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Adam Robinson

Should Your Dealership Host a Career Fair?

Networking

Dealerships need bright and eager employees to fill their fixed operations and sales departments. Hosting a career fair at your dealership is a great way to find the right candidates and an opportunity to let them know about the benefits of working for you. While you may think career fairs are an anachronism, these events can deliver fantastic results—for example, AutoNation successfully held over 15 annual job fairs in cities across the country in 2016.

AutoNation was not alone in this endeavor. Hoehn Motors, an Audi dealership in Temecula, Calif., along with Charlie Clark Nissan in El Paso, Texas, conducted career fairs of their own in the last couple months. Each of these dealerships reported results that met or exceeded their expectations.

Dealerships must focus on ways to better attract millennials. The current pool of potential employees is largely made up of this incoming generation, who range in age from 18 to 34 years old. Fewer members of Generation X, who are between the ages of 35 and 54 years old, are seeking jobs at dealerships, and those in the Baby Boomer generation are beginning to retire.

In 2015, the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that employers attended an average of 31 career fairs. The youngest millennials are still currently college students, and they frequently show up to career fairs held at their campuses just to see what options are out there.

A career fair has two benefits: First, it allows your dealership to meet several potential job candidates in a short amount of time. Second, it gives candidates an inside look at how your dealership operates and the overall culture of the workplace. Sales managers, service managers, and other high-ranking employees can speak candidly with attendees about all aspects of their respective jobs, make a lasting impression, and collect resumes. The purpose is to inform job seekers about the careers and the positions available at your dealership and how they can fit into the broader picture.

Career Fairs Still Matter

Job seekers attend career fairs because they’re useful for plotting a career path. It’s possible your fair attendees are just there to find out about dealership culture and if it aligns with their current ideals and lifestyle goals; this is your chance to engage potential candidates and let them know about the day-to-day operations and responsibilities they would have to take on.

Career fairs are also networking magnets. People show up not only to meet with potential employers but also to network with each other. This networking creates a dynamic atmosphere where candidates and employees are mixing and building rapport. Relationships can pay dividends when an applicant is deciding whether or not to apply somewhere.

How to Prepare for Hosting a Career Fair

Much of the advice for job seekers attending career fairs applies to the hosts as well.

  • Be ready to introduce yourself: Have a concise statement ready about your dealership and the opportunities available. It’s likely that the job seeker is looking for work at other companies, including dealerships, so make sure you put your best foot forward.
  • Always maintain your enthusiasm: Make that job seeker feel like you want them there. Be warm, conversational, and engaging so that he or she feels comfortable.
  • Follow-up with the people you meet: After the conversation has ended, jot down a quick note about that person on their resume or business card so that you can recall them from the many faces you met at the career fair. If you’re interested in bringing that person in for an interview, they will feel a personal connection in your follow-up email or phone call.

Plan Your Career Fair

Your career fair will require some planning that will include a budget for venue space, marketing, printed materials, food, and more. You will also need to determine who from the dealership will attend the fair and whether job seeker registration is required.

Should your dealership host a career fair?  Yes—but you need to plan properly if you’re going to achieve success. If you want to try a career fair on for size, attend one at a local college or chamber of commerce where other companies also have booths set up. Study how the process works and see if you are interested in holding one of your own. Once you create an atmosphere for job seekers to come to you, then you can sit back and watch the applicants stack up.

Thanks to NCM Associates’ partner, Hireology, for sharing their guidance on attracting and managing millennial employees. Learn more about Hireology and join NCM’s experts for more actionable advice on hiring the best people for your team in our Hiring Top Talent and Success-Driven Pay Plans classes.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2017/03/should-your-dealership-host-a-career-fair/

NCM Associates

#AskNCM: Are all dealerships losing employees over working hours?

How many hours do your employees work on average? Is it too much? Too little? Are they even working while they’re at work? Expert Robin Cunningham shares his observations about the ways successful dealerships are scheduling their employees.

Have another question for Robin or the other #AskNCM experts? Leave it in a comment below!

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2017/03/askncm-how-can-i-retain-more-service-customers-2/

Emily Johnson

To Fax or Not to Fax?

Fax vs Bike

After four years’ experience as an NCM client services and meeting coordinator, I’ve become a strong advocate of “out with the old, in with the new.” While I don’t consider myself a millennial, I am firmly planted somewhere between the generations currently active in the workforce. This position allows me to appreciate the ways of my predecessors, while also eagerly staying on the lookout for new and exciting improvements to technology, business practices, and social strategies.

It then comes as no surprise that I have some opinions about the fax machine and the role it plays in the modern workplace. And here’s my position: If you haven’t already, now is a good time to begin phasing out your company fax machine.

Lost in translation

Coordinators request specific information from clients for their 20 Group meetings, and that information frequently gets lost in translation when the fax is utilized, simply because of the technology.

The biggest issue is that faxed documents are usually handwritten in some capacity. Once these documents pass through dated machinery, over phone lines, and print out on the other side, they often end up a blurry, illegible mess. As a result, clients spend valuable time corresponding with coordinators to confirm faxed data, something that could have been avoided by using a typed, legible email.

The story of Joe

One coordinator—let’s call her Megan—shared a story with me about a client—we’ll call him Joe—whose meeting was derailed because of the fax machine. (Just to be clear, I’ve changed the names to protect the innocent!)

Joe thought he had faxed his 20 Group meeting registration form to Megan but had instead “faxed” it to Megan’s phone number. Megan hadn’t even included a fax number on the meeting registration form! Joe received a reminder email from Megan and didn’t see his name on the meeting attendance roster. He immediately called Megan and was very upset because he had faxed his forms, but wasn’t on the list. He thought he had done what he needed to do, but Megan had no idea Joe was even planning on attending the meeting.

To make matters worse, Joe had to book a room at a nearby hotel, not the hotel where the meeting was held. By the time Megan realized he needed a room, the hotel was completely sold out, and the group’s block of hotel rooms was full. This cost Joe valuable time and additional money, all because a fax was sent but never received.

Need for speed

NCM gets its faxes on a machine that integrates faxing, printing, and copying. So, how does this affect our ability to get your faxes? When you send a fax, it gets mixed in with all the other materials in this machine’s output tray. It’s not unusual for faxes to be temporarily misplaced, and it’s common that a fax never reaches the coordinator.

If a coordinator knows about a fax, she can go searching for it, but if she doesn’t, it could be a while before she receives the fax in hand (or never receives it, like Megan). In comparison, an email arrives in the coordinator’s inbox in an instant, and she can respond immediately. The speed of delivery is increased dramatically. Even if you choose not to switch to a scanned document or PDF file, I highly recommend that you at least email your coordinator every time you send a fax so she can watch for it.

Be sure to look for emailed reservation forms and other documents from your coordinator. Scan and email those forms back to NCM, or fax them (to a verified fax number–don’t be like Joe) and immediately call your coordinator to let her know to watch for it. If your document includes sensitive information, like a credit card number, go ahead and call NCM to give it to us over the phone. Or, for a safer email option, check out this free system for sending secure emails that’s been hailed in Forbes as the most difficult to “hack.”

Overall, when you switch to email, your NCM coordinator will be able to help you faster, enter your data more accurately, and provide a better customer experience. And you won’t end up at La Quinta instead of the Four Seasons, taking an Uber to your meeting like Joe.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2017/03/to-fax-or-not-to-fax/

Brent Carmichael

BHPH Basics: Inventory Acquisition

Vehicles in Lot

One of the hottest topics in the Buy Here Pay Here (BHPH) world is—and has always been—inventory. Not only where to buy vehicles, but also what stock to select and where to find it. Like most other areas of the BHPH business, the most successful dealers are those who focus on the basics. I’m also a firm believer in the K.I.S.S. philosophy: Keep It Simple, Stupid. No need to over think, and thus, over complicate things.

Repeat customers

The first fundamental that successful dealers focus on is repeat business, aiming for 30 to 40 percent of their monthly sales from repeat customers. These people will be either low-balance customers who traded into a new vehicle or previously paid-out customers who have returned to purchase again. With this approach, a sizeable portion of the dealership’s monthly inventory needs could be satisfied with vehicles with known histories. Pretty valuable information to have!

Repossessions

Recycling of repossessions is the next basic. With repossessions, you have the ability and time to check out the vehicle completely to determine its reconditioning need. You also have some historical information for it. Some of my dealer clients are recycling 60 percent of their repossessions each month, on average, to put back out on the lot for sale. The only negative seems to be that the recycled vehicles tend to have a higher reconditioning cost. They may need a little more love to get lot-ready but, overall, this tactic is more cost effective than purchasing at auction.

Auctions

Speaking of auctions, they are an essential you should not overlook. It is true that there are not as many vehicles going across the block these days, but it is still an effective source. One positive to the downturn in vehicle volumes at auction is that auctions must compete for dealer business. Some sales even waive buy or post-sale inspection fees! There is no better time to expand your horizons, so check out as many auctions as travel and expense will allow.

When shopping for new or additional auction sources, don’t limit your choice to just the large national sales. Independent auctions are becoming very aggressive, going after dealer business as well. I may be a little old-fashioned, but I’ve always preferred the independent auction because they seem to provide better service and a better overall buying and selling experience.

Digital options

I also recommend utilizing the internet in your search for an auction pot o’ gold. Most auctions, national and independent, post most—if not all—of their upcoming sale vehicles online with such tools as Smart Auction, Open Lane/Adesa, or OVE. Not only can you use these systems to purchase vehicles, but dealers can also use these resources to research upcoming sales and plan their next visits. You might just stumble on an auction you weren’t even aware existed.

Dealer trades

A final basic in the K.I.S.S. approach to inventory acquisition is dealer trades. New car sales are at an all-time high, so dealers should have a few trades lying around. No, it won’t fill your overall need due to those who are holding on to their trades waiting for the super aggressive subprime market; but, you can still fill a partial need with this buying tactic.

I think the key here is personal contact with the dealer. You aren’t going to get anywhere by just calling the dealer asking what they have! Instead, take the time to visit the dealers … and develop a mutually beneficial relationship for the long run.

Not so basic: private sellers

Not necessarily a basic, but a stone that should not go unturned, would be the private seller. Craigslist, eBay, newspapers, and auto magazines are all sources to find vehicles. I’m not going to lie: I used to turn my nose up at this tactic, feeling it wasn’t worth my time or effort. But with today’s economic challenges, there are sellers out there who need the money to get by and are far more reasonable in their expectations. Will it fill the lot? No, but it could fill part of it, and that is what counts.

When it comes to BHPH inventory acquisition, I think it comes down to two very simple questions: How much do you have in the bank account? And how much of that are you willing to spend? Finding the right inventory for the right price is still possible. Just focus on the basics, and soon you’ll be working smarter, not harder, to fill your lot.

Learn about NCM’s 20 Group and consulting options for your BHPH dealership. And don’t forget to check out our BHPH training options.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2017/03/bhph-basics-inventory-acquisition/

NCM Associates

#AskNCM: How often are NCM KPIs updated?

Ever wonder what goes into the critical NCM® metrics you use in your dealership? Expert Rick Wegley explains the differences between NCM Benchmark® data and best practice guides and tells you how we create them.

Learn how to leverage your NCM numbers.

Have another question for Rick or the other #AskNCM experts? Leave a comment below!

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2017/03/askncm-how-often-are-ncm-kpis-updated/

Chip Maher

Has Your Customer-Pay Service Business Grown? It Should Have!

Service with Customer

The U.S. automotive industry has grown substantially since the beginning of 2010 when the annualized sales rate bottomed out at a low of 10.5 million units from the previous high of 17.3 in 2000. Since then, it has steadily grown to almost 18 million units.

This increase in units in operation (UIO) begs the question: Has your dealership’s service department—specifically the customer-pay labor category—grown in proportion to the opportunities that are now available in the market? Although most dealerships have realized growth in the service department, as we drill down, it becomes apparent that some of that growth has come at the expense of the customer-pay labor category.

Evaluate service performance by category

The first thing to look at is your entire service department performance. Your next step is to look at the different labor categories that make up the total service department: customer-pay, warranty, internal, and express. Although many dealers have shown slow and steady growth in total labor sales, we are finding that most of this increase has been driven by the internal, warranty, and express categories. Many times, it has been at the expense—and to the detriment—of the customer-pay category.

What has prevented dealerships from growing their customer-pay business and why is this category necessary? Two things may be contributing to this: the first is the growth of the other labor types mentioned, and the second is limited shop capacity.

Understand the relationships between labor types

The increase in warranty, internal, and express business has taken a larger percentage of the total available hours, and therefore, reduced the number of hours typically available to book for customer-pay business. While some dealers have been effective at identifying this pattern and have added capacity to accommodate this need, many dealers haven’t realized the impact growth in these labor categories have had on their customer-pay sales and growth opportunities.

Once you understand the relationship between the types of labor rates, you can then maintain sufficient shop hours and capacity to handle the customer-pay business growth.

Warranty labor

Let’s consider a warranty repair for a high-line franchise. The repair takes 12 hours; if the average customer-pay repair order is 2.5 labor hours, this warranty repair uses the normally available shop time for 4.8 customers. The result is less available time to schedule the all-important, profitable customer-pay category that is essential to the long-term health and profitability of your dealership. Warranty labor also impacts your customer retention performance (which most OEMs use to determine incentives), as these clients will find other shops to handle the repairs rather than wait.

Let’s go a step further and say that you schedule 10 of these repairs in a month. That’s a total of 120 hours of additional warranty work. At 2.5 hours per customer-pay repair order, that eliminates your ability to schedule and service 48 customers.

Internal labor

As dealers are pushing to grow the used-to-new ratio and keep more trade-ins to retail on their lot, their internal labor business has grown. But again, unless these shops add capacity, they are just shifting hours that were available for customer-pay to internal.

The emphasis on express business has also negatively impacted customer-pay growth. Some shops have committed as much as 30 percent of their capacity to accommodate express service. This is an incremental business that will increase retention and customer satisfaction index (CSI) in the long run. This approach is okay for a large shop with plenty of excess capacity. However, too often, we see a shop at full capacity, and they just shift stalls to express at the expense of the other labor categories, including customer-pay. In this instance, a customer can come in at any time and get a competitive oil change in 45 minutes, but if they call for a check engine light or brakes service, they may be scheduled for two or three days out. Ultimately, this shop runs the risk of losing this customer to another shop.

Best Practices to Protect Customer-Pay Profits

  • Consider offsite reconditioning centers. Not only are these very effective, but they also free up shop capacity by moving the work that does not necessarily need to be done on site to a separate facility. Used car reconditioning, new car pre-delivery inspection (PDI), and some warranty repairs can all be performed at these places. The benefits are substantial, as they can reduce pre-owned turnaround time and reconditioning costs, and increase the primary shop capacity that will be available for customer-pay business.
  • Include customer-pay hours and growth in pay plans. Remember that the warranty and internal business are a given, but it is the customer-pay business that is at risk. Customer-pay growth is a must to maintain retention and CSI; its inclusion in pay plans will incentivize your team to focus on customer-pay business.
  • Regularly monitor and manage your available shop hours by labor category. Ensure that the internal, warranty, and express hours have not blocked out substantial hours for customer-pay business. If they have, you need to extend your hours of operation or expand your capacity. Regardless of the shop scheduling tool your store uses, you must review the available hours by each labor category on a regular basis.

Take the time to evaluate your service labor type mix and see how it is impacting your customer-pay growth and profitability. If there’s an issue, try my suggestions above, discuss the problem at your next NCM 20 Group meeting, or have one of our consultants draft an improvement plan for you.

Learn more about Chip Maher and how he and his NCM colleagues can help your dealership through 20 Groups and in-dealership consulting.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2017/03/has-your-customer-pay-service-business-grown-it-should-have/

NCM Associates

#AskNCM: Why is New Vehicle F&I Such a Big Deal?

Why has new vehicle F&I become such a hot topic? “Fierce competition,” says NCM expert Robin Cunningham. As the market compresses, dealers cannot afford to miss the new car sale.

See how F&I impacts your dealership and discover how you can learn more about it.

Have another question for Robin or the other #AskNCM experts? Leave a comment below!

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2017/03/askncm-why-is-new-vehicle-fi-such-a-big-deal/

Alan Ram

You Lose 40% of Your Customers Each Month. Here’s How to Get Them Back.

Customer choosing to write satisfied face over unhappy face

I want to talk to you about the importance of having someone—in addition to your sales staff—following up with each and every unsold client. That’s right: not instead of, but in addition to! I would also encourage you to do it internally versus farming it out and having someone do it for you; I’ll get to why in a minute.

Who owns the sale: You or your salespeople?

So, I get it. Someone comes into your dealership, and you naturally expect the salesperson to follow up with that individual. Here’s one problem with that: Our data indicates that 39% of customers who visit a dealership won’t return to that dealership because they don’t like the salesperson.

Why don’t they like the salesperson? Could be anything: personality differences; they thought the rep was too tall, too short; maybe they smelled like smoke or made an inappropriate comment. Whatever the reason, the clients decided that they just don’t like the salesperson. But their dislike of your staff doesn’t mean you don’t want to sell them a car—of course, you do!

Personality fit matters.

Here’s the problem. Based on my experience with salespeople, if the salesperson wasn’t necessarily feeling the love with a particular client, they’re probably not going to make that big of an effort to get back in touch. Even if they do reach the client, that person will rarely tell the salesperson “We didn’t like you.” Instead, if the salesperson can, in fact, even reach them, they’ll say …

“We decided to hold off.”

“We’re not going to buy anything right now.”

“We already bought something.”

… even if they didn’t! They won’t tell the salesperson they didn’t like him or her, but they will tell someone else. That’s why I recommend having someone in addition to the salesperson following up each and every guest to your showroom.

How many sales have you lost?

Let’s do the math—

Say you get 600 floor ups per month. Of those, 300 either do buy or can’t buy for whatever reason right off the bat. That leaves you 300 be-back opportunities—or does it? If 39% of those 300 don’t like the salesperson, for whatever reason, he or she has zero chance of getting about 120 of those people back in.

Now let’s imagine a scenario when a well-trained client service specialist or BDC agent calls those clients. Of 120 clients, they should be able to get about 25-35% of them back in. That would be about 35 people showing back up at your dealership who would not have shown up otherwise. And you should have a much higher closing percentage on those 35 than you would on any regular be-back. Why? Because when they come back in, in many cases they buy out of spite. Thirty-five be-backs could very easily translate into 20 plus deals. Those are deals you would not have otherwise had.

The point is this: You have lost sales.

I’m sure that many people have found a new or pre-owned vehicle at your dealership but were turned off by the salesperson to the point where they said, “While I like the vehicle, I’m not buying anything from that guy!” That’s why it’s critical to have someone in addition to salespeople follow-up each and every customer. Many of you will tell me that your managers are the ones making these calls, and that’s great in theory, but not quite as good in reality. Most managers will make one attempt to get someone, leave a message, and then move on. I’ve found that a well-trained business development center representative or Client Service Specialist can be much more persistent and get just as good of results if trained properly. (Also, many times it’s a manager the client didn’t like.)

Train your staff to make the call.

I realize there are outside services that will make these calls for you. In many cases, they make a warm fuzzy call that identifies the objection and then rely on management to call these clients back. I always encourage dealerships to teach their BDC representatives and client service specialists how to handle the call from A to Z (Z being when the buyer shows up at your dealership).

There are fewer moving parts this way, and there tends to be much better communication with management when this role is handled internally. So get your staff ready to follow up on each and every unsold client to ensure that 39% of your possible deals aren’t being mishandled!

Check out in-person training options through NCM Associates, and discover our online platform, NCM OnDemandAlan Ram’s Management by Fire course offers additional tools for your dealership training needs.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2017/03/you-lose-40-of-your-customers-each-month-heres-how-to-get-them-back/

NCM Associates

#AskNCM: How Can I Retain More Service Customers?

You already know the basic steps to get customers back: appointment/phone call, write-up, end-bay process, and active delivery. But customer retention isn’t a simple linear process, explains Steve Hall. Don’t think of retention as something with a beginning and an end, but as a circle that—hopefully—never ends.

Discover Steve Hall’s customer retention cycle.

Have another question for Steve or the other #AskNCM experts? Leave a comment below!

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2017/02/askncm-how-can-i-retain-more-service-customers/

Adam Robinson

Dealership Culture: 3 Ways to Create a More Modern Workplace

business team winning a trophy

The need to foster a robust and positive company culture has gone from a “nice-to-have” to a “must-have” as millennials become the majority of the U.S. workforce. Retail automotive dealerships must evaluate their workforce culture to ensure they not only attract, but also retain, today’s most qualified talent.

By offering an environment that contains the benefits, flexibility, and career structure important to the millennial demographic, companies will create a better place to work and improve job satisfaction resulting in higher productivity and higher sales.

Shaping existing culture with a more modern approach is a growing trend implemented by some of the top dealerships today, and most others can easily follow suit.

Here are three ways to get started:

1. Involve the Leadership Team

Millennial employees are not interested in office politics and the traditional “rat race,” but rather want to be part of an energizing work environment where they feel like they matter. They want to feel like management is honest about what is expected to be accomplished by them and where they stand, at all times. Leaders should maintain transparency to prevent employees from feeling like they are being kept out of the loop because employees will quickly lose trust in management. Leaders should also consistently and concisely convey expectations and ensure that their vision is known and shared by all.

Employees want to get to know who their bosses are as real people, and there are many ways leaders can step out from behind their titles. For example, Audi Des Moines holds monthly barbeque lunches where employees have a chance to interact on a more personal level and cultivate relationships, as well as several sponsored events such as bowling nights and baseball or hockey games.

Today’s leaders are encouraged to facilitate an engaged team, promoting dialogue but not controlling the conversation. Employees should be allowed to show passion for their job, by being invited to step outside their traditional roles and explore other responsibilities within the company, trusting in their leaders along the way.

2. Provide Recognition and Resonate with Ideals

Studies show that out of the top perks employees appreciate from their workplace, half appreciate more employee recognition, a higher percentage than those who say they’d prefer cash incentives. A company providing substantial recognition and rewards to its staff will provide top talent with an incentive to stay and remain highly productive.

Companies must not only provide meaningful feedback to employees but should do so in a timely manner. Employees report a 20 percent increase in work satisfaction after receiving feedback. When feedback was delayed, however, it increased employee suspicion, making them nervous and less productive. Gone are the days when annual reviews were the bulk of management face-time, replaced by a constant stream of engagement.

Feedback can include non-financial incentives and personalized employee rewards. For example, Capitol Subaru of Salem recognizes an employee of the month from multiple departments, providing them with recognition at the company meeting, dinner certificates, a wall plaque, and entry into an Employee of the Year program for cash and other prizes. Not only does this make the employee feel appreciated in between periods of promotion, it strengthens the relationship between managers and employees—and studies show workers are loyal to their managers more than they are to the company.

Millennials want to work for a company that aligns with their values and ideals, and they appreciate a company who talks the talk and genuinely walks the walk. For example, if your dealership claims to support a local charity or organization, employees want to see how the company plans to make a difference in the space. Will they host a fundraiser, volunteer, or donate money? At Capitol Chevrolet-Cadillac of Salem, employees are provided with eight hours of paid time off to spend volunteering in the community. As part of Yark Subaru’s partnerships with local animal shelters, the company pays half the adoption fees for any animal adopted by an employee.

3. Employ a Casual Dress Code

When employees feel comfortable, they project those positive feelings onto customers. In the auto industry, a positive experience can help instill the confidence needed in potential buyers for what will be one of the biggest purchases of their lives. Allowing employees to dress casually on the sales floor is not only beneficial to their moods but also can help them be more productive. For example, if an employee must wear a suit and take customers outside in 90-degree days to show cars, the heat may cause them to show customers fewer cars than they would if they were comfortable enough to be outside for longer periods of time.

By taking into consideration the needs of today’s employees and altering the company environment in small but meaningful ways, employees will feel a deeper connection to your organization, resulting in increased loyalty and higher productivity.

Thanks to NCM Associates’ partner, Hireology, for sharing their guidance on managing millennial employees. Learn more about Hireology and join NCM’s experts for more actionable advice on hiring the best people for your team in our Hiring Top Talent and Success-Driven Pay Plans classes.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2017/02/dealership-culture-3-ways-to-create-a-more-modern-workplace/

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