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IM@CS: Transforming Sales and Leadership Through Effective Communication

In the fast-paced world of automotive sales, where competition is fierce and customer demands constantly evolve, the role of effective communication cannot be overstated. While traditional sales training methods have been the norm for decades, some forward-thinking organizations, like IM@CS (Interactive Marketing and Consulting Services), are redefining the way we approach sales and leadership development. Instead of focusing solely on traditional sales tactics, IM@CS emphasizes the power of effective communication for both sales teams and leadership.

The Limitations of Traditional Sales Training
Traditional sales training often revolves around teaching sales representatives specific techniques and strategies to close deals. While these methods have proven effective to some extent, they often neglect a critical aspect of successful sales and leadership: communication. Here’s why traditional sales training falls short:

1. One-Size-Fits-All Approach
Traditional sales training tends to take a cookie-cutter approach, teaching a fixed set of tactics that may not resonate with all salespeople or leaders. People have different communication styles and strengths, and what works for one person may not work for another.

2. Lack of Adaptability
In a dynamic business environment, it’s essential for salespeople and leaders to adapt to changing circumstances and customer needs. Traditional sales training often fails to equip individuals with the flexibility to adjust their communication strategies when necessary.

3. Transactional Focus
Many traditional sales training programs prioritize the end result – closing a deal – rather than fostering meaningful, long-lasting relationships with customers. Effective communication is about building trust and rapport, not just making a sale.


The IM@CS Approach: Effective Communication for Sales and Leadership
IM@CS understands that communication is the cornerstone of both successful sales and leadership. This unique approach aims to bridge the gap between these two critical functions through effective communication strategies. Here’s how IM@CS sets itself apart:

1. Tailored Coaching
IM@CS recognizes that every individual is unique, and therefore, their training programs are tailored to the specific needs and strengths of each participant. Rather than imposing a one-size-fits-all approach, they work with individuals to enhance their communication skills in a way that suits their personality and style.

2. Adaptability
In a rapidly changing business landscape, adaptability is key. IM@CS empowers salespeople and leaders with the skills to adjust their communication strategies on the fly, ensuring they can effectively engage with different customers, colleagues, and situations.

3. Customer-Centric Approach
IM@CS emphasizes the importance of building meaningful relationships with customers and within teams. They understand that sales success is not just about the transaction but about nurturing trust and loyalty over time. This customer-centric philosophy also extends to leadership, where effective communication fosters employee engagement and teamwork.

4. Leadership Development
Effective communication is not just for sales teams; it’s a crucial skill for leaders as well. IM@CS offers leadership development programs that teach leaders how to communicate with authenticity, inspire their teams, and navigate challenging situations with finesse.

The Results Speak for Themselves
IM@CS has demonstrated that their unique approach to sales and leadership development yields impressive results. Sales teams equipped with improved communication skills tend to outperform their peers, as they can connect with customers on a deeper level. Additionally, leaders who prioritize effective communication build stronger teams and drive higher levels of employee satisfaction and productivity.
In conclusion, IM@CS has been at the forefront of a paradigm shift in the way we approach sales and leadership development. By recognizing the paramount importance of effective communication, we are helping organizations thrive in a competitive marketplace. As dealerships continue to evolve, it’s clear that the ability to communicate effectively is not just a valuable skill – it’s a strategic imperative for success in sales and leadership.

If you want to experience what has made hundreds of dealers grow at historic rates while improving their customer experience, all while seeing their team improve their communication skills, reach out to Jake McCracken ( to set up a free consultation call.


Effective Communication

The Best Time To Make The Hard Changes

Welcome to 2021 Version 2.0: 2022. More constraints, more shortage, more jockeying for position on Wall Street. Cut to the chase: it’s going to be quite a while before anything of ‘volume’ takes place in the industry aside from wagers. No crystal ball exists, however most of the OEM talking points and releases over the last year plus have proven dead wrong. And for fun, while that has been going on, our client guidance since October 2020 (vehicle acquisition marketing since October 2020, vehicle and part shortages and associated marketing since April 2021 as two examples) has been dead on.

So, what to do with record profits per customer, and ultimately, lower overhead? Make the Hard Changes! You’ve been considering flipping DMS or CRM providers, however you’ll wait until things actually get busier again? No McFly!!! It’s time to get real and how and when (OK, and why) to make those changes.

DMS is one of the most difficult changes to go through, so why not make that vendor swap in 2022? And remember, investigate ALL vendors because it’s such an important choice. There are offerings that are dealer-centric (rather than vendor-centric) that have years of experience and there are those that are new to the space without a proven track record. Do research, do research, do research. Not 20 Group chats, real research and investigate who the big operators in the entire industry use. You might be surprised and find partners you’ve never heard of! Yes, it’s a pain in the ass to change DMS providers, especially if you have a 10+ store group. It’s a bigger pain in the ass to have integrations that don’t work and reporting that isn’t what you want or technology and equipment that came out before the first car phone did.

Got the CRM switch itch? Make it happen! Again, do REAL research and realize the change and onboarding to comfort zone takes months, maybe upwards of a year. And there has NEVER been a better time to make the change! Concerned about “paying a lot” for software? Remember what you’ve been telling your customers for years: “You get what you pay for”, so stop screaming about saving $1,000 or $3,000 a month when you make that on one car’s back end profit alone today and get real about what MOVES your organization.

One thing that’s common across the majority of store and groups we speak with every week: those who have made the changes over the past year (or are doing them now) are happy with the moves, less those who made changes on recommendations and buzz…not reality.

It’s the best time in the history of the automotive industry to make meaningful change. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it’s time consuming. Yes, it requires the best of your human capital. Yes, it’s time to stop talking about it and start doing it.


Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

Stop, Drop and Do Nothing! (Or You Can Simply Roll With It)

You’re on fire! What do you do? For those of us who grew up as Baby Boomers and Gen X, you were taught in school how to stop, drop and roll. Right? Now, the battle cry is seemingly stand there and wait to see if you get burned. Profits are high enough (again)  to allow dealers to freeze, just as we did around 2005-2010 with the impending digital explosion.

What’s taken place in 2021, for the most part, is a conundrum of monumental proportion. And we thought 2020 had taken the cake! Record profits, record PVR, record low availability, record high wholesale values and more records breaking records. Pretty soon w’ll be staring at near-zero inventory on many lots and everyone screaming about incentives when new inventory finally makes it to dealerships.

Sure, do cut TV and radio along with paid search for models you won’r have and don’t have and skip some of the direct mail, unless it’s screaming “We Want Your Car!” (like everyone else is, by the way). Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. Then wait longer and “save on expenses”, then scream when your website value/position/SEO drops along with your traffic, when stock does arrive you’ll expect everything to “be back to normal”.

How many times has it been said that when things are challenging, that’s when you double down? That’s truth. It doesn’t mean that we’re advising you spend incorrectly, however for dealerships not to take advantage of this time to improve variable and fixed operations (notice: operations, not expenses per se). Want to improve your service operations while inventory is tight and you’ve been making record profit per unit? Do that now, not in 3-6 months. Need to properly coaching and train your staff? Do it now, not when the phones are ringing off the hook.

Dealers do this to themselves over and over, not looking at history. Invest now in your digital operations (that means analytics, SEO, improvements in local citations and reputation management, overhaul your social media and more). Look at how to have more when the inventory does arrive and you start selling units for loses again because the consumer makes you (yeah, that’s another lie).

Or be one of the smart ones and stop, drop and roll yourself to a better business and stop looking for shiny objects and silver bullets. After thirteen plus years doing this, we’ve seen thousands of dealers get it wrong.  And a ew get it right…


Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

Don’t Blink. Don’t Think. Yet Don’t Wait…

Lessons come frequently, if you pay attention. Lessons are disguised as many different things. Were you paying attention? And to what? What you have control of or what someone else told you? Last year taught us plenty, and it taught us nothing at all. Your point of view will determine which side you’re on (if not both).

Many things in automotive could be easily categorized from what took place in the year that just (slowly) passed by, like ‘data’, however it is essential – if not mandatory – to take a deep look at what resulted in your year.  And, how your business got there…. Quite frankly, it was not one thing that had an effect on whether or not your business made it through well.

Let’s deal with the elephants in the room (yes, they’re still there): digital retailing, marketing co-op funds, operations (fixed and variable),and  inventory. There are some other, smaller elephants playing patty-cake in your facilities however those are the main ones.

Not on the list, the biggest factor in making lemonade out of 2020 was whether your business was able to pivot in a leaner and, dare we say, meaner environment. More than anything, your ability to pivot and have the entire dealership culture thrive was bigger than anything else driving results last year, as well as the foreseeable future. Staff counts got leaner, and so thinking had to change for the smartest operators.

Many had the dreaded inventory/availability item however seemed to make it through (relatively) unscathed depending on how you secured inventory in unconventional ways. Dealers that could open in what resembled mostly ‘typical’ operating hours over the bulk of the year had per-unit profits that resembled years gone by.

The buzz word (read: buzz kill) of the year, especially OEM-mandated programs, was digital retailing. In our experience, same-store sales completed by digital retailing , based on opportunities grew incrementally (at best) and provided some daylight as well as perspective into what is possible going forward. Listening to industry-wide data along with CRM-based results, showed that there was a ‘lift’ from these tools, however not the godsend promised by any stretch of the imagination. That said, the dominant driver of tool utilization shows that what consumers want to do is know how much to expect to pay per month for a truck, sport utility, crossover or car. As OEM bolt tools on their websites (and charge franchises for customer/transactions that predominantly end up as showroom visits), we are now looking at the data play IM@CS has been telling dealers about for nearly a decade.

Many operators experienced lift in used car operations and fixed/service operations, while some even had banner years for their parts operations. No matter what, the theme seems to be making it known that you offer full-service and customer service and customers showed up, called and wanted it shipped or you picked up and dropped off their cars for sales and/or service. Hold on for a moment….2012 called and wants their flexible business ideas back…guess we’ll have to take those “idea trophies” back.

2021 is going to present huge challenges and opportunities, you can determine your own path to success as long as you have dogged determination to not resort back to the 1975-2015 mindset. It’s easy to do when profits remain high and some semblance of inventory remains.

Are you genuinely vested in your marketing (focusing on equity mining in 2021 as a new strategy doesn’t qualify as ‘your marketing’), messaging and operations? Market driven factors aside, do you already see your February and March plans in place and starting to shape your reality?

Be ready for more shifts in local marketing, specifically search engine optimization and citations, paid search and measured conquest opportunities. Other than those, don’t think or blink too much. Because if you don’t drive your business, as in 2020, you’re simply focusing on keeping your hands and feet inside the ride at all times… Don’t wait!


Best Practices, Professional Insight, Powerful Results

One Thing That Separates Us: Consulting 101

Most of the time, due to how we partner with businesses, we hear how different people experience us in the course of our work. One of the biggest differences is that consulting is not reselling or representing. Consulting, quite simply, is the truest form of advising a business for growth.


Most of our competition lives on reselling and representing products and services, many times up to 70% of their revenue exists from ensuring businesses sign up. IM@CS takes no reseller, representation or commission-based fees. You can count how many companies in the automotive space that consider themselves consultants work consulting agencies that shy away from the practice of taking such fees on your hands and feet. The other hundreds of so-called consultants in the space do.


The other side of consulting’s true definition is error mitigation. Nearly anyone can regurgitate Google, Bing, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and a host of well-regarded SEO, SEM and social media entities. Very few can actually look at measurement, validate and fix errors. Most of the time this simply is due to the fact that most consulting companies are not immersed in analytics and unbiased measurement.


How can you validate this yourself? When is the last time that you and your agency, consultant, vendor and/or BDC/sales trainers had a meeting with data that was not proprietory? The meeting actually took place in your Google Analytics, Google Search Console/Webmaster Tools, Google Trends, MOZ, SEMRush, SpyFu, Rank Ranger, GMB Insights, Facebook Insights and the like? Step 1: if you are not using those tools and relying on proprietary reporting, the first thing you can nearly guarantee is some level of data manipulation. Step 2: can anyone else besides said vendor validate the data? If you cannot validate nearly 100% of the data, start asking questions before you cancel so you don’t make the mistake again.


Consulting is not easy, reselling products is. Building businesses with buy-in, accountability (including vendors) and measurement is heavy lifting, coming in for a 3:00 to 4 hour meeting and throwing a report at people telling them that they are not doing the job they need to do is easy.


When you want to get serious about your business, start asking serious questions and making serious commitments. Until then, keep feeding the middle men and resellers of the automotive industry.


Admittedly, an easy buck is an easy buck. So if you find making a buck is easier in 2020 than it was 10 years ago or 20 years ago, don’t change a thing.


Otherwise, contact us or another reputable, proven consultant/consulting company (there’s just a few of us) and start making change happen in your business.

This Year Like Last Year: OEMs, Agencies, Middle Men, Invisible Measurement and the Almighty Dollar

As we boldly run headlong into 2020 with digital more and more prevalent, whether wanted or not, there are some aspects of our business that seem to be getting less clear and one factor driving decisions more than ever. Digital marketing still is without a legal guardian. The babysitter has been receiving the calls and all of the “supervision” hour are spent face-first in mobile devices, kind of like most salespeople at any given moment when customer less.

While the babysitter shouldn’t truly receive all of the blame, those handsomely-rewarded middle-people, even as some of the companies and faces change (with rumors of sone OEMs switching hands of the ill-prepared caretakers of digital marketing programs), are happily rewarding themselves through the data-play environment as the dealers they claim to serve lose control of their customers, websites, tools and CRM data. Yet, when decisions come down to dollars, they claim “my hands are tied”, “we’ve been forced to go with approved vendors” and “my colleagues say their program is working well (cough)” along with a half-dozen similar-sounding reasons (excuses) for not taking ownership of their digital eco-system.

This week we were invited in to an import dealer accountability call with both their (mostly silent on the call) OEM and the marketing company responsible for a large-deployment campaign. The results they are claiming for over 400 dealers in the program simply didn’t happen at this one store. One. Yes, one. “All of the dealers had success with the heavy-up campaign” and “you’re the only dealer out of over 400 asking the performance questions” rang over and over on the hour-plus call. A simple check of only Google Trends both in the dealer’s AOR/DMA (as well as nationally) show that the search lift was (interestingly) roughly the same for organic search that the marketing company is claiming that the campaign delivered (OK, a good percentage of it when pressed harder). Nearly the same year over year lift as shows organically that they’re claiming from paid video campaigns!

Now this article isn’t about the one specific example this week of performance overhype and, since the largest traffic segment wasn’t properly tracked by the marketing company (or on the “large” social media platform that the videos were campaigned through – yes you read that properly: no tracking) so all claims can be called into serious question, the near-intentional lack of transparency No, this is about the industry’s saturation of vendors doing the same exact thing(s) to thousands of dealers each month with the OEMs and/or the dealer body buying in. It’s about hundreds of agencies that claim to be digital (even better, digital-first) and mostly reselling products for commissions that may also be handcuffed on real reporting and accountability.

This week we also experienced a website company “not knowing” why (or how) Direct traffic hits from two AWS servers (from OR and VA) representing 5% of monthly users/3-4% of sessions were happening to two different websites both hosted by them (the dealerships do not pay for any third-party data companies or “targeting/conquest solutions”) with vastly different performance issues represented by the two cross-country AWS locations (the VA location providing 0:00 T.O.S, 1 page/visit. and 100% bounce rate visits while the OR location provided 6:00+ T.O.S., 6+ pages/visit (up to near 20 pages) and sub-30% bounce rate however still non-human behavior). The dealerships are in the Midwest.

Add to the above, the even-present chant of “co-op program, co-op program” and “I’ll lose spiff money if we choose a non-approved vendor”. In 2018, we participated in assisting a domestic dealer pocket ~$450,000 with quite a bit of “non-approved vendor” expense (~20% of it in reduction in duplicative or unnecessary expenses). The dealer committed to it, counted on us and a very few other partners for measurement, and attacked all of their marketing, website performance, changed up their sales meetings (sales people had to take over the largest part of each morning’s sales meeting with a new idea or concept related to selling or use of the CRM), pushed a higher level of accountability and drove results, even changing how and what they bought for their used cars and the way they marketed and sold those cars (nearly doubled turns). Not once did the dealer or GSM complain about how their OEM co-op funds may not be available to them for part or even all of their marketing expense. As a matter of fact, they bragged with other dealers to the opposite.

Because it penciled!!!!! Results, especially with time, eclipse programs if you know what you’re doing and are committed to it. Agencies seemingly never want to cut their fee or commissions, even when the dealer’s results diminish over time. Why? Nobody can explain that to us (or anyone else). Aren’t you representing the dealer? Apparently not. Reselling and commissions (including Google Ads fees) have become too lucrative to focus on the dealer more than the agency bottom line. Once-a-month calls on your website and paid search efforts? Why didn’t you notice on the 15th of the month that your Google campaign on a model that you didn’t have in stock was spending 30% of your budget? No eyeballs, no accountability and no results. Keep sending the checks silly…

By and large nothing is going to change in 2020. The buzz at NADA suggested something definitely different, however the past two weeks alone have showed us that it may only be for a few adventurous dealers that have had enough of the “more of the same for me” digital programs. There may be a little more at hand, though. Especially if we face unprecedented, new threats to business (we’ll take “Worldwide Illnesses” for $1,000 Alex!) that may cover everything from supply chain to new car availability and sales to finance, funding and floor plans, to used car availability and pricing. Those who truly have their eyes on the real measurements of their business, all aspects, will weather impending storms.

And to do so, you have to invest time, effort, resources and money, yes some or all of the money that your OEM won’t repay you, however the dividends from doing business right will ALWAYS pay you back more. The R.O.I. from calling bullshit on improper marketing investments is huge. The R.O.I. from a cancelled investment and re-appropriation of those funds to well-run digital marketing that is fully-tracked and generates new sales is huge. Did you cut $15,000+ per month from your budget and sell MORE cars (including a record December) for four plus months? We know two import stores that did n the Midwest and the West Coast.

If you can’t measure it, stop spending it. If you don’t have more prospects, contacts and sales (or at least tracking to sales) from it, stop spending it. Best practices are called that for a reason. And no bad investment has ever been called a best practice. So keep going co-op and digital program. Until someone else completely owns your customers because those babysitters, middlemen and resellers have your data and monthly dates with your OEMs and/or your competitors. We don’t and never will.

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

The Most Important Part Of Digital Success Is…Dealership Culture

Back from another on-boarding of a client and our minds are full. The questions, typical. The intrigue, typical. The honesty, better than expected. The roadmap, slightly different. The approach. always the same…Dealership Culture.

No matter how many dealerships we visit, the approach has to be the same. If you start with the culture, everything else can fall into place. Yes, can. There are no guarantees, however there are hurdles and roadblocks that are the same from store to store, coast to coast. Digital is the epicenter, and not because of Google statistics or what you heat at an industry conference.

While solutions have to be tailored to store, brand, market and setup, if you don’t have the mindset, communication, accountability and discussions around digital, you will never be successful as possible. That means talking points around dealership processes, achievements, competitors, opportunities, challenges and customers must be digitally-based. CRM is the center of all activity and sales meetings, not save-a-deals exclusively, as well as benchmarks. Showroom traffic is part of the discussion around website traffic. Equity mining and sales opportunities include what vehicles (and their owners) are coming in to the service drive on service appointments that are also put into CRM. And that takes place each morning after management confirms that day’s appointments (or they’re not confirmed, period).

How many reviews the store accrued for sales and service, along with who was most mentioned from both departments, has to be part of the weekly meetings. Appointment shows rates and how to improve them must be woven into the dealership fabric, without manipulation for pay plans or embarrassment. Calls must be reviewed daily by management and turned into one-on-one coaching sessions. And not opting customers in for texting via a white-listed CRM or third-party system, especially when accepting an appointment or, better yet, in the dealership is mind-blowing (and so is texting prospects/customers from the native texting app of a smartphone – it’s illegal, has been and will continue to be. Quit asking why and then defending your actions as if the explanation makes it okay).

Most dealerships are losing between 15 and 50 cars a month due to poor lead and phone management, yet the typical cry is for more traffic, leads and inventory/VDP gimmicks. Unsold showroom visits fall into drip marketing campaigns faster than most people can recite the store’s why buy or value proposition (if at all).

Digital is not a marketing methodology, that leads to buying the shiny object of the week/month/year. Digital is a mindset, a go-forward plan and a reality. We are not to say other marketing mindsets don’t work along with digital, this is a reminder that if you’re not thinking, strategizing and executing with a digital mindset and complete store operations, you are losing the game.

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

Another NADA In The Books…

Well another NADA has come and gone and this one, while positive with a lot of great dealer feedback, wasn’t exciting as past ones, at least for us. Now, there were any substantive meetings and product reviews, introductions and updates. Here’s some of the standouts for us:

  • Digital Retailing: While still in its “coming out” stage for a nearly 12-year-old technology, the stand-alone products such as DriveItNow are getting pressure from the website developers such as Dealer Inspire. Most of the implementations are still clunky and don’t necessarily demonstrate consumer feedback/engagement, by and large the implementations and integrations are getting better. While the data suggests that consumers are far from completely buying online (not a surprise if you’ve listened to the usage data for years rather that being distracted by shiny new toys).
  • Industry-wide Commerce Development Platform: Fortellis by CDK Global. Wow. Since its inception was only announced March 22, this is a little presumptive. However, nothing has the ability to move automotive commerce, digital and tools forward faster that collaboration from more players in the field (OEMs, developers, dealers) in order to bring a better, more integrated experience for the public. Yes, they’ve even been able to bring the likes of Reynolds & Reynolds into the fray. This has huge upside and we’re looking forward to updates in the coming months on what’s being developed and brought to market.
  • In-market Customer and Prospect Marketing: Lots of talkers, very few doers. While dealers continue to, for the most part, do mediocre to poor jobs at post-sale and post-service communication and engagement, third parties will continue to be sought after. Most of the conquest products in the market fail to impress us and after many, many, many examples of dealers being ripped off, our line of sight continues to narrow. In addition to having your existing CRM vendor do it, with some basic level of effectiveness, we have been impressed with the updated offerings from both AutoAlert and Stream Companies. The prior recently acquired a company out of the East Coast that seems to know what they’re doing on the service conquest side and also has a history of direct mail, the latter adding the option via building in-house.
  • Web Platform Technology: The coolest thing we saw was Dealer Inspire‘s voice search and we continue to be impressed with their Conversations tools, which are now available ad-hoc, platform agnostic (thanks to the push acquisition). Meetings at other website companies revealed their willingness to install their off-site consumer-catching tech.

Also-mentions: these are companies and/or updates that aren’t earth-shattering, however important:

  • 360Booth: Best option for properly shooting your cars no matter how you think it should be done. Period. Jay’s stuff is the industry standard even though it’s not standard.
  • DealerRater: Will be allowing reviews to be “started” at the dealership on the person’s device in the very near-term, updates to come from them. This is exciting news from the only platform that still doesn’t allow for dealership-vicinity reviews.
  • Dominion: Still doing a quality job on their reputation management tools and dealer follow up (and focusing on it). And they listen. In our opinion, it’s better than a 3rd party completely managing your reputation for you (anything that is not a culture-driven mindset in-store with accountability isn’t successful long-term).
  • DealerOn: Still doing some of the coolest work and improving their platform. We are still seeing some of the highest organic conversions from their sites around the country, even with non-clients. And Greg Gifford is still the wisest of SEO Jedi anywhere…kind of scary (we didn’t pull down one of the books, oh well. Someone will eBay one from $1 and we’re all over it). And Greg, we do like site search, no matter how much you don’t. We do agree on Egg Slut for breakfast!
  • CarGurus: Watching them (nearly) since inception and they continue to make the space more consumer-friendly (while still needing to work on their mobile experience, please, please) and positive/fair for dealers. And they listen, as well as adjust, to market-specific issues and we have hands-on experience with that for their “deal” scoring. Went back-and-forth with one of the heads on their SEM team, attempting to get more details on what advantages they offer (besides platform-based advertising and retargeting), so the jury is still out however we’re open to watching the results and making recommendations.
  • Dealer Inspire: Aside from their new tech above, their team continues to innovate, lead best practices and have fun. We’ve heard from quite a few other companies about manipulation around mobile speed, especially home pages, to fit into the new mobile-first focus and speed testing by Google (and we happen to know a few other providers who’ve done the same exact thing) and their team has assured us, along with many others, they are servicing everyone and they aim at maintaining the fastest sites. In addition, their platform scanner has been installed on all sites so they receive real data from Google on scripts to adjust or revise/defer, improving performance. To top that off, they have built a Google Pagespeed spoof scanner that you can use to test if your website vendor is giving you the right speed test results or not.
  • DrivingSales: Best human asset training/management software anywhere. Repeat after us… They’ve invested greatly in the area, aside from service marketing, that is most ignored in the industry. Yes, we’re had dealers on since the beta and yes, it works!!


As the industry moves forward, in-store experience and online reputation management are paramount. If you can’t do those things properly, without relying on vendors to manage or run things, you’re doomed. With the shift to subscription models (which we completely believe will be the way consumers move) taking over in the next 3-5 years, if not sooner, traditional retailing will give way and the holes in dealership marketing and retention will be clearly evident.

We also attended the pre-NADA Google Digital Innovators Summit hosted by Dealer Teamwork. Any day is a good day to hear from the 800-pound gorilla in search and WAY more dealers should have been in attendance. Plus, you go to listen to the leading vehicle marketing platform in automotive. While much of the focus was on best practices and the Google Dealer Playbook, we still learned and benefitted from up-to-date data as well as soon-to-launch assets in non-public discussions. Thank you to the team for the invite!

Even though we weren’t blown away by the “what’s next” (if any) at NADA, we enjoyed and appreciated the sit-downs with many vendors, reviewing product updates, seeing new ones and spending quality time with our colleagues looking to make dealers better. Shout outs to the folks who provided some of our after-hours entertainment including AutoAlert, CDK Global, DealerBuilt and the Automotive Executives Association as well as the folks who made it to our reception on Friday including very fine folks Scott Monty, Christopher Barger and Stephanie Carls from Brain + Trust Partners!


Best Practices: Professional Insights, Powerful Results

Welcome To 2018…Here’s Your 2002 Co-Op Program

It comes as no surprise to those of us who’ve been around the automotive digital space for a long time that the OEMs want dealer data and the pervasive third parties that run large-scale digital programs aren’t around for the dealers’ sake nor benefit. There’s a deeper level, though… how fraught these digital programs are themselves, even when you consider how fraudulent the mark-ups and hiding of unbiased metrics are.

What’s wrong is the reaping of the dealerships, rather simply saying “you have three website companies to choose from rather than anyone you choose”. And the crazy thing, again, is that the OEMs are none the smarter or have general wherewithal on the programs, data, analytics, organic, tier 3 paid search, leads (and hand-raisers, jeez) or social media. With regard to the last one, have you seen how many dealers’ social streams are basically hijacked, duplicate content with disgusting returns?

For those who don’t recall (or prefer to remember), automotive online started en-masse in 2005 with a few OEM-mandated programs happening in the early following years. How is it, then, that dealers are still waking up to the idea of digital investments? In 2009 we had a difficult time educating one of the largest import-brand dealers in the Southwestern US  that a $2,000+/month investment in their website was more than acceptable, compared to their $699/month required website. It’s 2018, we won’t even have that discussion today and stopped asking many program-heavy dealers what their investments are since nearly all are under-vested in their most important asset: their websites (yeah, that thing that gets more traffic than any other part of your business).

There are more properly-built and updated website providers out there, however it doesn’t mean that you have to choose one of them because of co-op dollars. No dealer (or general manager) can make an effective argument about $10,000-20,000 given up per month in co-op when they can end of selling 20-50 more cars per month with a better platform. Even the factory wakes up after hard-balling a dealer who’s “not playing in the approved digital sandbox” because they can’t ignore numbers (newsflash: OEMs care more about units than which website platform you’re on -or your dealership-…really!).

Alas, it seems that more and more dealers (we’ve seen this before…about 10 years ago) are willing to give up digital results to make the factory happy and/or more willing to give up any possible advantage they can have over data sharing (which the 3rd party consulting first have consistently used to level the paying field).

It all comes down to this: If we remember correctly, wasn’t it Ronald Reagan who once said, “The most terrifying words in the English language are: We’re from your OEM’s digital department and we’ve here to help”…


Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

NADA Prep: What Is Your Breaking Point?

It’s the annual ritual that continues to educate, perplex/confuse (many) and intoxicate, especially with this year’s New Orleans destination. The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) convention starts next Thursday so let the flash and sizzle begin, and maybe (just maybe) a reception or two to get the monthly receivables up…

We are in the twenty-second year of the Automotive Internet. Yeah, don’t blink! And with some of the major moves around the industry, you’d wonder if it weren’t the first. So do you book up on appointments with your current static providers or do you go outside? Do you take some mindshare and brave some proven-yet-unused platform/technology?At IM@CS, we have been wowed by little over the past year and lulled to sleep by most…

While you might fall for the loud person calling this the “Year Of The (fill with ostentatious call name)”, here are some hard and fast rules dominating what will likely guide you (and your vendors) to the breaking point in 2017:

  • Google AMP Project (Accelerated Mobile ages)
  • SEM/Paid Search one-to-one relevancy/Google ad updates
  • Move from last-click attribution (Google Analytics) to multi-touch “varied attribution”
  • Search Engine Optimization/marketing SPAM (next generation black-hat SEO)
  • Embracing of equity mining/process/CRM/showroom integration
  • Live video use for marketing, prospect and lifecycle engagement

Any more and your head will swim, if it’s not already. There will be few leaders, especially the largest companies, in the spaces mentioned above, signaling dealers to branch out and do more. More investigation. More education. More questions. And more time understanding that the homogenization of retailers is real.

Some of our picks for NADA visits are AutoAlert, Calldrip, DealerInspire, DealerSocket, Dealer Teamwork, eAutoAppraise, Nextup, Sensible Driver and Time Highway. We will be sitting with vendor companies and seeing the latest updates to bring them to our clients as well as the general dealer body.

We hope that everyone has a great convention this year, see you on the show floor!