(Repost from Automotive Dealers Network March 2009)
Anyone that has ever worked in a dealership as a sales consultant all the way up to a management position can share many experiences of dealing with the difficult issue of having downtime in the showroom. This is a sore subject for many people because they are affected negatively: They are not selling cars which mean that they are not making money.
I have heard stories in the past of how these issues were handled and today
the same stands true. We can blame our government, the Internet, the pay plan,
the customer, the product, the dealer, and lots of others. There are many changes
that society has begun to face both from the consumer and retailer points of view.
What are the changes and how do we deal with them?
Some will say the consumer has changed and lost loyalty when shopping for a product. In other cases, some will
say that the consumer did not change at all and it is the Internet that changes how we sell cars because we instantly
think it is alright to give away a car. In any event there is no wrong or right assumption because depending on our
marketing, selling, social networking ability and reputation in the marketplace we can still remain strong and sell. The
times are tough with the economy is in a recession which means that there must be a change in process and an update
of skills that were once taught. The truth of the matter is that there is no reason to give away cars at a loss of profit just
because the customer will shop five stores. The key is to build value and make yourself stand apart from the
competition. I have worked with and met people who sit around the showroom playing games and goofing off
throughout the slow days. I also have a friend in the business who sells Land Rover in this economy and is still on track
to make over $100,000 this year. As the day goes by and the showroom is empty it makes sense to sit down and
strategize new ways to get creative. After all it is creativity that sells cars and it is creativity that builds gross. The most
successful people in the automotive industry are also the most creative people.
As I read articles about best practices from my fellow peers that are consultants I am reminded that we got to
the level that we are at because we have always thought outside the box. I was Internet director at a dealership
that had a perfect location and a very stingy general manager who would not allow me to have more than 520
leads per month. He set crazy expectations of selling 100 units per month off of the Internet. When I got to the
dealership they were doing 25 units per month on the Internet. It was not long until I tweaked the process and
trained the staff where they would get creative. It was a matter of one month where the department did over 60
cars with an increase of $500 per copy in gross. As a matter of fact that month I had a 17% closing ratio. Sadly,
I was never able to get past 70 units per month no matter how creative I would get because Internet spending
was at a minimum and back then I did not think to use social networking to drive business. If I was there today I
would have a few more tricks up my sleeve.
There are so many ways to keep busy and build business that excuses should be rejected. I know an internet sales
manager that made a video with his son helping him advertise himself. This man still sells over 20 cars per month and
they are domestic brands just like the ones that similar dealers are shutting down. I know a Nissan dealership in Florida
that has a sales consultant working specializing in sign language for people that cannot speak. The same dealership
also creates videos of special events that take place so that the public is aware that the dealership is not just there to
make money but also to have fun. There are companies out there that are filming small videos of their customer’s
positive testimonials. There are many progressive dealers out there thatwho are starting to utilize social networking
sites to build relationships with friends and consumers as a way of keeping their name out there and lowering cost per
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