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The Next Best Thing Won’t Fix Your Old Wrong Thing

Allowing bad processes and paying for more marketing is much like another American Classic:  How many homes do you know where there’s a nice automobile sitting in damaging sun and weather in the driveway while $300 worth of junk sits protected in the messy garage?  We do the same thing as dealers; buying new shiny things for our marketing and letting them sit outside our garage full of bad processes.  There’s money on that garage floor—let’s clean it up!

Where do we start?  First, let's say you are marketing "okay" today and getting shopper traffic . . . . and vendors and consultants are talking to you about how to make your marketing great and drive even more traffic to your lot.  Sounds fantastic, and necessary, but what if you could improve your business significantly at this time by just fixing your processes?  You’d not only make more money today, you’d also make even more money when you have that great marketing! 

Here are just a few examples where tools and processes are possibly failing your business today:

CRM:  Have you already paid for a CRM and not implemented it properly around good, solid processes?  Is it still possible that you have no idea how much of your traffic is not entered into the CRM?  And how about follow-up?  Your CRM is likely telling you every day that few salespersons are calling for bebacks if you look.  Your CRM can help you make more money if you motivate your sales staff and managers with conditions of being paid that include proper CRM use.  If you don't do that, why not?  Why are you paying for a CRM just to kill it's value with poor processes?

Phones:  Do you pay $8 an hour to a receptionist who fumbles the call you paid $300 to get?  If the call still gets to a salesperson or service writer, do they know how to best convert the call to an appointment?  And do you pay for a forensic tool like WhosCalling, etc. that can tell you (IF you listen!) how bad your staff is on the phones—and yet you do nothing to correct that situation?  This can also be fixed, by training and, again, conditions of being paid (even the receptionist!) that include good phone skills, or you can also consider a dedicted BDC (on-site or off-site).

Lot/Floor:  Do you require a manager TO on every shopper?  Do you require salespeople to “touch the desk” at critical points of the sale?  Do you train your salespeople on the Steps to the Sale, especially—but NOT limited to—your green peas?   This can be fixed, same as the others, by training and, again, conditions of being paid that include TOs and desk touches.

Service Drive:  Do you have busy service writers fumble trying to answer appointment calls, or do you have a dedicated person/BDC take care of those?  Do you have a true online scheduling page with alerts via email and text to folks waiting for cars?  Do you train your writers on up-selling?  Do you monitor their production?  This can be fixed, too, just like the sales side, by training and, again, conditions of being paid that include # of appointments and production quotas.

And you can all surely add to these items and to this list yourselves, once you consider all this.  Better marketing, especially the right online marketing woven into your current marketing, is as necessary to your business as oxygen is to the body.  Let’s just get our dealer bodies in better shape so that the oxygen really makes our business boom!  The first place for exercise?  Why, your messy garage of processes, of course.

By Keith Shetterly,
Copyright 2011 All Rights Reserved

Views: 122

Tags: automotive, crm, floor, internet, lot, phone, processes


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Comment by Stan Bradbury on April 7, 2011 at 10:11am
A great example of the new-new shiny thing last year that consumes far more mind-share than it deserves is Twitter.  It is a fad used regularly by 2% of your shoppers, it has no growth in the U.S. in the last 1.5 years and most of your followers are other small businesses and social media types trying to pump up their following with quid pro quo - you follow me, I'll follow you.  Stop getting swept up in the Twitter hype and focus on what can really make a difference at your store.
Comment by Keith Shetterly on April 6, 2011 at 11:15am

Thanks all!  And to your point, David, I have a friend who is, imho, a very modern dealer.  On T*O*P of everything digital.  And he still has a poor-performing receptionist answering the phones.  It's like there's some "mental DNA" in this industry that keeps us repeating the Charge of the Lemmings to ways that lose money instead of improving the basics.


I'll never, ever forget the service director who told me that he believed at least 50% of his service customers preferred setting appointments and getting status over the phone.  I replied two ways:  1) I've seen stats that show, when true online scheduling is available, over 70% of service appts are made online, so let's service the "50%" who don't need the phone with an online appt scheduler ASAP; and 2) if 50% of your folks still need the phone, why wouldn't you hire a dedicated phone person to properly handle all the appt. fumbles your busy writers make on the phone?

Comment by Tom Gorham on April 6, 2011 at 11:10am
I promised to clean up the garage last weekend!  Thanks Keith.  A great reminder to do the basics brilliantly.

Comment by David Alpern on April 6, 2011 at 10:04am
Excellent point that needs to be made again and again - that expensive leads are coming into, and being serviced by low wage points of contact who are often unaware of the value of those leads and how to appreciate them accordingly.
Comment by Jim Radogna on April 6, 2011 at 9:56am
Great post Keith!
Comment by Gwen Spadie on April 6, 2011 at 9:46am

It's all about cultivating the attitudes you want to see over and over. Good stuff Keith.

-Gwen @ Peltier

Comment by Thomas A. Kelly on April 6, 2011 at 9:23am
Good post very true
Comment by Charles Kim on April 6, 2011 at 9:16am

Couldn't agree more...


Comment by Craig Lockerd on April 6, 2011 at 8:59am
Great stuff,heck I do some of that in my own business as well...
Comment by Stan Bradbury on April 6, 2011 at 7:28am
Great post.  Shiny objects for 2011: QR codes and your own app.

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