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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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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

Get The Whole Store Involved

Posted by Kim Clouse | Posted in Helping Car Dealers and The Auto Industry | Posted on 05-03-2010

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I was finally able to come up for air today after the last few weeks. Then I realized I had not finished the Dealership Innovation Guide from Driving Sales. Must say, I love it. The particular article that came to my attention was by my friend Rafi Hamid entitled Internet Departments are on the decline, and that is good. In my opinion, it is the best description and explanation of where we all need to be going. Hat’s off Rafi  for sharing real and accountable information that the industry needs. Keep bringin it.
Kim

To Tell The Truth? An Automotive Question from Kim Clouse of I Auto Consultants

Posted by Kim Clouse | Posted in Helping Car Dealers and The Auto Industry | Posted on 06-02-2010

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To Tell The Truth!

 

Well, since I watched the video post by Ralph Paglia on Social Media Douchebags, (here for your pleasure if you missed it.)  http://bit.ly/92jg0U

I could not resist stirring the pot myself.

Okay, you have been at work all week, sold scared, followed every customer to the owner’s office door to introduce them for the mini and you’re burnt. As you enter the cashier’s office to get the last five dollars you have exchanged for ones you glance at the floor and see three one hundred dollar bills.

Nobody else in the world has seen them or you, now standing on them. You’re  invisible, you only have 4 cars out and it is the 15th. Your power bill is two months late and you are back to the go phone.

Tell the truth here and now.

What would you do with this money?

Answer, or if you’re scared, close the page.

Pretenders know.

Kim 

Social Media Policy Question from Julie Powers – Lia Auto Group

Posted by Kim Clouse | Posted in Helping Car Dealers and The Auto Industry | Posted on 13-11-2009

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What’s the best way to develope a social media policy for employees without sounding like “big brother” or defeating the purpose of an “open conversation”?

Julie,
I find that it is best to research and find specific negative social content and then allow them to see the damage potential it can have personally. This will help demonstrate how that will affect them professionally. Then, have a special day for the creaton of the process and policy of the company in regard to social media. Invite, in fact “make it mandatory” that everyone attends to help create the process, policy and the “consequence” for breaking the rules. Make it fun, have lunch brought in or have a day away so they feel involved. Then you can moderate and get their thinking channeled to the severity of the consequence. This will let them understand you feel the need for a policy but want their input to write it and that you are serious without the big brother approach.
People usually live better by the rules they help create. They also tend to monitor it better themselves if you give them the power of pride.
From there, have a monthly review day to get their input and check progress. Also make sure every new emloyee understands and ask them for ideas they may have. Be sure to include the company e-commerce and social marketing review day in your employee pack.
Empower them to make the rules, then require them to adhere to those rules or suffer the consequqence you all created together..
In my opinion, this works best.
KC

Can You Say Snake Oil?

Posted by Kim Clouse | Posted in I Love Sales | Posted on 23-10-2009

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Okay,
It is time for us to reveal all of the “Snake Oil” we know of over the years that are the (yes I am using slang) stupidest thing you know of a dealer has bought or was presented and considered buying. It still happens you know.
If we think hard enough we can look back and see just how ridiculous a lot of things directed at the auto industry have been. It doesn’t matter if it is fixed ops, sales, f&I, inventory just whatever. You know like some nifty glow in the dark static signs that went on a door in a parts delivery area for late night deliveries. They were $450.00 and could not have cost $10.00 to make. I saw them once and the parts manager said ”hey, I got some signs that glow in the dark so the delivery guys will quit complaining about not having a way to get close to that door.” Yeah right, cheaper than a night light but I never saw them work, not ever. I bet they are still on the building now 12 years later. I know there is a ton of this including consultants and rain makers who have been in your store that you know never sold a car and a host of well, other crap that really isn’t funny but stupid. So let’s all laugh about it now while we can. I want to collect them here and then I will have a surprise for all of you. Dealers, rat out your buddies that fell for stupid stuff that cost thousands and include yourselves. Remember to respect everyone’s privacy or at least pretend you do. After a few weeks I promise you it will get funny and be a good learning experience. Even now, reveal those things that are snake oil and those who need tarred and feathered just like the rain makers.
KC

snakeoil It works try it and see!

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