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The Hickman's were driving a loaner from a dealership in Wichita KS when they came to Long McArthur in Salina KS.  They were given a Ritz Carlton like buying experience in Salina KS and decided to leave the loaner with us so that we can return it to the dealer in Wichita KS!! 

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Social Media Guidelines

A Blueprint for Policies in Dealerships

Social Media Guidelines A Blueprint for Policies in Dealerships At this point, a large number of dealerships have jumped into using social media for one purpose or another—marketing and branding, reputation management, customer relationship management, even lead generation. Even if your dealership has not jumped on the social media bandwagon, however, you can be assured that at least some (if not the majority) of your employees are either occasional or avid users. Some of your salespeople may already be using Facebook or Twitter to communicate with current customers or prospects via their own personal accounts. That being the case, it may soon, if it has not already, become necessary for you to address the proper use of social media by both the dealership and individual employees, and determine what your policies should be. Dealers who embrace using social media in the dealership seem to be of differing opinions on whether or not formal guidelines are needed for employees. Some dealers believe that it is necessary to provide rules and structure only when employees are representing the dealership on social media in an official capacity—posting on the dealership’s Facebook page, contributing to the dealership’s blog or otherwise assisting in the dealership’s reputation management. Other dealers believe that guidelines are needed to address employees’ individual conduct during personal social media use, especially if it relates to their work in any way. Still others are of the opinion that trusting employees to responsibly represent the dealership on social media, whether in a personal or professional capacity, is no different than trusting them to represent the dealership over the phone or out in public; they believe that if they hire the right people it shouldn’t be a cause for concern. Chris Boudreaux, senior vice president of services at social media agency Converseon and creator of the website, in his December 16, 2009, report entitled, “Analysis of Social Media Policies: Lessons and Best Practices,” suggested that a company create at least two policies: “One policy that sets the expectations and boundaries for all employees, including any relevant limitations or suggestions for the personal use of social media,” and “Operational guidelines for employees working on social media as part of their job.” Employees’ Individual Use of Social Media While you can’t exactly dictate how your employees use their personal social media accounts, you can provide some guidance as to appropriate conduct when their use of social media intersects with their professional life, and having these guidelines written down as part of company policy might just protect the dealership from the FTC if an employee behaves improperly online. Jim Radogna of Dealer Compliance Consultants noted in a July 27, 2011, blog post on, “According to FTC guidelines, ‘The Commission agrees that the establishment of appropriate procedures would warrant consideration in its decision as to whether law enforcement action would be appropriate use of agency resources. The Commission is not aware of any instance in which an enforcement action was brought against a company for the actions of a single ‘rogue’ employee who violated established company policy that adequately covered the conduct in question.’” Thankfully, establishing social media guidelines pertaining to employees’ individual use of social media needn’t involve pages upon pages of rules. There are some guidelines for employee social media use that seem to be universal among businesses in many different industries: • Any use of social media for work purposes should be confined to your work day. Any social media activities pertaining to work that are conducted outside normal work hours will be considered optional and voluntary on your part. • Be transparent. If a conversation pertains to the business or the automotive industry, identify yourself as an employee of the dealership. If you have a vested interest in what is being discussed, be the first to point it out. • When posting comments on matters related to the business and the automotive industry, identify your views as your own personal opinions and not reflective of the views of the dealership’s owners or management. • Be honest. Don’t post anything that is untrue or misleading, and don’t encourage others to post anything untrue or misleading about the dealership, such as a fake “customer” review. • If you encounter something that requires an official response from the dealership, such as negative comments about the kind of service a customer received or a false statement about an individual at the dealership or about the dealership itself, relay the information to the appropriate person in management so that the matter may be dealt with through the proper channels. Do not attempt to respond on behalf of the dealership. • Be courteous and have respect for others. This means respect for individuals, respect for the dealership and respect for competitors. Don’t make derogatory comments about the competition, whether it’s a competing dealership or another vehicle manufacturer. Respectfully acknowledge differences of opinion and don’t pick fights. Don’t use language that may be deemed offensive, inappropriate, demeaning, threatening or abusive. If you speak about others, do not disparage them or state anything that is not factual. • Protect confidential and proprietary information, and respect others’ privacy. Customer information must be protected in accordance with the dealership’s information safeguards and privacy policy. Do not identify a customer without their express permission; this includes posting photographs of their new vehicle or commenting/congratulating them on their purchase. Do not reveal proprietary information regarding dealership operations. • Respect copyright and fair use laws. Don’t claim authorship of someone else’s work; always attribute quoted information to its original author or source. Do not post copyrighted information without written reprint authorization. As a general rule, it is better to simply link to information you wish to share rather than repost it. • Remember that the Internet is everywhere, and it is permanent. Anything you post can be read not only by friends and family but possibly by other dealership personnel and competing dealerships. Also, search engines and other technologies make it virtually impossible to take something back once it’s “out there.” Think before you post. • Engage in meaningful dialogue. Try to add value to a discussion and provide worthwhile information and perspective. For example, don’t merely jump into a discussion about a 2012 Chevrolet Camaro to tell someone you can get them a great deal on one. No one appreciates random solicitations. Think more along the lines of commenting that you drove one when it first arrived at the dealership and were really impressed with the V6 engine on the 2LS trim. • Own up to your mistakes and correct them. If you have misstated something or been in the wrong, admit your mistake up-front and move quickly to correct it. Use of Social Media in the Dealership Social media sites can be great assets for a dealership when it comes to advertising and/or marketing as well as reputation management, if they are used correctly. When used incorrectly or carelessly, social media can bring headaches and even legal trouble. Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to your dealership’s use of social media: • Although social media sites are regarded as comparatively casual communication channels in contrast to traditional media, any advertising activities conducted on social media are subject to the same rules. Any advertising you do or anything you post that could be construed as advertising, including the posting of inventory, must meet state and federal truth-in-advertising standards. Also be aware that the Federal CAN-SPAM Act can apply to messages sent by commercial social networking sites. • Don’t tweet about or post every bit of inventory you have on Facebook. Most dealers have already figured out that this can be a real turnoff for social media followers; it clogs up other users’ news feeds and is considered annoying. That isn’t to say you can never post about your inventory. If you take in a particularly interesting or unique vehicle on trade or get a handful of a certain in-demand new model from the manufacturer, by all means, use it to generate interest. However, if you post listing after listing, eventually others will simply tune it out as virtual white noise or drop you altogether. Also, keep in mind that the posting of inventory could be considered an advertisement and as such is subject to state and federal regulations. • Have a set procedure in place for dealing with any negative comments about the dealership encountered online. Designate someone in dealership management to deal with and respond to negative comments, and make certain employees understand that they are to notify that individual about such encounters rather than attempt to respond on their own. This way, you can ensure that everything is dealt with in the same manner and consistent with the best interests of the dealership. • Don’t post fake reviews. By that same token, don’t alter or omit content or otherwise manipulate the content of a review. The Federal Trade Commission’s Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising state, “Endorsements must reflect the honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experience of the Endorser … [T]he endorsement may not be presented out of context or reworded so as to distort in any way the endorser’s opinion or experience with the product.” The FTC can impose stiff penalties for violating its rules by planting or allowing someone else to plant fake reviews. • Keep in mind that while you can offer a customer an incentive such as a free oil change to write a review about the dealership, according to FTC regulations the customer writing the review must disclose the source and nature of any compensation they receive. • Obtain permission from a customer before posting any photos or messages pertaining to that customer’s vehicle purchase online. They may not want everyone in the virtual world to know they just made a major purchase. Respect their privacy. • If you opt to hire a third-party company to help manage your online reputation or social media presence, be certain that company is aware of and adheres to state and federal advertising regulations as well as your dealership’s own social media policies. • If a customer expresses dissatisfaction online with how something was handled by the dealership or believes a mistake was made, don’t get defensive and don’t argue with them publicly. Acknowledge the customer’s feelings and request that the customer contact the dealership so that you can make a good faith effort to resolve the problem to their satisfaction. HR Use of Social Media The use of social media by a company’s human resource department, either to monitor current employees or screen job applicants, has been hotly debated recently as more and more reports emerge of employers seeking to gain access to current or prospective employees’ social media accounts. In some cases, employers have gone so far as to demand social media login and password information from individuals who have set their profiles to use the highest privacy settings. Facebook specifically addressed this trend in a March 23, 2012, post by Erin Egan, Chief Privacy Officer, Policy, Facebook: “In recent months, we’ve seen a distressing increase in reports of employers or others seeking to gain inappropriate access to people’s Facebook profiles or private information. This practice undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user’s friends. It also potentially exposes the employer who seeks this access to unanticipated legal liability. The most alarming of these practices is the reported incidences of employers asking prospective or actual employees to reveal their passwords.” The post went on to note that Facebook has “made it a violation of Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities to share or solicit a Facebook password.” A March 20, 2012, article by Manuel Valdes and Shannon McFarland of the Associated Press noted that some employers, rather than asking for employees’ logins and passwords, are asking applicants to “friend” the company’s HR manager or to log into their social media accounts during interviews. The article also noted, “Questions have been raised about the legality of the practice, which is also the focus of proposed legislation in Illinois and Maryland that would forbid public agencies from asking for access to social networks.” A March 25, 2012, Associated Press article noted that Senators Charles E. Schumer of New York and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut were calling on the Justice Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to begin investigations into whether employers asking for Facebook passwords during job interviews are violating federal law. In a press release also dated March 25, 2012, and posted on Senator Blumenthal’s website (, the senator stated, “I am alarmed and outraged by rapidly and widely spreading employer practices seeking access to Facebook passwords or confidential information on other social networks .… A ban on these practices is necessary to stop unreasonable and unacceptable invasions of privacy.” Dealer Compliance Consultants, in its “Social Media Policy Guidebook for Auto Dealerships,” said that “friending” an applicant should be avoided and could potentially open an employer up to invasion of privacy claims by potential employees. Even if an individual has not restricted access to their social media profile information and it is easily discovered during an Internet search, this can still be potentially problematic for an employer. That same publication notes, “When a job candidate is the subject of a social media search there’s a possibility that the search will reveal information that would be off limits in an interview, such as age or marital status. Hiring managers should be very careful in using private information people are posting publicly to make hiring decisions.” This practice could open a dealership to allegations of discrimination. The publication also points out that even if the hiring manager did not rely on anything unlawful, the information on social media sites might not be reliable. For these reasons and more, according to Dealer Compliance Consultants, “Given the real possibility for inappropriate and illegal uses in the hiring context, organizations need to carefully consider how, if at all, they utilize the sites when screening candidates.” To insulate the dealership from this type of risk, an outside agency could be used to screen potential employees. However, dealers need to make certain any such third-party company follows the correct procedures and that the dealership’s job applications contain the necessary notifications. According to Dealer Compliance Consultants, “If an employers uses a third party to conduct searches on job candidates, the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act and applicable state law on background checks likely will apply.”

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Paul Long on Customer Loyalty Programs - Digital Dealer 10 Conference from Paul N Long

Discover what frequent flier programs already prove: loyalty programs will give you the best ROI in your digital marketing strategy

Increase your repurchase loyalty, service loyalty and overall profitability. Learn what the airline industry, hospitality industry and the top auto dealers already know: loyalty programs increase bottom line up to 85%. Paul Long defines what customer loyalty programs are and dispels five major myths about them. From his experience in building national loyalty programs in multiple verticals, Long will share what makes a loyal customer and why you want them in your dealership. He will also provide valuable tips to help your business build a loyalty program that will create and keep customers for life. Loyalty allows you to reap the benefits from customers' ongoing relationship to your dealership: increased car sales and fixed operations gross profit.

Learn how to build a loyalty program that motivates action. This seminar will give your dealership the tools and know-how to develop a loyalty strategy that will increase car sales and fixed operations gross profit.

Customer loyalty is a big buzz-word in the automotive world today—in fact most automakers are moving away from CSI scores and focusing on CRS—or customer retention. After all, what good is customer satisfaction if they still don't buy their next vehicle from you? Customer loyalty and retention has a huge impact on profitability, and it's right to focus on it.In fact, as little as a five-percent increase in customer retention can improve a company's bottom-line profitability between 25 percent and 85 percent.

Long will give you an overview of what loyalty marking is and dispel five major myths about it. Then attendees will be shown practical ways to implement a loyalty program in your dealership, and how to track its success. By the end of our session, you'll walk away with both the knowledge and the excitement for building a loyalty program for your business that helps you create and keep customers for life.

After completing this workshop, the attendee will know how to unify sales and fixed operations marketing with a loyalty program

The attendee will be able to calculate the effect which customer loyalty has on bottom-line profitability. • The learner will be able to identify and track three main benefits of successful loyalty programs and loyalty marketing initiatives.

The attendee will be able to develop a loyalty marketing strategy that works for all levels of the organization.

Paul Long, president of re:member group, has been increasing customer loyalty for 15 years. He was integral to the development of the Northwest Airlines WorldPerks Program and has since used his extensive knowledge of and experience with loyalty programs to help businesses worldwide. Long particularly enjoys working with auto dealerships, and he has employed new technologies and cutting-edge strategies to create a state-of-the-art infrastructure for effective communications, member tracking, and rewards distribution

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Indicators of Dealership Loyalty

Many dealers ask me for help in retention measurement, and statistics surrounding Customer Loyalty Indicators.

Two important indicators of Automotive Dealership customer loyalty are the purchase of additional service after the sale by Members and multiple vehicle purchases.

In the automotive dealer sector, these are also sources for the greatest margin, so they’re critical not just as indicators of customer satisfaction but as profit drivers in their own right. Little profit is made on the sale of the first vehicle. Dealerships must rely on repeat service and additional vehicle sales to make the customer life cycle profitable.

However, most auto dealers haven’t the vaguest idea which car buyers are loyal service customers at their dealerships, or multiple car buyers (especially if they're a multi rooftop autogroup). On average, dealers retain only 30 to 40 percent of post-warranty service dollars on vehicles they sell. What’s more, remarkably few dealers track service purchases systematically. As a result, as little as 3% of vehicle buyers will purchase again from the same dealership.

While it may be necessary to keep sales separate from an organizational point of view, it is very important that their tracking systems be linked. One simple way to do this is through a digital loyalty solution like re:member group’s BEDROCK® and ASPIRE® platforms. While re:member group makes no claim in having a CRM solution (see DealerSocket for the best one in my opinion), our loyalty solutions do identify repeat buyers in all departments and can assist in determining a lifetime customer value to Members.

The information Service Advisors acquire should easily be cycled back to encourage salespeople to target buyers who have remained loyal service customers. In addition, incentive systems should identify the lift that dealerships receive as a result of implementing a loyalty program in both service and sales. The keystone measurement in this case should be repurchase loyalty, as this is the best possible indicator of customer loyalty.

The Walser Automotive Group in Minneapolis, Minnesota makes customer loyalty a significant part of their overall marketing strategy. Thirty-one Percent of Walser’s Customers purchased more than one vehicle between 2005 and 2009, representing fifty-six percent of Walser’s Total Vehicle Sales. In that time, Walser has increased their repurchase loyalty by four percent.

Furthermore, Sixty-nine percent of Walser’s customers continue to service their vehicle after the sale.

Recall what loyalty expert Fred Reichheld claims: a five percent increase in customer loyalty can yield an increase in profitability between twenty-five and eighty-five percent.

What are you doing to increase your customer loyalty? Or, what is your customer loyalty percentage?


Paul Long


re:member group

cell: 612.221.0463




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The Perfect Storm: The Prequel Part 3

I met Randy McPherson for the first time in February, 2003, at the Interchange Building in St. Louis Park, MN. The interchange building was the “headquarters” for all the Walser Automotive Group’s affiliate companies, which Randy headed up.

I walked into the offices on the 18th floor and was greeted by a receptionist named Rita. Immediately in front of me was a large window looking into a board room occupied by (mostly) men in suits, obviously conducting a meeting. The board room looked out onto the Minneapolis downtown skyline.

I noticed one gentleman right away. He was wearing a pressed flannel shirt and slacks. he had a smooth head and a groomed goatee. Clearly a renegade. I took a seat in the waiting room.

When the meeting adjourned, the men in suits filed out. The gentleman in the pressed flannel shirt walked out, and greeted me warmly. “Hi, Paul, I’m Randy McPherson,” he said.

We went back to his office, and had a nice conversation. Among the family photos and hunting relics in his office, something caught my eye: an empty guitar stand in the corner behind his desk.

The interview went the way most first interviews go, which is to say pretty innocuous. We talked about the Walser Car Club, and how it was birthed. Since the inception in October of 2002, it hadn’t had solid leadership to spearhead enhancements, new partnerships, or growth to new dealerships. In fact, there wasn’t 100% compliance among Walser’s 10 locations in the Twin Cities, Randy said. They were looking for someone to build process, partnerships and new business.

We talked about my experience in sales, e-commerce and loyalty. I told about my experience in building loyalty partners. But Randy became particularly interested when I discussed points–the ability for Walser customers to earn points when they get their vehicle serviced, OR whenever they make purchases through participating merchants, like rental cars, hotels and retail.

This was the first of many conversations between Randy McPherson and me in scoping out what is today the products the re:member group offers.

“What I’d like you to do,” Randy said, “is to put together a business plan and meet with my CFO and me in two weeks. There’s another candidate that we are considering.”

As I left, I mentioned the empty guitar stand in the corner. “Do you play?” I asked.

“Oh yeah,” Randy said. “Do you? What kind of guitar do you play?”

“I play a Martin D-35 that my wife gave me for a wedding present,” I said. “How about you?”

“I play a McPherson,” Randy said.

It was mid February but as I walked out of the Interchange Building that late afternoon, I think it started to rain.

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The Perfect Storm: The Prequel Part 2

“Yeah, you should meet with Randy McPherson. I think you could help Walser Automotive out with Loyalty.”

I’m not really sure why Chad Dufault met with me over Davanni’s. Sure we were friends, and still are very close. But to this day I don’t know if he wanted to talk about loyalty in his mortgage company, or have me vetted for Randy. We never really accomplished anything for Chad’s mortgage company that evening, so my guess is that it’s the latter. That’s the way Chad rolls–he usually puts others before himself.

My life was already hectic. A newborn, a stay-at-home mom, and a realization that the choices I make are no longer affect only me (that was never the case anyway, but I was made aware of that fact pretty quickly once Henry was born). I had enough on my plate, and was enjoying life.

“Sure, I’ll meet with him.”

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The Perfect Storm: The Prequel Part 1

In early 2003, I had a great job at Northwest Airlines, managing partnerships for their award winning WorldPerks program. I worked with a great team of people and loved what I did. I had finished my MBA from the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, MN in the summer of 2002. And my wife had just given birth to our first child in November 2002. Life was great, if not hectic.

I was privileged to work with some of the best loyalty marketers on the planet. My primary WorldPerks partner was U.S. Bank, which issued the WorldPerks Visa, and I handled a $200 million book of business for this partner alone. And since U.S. Bank was such a behemoth, I was able to develop co-partnerships with all the other partner categories, including car rental, hotels, communications, and the WorldPerks Mall.

My Pet Project, my passion, the WorldPerks Mall. The WorldPerks Mall gave me the opportunity to work with merchants in all categories, and gave WorldPerks Members the ability to earn miles by doing the things they did every day. I built partnerships with hundreds of “non-traditional” merchants in categories like department stores, clothing, electronics and toys. And then there were services that allowed Members to earn points…

MilesAbove was WorldPerk’s answer to small regional merchants who wanted to play in the mileage game. You’re a plumber? Give miles for Members using your service. Own a Co-op? Give miles to your patrons for their business. We had three “no go” categories: alcohol, fur, and auto racing. Other than that, partner development was fair game.

Originally managed by Carlson Marketing Group, MilesAbove proved too expensive to have an outside vendor manage it’s partner development. I brought it in-house, and automated the purchase of miles for companies wanting to play. An unintended benefit allowed Members looking to “round-out” their accounts to buy miles. The best professional development benefit was having the privilege of working with people from one of Mark Lacek’s companies, MilePoint, to build the first ever Buy Miles engine. We sold $1 million dollars in miles in the first 6 months after revamping MilesAbove. Carlson, a trusted marketing partner, was instrumental in process and collateral development. It was a team firing all pistons, and a high point of my tenure at NWA.

All of the merchant partnerships we built required a form of payment, which brings me full circle. WorldPerks Visa was an “anchor store”. It’s what every other partnership revolved around. My team and I loved building co-partnerships and finding creative ways to allow Members to earn miles without ever having to get on a plane.

Life was great. I loved my job, and the people I worked with were among the brightest and most creative I had ever met. I was having fun with my young family, traveling wherever and whenever we wanted.

“Marry me, fly for free.” My wife still reminds me of the promise I made to her.

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The Birth of the Walser Rewards Program

The Walser Rewards program was birthed in October, 2002. It consisted of a card, a gas discount, a AAA new member discount, and a car rental discount. Buy the car, get the card.The first time I caught wind of the Walser Car Club (what it was called back then) was from a full-page ad in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. A card, gas discount, AAA and car rental discount. And a simple message: buy the car, get the card.The Walser Car Club was the brainchild of Randy McPherson and Paul Walser of the Walser Automotive Group. Randy and Paul had a unique relationship in the early 2000s, in that they partnered to build affiliate companies to the Walser Automotive group, including an insurance company, mortgage company, real estate company, leasing company, and a marketing company. The marketing company was set up to run the Walser Car Club, and possibly build additional “clubs” for other auto dealers.The marketing company was called WAM Advertising & Marketing. WAM is an acronym for Walser Advertising & Marketing. So, in reality, the full name of the marketing company was Walser Advertising & Marketing Advertising & Marketing.October 2002. Star Tribune ad. The “Walser Car Club”, the only product of a company with a bad name and one client.
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Conversation over Pizza

I met Randy McPherson in early 2003. But I’m getting ahead of myself.


My good friend Chad Dufault and I were having a conversation at Davanni’s, sharing a pizza. I think it was January 2003, but something tells me it may have been late 2002. I was working for Northwest Airlines in WorldPerks partner marketing, and he was VP of a mortgage company that Randy owned alongside Paul Walser of the Walser Automotive Group. We were talking about how to build his business, and how to retain customers. Since Loyalty was my focus at NWA, Chad was picking my brain. And we were just enjoying a pizza.


“You should talk to Randy McPherson,” Chad said out of the blue. “Walser is building a loyalty program, and they could use your help.”


I had never heard of this Randy McPherson before. “Who is this man,” I asked myself.


Location:Davanni’s, Edina, MN

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