Mystery Shops: What You Don’t Know Could Be Dangerous!

What We Learned About KBB, CarGurus and Your Team from Just 3 Mystery Shops

I’ve often heard top process people say something like “The first step to process improvement is understanding what needs to be improved.” Knowing, they say, is half the battle.

mystery shop

We mystery shop hundreds of dealers each year and like to think we learn something new with each shop. Certainly, the shop reports can be eye-opening for the General Managers and Dealer Principals, but we sometimes uncover activity or behavior that even we’ve never seen before.

Whether we’re conducting a 30-day or a 7-day shop for a client, we read every text message and email, and listen to every voicemail. It’s because of this thoroughness that we reveal the sometimes dealer-unfriendly activities that our clients had no idea were occurring.

Moreover, none of these actions were recorded in their respective CRM tools – this means these dealers would likely never have learned they were happening. It’s impossible, of course, to correct negative behavior of which you have no knowledge.

Three Shops; Three Interesting Discoveries

Three of our recent shops were especially informative – and potentially costly for the dealers involved. And, while what we learned could probably fill more than a dozen blog posts, I wanted to share just our three most interesting learnings:

What’s your policy on leaving sold units advertised online?

I am interested to know what policies dealers have for removing sold units from online advertising.

It seems that some dealers are prone to leaving sold units online until they are delivered with the aim of attracting further leads which they can then work with to move the customers to similar cars. Although this may provide some additional sales it also has the effect of diluting the lead conversion rates by having a number of leads for vehicles that cannot be sold in the usual manner..

Other dealers are of the opinion that having a customer respond to an online ad for a car already sold leads to customer dissatisfaction and promotes a lack of transparency and seeds customer mistrust. These dealers remove all sold cars right away.

Has anyone done specific research on this and what are your policies regarding the sold units?

3 Free Effective Communication Tools That Will Increase Your Response Rate

Digital is an expectation, not an enhancement or an addition. Our culture has come to expect a digital experience in the smallest of our daily routines. Fast Food has become automated (the kiosk can’t forget I said no pickles), I can take a picture and deposit my check, (or just use Apple Pay and PayPal) and I even order my dog food off of Amazon.

3 Free Effective Communication Tools

In the automotive industry, this means from the moment of initial purchasing research until the moment the car is programmed for the buyer, digital seems to run the show.

Except when it doesn’t…

The BuzzTerm for 2016/17 will be Human Capital

Every year our industry latches onto a new Buzz-word (or term.) I’m predicting the next buzz-term in our industry that gets abused and overused during the up-coming conference season will be… Humam Capital.

A few in our industry will swear they’re the originator of the term. Other’s will claim they own the term and have a patent on it. At least one will claim the acronym (HC) or abbreviation (HumCap) and name their newly found company the same. And there’s always that one person in the industry that will register 20 different URL variations around the term like:
or get crazy and register a URL using one of the newer domain extensions…
Or what about hondadealerhuman.captial                  

By all means, I’m in no way making light of the topic. Of all the buzz-terms over the years, this is one worthy of being overused. It’s a significant topic I’ve been writing about and drilling dealers on for years. We are even lucky to have Candice Crane of Crane Automotive Resources contributing a monthly article around the topic.


Who offers a “Buy It Now” service for dealer websites?

What companies in our industry provide a COMPLETE Online Vehicle Purchase service for dealerships (website) that can handle the full transaction from beginning to end?

I would like to keep a running tally and inventory of all the companies in our industry that offer a COMPLETE solution for purchasing a vehicle online from an OEM dealership.

UPDATE – List of current companies providing a COMPLETE Online Vehicle Purchase service for dealerships so far:

The First Call Should Be the ONLY Call

Strategy #7 of 7 Simple Strategies for Closing More Internet Deals Today!

The Dealership 411

One of the greatest challenges for dealers trying to master the internet is getting over their own preconceived notions about what internet sales entail.

As I’ve been writing throughout this this 7-part series, internet sales are not hard; they’re not mysterious and they’re certainly not anything to overthink. My hope has been to detail in plain language how you and your sales managers can stop overthinking much of what goes into making a sale to an internet prospect, and how to use these seven simple strategies to set more appointments that show-up and buy today:

Simple Strategy #7: The First Call Should Be the ONLY Call

The Problem: Our teams expect to make more than one call to schedule an appointment that shows; because, as we learned in Simple Strategy #4, they’re treating leads like requests for information instead of like orders. This means when they do reach someone, or someone calls them, they immediately go into “information mode” or worse, “helper mode.”

In information mode, they vomit information all over the prospect. The prospect that has already completed nineteen hours of research, looked at more than twenty different source of information and has chosen our car from among the millions for sale online. All we can do now is tell them too much… just enough so that they do not need to come in.

Thank our Sponsors! Because their support matters

Thank you DealerRefresh sponsors

Every so often, it’s a great idea to say Thank You.

Wether it’s saying thanks to a friend or family member, you don’t always need a reason to say and express your gratitude. Today, I would like to thank our DealerRefresh Sponsors. If it weren’t for our Sponsors, It’s likely DealerRefresh might not still be around. With the ever-going popularity of the Blog over the years and with the growing community of the dealer forums, it’s takes quite a bit of cash flow and band-with to keep DealerRefresh stable and moving forward.

So again, BIG THANKS to our current and past sponsors over the last several years.

It doesn’t cost much to advertise here on the DealerRefresh. I’ve intentionally kept the price down over the years so smaller startups in our industry have a popular media outlet and opportunity to get their name and services in front of a highly targeted dealer audience at an affordable rate. If you’re a vendor and are interested in getting your brand and message in front of a highly targeted audience of thousands, you may inquire here.

PLEASE take a moment to say THANKS to all our current sponsors below by checking out what services they have to offer. You may just find the solution you’ve been looking for.

Automotion Dealer Apps – For progressive dealers seeking to up their mobile experience and marketing.

eLeadOne – EleadOne introduces TRM, bridging the gap between sales, service and marketing.

VAN / Vehicle Acquisition Network – Vehicle trades don’t necessarily provide the vehicles you need. VAN does.

TradePending – Convert MORE organic high quality trade-ins from your own dealer website.

Dealer Inspire – an innovative disruptor building unprecedented websites and technology for dealers.

AutoHook – Drive more traffic to where it matters most – Your Showroom

PureCars – The PureCars Platform is revolutionizing the way dealers reach and convert car buyers online

VINCue – know what your competitors are selling, stocking and pricing.

ActivEngage – Get more quality leads and build your online reputation with dealer chat and text

DealerRater – Earn more reviews faster with ReviewBuilder

WalkAround Video – Want to tell more car? Send this a video using your phone with WalkAround Video

Drive Dominion – From DMS to Equity to Inventory to Digital Marketing, Dominion has you covered


What Companies Offer an Online “Buy It Now” Service for Dealers?

What companies in our industry provide a COMPLETE Online Vehicle Purchase service for dealerships (website) that can handle the full transaction from beginning to end?

I would like to keep a running tally and inventory of all the companies in our industry that offer a COMPLETE solution for purchasing a vehicle online from a dealership.

Here is a list of current companies providing a COMPLETE Online Vehicle Purchase service for dealerships so far:

If you know of another not listed, please add to the discussion.