www.helpbecauseyoucan.com // http://tinyurl.com/zx7tpm2 Call or text Sean at 267-319-6776
Help Because You Can is an initiative started by Dealer Synergy's Sean and Karen Bradley. Karen Bradley didn't grow up wealthy and warm, in fact, quite the opposite. Watch this tale to learn why Karen is giving up her gifts this Christmas.
The Dealer Synergy family has teamed up to make a difference this holiday season by donating clothing, hygiene products, winter accessories, and small toys for children, to the homeless. But we need your help. Any donation you can make, big or small will help men, women and children in need. We are Determined to provide for the homeless this holiday season Help, because you can.
Never has there been a more dedicated band of starry-eyed optimists than the surviving Lincoln dealers.
These brave souls have jumped through every hoop and swallowed every bitter pill the manufacturer served with hardly a whimper. They put up the money and built the upgraded facilities, separated their showrooms, and upped their game in anticipation of the rivers of milk and honey in the Promised Land.
Of course reality always trumps fantasy. Truth is, it just ain’t happening.
I don’t think it’s ever going to happen if Lincoln stays on the current course. Please remember, I love Ford. I regard Alan Mulally, Mark Fields and Jim Farley as personal friends. This is not mean-spirited Jim Ziegler talking here.
I speak to these dealers when they come back from automaker meetings worked up in a frenzy of excitement. Talk to them a few weeks later, and they’re back to the grind of moving these cars in a market where they are the underdog.
Last year it was the MKZ midsize. This was billed as the future of the brand. Then, after a dismally inept launch, Lincoln is refocused on the upcoming launch of the MKC cross/utility vehicle.
Excuse me, this is Jim Ziegler talking from the heart. I have a special place in my heart for Lincoln. I drove them in the glory days. I owned nine Town Cars and several Mark VII’s back-to-back. Watching the brand go downhill has hurt me, as I now drive Cadillacs and Buicks. Sad to say, their quality is scoring higher and the models are more appealing.
There’s still time to save Lincoln and have it retake its rightful share of the luxury market. But the clock is ticking and the brand is totally on the wrong path. I don’t always claim to be the great and powerful wizard, but; here are some of the things I would do immediately.
Get rid of that God-awful ugly-ass grille you’re so proud of. I have talked to numerous consumers and it’s hard to find anyone who believes it’s attractive, classy or stylish.
Put a full-court press on modernizing and upgrading the Navigator. What genius-thinking has allowed your flagship full-sized luxury SUV to become a stale, old- technology, outdated, jazzed-up Expedition with a navigation panel the size of a postage stamp?
Let’s see, Cadillac Escalade or Lincoln Navigator. Let me think for second here? Perception is reality. Ford threw away the full-sized SUV market all at once.
MKZ, MKS, MKZ, MKT now MKC. This is absolutely stoo-pid thinking. Did somebody on the marketing team have a lobotomy? Nobody, and I mean nobody, has the foggiest idea what those models are.
I used to always say that American vehicles should have names. American luxury has personality and swagger. Put exciting and innovative names on Lincoln models, and stop changing them all of the time.
Get rid of the MKT cross/utility vehicle. It is an abomination, a Frankenstein of a CUV. (And, while you’re at it, dump the Ford Flex too). And while I’m on a rant, who the hell thought it would be okay to put the “Town Car” name on an MKT?
While we’re on the subject, explain again exactly why the real Town Car was discontinued?
Yes, it was long of tooth and getting stale, but who allowed that to happen? It was extremely profitable at the time of its execution and you certainly threw away the livery business that you once owned. There is a market for full-sized luxury and you axed your entrant before you had anything legitimate to replace it with.
You are so eaten up with chasing Generation Y that you totally threw away your bread and butter, the Baby Boomers. I’m talking about 77 million consumers who have more than 75% of America’s wealth and buy 60% of the new cars.
We’re talking about sane and stable people here who used to always buy your products. Now, you threw them to the four winds because you were concentrating on Generation Y’ers living in Mom’s basement. Build cars aimed at people who are qualified to buy, who can and will buy now.
Call me crazy. Everyone else seems to. But, I would halo a Lincoln semi-performance pony car squarely aimed at the Generation X professional that now buys BMW. It wouldn’t be a Mustang, but a Lincoln with its own persona.
Even Acura is bringing back the NSX. I would design a $60,000 Lincoln sports car that would have the entire world talking. Sorry, the MKZ isn’t what I’m describing here.
Try to think of some other incentive programs other than leasing to attract new customers. Once again, you’re too fixated on trying to be like the Europeans. It’s been a long time since Lincoln has thought outside of the incentive-program box. It’s same old, same old. The MKZ launch was an example of right car, bad execution. Your dealers did not let you down, you blew it.
Simplify the technology. I am applauding your return to sanity on new models with manual controls that consumers can understand and operate and don’t cause distracted driving. My wife is now driving a Cadillac again, but when she drove Mercedes and BMW, she felt she needed an engineering degree to operate those cars’ infotainment systems.
Finally, admit when you’re wrong. I know this is difficult for any executive that works for any automaker.
For 38 years in the industry I’ve watched thousands of factory executives come and go. It’s always the same. The new ones come in the business thinking they know more about retail than the dealers. They try the same old crap that didn’t work before.
It’s an endless cycle. By the time we get you trained as to what really works, here comes the next generation. Another constant: Going to your dealers to bail you out.
I believe Ford has some of the best top executives we’ve seen in decades. But they’re not infallible. My ideas might not all be the best, but at least I’m thinking. And thinking on a different track.
Okay, the National Automobile Dealers Assn. convention is in New Orleans next month. Please find me and say hello. I’ll be all over the convention floor. Dealers please go and participate. Take a copy of this article to the Lincoln make meetings. They’ll like that. Tell the factory guys Ziegler sends his love.
Jim Ziegler is president of Ziegler Supersystems as well as a trainer, commentator and public speaker on dealership issues. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. WardsAuto readers also may comment on this article by logging in or registering below.
Attention email composers, bloggers and content writers (just about all of us):
I was instantly inspired to write this article after reading an article titled,"Poor Writing Is No Laughing Matter".As a business owner, I can most definitely relate. I find myself repeatedly reminding my staff that grammar is extremely important and it does in fact matter. Not only is it a direct representation of you, but your entire organization too! Each and every person should take pride in their writing. You may not realize you are being analyzed by your writing skills and grammar, but trust me, you are!
I can especially appreciate the part of the article where it stated, "Good grammar is credibility, especially on the internet. In blog posts, on Facebook statuses, in e-mails, and on company websites, your words are all you have. They are a projection of you in your physical absence”.
Here at Dealer Synergy, we teach our clients the importance of the "Science of Communication", which states that there is only a 7 percent communication effectiveness through text and the words we use. I repeat, only 7 percent! Yet, for most dealerships, it is the highest form of communication used and emails are constantly being sent out with poor grammar, shorthand and misspellings. Let's think about this for a second. We expect our customers to trust us with the second largest purchase they will make in their lifetime, yet we can't even press spell check or proofread our work before we send it? We live in an industry where perception is reality. Heck, we live in aworldwhere perception is reality! Don’t let a false perception become an undeserved reality.
Here are a few of my personal tips:
ALL emails should be created equal.Show respect for the person on the other end of the email (the receiver). I don't care if you are writing an email to your 4 year old child or the President of the United States. Treat them just the same!
Practice good writing and grammar habits, ALWAYS.This includes Facebook, Blog Posts, twitter (as long as you can still remain within the character limit) and even text messages! As we are all aware, it is much easier to develop a bad habit than to break one!
The spell check button is your best friend. You wouldn’t ignore your best friend, would you? We’ve all heard the phrase “you only get one shot at making a great first impression”. What impression are you making on your prospects? Or better yet, what impression are the other people in your organization making on your behalf?
Do not use shorthand with your prospects.It may seem like the coolest and latest thing to do, but please do not type "u" instead of "you", "yw" instead of "you’re welcome", or "ttys" instead of "talk to you soon". Or “Mr. Customer, I was hoping to get you the 411 on the car you wanted, but smh, I checked our inventory and it is GFN.” You get the point.
Invest the time.I recommend reading through your email 3 times before hitting the send button. Check for both spelling and grammar corrections. Spell check will not identify the difference between to, two and too. They are all spelled correctly, but defined differently.
Read the email out loud. If you stumble on a word or phrase, the reader will too.
The use of correct grammar, punctuation and spelling pertain to more than just email correspondences with your prospects. Any form of communication visual to the public eye should be examined thoroughly. This includes, your company website, email templates, Social Media posts, blog posts and even your recruiting initiatives!
No one is perfect and not all of us are English majors and professional writers, but if you follow the tips above, you will have the best shot at making the best first impression possible. We may not be seeking out a Pulitzer Prize, but why can’t we make our prospects feel like we are?
If you would like to hear more on this subject, have comments or questions, please email me at email@example.com.
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?
How Many Phone Calls Can and Should Your Internet Department Make?
Here’s a question I hear a lot at my Internet Sales 20 Groups: “How many phone calls should my department make per day?” This question is huge, because simply dialing the phone can dramatically change the outcome of your dealership’s Internet Sales. Your dealership’s Internet Department and BDC are, after all, a number’s game. Let me break it down for you:
The more people you dial, the more people you get on the phone.
The more people you get on the phone, the more time you can execute your phone process or sales script.
The more people you engage on the phone, the more appointments you can set.
The more appointments you set, the more appointments you can confirm.
The more appointments you can confirm, the more people show up.
The more people show up, the more people will buy vehicles.
More vehicle sales equals more money for everyone — both the dealership and you.
I know that this might sound too easy to be true, but it really is this simple: If you dial phones more, you will sell more vehicles. I have been doing automotive Internet sales and business development for more than 12 years now, and that has proven to be the case over and over again all over the country. Doesn’t matter what type of franchise you have or how big your organization is — math is math.
Let’s go a little deeper. I have dealers who tell me over and over that their Internet sales coordinators, BDC reps, and appointment setters are only making 50 to 60 calls per day, and that is like pulling teeth from them. They complain that they can’t make any more calls — it’s impossible. Or, they don’t have anyone to call, or they are worried that they are calling too much, or that people are mad at them for calling too much, or countless other excuses for mediocrity.
Here are some important statistics:
• 55 percent of communication is visual perception and body language
• 38 percent of communication is tone and inflection
• Only seven percent of communication is text or the words that we use
This means with Internet prospects, it makes a lot of sense to escalate the e-mail to the phone call and the phone call to the appointment. The appointment builds the relationship, product presentation and demo drive, and all this builds value.
The average Internet prospect is searching five to seven other dealerships and or Websites (this can be same franchise or other franchises). That means five to seven other dealerships are following up sending e-mails and leaving voice mails.
The average connection on a phone call attempt is 11 to 14 percent. That means if you dial 50 attempts you are only going to reach five to seven people. Think about that for a moment: If you have full-time appointment setters, BDC reps and Internet coordinators and they work an eight to nine hour day, they are only connecting with five to seven people? That is not enough at all.
On average, you will close 25 to 33 percent of the people you actually get on the phone. That means if you attempt to call 50 people, you will get five to seven people on the phone, and from those you can expect to make about one or two appointments. That is nowhere close to being enough.
Let’s just use a safe and realistic 50/50/50 closing ratio. If you make two appointments per day, five days per week, that’s 10 appointments per week, or 40 appointments per month. Out of 40 appointments per month, about 20 people will show up and about 10 people will buy vehicles.
Our clients are making 120 phone calls per day per rep. Out of the 120 attempts, they are connecting 11 to 14 percent, which means they speak with 14 to 17 people. They are converting 25 to 33 percent to appointments, which gives us between four and six appointments per day per rep. Let’s say they make five appointment per day, five days a week, for 25 appointments per week or 100 appointments per month. Of those, 50 people will show up for the appointment and they will deliver 25 units.
Now that I have your attention, how do you get your department to actually make these phone calls? Its simple: accountability. Do not let them accept mediocrity. They will give you every reason, why they can’t do it. You have to encourage them they can and they will. For a sure-fire way to prove it to them, however, have them go through the “Power Hour.”
The “Power Hour” is a contest you will have with your team. Put some type of bonus, prize, or gift up for the winner. Here are the rules: For one straight hour, your people are going to make as many Internet sales calls as possible. Whoever makes the most Internet Sales phone calls wins the bonus. At the end of the “Power Hour,” you calculate how many phone call attempts everybody made, and then add them together and divide them by the number of people who participated.
For example, I just did this very exercise today at a Ford / Mazda dealership in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A couple of weeks ago, they were kicking and screaming that they couldn’t make more than 50 calls per day, per rep. I put out a $100 bill for a “Power Hour” prize. They have four appointment setters and an Internet director. Here are the results:
They made 179 calls in one hour, for an average of 35.8 calls per rep. Now, multiply 35.8 phone calls times 6.5 working hours in a day (that’s taking out breaks and lunches), and you get 232.7 calls in a day. Now, that might seem crazy, but the math doesn’t lie. I’m not suggesting that they should be making 230+ calls per day per person, but I am saying that they can sure as heck make a lot more than 50 calls per day.
The reality is that they were killing themselves making phone calls because they wanted to win that $100 bill. They had the desire, the want and the need to make a lot of calls. The end result for this dealership was that they all were floored at the end of the exercise when I broke down the math to them. They could not believe how many calls they were able to make in one hour.
I have been doing the “Power Hour” exercise for more than seven years now and it works every time. If you have any questions about this article, or you would like me to e-mail you the video of this exercise and the exit interview of this exercise, please e-mail or call me and it would be my pleasure to send it to you.
In conclusion, you need to make sure that your team is dialing the phone. An Internet sale is predominately a phone sale. Just think about the math. Remember you only have a 11 to 14 percent connection ratio. Everyone will tell you the hardest part of Internet sales is simply getting the prospect on the phone.
Sean V. Bradley is the founder and CEO of Dealer Synergy, a nationally recognized training and consulting company in the automotive industry. He can be contacted at 866.648.7400, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.