Dealership Managers: It’s About Time – Part 2

Dealership Managers: It’s About Time – Part 1

Superbowl/Business Analogy #1001


I know, another Superbowl analogy.  Hang with me for just one minute, you’ll see.  

As I was digesting the aftermath of the blowout, as well as a few dozen hot wings, I found myself wondering who the Most Valuable Player would be.  I’m sure that I was not the only person in the country wondering the same thing.  You would think after such a butt-whooping, one name would stand out.  But not this time.  This got me thinking that this was one of the best examples of teamwork that I had seen in professional sports in quite some time.  This game was over at halftime.  Seattle dominated.  

As a dealer or manager, wouldn’t it be great to dominate your competition in this fashion without being able to point to only one or two of your employees?  Each of them just did their job well, understanding the overall goal.  No primadonnas, just a well-trained, inspired group of people destined for greatness.  With this kind of team effort, if one teammate gets injured, you just plug in another.  Your future does not hinge on one Payton Manning.

Maybe the MVP was the coach.  Maybe it’s you?

Hopefully this will remind me to treat all of my employees equally.  Your only as strong as your weakest link.

Here’s to strong links and championships.

Who’d your Danny?


Turn a Mistake into a Masterpiece

Turn a Mistake into a Masterpiece

Turn a Mistake into a Masterpiece

In today’s marketplace, I submit that it is no longer acceptable to merely satisfy our customers and employees. That statement is not ground-breaking, we’ve all heard it. In most cases, providing what I call “Ridiculous” Service does not come naturally. As a matter of fact, it’s quite un-natural. We create habits even when it comes to serving. If we are going to blow our customer’s faces off, we have to stop and think. We have to first identify what it takes to satisfy them, and then we need to seek a way to go further. We have to say. “In addition to ___, would you allow me to ___?” Customers understand that it is not a matter of ‘if’ you blow it, they just want to know that ‘when’ you do, you are going to respond in a big way. Our mistakes need to be viewed as opportunities to rescue and delight our customers. When you do this, don’t keep it a secret. Shout it from the mountaintops! THIS is what keeps them coming back and becoming an advocate for your business.

We have to learn how to neutralize negative experiences by responding quickly and with some creativity. The image that I have attached to this article is an example of how an absolute bonehead move turned into a great story. We left off $1500 worth of incentives on a customer’s paperwork. When the error was detected, we had a decision to make. First, I guess we could have just kept quiet. When I have to resort to this kind of thievery to get by, I’ll fire myself, grow a long beard and play my ukulele on the street corner. Secondly, we could have dropped the check in the mail with a sticky note that read “oops”. Instead, we decided to proclaim our greatness. How would I feel if I unexpectedly received $1500 in the mail exactly one month before Christmas? Let’s turn this financial faux pas into a marketing masterpiece. Make no mistake, I have no doubt that anyone reading this would return money that belongs to the customer. The difference is HOW we returned it. Did you notice the playful language of the letter? When did we stop having fun at work? We do these types of fun things on ANY situation in which we owe customers money. Do you want to blow someone’s mind? Send them $125 explaining that you were able to secure a little extra on their trade in from last month. Try to buy that kind of advertising for $125. I dare you. The point here is that we seek out an opportunities to set ourselves apart.

The budget on this marketing campaign was whatever the letterhead, envelope, and stamp cost. Under a buck, I suppose. Oh yeah, about two minutes of my precious time.

If you’ll notice, I grabbed a really old letterhead that still had the Pontiac logo on it. See, when your heart in is the right place, little mistakes don’t matter that much.

Who’s your Danny?

My Lean, Mean, Lead-Handling Machine



Hi, my name is Johnny Dealer.  I spend my mornings listening to incoming sales calls from the previous day.  I then, go into a deep depression.  I guess I am like most dealers, but today, I’m going to do something about it.  I am going to create a system that will eliminate all of these missed opportunities.  I am about to build a Lean, Mean, Lead-Handling Machine.

Here is how I’m going to do it.

First, I’m going to TOTALLY commit to my new lead department.  I am going to commit finances, facilities, training, equipment, and most importantly, PEOPLE.  I am going to hire a real-life Manager to run this department and I’m going to pay this person just like the rest of my managers.  After all, this department is every bit as important as the others in my dealership.  I know that the future of this department is wholly dependant on MY buy in.  I AM IN!

What am I going to call this department.  BDC?  Internet Department?  I think I am going to call it the Appointment Department.  That is the most accurate name I can think of, plus, calling it the Internet Department only makes me feel more techno-ignorant.  I want these employees to know that the appointment is the objective.  We’ll hand them over to of the product specialists when they get here.

I want to build this Lean, Mean, Lead-Handling Machine to run smoothly and most importantly, be reliable.  I can’t have it breaking down at inopportune times.  I think I’ll begin with my people.  I’m going to take my time and only hire the best and pay them well.  Training?  Of course.  I think I’ll do this in two stages.  First, I’ll get my hands on the best phone scripts and email templates in the industry.  We will train them relentlessly until they can recite them in their sleep.  After that, I will teach them our incoming lead concepts.  1. We got what you want. 2. You got what we want. 3. You’re special, we’re special. (see my article, “Incoming Calls are as Easy as 1,2,3.)  I want my people to not only memorize the word tracks, but I want them to UNDERSTAND the content and CONVEY the motivation to the customer.

This machine is beginning to take shape.

Now, I must set up a process that works for everyone.  Everyone in my store needs to know this process, inside and out.  When a lead comes in, who takes it?  At what time do they turn it to a Manager?  Can they discuss price?  If not, who then?  How about follow up?  When and how often do they get back with a customer?  Do they do it by phone, email, video, or in person?  When do they stop trying?  I will make sure that ALL of these questions are answered in my process… WRITTEN process.  How can I expect my people to perform if they are not clear on my vision.

I spend a fortune on tools in my service department.  Every time I turn around, my manufacturer has generously shipped and billed a new piece of equipment that is now needed to work on the new models.  In my new Appointment Department, I’m not going to cut corners on their tools.  They are going to need their own area, with fast computers, great phones with headsets, and a great CRM.  The equipment and resources they have are a reflection on my commitment to this department.

How can I make this machine consistent?  If I dump a specific number of leads into my machine, how can I be sure of exactly how many car deals will come out the other side?  This will boil down to tracking and expectations.  I have learned over the last 30 years, that if you want to see numbers increase, simply track them.  What are my expectations?  I guess I will leave that to the experts.  I want to set appointments with 60% of my fresh leads and 40% of my leads that are a week old or more. 50% of them will show.  I want to sell 45% of the appointments that show up.  I know everyone has different numbers that work for them, but these work for me…..for now.  That leads me to “expectations”.  I know that my people will perform to their expectations.  It is MY job to not just manage people, but manage their expectations.  I promise to make my expectations so clear that they become their expectations.

When my machine is built and running effectively, I vow to soup it up.  You know, like a turbocharger.  I can start getting innovative with video appointment confirmations, fancy .pdf proposals, bringing in trainers, hiring phone coaches, data mining, lead screening, video search optimization, email marketing, social media promotions, and the like.  Heck, my new machine will even be able to handle service leads!

If is a big two-letter word.  But…

  • IF I manage this department with the same vigor that I manage my Finance Department, Sales Department, or Service and Parts Departments, it will succeed.
  • IF I dump 300 fresh leads into my new Lean, Mean, Lead-Handling Machine, then it will produce 180 appointments, 90 of them will show up, and 40 of them will buy.  This does not even include re-hashing my lost opportunities from the last several months!
  • IF I continue to commit to my new department, every time I dump 100 new leads into my machine, I will get 13 more sales.

My mission is simple now……Find more leads to feed the machine!

Who’s Your Danny?

PS – My apologies if your name is, in fact, Johnny Dealer.  Any negative references to this name is strictly coincidental, especially if you actually live on 123 Elm Street, Anytown, USA. or work at ABC Motors.