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NCM Institute

#AskNCM: How Long Should It Take to Recondition a Vehicle?

Reconditioning used vehicles is a major priority for any pre-owned dealer. If the car isn’t on the lot, it can’t be sold. Therefore, every minute the vehicle is in the shop is possible lost revenue.

Steve Hall, an instructor at the NCM Institute, shares his top tips for reconditioning vehicles faster and more efficiently. See what Steve’s years of industry experience can teach us on this segment of #AskNCM.

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

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2017/07/askncm-how-long-should-it-take-to-recondition-a-vehicle/

George Gowen

Give the Big Dogs a Run for Their Money

NCM-CD-708

Advance, NAPA, O’Reilly, Auto Zone, and Carquest all have something in common—they are in the parts business. More than that, though, they sell 100 times more parts and make 100 times more money than franchise car dealerships that sell parts. These parts businesses do not have OEM support. They do not have a service department at their store out of which they sell parts. And, they do not have a continuously growing customer base to prospect to. So how are they growing and building new stores across the country?

As car dealers, you support their businesses with millions of dollars of purchases. How many OEM parts did they buy from you? Are you content to let them be in the parts business without competition? What do they offer that you can’t? How many dealers have opened a stand-alone parts store? Take a moment to brainstorm what you can do to be competitive and, more importantly, make money …

Think of anything? Here are some ways to stay competitive with your existing parts department.

What’s your turn strategy?

At 20 Group meetings, the least interesting subject to dealers and general managers is always “the parts discussion.” Yet, it is the number one or two cash investment in any dealership (used vehicles may be an exception in certain cases). If we think of the parts department in terms of cash, we need to ask ourselves: Why don’t we focus on it more? I’m sure you have a turn policy on your used cars; do you know what your turn policy is for your parts inventory? Do you have a used car on your lot 9-12 months before you start to figure out an exit strategy? But that’s what we do with parts. Why?

Stock what you need, when you need it.

Having the part you need on the shelf when requested is more important than having the used car your customer firsts asks for. You can always switch the used car buyer to a different car, but not so with parts. If the part is not on the shelf when requested, it’s a lost sale. Most parts managers don’t count these as lost sales if they can get the needed part within 24 hours via a factory order or an outside purchase from a competitor. The fact is, having the part in stock when you need it will not only increase your margins but dramatically increase your service departments’ efficiency. What is the amount of monthly lost productivity in your shop because you don’t have the right parts on the shelf? If this metric was measured and multiplied by your labor rate, it would astound you.

The Math: $300,000 in outside parts purchases equals $300,000 in labor sales, divided by $100 per hour labor rate, comes to 3,000 labor hours. Assuming 1.5 hours per RO, we can say you had 2,000 ROs that had been delayed 30 minutes each waiting on parts. That comes to 1,000 hours of lost productivity, times your $100 per hour rate, equals $100,000!

Doesn’t it seem worthwhile to have the part on the shelf?

Training is a must.

How much training did your parts manager participate in last year, or ever? How can you get best practices in your parts department? TRAIN them. The NCM Institute offers outstanding parts manager training and NCM has two parts management 20 Groups whose numbers are constantly improving due to their openness to share ideas and best practices. Either or both will yield a huge ROI.

It’s time to get into the parts business and beat the competition.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2017/07/give-the-big-dogs-a-run-for-their-money/

Alan Ram

The Importance of Call Monitoring

Smiling salesman having a phone call

Do your managers listen to every sales call on call monitoring? I speak at a lot of Dealer 20 Group meetings, and this is a question I consistently ask the dealers. The overwhelming majority of the time the answer I hear is a resounding, “No.” I have even had general managers tell me that they canceled their call monitoring because they couldn’t get their managers to listen to it. Are you kidding me?

Call Monitoring Is Not Optional

When it comes to selling cars today, there is no activity for your managers to be engaged in that is more productive, or more relevant, than listening to sales calls and quickly resolving missed opportunities to do business. It’s as easy as your managers having call monitoring open on their desk throughout the day, and listening only to sales calls.

I often hear the excuse that managers just don’t have the time to listen to every sales call. Let’s face it, how many sales calls do you honestly get each day? You probably get 10, 20, or maybe even 30 sales calls throughout the day. Compare that number to how many managers you have on staff throughout the day. Don’t tell me your managers don’t have time to listen to sales calls. As long as your phone numbers are tied to the right departments, it’s not a problem.

A “Save The Deal” Tool

Why is it important for managers to listen to each sales call throughout the day? Because call monitoring is more than just a tool used to judge how well your salespeople are handling inbound calls. Call monitoring should not be thought of primarily as an accountability tool. More than anything, it should be thought of as a “save the deal” tool. If something goes wrong on a sales call, your managers should be able to immediately intervene and resolve the issue. However, this cannot happen if your managers aren’t listening to the sales calls. If the customer calls your dealership at 10 a.m., that means they will be out buying a car at 4 p.m. If your managers are waiting until 8 o’clock at night to listen to that call, it’s too late, and the opportunity is gone.

Another benefit to listening to your sales calls on call monitoring is the accountability factor. In other words, when salespeople know that you are listening and that they are being held accountable for their performance, their effort level naturally rises. It goes hand in hand with training. If you hold your people accountable without training them, all you’re going to hear is weak salespeople and missed opportunities. It’s simple. Train your people and then hold your sales staff and managers accountable.

Call monitoring gives you the opportunity to save deals and make sure that each opportunity is maximized, as well as provides you with a tool to hold your salespeople accountable and find areas for improvement. It is an invaluable tool and it is critical that managers use it every single day.

What About Outsourcing?

In today’s automotive industry, outsourcing call monitoring has, unfortunately, become an option for dealerships. Outsourcing your dealership’s call monitoring is a bad idea. Someone who is monitoring your calls three time zones away and working out of a basement is not nearly as qualified as your managers to make a determination on when a call was maximized versus when it wasn’t. Your managers can tell whether or not a woman who just made an appointment on the phone is really coming in, or whether she simply set an appointment so that she could end the call quicker. They can gauge whether the appointment is real or whether it is smoke, and can make the determination on whether they need to call the customer back and tighten things up.

Don’t waste the opportunities that call into your dealership every single day. Call monitoring needs to be a priority at your dealership. You need to make sure that your managers are listening to your sales calls every day and throughout the day. If you want to see your dealership succeed, this is not optional.

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/2017/07/the-importance-of-call-monitoring/

Jerry Powers

Old School, Meet the New Buyer

Young couple buys a car

How do you get your salespeople to spend quality time with your customers? Customers are flocking to your dealership because they’ve found the exact vehicle they want, at a price they can afford, and to close the deal, the only thing your salespeople need to do is not mess it up.

These customers are usually in a hurry, and many are put off by the “usual sales process.” How do we spend enough time to keep them interested, but still avoid wasting their time? How do we move the salesperson from answering questions to actually asking them? How do we increase the level of comfort between our staff and our clients? Discover what some of our dealers are doing to slow the customer down, increase the customer’s confidence, and dramatically increase sales and dealership profit. It’s an old-school idea with a modern twist.

Early on in your sales process, after the “Meet and Greet,” ask your salespeople to say “Mr. or Ms. Smith, here at XYZ Motors, we have found a way to save our customers precious time during their purchase process. By looking at your vehicle now, my appraiser can perform the valuation while you and I are checking out the vehicles you are interested in. This can save you up to an hour of your valuable time. Where did you park?” “Perfect, show me your car.” The benefits to the customer? They see us saving them time, the most valuable of all resources. And, it allows the salesperson time with the customer to get to know them.

The salesperson, with the customer in tow, does a silent walk around appraisal, (form or smartphone in hand), making sure to ask about parking stickers, sports equipment, soccer balls, racks, etc., that are on or in the vehicle, to gain a level of comfort and find similar interests with the client. The salesperson touches any imperfections without a word and asks what the customer likes about this vehicle and what they are hoping to change with their new vehicle (What’s their pain point?), and then asks for the keys to take to management for the appraisal. After this, your normal sales process can proceed.

This is a great ice breaker and allows your newer sales staff more time to get comfortable with the customer and vice versa. However, the biggest and best advantage is that the desk now controls the keys and the process. They know who has a customer and that the salesperson must come back to the desk to get the keys before the customer leaves. This ensures a 100% trade orders of all customers with trade-ins. This has helped many of our clients’ dealerships dramatically increase used vehicle sales by acquiring more trades. Is there anything more important than the acquisition of quality trade-in vehicles in your store? I didn’t think so. This will not only improve your look-to-book percentage, but also your used vehicle, fixed operations, and overall dealership profitability. Good luck and good selling.

If there is anything NCM Associates can do to help you and your business, just give us a call at 800-756-2620 or email info@ncmassociates.com.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2017/07/old-school-meet-the-new-buyer/

Kendall Rawls

Think Like an Owner

Car salesman

Ownership, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is the state, relation, or fact of being an owner. Often, those who feel ownership of something take special care and feel great responsibility for it. If we dissect the definition of ownership a little more, it does not necessarily mean that one must “own,” but rather, there is a mindset of being or acting like an owner.

This “ownership attitude,” or lack thereof, can be seen in many dealerships. Some leaders may not own stock in the dealership but have ownership in areas of strategic initiatives, team motivation and collaboration, and show emotional investment in the achievement of the dealership’s mission. On the other hand, some leaders show up, fulfill their responsibilities, and get the job done. However, if a better gig presents itself across the street, they don’t hesitate to take the opportunity.

An ownership mentality, whether the actual owner or leader, is a great attitude. It is the state of mind or the accountability we put on ourselves to put care and action into what we own.

Imagine if all key managers and influencers in the dealership had a dealer-minded attitude and made decisions that were always for the betterment of the whole and not just the individual? Take a moment and analyze each leadership role in the organization and identify their level of engagement. Does it appear they lead from a place of “ownership”—meaning, in a way that promotes the organization’s mission, vision, and core values, and nurtures team synergy? Or, are they just performing the duties of the role? Also, it is essential to determine if the key managers think and act as if they have an ownership stake in the dealership. Have they bought into the dealership’s mission, strategic vision, and view the business as their own? When management leads from a place of ownership, the attitude becomes contagious throughout the organization and profitability, performance, growth, and fulfilling long-term strategic plans can become a reality.

So then, how do dealer principals/owners create an owner-centric mindset in those that are not actual owners? Here are a few areas that, if executed with intention, can be game changers:

People Development

Offer learning and training to your people. Providing access to operational training is one area to ensure your people are equipped to succeed. Also, a new and growing area is in the development of soft skills that are focused on self-awareness. Providing access to training cultivates a feeling of loyalty amongst your people. Investing in their success motivates people to want to invest in the dealership’s success.

Leadership Development

Rather than a culture where managers lead from positional power—“I’m your boss, so do what I say”—invest in leadership development to create an accountability culture based on coaching. Leadership influences others’ choices, priorities, and behavior. Power and position may create compliance in your organization, but it will also create challenges in nurturing a sense of buy-in to your organization’s mission and vision, thus ultimately demotivating employee loyalty and their drive to go above and beyond the call of duty. As our industry evolves due to technological advancements, changing consumer behavior and demographic shifts, position, and power fall short of inspiring people. There are too many competitors recruiting for good talent which is making it harder to retain the movers and shakers in the organization. As such, it’s imperative to foster an environment where people are inspired, respected, and empowered which helps them want to stick around.

Self-Awareness

Understanding one’s own personality/management style and how it interacts with others is one of the biggest leadership game changers out there. Be willing to do a self-assessment and provide the same assessment to your key leaders and teams to create an understanding of natural leadership and communication qualities and traits. Go a step further and provide coaching to key leaders and rising stars to develop flexibility in how to work with a diverse team.

People development, self-awareness, and development of leadership soft-skills are game changers for current and future leaders. Enabling and empowering managers to build a foundation for future growth, sustainability, and a culture of ownership throughout the organization. To do this, managers and the dealer principal/owner need to learn how to think differently in this changing industry.

Learn more about the NCM-Rawls Dealer Executive Program and how it can prepare you and your successors to lead your dealership into the future.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2017/06/think-like-an-owner/

Adam Robinson

Are Your People Driving Profit? Understanding Critical HR Benchmarks

two businessmen having discussion in office

While turnover rates continue to be higher than average in the auto industry, a dealership’s ability to understand the components of its hiring process will unlock critical insights that help to increase profit and identify roadblocks that deter quality hires.

For example, the longer an open position goes unfulfilled, particularly in a sales role, the more productivity is disrupted. The average dealership takes seven days to review a new job application. By the time a dealership gets around to contacting a potential candidate, they are usually already in talks with another employer. Our research has shown that the fastest company response tends to win the candidate—70 percent of new hire applications were reviewed in the first 12 hours after submission, and 82 percent of all hires were considered within 24 hours. If the average dealership is waiting a week to review candidates, how many of them are still quality leads?

Not only does an efficient hiring process help fill vacant roles by 37 percent (or 16 days) faster than the national average, it can also help a dealership secure top talent in the industry before its competition.

As you analyze your dealership’s current approach, consider the following components of an efficient and effective process:

Define the role

Rather than remain focused on what your dealership needs, find out where ideal candidates are already working and the work culture and environment to which they are accustomed. For example, are there opportunities to grow and learn in your open role, or do you need someone seasoned who requires less training? Once you determine the position, you can better identify if your opportunity is robust enough to attract the right fit.

Source candidates

A dedicated company career site (or landing page on your dealership website) is the best way to attract candidates by providing them with enticing, relevant information on your business, available positions, and what makes your organization a great place to work. These goals are best accomplished by applying the same mentality of consumer advertising to your employment advertising. What’s more, dealerships only review about 72 percent of total applicants, but all applications should be examined, prioritized, and responded to.

Select a quality applicant

While this is often the piece of the process that tends to break down the most in the auto industry, it is important to carefully select the right candidate. Be sure to give multiple people in your company an opportunity to weigh in on the decision, which also provides the candidate with multiple perspectives of what the job will entail. A candidate’s competencies should be identified, and the team should determine which ones can be transferred over, and what will require additional training.

Verify backgrounds

While typically an overlooked step in the process, verification helps mitigate your risk. Be sure to confirm a candidate can do what they say they are capable of, and whether or not they have done so previously, by speaking with references. Background checks should also be performed to see if the candidate makes good choices and is a good member of society. As the person who will be interacting with your customers, be sure their values align with yours.

Onboard efficiently

Typically, the first day of a new job is filled with paperwork and logistics. Utilize technology to take care of as much paperwork as possible ahead of time, showing your new employee you have already made an investment in them. This approach will, in turn, raise their enthusiasm and investment in your dealership and their new position.

Applications should be reviewed immediately, candidates should be contacted in a timely fashion, and the overall hiring time should remain relatively short.

Once your process has been developed, it is important to measure its success against industry benchmarks to ensure your team and hiring managers see it through. An efficient process in a vacuum doesn’t do your dealership any good, so keeping your team accountable is crucial.

If a hiring manager is taking too long to reach out to candidates to facilitate the recruitment process, that delay has the potential to impact not only a candidate’s interest in the position but their opinion of the company overall. This delay can also result in a loss of potential business from the candidates as customers down the road, or loss of new consumer leads when they share their experience with their family and friends.

Your managers should include the hiring process in their regular discussions on how to improve sales and strategies, keeping their finger on the pulse of who may be at risk for leaving, how to best prepare for those situations, and how to continue actually shaping the team.

A successful hiring process will not only benefit your company but also your customer. While dealerships have little control over the make and models of the cars they sell, and many dealerships are offering the same products, the customer experience is one of the few factors you CAN influence, making the hiring process just as critical to the success of your company as the client experience. Maintaining an efficient recruitment process will ensure your employees continue driving your profit.

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/2017/06/are-your-people-driving-profit-understanding-critical-hr-benchmarks/

Joe Basil

NCM Case Study: Five Successful Dealerships Regain Lost Net Profit

Portrait of call center worker accompanied by her team. Smiling customer support operator at work.

I’m going to make it crystal clear. Your net profit is sitting right in front of you, and it walks right past you (and out the door) every day! Let’s get it back.

During my years in business, I’ve observed that 80% of the dynamics that impact a business or industry originate outside its four walls; however, 80% of the forces that impact the dealership’s profitability originate inside them. It’s my opinion that your increased profitability walks in and out of your dealership every day and right in front of your eyes.

Five case studies: regain lost profits with simple changes

Your opportunities for increased net profit are in every step of your customer transaction management process. The gap or disconnect is that some dealers and managers can’t see it, even though it’s right in front of them. Here are some specific examples from some of my NCM 20 Group and consulting clients who have discovered big profits from small changes.

1. The BDC conversation turnaround

A used vehicle manager observed his business development center (BDC) customer-contact phone calls. The business development representatives (BDRs) were making their 100 calls per day; however, the tone of the calls was flat and lacked sincerity. The calls could have been made by a computer; they were so impersonal.

Once he brought it to the attention of the business development manager (BDM) and they did some training, his appointment show ratio began to climb. Just imagine how many deals the dealership had already lost before this simple change!

2. Lead with the winner

During a pre-owned digital merchandising review, our NCM 20 Group noticed a photo of a clean 2013 Silverado crew cab pickup truck with 9,000 miles on it. It was a great vehicle, but at over $36,000, it was priced exceptionally high for the market.

Three or four photos later—buried in the vehicle description—the dealership showed that the Silverado was a handicap/wheelchair accessible vehicle! Not only that, but a little research revealed to us that a new one would cost between $67,000 – $69,000. The vehicle was priced under market for an accessible truck, but it couldn’t find buyers because of the poor photo choices and lack of relevant keywords in its description.

Take a look at your digital merchandising. How many of your vehicles are overlooked because of simple mistakes?

3. Walk around for more profits

During a training session with service managers, I asked how many of them do walkarounds on customer vehicles in the service lane? All nine raised their hands. Then, I asked how many do walkarounds on 100% of customer cars, 100% of the time? Only three out of nine said yes!

Insist that each and every vehicle get a walk-around. Every time your team skips one, you’ve missed flat rate hours and parts sales that are just waiting for you in the service lane.

4. The difficult customer hand-off

In a general sales manager meeting, we were discussing the customer handling process in the BDC and the sales desk’s involvement. One sales manager discovered that when the BDR got stuck with a customer, they just chalked it up as a difficult customer and moved on to the next one, missing out on opportunities to set the appointment.

The sales manager changed the system straightaway. Now, when a BDR gets a difficult customer, he or she turns them over to a sales manager. Their show rate and close rate increased immediately.

Think about your BDC and sales deck system: How many deals have you lost over the last six months because your BDC and sales desk weren’t well connected?

5. The sales hot spot

A used car manager began paying close attention to his vehicle details page (VDP) activity and the sale of the related cars. Every day, he shared the top five VDP activity vehicles with his salesforce, requiring each salesperson to select one of the top performing VDP vehicles. They were required to make sure it was clean, ready to demo, and parked in a “hot spot” on the used car lot.

The UV team quickly upped their closing ratio on these cars by 25%. It makes me wonder just how many used vehicle customers we “unsold” because we didn’t have the car ready for the customer to demo.

Awareness improves profits

I think these five mini case studies demonstrate how small changes in your dealership can quickly result in improved profits. Take a good long look at your customer transaction management process and discover your own plentiful opportunities to make the most of the customer traffic flow you already have!

Discover how Joe Basil and his NCM colleagues can help your dealership through 20 Groups and in-dealership consulting.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2017/06/ncm-case-study-five-successful-dealerships-regain-lost-net-profit/

Mark Shackelford

The 10-Minute Fix for Lost Customer-Pay Hours

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There’s no question that customer repair hours and R.O.’s are on the decline. I have the pleasure of working with more than 250 dealers, and I’m alarmed at how many service departments are going backward in customer-pay service hours and gross.

If we saw a massive downturn like this in new vehicle sales, every dealership would be clamoring for a solution. I think the increase of warranty and internal hours have lulled us into a false sense of security. But even though those hours are up, hemorrhaging customer-pay is a losing long-term strategy.

We have the tools to get more customer-pay hours, so let’s use them.

I’m continually amazed at the effectiveness of the automotive industry’s sales processes; yet we rarely, if ever, apply the same approaches in our service department. We need to change that because the best way to solve the customer repair hour problem is through improved service sales.

To do this, though, we need to overcome culture. When service team members encounter issues with a sale, most of us just let the sale go … we commonly send service business home without any attempt to save the deal. And then we rely on a coupon or other incentive to get customers back into the shop.

Bring more sales to service.

We would never allow a new vehicle buyer to just walk way! So, why do we let service work go? After all, what do you think happened? Did the client wait for the discount coupon? Or, do you think they called up one of your competitors and had the work done elsewhere?

Let’s get back to the basics and begin holding training meetings with the number one sales people in our stores: our service advisors. They talk to more customers in a day than some sales people do in a month, and they generate more gross profit in a month than most sales people do in two or three months! A sales model makes perfect sense, yet we spend too little time motivating and training the most productive sales person in our dealership.

Here are two easy meeting agendas you can use to start bringing a sales approach to your fixed operations staff. I also recommend training to support this culture change; the NCM Institute has a great one-day training course that teaches your service advisors how to sell.

10-Minute Service and Parts Meeting
Meet with techs and advisors every day for 10 minutes at 7:15 a.m. Here are some discussion points:

  • Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) numbers: 1-month and 3-month
  • Fixed Right First Time (FRFT) stats
  • Number of hours written by each advisor and tech against their goal(s)
  • Pace for the month
  • Review work schedule for the day
  • Problems (i.e. problem child issues)
  • Housekeeping
  • Multi-Point Inspection (M.P.I.) walk around

Bring back service sales.

What happened to the time in our industry when a customer could simply call our store for service work on their vehicle and be told to bring it in today with no appointment?

Think about it, how do you feel when you are told it’s an hour wait to get a table at your favorite restaurant? If you’re like me—and like most people—you probably just go somewhere else for dinner because of the wait! The same thing happens in our service department.

It’s time to realign our fixed ops approach to be more sales focused. Let’s take control of our service lanes and have a very profitable year!

See how Mark Shackelford and his NCM colleagues can help your dealership improve performance with 20 Groups, in-dealership consulting, and customized training optionsAnd don’t forget about NCMi training for service managers and service advisors!

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2017/06/the-10-minute-fix-for-lost-customer-pay-hours/

Emily Johnson

From the Customer: 4 Car-Buying Lessons

Couple in car

My husband and I have purchased so many cars recently that we should probably start a club for people who love to car shop. (Facebook group, anyone?) In this blog, I will summarize our past shopping experiences and explain the four internet marketing and sales techniques that got us to buy.

In the last two years, we have traded in and purchased four different cars. Throughout all the vehicle juggling, we’ve done our fair share of online research, pricing, test driving, dealership visiting, and negotiating. From a large conglomerate “no haggle” dealership, to the small store with fully commissioned sales staff who will aggressively sell you any vehicle on the lot, we have seen it all. As someone who works closely with the automotive industry, I can imagine these four lessons might prove helpful in YOUR dealership.

1. “No haggle” and “ease of access” reign supreme.

Our first and second car trades were almost identical because we used the same dealership and salesperson. We wanted to trade in our gas-guzzling “college cars” for svelte hybrid or electric vehicles.

Each purchase was as smooth, stress-free, and “no haggle” as the dealership’s advertising touted. We found our cars online, test drove the exact cars we would take home, sat down to do the paperwork, and left with smiles on our faces. The paperwork period was a tad lengthy but was tolerable overall.

While my husband enjoys haggling and negotiating (i.e. the “typical car buying process”), I prefer this easy, stress-free approach. And I’m not alone, only 17 out of 4,002 customers surveyed prefer the typical method of buying a car. That’s only 0.5%!

Given that most shoppers seem to be like me, you should evaluate how your dealership handles customers’ online experiences. Consider letting customers shop, negotiate, and sign their paperwork online, and use the online experience to lessen the pressures of the process and keep it low-key. Give your customers the power to choose, pay for, and drive away their new car on THEIR terms. To further ease the buying process, some dealerships have employed tech-savvy tactics such as a virtual document signature capture desk or test driving cars from a massive vending machine! While I don’t think it’s essential to go THAT far, a few simple digital changes could drive more business to your dealership.

Learn from our encounters …

Six months after we purchased the hybrid and electric cars, we decided the full-electric wasn’t the right vehicle for us (range anxiety, anyone?). Instead, we wanted a cheap car that we could run into the ground, a true workhorse. Like before, we used our trusty smartphones and began looking online in our area for a used vehicle that was inexpensive but would last for many years to come. After trolling many car lots trying to find the cars we had bookmarked online (or looking for cars that weren’t online), we found an SUV and a sedan at a small dealership in a “dodgy” part of town. Once we rolled onto the lot, a salesperson appeared at our window—in the rain—asking if we needed help. My husband and I looked at each other, and we braced ourselves as we got out of the car.

Not only was this buying process longer than the first two, but the dealership strung us along for DAYS before we finally crawled out with an SUV at a decent price. While this was not ideal, there are a few things the dealership got right: They had a significant and well-advertised online presence, and all vehicles were merchandised online with their best prices prominently displayed.

2. Being online matters.

My husband and I use online resources in every one of our car buying endeavors and have become car-searching powerhouses. Unsurprisingly, we’re not alone in this. On average, customers spend 14.75 hours shopping online for just one car (so for four cars, we shopped a total of 59 online hours?!), and 59% of an average customer’s car-buying research is done online as opposed to in-store, word of mouth, or in print. Shoppers tend to use smartphones when searching but also utilize desktops, laptops, and tablets, depending on where they are (home, work, out driving around). In fact, 46% of average customers use multiple devices to search online during their car buying process.

What does this mean for your dealership? Own a strong online presence. Post your best prices online to entice customers to come in and not be disappointed when they do. Utilize SEO (search engine optimization) to improve a buyer’s chance of finding YOUR dealership over another. Show your inventory online, on your site AND third-party sites. Ensure your dealership address and hours of operation are prominently displayed on your homepage, and in a Google search. Your customers are shopping online: Help them find what you want them to find.

Enter the shiny blue truck …

A year after the SUV buying experience, we (my husband) decided we needed (he wanted) a truck. So, we went truck shopping! (Note my sarcasm …) I’m pretty sure we visited every dealership in a 50-mile radius of our home over the course of three weeks.

Like before, we started by using digital devices to find the perfect truck. During our search we scoured the web, our budget rose and fell, and we test drove every truck we could. Finally, we agreed that our favorite truck model was WAY outside of our budget, so we found another option that was just the truck for us.

Our research into this chosen truck model eventually landed us at a dealership in a neighboring suburb. We arrived at the lot, saw the truck, (which had only been there for two days and was balloon-clad on the rotating pedestal out front, with a radiant light surrounding its shiny, blue physique) and asked for a test drive.

3. Test drives are not the end all, be all.

When my husband and I bought our hybrid/electric vehicles, we only test drove the cars we would purchase. This is typical, 52% of average customers only test drive one vehicle when they’re car shopping. From my research, I confirmed that “car shoppers are influenced about what to buy and who to buy from. The time to influence and convert them is online, where car buyers spend the majority of their shopping time making decisions.” This couldn’t have been truer during our truck shopping experience. We test drove many vehicles during our SUV and truck searches, but ultimately we made up our minds based on the deals and information we found online. We didn’t care who we talked to at the dealership; we just wanted to get the deal done.

My takeaway? If your sales team currently throws all its effort into making the sale during the test drive or after, perhaps utilize that selling talent on your company’s Facebook page or website instead.

4. In-store does not mean offline.

Even after my husband and I made it onto a lot in any of the above scenarios, we were still on our smartphones searching for the next best deal. When looking for the SUV and the truck, we drove through many lots, many dealerships, scouting for that one car, that diamond in the rough. We armed ourselves with statistics and features, the prices and current sales, anything we could before we spoke to a salesperson. 63% of shoppers report using their mobile device at the dealership.

To keep those customers on your lot and urge them to engage with your sales team, you need complete online transparency. What do you want shoppers to buy? The balloons and rotating pedestals are a nice touch, but invest in online advertising, social media sponsored posts, website banner ads, and third-party website top spots; THAT is where customers are looking, not in the skies above your dealership.

For more tips on internet management, check out the NCM Institute’s two courses Mastering Digital Marketing and Internet/BDC Operations Management.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2017/05/from-the-customer-4-car-buying-lessons/

Adam Robinson

Will Graduating Millennials Want to Work for Your Dealership?

Diverse International Students Celebrating Graduation Concept

In just a few short weeks, countless new college graduates will be entering the workforce, actively seeking job opportunities in a variety of industries and positions. In fact, during the 2016-17 school year, colleges and universities are projected to award nearly 4 million degrees.

This surge in the candidate pool will be made up largely of millennials, who come with their own set of expectations and needs from an employer. This means they will be vetting potential companies just as much as they are being vetted. Will your dealership look attractive to them?

Unlike their predecessors, millennials are interested in working with companies they feel a connection to, that will give them a sense of purpose. They also want to know there will be room for advancement within the company throughout their career and place value on flexibility and a steady income.

Here are some key elements your dealership can focus on to help ensure it stands out to top-tier prospective employees:

Employer Branding

Now a requirement for grabbing the attention of today’s top talent, employer branding reflects a company’s reputation as an employer and how great a place it is to work. Because millennials are looking past the paycheck for enterprises they feel align with their values, it is important your dealership has a good reputation with both your customers and employees.

You can give potential employees an understanding of your company’s message through your website’s career page, which should contain details of your business beyond the typical description. Let prospective candidates know how your dealership is involved in the community, what initiatives are on the horizon, and highlight special perks of the job. Take it a step further and be active on your social media platforms, spreading your dealership’s message to your audience and encouraging them to do the same. Fostering a healthy work environment will also make your employees more likely to share the positives of working for you on their own, lending further credibility to prospective candidates.

Pay Plans

Millennials today are not fans of the traditional commission-based payment models dealerships have employed for decades, instead wanting a consistent, guaranteed income. The pay plan must be worth their while financially to appeal to millennials. Rather than an “all or nothing” approach to sales, dealerships are encouraged to consider offering a starting salary with bonuses along the way. Employees will be able to enjoy peace of mind, which results in an increased chance of your dealership retaining them for a longer period. What’s more, the customer experience improves because the salesperson focuses less on making the sale and more on genuinely meeting client needs.

Dealerships that have recognized the changing landscape, and reacted accordingly, have seen positive results for both their employees and customers. The elimination of the pressure to make a sale has allowed for a more relaxed approach to interacting with the client. Sensing the shift in salesmanship, customer loyalty and trust in the dealership tends to improve as a result.

Career Fairs

We highly recommend that dealerships attend, and even host, career fairs to become top of mind for upcoming graduates. By making students aware of their options before graduation, potential candidates can begin looking at your dealership and taking the necessary steps to be ready for employment consideration as soon as they earn their degree. Through hosting and attending these fairs, your management team will have the valuable opportunity to meet potential candidates in person right away, allowing for informational interviews that can save time and money on a formal vetting process when these candidates are ready to apply.

Career fairs save you time because rather than waiting until after graduation to begin the tedious job search, spending countless hours on cover letters and filling out applications, the right candidates can go directly to your dealership first, providing you with a larger pool for consideration in a shorter amount of time.

Internship Programs

Implementing internship programs at your dealership has a number of benefits, including the ability to test drive the talent, increased productivity, and an increased employee retention rate. Not only will your dealership be front and center for a new graduate, but you will also have the time to train and mold a potential employee long before he or she is ready for full-time employment, giving both the employee and your dealership a head start. This approach saves money and time in bringing a new hire up to speed and helps ingrain a prospective employee into your team and culture ahead of time, allowing them to hit the ground running once officially employed.

Internship programs can be tailored to your company requirements, ensuring you train students for positions your dealership may need most, using the strategies and tactics that translate into results for your demographic and marketplace.

By placing emphasis on what millennials are looking for from potential employers, your dealership can become a prime target for the fresh wave of college graduates polishing their resumes this summer, giving you the opportunity to not only attract the right talent for your team but also to retain them for years to come.

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/2017/05/will-graduating-millennials-want-to-work-for-your-dealership/

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