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…..my 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.
I would like to volunteer to participate in the email program that you recently pulled. I must say, Cars.com, I am a little disappointed in your missed opportunity to defend yourself.
To begin with, I am a dealer. I am not an industry expert, nor do I give a Google about MOST of the arguments made on both sides of this discussion. I am used to dealing with mathematics and that is exactly why this topic interests me.
Let me make sure I understand correctly.
I get a lead on one of the vehicles that I have listed with you. Check.
I have three full days to work that lead and then you send them an email with my vehicle and possibly some competing vehicles. Check. (and yet another email a few days later…)
If ANOTHER dealer gets a lead on one of THEIR vehicles, then Cars.com sends THEIR lead emails a few days later with perhaps one of MY vehicles in it. Check.
So my vehicle was exposed to the customer on the initial lead (exposure #1), then in the first email (#2), then in the second email (#3), and possible in my competitors first (#4) and second (#5) emails on a like vehicle. Check.
If I am following up with my leads better than my competition, then my inventory simply gets exposed to more customers with more frequency, whether it is my store’s initial lead and the subsequent follow-up emails or the result of your follow-up emails to my sleepy competitors.
More vehicle exposures + more customers + good follow-up processes + thoughtful pricing/quality photos/good descriptions = More Sales
If I feared my competition, this program would terrify me.
But, until that day comes……….Sign me up.
Who’s your Danny?
Upgrade my vehicle listing package from Gold to Super-Duper-Platinum!
Buy more leads.
Let’s go from 87 pictures to 196 pictures.
Buy more leads.
These are ways to sell more vehicles in our dealerships, right? I beg to differ.
Let’s open a restaurant. It’s going to be a hamburger joint. Just play along. We’ve done the heavy lifting. Great location, tons of employees (nice ones, too), cool looking building, big ad budget for kickoff, super catchy social media campaign, website rocks, all systems go! We have done everything to ensure that we have a HUGE volume of leads…err…I mean customers, right? The answer is ‘yes’. People will come from miles around.
One problem. Our hamburgers suck. I mean they really taste bad. We have spent all this money on the things I mentioned above, but we forgot to make sure we had a great tasting burger. The only thing we know for sure….We spent A LOT of money to ensure that A LOT of people will know how bad our burgers are. Maybe we should have spent all of that money teaching our cooks how to make the best burger in the state.
When I took this dealership over, I hadn’t even had time to hang my kids pictures on the wall before I was inundated with vendors that were going to drive tons of leads my way. Little did they know, I had to take some time to build a better burger. And we did. Our burgers rock.
I have people ask me all the time, “Danny, how can I get more leads?” My response is always the same, “What are you doing with the leads you’re getting now?”
A good chef always tastes his food.
When your digital burger becomes delicious (and it will), KNOCK YOURSELF OUT. Buy all the leads you can afford. Trust me, your lead providers will love you. They do back flips when their dealers handle the leads like superstars. It makes them look great.
When your staff starts handling opportunities like a Michelin 5-Star Chef, sales becomes a math formula. Your ROI becomes easy to figure out. But, when you have untrained, unprepared, and untracked line cooks handling them, then sales become like an undercooked burger…….VERY RARE.
First things first.
Who’s your Danny?