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: 799

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


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Comment by Alexander Lau on February 6, 2014 at 7:42am

I believe that depends on many variables and it's very tough, IMO. The biggest of which, comprehension of your particular demographic. They are not all the same, regardless of what the fuddies out there preach (standards are bullsh*t in this industry).

BTW, I agree with many of your statements. Excited, willing, potential customers walk into showrooms with every intention on buying. Those that feel slighted walk out the door. What's the percentage? As you've alluded to in your article. What's wrong with this process? 

It's the old adage, "you can bring a horse to water, but you can't make him drink..." A qualified digital marketing strategy, with the best BDC, is all good and fantastic, but without the qualified force, in-house, forget about it.

I believe I was grouping qualified internal workforce into the digital marketing strategy, but I can see where you might see things differently. I believe I might have been overshooting what you had meant, so apologies, all-around, from my side. I'm not looking to make enemies. :-)

Comment by Bobbie Herron on February 6, 2014 at 7:26am

@alexander - What are your thoughts on the process in store?  Once the digital Marketing startegy is successful and the customer decides to walk on the lot to drive the vehicle what do you propose wuodl be a successful process to actually sell the vehicle?  Do you think that the traditional 15 steps to the sale are the best way to engage th consumer and slow them down?  Or do you propse there is a better way?

Comment by Alexander Lau on February 6, 2014 at 6:29am

Go back 50 posts and find the part where I talked about having the proper processes in place, which include qualified individuals. You're not providing anyone a solution and frankly, THE MODEL ISN'T BROKEN. Glen Pasch is exactly right, which was my first post as well!~

Get a clue.

Comment by Bobbie Herron on February 5, 2014 at 1:49pm

@Jeff - Thank you for your insight on this thread.  I would love to speak with you more.

Comment by Bobbie Herron on February 5, 2014 at 1:31pm

@Alexandar - Oh wow.  Still with the listening skills. Last time, since you haven't heard me the first twenty times I have repeated myself.  My article is NOT about Digital Marketing nor is it about better hires.  If you take the time to actually read it, you will see that the article was about solutions.  It's about Digital people who are EMPLOYED in the dealership and why they will not make it as long term employees without processes designed to help them be successful. It points out the things we say to emplyees "IN" the dealership and why it doesn't work.   If you would like to communicate in reference to the topic then I would be happy to continue this conversation.  Otherwise, I will assume you are all set with this. I wrote this blog because I was interested in hearing how other people view this topic, what they have seen work and what they have not in an effort to improve ourselves as well as pass on the knowledge we have based on experience. 

Comment by Alexander Lau on February 5, 2014 at 12:43pm

@Jeffrey, I'll friend you and send you some information, if you'd like? Thanks!

Comment by Alexander Lau on February 5, 2014 at 12:43pm

No thanks, I'll refrain from taking your advice, especially when you put it in a smart@ss statement. Additionally, I could care less what you think of me.  I'll tell you what's hilarious though, you've developed an article which suggests there is a digital marketing problem at most dealerships, based upon your conversations at NADA. When an ADM member steps up to the plate and lets his services and suggestions fly, you lambast him.

If you're unable to suggest a better solution, your post is pointless. Better hires, better hires, better hires, means nothing if you fail to understand what you want them to do for you. You've no strategy in hand. You're part of the problem that exists in dealerships.

Comment by Jeffrey Tognetti on February 5, 2014 at 10:59am

@Alexander I do not work at a dealership.  CarDealerMarketing.Com is our business website, just to straighten out any confusion.

Comment by Bobbie Herron on February 5, 2014 at 10:27am

@alexandar - Well thank you for making me popular then. I'm not very well known so I really appreciate that. I also believe this is a very important topic and one that I am passionate about so I welcome any attention to it. Dealer's need to be aware. Also, please don't get it confused. I am glad that you engaged and participated in this conversation because that is the point. My only point in our disagreement was that it was off topic and had nothing to do with the content of the blog. However, I am happy to go into my viewpoints on the strategies you offer if you would like and then we can discuss them. My advice was genuine in that a person will buy and retain a product, a car, a membership etc if the perception is that the matter. Responding to me with a product offer is actually fine with me. As long as you listen to what I am saying, which you did not and take the time to customize it to my needs. You may be able to hard close a dealer on the power of your program because they have limited understanding of it or because they see value. But customer service is what keeps them and until you figure that out you are costing yourself money. I am not judging you promoting a product; I am merely saying that you did the same thing that a weak car salesperson does. You sent a template. In addition to that, you took the time to look me up and my company but never took the opportunity to grab my email address and try to have an actual conversation about how you could help me.

Getting back to the point at hand, the majority of the time the #modelisbroken because we set an expectation but we do not create a common goal and action plan. Without that level of accountability there is no long term success. We cannot continue in our business to promote people who aren’t ready because we don’t understand how to train them.  It’s not a successful strategy to utilize different processes for different types of traffic anymore.

Comment by Alexander Lau on February 5, 2014 at 10:16am

The only reason this article has been popular is because I chimed in and made it controversial, disagreeing with your overall process and I still disagree. I tackle dealership issues and tend to make them more money. That's a proven effort on my part.

I've given more suggestions to dealers, partners and competitor vendors than the self-promotional rubbish being discussed in this thread, just do search on my last year's post. The lack of self-promotional articles under my account, yet loads of them for Cobalt / ADP,, DealerRater, etc., proves that statement. The hilarious part of all of this, there are many here that can back up that statement.

I've lived all over the world, worked for a number of foreign groups and companies, as well as domestic. I really don't need your advice, but thanks.

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