car" or YouTube "How To Buy a Car" and what you see on the FIRST page is THIS video (The Original One). This video is from 2007, its HORRIBLE, ITS Filled with lies and misconceptions. The speaker is obviously NOT an Automotive Sales Expert...
What seriously disturbs me is that NO ONE is doing anything about this... NO ONE? No OEMs, No Dealer Groups, No Dealerships, No Automotive Managers, No Automotive Sales Consultants... No one.
There is this stupid propaganda video LOCKED online and it just sits there without challenge? I am not sure about you but this video offends me, it has always offended me. Because it is so one sided and so filled with mistruths and straight out lies...
What is sad is that the PUBLIC sees this as REAL, as the TRUTH. Why...? Because it is on the FIRST page of Google and the First Page of YouTube!!! Most people are NOT subject matter experts. They are going online for some information, some direction and then they stumble into this type of trash... What is SAD is that they actually believe it. And why shouldn't they...? Its not like there are other, more compelling videos that tell the REAL story.
So, if you are watching this video or reading this post with distain... DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!
Here are a bunch of ideas of articles, blog posts or VIDEOS you could write, record and POST all over the internet:
* How To Buy a Car?
* How to Buy a New Car
* How to Buy a Used Car
* What to expect from Car Dealership
* What makes a GREAT Car Dealership
* How Do you Choose a specific Car Dealerships
These are just some basic ideas. The point is CREATE CONTENT, INFORMATION to the PUBLIC. Stop just thinking the internet is a "Point of Sale" resource... You need to capture people at "Point of Interest" and CULTIVATE the opportunity.
If you are as pissed as I am when watching this video... Let me know your thoughts-
**ORIGINAL Video is titled "4.1.5 Rob Gruhl - How to Buy a New Car - Ignite Seattle 2007.mp4"
And this COMPLETE Idiot! "Automotive Executive Breaks Code of Silence" (Way Too Many Mafia Movies Dork)
Does your dealership have its own blog? If your answer is no, then, I suggest you keep reading.....
The Importance of Blogging:Generation of Leads and Traffic
If you're reading this and your dealership does NOT have its own blog, consider this:
-B2C companies that blog get 88% more leads per month than those that don't
-Overall, companies that blog have 55% more website visitors
(Source: An Introduction to Business Blogging by Hubspot)
How Often Should You Blog
As evident in those statistics above, a blog can increase your website traffic, as well as your leads. However, it's not as simple as just creating a WordPress account or logging into Blogspot. A blog, just like social media, has to be kept up, maintained. In fact, companies that blog at least twenty times or more a month, see a SUBSTANTIAL increase in website traffic and leads. This is just one of the many benefits of having a blog. It gives you another avenue of customers to explore and reach. It helps to amplify your voice online for your dealership.
For your blog to be effective and useful, you must blog at least four/five times a week, or in between 16-20 times a month. There's no point in setting up your blog if you're only touching it every few weeks. That's what they call wasted real estate! The more you blog, the more likely you'll see an increase in your dealership's visibility online, and this is where SEO comes into play.
Blogging and SEO
All right, so you're blogging full-time and you should be showing up on the first page of Google in no time, right? Not so fast. With each post you create, there should be optimization taking place. You need to be do some research when it comes to SEO (Search Engine Optimization). You need to know the keywords your customers are using when they head to Google to do research. Once you begin blogging more frequently and using the appropriate and industry-relative keywords in your posts (Optimizing), your online visibility will increase.
The benefits are obvious. You'll see a bump in website traffic. You'll receive more leads. You'll become a trust named and dealership online your customers can trust, and therefore, someone they could recommend to their friends and family.