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The Shortest Distance Between Two Lines Is A Straight Point

Another day has gone by in our industry and where are we? Did we break a record? Did we start a trend? Did we figure something out? Chances are we're in the same place we were 48 hours ago. While we'll leave the guessing how much other businesses out there have changed to the "experts" (yeah, we've got more of those today than we had yesterday!) but know for the most part we didn't blaze any new paths.

Another month has gone by and another interesting declination from a dealer that needs help (no, not the same one as one of our last posts):

"It's (so and so) from (such and such), is this a good time for you?"

"Uh, no. I'm working on ads for this weekend and Ive got a lot of other stuff to get done. You're either buying something from me or trying to sell me something. If you're trying to sell me something, it's the wrong time."

"That's completely understood."

"You'll have to call me back."

"Considering how busy you are, will you take my name and number?"


"OK, good bye"

While the distance continues to grow between the dealers that are moving forward and those that aren't grows, it's important to remind ourselves of where we're heading. You know, the road map. Goals set at the beginning of the year rather than two weeks ago. We all have them memorized now:

  • Regular review of website performance, stats, leads, etc
  • Weekly lead status and management
  • Complete (aka 100%) CRM use/integration for all departments
  • Updating of templates and scripts for all customer communication
  • Social media game plan
  • Reputation management
  • Vendor accountability
  • Read and participate more at events and online communities
  • Getting outside help occasionally because you can't staff for everything

It's not easy to look at all of the things thought or talked about considering everything that has to be done just to sell and service cars. Right?!?! Let alone add them to the heaping pile of responsibility that everyone has in automotive retail. Right?!?! Besides, it's hard selling cars today. Right?!?!

Wrong!!!! As Andy Dufresne put so well in Shawshank Redemption: Get busy living or get busy dying. Sure, you can bury your head deeper in the sand St. Diggerstein, or you can get real and get in business.

The shortest distance between two lines is a straight point. In other words one line is where you're at, the other is where you want to be. And the point is…go get after it. Quit stalling!! Besides, you said you're not going to fall for the banana-in-the-tailpipe.

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

What Did Thanksgiving Do For You?

If you're in sales, chances are you needed the Thanksgiving day break.  Badly. If things are good or not-so-good, the day off allows you at least to decompress.  If you're in automotive, many would say that the break is more than deserved.  You should return with two things: the day off and something new.

Too often we take the greatest chance to improve and dismiss it with a focus on the short-term gain.  Will you return simply energized or with new, more aggressive goals and a dedication to really build your brand?  It's not only the things we're thankful for, it's also the things you plan on being thankful for.

If you sell, are you doing everything you can?  Using your CRM as a static database or a real tool?  Is the day after Thanksgiving the day that you start leveraging your website with live chat, video, widgets, blogs, calls-to-action to convert your traffic (campaigns, truly unique offers, integrated items, etc) and more.  Or maybe it's not time to do that.  Right?

Is it time to start customizing your newsletters and other email marketing instead of thinking that simply sending things out means you get results?  Maybe Friday is the day that you start holding vendors accountable.  Or when you start leveraging social media and online reputation management?  Yes, that means you'll have to start asking, connecting and setting expectations.

In order to expect different results, you must do different things and do them consistently.  If there's ever been a time to distinguish yourself, your brand, your dealership, your clients, your community and your industry, it's now.  The gloves are off.  The transparency is ever clear.  The opportunities are there.  The opportunities are yours.

Chances are most of your competition is going to be doing something when they come in Friday: the same thing.  What are you going to do?

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

Day Two At the JD Power Internet Roundtable

Day two (late!) and another day of packed sessions with compelling messages and great panels.  More questions from the audience would have set the bar even higher but the buzz was there.  Also, heavy focus on opportunities tied to the current market issues was making head room: viral marketing, social networking, reputation marketing, technology platforms and the like.

The big issues for dealers are how to understand, staff for (this includes capable vendors in addition to/or employees if you choose) and execute on a diverse marketing plan, covering the items above as well as carrying their own unique brand online.  It’s clear that both the manufacturers and dealers need major assistance in this area and will that ultimately it will depend on the dealers to produce on many fronts.

One theme that was consistent about the retail segment is that the dealers that don’t ‘get it’ will not be around for long and that the ones that truly shift their primary focus online, track their effectiveness, hold their sales force accountable and follow process, process, process will win.

Folks, you don’t have to go it alone. Look for, ask for and get help now.  More soon…

Best practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

Day One At the JD Power Internet Roundtable

Well, what a day and not even a full one! Like last October’s event there was standing room only at almost every session. There was great content and the most open and direct dialog I’ve heard at an industry event.  Both the Third Party Site and OEM/Dealer panels were definitely spot on for what’s happening, what’s coming and what hurts for the auto business.  The questions were relevant and did not seem to be the typically expected setup to an advertisement from the speaker.

It is clear that the overwhelming majority of people here are looking for help, answers, facts and hope.  After the ‘bleak’ statistics session, it was right on to the meat and potatoes.  During the break and networking event, the chatter was definitely oriented around working toward solutions and dealing with industry issues head on.

As for the IM@CS Internet Fundamentals session, it was a pleasure to have such a large group and hear the input, questions and needs of the audience.  The comments and feedback after the event is greatly appreciated and will definitely find its way into future presentations. Thank you again to JD Power and Charlie Vogelheim for the invitation and courtesy.

Check back tomorrow for the day 2 report….

Best practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results