Sell Like It Was Yesterday
I have loved the automobile business since the day I sold my first car in 1987. I remember collecting that commission check, as an 18 year old kid, who was in shock and awe that someone would pay me that kind of money to do something that I loved. It was a simple time; look out the window, make sure you never miss an up, do the walk around, the demo drive, the service walk and make sure if you cannot close them that you turn it over to a manager. “NO T.O., OUT YOU GO KID!” was drilled into my head. If you could do those six things, not only would you have a job for a long time, you could actually make a heap of money doing it. As it turned out I was really good at it and that made my life’s path pretty simple.
I recall the managers had it easy too. Teach the sales guys to do those six things, not complain or skip steps. You were golden, especially if you had the gift of gab and could close deals.
General Managers and Dealer Principles had it just as simple. They pushed their managers to get their troops on the front lines to carry out the 6 steps, hoping for some gifted gabbers with the hunger for money. BOOM, they had it made! The extra talent you had to have as a GM or a DP, at the time, was driving traffic to your store. If you were a good advertiser, you owned your market. The smart GM’s had the lot kid go down and grab a paper first thing Saturday morning to find out what the competition was advertising. They made adjustments and found creative ways to make sure they had the warm bodies driving on their lot, in their trade-ins, the following weekend. It was not rocket science, but boy how we have made it so.
Now, I over simplified the past a bit for theatric affects, but I lived it and if you did, you know that it is not far off from the truth.
Today, if you run a store or a desk, you have Al Gore’s invention of the internet to contend, but that is just the start. Think about how many stems that tree has. vAuto, AutoTrader, Carfax, Cars.com, Craigslist, YouTube, Pre-Roll, Re-targeting, Banner ads, the hundreds of lead aggregators, True Car, and the list goes on and on. Do you remember when the new guy on the block was the Penny Pincher? LOL
The interesting thing here is that many dealers that signed up, supported and helped build this insane network of the “next best thing” are exactly the ones complaining. They complain about the loss of gross, the reduction in floor traffic, poor margins all around and dwindling net profits. These dealers stick their heads in a computer screen to watch VDP’s, track every metric known to man, and spend very little time teaching salespeople how to “talk” to customers. They spend more time going to conferences that are built around the new technologies, getting sucked into 6 or so a year, just to keep up with the times.
As a result of all this technology there is about three times less floor traffic anymore. People actually used to have to go to a dealership and get a brochure or actually touch a real car to see if they liked it. Yes, back in my day you couldn’t google it, take a virtual demo drive, or hear the rumbling exhaust of a V-8 on YouTube. You had to get up and put on your Saturday car shopping clothes to actually go shake a humans hand and ask him to tell you about the car.
Here you are in 2015 trying desperately to figure all of this new technology out, wondering who to believe and who to trust. Well, I have a tad bit of advice for anyone who is daunted by all this technology and is allowing it to consume, confuse and overwhelm them or their store.
Sell like it was yesterday (OK, 30 years ago). I may be an aging 46 year old guy in his 4th decade (80’s, 90’s, 2000’s, and now 2015) of the industry, but I have been able to balance all this new technology and the old school mentality, helping many dealerships sell more than ever. Our secret sauce to helping dealerships is simple. We focus them on the basics first and then add the technology.
We see dealerships with 10 different crappy (digital) products on their ad budget. Each product costs $1000 a piece. Someone signed up thinking, “we have to be able to sell one car off of this”, but their salespeople have not had meet and greet training for over a year. Many of those leads and sites are great. I am huge fan of many lead sources, digital campaigns, using AutoTrader, Cars, True Car etc., if it is right for your store. The issue is that many of the dealers I speak to are not sure what products are right for their store. So, they buy them all or they buy none. The worst part is they spend all day meeting with vendors about all of these. They then try to decipher the right ones from the wrong ones with next to no education on them at all.
FUN FACT: If the lead came from an internet source of some sort, they were online for hours looking around. They price shopped you, from their couch, probably in their underwear, while watching the Spike channel all at the same time.
FUN FACT: If you drive them in with hard core traditional (off-line) advertising, you stand a really good chance of holding more gross. You have a really good chance they will like shaking a humans hand.
We have seen incredible results over the past few years. We are gaining market share, seeing year over year 40% and more increases in store performance, breaking store records and yielding a better net profit using Radio, TV and direct mail as a large part of the advertising budget. Keeping it very simple. Buy enough media to reach loads of people, hit them with a strong call to action, do it over and over and do it for a cost that makes good ROI sense. It truly is not that hard.
That said, every market is different. Digital is not going away and you’ll need to be a rocket scientist about it if you are going to compete now and in the future. The amount of digital and what sections of it that you choose to do are most important. Feel free to reach out to me at 610-570-3022 or email@example.com to talk about your market. We will gladly do a free (and I mean free) market analysis for you. Giving you some insight as to whether you are more of a digital only market or if you have an opportunity in seizing the great rates on offline media, to grow your store, right now. We would also be glad to answer any questions about the confusing digital space you are up against now and to help you choose the right path for solid ROI.
In closing, Sell Like It Was Yesterday! Drive real (actual bodies, not just leads) traffic to the store. Look away from the screen once in a while, stand up and look out the window again, shake some hands, kiss a few babies and make a few friends. This business was a lot of fun in 1987 and with a great marketing plan to keep you busy, doing the things you love about this business, it can still be a blast.
Troy “Turbo” Spring