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Kevin Baumgart

Tech Enabled Dealerships Need Tech-Savvy Employees

Young Woman on Phone

What do Millennials and technology mean for the future of your auto dealership? The truth of the matter is that you’re going to need both if you want to remain competitive in today’s industry.

The Impact of Technology on Auto Dealerships

One of the biggest changes that is forcing dealerships to shift the way they sell cars is customer behavior. According to an article from Fortune magazine, customers now make fewer than two visits (1.9 to be exact) to a dealership before making a purchase.

Online shopping is the main culprit. Because of the free flow of information on the Web, car buyers are more inclined to research their auto purchases at home or on the go using their computers and mobile devices. They’re no longer so dependent on salespeople for information about specific cars. As a result, some auto dealerships are equipping their sales team with greater technology, like tablets, to facilitate customer interactions and close deals in the showroom.

Unfortunately, you can’t just arm your sales team with tablets and expect them to be effective at selling in a new way. This is a significant shift, and your employee base has to be comfortable with approaching the customer and engaging them with a piece of technology. Most Dealers are targeting Millennials to work on the sales floor for this reason alone.

There are many benefits to having technology on the floor accompanied by tech-savvy employees:

  • It gives the sales team instant access to information when customers have questions to which they may not know the immediate answer
  • It initiates the sale on the floor instead of having to wait until customers are in the back office
  • It helps build early credibility and trust if your customer sees the employee as a reliable source
  • It will improve the level of professionalism and drive positive impressions of the store

Providing a mix of access to this type of technology and tech-savvy employees is one way that auto dealerships can remain competitive.

Millennials are a Perfect Fit for Technology Enabled Dealerships

While the common stereotype you see of Millennials is a group of people who constantly have their smartphones at the ready or are scrolling through their preferred social media feeds, this generation is exceptionally adept at technology. They were born into an era of innovation that made digital technology one of the primary ways people experience the world.

As a result, the generation has been groomed to reach for technology—mobile devices in particular—when searching for the answers to questions. According to the Society of Human Resource Management, Millennials are highly collaborative and make research-driven decisions.

What’s more, according to a recent study from PricewaterhouseCoopers, 78 percent of Millennials believe that access to technology makes them more effective in their roles at work (Link to the study; pdf warning.) Thus, the technology your auto dealership implements is a major contributing factor when Millennials are considering employers. In fact, 6 in 10 Millennials say the quality of technology a business has was important during recruitment.

However, it’s increasingly likely that Millennials will utilize their personal technology if the tools they have in the workplace limit them. Meanwhile, employers are also creating or updating their IT policies to adapt to Millennials’ technology needs—for instance, providing smartphones as an employee benefit.

Technology and Millennials go hand in hand, especially at your dealership. Whether it’s informed consumers arriving at your dealership with buying research saved on their smart devices or tech-savvy employees who understand your customers, technology surrounds this generation and is paramount to delivering a positive buying experience.

What steps have you taken to attract Millennials to your dealership? Have they worked?

Special thanks to our partners at Hireology for their insights on recruiting Millennials for the automotive workplace.

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NCM Associates

#AskNCM: How can I get the most from my CRM?

In most dealerships, the CRM tool is a mystery. In fact, most CRM tool vendors report that clients regularly use less than 20% of the available tools and reports!

NCM expert, Rick Wegley, tells you his tips for getting the most from your expensive CRM system. The first step is figuring out the questions to ask your vendor, so you get the training to access the functions you need.

Are you facing challenges with your CRM? Tell us below. Want to #AskNCM a question? Leave a comment, and we’ll answer it!

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Jessica Kain

BDC Bad Habits: Automation & Templates

Old Habits - New Habits signpost in a desert road background

I am lucky enough to spend each week traveling across the United States helping dealers improve their internet operation and, therefore, their overall success.

Prior to each of my visits, I analyze the current processes and communication tactics leveraged by each dealership. After years of review, I’ve discovered an eye-opening truth: Unfortunately, no matter the market, unique background or size of the store, they all seem to share the same bad habits!

Over the next few months, I’m going to review these “BDC Bad Habits.” Keep an eye on the NCM blog to learn what common BDC tactics you should avoid—and why you should replace them—to improve your internet sales department!

Automation is great, but it can’t succeed on its own

Automation and templates can be great tools for small businesses. In fact, they’ve been so successful for the automotive industry, that we’ve become extremely dependent on them.

So, what’s the problem? Well, this trend becomes a bad habit when you pair it with the automotive industry’s rarely changing processes. Unless your templates and automated marketing address current customer needs and pain points, it’s not going to help you close sales. And, if your messaging is too far off the mark, it can be a recipe for low close rates, ROI and morale.

Four steps to fix the automation BDC bad habit

Knowing how to repair the automation problem can sometimes be the most confusing part. Here’s what I recommend: We are going into the summer selling season, which means this is the perfect time to do some spring-cleaning!

First, go through your CRM. Clean out any old templates that are not engaging and have reached their expiration date.

Next, replace your first two days of customer follow-up with personalized responses. Personalization is key to standing out from your competition that is sending template after template to fill a follow-up task. The only way to convince someone to come into the store and buy a car is to get a response, so make it a good one.

Personal sounds easier than it really is, so make sure your team is equipped to do a good job. Here are some great examples from Hubspot to get you started.

Third: call. I continue to see that we have an overwhelming bad habit of not calling the customer and this can play to be extremely dangerous. According to a BIA/Kelsey study, mobile searches will generate 73 billion phone calls in 2018; so phones clearly aren’t dead! In fact, I’d argue that our customers are tired of waiting for us to answer their questions, so they are reaching out directly now. We have to make sure that we are prepared to pick up the phone when that lead hits our system and have a productive conversation with our customer.

Lastly, bring your procedures out of the Dark Ages. If you are not using a proven BDC process, start right now. Every method should be based on 100% task completion but also 100% quality. And you must ensure that your team knows that the process is the connection plan.

Need help breaking your BDC bad habits? Join Jessica Kain for her NCM Institute class, Mastering Internet Sales, for even more insights on how you can improve your dealership’s BDC processes and lead generation.

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Jody DeVere

Now it is a must. How Can We Do A Better Job Retaining Women In Sales?

woman in front of cars

Dealerships currently report that women represent just 25% of face-to-face positions. But that small number is powerful: Within four months of reaching that percentage, dealerships typically experience as much as 35% gain in overall vehicle sales, new and used, and a substantially increased used car turnover. 

Less numbers driven, but just as importantly, those dealerships also see an increase in desirable employee statements regarding company loyalty and goals toward longevity. How did they do it? Simple. They brought women into their sales, service, and management positions AND found ways of retaining them.

It’s simple: Attracting women yields high results

Considering that 85% of all automotive purchases are either directly made by women buyers or directly influenced by them, if we are not responding to this statistic, then our dealerships are missing the boat. Totally.

ROI is a key driver in how we consider the physical programs and offerings we put forth to the consumer in our efforts to entice them to visit our facilities. We do recognize that internet information access has affected profit margins, margins that were inflated by consumer ignorance as to how much flexibility in costs existed. 

The fact is that we just cannot make the margins we used to, and have to find ways of addressing our concerns as survival efforts. Playing the numbers game of total sales for a month will eventually be passed with the money lost in potential profits. The bottom line is that we must place our investment monies into areas of concentration that will bring us returns that will not only keep us in business but by their very nature helps us grow in our financial viability, viability that is attractive to women that may be considering this industry as a workplace.

Roadblocks to attracting women 

Here are some reasons why we are not attracting women at this point:

  1. Traditional resistance. Many organizations still are thematically male-dominant and have programs in place that do not have interest to the new women-driven market. “What was good for my dad is good enough for me” is the motto above the entrance of many empty and abandoned dealerships.
  2. Reluctance to trying new programs. Management and owners may not have the desire or courage to try new programs. Or they may be lazy.
  3. Equitable pay and work programs. Considerations for family needs and even part or adjusted time participations. Traditional long hour work periods do not work.
  4. Knowledge and expertise.  Existing dealership management may simply not have either or both of these to design and implement marketing to attract and hire women, or initialize training and financial or equitable incentive programs to make this happen.
  5. Necessary minimal monetary investments. Many management personnel simply may not want to make these investments.
  6. Difficult economy conditions.”  Many organizations lean on this often-perceived statement as an excuse. This is not an excuse.
  7. Negative reputation. Previous poor treatment and lack of respect. The dealerships experience has left a bad taste in many women’s mouths. Women are still greeted on the sales lot with detestable statements such as, “Is your husband with you today?”  With such disrespect, it’s not surprising that women don’t consider dealership work as a viable option.
  8. Failure to address the needs of the women Millennials. Times are different. Women in this largest group of consumers want to be in organizations that “feel good” to their basic drives, other than just to climb through positions or achieve high income solely. They want to have better communication with their administrators and are most often prefer working “with” them, as opposed to “for” them.

So, how do we fix this, and not only bring talented women into our organizations but keep them there as well?

With sales consultant turnover figures ranging from 72% to 80%, the highest turnover rate  is women at a shocking 90%. Turnover among Millennials is presently at 54%. It is obvious we are doing a lot of things wrong.

Here are some realistic solutions to retain women

  1. Get off our butts and try new methods. Explore new technology. Employ marketing specialists comfortable with womens’ needs. Eliminate procedures that we have utilized just because we have always done so.
  2. Re-examine possible positions that can effectively interest and challenge women.  Conduct non-traditional interviews that ask what these interests might be.
  3. Re-evaluate compensation incentives and adjust them.  Consider not just the primary needs of full and part-time women, but their family and personal needs as well.
  4. Take a new look at our models. We must address the elimination of restrictive traditional procedures we may have in place.
  5. Encourage our educational systems to step up to the plate, and support local and regional programs.  We need realistic training at design, management, service, finance, and especially sales: This must happen at ALL levels of the industry.

Today’s women are time-constrained, pragmatic, comfort-conscious, and heavy into efficient and consistent communication with their employers. They are extremely effective at communicating within their own social groups and pay little attention to advertising. They are direct with their customers, and women are especially effective at establishing a meaningful rapport that translates into return business transactions built upon trust.

If we wish to survive, let alone prosper, we cannot wait any longer. Let’s do everything we can to attract these valuable women employees, and provide them with the incentives to keep them with us.

The time is now, not tomorrow.


Statistics in this article derived from the 2015 NADA Dealership Workforce Study.

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NCM Associates

#AskNCM: What are the benefits of express service?

Is express service worth it? Fixed ops expert Steve Hall sums it up in one word: Yes.

If you aren’t giving customers a reason to come back, you’re just handing them over to the aftermarket places. Not only does express improve retention, Steve explains, but it can give your shop other valuable benefits.

Find out why Steve Hall says you need an express service:

Do you offer express service? Tell us below how it has impacted your customer retention! Want to #AskNCM a question? Leave a comment below, and we’ll answer it!

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NCM Associates

#askNCM: Why should I market a vehicle before reconditioning?

Marketing and detailing vehicles for resale are primary processes for any successful used vehicle department. But how should you time these activities?

The answer comes down to marketing. If you wait out the reconditioning cycle time, Robin Cunningham warns, you’ll slow down the sales process … and reduce your profits!

How do you time your reconditioning and marketing activities? Tell us below! Want to #AskNCM a question? Leave a comment below, and we’ll answer it!

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Kory Suppes

NADA Recap: Bringing Innovation to Vegas

NCM Associates had a fantastic time in Las Vegas last week. As a member of NCM’s marketing team, I flew into the convention early and had a chance to explore. I wanted to share my photos with you.

Continuing our Tradition of Innovation


This is a photo of our booth’s construction, taken a few days before NADA started. I flew into Vegas on Monday morning to supervise the arrival of all our materials—culminating months of planning!

A few days later, other team members from our home office in Kansas City arrived on site to make sure every bit of the 1200 sq. ft. structure was perfect; our largest booth ever! It was quite a job, but well worth the work to give you a chance to learn about the exciting new products NCM is bringing to market.


This year, in between the acrobatic madness storming through the aisles, booth attendees experienced sessions led by the NCM partners responsible for creating some of the most innovative software in the industry.

Above, Intelligent Dealer’s Frank Sheets answers questions about our newest product, NCM LiveAudit®. Next to him, NCM’s Director of Software Solutions Steven Banks listens intently.

Partnering with Ultimaker


Demos included latest products and services, such as axcessa and LiveAudit. NCM experts were also on hand to share the best practices of our most profitable clients.

With more than thirty demos scheduled, attendees experienced firsthand some of the advancements NCM is spearheading for the industry. And, they also walked away with one of our inventive booth giveaways, a 3D-printed car or business card holder.

Did you get a chance to watch the printers in action? If not, here’s a quick video showing the process.

Breaking it down

I enjoyed my time at NADA. Even with all the buzz, I found time to listen to attendees’ great success stories and how they began their career in the auto industry.

It’s thrilling to attend the go-to event for everyone in the auto industry. The three-day event featuring booths bigger than they have ever been, jumbo LED screens and more tchotchkes for your kids than could fit in your carryon. (Or, for yourself: no judgement here.) What’s not to love?


A big “Thank you!” to everyone who attended and stopped by our booth. We look forward to seeing everyone in New Orleans next January 26-29.

If you didn’t find the time to stop by our booth during the hustle and bustle of the convention and would like to learn more about NCM, drop us a line at or visit


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Dustin Kerr

Watch Out For Tax Season Temptations

Car taxes  design

It’s that time again. Right now, buy-here, pay-here dealers are in their busiest time of the year: tax season.

Although most dealers will tell you that tax season is not nearly as crazy as it used to be, there’s no denying that it’s still a major event in our business. BHPH dealers are likely to sell more cars—and collect more cash—in the next couple of months than any other month for the rest of the year.

Tax season means buyers, but what kind?

Sadly, it’s not all good news. It’s during tax season that we put our worst performing paper on the books. Flush with income tax returns, people walk into our dealerships with $1,000, $2,500, maybe even $4,000 or more down. And, just as giddy as our buyers, we completely forget about our underwriting guidelines and the fact that we are still going to have to collect on this account for the next two to three years.

Now, some dealers simply don’t care how well the paper performs. They feel that the cash down overshadows the risk of bad underwriting. And, many argue, they will just get the car back quickly if the customer defaults.

Now, I don’t entirely disagree with this philosophy. There is a certain point where the amount of cash down mitigates the risk involved. However, I always tell my consulting clients that there’s a way to do both—get the large cash down payments and properly underwrite each loan to ensure the highest probability of success.

And that approach, I think, is better.


Don’t lower your standards

The first thing we need to do? Slooowwww dooowwnnn! Hey, I get it. This time of year is very hectic, not only with sales but also with collections. It’s very likely we have more people in our lobby right now than any other time of the year.

When things start to get a little crazy, though, usually the first thing to suffer is attention to detail. Go back and look at the applications that were collected during tax season the last couple of years and compare them to applications collected during the rest of the year. If yours is like most dealerships, you’ll see a significant difference in the quality of information collected.

You need to discuss this situation with your staff ahead of time. Make it very clear that incomplete applications will not be accepted. (And, I mean be stern about it: It’s non-negotiable!)

Remember, you have to collect on this account for the next few years. A quality application is the first step to making sure you can do that.

The next thing I usually see that sets us up for failure is a complete disregard for payment to- income percentages. We all know by now, or should know by now, that accounts with payments greater than 25 percent of net income perform at a much worse rate than those with payments below 25 percent net income.

I’ve found that dealers and managers forget this rule when a large down payment is made. The attitude seems to be, “If they have skin in the game, they’ll make all the payments.”

Sad news, friends, but this just simply isn’t the case with most customers.


Don’t forget that tax money is free money

Here’s an important lesson I’ve learned after reviewing hundreds of thousands of loans over the years: The down payment amount has very little to do with how well a loan performs.

As far as our customers are concerned, that sizeable tax return is just free money. This sudden windfall isn’t a result of careful budgeting or pinching pennies for a down payment. No, it’s a bonus with very little emotional attachment.

Don’t compromise your payment to income standards just because the customer has a big down payment. Remember, all that tax money will be spent very soon, and they will only have their weekly paycheck available to make their car payment.


Don’t forget the delivery and closing process

Another area I see slip during tax season is the closing process. I consider the application and closing to be the most important aspect of the collections process. And, if you’ve ever read my articles, watched my BHPH Tip of Month video segments, or attended one of my training or consulting sessions through NCM, you know that I firmly believe that an improperly closed loan is a charge off waiting to happen!

In this busy time of year, it may seem like a simple solution to ask our commissioned sales team to close the loan instead of a manager or a collector. Sure, it might speed up the process, but the whole point of having a manager or collector close the loan is to double check and ensure that the salesperson hasn’t missed or skipped an item because they were afraid of losing a deal.

Don’t do be tempted to “streamline” the close; you’ll just pay for it later. Keep your processes intact, and have a dedicated person or team well-trained in the closing procedure review every application. And never let them veer off track just because you are busy.


Make the most out of tax season

I know how exciting this time of year is, but you can’t afford to be burned. Remember, these could be the worst-performing deals you make all year.

Make sure you have a great application process in place, follow your payment-to-income guidelines and don’t short-cut your closing procedures. If you do these three things, you can enjoy the cash windfall of February and March without the headaches that come in July and August.

Article originally published in the January/February 2016 issue of the BHPH Report. Be sure to check out the full issue!


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NCM Associates

NCM in Vegas – Sneak Peek!

We can’t wait to see you in Vegas this weekend! NCM Associates is located in Booth #3013C. Enjoy a free mini-class with our fixed and variable ops experts. And be sure to preview of our newest software solution, NCM LiveAudit®.

What else can you expect from NCM this weekend? Paul Faletti, our CEO and president, fills in the rest:

Don’t forget to enter to win a FREE DJI Phantom 3 Advance Drone! Just drop your business card, get your badge scanned or fill out a form when visiting NCM at #3013C. See booth for giveaway details.

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NCM Institute

#AskNCM: What’s the connection between low gross profits and aged inventory?

NCM expert, Robin Cunningham, explains the connection between reduced profits and aged inventory and how above-market used vehicle pricing leads to invisibility online.

Internet pricing isn’t a race to the bottom, Robin says, but a tool to help you move inventory faster. See how: 

Can you sell a used vehicle in fewer than 30 days? Discover more solutions for aged used vehicle inventory issues.

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