Industry News & Trends

Does Your Dealer Block Social Media?

image of facebook banned

Studies show over 50% percent of companies block social media in the work place.

I wouldn’t be surprised if car dealers help make up a large portion of that percentage…

Do you see this number decreasing as dealers get a better understanding of social media and the potential impact is has?

Or will most dealers keep their stance on social media and continue to block it from work computers?

I understand the Initial fear dealers might have. Being afraid that their sales and service employees will go about wasting time on social media sites like facebook. But maybe no more time than most do already standing in front of the window waiting for the up bus.

Then again, employees that want to be “social” find other ways to get it done – their iphone, ipad, driod or other mobile operating device.

If I were on the floor and worked at a dealership that restricted my access to social sites that I was able to leverage for rapport building and possible incremental sales, I’d have my iPad hooked to my hip or my laptop tethered through my phone for internet access.

Further studies suggest social media is spent more for personal reasons than work reasons with only 6.8% of the participants indicating that they use social media for any work purposes. Studies also suggests that social media on platforms such as Facebook have “shattered the divide between business and personal use” and often encourage such intermingling, further exacerbating this issue.

One could argue, as mobile devices (phones and tablets) make it easier to be “social”, is it even necessary to open access to social sites to everyone at the dealership?

Does your dealer restrict social media use?

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Anyone with an iphone is getting "social" on their own terms. 

Hovering over the receptionist and distracting her from her work, can't be a better use of time than watching your competitors YouTube channel.
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    Bobby Preston
  • August 3, 2011
I haven't restricted social media sites, yet. We have trained our people and encouraged our people to leverage the opportunities that social media, particularly Facebook, presents. However, I have found that the work related efforts are vastly out weighed by distraction and headaches (inappropriate posts, pictures, etc.) We implemented a new network recently and will be restricting these sites soon. Obviously, they'll still be able to check Facebook on their phones, but I think this is much better than browsing for the entire day. Most of our Facebook sales have started from a private message from an acquaintance, friend, or previous customer and these messages are emailed to you.
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    Grant Gooley
  • August 3, 2011
An employee who uses Facebook to distract them from their work is using other forms of distractions as well, like a phone to call their friends.
 
Facebook will not create a poor worker. Poor results means poor work. 

Staff need to be trained on Facebook and how to use it to benefit the dealership. If they are using Facebook in non-work way, then there will be trouble. The same as if you are calling your friends on the dealership phone. Whats the difference?
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    JQ
  • August 3, 2011
Does it really even matter anymore if the dealer is on Facebook?  Seems to me like we're chasing, chasing, chasing...  I'm starting to think we're chasing "nothing" -- just keeping-up for the sake of keeping-up.  I know that now we "have" to be there -- but the reasons "why" we have to be there seem to be fading pretty fast.  I mean, if a tree falls in the woods, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?  If we dumped our FB page, would our thousands of fans notice?  I wonder...
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RT @dealerrefresh: Does Your Dealer Block Social Media? Comment right here -->> http://bit.ly/n1SohB
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There's a great Ted Talk on the biggest obstacles to getting work done at work - Social Media isn't the problem. Jason Fried: Why work doesn't happen at work - http://www.ted.com/talks/jason_fried_why_work_doesn_t_happen_at_work.html
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As an HR Manager at a dealership who writes a personal humor blog, writes for an online magazine, and for an HR blog... I would really be two-faced to block my employees from social media.  We actually encourage them to sell cars to their Facebook friends.  We love the interaction with our customers.  Let's be real here... people spend a lot of time on social media.  We are being smart to capture some of that time.  We track where our leads come from, and I can promise you it works.  The one thing we do not allow is trash talking the company.  As long as they stay positive... we fully support their social media efforts.
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    Gwenny92
  • August 4, 2011
We do block social media...we actually block many websites.  In my opinion I think it's a mistake.  I think it is a great way to communicate with your customers on a much more personal basis.  Most of our employees will just use their phones anyways so why not embrace and support it. 
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    James Calero
  • August 4, 2011
Our dealer blocks social media save for the Internet Department that I manage.  So 3 employees have use of it.  Initially the thought was to connect with Gen Y on their terms for our Scion Brand.   In fact the opposite has happened, as baby boomers are embracing it as much as Gen. Y, Millennial and X buyers.  So for our initial 1st year in the world of social media, I would have to formulate my opinion that a dealer would greatly benefit from allowing the use of Social media and embrace the needs of the market as well as the future employees that will manage that market.  Ultimately driving sales has to come from a systematic approach to managing social media networks and leveraging the benefits on a macro level for all the dealerships departments, not just sales.  Connecting with the core values and buying motives of the next generation of buyers will involve adapting the sales to marketing strategies ability in building, supporting, and cultivating relationships outside the physical showroom.  Virtual showrooms on a dealers website are a key portal to introducing a dealers commitment to embracing the total relationship cycle by acknowledging the use of social media.
 
Considering the amount of time people spend on the internet should be a key indicator that social media sites are the hub of where all communication takes place.  To support this, I have had more interaction with a new client on Facebook than through a phone call or email.  The issue lies with security.  Virus’s run rampant among the net and social media has been flagged as a hot bed for the new hackers delight.


James
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    Joe Webb
  • August 4, 2011
Social media access can be a real bugaboo for some dealerships to grasp the concept of.  However, if allowed on the desktops and encouraged to use rather than abuse the mediums, it can be very beneficial.


I recommend my dealer clients to open up the desktops and allow FB access provided they 
a)  "Like" the dealership page
b)  Once a week, share either a review, video, or blog from the dealership's page on their own page.

(This way, you are expanding your sphere of influence.  If you dealership's only multimedia posted that week was a video customer testimonial another salesperson received, the coworker won't be happy sharing it on their page BUT it will start humbling them enough to start obtaining their own customer testimonials from their own clients).  

The sales teams have to understand that they must give a little to get a little.  If they want to be social with their own FB connections, they must reciprocate by being social (and re-sharing) with their employer.
  • Anonymous
  • August 4, 2011
Granting social media access can be a real bugaboo for some dealerships to grasp the concept of.  However, if allowed on the desktops and encouraged to use rather than abuse the mediums, it can be very beneficial.I recommend my dealer clients open up the desktops and allow FB access provided the employees a)  "Like" the dealership pageb)  Once a week, share either a review, video, or blog from the dealership's business page on their own personal FB page.(This way, as the dealership, you are expanding your sphere of influence.  If your dealership's only multimedia posted that week was a video customer testimonial another salesperson received, their coworker won't be happy sharing it on their page BUT it will start humbling them enough to start obtaining their own customer testimonials from their own clients.  Also, you are ensuring that their soc med connections are being made well aware of their employment at your store.  Now, their "friends" will never be able to use the excuse "I didn't know you worked at a dealership" after purchasing a vehicle from someone else.)If the employees agree upon this (and also agree to not personally friend any customers they sell for fear of a negative post affecting the relationship between dealership and client), then FB access should be given.The sales teams have to understand that they must give a little to get a little.  If they want to be social with their own FB connections, they must reciprocate by being social (and re-sharing) with their employer.
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I have read a lot of studies on this topic and found that when employers lock down these pages, employees will just use their smart phones to do the same.
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    B Uttich
  • August 4, 2011
Keep all channels open as a mean to sell more cars! Have your employees share your message with their friends. The more eyeballs on your message the better!
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Years ago, we had filters on the sales staff computers.  Then we realized we only needed good rules and understanding by the (adult) sales staff.  We've had no problems.
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    Dinof777
  • August 5, 2011
We have open access to Facebook and other social sites but block the games on those sites. We found people playing farm-ville and mafia wars instead of working.
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    Jeff Kershner
  • August 9, 2011
Tom - I totally agree with you 100%. It's frustrating to be an "Adult" while having my privileges taken away due to others actions and lack of maturity. It's like being in elementary school when the whole class gets punished for what another does.

Treat your people like adults. When they step out of line, handle the situation one on one. Having filters and blocking sites (other than harmful sites) is a lazy move for lazy people.
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    Jeff Kershner
  • August 9, 2011
I've seen these addictions first hand. The receptionist are many times guilty of this action. Dealers rarely take advantage of the extra time a receptionist has on their hands. Lost efficiencies right there.

I can understand why some business would block social game. I've seen some harmful viruses find their way through some of these games on facebook.
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    Jeff Kershner
  • August 9, 2011
This is exactly what happens. Our dealerships blocks ALL social (and most others) sites while allowing a small window for access between the hours of noon and one. Instead sales people, service and managers are sitting at their desk, or around the corner of the building on their phones accessing their facebook accounts. They find a way.

Question is - having to go out of your way like this cause additional inefficiencies? OR - are social apps on your phone not really "out of the way" and how most prefer to connect anyways?
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    Jeff Kershner
  • August 9, 2011
Solid plan Joe! Talk about amplifying the message.

You have the opportunity to visit dealers all the time. Are you seeing any dealers consistent with this strategy? And if so -- any real world results to report back with?
  • Anonymous
  • August 9, 2011
Great question, Jeff.  we do have a few of our dealers following this specific piece of advice, but....

(and here comes a topic for another blog post) we don't actively measure/track engagements on the social media sites because, at this point, it is relatively futile.  To think that there are dealers that may be cross-checking their sold customers across the board inside their FB fan page lets me know they are grasping at straws.  In these cases, the Internet Director might be looking for proof to allow them to spend more time on the platform.  Someone doesn't friend you and purchase from you the next day. 

We prefer dealers to utilize soc med for more of a customer retention piece than customer acquisition.  Too many companies are telling dealers otherwise.  Even opening up these multiple channels through your employees by allowing them access given their participation, while a noteworthy action for branding (and buy-in), isn't going to change the fact that salespeople don't know how to answer a call properly or respond to an Internet lead responsibly.
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    Jim Bell
  • August 11, 2011
I am sad to say that we do have all od the social sites blocked on the desktops at work. That doesn't mean that the guys aren't doing it. They are accessing it through their iTouches and phones. It is something that we do have to consider since social is such a hot topic. I don't think that the guys will be on the playing farmville or anything like that so I think that we would be safe.
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    Jeff Kershner
  • August 11, 2011
Jim, I agree and see the same at my Dealerships. Truth is, not many would are that fluent on facebook anyways. They migjt check it from time to time but not enough to be a true time suck. And the ones that are - train them to leverage it for additional exposure. Maybe sell a few more cars?


Jeff Kershner
Founder | DealerRefresh

[email protected]
http://www.dealerrefresh.com
240 217 1740
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    Edward_Shaffer
  • August 16, 2011
The factors I am not seeing discussed here are:

1)  The bandwidth drain that YouTube and Fb would have on our already thinly stretched pipe...

2)  The potentially damaging effect on the dealership as a brand if too closely connected to its employees in a social setting...

Thoughts?

Ed Shaffer
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Ed - I want to jump on your first question because you're right, it hasn't been touched yet.  And I hope my perspective can shed some light on why you asked this question in the first place.

I have a lot of experience with dealership bandwidth issues from my time with Checkered Flag.  Checkered Flag is located in an area with fantastic options for getting more bandwidth.  And Checkered Flag was not afraid to put more money into satisfying their employees' technological needs.  However, now that I am on the vendor side of the fence I am looking back and asking the question:  why did we even have bandwidth issues in the first place?

I believe that Checkered Flag evolved their IT needs the same way many dealerships have:  from a security standpoint that was based on the needs of an accounting department.  Because there is a lot of paranoia around security (over a huge number of things), and justifiably so in a few cases, systems are strained by bottlenecks.  Lots of firewalls, lots of switches, lots of whatevers have all done their part to strain the flow.  And increasing the size of the bandwidth pipe really doesn't make a noticeable difference when there are hardware bottlenecks.

On the other side of the fence that I now sit on, IT's first responsibility is usability of the network.  It is about making the bandwidth available for employees to do their jobs fist, then patching-up any holes that could be exploited.  

So, that is a long way of saying that I have been exposed to two types of IT perspectives:  1 with security as the priority and 1 with usability as the priority.  These different priorities make for some massive differences!  

With so many technological advances happening so often, and so many changing bandwidth needs, it is probably time every company decide which priority makes the most sense today.
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Ed - I just wanted to say thanks for the inspiration:  http://www.dealerrefresh.com/it-oh-how-i-love-thee/
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Ed - I just wanted to say thanks for the inspiration:  http://www.dealerrefresh.com/it-oh-how-i-love-thee/
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    Carguy1
  • December 6, 2011
My dealer, Larry Van Tuyl, thinks Facebook, social media, and even the internet are all just fads that will soon go away. They still think there are millions of people with good credit that think the web is too dangerous to "surf". They believe Americans want to be abused and conned just like we've always done it. We've been told that repeat and referral business is nothing more than a figment of a bunch of "do gooder's imagination. Consequently, after we get through with a prospect we're pretty sure we'll never see them again, unless it's in a courtroom. I sure do hope Mr. Van Tuyl is right.
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    automotiveseo
  • February 21, 2012
Jeff, thanks for pointing me to this post. I just shared my experience with a dealer group that had blocked social media access and after I showed how their staff could monetize social media engagement, the light bulb went on in the dealer principal's head.



I wanted to offer DealerRefresh readers who may be interested in participating in a webinar on this topic, to send me an email to: [email protected] . If enough people reply, I will setup a webinar in March and share my presentation that open some eyes on why the chains should come off social media access.

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    tjyoung
  • April 15, 2012
Being from a large dealer group you get the 'porn surfers who will literally surf porn with their customers standing just on other side of the screen', the 'youtube sales reps who watch golf all day long', and of course the facebook "look at me, aren't my pics and my life pretty and wonderful... please tell me that"
 
Social media is a passive endeavour for those who are flaked out on the couch/in bed and don't wish to be marketed to. They are just catching up with friends and  gossip. Thats about it. The rest are '1 person companies' holed up in their basement claiming to be social gurus and trying desperately to get us all to believe the world is coming to an end if you don't get on the bandwagon.
 
Show me a dealer or two knocking them dead in social media, selling cars and loving it.
 
Good luck
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    BrianPasch
  • April 16, 2012
TJYoung
 
If the employees at the dealership choose to waste their time surfing porn, they are most likely not the right people that will serve the dealership in the long term.  In my experience, poor work habits by employees is a reflection of the leadership at the very top of the organization.  Painful to hear, but so often this is the case.
 
The commitment and passion of the employees at any company is directly related to the leaders of the company.   If the dealership employees have no respect for their time and the investment made by their dealer principal, there are bigger problems at play.
 
Internet access is not the biggest one by far! 
 
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