Monthly Archives: October 2013

How Many Cooks Does It Take to Spoil the CRM broth?

We all know that it takes a lot to run a dealership. From the first person who greets the customer when they pull into the lot, to the person that sends them off with a smile from their last warranted service visit, everything requires a close eye to ensure that it runs smoothly. That is why a dealership needs multiple managers to be successful. Usually one in each major department of the store.

Managers tend to have a close connection to what their respective department’s needs are. They can provide great insight as to what should be done when making changes that affect their area of expertise. There is a limit to this though. Our CRM system is meant to be customized to best suit your store, your staff, and your philosophies.

Our system puts the power in your hands to decide to whom you give the keys to the kingdom. You can give full access to everyone or just keep it for yourself. Believe it or not, more towards the latter is usually better. You want a couple of people who can objectively determine how certain changes in the CRM will effect various departments and the dealership as a whole. Then to give them the key to achieving the results that you want from the CRM system.

Each manager, no matter how objective, will always have their department’s best interests at heart; that’s what makes them great at what they do. If many people have the same access, it becomes a tug of war, constantly changing settings, practices, and overall direction causing dissension in the team. Most managers do not need full access. Most don’t even want it. If we keep it simple from the onset, we will see greater success going forward.

Who has the keys to your CRM?

3 Ways to Improve your Store’s Image and Reputation


I’ve been to hundreds of dealerships around the country. It’s interesting how the most successful dealerships tend to manage or present themselves in the same manner. While dealerships who underachieve often neglect those small, basic details which could help them stand apart. Here are three easy changes you can make right now to help improve your dealerships image and reputation.

1)  Greet Every Customer – This seems like a no-brainer, but you’ll be surprised how often you’ll stroll into a dealership without being greeted. A receptionist is OK, but what if a customer gets past her or comes in through a side entrance? Your sales staff should be trained on how to greet customers without acting like a pack of wolves. The car buying experience starts immediately when the customer hits the showroom floor and first impressions are important. Many hi-line stores that I visit are good with first impressions – they’re clean, professional and courteous. Even if you’re not a hi-line store or think their culture is hoity-toity, put effort into creating a good first impression.

2)  Survey – Many dealers survey too much and they don’t DO anything with their surveys. The customer gets a manufacturer survey and a service survey and a dealership survey. The best survey, is a quality CSI phone call. If your store doesn’t survey at all, think about creating only one survey with incentives to the customer for filling one out. Quality surveys are a great way to check for areas that you can improve upon and to get a feel for the kind of culture you’re creating. Ask yourself right now if you use surveys, if not why? If you do, are they useful? Have you made any changes based on the feedback you’ve received?

3)  Spot Check Emails – When you’re texting a customer, you can get away with poor grammar and misspelling. However, in an email, it helps to create a professional look if your grammar and spelling are both on point. I’ve seen many outbound emails sent from sales reps that are grammatically incorrect and too terse to warrant a reply. I am by no means suggesting that one should write War and Peace in an email; but grammar and spelling are recommended to create concise, professional looking email templates that your sales staff can then customize and personalize for each customer. Again, everything goes back to first impressions, even before a customer has stepped foot in your store, what kind of impression are presenting?

At the end of the day, the overall message you should convey as a dealer, is that you care about the customer’s car buying experience. That you care about your image and that your best efforts are made with each opportunity. It doesn’t matter if you are a blue-collar used car lot or boutique hi-line store – professionalism is professionalism and your dealership image matters. What’s your store’s philosophy?

Spray and Pray E-Mail Marketing

Raise your hand if you’re guilty of email blasting your entire database?  For those of you who raised your hand, now take that same hand and gently smack yourself over the head.  But seriously folks, marketing to your entire database is not “marketing”, it’s called spamming.  It should be seen as a big no, no for many reasons.  The idea, at first, seems like a good one.  You have a message, and you want that message to be delivered to as many of your customers as possible.  However, attacking your entire database can actually do more harm than good.

For one it will increase your chances of getting “opt-outs” preventing you from emailing these customers in the future.  Two, your service provider could get blacklisted if you continue this practice over time.   Then you really won’t be able to email your customers.  And finally three, spamming your customers makes you like everyone else: “irrelevant noise.”  Which is not the relationship you want to foster between yourself, your business and your customers.

The key to successful online marketing is to communicate relevance and the best way to do that is to focus on personable, targeted marketing strategies.  This means instead of using an fire hose, you’re going to take your time and use a squirt gun like a trained sniper.  You’re search groups should be roughly between 50-150 or fewer customer’s in size, but if done right, this group will generate more sales than a 15,000 sized e-blast.  A good way to shrink your list, is to focus on specific vehicles and time frames.  Does your used car manager have any vehicles he’s had trouble finding or would like more of on your lot?  Are you staying on top of your customers who are in a good equity position?  What about your service or sales loyalty programs?

Here are a few points to consider:

1)    Try mystery shopping.  Look at what your competition is doing.  When the spam starts coming in, does any of the material jump out at you?  This gives you the customer perspective and insight into what you feel works or doesn’t work to grab your attention as a consumer.

2)    Learn how to read and track your metrics.  If you have links in your emails, do you know how many people are clicking on them?  Do you know how many of your emails are being rendered/read/engaged with?  How many of your emails contributed to a sale?

3)    Be flexible, experiment, change it up and experiment.  This goes with step two, if you’re doing the same thing and getting the same results, try something new.  The advantage of e-marketing is your ability to track your data and change what’s not working.

4)    Remember to be personable and focus on quality.  Your messages should be succinct and to the point.  If your email is too busy or has too much going on, then your message is probably too broad which makes it impersonal.

There’s no exact science to e-marketing.  However, the most successful stores that I’ve been in take the time and energy to create effective email strategies.  How is your dealerships e-marketing strategy?  What have you done in the past versus now?  Also how has your evolution of strategy been received by your customers?