Automotive Digital Marketing ProCom

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Check your Dealership vitals. Almost like a Physical during your Doctor's visit - uncomfortable but necessary.

"Okay Mr. Jaeckel, it is time for your yearly check-up. You know blood and lab work, heart-function, lungs and ahmmmm you know what else– well the whole nine yard.”

“Well I am really not prepared for “all that”, ahmmm you know what I mean Doctor….do we have to do this…I mean….really? -- “Don’t worry Mr. Jaeckel the “not so nicest part” takes really only 10 seconds. Ready?”

Well I can imagine how almost everybody of my peers right now is clinching together when reading this, but we all know that it is necessary task to avoid later implications in life or a possible never ending story of pain to come. And exactly this “yearly routine”, like the yearly physical at your doctor, should be an implemented process at your dealership and your dealer operations. I know, I know – it is not really the thing we are looking forward to, but when we want to stay healthy – physically and professionally – we need to bite this bullet.

I am not aware exactly about your position at your dealership, but I am counting on you to be the progressive one, who sees that this is an absolute necessity to keep your operations running without any downtime and more severe hiccups. Therefore I created for you and your dealership’s next “physical” a check-list you may follow to make it an at ease endeavor.

1.) Mine checked in at 80 to 120. How is your blood pressure?

You are receiving incoming 3rd party leads from several vendors (Dealix, AutoUSA, Autobytel, etc)? Make sure that you check these leads on a monthly basis for possible duplicates, which may when occurring, artificially bump up your lead count and bring down your closing ratios. Send these back right away and get your money back. My eCommerce experience at my then 11 stores told me in the past that double-leads (vendor X and/or Y) showed over the long run the least success in converting this lead into an appointment and/or sales. Stay healthy and measure the closing ratios monthly. When not done yet, track back these 3rd party leads for the last 6 months and observe their performance. To start out for this exercise and to have a benchmark in case you’d never done it – 3rd party leads should at least close at 7%. My suggestions for this “added-on baggage - get rid of these vendors right away, like you should get rid of your salt and fat diet, when your blood pressure reads 129 to 184.

2) Breathe-in and Breathe-out – Hold it – and exhale

So you received some more requests for a quote or inventory inquiries. How do you work them? By telephone (I hope you got the right number with the inquiry) and of course sending a response to the prospects submitted email address. You did it? Good! But now what? No phone calls are getting returned to you, no email responses either – well let's try it again….just like the exercise "breathe-in and breathe-out".

Part 2, Phone call, left a message or sent another email a day later…Hold it and exhale…darn, again no message and no answer back from this prospect. “Well I try it one time more and when I am not hearing back from him, then forget it”…Hey, hey, hey – please hold on. Like the breathing, this email/phone follow-up is an ongoing process. Why in the world would you stop now to get this prospect to respond after your 2 or 3 day follow-up? Did you know that you need to “hit” a possible customer, who sent in an inquiry around 7 to 12 times in the first 5 days to receive any response? Through my dealership visits, one-on-one meetings and speaking engagements in front of dealer groups, I was stunned to hear that Internet managers or sales people involved of the lead follow-up just dropped out after only 3 days and approximately 5 attempts to get the prospects responding to them. What would you say when I tell you if you would have only tried 2 times more you would have increased your chances to get this prospect on the phone or email response by 60%. Please make sure that you will after this exam here a process installed, which will allow to follow up with the prospect the desired 7-12 times during a 5 days period, and hey…when you get the message the customer did already buy somewhere else, put his contact information into your Ownership Marketing Tool, you hopefully have installed at your dealership already.

3) My Target Heart Rate is 175. How are you keeping up?

As you know, you can eat right, exercise frequently, don’t smoke and drink (excessively) – all that won’t really help you, when your heart makes some problems. It doesn't matter if it is a heart murmur, a skipping beat or a defect valve, when your heart is not in-sync with your body, you possible will be not able to perform even the easiest tasks. This so important organ is similar to your action in using Media and Marketing for you dealership. With far more than 90% of all car buyers and potential clients being online and doing their research in regards to their vehicle they would like to obtain, we are (or better) we need to be at the places our prospects are turning to. With closings of mayor newspapers (San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, etc), car trade magazines (Autotrader print edt.), radio channels (Air America, Next media Group) the consumer shows these Media types a signal "I get my information elsewhere, 24/7 in almost real-time and at my leisure". Especially the hard hit print media in a preliminary cardiac arrest, dealerships now have to take action to put their marketing message out there, where it can be seen, on demand, for lower cost and higher returns. Instead to activate the defibrillator and try to jump start this cranky medium TV, Radio, Print in your local market, the time is right to check for a new "organ"-transplant. This new healthy and year by year growing "organ" is your digital online world. With Display Ads, Banner Ads and Re-marketing Ads, who follow the prospects and their online-surfing behavior to their preferred websites, you can track and re-engage with your prospect at day and night time, after they had initial contact with you on your dealer website. All clicks and impressions are measurable and will show you, how consumers have engaged with you. Almost like an EKG session, which will allow you to see where you can improve and what to look out for. Train this new muscle for your purposes – it is one of the most important ones to take care of.

4) Lab Work - get rid off your LDL (bad cholesterol)

Don’t tell me you are one of these people, who are afraid of a little needle pinching. There is no reason for fainting. With knowing now your HDL and LDL levels, blood cell count and so on, you have an idea if it was right to have turned into the Burger Diet at 9.15PM the last 90 days or if you may have overdone it.

Just like the new hype and “must do” shiny thing of Social Media. Experts and Marketers are on the same gig “You need to do it”, and yes I agree to a certain point. You should be involved in your community as a car dealership, and you definitely should have a Facebook page you use as your community online billboard, which tells the stories of the Little League you are sponsoring with your label printed jerseys, which tells about your involvement with the local Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer and the yearly Drive for the Cure. Spread the dealerships involvement on Twitter to engage even more seekers of this kind of information and create more followers on your unique YouTube channel, showing videos of the events at your dealerships, etc. – BUT – start your Social Media engagement, when you are certain about your status on “How are my other processes working?”

  • Do you have a long-term follow-up process in place for your incoming email/phone inquiries?
  • Did you adjust these long-term email processes in regards to the economical downturn and credit problems people may have? The typical purchase window of 30 to 60 days after receiving an email lead is now at least by additional 30 days extended.
  • Are all your Marketing activities fully traceable and in conjunction with your OEM’s marketing campaigns?

When you are aware of your processes, have them aligned and know that they are being followed by your crew, and then you have reached the grade point to engage in Social. As I had mentioned in my latest presentation at the 7th Digital Dealer Conference in Nashville – CRAWL first (processes in place and being worked on) – then WALK (establish your Social Media presence and reserve your names. Make sure your name is not becoming a subject of being “brand-jacked”) - and when you successfully accomplished these two elementary things – RUN with all what you have. I am positive that it will be difficult for the competition to catch you.

5) And here comes the rubber glove

No, I am not telling you details on this procedure. I am sure you can picture it already. Never the less I still need to emphasize an important topic, which is almost as uncomfortable to talk about as hearing the doctor snapping on the green rubber glove. Let's ay you had the full check-up survived so far, results are looking good. It appears that you are healthy. On the Dealer Level - You know exactly which products in your dealership perform and bring the best ROI, your processes are in place and are being followed excessively, your advertising and marketing works perfectly with your chosen online media and your OEM’s online engagement, you have established a nice fellowship on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube, but now the last step in your exam is ready to happen - “here comes the glove” or translated in dealer lingo - What are you doing with your Social Media messages you put out there? It appears to me that almost 60 – 70 percent of all dealerships who are engaging in social media doing a fatal mistake. We all hear and (hopefully) know about the primary goals of social media:

Listen – Engage – Share Value!


Now, can anybody explain to me what an Inventory feed, which on daily basis shows up in my incoming feeds at Twitter create on Value? And the worst thing is these feed are getting pushed second after second over the next 3 minutes (depending on your inventory) onto my Twitter account and may even will be texted via SMS set up to me. What do you think I will do, when that is happening twice a day - right, I will “de-friend” you, you are out, game lost, don’t even try to get me back.

Or how about this tweet “We are open today until 10.00PM. Check out our Inventory. Phone Number …” received at 12.47pm. I swear, 3 minutes later this tweet from the same dealership “We are open today until 10.00PM. Check out our Inventory. Phone Number …” oh, maybe they had a glitch and hit the send button twice. Okay, it’s fine. Now 5 minutes later after the second one “We are open today until 10.00PM. Check out our Inventory. Phone Number …” – are you trying to not any longer having me following you? Well, you asked for it, right? – and I push UNFOLLOW button.

Why am I talking about it? I have discovered that we as dealers are putting a lot of work into the Social Media and try hard and ambitiously to attract followers and fans on our desired networking tools. When we have finally attract let’s say 300 followers/fans (real customers and not peers from other dealerships, vendors and personnel), we are proud, happy and should maintain this numbers and even gain more influence at them – and now with these kind of posts mentioned above, you are ruining your entire work in less than 5 minutes.

Warren Buffett actually a dead on quote for this kind of behavior which states “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” Please think about it.

For supporting my latest point I also included the link of my latest SocialMediaBuzzer Blog post - My Top-10 favorite engaging and valuable Tweets in Twitter. These examples show dealerships posts on Twitter and their nice examples, how to change the monologue behavior to an appropriate social media dialogue in Social Media.

Okay, I hope this exam was not too uncomfortable. Keep in mind a doctor has the duty to try to keep you healthy and alive, also when he sometimes needs to be frank and brutally honest to you. It almost reminds me on my Military time and the saying I heard daily from my drill sergeant “When it’s not killing you – at least it will make you stronger”.

Views: 46

Tags: Blog, Buzzer, Digital, Facebook, Marketing, Media, Networking, Social, Twitter

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Comment by VJ on February 2, 2010 at 11:25am
@David - thank you for interest on the Social Media front. There will be coming more. I promise and I appreciate you have read my Blog Post. Pass it along, please

@Gregor - thank you for your compliment. I love to put things I explain into analogies.

@Wayne - thank you for stopping by at my "post".

@Joe - you are right. The Chicago Tribune is still printing. I forgot that they "only" filed for "bankruptcy protection", sorry. And thank you for your kind words, I will have more "hooks" to come. Joe see you soon.

@Dean - You are right, the learning curve will just getting steeper. A lot to do for us professionals out there to paint a nicer picture. Thank you for comment.

@Ralph - thank you for featuring my blog post. I truly appreciate it. Didn't you just love the idea with the rubber glove -- ooochhhhh
Comment by David Harden on February 2, 2010 at 10:13am
Social media is an avenue that has become one of the primary venues for todays car buyer, I would love to hear more on the subject and take a closer look at best behaviors!!
Thanks a ton for the insight!!
Comment by Gregory A. Oldaker on February 2, 2010 at 7:40am
Great insight, some simple logic spelled out, definitely helps
Comment by Wayne Harris on February 2, 2010 at 7:08am
great ideas
Comment by Joe Webb on February 2, 2010 at 6:50am
oh, but the Chicago Tribune isn't closing. I, sadly, still read it every day.
Comment by Joe Webb on February 2, 2010 at 6:49am
Great stuff, VJ. I love reading anything about our industry with a hook, and you sir, gave this a hook. (Sorry, don't have time to write more this morning, but I will return to this later.)
Comment by Dean Mijatovski on January 28, 2010 at 4:09am
Great info! The social media aspect is where most of us go wrong as it is hard to pinpoint exactly what the right thing to do is. It's a steep learning curve that is fast becoming manditory.
Comment by Ralph Paglia on January 27, 2010 at 3:39pm
@VJ - I love the way you use a "Human" Physical Exam as an analogy of what dealers and GM's need to do in taking a look at assessing their dealership's actual competitiveness when it comes to digital marketing systems and processes... I am attaching an "Ebusiness Assessment" document that I have used for a long time and it has been added on to over the years:
eBusiness Operations Assesment - Dealer v4.pdf

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