Transforming The Dealership Part 1 - A Live Week By Week Case Study (Dealer eTraining)

Welcome to Part 1 of what will be a major real live hands on case study.  Less than 2 weeks ago, I was contacted by a dealer principal of a dealership within an hour from my home.  The owner is a female and a real entrepreneur that is a partner in two other dealerships and also owns a wireless retail business with multiple locations.  The store is a family environment and has been in business for over 30 years under her control.

She was looking for someone to come in and really help the dealership with all of the marketing efforts.  This includes communications, vendor relationship, and advertising budget and oversees the internet sales operations of the store.  This was because she wanted to get a better grasp on things and make improvements.  The person in this role would also be in charge of events for the store as well as local events.

As we make progress in the dealership, I think it would be great to document and write out the changes on a weekly basis.  Consider it like a new chapter of a book to entertain yourself and learn how you can make positive changes in a dealership that bring improvements on many levels including profitability, accountability, a better brand for the OEM, and a better image for the dealership as a whole.  This will include helping to create more proactive employees.

We will not be disclosing names of employees, or the dealership for various reasons.  I want to keep it exciting and new.  When the time is right all will be revealed.

So let's get started...

It has been five days since I got involved with working with the dealership.  Here is what I gathered so far.

The sales department:

1 General Sales Manager (3 Years longevity))

1 Sales Manager (9 years longevity)

1 Finance Manager (few years longevity)

8 Sales Consultants (1-5 years longevity)

1 Internet Coordinator (was 2 but 1 quit during the week) - Here for over 1 year,

The dealership sells around 100 units per month with 60-65 being new and 30-40 being used at around a $2,000 average per car.

Website: (OEM Mandated)
Digital Marketing: OEM Mandated
Social Media Presence: Facebook and Twitter with limited engagement
CRM: A test pilot CRM for this dealership.  The CRM is a new product that comes as an add on to the DMS.  The DMS is not a well known common company.  The DMS works great but the CRM gives nothing but trouble.  It is missing more than 50% of the features that it needs to be fully functional.  In addition, it is server based.

Process: No set process.  No tracking of phone calls, internet leads, appointments, set, show.
Sales Process: Sales works well as the GSM does a great job putting deals

The Service Department

1 Service Manager (over 13 years here)

3 Service Advisors

1 Parts Manager

2 Parts Counter Reps


The first order of business:

1) Fix and properly optimize Website

2) Fix and properly optimize CRM

3) Get involved in all marketing and advertising initiatives (meet the vendors)

4) Create plan to measure advertising activity

5) Get sales department on board with reputation management and video testimonial strategy


What have we accomplished in the first 5 days?

Website: We did a full scope of the website and communicated with the rep.  We started to make plans to make certain changes and additions based on some best practices that we found from other dealers on a national level.  Right now we are creating content to be approved by the owner of the dealership before we push it to get setup and go live.

CRM: We discovered that the CRM has been holding the dealership back for over 1 year now.  Everyone in the store complains about it and for the first time we see why.  We had internet leads not coming through.  We had server crashes.  The tool does not allow for certain functions to happen.  I was able to convince the owner to look at options.  We started evaluating other options and will soon come an agreement.  Meanwhile, a major conference call with the current CRM Company included the development team and key executives.  This call allowed me to tell them everything that I need; I used examples from VinSolutions, iMagic, eLead, HigherGear, WebControl AVV, and a few others.  I was told that they will build it for me and within months I will see changes while other changes will take place within a days.

Advertising: Had numerous conference calls with OEM, local newspaper representative,, Digital "Behavioral" Marketing services reps, and CRM to review and learn analytic reports.

Management: Work closely with General Sales Manager to help take his mind off of a lot of advertising issues.  Create a plan to work together and help each other in building the success of the dealership further.  The GSM is fully on board with everything and is also a key decision maker in the store.

Owner: Very open minded and over worked.  She is involved in tell me what she wants to accomplish.  When trying to setup proven email templates and process she got involved and made opinions of her own where some of the templates she was not fond of and others we made changes together as a team.  As the relationship grows she will relinquish more power when she feels comfortable.  Based on our conversations and my actions with vendors she is starting to understand that I am the real deal and I know what I am doing.

Internet Department: Once the CRM situation stabilizes we will be able to get processes in place and know what we are dealing with in terms of lead count, tracking, and performance.  We will then try to build up the department accordingly.  The current Internet Coordinator explains his views and hope for better changes,

Sales People: They are excited to see a marketing initiative come into place that will help them market themselves at a level they never thought possible.  It is an easy going environment and when it is slow no one is being proactive.  As we implement digital strategies and train them on effective prospecting techniques we should see them become better modern sales professionals.  Eventually we will train them to use their digital tools in order to be better.

Social Media: We are creating video channels on various networks (YouTube, daily motion, metacafe, video).  We are also starting to gather images and create a flick account.  The twitter and facebook page is being managed by our graphic designer.  We met and will be creating neat logos and advertising campaigns.  We will soon take over managing the facebook and twitter while planning on creating syndicated blogs in the next few days.

Reputation Management: Created Quality Control Survey that every customer in Sales needs to read and fill out.  The Survey has 7 questions that includes rating dealership experience, commenting on it, recommending the sales professional, and learning what they liked the most about their experience.  In addition, we ask for permission to take a photograph of them with their new car to be emailed to them and used in social media.  We also ask for permission to take a video testimonial.  It comes with a disclaimer notice which the customer will sign.  Afterwards, we will either take a picture and video or we will not based on the customer's permission.  I had explained to the sales consultants how some of the most successful sales people in the business do it and they were very much excited.

So far...that is all we have for the first week.  Stay tuned as we make forward strides in the dealership.

Views: 132


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Comment by Pat Kirley on October 15, 2012 at 6:58pm
Hi Stan,
Great idea and I look forward to following how it pans out. Best of luck with you project.
Comment by Stan Sher on October 14, 2012 at 6:13pm

I am doing this for a few reasons.  First, I think it is great for myself to document actions and successes so that I can fully build out what services I offer and I how I do them.  Not only will I be able to look back at my accomplishment and be proud of it but I will also be able to promote it as a successful case study to let dealers know who I do and how I do it. 

Next, I want to reinvent myself and do things in an even more professional fashion so it helps me create a uniformed action plan so to speak.

Even though I am a consultant, I am in there on a more serious level then being an outside vendor.  I am in there as their person representing the dealership from a marketing standpoint.  I am devoting a large portion of my time on this leaving me open to working with only 2-3 more clients on a case by case basis.  My services can be as little as phone training, CRM setup and sales training, or as large as handling marketing and setting up with managing processes at the dealership.

But lastly, I think it just makes great content for the industry to learn the importance and effectiveness of certain business practices being done in the dealership.  This is great for dealers that are trying to figure it out or dealers that want to contact me for my services so that I can help them.

Comment by Doug Davis on October 13, 2012 at 8:03pm

Stan, this is a great article and I'm looking forward to see how everything unfolds.

It is a beautiful thing when people reach out, understanding that they need help and they have an open mind.  In that situation, you can really make a difference.  I may sound negative but I believe only about 20% of dealerships have someone that actually "gets it".  

Comment by Stan Sher on October 13, 2012 at 2:00pm

Thanks.  I love the interaction.  You are on the right track.  It is difficult to do what you are doing and have all of the buy in.  But keep doing it and growing it and do not let anyone get in your way.  In terms of attitude, just "kill them with kindness".

By the way I wanted to add.  The GSM at this dealership is great at what he does.  My kind of guy when it comes to desking and doing a TO.

Comment by Mr. Natural on October 13, 2012 at 1:48pm

Great stuff Stan...I like the way you are looking at all these different facets of the store. I see a lot of the same things, but from my view, I see much of the problem as being even more (if that's possible) fundamental.  Where I am now, the things I have to try to build up is all aspects of the CRM, follow-up, phone calls, email, mailings, customer/lead tracking, and daily work plans.

However, by far, the biggest issue at the store where I am is...Wait for it!!!!


Attitude is everything. The right attitude will circumvent any issue that the sales force-or service force-will encounter.  Your store may have the best tools in the world, but if any parts or pieces of whatever it is you deal with are taken on by a person with a bad attitude, you just can't win.

You can have the most precise weapon on the planet, but if the shooter is not confident of their ability, or they think the target is too hard to've lost before a shot is fired.

So, I am working on teaching how to follow up, how to set appointments, how to engage the customer, how to sell yourself, how to build a work plan that gives you structure...But how do you teach attitude? I think it must be like talent, not something you can teach. Either you have it or you don't.  But perhaps, just perhaps, unlike talent, better attitude can be learned.

I wish I had some Attitude Dust I could sprinkle.


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