Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Road Less Profited

We talked for years in automotive retail about “The Road to the Sale”, and I’m clearly one of the many supporters of that path to sales success.   However, too many of us are still on "The Road Less Profited".  Why?  Because we are not getting more sales (and profits!) from "The Road to Retention”!
Retention sales link the positives of variable and fixed operations together, and their teaming allows each part of the dealership to amplify the other.  Unfortunately, even in 2012, we don’t see that profitable interaction very often, and in fact it seems programs and efforts at retention—which will gain a lot more money for the dealership in both operation and by advertising—don’t get much attention.  Or action for sales.
And that is a huge, profit-abandoning, mistake
And the “how” is not complicated.  For sales and service, here’s The Road to Retention:
  1. Capture the newly-sold units into service with service walks and with discounted first-service and detail offers, etc. in a programmed, post-sale fixed ops monthly marketing effort.
  2. Mine your existing owner base for the locals that still don’t visit for service, and send them service and detail offers in a programmed, post-sale fixed ops monthly outbound marketing effort.
  3. Mine your sold-to-service owner base for flips from service to sales, both during appropriately-timed and/or large-service visits and also by making service-loyalty-prompted outbound equity calls and email/direct mail efforts.
  4. Mine your service-only customers for flips from service to sales, both during appropriately-timed and/or large-service visits and also by making service-loyalty-prompted outbound equity calls and email/direct mail efforts.
  5. Offer notable and marketable customer-facing “ease of use” features for your service drive, to include “loyal customer” loaners/rides, a great service drive and waiting room experience (and market to them there, too), easy mobile and online appointment scheduling, valuable email service reminders with offers (and body shop reminders/offers), timely opt-in text repair status, etc.
  6. Perform equity calls to all owner-base customers every month, and email/direct mail the local owners in good equity position, as well.  If they are not ready for a purchase, invite them into service with a good incentive.
  7. Concentrate on the fixed-ops up-sell AND CSI!  They go hand-in-hand, generating good repeat customers.
  8. Provide great sales and service, and focus on capturing customer reviews to support your position.  And ADVERTISE your great reviews to all your potential and existing customers.  Online and offline.
  9. Organize and measure all this with the best DMS, CRM, and 3rd-Party tools you can get.  And use them all!  If you can’t keep track of it, you can’t measure it.  If you can’t measure it, you are guessing—and dealerships are businesses not the Vegas tables!  KNOW.  Don’t guess.
  10. Operate all of this as the “Great Turning Wheel of Retention”, because your bestnew customers are always your previous customers.  There is a lifecycle to all sales, and the strongest lifecycle is when the cycle is worked for retention—abandonment chases customers away.  Draw them back into your dealership for sales and service!  They already visited you once to purchase, and they will again if you manage them in a lifecycle focused on retention.
Dealers:  Don't follow "The Road Less Profited” any more.
Instead, follow “The Road to Retention” and make more money than ever!

by Keith Shetterly, Copyright 2012
All Rights Reserved, keithshetterly@gmail.com
P.S. Many thanks to the late Robert Frost and his poem "The Road Not Taken" (with the famous "The Road Less Traveled" line) for inspiration for the title.  Check it out of you've not read it!  And be sure to attend www.AutoCon2012.com this fall--I'll be there, and think about this:  If you can't measure all this, how do you do all this?  Measurement:  Not just common sense, but a good idea!  :)  Find out how at AutoCon2012!
Also please check out the rest of my "The Road . . ." sales series at The Six ONLINE Steps On the Road to the Sale and Road to the Sale is More than Ten Steps--You Knew this, Right?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Six ONLINE Steps On the Road to the Sale

The Internet has infiltrated your classic Road to the Sale—did you know that?  Think about it this way:  Would you let your salespeople lot-drop dozens of UPs without a turn?  Would you let them yell at, confuse, or manhandle your shoppers on the lot?  Or, worse yet, would you let them ignore your shoppers?
Your website does this EVERY DAY.  Take a second to ask yourself why you allow that, and when in the next second you realize you should NOT allow that—then take these six steps with you to measure what you are doing and work to get it right!
Here you go:
The Six ONLINE Steps On the Road to the Sale
1. Meet and Greet: Reputation and Website – This may be as early in the process as a shopper looking at your online reviews—does their story welcome the shopper to do business?  Or drive them away?  Do you appear interesting and trustworthy on their social media?  What do you say and more importantly what is said about you?  And then they click through to your website from social media, SEO/reviews, PPC, or a banner ad—OR coming to you directly from knowing your website name.  Does your website welcome them visually and invite them to chat?  Can they see pictures of your facility and especially of the people they will likely buy a vehicle and service from?  Do your PPC campaigns land the shopper on pages of your inventory which are directly relevant to the advertising message that led them to click?  And are your PPC landing pages “closed” to navigation so that the shopper isn’t “lifted” off their car to do other things?  Does your SEO strategy also lead the shopper directly to what they asked for?  And are your pages friendly to the shopper with easy navigation?
2. Interview: Inventory and Chat – This is a shopper reviewing your inventory, and better yet engaging in chat that is relevant to information they need in order to understand THEMSELVES what they want.  It’s not a full needs assessment, except that it is a SELF-SERVICE needs assessment (depending on the strength of your chat AND on their own comfort with chatting about their needs—usually, they ask direct questions rather than answer them, regardless).
3. Vehicle Selection: Inventory Information Navigation – Now they’ve landed on a cars in your inventory and you’ve got to let them know how to select one.  Can they sort by feature?  (long, short bed)  By price?  (under $10k, etc.)
4. Walk-Around: Pictures, Video, History – Do you provide enough pictures?  Video walkarounds?  Good comments about the history of each used car?  CarFax or other such service?
5. Trade Evaluation:  Positive Trade Message – KBB, Blackbook, etc. plug-ins for your website satisfy some of this, as do things like Autotrader’s Trade-in Marketplace (TIM).  Do everything you can to make them feel comfortable bringing in their trade!!
6. Test Drive:  CONTACT ME/LEAD/APPT.! – Now we are into a gray area of sorts!  Is a video walkaround from #4 also a test drive, for example?  Maybe.  However, what I think this is, really, is the shopper’s affirmation via a contact action-to-a-lead on their part (a form, email, or call) that they would like more information/contact and schedule an appt.  By the way, does your website offer an APPOINTMENT to see the car that they can ask for directly?  If not, why not??
Note:  If you like this, check out Road to the Sale is More than Ten Steps--You Knew this, Right?  Thanks!

By Keith Shetterly, www.keithshetterly.com
Copyright 2012 All Rights Reserved