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One Thing At A Time Online...All At Once

When it comes to the 'new age' of Internet existence for your business, it is important that you appear as good as possible when people find you online. When it comes to reputation, shoppers want to know what your customers say rather than what you say. They want to have transparency in inventory, see the actual cars and features. Online visitors want to know what you'll do for them, to understand how you work, dealership history, who makes up the team, what specials they can get and so much more.

So hop to it...get your blog entries published, inventory fixed, Twitter your specials, text your new inventory, moderate the discussion for your local enthusiast group's site, shoot videos of your CPO vehicles and stream them on your site and push them onto YouTube, get all of your clients to write online testimonials and refresh your website's content monthly and SEO every quarter (if not monthly). Done! Oops...not yet...sell 50 cars a month via the web while you're at it.

Stop the press! We've only be gathering email addresses regularly for a year? We haven't gotten our customers' cell phone numbers and carriers to message them? Nobody has been putting the most valuable client information in the CRM? How do 50% of our leads fall through the cracks, how do you truly track them? And why does the factory blind shop us 10 times a month? Hold on...how do you ask a customer to write an online recommendation? Where do I even send them?

OK, that may be a little tongue and cheek but it's not too far off for many dealers today. So how do you start from zero and get up to 75 immediately on the information superhighway? The best recommendation I can provide here is...act like a customer! What do your customers talk about more and ask from you daily? Consider that one of, if not the greatest influence on consumers is search.

Fact is that you have no choice but to trust more people with your dealership than ever before: vendors, customers and employees. Things are changing at breakneck speed with technology, social media and engagement. One bad customer experience written online may not ruin you overnight but it will affect people's opinion and become pervasive if not offset by more positive assertions.

Make it a goal in January to spread the online responsibilities among all of your front-end staff. Get your people comfortable with your online existence and build your brand, reach and reputation. Become a truly trusted brand with the best advocates out there. Your option is having someone else beat you to it.

It starts with one thing at a time, just do it all at once.

Best practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

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Tags: best, brand, business, client, crm, customer, dealership, employee, experience, gary, More…im@cs, inventory, marketing, may, media, online, practices, reputation, sale, sell, shopper, social, staff, store, vendor, website

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Comment by Gary May on January 11, 2009 at 11:50pm
Mark, great points. It will really depend on how much a dealer wants to know before they grow. Things are still extremely reactive out there. You and CarFolks offer a great product and service and I recommend it regularly. As things may not change in the near-term, it is more important than ever to be smart and plan rather than stick your head in the sand and ignore. Without a brand and without process, well you know where things will go from there.

Here's to dealers getting things right in '09!
Comment by Mark Dubis on January 9, 2009 at 1:40pm
So you are saying that dealers need a process in place and need to work that process daily. Hmmm sounds about right. In the current business environment dealers really do need to make every extra effort to work with the tools they have. Shifting marketing dollars into areas with a trackable ROI should also be a priority. Start pulling newspaper ads and radio commercials and move those dollars to targeted programs like VisibleCustomer.com and into reputation management programs like CarFolks.com. In fact, because 2009 is going to be challenging Carfolks has waived the fees for sales reps participating on their program. When I worked in retail, my motto was, "If its Free, its for me." Sales guys and gals started taking advantage of the many ways to promote yourself and your dealership online.

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