Shift Happens: Embracing Change in Dealership Marketing

There's a transformation happening right now in car dealership marketing that 10% of the dealer body is embracing.  The next 40% admit they know about it and are peripherally addressing it.  That leaves the bottom 50% and those are the stores who will not survive past 2011 if they don't wake up. Shift happens. Social Media and the online sales process has rocked the foundational systems at dealerships.  I'm callin' it out here: Dealerships must … [Read more...]

Nobody Watches Your Money Like You Do

I can't begin to tell you the amount of money I've found hidden in the bowels of car dealerships. By bowels, I mean the books. Automotive accounting is very specialized and there's really no place for somebody to go to learn how to do it except on the job.  If there's no qualified manager to train the staff, it's basically a trial and error...except it's not monopoly money we're talking about, it's $25 million per month in transactions. I've seen … [Read more...]

5 Reasons Dealerships Need a Social Media Manager

Car dealers in Southern California (and probably everywhere else) are asking themselves whether or not they need a Social Media manager. Many are noticing the popularity of Social networks and it was all the rage at NADA2011. The problem is they don't know who, how, why, when or where to start. I wrote in a post a while back that dealers are on Social Media...even if they aren't. Right now, your customers are out there reading/writing reviews, … [Read more...]

Once It Was F&I Policy…Now It's a Felony

I had lunch today with a couple of great guys who help car dealers build profit in their F&I Departments. They both have extensive retail experience and like all of us in the car business, it's been a rocky road back from September 2008 here in Southern California. Our car culture is still in tact but we've all had to find new ways to service our customers and keep the lights on while we're doing it. We got to telling stories today about our … [Read more...]

3 Myths of The 2011 Dealership Sales Department

"In a few years, auto dealerships will ONLY need Internet Sales Depts. The ground is shifting guys, get on the program." That was my recent post on my Facebook wall and Twitter and, as I had hoped, it started some conversations.  My strategy was inspired by Automotive News writer Donna Harris' article All hands should be ready to handle internet leads. We need to have this conversation guys because our business model is outdated.  Many respected … [Read more...]

Dealers: You're On Social Media…Even If You Aren't

I was talking with a group of car dealership managers the other day and one said, "I don't think we're ready for Social Media." He was being sincere about it. He just couldn't wrap his head around the changes he foresees in his operations. Changes needed to accommodate the creation and maintenance of a presence on social networks.  I admit it can be overwhelming but as we explored his objections, it was clear to him that not participating was … [Read more...]

Top 6 Dealership Social Media Predictions for 2011

As I sit down to write this post, I'm reminded of a situation where I once had to break the news to the owner of a dealership that he needed $1 million cash infusion to keep his store running. He'd been doing things the same way for years and it cost him dearly. The signs of demise were always there, predictions were made, but he chose not to act. It's a similar story with Social Media and online reputations for dealerships today. Doing things … [Read more...]

Dealer Online Reputation Fail

I recently met with an independent used car dealership who was looking to secure their online reputation.  After being in the car business my whole life, it's safe to say my BS-detector is in top working order.  When I drove on the lot, it was chiming at def-con 5.  I got upped, which was great, but while I was waiting for my appointment, I was able to observe their tactics at selling cars and that told me all I needed to know.  It was like when … [Read more...]

The Stuffed Pony Strategy

In 1985, I worked for a large Nissan dealership in the San Fernando Valley.  My friend (who also worked there) and I volunteered to fly into Canada and purchase the then cutting-edge Hyundai Pony for our boss, the dealer.  He was trying to impress Hyundai hoping they would award him a coveted dealer franchise.  He had a proven track-record of success and owning the Hyundai franchise would have made him millions. We flew to Canada, bought the car … [Read more...]

Car Salespeople Love Facebook

I love dealership sales meetings.  I've been there both as a salesperson and I've led them as a sales manager.  While we're all not part of the "Coffee is for Closers" mentality, these meetings are meant to train, motivate and create enthusiasm. This week I was asked to sit in a client's sales meeting to talk about the power of video customer testimonials.  It's a new concept for the sales floor and I'm always happy to show how cool it is to … [Read more...]