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Want R.O.I. on Anything? Start Using Anything! (Or Settle For B.S.)

One of the first questions that is asked of us when engaging a dealership is “what is the R.O.I. of (fill in the blank)?” Well our friends, from leads to software, to websites and PPC, the question that is being asked is wrong.  If you ask what is the R.O.I. of a product, let me ask you what is the R.O.I. of air?

Well, it’s noting if you don’t use it.

Over the past seven years, we have proven over and over a multiple R.O.I. on all digital aspects compared to before we arrived. And remember, that is usually with no or little vendor changes. Why is this? Because there is no return of investment without education, understanding and utilization.

Dealerships usually buy due to fear or loss, standardization or acceptance of a product, or a unique opportunity (first-in-market). Rarely are those opportunities truly vetted out. While we are not saying to stop before purchasing a product or service that has market penetration because there is a compelling otherwise to do so, we are advocating full assessment prior to signing.

Take lead providers, for example. While most have taken a (B.S.) marketing position and away from you buying leads, most dealers have more “opportunities” in their ILM/CRM than they know how to handle. Buying more leads? Usually you drop your R.O.I.

Also, return on investment is calculated improperly. Is it closer to income and expense or profit and loss? Yes. Until you are properly educated, coached and assessed regularly, there is no R.O.I. because the assumptions are in the wrong place. Show me a dealer closing 10% of their leads, add another provider and, after six months, you will have a dealer with a higher cost structure closing 10% of their leads. Insanity.

Spoiler alert: do the math, work it and get results. For every new website, software, marketing tool and process, you must back it up with hard-core training (no matter how much that word sucks) and sustainment. That is how our average client that buys in fully to our processes and business rules doubles results in less than a year.

Recently we have heard about more catastrophic website or software installs than ever before. What’s the R.O.I. on a vendor search, pitches, proposal and negotiations, set-up fees, months frustratingly lost followed a switch back to the previous or another new provider?

Stop talking about R.O.I. until you spend more on your personnel, education, accountability, scoring, bonuses (not get-it-done spiffs, by the way) and intra-staff support. That’s when you get return.

Until then, you can continue to buy based off of “your competitor is using this and they’ll eat your lunch” or “only 5 more cars sold with our biz-bang-boom and you’re in profit!” or any other snake oil sales job you fall for.

Oh…and one more thing to consider. Results occur top-down with an true ownership, understanding perspective. Not bottom-up make this work garbage. So take that pill and swallow it…

 

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

 

Consulting Conundrum: “You can do whatever you want, as long as…”

Yes, this is opinion. However don't take it as fable.

It’s the consistent vicious circle in consulting: do it all as long as it’s what is wanted at that moment, backed up by someone else, doesn’t bite back at the factory stance, mostly makes sense and when you can grab the proper attention. And don’t blink because all of that can change with one call or a visit from a nice set of pearly whites with a tan and a low-slung top.

In a dramatically fluid world, all of that is a constant.

Meeting with a dealer the other day, their factory (only) site has issues, their SEO/SEM isn’t close to completely transparent in work, reporting or results, their new CRM isn’t installed properly or completely and their sales team can’t seem to do their job. And the store is doing, what most would consider, fine.

In less than five hours, a solution to every hole that was shot in their operation was provided, a path to resolution (in some cases multiple) was drawn out and improvement benchmarks were communicated. All without spending a dollar more in vendors, leads, software or services. And everything was documented.

Very few of us in the consulting world face this; because most aren’t consultants. Most of them are resellers, reps, paid advocates, commission reapers, factory program overseers, old-school trainers with a new world attack and/or recently departed vendor/dealership staff. Consulting, ladies and gentlemen, is a craft rather than a hobby. True consultants create understanding, buy-in, advocacy and results, in that order. And they listen, a lot.

If your costs just went up north of $10,000 per month and you’ll see your consultant one day per month, you should check the other hand of the person you just signed a contract (warning sign) with and see if their fingers are crossed.

As the industry shifted slowly over the past ten plus years, it created a natural recommendation engine that exists more powerful than ever. Don’t believe me? Contact your OEM, ask for a solution or provider for a problem you have in any category, especially digital, and then ask about results for any one or a group of dealerships. And get that preferably in a report with before and after metrics, costs, process changes and net improvement.

Oh, and you might want to hold on to your four-leaf clover.

In a world where businesses still make decisions by how many “covers” or “articles” someone was been on/in or how many times they’ve heard of a potential partner during a golf outing or 20 Group, industry metrics are moving slower than the speed of solutions. Hellloooo, it should be the other way around.

There are no overnight solutions, silver bullets or cash cows, at least legal and/or ethical. Use tried and true sensibilities: ask for more recommendations than someone offers. Look at more live solutions than you are given, dig deeper before you spend deeper. Oh, and if it sounds too good………

Car dealers, do yourself a huge favor. Get a second opinion on everything as if you’d just received a heartbreaking medical prognosis. In both cases your life depends on it.

 

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

Natural Unselection (It Takes Time…)

Yes, it is getting more and more difficult for business owners to make decisions today that will positively impact their business, especially in the arena of digital marketing. You might say “bull hooey” and protest that it has become easier. And you’d be half fright…

Nothing is more frustrating to a business owner that not understanding something that should otherwise be “easy” to do so. That’s where misguided trust and blind recommendations become so darn appealing. Attend a 20 Group and you just might be amazed as to how eloquent an otherwise inept presenter can be.

We live in a world of regurgitated content, many times so prolific that anyone can claim it to be theirs. Car dealers and executive management, typically, know what has been and possibly what is happening now.  They’re still overwhelmingly blind to what is going to happen, even though it’s in front of their eyes. And smartphones.

However, the chasm that exists does so simply because the dots aren’t connecting. In other words, they “get” that they need to market in a new channel, or completely store prospective and customer data in CRM, or spend time understanding new reports. While there is no excuse, none whatsoever including “time”, to not do any or all of that, there is at least bandwidth to consider.

As much as it easy to blame the OEM for (many) programs of epically disastrous proportion, it is up to the dealer to make sure their house is in order.

The struggle that has presented itself over the past 3-4 years, and it’s gaining momentum by the way, isn’t whether to do more, invest more, hire more or attend more, it is truly around letting go of operations to those that they have in power and get immersed the way they did when they started selling, or working in the service drive, or washing cars for their owner-parent while memorizing the specifications to 95% of the cars each year. More than ever you must have a desire to consume, learn, test and challenge yourself. And, ahem, everyone around you.

Recently, especially if you get caught up in rumor, there has been more and more reports of OEM digital, education and training programs being under scrutiny. Enter in shock and awe. Well, at least for everyone but those unfortunate few of us who called into question the very under-budgeted, under-staffed, under-educated, under-facilitated, under-read, under-thought-through contracts. While the programs disserve the OEMs, dealers (at least progressive and knowledgeable ones) are pretty much disgusted. And no, the programs are not responsible for selling more than a negligible increase in amount of cars. Period.

Now here’s the conundrum….we can’t throw another conference at them. We can’t throw another “digital marketing”, or “social media”, or  “digital consulting”, or “new age training“ company at them either (you can here the shotguns loading now). And you’ll not be able to convince them that the person visiting them with zero hands-on experience in anything he/she is talking about will make a difference. Unfortunately they might have to let that person visit to make the factory happy. Ugh.

Dealers and OEMs should be able to (stop everything they’re doing and) reevaluate the broken CSI, allocation and reward programs that current exist. Then, as one example, build new models that actually reward dealers who perform exceptionally for their sales and service customers, not exclusive to volume, according to only those customers (versus third party companies), transparent, benchmarked scoring (imaging that!) and overall investment (including but not limited to the facility).

Yes, customers expect more. And that’s not going to stop, ever. And yes, more cars are selling; same with large new-technology televisions, tablets and dinner reservations. When the “easy” sales stop again, fewer dealers will be ready for reality. At least the reality they’re living on and sold by people who shouldn’t be selling them…

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results