The Most Important Part Of CRM Tools

August 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Greg Goebel - Also by this author

A recent issue of the magazine focused on Customer Retention Management tools, sometimes called Customer Lifecycle Management, Database Marketing or even plain, old “Follow-Up.”
I write this on the heels of three separate occurrences. First, I recently walked the floors of the NADA convention, and you could scarcely turn anywhere and not see a company promoting a CRM tool.

To be sure, there are a number of them, and each has its own strengths and advantages. Technology has certainly become a friend to the automobile dealer. I can scarcely think of a situation where the addition of a CRM tool would not be a welcome and needed addition to most dealerships.

The second occurrence was when the best sales person that I ever had the pleasure of developing recently stopped by my office to say hello. It was good to catch up, to see his infectious smile and to know that he is still averaging over 30+ cars a month – now at the new Special Finance leader in my area. How does this relate to CRM? Simply. Willie is a follow-up machine. He doesn’t do it with a computer or e-mail. He does it the old fashioned (and time consuming way) using files and logs and the telephone. Could he do it more efficiently or more easily? Probably. But the most important thing is that he does it and never quits. His tools are simple, but the results are staggering.

The third occurrence was the opportunity to spend time consulting with a certain Midwestern dealership. I often use my experience in auto racing years ago as an analogy to the dealerships I work with. Sometimes I am working with a demolition derby vehicle, and other times I get to tweak a finely tuned Formula One car – trying to tweak the last few miles per hour out of it. They are all enjoyable, some just more so.
This occasion was certainly enjoyable. I had the pleasure of working with a talented, well trained, and loyal team that was already working at high success levels. They excel by focusing on the customer experience (and I really mean excel). However, it wasn’t long after I arrived at the dealership that I found a source for the extra “speed” that they were looking for.
You see, this dealership has a CRM tool in place. It is as good as any I have seen. The team is well trained and knows how to utilize the many strengths the tool has to offer. They do a tremendous job of getting all the customer information into the system, as well as all the necessary data to track and measure advertising and sale personnel efficiency.
So what was the problem? There were no defined roles among the management personnel, especially when it came to managing and using the information the system provided.
When I sat down and was given a walk through on the system we discovered countless customers – active working customers, some needing a timed follow-up and some sold customers needing follow-up – all lost on work lists that had been ignored or back-burnered for some unknown reason.
It wasn’t due to the tool. It wasn’t due to lack of desire. It wasn’t due to lack of abilities or even insubordination. It was due to a bottleneck in the process.
What is significant about this is that I am not talking about an “average” dealership. This is an elite level store that based on what I saw can still kick up their sales levels another 20 percent. If it can happen in a strong store that actually knows how (and can use) a strong CRM tool, what is apt to happen in the average store.
My whole point is that regardless of the system that you may ultimately engage, the biggest factor when it comes right down to it, is the human factor – it all comes down to people.
You have to have total buy-in by the team using the system, otherwise a single person may wind up being the Achilles heel. You must have people dedicated to working the entire process, from the customer phone call all the way to the three or four year anniversary, as well as service reminders. You also must have people that are trained competently to use the system and all of the
bells and whistles that it contains.
I talk with many dealers each month. Many have a CRM tool. Some are leaving a particular CRM vendor to switch to another. Others are leaving the vendor the first group is switching to and going to the vendor that the first group was using. The bottom line is that both systems are probably very good systems, but there is a bottleneck, a lack of “buy-in” or lack of training within the dealerships.
Walk out into your service department and take a look at the big “tamale wagons” that you technicians have for tool boxes. They are loaded with tools used to diagnose and fix cars and trucks. Without the training, the experience and the dedication the technicians possess, the tools are relatively useless. Why would your CRM system be any different? It all comes down to people!
Vol 2, Issue 3

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