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Tag Archive: Car Dealership

Joe Basil

“We can’t seem to hire the right people.” Sound familiar?

hire

How many times have you heard this from dealers, managers, and business owners? How many times has it been on the 20 Group agenda topic list?

Hearing this statement so often, one would think that it is a priority in every business and car dealership to have a process and system in place to identify, select, and hire “the right people.” So what is it that keeps so many dealers and managers from learning the skill set or even recognizing the fact that they lack the skills?

Let’s start with how most dealers grew up in the car business. The majority of them came up through the sales or front end of the business. The front end is a very people-oriented area of the business. Anyone with experience in that department has probably hired and trained hundreds of people. When you examine training strategies and concentrations in the front of the store you will typically find the overwhelming amount of time and money is spent on sales process, sales desk deal management, F&I process, closing techniques, word tracks and other productivity focused skill sets, often times, without determining if you are training “the right person.”

If you were to ask dealers how much training time and money they invest in teaching those employees with recruiting, selecting and hiring responsibility how to identify and select “the right people,” some wouldn’t know what you were talking about.  Others, who have invested the time and money to develop selection skill sets and processes, would know exactly what you are talking about. For those that don’t understand this approach, they don’t even realize that they may be investing training dollars and time in the wrong people to start with.

Let me give an example. I’m sitting with a dealer who says “I can’t seem to hire the right people.” I ask him to explain his hiring process and who has responsibility for hiring decisions. The first step in the store’s process is an initial interview by one of three front-end managers, then a secondary interview by one of the other two managers and/or the dealer. I ask, “Who has final authority for the hiring decision?” He explains that it goes back to the manager who conducted the initial interview. So I ask the dealer to give me his description of the “right” salesperson. He responds, “They have to be energetic self-starters with good people skills who set goals and achieve them; a good closer, good grosser and they have to be a team player.” Next, I ask permission to ask the three front-end managers the same question. Here’s what I found…

Manager number one described the right salesperson as someone who is organized, punctual, follows procedure, and covers all the details.

Manager number two described the right salesperson as someone who can gross, close deals, sell cars and build a book of business.

Manager number three described the right salesperson as someone who is friendly with customers, always takes care of their needs, never has customer complaints, and has strong customer satisfaction.

So, based on four different descriptions of the right person, it’s no wonder this dealer can’t hire the right people. One manager would hire a “neat nick,” the next manger would hire a “slammer” and the last one would hire a “consumer advocate”—and no one would hire the dealer’s sales person!

Patterns indicate that most people with hiring authority tend to hire people that match their own description of the right person as opposed to hiring a person with skill sets proven to result in developing a “top performer” in their position. So how do you learn to identify “top-performing” skill sets?

One simple answer may be right in front of you. Make a list of your best salespeople, not your top salesperson, your best salespeople. Now jointly, along with those people with hiring authority, describe the personality traits, tendencies, habits, preferences, skill sets and accomplishments of your “best” salespeople. Assuming you have top-performing salespeople, you should begin to see a pattern. For a point of reference you could perform the same exercise on your “worst” salespeople.

From my experience the most effective approach to implementing a recruiting, selecting and hiring process is to hire a professional trainer or consultant. Going back to my earlier point about determining if you are training the right person, you may first want to have your management team evaluated to confirm that you are training the right people to start with.

Should you have any hesitation about investing in a process to improve your selection skills, let me conclude with the following question:

Between the date you hired them and the date you fired them, what did you discover about them that you didn’t know when you interviewed them? And how much did it cost you? This should be a no-brainer!


Want to learn more about hiring? Attend the NCM Institute’s new course: Finding Top Talent. Click here for details. 

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/02/we-cant-seem-to-hire-the-right-people/

Gene Daughtry

So you’re Interested in Buy Here Pay Here?

 

dealers are making good profits in BHPH

You keep hearing that dealers are making good profits in Buy Here Pay Here. You have decided that you would like to pursue the business. What is your next step? After all you may have been in the car business for years. You understand buying and selling cars. You know how to run a compliant Finance Department and a profitable shop. Isn’t BHPH or LHPH just other ways of financing cars?

The answer is not as simple as it might seem. A BHPH or LHPH operation takes dedication. You will have to be diligent every day. You will not only be running a car dealership; you will be running a finance or leasing company. The daily operation isn’t more difficult, just different. You will have trouble being successful if you put a few high mileage, low dollar trades on a lot and have your used car manager do a few notes.

In BHPH/LHPH or Dealer Controlled Financing (DCF) you will be selling cars, dealing with service and doing contracts. Simultaneously you will be collecting the payments from customers that are financially challenged and need your help keeping their personal lives straight. Most of these customers are good folks and they intend on paying you. Just remember every time you sell a car it costs you up front. The money comes in as you collect.

You should decide what type Dealer Controlled Finance operation you would like to be. I have been involved in 3 different operations in the last 16 years. One operation financed cars that had an ACV around $1,500 to $2,500. There was little recon and very little service offered after the sale. All loans were 24 months with weekly payments.

From there I moved to a BHPH operation that was part of a large high-line dealer group. We had an ACV average of about $10,000 with a full recon schedule spending about $700 a vehicle. We offered service contracts, GAP and Credit Life. Some of our loans exceeded $20,000 financed with 48 month terms and 26% interest (in Texas). This operation had a $17M portfolio with 2,500 cars on the books.

The last operation was a combination of the two. We kept the ACV closer to $7,000 average with a full recon schedule of about $600 PRU. We offered service contracts and GAP on every loan with 36 months being the standard term. Our loans would average about $12,000. We were in Arkansas where the usury was very low when we started and during 2012, we ran all loans at 7.5% interest rate. Our operation also reported all activity to Trans Union.

All these operations were primarily BHPH. In other words we marketed the business as “in house” financing and we would sell a few cars for cash. Some dealers are primarily “retail” and they do a few in house loans with the right customers. I believe this is one of your first decisions as you consider a plan to become a Dealer Controlled Financing (BHPH/LHPH) operation. How you advertise, how your salespeople greet customers and how your shop operates will be different depending on what type dealer you have decided to become.

As with any automobile retailing business you will have accounting, service, inventory, sales and fixed operations. In BHPH or LHPH you will also have the functions of another company–your finance or leasing operation.  You will be building a portfolio that will require underwriting and collections. These positions are not typically filled from your existing associate pool.

There will be new compliance issues, tax laws, paperwork and operational aspects you may not expect, but if you are ready to get started there is plenty of help available. NCM Associates offers webinars, on-site and off-site training and consultation along with 20 groups specific to the Dealer Controlled Financing or BHPH/LHPH industries. You don’t have to go it alone or guess; invest in some training, mentoring or consulting. Save the money and headaches of learning as you go. Brent Carmichael and I have 40 years of combined experience we can share to help you through your BHPH adventure.

Get help for your BHPH/LHPH operation from NCM!

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2013/02/so-youre-interested-in-buy-here-pay-here/

Under-the-Hood: Car Dealerships and LinkedIn Company Profile Pages

Today’s article is considerably longer than our typical posts, but Debbie Hemley has put together a very informative article that will help your dealership maximize LinkedIn, offer ways to engage potential customers, and learn how to attract talent to your dealership. It’s worth taking the time to read; in fact, you may want to print it and refer to it frequently!  –Garry House

LinkedIn logo

If you’re like many business people out there, LinkedIn may have been your first foray into social networking.

When it gets right down to it, LinkedIn made it easy for even the naysayers among us to adopt by replicating what we were already doing offline: networking with colleagues; maintaining our resume with positions and job skills; joining professional groups; looking for jobs; answering and asking questions of someone in our field.

About LinkedIn

LinkedIn was first launched in 2003 as a social networking website for people in professional occupations. Today the company reports having more than 175 million registered users in more than 200 countries and territories.

In November 2010, LinkedIn allowed businesses to list products and services on company profile pages. On October 4, 2012, they rolled out newly redesigned pages. In a crowded social media marketplace, many companies have been diverted by the constant barrage of new and shiny social networks, and inadvertently may have overlooked the potentials of LinkedIn company pages.

How can your car dealership maximize LinkedIn? What ways can you engage potential customers? How can you attract talent to your dealership? Read on for ideas on addressing these issues.

#1 Maximizing LinkedIn

More than 2 million companies have set-up a LinkedIn company page for their business.

As LinkedIn explains, companies can benefit from a company page for a number of reasons:

  • Company pages give your business more exposure and visibility to your products or services.
  • LinkedIn allows company pages to have followers. This allows your page followers to keep track of your company news, updates and announcements of new services.
  • Your company’s products and services can easily be added in your LinkedIn company page. You can also add videos to each of your product or service listings. This gives you the ability and opportunity to showcase what you can do and what you have to offer.
  • Company pages also have recommendations just like your own profile. Satisfied customers can recommend you, your product or your service. You’ll be way ahead of your competitors if you have these strong recommendations.

If you haven’t already set-up a company page, you’ll want to back up for a moment and get started. If your profile isn’t 100% complete, e.g. lacks products and services listings, recommendations, doesn’t include an image on your home page—take the time to go back and fill in what’s missing. You’ll be glad you did! We’ll discuss the new features in more detail below.

Newly Redesigned LinkedIn Company Pages

mercedes new company page-med_

If your dealership is one of the 2 million companies who already has a company page, you’ll want to make sure you take advantage of the newly redesigned pages. You can now include a header image (646×220 pixels) that represents your dealership, showcase your dealership on your overview page with products and services and career opportunities, share status updates and job opportunities with targeted updates, and reach out to mobile users on LinkedIn’s new mobile and iPad apps.

Viveka von Rosen offers the following suggestions worth noting:

#2 Ways to Engage Potential Customers on LinkedIn

There are many ways to use LinkedIn to engage potential customers. Below are eight tried and true ways.

Groups:

Kerry O’Malley
suggests joining LinkedIn groups where your potential customers hang out; check in regularly to see what discussions you can contribute to; make yourself known within the group.

Search LinkedIn groups to find the ones of most relevance to you. When in doubt, check out groups your colleagues have joined to find any you may have missed.

Contact Lists:

Erin O’Harra, a LinkedIn representative, suggests importing your existing contact lists from your e-mail client to find out which of your contacts are already on LinkedIn. LinkedIn automatically recommends people you might know based on your details and existing contacts, and you should regularly scour through your existing contacts for people you might want to connect with.

Answer questions:

Amberlie Denney
suggests the LinkedIn “Answers” feature as a good way to help you display your expertise and establish yourself as a thought leader. You can answer questions from other LinkedIn users on specific topics that relate to your products or services, and you can drive readers to your website’s educational content or blog posts as well.

Targeted Content:

DealerOn
writes: With 90% of auto buyers employing the Internet to do pre-buying auto research, you have the potential to engage them with targeted content. Research shows that 67% of your potential buyers will actually visit your dealership website to get to know you, prior to visiting your showroom. You need to make sure what they find makes them want to get to know you offline.

Post updates about your content on your company LinkedIn page, drive traffic to your website, blog and showroom.

Promote Company Car and Van Deals:

Mark Paddock
suggests that for Fleet sales departments, knowing how to use LinkedIn to contact potential customers is one of the most valuable skills to possess. LinkedIn allows sales people to find and connect with the decision makers and people with influence within a business they are trying to sell to.
“Connecting with the managing director of a plumbing company with ten vans on the road and engaging them before you call, means the sales people only ever call “warm leads.”

Keep Employee Pages Up to Date:

HubSpot
recommends keeping your employee page up to date. From your company’s overview page, you can see a list of all current employees. Remove any past employees that no longer work for you. Simply click on the triangle on the side of the person’s name.

Refresh Dealership Info:

HubSpot also suggests taking the time to update your dealership profile and keep it up to date with any recent blog posts or new vehicles that will hit the market.

Products and Services:

This recommendation is also from HubSpot.  Add your most popular products and services. Under your company overview page, there is a products and services tab.  Add your most popular products and services as well as receive recommendations from your peers.

mercedes products and services-small_
#3 Attract Talent to the Dealership

Since potential candidates will also be checking out your LinkedIn company page, it becomes an important place to ensure that you’re demonstrating in the business description, reasons why your dealership is a great place to work, e.g. years in business, great reputation in the community, received award for great service, staying power.

As Garry House points out, “There seems to be a persistent perception that automotive sales is a job of last resort, and we have allowed that perception to exist and grow…When we convince someone to choose an automotive sales career (or when a qualified applicant drops into our lap), he needs to clearly understand that he’s not settling for a second-rate job. Automotive sales is a challenging profession that a person can and should be proud of.”

Garry recommends emphasizing the rewards of the work: unlimited income potential, independence, sense of satisfaction, and personal growth. You can make that clear on the careers tab of your company page. If recruitment is an ongoing high priority you may also want to check out the Premium Career Pages and recruitment ads.

Final Thoughts

With social networks being the moving target they are, it’s always good practice to keep up with new features. One easy and interesting way to keep up with LinkedIn is to read their blog regularly where you’ll keep abreast of network news and learn new tips.

How have you used LinkedIn company profile pages for your dealership? Share your experiences in the comments below. 

Join us in Atlanta next month where Ron Wheeler of Wheeler Advertising will show you how to integrate social media best practices like this into your marketing strategy.  Click the link below or call 866.756.2620 to learn more!

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2012/10/under-the-hood-car-dealerships-and-linkedin-company-profile-pages/

Jared Hamilton

The Three Pillars of Auto Dealer Internet Success

The Internet touches virtually 90% of all consumers and affects every profit center within a
h--rek-pictures-blogs-pillars-thumb_ dealership.  There is substantial opportunity for dealers to harness the Internet and grow, but understanding that took years to identify and continues to be a learning process.

Most people know me as the guy who created DrivingSales.com, the world’s largest automotive social network.  What many people don’t know is that I was raised in my family’s dealership in Northern California.  I grew up one-half tech nerd, just outside of the Silicon Valley, and one-half dealer principle son.  All I ever wanted when I grew up was to have a car dealership, just like my dad.  So after I attended NADA’s Dealer Candidate Academy and NADA’s advanced education program, I was recruited to help run a decent sized Ford dealership outside of Salt Lake City.  When I got there, the Internet was a couple of years behind what I knew from the Silicon Valley.  I realized that if we studied the market, we could extrapolate the trends from the proactive marketplaces and come back anticipating the trends before they happen.  With financial data from NADA, buyer behavior data from Polk, and help from a research professor at University of California, Berkeley, we overlaid Internet trends against broadband connectivity and looked to understand what happens to dealerships’ business models when Internet connectivity picks up, how consumer behavior changes, and the answer to the holy grail question, “How should dealers operate to maximize their success online?”

While I wanted a statistically proven answer to how dealers should maintain their online presence, what we found was that it didn’t exist.  After 6 months mystery shopping the top 100 performing e-dealers in the U.S. trying to figure out what they were doing, we discovered there isn’t a single secret to success. Rather, we found a framework in play that consists of operational pillars that a dealership must dominate to be successful online.

The first of the three pillars is marketing.  There are 16 marketing levers that dealers can pull to drive traffic to their dealership.  This traffic of course appears to come through email, phones, and walk-ins.  In fact, a great majority of the Internet customers just walk in to the dealership.  We don’t even know that they are Internet customers, but they come armed with information they gathered on the Internet.

The second pillar is process.  We studied all the high performing dealerships in the country looking for the perfect communication templates.  The fact is, it doesn’t matter!  I saw templates of all different shapes and sizes work.  What does matter is that all high performing stores shared seven points that a dealership must execute in their lead handling process to maximize their close rate.

The third pillar is structure, meaning job responsibilities, pay plans, and who reports to whom.  Anytime you have massive pressures on an industry, new business models adapt and change requiring organization models to adapt and change as well.  For example, most dealerships today do not have a content writer.  Yes, that’s right; dealerships need some form of editor on staff.  Why?  You cannot succeed in the social media world or in the search-marketing world – two of the largest channels that will drive the most relevant traffic equaling the most Internet revenue – without creating relevant, valuable content for your customer.

It’s important to note that we cannot solve structural problems with marketing.  You can throw money at the problem all you want, but until you hire the right people, give them the right pay plans, and train them appropriately you cannot succeed.  You cannot fix marketing problems simply by adapting your process.  Bad marketing is bad marketing.  Marketing problems are solved with marketing solutions, process problems are solved with process solutions, and structural problems are solved with structural solutions.

There are many different strategies within each pillar that I will discuss in future columns, but it’s important to first identify which pillar you’re working in to accurately asses what needs to be addressed.  I never did find one secret to Internet success.  Instead, I found many roads within a framework, leaving opportunities for dealers to find the path that works best for them.

Jared Hamilton is founder and CEO of DrivingSales.com and is often described as one part dealer operator and one part tech geek. He has over 10 years of dealership management experience in addition to his award winning entrepreneurial record. Jared is a highly-acclaimed international speaker educating audiences across the globe about capitalizing on the Internet’s opportunities and how to invest and implement technology solutions inside businesses.  Watch for future articles by Jared, our newest Up To Speed Guest Expert

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2012/06/the-three-pillars-of-auto-dealer-internet-success/