February 2011, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive
When I was a marketing and sales zone manager for Ford Motor Company, I walked into dealerships thinking I had answers to solve the problems of sales, customer satisfaction and most importantly, profitability. Everything seemed so easy to fix, and I felt clever in the way I communicated with dealer principals. I even developed a “Five P” solution to solving all of the problems. This solution is derived off of the collegiate four P’s: product, price, place and promotion.
Given I was dealing with the retail automotive space, I thought the addition of another P – people – was appropriate. Surely all issues would fall into one of these five categories. I found myself using this mostly when dealers were getting sales pumped into their market area. The typical conversation would go something like this:
“It looks like your market share is decent, but do you realize that 30 percent of your market is buying from other dealers selling in your backyard?”
I went on to state, “So that means there is a 30 percent probability that the customer who lives behind your dealership is driving around with a name plate from another dealership.”
I would then typically go into the Five P’s and how an analysis of each one of them would provide the magical answer.
“Let’s look at your product; are you stocking the right mix? How about your place (dealership); is it inviting? …” And so on. While I received a few nods, after the end of the conversation I knew pretty much what the dealer was thinking: “Who are you to tell me this? You have no idea what it takes to run a dealership.” At the time, I would have probably argued, but I’m glad I didn’t. The dealer was right. I now know there was no magical formula or answer—at least none of the ones I had been suggesting.
However, now that I am in the retail world, I can honestly say I have found one semi-magical pill. It took a few years to figure out, but after quadrupling the Internet sales of our dealership and landing on the top 50 list of Ford dealers in the nation with regards to total Internet sales, while simultaneously developing e-marketing, social and Web strategies, I know it to be true. It doesn’t begin with the letter P either. The solution is consistency.
You may have heard Sirius/XM commercials advertising Chet Holmes’ seminars regarding sales strategies. “It’s not the 700 things you do 10 times; it’s the 10 things you do 700 times.” This holds to be so true. In fact, it’s consistency that turns something from bad to good or good to great. Anyone or any dealership can have a good month or year, but show me that for six to 12 months in a row and now we have something.
Developing a consistent process and following through on that process every day will produce better results. It may not increase sales four or five times over, but the results will be better than before. The dealerships that have processes and consistency win. I have called on over 200 dealers collectively over the years as a representative at Ford. Looking back, the Five P’s were not the reasons for their success or lack thereof. The issue with some of the struggling dealers was there were no processes in place, and without process there isn’t any consistency. If you want to increase your sales, consistently do the following:
• Answer all of your leads with a phone call. Do the people who made contact through the Internet not want any form of verbal communication? Maybe – unlikely – but maybe. Just try to leave a message and confirm their request. What options did they want? If they don’t want to talk, they will tell you. Chances are, if the phone number is correct, they will be OK with you calling.
• Write grammatically correct e-mails. Does it bother you when people don’t capitalize or when they misspell words? It bothers me. It never bothers me when people write well. Control the controllable. What if you lost a deal based on your grammar? It can happen.
• Answer the customer’s question. If someone asks a specific question, answer it.
• Apply the 80/20 rule to your day. Do you make more money on Facebook or following up on leads that have inquired about a vehicle? Work on the items that may bring a sale now. Facebook is awesome. I’m all over social media, but you need to tell yourself that after you make your calls you can create other social media and e-marketing opportunities.
• Don’t wait all day to call someone back. Over-communicate. Wouldn’t it be better to have the customer tell their friends how much you over-communicate?
• Do the same thing every day in the same order. If it’s not working, identify, modify and try again.
Develop your system with the above tips and you will win as long as you’re consistent.
Vol. 7, Issue 12