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Automotive industry thought-leader Ralph Paglia shares what he considers to be the most important skills for dealerships to possess in today’s automotive marketplace.

Ralph Paglia did not intend to have a career in the automotive industry. After taking a job at his friend’s father’s Volkswagen dealership, Ralph found himself falling in love with his job and the culture of the industry.

Ralph’s rise to thought-leadership was also unplanned. After pioneering the sale of cars in San Diego over the then emerging government Internet, Ralph began to tour the country, teaching dealerships how to transform leads into sales and setting up their Internet departments.

Following many years of consulting, leading workshops and running Internet departments at dealerships, Ralph founded the Automotive Digital Marketingsocial network and continues to teach his Best Practices at Handling Internet Leads at dealership conventions.

It’s better to fish with a big net rather than a single fishing pole

“One of the most interesting things I’ve learned is that a dealer will learn how to handle leads properly if the volume of their leads increases dramatically.  When leads increase, dealers will respond by creating processes & adding staff where there were none previously.  The reality is that it is extremely difficult for dealers to make an investment in lead management when they don’t see the opportunities that feed into the process.  Leads act as an incentive.”

“Most dealers today do a good job of handling customers that are physically present at the dealership.  But, the skillset that is critical to success in today’s marketplace is to be able to communicate with all prospective sales and service customers across all communication channels, including live chat, online reviews, emails, social media interactions comment and phone calls.”

“Twenty years ago, if a customer wanted to research a car, he had to go to the dealership.  Today, everybody uses the internet.  There’s no such thing as an internet customer anymore.  There are only car buyers, all of whom use the web.”

But what can dealerships do to connect with these new-age car shoppers?

“Blogging is the most under utilized and powerful marketing force that dealers have at their disposal. It is a practice that doesn’t cost a lot of money.  Additionally, the practice of content creation has the potential to result in a continuous payout.”

“Dealers have to find the compelling stories that will make people want to do business with their dealership.  It is always about your people and not about your business. Realize that every employee is a resource of content for marketing and public relations.  Every dealership has something very interesting or compelling about them that would make great fodder for a blog.”

Here are links to dealership blogs that Ralph considers to be shining examples of how dealership blogging can be done right:

Ancira Community

Penske Automotive Group Social Network

Schomp Automotive

Premier Toyota Scion

Your turn:

Does your dealership have a blog? If so, what effect has it had on your online engagement with customers? What do you write about? Do you have any blogging advice you can share the dealership community?

Ralph Paglia would also like to extend the offer of a free mystery shop for your dealership to the readers of this blog.  To take Ralph up on his offer, leave a comment on this blog or on his ADM profile.

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Tags: ActivEngage, Blogging, Blogs, Paglia, Ralph, advertise, auctions, auto, automotive, behaviour, More…blog, blogs, business, car, chat, consumer, culture, customer, customers, dealer, dealers, dealership, dealerships, digital, engagement, engines, factor, internet, leads, live, marketing, online, sales, search, software, strategy, support, web, wow

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