Automotive Digital Marketing

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Throughout #NADA2014 the buzz of dealers was all about trying to understand all things Digital.

I listened and engaged in many conversations and there was a common theme through out them in regards to finding good "digital people". It's intriguing to me because I think it is interesting that we are still trying to figure it out. Is it possible that we still think there's a difference between "traditional" and "digital" customers or salespeople. Here's the hard truth, you can hire and train what you think is the very best "digital" team around. Give them whatever title you want. Internet Sales Consultant, Acquisition Specialist, Sales Consultant, Internet Manager, Business Development Coordinator etc. It doesn't matter because none of them mean the same thing at every store so even if you hire top talent you still have to implement new processes and enforce accountability.

You can have all the desire in the world to succeed and progress but if you train them and then throw them back into a department that hasn't found a balance between the two worlds they will never be truly successful. We have to change the mindsets of managers and leaders. Dealers can't keep picking the person In the store who knows how to use a computer and slapping an Internet manager title on them. Or hiring talented people only to lose them when they become frustrated with the desk or burn out. Even worse is if they just become complacent, throw their hands In the air, quit following up and stop believing in the opportunities. It's a culture change in a store to be progressive but recruiting and keeping top talent requires it.

Next buzzword on everyone's lips - millennials. I'm a big supporter of molding the next generation. That being said, just because someone is young does not mean they are more qualified than your older staff. Its so frustrating to hear people say that. "Well, it's hard for us because we have an older staff". No kidding? Well just throw in the towel then. Close up shop because with that approach and positive outlook you will be in the next few years anyways.

Here's the deal, Garber Buick has a tenured staff, an Internet manager and a successful sales floor. Garber is a history rich Buick store within a company that has passed through generations of real car guys in the heart of the General Motors state. Some of their best "digital guys" are old dogs. It comes down from the top and the managers are bought in. Its not a secret. You have to transform your team. It's unacceptable to teach someone to follow one process for one set of customers and an entirely different one for another.

Don't train them to respond quickly and with accurate information and then make them wait for thirty minutes to get numbers and say things like "Just Get Them In". Stop telling them to prospect the household and focus on the trade and then look at them like they are crazy when they want a sight unseen appraisal. We tell them to communicate differently but then can't figure out why the can't follow the traditional steps to the sale when they are working a deal. Maybe it's time to create a new set of steps. The model is broken.

The crazy thing is everyone needs to go back and reevaluate the managers on their teams. Figure out who is willing to move forward and embrace a new process in their departments and more importantly the ones who want too. I think that too many dealers step over dollars to pick up cents by not investing in keeping their teams current and well trained. Everyone's allowed to answer the phone? Have you listened to an phone call lately?Most will make you cringe. Train them. Decide today to have an expectations meeting with your teams. Support them in their crazy notions. Go crazy, let them drive a vehicle to a customers work and bring back the trade. Just jokes but seriously, Its time to get on board and be willing to change the culture if your truly going to succeed. Like I said before. #themodelisbroken

Views: 764

Tags: Car Dealer, Convention, NADA, The Model Is Broken, Training


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Comment by Bobbie Herron on February 5, 2014 at 10:05am

Wow, I missed a lot in a few hours here.


@Glenn - Thank you so much for taking the time to read through and offer guidance. I truly appreciate that. I agree in that there are times where the model will work with strong support and I completely see where you are coming from.


@Alexander - I'm going to give you a little advice to try and help you in life. An argument solves nothing and neither does lashing out. Even if you could convince someone online who you don't know to somehow agree with you momentarily that is a temporary solution to a permanent problem. Creating a strong message and backing it up with facts will give you the opportunity to create buy-in. It's a much more powerful and permanent message. I can see that you are simply trying to say that you have a strong product and you believe it works. Where you are going wrong is that you aren't looking at the big picture but rather a piece of the pie. It’s a topic for another blog. If you have never worked in the car business (and I don't know your background so this is simply an assumption) then you are a marketing guy not a car guy. I would encourage you to find a dealer you have a strong relationship with and volunteer to sit in their store for a week. I promise you that if you learn the processes and see our view point then you will be far more successful and provide a greater benefit to your current and future clientele. I am not familiar with your company so I cannot doubt what abilities you have although I agree with @Jeffrey in that the promotional items you did post are 3rd party and not at all custom. If you knew I was a dealer and you wanted a shot with my company then just a suggestion.... 1. Customize that promotional material to us. Take the time to write a quality response that was tailored and not cut and copy. You know how we "dealers" feel about duplicate content and I have to know that if you are a company offering to "save me" from my piss poor internal strategies that you care enough about my potential business to take the time to do it right. 2. You have to work on your listening skills. You have completely convinced yourself that you are "100%" correct in what you "thought" my post was about and as a result you are arguing over a subject that we weren't even speaking of. Miscommunication on my part, maybe? If that’s the case then I apologize for causing you to embarrass yourself the way that you have. You also might want to research the men you are going up against here. @Arnold has very strong ties in this business and is looked to for guidance when it comes to vendors all of the time by dealers. It would be wise to have him in your court. Again, it comes back to perception. You fought back because you perceived you were correct and the whole time you were totally off base. This should be a learning lesson in the future to respond with quality content (much like you do at work) to a post. Sure, we all go off base once in a while. But I am a potential client who means that you need to engage in guidance and education that is relevant to the topic. Please feel free to try again.

@Alexander - Jeff does not work for Garber but I believe he thought you were talkign to him, as did I.  I am the Digital Sales and MArketing Director for Garber Automotive.  We have stores in Michigan, New York, Chicago and Florida.  Just to clear up that confusion.  That being said, I appreciate you checking to see if we needed help there.  I'll let you know if I am ever interested.  Out of curiousity.. How many more cars did the competitor sell than us last month while they were killing us.  I am assuming that since the entire basis of your responses was that you could sell me more cars you couldn't possibly be gaging results on traffic?


@Manny – Yes, let’s have a beer J


@Ralph – I found it interesting how many times I heard a dealer use the excuse “Well, we have an old staff.  We are doing our best.”  My hope is that dealers will realize that it’s not about age; it’s about ability and the willingness to grow.  I would hate for dealers to attend things and then go back and replace key components of their staff for the wrong reasons.  There is no easy path when it comes  to change especially when you are looking at culture shock in most stores.  However, as my mom always said “The easy road is rarely the right one.”

Comment by Alexander Lau on February 5, 2014 at 9:36am

Jeff, do you work for, as your profile suggests, or the Garber Automotive dealership? BTW, I might have confused two diffferent Garber Automotives. Bobbi's profile says Gaber Automotive and I presumed it was in Rochester, NY @, etc. If it isn't, disregard my comment, I stand corrected.

Comment by Alexander Lau on February 5, 2014 at 9:26am

Talk about self-promotions, there she blows:, and MANY, MANY, MANY more...

Comment by Alexander Lau on February 5, 2014 at 9:23am

Hi Jeff, OK. Yes you are right, most are clearly snake oil salesmen and as always here's what I have to say about SEO, just so ALL of you don't think I am trying to make some quick sale with SEO, within a digital marketing strategy. 

In fact, I have posted this assessment many times, in these waters:

"SEO of any kind is pursued by gaming the system. There is nothing “natural” about any form of SEO. The fundamental concept of SEO is exploiting a flaw in a search engine’s ranking algorithm. The difference between white and black hat tactics is merely a function of where Google decides to draw a line, and this line is at least somewhat arbitrary. Google's goal is to confuse search engine optimization (SEO) efforts and to uncover aggressive SEO techniques through delaying, or obfuscating results from SEO changes being made.

Furthermore, what does Google want? They want relevant, real content on the internet that people want to read and tell other people about. If Google doesn’t bring you the most relevant content when you search they aren’t doing their job. So by definition, even the word Search Engine Optimization (SEO) means to “game” the Google search engines (and others) to get your valuable content ranked higher than it would be if left alone to the forces of the Web. The bottom line is that all external SEO efforts are counterfeit other than one: Writing, designing, recording, or videoing real and relevant content that benefits those who search."

Comment by Jeffrey Tognetti on February 5, 2014 at 9:10am

@Alexander "BTW, we support your competition in upstate NY, which at this point of the thread, I find laughable. I can send you an SEO report showing how badly they are kicking your butt, if you like, if you want to take things to the level of granular digitial marketing metrics data (performance and conversions)."

@Alexander I don't know what you mean by "you support our competition"...BUT, Please send us any report you have as we are always looking to learn.  A quick FYI on our model, we view most SEO companies as Snake Oil salesman.  SEO gets no love for the amount of work that is required to do it right thus we tend to stay away. That said, we focus on Paid Search & Data both of which we have been very, very successful in.  So please do send your "SEO" report as I will gladly take a look and hopefully learn from it. As for "granular digital marketing analytics", that's a Data game, and I'd venture a small wager that we have that down pretty pat as many of the biggest players in the data business leverage segments collected and scored in our ETL & Lite DMP.

Comment by Alexander Lau on February 5, 2014 at 7:44am

Fair enough. If you take a look at 90% of my posts, they are without self-promotion. Of late, I have been getting tired of the lack of thought put into many of the articles, therefore, I have been posting 'digital marketing strategy' images and clear cut self-promotional backlinks for fun. I see it all the time. :-)

Comment by Arnold Tijerina on February 5, 2014 at 7:41am

You can accomplish your goals ("comment and solve problems through analysis and research") without being self-promoting. Do what you do, and do it well. People will notice. Be helpful. It is possible to have conversations with people without self-promotion. I don't know you personally. Just some advice. Take it or leave it.

Comment by Alexander Lau on February 5, 2014 at 7:40am

@Arnold. Ha ha, look at the defensive nature of your post. You've no freakin idea' whom I've helped in the automotive world. Dang dude, assumptions are the mother of all you know whats! Some of the Top 100 retailers, actually.

What I think I'm doing, is scaring the living daylights out of some of the vendors and dealers who are pretty much clueless (point of the article), in their digital marketing approach. New blood; new thinking!

Actually, thanks for the kudos, I've automotated a commerical cleaning business that brings in an extra $10K in profit and that's smart in my book. If you could do the same with your automotive retailship, you'd be a clear cut winner.

BTW, shall I list out the shameless, self-promotion articles posted here over the years? You'll find that not a single article was posted by me. I just like to comment and solve problems through analysis and research. 

Comment by Arnold Tijerina on February 5, 2014 at 7:26am

uh... yeah. I've been a member of ADM since before you even knew what the car business was (11 years) and I'm on here much more than you know which is exactly why you need to be called out on your blatant self-promotion. In less than 2 years you've all of a sudden become this "expert" in automotive sales processes? Dude, go spam people about your commercial cleaning business and come back when you actually know something about the car business. And, just because "everyone does it", that doesn't make it right. 

Comment by Alexander Lau on February 5, 2014 at 7:14am

@Arnold... You don't swim in these waters much, do you? Most of the posts are blatant self-promotions (, Cobalt / ADP, DealerRater).

BTW, I'll be looking for your contribution in the future. Besides, my strategy is to let others post inadequately, only for me to follow up with a better response.

Acutally, you do have a very good point about applying backlinks (but give me a break, we all do it, especially the article producer) and guest blogging is going the way of the dodo, if you care to watch.

The decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO

Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Why? Because over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of guest blogging then you’re hanging out with really bad company.

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