Article

Army of One - Leverage Your Resources

January 2009, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Sean V. Bradley - Also by this author

There is no army of one. Even in the United States Army, that really isn’t true either. There are no Rambos in the Army. The Green Berets, Delta Force, Airborne Rangers—all these units are elite teams, not stand-alone people. But for whatever reason, in Internet departments and BDCs across the country, Internet sales managers and BDC managers are expected to be an army of one or attempt to be, operating like Rambo, but without the firepower.

There are two situations that are epidemic in dealerships across the country. Either dealerships still treat the Internet department or BDC as a necessary evil and constantly make life for those in that department difficult, or dealers expect the world from their Internet or BDC department without providing the necessary resources, training and support.

Most departments seem to be understaffed and under-resourced and are often overworked. This simply does not make sense. Almost 90 percent of auto shoppers go online before ever stepping foot into the dealership, so it would make sense that dealers allocate proper resources to that department.

I found myself in this situation when I was a BDC director, and it drove me crazy. I had this huge responsibility and this huge opportunity only to be limited in resources. Well, what was I going to do—give up? Nope. I taught myself everything I needed by using the Internet and reading books. These steps, however, will only take you so far.

One day I had an epiphany, and that was to leverage my vendors. Yes, my vendors, those wonderful people who come around or call me constantly trying to entice me to buy or use their products and services. I decided to use the resources at my disposal. Here are several types of vendors and how to utilize their services.

Web Site Developers
Have a clear understanding with Web site developers that anytime there is a new add-on to their Web site or to another client’s site (regardless of what part of the country) they notify you of the new add-on. Make sure they provide all of the most recent data and statistics related to dealership Web sites. For example, they provided me all of the JD Power and Associates, R&L Polk and Jupiter data. All of this data assisted me and my dealership in making strategic decisions.

Make sure you are notified when there is a new design added to their template library. Lastly, use their training! That’s right; I always made sure there was constant training and re-training. I made sure my team and I knew our Web site inside and out to the point that we were able to use our Web site as a PowerPoint presentation.

Third-Party Lead Providers
Let your lead providers work for you. Get them to come into the dealership (not at the same time) and train your department on their Web sites. For example, CarsDirect came out to our dealership, set up a projector in the conference room and explained their product to us. Since we were already clients, the presentation was different. It wasn’t to close us (we were already closed); it was to educate us. I wanted my team to understand exactly what the prospect goes through, sees, thinks, etc., and CarsDirect explained all of their different sites from that angle. 

It was great to get a perspective as to where a lead actually comes from. We did this with almost all of our lead providers. The ones that did not want to participate in our education or continually made excuses as to why they couldn’t show up were eventually cancelled. I also made sure my vendor representatives kept in constant contact with me. They notified me when and if they felt my department was slipping a little bit.

Used Car Classified Listing Sites
Require used car classified listing site reps to run reports to tell you which vehicles are being requested the most in your market. To be more specific, I would have AutoTrader.com and cars.com reps run reports weekly that would tell us what were the hottest vehicles. I would work with the used car manager with this field intelligence and we would do all we could to secure those vehicles.

These companies occasionally gave me tickets to various events, like sporting events and Broadway shows. Sometimes, these tickets were used for contests created for the department. If you can get your vendors to provide any tickets or gifts, pass them on to your prospects and clients. These companies also offered regional training, which I often took part in.

Even if your dealership is small and has a little budget, even if you have dissention on the floor and an “us versus them” mentality, and even if you are a one-man or -woman show, stop trying to take on the world by yourself.

If you are new to the industry or whatever your situation, you always have options. Just don’t try to be an army of one. You can and will see very quickly which vendors actually care. Good vendors are your true dealership partners.  

Vol 5, Issue 11

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