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Richard Head

Is Story Time Causing Your Dealership Turnover? FIRO and MBWA Can Stop It

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One of the biggest expenses dealerships face each year is turnover. Not only does finding a new employee take a lot of time and money, but you then have to reinvest in proper training to get that new person up to speed.

I’ve found that dealerships – like many other complex work environments – are negatively impacted by assumptions, something I like to call “story time.” Before I go into the details of how story time ruins your employer-employee relationships and leads to turnover, let’s take a second to review what motivates people in the first place.

Motivation in action: FIRO

Developed by observing well-oiled, capable teams working in high-stress situations, the Fundamental Interpersonal Relationship Orientation (FIRO) approach boils people’s fundamental behavior comes down to three desires:

Inclusion.  Everyone expresses or wants contact with others—to be around others and work with others.

Control. Everyone expresses or wants influence over things and people.

Openness. Everyone expresses or wants to be known, seen, appreciated—a curiosity about others and a willingness to be seen ourselves.

This chart show how each area relates to the others:

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For managers who typically can’t create a team from scratch based on compatibility, we have to focus on the thing we can change. Will Schutz – the psychologist who invented the FIRO method – says that creating an environment that encourages openness is the best method. And openness is what story time is all about.

It’s story time

First, let’s address openness. I’m not talking about some touchy-feely “new-age” thing. Instead, “openness” means a willingness to consider other interpretations of behavior.

Whenever something happens to us, we almost always make up a story about it. Unfortunately, most of the time we don’t make the effort to check out our made-up story. We simply create this fantasy world about what’s going on. As time goes on, those stories get hairier and stranger.

Just think about the last time you were baffled by something your boss said. You probably found yourself thinking, “I bet they’re irritated with me,” or “They probably think that ….” In reality, you just don’t know what’s happening with your boss. But your brain doesn’t like uncertainty, so it’s compelled to make up a story that gives you some understanding. And our people do the same about us!

Story time has a huge impact on businesses. Dealerships (and all businesses) are composed of multiple, competing stories about what’s going on and why—stories that are rarely discussed openly and almost never examined in a way that could prove or disprove the stories. Left to run unchecked, story time can give your best performers misinformation, and lead them to walk out the door.

Putting story time to bed.

In work relationships, we have two choices:

  • Let people make up stories about what is going on with us
  • Tell people what’s actually going on, so that they stop making up their own stories

As a leader, you set the tone.

When you stay holed up in your office, I can guarantee that your staff is making up stories trying to understand your decisions.

“Management By Wandering Around” (MBWA) is a great way to stop story time in its tracks. And, what better way to interact with the dealership?!

When I get out into the departments, I share with my staff what’s going on in the department, what’s keeping me up at night … and, critically important, what my hopes and dreams are for the dealership and the department. As an added bonus, the employees relax a bit and tell me things they might not in more formal situations. Everybody wins! And everyone stops inventing stories.

Give it a try in your dealerships. Manage by “wandering around” and find out what’s really going on. Stop the stories and deal with facts! What do you have to lose?

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/08/is-story-time-causing-your-dealership-turnover-firo-and-mbwa-can-stop-it/

Steve Hall

Three Hours Lost: Your Top 10 Service Time Wasters

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When we ask service managers how important technician efficiency is to profitability, they most often say that “it goes hand-in-hand” or “if they aren’t efficient, you won’t make money.” While I agree with this, let’s look at it another way: time.

Here are the top 10 time wasters I’ve seen in service departments.

  1. Talking (non-productive talk)
  2. Waiting for the first job of the day
  3. Getting authorizations from customers
  4. Waiting on advisors
  5. Waiting in line in Parts
  6. Looking for or waiting on special tools
  7. Walking to Parts and back
  8. Phone calls, texts, e-mails and using tablets or laptops
  9. Smoking
  10. Arriving late or leaving early

How many hours lost?

I ask managers to make this list during each of my training sessions at the NCM Institute, and then I have them to assign time lost by activity. Sure, there are minor variations each class. But what doesn’t change is that we routinely come up with 2½ to 3 hours spent each day, not working on vehicles!

I know it is unreasonable to think that every minute can be spent on productive work, but how many of these lost minutes can we pick up?

Getting time—and money—back.

Let’s look at an example: We will figure an average shop of 12 technicians and gain just 15 minutes a day in actual production. We will use an $85.00 an hour effective labor rate and a gross profit percentage of 75%.

The numbers would look like this:

12 technicians x 15 minutes a day = 180 minutes of production gained a day (3 hours a day gained)

3 hours gained x $85.00 ELR = $255.00 in labor sales gained per day

$255.00 x 75% gross profit (labor) = $191.25 labor gross gained per day

$191.25 x 300 business days per year = $57,375 additional labor gross profit per year!

Add in corresponding parts gross generated from the labor sales, and you could earn more than $95,000 in additional fixed gross profit per year (and that is figured at 100% efficient). If they are 125%, the numbers are even larger! All of this from just gaining 15 productive minutes per day from each of your technicians.

Take the time to evaluate all of your technicians’ daily time wasters. Find ways to reduce the wasted time. Ask them for ideas and creative solutions. (And, once they know you are paying attention, some of the time wasters may just disappear.)

Go ahead, do the math your own numbers and find your potential: you’ll be amazed!

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/08/what-are-15-minutes-a-day-worth-in-your-service-department/

Steve Hall

Service Managers: How Well Do You Communicate With Sales?

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Processes…even the best processes don’t work if employees don’t understand them. It’s Monday morning in the service department. The day is off and running and a flurry of customer activity abounds.  Things are busy, but running smoothly. Just the way you (the service manager) designed it.

Now it’s about 8:45 and the sales department is just leaving their Monday morning sales meeting. A fairly new salesperson comes into service, walks up to you (the service manager) and says, “I sold a car Saturday, stock number Z1576A. We spot delivered it, but we need to have a spoiler installed that’s not in stock. Can you take care of it for me?”

You look at him, as if he’s a nobody and snipe back, “Where’s the ‘We-Owe?’ Did you already order it, or not? When is the customer scheduled to come back? Do you even know the color code for the spoiler or do you want me to just guess?” The new salesman looks puzzled and slightly embarrassed.

He thought his job was to sell cars, which he did. He thought the service department was supposed to help him when he needed it. Maybe he misunderstood the relationship. He thinks, “They just seem so nice to customers and so grumpy to the sales department. Why?”

What the new salesperson was not privy to was the sordid history, and possibly the proper and much-improved process. The service department knows they can’t order or install the spoiler without proper documentation and basic information from the sales department. That happened before recently, and they got the speech, “Don’t EVER do anything on a vehicle without receiving a sales manager-signed We-Owe.” They also know the salesperson doesn’t get a CSI survey to submit on the service department, so I (the service manager) can “teach him a lesson” on how to interact with service without the repercussions of a negative CSI survey.

Unfortunately, this type of scenario happens way too often. With turnover in the sales department, often times the sales managers are stretched just to train the salespeople on product knowledge and the vehicle sales process…and they never get to train the other necessary dealership processes.

This is where the service managers need to take charge.

We need to realize that if we want the sales department to be a “bell cow” to our customers on how great we are, we need to start treating them great. One way that I have found that improves this relationship quickly, along with strengthening processes, is to attend sales meetings on a regular basis.

When you (the service manager) attend a sales meeting, several positive things happen. Here are a few:

  • You get to know the people, and they get to know you. You are on the same team and this relationship helps everyone. You get to learn who people are. Now they have a name, not just the new salesperson who “knows nothing and wants everything.”
  • You get to answer their questions. Open communication between sales and service…now that’s REALLY a good thing!
  • You can train on a process or two – departmental or inter-departmental – every time you attend. Short, precise instructions to make the processes flow better. Yes, as you have turnover, you will have to re-train the process, but if you don’t, who will? Also, refresher topics can even help long-term people.
  • You will get a better understanding of what they have to deal with and you may become slightly more open to training someone…not just “barking” at them.
  • You may even learn a few sales training tips to help make your advisors more effective.

Whether you attend the whole meeting or just do your part and exit, it will be time well spent with one of your most important clients. The goodwill from this effort pays large dividends. Become a leader, a mentor, and have success the old fashion way: one person at a time.

At the NCM Institute, we believe every department should better understand the dealership as a whole. With that in mind, some of our clients purchase an annual training subscription and cross-train managers in different departments. Sales managers learn about service; service managers learn about used vehicles; parts managers learn about service; and so on. This greatly helps them understand the daily struggles each department has and helps them learn the importance of working together as one unit. Check into a more affordable way to help make your team stronger and ask about our annual NCMi training subscription and bundling options.

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/08/service-managers-how-well-do-you-communicate-with-sales/

Tom Hopkins

Characteristics of a Pro

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There are many traits or attributes common to those who can be called professionals in the field of automotive sales. A particular quality that separates the average from the great can be expressed by one simple word: discipline.

Years ago, I used to teach that one of the top qualities separating the average from the great was desire. However, I have since met and observed many students who had the overwhelming desire to succeed, but lacked the discipline required to lay out the specifics of their paths to success, stay on track, and ultimately fulfill their potentials. So, now I teach that your desire to achieve must be tempered with your ability to discipline yourself to do what’s necessary at all times.

Most of the great ones in business and in life have an overwhelming desire to prove something to someone. They know they can be the best in their fields and are out to prove it to the world, or maybe just to themselves and their families. This desire burns so strongly within them that it keeps them moving in the right direction. It keeps them positive on days when things don’t go just right. It keeps them cheerful to their clients and fellow salespeople. It makes them more efficient and professional in their day-to-day activities. It’s the fuel that keeps their personal engines running in top condition.

The desire they have to succeed is not wholly selfish. In their quest for success, they sincerely want to find those people looking for dependable new vehicles and fulfill their needs in owning them. Their success is brought about by delivering happiness to those people they come in contact with and serve.

I can’t tell how much desire you have to make it in this field. Only you know that. The answer comes in knowing how much stress, anxiety, and pain you can tolerate before you call it quits. Are two rejections and three No’s enough to send you looking for another profession? If so, you have a low threshold of desire and a high one for rejection. Think about what you’re willing to give or do to achieve what you really want.

Desire without discipline leads to disappointment, disillusionment and despair. Don’t let yourself be disappointed. Develop the discipline you need to succeed.

Professionals pay close attention to details.

They ask questions that help them get a better understanding of exactly what their clients are looking for in a vehicle. They have their paperwork in order — properly filled out, recorded, and filed. They return phone calls promptly — even if it’s just to leave a quick message that they’ll be in touch later. They keep their promises and have answers ready when questions are asked. They never say, “I don’t know.” When they don’t know the answer to a question, they say, “I’ll find out for you.”

They are highly goal-oriented.

They are striving for a certain number of vehicles sold each month, a certain income, a trophy or an award. They know exactly what they’re working for and have a plan detailing when and how they’ll achieve it.

Do you have your goals in writing? If not, you are a wisher, an undisciplined dreamer. You haven’t really committed yourself to achieving anything. You’re like those average people in your office who say, “Sure, I want to make more money, but after the day I had yesterday, I’m not calling anyone today!”

You see, the successful ones, the true professionals begin where the failures stop. They do what the failures are afraid or too lazy to do.

The great ones understand that they must strive daily to improve their skills.

They have jumped in with both feet and are willing to pay the price of learning what they have to know to be successful in this business. They’ve committed to the automotive industry as their career path. They are constantly striving to improve themselves by attending training, listening and reading auto industry material and staying abreast of new technology that will assist them in serving their clients more efficiently.

They live by this motto: “I must do the most productive thing possible at every given moment.”

Those twelve simple words literally changed my life and my sales career over 40 years ago. Whenever I felt doubt about what I was doing, I would glance at these words hung by my desk, get re-focused, and do the next most important thing.

I hope you’re not one of those people who is “just giving sales a try.” People with that attitude have a plan of action for when they fail. You’ve heard it, I’m sure. “If I don’t make it in this, I can always …” They have a plan for failure. They’re anticipating it, and will probably get it. Planning to succeed is so much more exciting than planning to fail.

Another characteristic of the top people in sales is that they deliver excellent service.

They know they are paid in direct proportion to the amount of service they give to their clients. They understand that they are in the people business. They don’t sell cars and trucks. They get people happily involved in owning vehicles that satisfy their needs.

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/08/7869/

Dustin Kerr

Are you insane, hard-headed or just lazy?

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Insane. Hard-headed. Lazy. When it comes to the car business, I’ve probably fit into each of these categories at one time or another. And—just between you and me—I’ve definitely ticked all three boxes on a few occasions!  If you’re honest with yourself, you probably have, too.

And before you get mad: I can explain!

Old habits are hard to break …

How often do you find yourself trying to fix things by doing the same stuff you’ve done since starting in the business?

I know I have. And I do it even though I agree with Albert Einstein’s famous definition of insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

It’s the same problem with being hard-headed. Did you or do you still fight against change in your own dealership? Were you one of the people that kept saying this “internet thing” won’t ever catch on in the car business? Or that the internet will make it impossible for us to make a profit?

What about laziness? Do you want to train your staff, but find yourself procrastinating on seeing the process through?

… but you CAN beat them!

Here’s the thing. It’s not the end of the world if you fall into one—or more—of these categories. But you can’t let them rule you. Take a hard, honest look at yourself and your habits, then make the necessary adjustments.

Why do I bring these things up?

Well, I’ve realized there’s a common theme between poor performers: They want quick fixes.

First, let me just say that there’s no issue with wanting to solve a problem fast! Dealerships need to be swift and flexible when course correcting. But, there’s a big difference between immediate action and slapping a Band-Aid on a problem.

Quick fixes aren’t always best fixes

Unfortunately, many of the struggling dealerships I’ve seen want quick “Band-Aid” fixes.  When things are bad, they focus on seeing results improve. And demand that they improve fast! Excellent performers, though, focus on activities. They know that investment in training and examining and changing processes—while slower—will yield improved results that can be sustained.

Unless you’re strategic, quick fixes are just those bad habits acting to undermine your business. I mean, it’s easy to just fire your staff. (Ahem: laziness.) Or demand that they produce a certain number of car sales per month. (Hard-headedness and a smidge of insanity.)

Without changing what your dealership does—and how your staff handle their work—you shouldn’t expect anything different. Unless you’re crazy. And, we both know you aren’t crazy.

So, what should a successful dealer do? In my opinion, one of the quickest ways for us to increase profitability is by teaching our employees how to properly manage the activities that lead to results.

Make changes to things you and your staff can control. And be sure to clearly communicate goals associated with the change. For instance, it’s fairly easy to manage the number of confirmed appointments each salesperson has each day or the number of customer pay service vehicles that get a full walk around inspection.

There’s nothing crazy about that plan.

Do you agree with Dustin? Have business bad habits affected your ability to get the best results? Tell us what you think below. 

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/08/are-you-insane-hard-headed-or-just-lazy/

Tom Hopkins

How to Handle an Angry Client

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Too many people, when faced with clients who range from dissatisfied to downright angry, choose the loser’s path by postponing handling the situation. Worse yet, they handle it inappropriately.

Postponement doesn’t make the problem go away. It results in one of two things happening:

  1. The angry client decides the problem isn’t worth the aggravation and cools down.
  2. The client gets so angry that the next time you hear from him or her is through some sort of official (and possibly legal) manner. Worse still, you’ll see your company named on the local news channel in one of those consumer protection segments.

If you’re the business owner, you may think it’s ok to lose one client who’s unhappy, but it’s not. You see, when we have a good experience with a company we tend to tell three to five other people about it. Positive word-of-mouth is great for business. However, someone who is displeased with a situation tells, on average, 11 people about it. Can you see how your business could be hurt by that?

Naturally, no one wants to walk into a lion’s den and face an angry client. Yet, you must consider the value of this client to you, your reputation and the company. In most cases, I would guess that it will be worth your while to face that angry customer and get the situation resolved as quickly as possible. As the sales professional, it’s your reputation at stake, as well as that of your company.

Here are nine steps I’ve developed for facing and dispelling another person’s anger. They work well in most situations mainly because you’re giving the client the attention their dissatisfaction deserves.

1. Acknowledge the other person’s anger quickly.

Nothing adds more fuel to a fire than someone having his or her anger ignored or belittled. The faster you verbally recognize their anger, the better. Sometimes all you have to say is, “I can see that you’re upset, Mr. Smith.” You’re not admitting to doing anything wrong before the situation is analyzed, just acknowledging their displeasure.

2. Make it clear that you’re concerned.

Tell them you realize just how angry they are. Let them know that you are taking the situation seriously. Make notes of every detail they give you. And, tell them you’re making notes. Get them talking! The more they speak, the more time you have to consider how to resolve the issue. The better your notes, the better documentation you have if you must take the concern to someone else to resolve. Be sure to put the date and time of conversation on your notes.

3. Don’t hurry them.

Be patient. Let them get it all out. Never try to interrupt or shut them up. In many cases, the best move is to simply listen. They’ll wind themselves down eventually. In some cases, they’ll realize they blew the situation out of proportion and feel foolish for it. They are then likely to accept nearly any solution you offer.

4. Keep calm.

Most angry people say things they don’t really mean. Learn to let those things pass and take them up after you’ve solved the present challenge —only if you feel it’s necessary to do so.

5. Ask questions.

Your aim is to discover the specific things you can do to correct the situation. Try to get specific information about the difficulties the issue has caused, rather than a general venting of dissatisfaction.

6. Get them talking about solutions.

This is where you will learn just how reasonable this client is. By the time you get to this step, their anger should have cooled enough to discuss the challenge rationally. If it hasn’t, tell them you want to schedule a later meeting—even if it’s in an hour—to come up with some reasonable solutions. Let them do the rest of their fuming on their time.

7. Agree on a solution.

After you know exactly what the challenge is, you’re in a position to look for some kind of action that will relieve the challenge. Propose something specific. Start with whatever will bring them the best and quickest relief. Don’t get into a controversy over pennies at this time.

8. Agree on a schedule.

Once you’ve agreed on a solution, set up a schedule for its accomplishment. Agree to a realistic timeframe that you know you can handle. The biggest mistake you can make is to agree to something that cannot be done. If you do, you’d better be ready to face another bout of this person’s anger when you don’t come through.

9. Meet your schedule.

Give this schedule top priority. You’ve talked yourself into a second chance with this client, so make sure you don’t blow it.

Once you’ve satisfied the client with regard to this situation, you will have earned another opportunity to serve their needs in the future… and the needs of those friends they’ll tell about how well you handled their concerns.

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/08/how-to-handle-an-angry-client/

Mark Shackelford

How Well Do You Understand the Internet Process in Your Dealership?

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As e-Commerce continues to play an ever increasingly-significant role in your dealership’s operations, how well do you understand the tools your potential clients are using in the purchase of and subsequent maintenance for their new or pre-owned vehicles?

More and more information tells us that your customers have already moved towards buying and paying online. Today, and more importantly, tomorrow’s millennial consumers are sourcing their purchases via the Internet where products are now shipped directly to their homes. These transactions are mostly generated as a result of reviews found online or through a Google search where reviews are part of the results.

What if, after doing an Internet survey of more than 200 dealership customers recently, I was to inform you that over 50 percent of the customers shopped on the Internet, the dealership did not ask the online consumers for an appointment, and over 60 percent of the shoppers did not even receive a price! Are you shaking your head in disbelief, or is this what customers are experiencing with your dealership, too?

Simply put, there are high-value customers out there looking on the Internet for products and services and they are willing to use your services, even if you’re not the cheapest price in the marketplace. That’s right…the lowest price doesn’t always get the deal. What these millennial customers are looking for is engagement from your business!

Your presence on the web is vital to that engagement (as well as to your future success in the automotive industry). Your image and reputation are a big part of that engagement strategy; so, too, is your ability to be found by the shoppers you most want to attract.

What is your marketing strategy relative to the markets around you?

Some consumers shop online within a 20-30 mile radius while others are going out as far as 500-1,000 miles out, depending on what they are looking for. Focusing on certain geographical areas for targeting your message and directing your marketing, such as Equity Alerts, have been found by many dealers in NCM 20 Groups to be very successful and quite possibly the key to your continued and future success!

Although buying third party leads may have resulted in delivering a vehicle to a consumer, many of NCM’s 20 Group member dealers are finding that by analyzing Google Analytics and having the right SEO (Search Engine Optimization), SRP (Search Results Page) and VDP (Vehicle Display Page) plan for their websites, they are able to drive more organic searches, thus minimizing or even eliminating the need to buy these types of leads.

Most of you have probably figured out that these leads are in your market already, or in your current database. Doing a better job of mining your own customer database, both in sales and service, will yield many opportunities in those departments, and the Internet can and will play an important role in helping you accomplish just that.

As business owners, we need to fine-tune our people and processes to ensure we are giving the consumers what they’re looking for. Make sure your e-Commerce strategy is incorporating those Internet management best practices that will drive the engagement your online customers want – and your dealership needs!

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/08/how-well-do-you-understand-the-internet-process-in-your-dealership/

Jody DeVere

Surprising Facts About Selling Luxury Vehicles to Women

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Luxury car dealers, do you know your audience? If you’re like most that I’ve spoken to, you may be selling cars with the wool over your eyes, assuming that the affluent male is your crème de la crème, and some wealthy widows, female executives, and women entrepreneurs rounds out your market. But a recent study seems to show that just isn’t the case, and as the CEO of AskPatty.com, a website dedicated to providing automotive resources to women and helping auto dealers like yourself attract and retain more women customers, it surprised me, too!

The Shullman Luxury, Affluence and Wealth Pulse, Autumn 2014, has revealed some very intriguing findings on who is actually buying in the luxury market. First of all, it’s not all affluent people. In fact, 61% of buyers with a household income of $250,000 or more don’t own a luxury car! Interestingly, it seems that the Millennial generation of women are driving more luxury vehicles than one might assume. While most of us are targeting the older crowd, it seems that millennials are more interested in a luxury lifestyle than boomers or generation X members!

According to the study:

“The $75,000-249,999 affluent segment is the primary buyer of all the luxuries consumer spending , including luxury vehicles. The second-largest buying segment for all luxuries was mass-market America (those with less than $75,000 in household income). The very high-income buyers (those with $250,000+ incomes), although fewer in number, typically spend the most on average for each luxury bought and tend to buy more luxuries per adult than the other two income segment. … The number one luxury buying generation today, according to this survey, is the Millennial generation (18-34 years of age in 2014) who constitute 45% of luxury buyers.”

So, let’s take a moment to consider our target – the new target: the millennial woman!

Facts About the 18-34 Segment of Women Today

So, if we’re going to be selling to millennial women, we need to understand how they operate. They’re not baby boomers, and they’re not Generation X, so those approaches are going to ring false with this group. It’s also worth noting that in my experience at least, these are women who are actively working in advertising much of the time, so the trite marketing methods are going to fall flat. They know all those tricks!

Today’s millennial women are a technologically connected, diverse, and educated. They prefer the speed and convenience of smart phones and email to telephone conversations or walk-in business. In terms of work, they tend to have more job market equality than previous generations, and are earning four year degrees at a higher rate than male counterparts. This higher income translates to higher overall household income for their families, and it also means a new kind of family – one where the mother is the sole breadwinner.

Millennial women share some things in common with boomers and Gen-X-ers. They are also brand influencers who quick to share their opinions with friends, family and their online communities. A majority of social media outlets are predominantly female users, and they use them to speak their minds! Millennial women want to be included in the conversation, rather than being told what to do or what to purchase. They value inspirational messages, important causes, and most of all, they support brands who support them.

Marketing to the Meme Generation

When it comes to advertising to millennials, remember that this is the generation of the “meme.” That means that iconic, engaging visual marketing plays an important role in what resonates with them. Don’t shy away from humor, and focus on making your messaging instantly accessible and simple. Ever looked at Pinterest? It’s just a wall of photos, but to the millennial women, it’s a wall of ideas, conversations, and opportunities to do something amazing. Consider this: 58% look to Pinterest or Instagram for inspiration for everything from meals to makeup to home décor. Most of all, these women are “social shoppers,” social media users who value the opinions of their social media peers more than anonymous reviews or snappy slogans.

Cause-related marketing also works with millennial women, as long as you take care to ensure that your cause means something. They’re quick to spot practices like “pink-washing” (that is, coloring a product pink for breast cancer awareness month but not actually providing any meaningful support for the cause), so choose your charities wisely and remember that transparency is key! When you commit to a cause, it should embrace your entire company. For example, consider TOMS Shoes. Their message is clear, simple, cause-driven, and instantly accessible: for every pair of TOMS Shoes you buy, they will donate a pair to a child in need. This clear, concise message, coupled with transparency and accountability, has made the company absolutely huge with millennial women. To date, they have provided shoes to over 10 million children.

So let me ask you again, luxury car dealers: do you know your audience? Are you shifting your practices away from the older executives and widows to encompass the generation of Pinterest projects and Tumblr blogs? If you’re not approaching your marketing plans with the goal of making instant accessibility the core of your brand, then you could be missing out on the number one buying segment of luxury vehicles today.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/08/marketing-to-the-meme-generation-surprising-facts-about-selling-luxury-vehicles-to-women/

$teve Emery

Are You Really Managing Your Used Cars?

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For most dealers, the used car department is the biggest opportunity for increasing profitability. Unlike new cars, a dealer can stock any used car they choose. Most volume and gross issues are directly related to those choices and how the inventory is managed through final sale. No doubt, there is an “art” to managing used cars, and dealers who are getting the best results have added some “science” to it. This enables them to be proactive vs. reactive in managing their inventory.

What is the best Inventory for you to stock?

Do you know what have been fast-turning cars at your store? There are a variety of software tools that can look at your sales history and identify these for you. Any retailer knows this, down to the color, options, price point, etc. Once you know what these cars are, you can develop a core inventory. These are the cars that you want to make up the bulk of your inventory. They probably aren’t the ones you are currently buying by the truckload from the factory auction, so the majority of your inventory could be in slower-turning units, reducing volume and gross. Is your buyer guessing or knowing with your 7-figure checkbook? Proactive dealers use their core inventory as a shopping list for their buyers and track what percent of those units make up their current stock (goal 80%).

What are the best sources for these units?

Core inventory tends not to be auction program cars. Proactive dealers use these methods to increase their percent of core inventory:

  • Check the back door. Are you currently wholesaling core inventory?
  • These units come to you every day; just look at the Service drive! Many dealers spiff Service Advisors for letting them know core inventory is in for Service today. Managers do an appraisal and contact the customer.
  • Use direct mail to target current customers who drive core inventory. Invite them in for a special sale or service offer.
  • Who has the bigger house, you or your wholesaler? Develop a network of other dealerships you will buy from. Their non-core inventory could be your core inventory.

How can you improve recon time, cost and quality?

It makes no sense to buy great cars just to have them take forever in recon and come out in less-than-saleable condition. To proactively manage recon, many dealers have incorporated these processes:

  • When buying a car, fill out a 2-part recon pre-approval sheet. Check off what you already know the unit needs and set a dollar limit so Service isn’t held up waiting for approval. Place a copy in a dated folder 3-5 days out; review the folder every day looking for cars bottlenecked in the recon process.
  • Have ready cars pulled up to the front. Compare the approved recon with the actual RO for cost. Have someone in Sales test drive the car to ensure it’s in saleable condition. If the cost and quality are right, then close the RO.

How can we do a better job managing aging inventory and wholesale?

We all know that grosses tend to decline with the age of the car. Do you proactively manage units as they age to increase their chances for retail sale and avoid wholesale loss? When is a unit considered “old” to you? If 60 days is your turn policy, when do you take a look at the car? Answer: typically 45 days. Numerous studies have shown the highest gross peaking at 21 days. Proactive dealers are looking at aging units at 21, 42, and 63 days:

  • At 21 days, check the car for defects, re-clean, and park in the “hot spot.” Consider identifying the car as a “manager’s special,” spiffing it, reducing price, wholesaling it.
  • At 42 days, can we wholesale the car now? Put it on eBay? Trade with another dealer? Park in a “clearance zone” on the lot?
  • At 63 days, take it to the best place for wholesale. Depending on the unit, this may be a wholesaler, another dealer, or as a last option, auction.

None of these techniques are expensive to implement, especially when compared to what you may be losing in units, gross, and wholesale. Proactive dealers are managing their core inventory, taking their used car department to the next level of profitability.

For questions, reach out to $teve at 913-645-2915 or semery@ncm20.com.

UV Training

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/07/are-you-really-managing-your-used-cars/

Laura Madison

A Personal Brand: Why Automotive Salespeople Should Go For It

Personal Brand

A personal brand is an incredibly powerful tool for salespeople to increase visibility with prospective clients and increase sales, so why aren’t more salespeople taking action? Perhaps because automotive salespeople do not realize how creating and maximizing a personal brand can solve two important challenges they face. Here are two problems having a strong personal brand can solve:

Challenge #1 – Leads

A common complaint among car salespeople is there are too few leads to keep them busy. A number of factors can be blamed for this complaint; slow phone traffic, a quiet season, or minimal walk-in showroom traffic.

How a personal brand can solve this challenge:

A personal brand is an opportunity for salespeople to come out of obscurity. Salespeople can use social media sites like Facebook and YouTube to promote themselves and their role selling cars to begin to gain local visibility. Participating on social platforms allows salespeople to connect with prospective customers and ultimately motivate them through the front door. Social media is also a phenomenal way for salespeople to build and maintain relationships with previous customers, so they’ll never forget who to refer and work with on the next purchase.

Challenge #2 – Differentiation

Differentiation may be the largest problem a salesperson faces. Whether the challenge is an inability to differentiate their Toyota store from the one down the street, or the Toyota Camry from the Honda, or differentiate themselves from other salespeople on staff, differentiation is an enormous salesman struggle.

How a personal brand can solve this challenge:

By creating and using a personal brand salespeople are building value in themselves. They are introducing themselves to prospective buyers and utilizing a platform to speak with customers genuinely, on a human-to-human level. An opportunity for an automotive salesperson to speak with prospects about what differentiates himself, his store, and the product is invaluable.

A personal brand puts a salesperson’s face in front of a prospect and begins building trust and relationship. By the time that customer comes into the dealership, he will know how to ask for and recognize his automotive professional and online connection. Creating a quick video, for example, to follow up an incoming internet lead can be an extremely powerful differentiator. If the customer submitted leads to five stores, the salesperson maximizing personal branding will likely be the only who has used something like video to communicate, and begin to build trust with, this customer. Building this type of value can not only earn a sale, but also make a customer fiercely loyal in the future.

In summary, a personal brand can help salespeople create a pipeline outside the walls of the dealership and build value in themselves, their dealership, and their product. That should be enough motivation to begin encouraging salespeople to create a strong personal brand on social media, so get to it!

UV Training

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/07/a-personal-brand-why-automotive-salespeople-should-go-for-it/

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