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.
In this age of transparency in our business, let’s take some of our own medicine. It’s time to practice what we preach. (I can’t believe I’ve surpassed my quota on clichés this early in the article.) I want to take this opportunity to take a closer look at our job titles and descriptions in the dealership. Let’s look at the different positions at the standard, ‘old school’ dealership. Then let’s have some fun and rename them based on what they really are in this traditional setting. Finally, let’s figure our what they SHOULD be called if they really made the most out of their influence. I’ll begin by saying that some of these are original and some are not. When you’ve been in the business as long as I have, you can’t remember which ones are original, or who said it in the first place! (I wish I had a dollar for every ‘original’ idea I’ve heard in the last few years that I first heard in the 80’s!)
More Accurately: The Phone Nazi or if you ask the veteran salespeople. The Antichrist.
Usually wondering why they left the sales floor for less money. Got this position because they were pretty good on the phones and had a Facebook account.
Should be called: Handshake Procurement Specialist
They should be converting distant connections to personal appearances with honesty, integrity, and transparency.
More accurately: Out-of-Touch Number Cruncher
Sometimes referred to as the “No it All”, because all they do is say “No” to it all. Drives the cool demo, works bankers hours, and is really out of touch.
Should be called: Resource Provider or Head Servant
aka, Head Cheerleader. Their job is hands-on, and should be to provide the managers with everything they need to succeed.
More Accurately: Wizard of Oz
Often too busy for their ‘lazy’ salespeople. Real cool until their asked to actually put their talents on display in front of a customer.
Should be called: Offensive Coordinator
They should be planning, teaching, tracking, encouraging, scouting, executing, recruiting, motivating…..Did I mention teaching?
Used Car Manager
More Accurately: Lowballer
Emphatically explains why your trade-in is suffering in current market conditions….err, oh you’re selling it? “These are hard to get, bringing top dollar!”
Should be called: Asphalt Real Estate Investor
They should be investing the dealership’s funds in the parking space rather than the vehicle. Fully understands return on inventory investment and quick turn.
More Accurately: Clean-Up Hitter
One more swing for the fences….no matter how long it takes.
Should be called: Security Guard
Protection, period. Protecting the customer with viable products while securing financing. Protecting the dealer with accurate, compliant paperwork.
More Accurately: Traffic Cop
Perfected the rehearsed greeting, 1000 friends on Facebook (personal), and a legendary pointer.
Should be called: Director of First Impressions
More Accurately: Stretch Armstrong
Pulled in many different directions. Does everything, just never when you really need it.
Should be called: Merchandising Director
Taking ownership and responsibility for the way your vehicles are merchandised for all to see.
More Accurately: Management Critic or Baby Bird
Doing the best they can with the traffic YOU provide, even though you’re not advertising enough, you’re stealing trades, and you’re giving house deals to others, and the internet department is stealing all of their leads.
Should be called: Reputation Reversal Specialist or Experience Overhaul Director
Differentiating themselves and the dealership from what most people have come to expect from a typical salesperson. Just makes it fun to buy a car.
If anyone reading this article still refers to this group as salesMEN or salesMAN, please listen closely. The Cold War is over, gas went over $1 per gallon, we’ve landed on the moon, cell phones are no longer in bags, and we no longer refer to this, or any other group as anythingMAN. Give me a second…..OK, I’m better.
More Accurately: Culture Assassin
Tries unsuccessfully to contain their total in the overwhelming incompetence of the human co-workers.
Should be called: Nutritionist
Making sure that the dealership stays financially healthy by ensuring profitability through cost controls and record-keeping.
More Accurately: That New Clean Up Guy
It’s hard to remember anyone’s name in this department when the average length of employment is 14 days. This average depends on whether you pay once a week or twice a month.
Should be called: Delivery Set Director
Has the important job of setting the stage for a spotless and memorable delivery.
The truth is that all of these may look funny on a business card. But wouldn’t it be cool if the essence of what we expect was represented in their job title.
Who’s your Danny?
I wish I had a dollar for every corny fishing analogy used when talking about customers in our business. Ok, so I wouldn’t be rich, but I’d have, like, seven dollars. But who can resist a blog with cute kids in the picture?
I recently took a fantastic striper fishing trip at Lake Texoma with my two boys Cooper and Carter. I decided to hire a fishing guide for a couple of reasons..one, more fish..two, my A.D.D. kicks in pretty quick when having a line in the water for more than 10 minutes.
I started thinking about why people hire guides when heading out on a fishing trip. Simple…they seem to have more success catching fish.
The Guide understands the behavior of the fish. He studies them. He knows what motivates them. He knows what is important to them. He knows that certain things bother them, makes them uneasy. He is patient, calculating, and pays attention to the smallest of details. He prepares.
He knows where they are going to be. If he miscalculates on their location, he wastes little time adjusting his plan.
He knows his business. He doesn’t operate on hunches.
In the digital landscape, we need to understand the behavior of our customers through research. We need to know what information moves them in the direction of our products and services. We also need to know where they are going to be in the digital space and set up camp there. On the clearest of days, with the most talented fishermen and the best bait, all is for naught if we drop our lines where they aren’t. We have to beat them to where they’re going and welcome them when they get there. Otherwise, we miss the boat. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)
Why do we treat this like a game of chance? Like no other time in history, we have great bait.
It’s called data.
Without it we’re casting a bare hook.
Who’s your Danny?
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?
My pet subject with my staff lately has been ‘listening’. I keep coming back to the notion that listening, not hearing, is essential in our business. Whether it is listening to the customer, our co-workers, our spouses, our hearts, our intuitions. Listening itself, is the bridge between selling and serving.
Are you hard of listening?
Recently I stumbled upon Rachmaninoff Symphony no.2 op.27 on a YouTube video. (Make no mistake, this is not something I do regularly.) I found this piece quite randomly, or should I say, it found me. It was hypnotizing. I should start by saying that most people can ‘hear’ the music on this video by simply turning the volume up. After just seconds of hearing, I began ‘listening’. It was only then that I recognized the subtle highs of the flutes, and the rumbling lows of the cello that I seemed to feel in my stomach. I had to concentrate. I had to shut out other sounds to zero in on what I wanted to listen to. I then began to recognize the difference. Hearing is something that happens. Listening is something you do.
Igor Stravinsky said “To listen is an effort, and just to hear is no merit. A duck hears also.”
If we are not really listening to our customer’s needs, how can we serve them? The truth is, most of us enjoy the sound of our own voice so much, that we forget to listen to what the customer is saying. We so over-value our verbal contributions to the universe, that the only thing we end up serving is ourselves. Our customers come to us with a dilemma. The product that they currently own is not meeting their needs. If we listen, they will explain, in detail, how we can serve them.
We have to fight the urge to concoct our next verbal chess maneuver at the very time that we should be listening. This is the quickest way for us to disconnect.
Guilty. That one hurt.
We’ve all heard that God gave us two ears and one mouth. And that means that we should listen twice as much as we talk, right?
Maybe God did this because we need two chances to listen because we were too busy talking the first time.
Who’s your Danny?
To become an effective listener, you need to learn the power of silence. Silence gives you the opportunity to think about what is being said before you respond. -Unknown