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Embracing Inexperience


I'm relatively new to the car business. There are certainly a lot of situations that are new to me and so much to learn about the pretty much every aspect of my job. Despite all of that, I have found that my inexperience is one of my biggest assets. Confused yet? Let me explain.

It is because of my inexperience that I am willing to take more risks and try more new ideas than my peers. I have no idea “how we've always done it”, so I am not limited in my beliefs. If I see a new approach to helping a customer solve their problem, or a process that can be improved upon, I don't have any old habits that keep me from taking that first step and trying something different. To me, it's all different.

My inexperience also allows me to make mistakes without fear. Hey, I'm the new guy...I'm supposed to make mistakes. That's how you learn. I have found that this allows me to move forward with my day without worrying about the optimum course of action. I don't have the paralysis that comes with knowing exactly how things should work and being afraid they won't work out that way. I do the best I can with whats in front of me every day, take the best actions that I can and learn from the results.

Speaking of learning, being inexperienced keeps me teachable. To my mind this is such a gift that every new, inexperienced person in any field gets. When you first begin learning a skill your mind is completely open. You don't know very much about what you're learning so you absorb as much as you can. It's only the voice of experience that tells you to say “Oh yeah, I know that already, I don't need to pay attention to that.”

I say that I'm relatively new to the business, but in reality, I've been selling cars for almost a year. I've been selling something for my entire adult life. Despite that, I keep myself in this inexperienced frame of mind because I believe it keeps me unafraid and teachable. When I remain teachable, my peers and mentors can help make me better today than I was yesterday. More importantly, when I remain teachable, my customers can teach me how to best help them. This changes our relationship into something much more personal and effective then the same old “Hi, can I help you, if I could, would you” junk that everyone else does.

Embrace the part of you that is entirely inexperienced. Try working today as if it is your very first day all over again. I think you might be surprised the insight you gain into your work habits and how you relate to your customer. You might even reclaim some of that beginners luck we all start with.

No matter what, have fun.

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Sometimes, social media seems to be integrated into every part of the day. But, are companies reaping rewards or return from the social-media campfire conversations?

That would be a NO.

There are plenty of conversations that power a business to stand out from the competition, but for many, deducing all the fodder into financial gain is not easy.

The number of small businesses that have increased their social-media budget has quadrupled, and 43 percent of small businesses now spend more than six hours each week dealing with social media.

In the near future, I’d hedge to bet businesses will discover that online reviews provide more conversation in fewer places, and reveal the invisible customer – the one that got away (and launched an online review assault against the company).

Our research suggests Facebook is not the first stop when people want to check out a business; they often go to review sites beforehand.

The Verification

My team at eReputationBUILDER recently did a study on two dealerships, one with high-end buyers and the other with mid to low-end buyers. We analyzed sentiment and patterns in both review growth and customer perception.

The two departments that benefited the most with this game changing insight into customer preference and behavior were operations and marketing.

Here are our findings: Despite differences in target markets (upper-middle incomes vs. middle to lower incomes), both dealerships experienced a growth in reviews. No matter how much or how little a person spent on a car or service repair, no matter regional differences, people still wrote reviews.

  • Negative encounters that led to bad reviews for both target markets all resulted in similar descriptions – rude service, dealership was a rip-off, sales team was dishonest, etc.
  • Positive encounters varied according to the target market. This led us to conclude the variables that drive customers to write negative sentiment are much more common than the variables that evoke positive feedback.

Group 1: High-end buyers

  • Features they looked for in their car
    • Options and customization
    • Elegant and classy look
    • Speed
    • Easy Handling
    • Advanced technology
    • Push-button parallel parking
  • Features they look for in a dealership
    • Waiting room amenities (Wi-Fi, free coffee, etc)
    • Detailing their car when it gets serviced
    • Financial Transparency
    • Polite, no stress salespeople
    • The Look of success, from the showroom to the people in it
  • Experiences that led to negative reviews
    • Bad amenities (e.g. no Wi-Fi in waiting area, etc)
    • No financial transparency in the buying process
    • Salesperson was rude and not appropriately dressed
    • Dealership was dirty or looked rundown
    • People were too aggressive to get the sale

Group 2: Mid to low-end buyers

  • Features they looked for
    • Mileage
    • Dependability
    • Car Safety features
    • Warranty
    • Access to manageable payments
    • Family friendly vehicles
    • Features they looked for in a dealership
      • No hassle financing
      • No co-signer required
      • Incentives
      • Different car options in their price range
      • Nice and friendly personnel
      • Family oriented
      • Experiences that lead to bad reviews
        • Bad customer service
        • Dealer not working with them to find the right price
        • Unnecessary delays in the sales process
        • Stressful rush to make the deal
        • High waiting times for service


Brand association was stronger for lower-mid car buyers, but upper-income buyers cared more about luxury features. Dealers can leverage this research by making changes internally and invest dollars in marketing and operations. Propelled from the customers voice, reviews are measurable and certifiable.

The lower to mid-market company should link the brand name with its amenities (e.g., "INSERT DEALERSHIP NAME offers..."), while the higher-end business should advertise the luxury attraction ("Vehicle comes with push button parallel parking”).

Online review sites are a game changer, no doubt. But they are the dark horses in this race, at least in terms of where businesses are currently putting the most focus. Companies need to use these reviews to better their business practices and improve satisfaction and acquisition. Listen to what your customers are saying; and refocus according to your target market. You are sure to reap the benefits.

Jerry Hart

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New car sales expected to grow by 1.1 million in 2010 - Repost from NADA Newsletter / Dayton Daily News By Tim Tresslar, Staff Writer

Pent-up demand is driving new vehicle sales to their highest level since 2008, an auto dealers trade group said.

Sales of light vehicles, on the decline since at least 2006, have accelerated this year, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association. Paul Taylor, an NADA economist, said Tuesday that NADA officials look for sales to reach 11.5 million vehicles this year. In comparison, new vehicles sales reached 10.4 million in 2009.

In 2008, dealerships sold 13.2 million new vehicles while in 2007 they sold 16.1 million, the NADA said.

Taylor said improvements in the stock market and pent-up demand created from consumers putting off purchases will push up car purchases next year.

The period between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day tends to be one of the briskest for dealers, Taylor said. A combination of consumers armed with time off from work and cash given to them as gifts, along with heavy promotion by the auto industry fuel the increased demand, he said.

An upturn in the automotive industry is good news for Ohio, which remains one of the nation’s largest producers of motor vehicles. Additionally, Ohio’s new vehicle dealerships generate $17.8 billion in sales and employ more than 38,000, according to NADA figures.

Larry Taylor, vice president and general manager of Beau Townsend Ford in Vandalia, said his dealership is on track to sell 260 new and used vehicles in December, compared to 156 in December 2009. He also anticipates higher sales in the first quarter of next year.

He attributes the gains to pent-up demand by consumers, who have put off buying cars as long as possible, and by consolidation of local dealerships.

“I think I’m getting a bigger piece of a smaller pie,” he said.

Jeff Reichard, vice president of Reichard Buick GMC, said sales this year of Buicks have increased 17 percent while GMC sales have climbed 131 percent, compared to a year ago. December sales also are higher than the same month in 2009, he said.

Demand for the Terrain, a compact crossover SUV, and to a lesser extent the Acadia have helped drive gains in GMC’s sales, Reichard said Tuesday.


New auto sales by year


2007 16.1 million

2008 13.2 million

2009 10.4 million

2010 11.5 million

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