The 11th Commandment For Your Internet Department

August 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Seth Ridgeway - Also by this author

“Dialing for dollars.” You’ve heard that expression before. An auto group in New Orleans, La. practices that expression in their Internet departments like the gospel. It has become such an important part of their business model that they think the 11th commandment is, “Thou shall call every Internet customer lead and commit thyself to follow up until the sale is consummated”.

The Premier Automotive group is spread throughout the New Orleans metro area. They are owned and operated by Troy J. Duhon and consist of five dealerships. Duhon purchased his first dealership, Toyota of New Orleans, in 1995 and has received the Toyota President’s Award of Excellence along with several Dealer of the Year awards since. Duhon has added Honda, Kia, Mitsubishi and Nissan franchises to round out the Premier family of dealerships. Competition among the stores is high and a driving force for the group’s success, and Duhon wouldn’t have it any other way. They all do well in their own right, but I was particularly impressed with the Mitsubishi and Kia stores exceptional Internet sales and Special Finance programs.

Now, the Mitsubishi and Kia stores don’t necessarily sell more cars than the other three; they are just better at getting Internet customers to the store. Their motivating factor is location. They’re not exactly located in the main stream of “buyers” traffic. A majority of their business has to be manufactured by the sales personnel. Walk-on lot traffic is low which makes customer appointments the key to their success. Salespeople are motivated based simply on this fact: Unless I get the customer down to the lot, I’ll probably have no one to sell to.

After years of going with the flow of traditional blitz print and television media auto advertising, Premier Auto Group knew that there had to be a better source to get more “bang for the buck.” Since they were considering the entire group’s advertising, this was a major decision which could affect profits over the next several years and not to be taken lightly. The final decision was made after reviewing the results of third party Internet lead source that was marketed in the Mitsubishi store. It was determined that the profits resulting from this service surpassed their current television media advertising by 100 percent while costing thousands less. At this point, they knew which avenue to pursue and decided to commit the entire group to and discontinue all TV advertising. Since that day, their success has been outstanding. During the first quarter of 2005 months the group grossed over $590,000 with their leads, and each month has been more profitable than the last.

Premier Mitsubishi and Premier Kia of Kenner were affected the most from the decision to give up TV advertising and commit to a third party Internet lead provider. It was the shot in the arm that propelled them to higher profits. Timson Edebiri, general manager for Premier Mitsubishi, stated, “ was their saving grace. The first month we used their leads we went from our lowest selling month ever to breaking all previous sales records at the dealership.”

Edebiri’s Internet Manager Randy Robertson said, “Without this service they would still be struggling for sales. With their help, we were able to put together a great Internet program that was adopted throughout the group. We’ve brought on other Internet lead providers to complement our ‘bread and butter’ service. For March [2005] alone, we sold 40 cars to their customers and grossed over $80,000.”

Brian Pesses, general manager of Premier Kia of Kenner said, “ has been a great tool for additional customers we would normally never get to see. Our average closing ration is 15 percent of their leads while holding our advertising cost per sale under $150. The only thing I have to say bad about them is that they weren’t around when I was a sales person. Their proactive approach to service and Internet sales showed us how to handle all our sub prime Internet leads no matter what the source”.

Everyone, from the managers down, is held accountable. They collect pertinent sales data from all the dealerships and use it to make improvements throughout the group. If a department isn’t doing as well as the others they find the cause and make the correction. As long as they follow their 11th commandment and keep dialing for dollars, profits will always shadow their showrooms.

Vol 2, Issue 5

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