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Managers, Are You Leading or Just Passing Through? Every dealership I have visited lately has the phone calls tracked or not, going to the switchboard or BDC. Then they round robin to sales staff if the ISM is busy "We know that never happens;" The problem...

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About Kim Clouse About Kim Clouse Kim Clouse has been involved with automotive internet sales and process for over 20 years. He was a charter member of the AAISP while it existed and winner of the Lemons to Lemonade Award...

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About Kim Clouse About Kim Clouse Kim Clouse has been involved with automotive internet sales and process for over 20 years. He was a charter member of the AAISP while it existed and winner of the Lemons to Lemonade Award...

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Can You Define Car Dealer Reputation Management? I would like to go on record and say that the term Reputation Management for Automotive is a misnomer. Vendors can only  teach Car Dealers to discover, report, and maintain their hard earned reputation...

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Can You Define Car Dealer Reputation Management?

Posted by Kim Clouse | Posted in Dealer Process, Reputation Maintenance | Posted on 05-09-2016

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I would like to go on record and say that the term Reputation Management for Automotive is a misnomer. Vendors can only  teach Car Dealers to discover, report, and maintain their hard earned reputation by allowing the customers who spend money with them to be invited to post a review. If there is a problem, everyone is alerted and it either gets fixed or explained, not deleted and covered up. It is called “Honest Exchange”(c) Dealer Report Cards was the first and only company so far to do this. Disgruntled employees, competition down the street, unfair customers who take advantage, folks who have had hard times and could not get financed, only need login to Google, Yelp, Dealer Rater or one of the hundreds of accounts online. All of these go directly to Facebook to take advantage of this new way to pass what used to be “word of mouth” along too.

I fell into this advertising funnel while trying to get auto dealers to pay attention to www.dealerreportcards.com  even while realizing it was impossible for every employee who interacts with a customer to have a good day every day. And we all know the inherent problems of customer frustration when they were unable to purchase. What about the lifetime extended warranty they bought from their local XYZ motors? Which repair shop is on the contract? Better yet,  which one are they using this month? What about the unjust maintenance schedules? Can’t blame them for finding a place to tell their friends and neighbors to beware of that kind of scam.

We must have been doing something right though because it is public knowledge now that Cars.com took this video that I sent to Ralph Ebersole in 2010 and duplicated my Talking Cars to speak about their review process in an ad titled  Cars.com Talking Cars Gas Super Bowl XLV Commercial Ad 2011 . They even had the decency to send their little talking cars much like “Hot Wheels” to my home address. I still have them in the box if anyone is interested.
Yes, they are pirates!
They gave up on that platform after all these years and acquired Dealer Rater. Have a look at their site now compared to a year ago. When I asked one of their sales reps how long they had been creating independent sales staff pages, he replied,  “about a year now”. Looks familiar, doesn’t it?

Crazy thing is that General Motors has recently adopted the exact same process without a posting site through one of their gazillion third party companies. Funny, Maritz called me a few years ago about this program before I was back at a GM store then after a meeting one of them visited the store to just watch Dealer Report Cards work one day. Funny, they now have a RepMan score so associates can get paid for asking for a review. Pardon me, “Can you give me your e-mail so I can send you a review? Make sure it is perfect in every way please, don’t let them know how terrible we really were! Really?
When I asked GM to be included in the mandatory reputation management program for dealers as a vendor 3 years ago, they declined.

I would like for anyone to tell me what their idea of the definition of Reputation Management is right here, anytime.
It has been a way to get dealers to spend money with no real record of who or why the review was placed.

I may take some shit for this but at age 57 and witnessing the fleecing of automotive and seeing ideas like Dealer Report Cards and tons of others from great minds in automotive be stolen, I don’t really care.

Snake Oil -Beware!

Dealers, wake up!

Kim Clouse

 

 

 

 

 

Car Sales Still Require Professional Selling

Posted by Kim Clouse | Posted in Dealer Process, Helping Car Dealers and The Auto Industry, I Love Sales | Posted on 13-06-2016

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I have been pretty much silent in the realm of automotive digital chatter lately. Perhaps it is because I needed to learn more or discover what has changed on a real sales floor. Since July 2013, I have been back at Carl Cannon Chevrolet in Jasper, Alabama discovering first hand again what challenges lie ahead for professionals in this field.

This is where the digital journey began for me with GM Buy Power and Autobytel in the last century. I know we all realize what has transpired since then with technology. What I have found that has not changed is; The fact that without professional sales people who have been properly trained to greet, speak, listen, and evaluate, fewer cars get sold. Whether online or in person the big numbers just do not happen. It truly seems that the more we learn, the less we do and that is the reverse of what is necessary to get to the top. This is just a quick “hell yes I am still here” shout out. Those of you who get after it all day, every day, are winning and deserve it. Those of you who are taking shortcuts and using technology to cherry pick your prospects need to find another job because your success is temporary. Stop wasting your dealers time and money and get dedicated.
If it were easy, everyone would do it!

Sell well,

KC

Car Dealer Reviews Must Be Verified

Posted by Kim Clouse | Posted in Dealer Process, Dealer Report Cards, Helping Car Dealers and The Auto Industry, Reputation Maintenance | Posted on 26-11-2015

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I found this article very interesting. If you are a car dealer you should read the whole thing in the link below. Oh, and you reputation management consultants read this too because your days are numbered. The term Reputation Management is a misnomer. I know, I have used it too but now I have decided it should be changed.
Who can predict how any employee will feel or act toward a dealers automotive customers on any given day? Reputation Maintenance is more accurate don’t you think? I also think Car Dealer Reviews should be from verified customers instead of disgruntled employees, cheating BDC reps, competition down the street or those who created a bad situation for themselves and want to blame everyone else. http://dealerreportcards.com version 2.0 is complete
and is flawless so far. Email Kim for more info –  kim@dealerdimensions.com
http://www.webpronews.com/just-how-bad-is-yelps-fake-review-problem-2014-01

SMALL CHANGES FOR BIG RESULTS IN MORALE AND PROFIT

Posted by Kim Clouse | Posted in Dealer Process | Posted on 14-08-2011

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Over the last few years, I have been away from writing my usual opinions about processes at car dealers. Of course, we all know that I have been a champion for dealers to practice over the top customer service. It was the topic of several of my speaking engagements at various events and I would like to thank those of you who attended those events to listen to me rant. Several new buzz words have emerged over this time from the flood of new automotive consultants and vendors. I thank them for making my previous points about customer satisfaction and employee retention valid.

 

It seems the more things change, the necessary adaptation by dealer principals, general managers and fixed operation managers is getting better. We really had no choice; every single entity who listed our inventory, labor time guides, and overall manufacturer information, listed it with everything available they could get their hands on. It was also advertised on those manufacturer sites, social, and every available PPC slot money could buy. There is nothing wrong with that because once the consumer got a sample of how they thought us dirty car dealers and sales people were stealing from them, they starved for it. Thinking about this is what tossed me back into the world of voicing my opinion. Those of you who know me know how much I love sugar coating and snake oil. In a bit of a twist, I decided to land on our customers for a change just this once.

 

This kills me and we have all heard it; you have other invoices (although it is printed on the sheet they arrived with,) the internet says my car is worth another $2000.00 (we lie if we explain, even though it is like new, we have to inspect it to sell it.) The dealer across town offered me a better deal, on and on. Fine; if the customer does the math for just a mini deal paying sales $200.00 minimum and with the special rates finance gets $200.00 without products. A 10 car month yields the salesperson a whopping $2000.00 plus any bonuses. Wow, we are really taking advantage aren’t we? Sure, there are dealer incentives and management driven spiffs but not enough to raise wages to the next tax bracket for a sales person or perhaps even management. Most people who are complaining about this would never work for the money they are demanding we settle for. That brings me to the title of this post about small changes.

 

Money motivates people, even small amounts. Just put up a $10.00 spiff for verified appointments that show and see what happens to traffic. If we work the formula at the dealer principal and general manager level, we can determine how many extra cars we need to sell above our average to offset any amount of payroll increase. If we do this in small increments over time and adjust to the trends we do more than spend money. Our sales go up and overall morale right along with it. Good morale translates to better customer service which translates to more word of mouth and increased sales storewide. More sales, more profit, more money = better morale for everyone involved. On the other side of this coin, if I am a general sales manager, GM or used car manager there is no way I am sharing my income with the asshats that just wait all day on something. Fire their ass, quit hiring people that can’t type or at least spell check. Make your veteran salespeople train the ones you need to keep to earn the extra cake. If they do not take to the training or the Pro’s do not want to teach, do not give them incentives. Make it mandatory! Process and policy are nothing without consequence, good or bad. They are just more words that pass right through their head. I feel these small changes will improve the overall status of your store. Then we can display it on Dealer Report Cards.com to prove it.

 

KC

Managers, Are You Leading or Just Passing Through?

Posted by Kim Clouse | Posted in Dealer Process | Posted on 28-05-2011

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Every dealership I have visited lately has the phone calls tracked or not, going to the switchboard. Then they round robin to sales staff if the ISM is busy “We know that never happens;” The problem is either the GM, GSM, or phone king, will not make it mandatory that the salespeople have inventory, incentives, and information open on their desktop all day. They all have computers but they refuse to use the data or, the login to pertinent data is top secret. I knew it, gotta have a 4 square right?

Managers who keep information from sales staff are practicioners of Bovine Skitology period.
We know all of our customers are online. We know the manufacturers and everyone else who can gives them data that is, for the most part correct. Below is what I hear when I listen to calls. But are all of the walk in customers immune to the data flow we are feeding to the universe?  It is simply impossible. Be ready or stay away from customers, period.

Thank you for calling ABC motors: ” Yes new car sales please” one moment: “new car sales this is Joe Bob,”
“kelp ye?” (Yes seaweed) ” I am calling about the 2006 Camry you have listed on usedcars .com, gold with tan leather, is it still available?”
“Yep sure is” ” can you tell me anything about it?” “I think it has been marked down to $21699 but I can beat that a little” “Really, online it says must go $14650.00 out the door” That’s a typo” Oh, okay do you know what it should actually be?” ” Naw but I can git with the manager and call you right back, whats that number?”   click:

And they tell everyone about this highly professional individual.
The other thing is “get this now,”  we have started slipping away from the basics again. I know  it is hard to believe, not us.
Now that people are selling cars we are right back to the shortcuts. If you are always looking for the easy way out, get out of
the car business. You are the reason we we have obstacles with our customers and they have a hard time respecting us.
This is our problem. Get rid of the dead weight and start practicing customer service.

Either way you loose the deal.

Does anyone else see this? If you are doing this, do you need to be at Burger King saying, “would you like some fries with that?”
When phone prospects buy 85% of the time, why screw it up? If you do not know what you are doing or you do not feel comfortable,
stay away from the phone, pay attention and learn.
Managers, do not lose focus on the fact that you are responsible for taking up slack. In a store the other day I watched in amazement as a lady
who had lost her vehicles in the recent storms call back 3 times to get to someone. Instead of just taking the call, the managers had to find a sales specialist
to do it. Yep, five more minutes observing fault instead of contributing to leadership.

I’m just sayin!

Sell Cars, Have Fun. It is still possible.

Kim Clouse

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