Best PracticesOpinions & Advice

How should I approach getting a customer in the door?

I am a pretty successful ISM at a Volvo store in an area that is very competitive. A 1200 or even 2000 dollar loser is not unheard of in my area.

My problem is my owner is very conservative and will not allow me to send ANY quotes out. He wants me to only set appointments. I do understand what he is trying to do. I also understand that it is my job not to provide too much information and to set an appointment. However, consumers shopping on the internet expect a quote and can get one within an hour.

Do you have any ideas as to how I should approach getting a customer in the door without using any numbers?

Thanks for your help guys.

Best Regards,
Johnny Swartz
Internet &
Fleet Manager

Founder of DealerRefresh - 20+ Years of dealership Sales, Management, Training, Marketing and Leadership.
R
I am having nearly the exact same issue. I will definitely be interested to hear comments.
B
You can try using an incentive such as a free gas card for coming in and test driving the vehicle. This way you get then through the door to test drive the vehicle and have the opportunity to sell them something. You can also encourage them to gather their quotes and then come in to you last for the best price. This way they have done their shopping and can feel comfortable talking numbers once they actually get there.
B
There are two conversations going on in any buyer + seller conversation.

The buyer's conversation + the seller's conversation.

Your dealer is ignoring the reasons why the consumer is on the Internet (they are weary / leary of the traditional sales tactics) and only having his own conversation.

He is bringing the traditional sales approach (which is what drove consumers to the Internet in the first place) to the Internet.

So that is the bad news. The good news is you're not the only one doing this. Just don't expect any consumers to buy from you again once you pull it off.

Go with programs like complimentary trade equity analyses, gift bags for coming in, free trade in safety inspection, wash + vac. Consider a program of buying the trade whether they buy the new car from you or not.

You also mentioned $1,200-$2,000 gross profit losses being typical. I've been doing this a long time. Whenever I hear that, all I can think is someone's sales conversation is sooooo far out of sync with the consumer's conversation (better experience) that they feel they have to "buy" the business. Dealers do not have the gross profit to do it - as your case shows.

Maybe it is not your case, but anywhere I've found a dealer buying the business, I also find a horrific customer satisfaction issue. Even with unbelievable deals, consumers still don't believe dealers because their buying conversation hasn't been heard.

Perhaps when your owner's pain starts getting high enough he'll be brave enough to try a new approach. I do know that most dealers still relying on his approach plus traditional media to create selling opportunities are mostly hearing crickets in the showroom these days.

If it were me, I'd assess whether I could change the system or go somewhere where you can make what you are worth. I just don't believe in false paradigms (it has to be this way, what can I do) that leave you pushing jello up a hill. It is just too messy and ineffective. Ineffective, frustrating and unprofitable for you and your dealership.
J
  • J
    Johnny Swartz
  • October 9, 2007
Your Right Brian, this is a tough issue and very frustrating. I have thought of moving on but I don't like to just give up.

The gimmicks like free gas card and such I have thought of. I guess I have to give something away to give them incentive to come in. Unless there is a better way to present yourself via email that may attract customers like a magazine ad approach? I don't know. I figure If I can get them on the phone of course that will help 10 fold.

You said it Brian:

"Your dealer is ignoring the reasons why the consumer is on the Internet (they are weary / leary of the traditional sales tactics) and only having his own conversation."

So frustrating.
S
Johnny,

If "giving up" is not an option...

I have found that most owners who feel this way have based their decisions on antiquated business practices that were all the rage 5 years ago, according to the process snake oil salesman that sold them a bottle of the latest and greatest at the time.

The good news here is that your owner learned this from someone... so... he can learn something new.

Send an email to the folks that you feel are the best and brightest in the industry with verifiable, published (e-100) results and ask for what seems to be their best practices and processes that drive customers to their dealerships.

I bet you will find that they all share at least one practice - they give the customer what they ask for without all the gameplay.

Gather this info from the best of the best and share it with your owner in a discreet, little by little, article by article kind of way...

My guess is that when he sees what the best and brightest are doing, he won't want to be left behind.

Better yet, after he "gathers" all this information and comes to you with his ideas... well, you get the picture.

If this does not work, then, a change of scenery might do you good.

Just my 2 cents.

Best regards,

Steve
A
We all know customers are being conditioned to ask for a price, and the "best price". And they have every right to ask - it is an important piece of information in the buying process. However, most customers do not buy the car they originally set out to purchase. There are five million reasons for this, and we only hear a small percentage of the 3%ish who actually submit Internet inquiries (or so the statistics say). There are ways to position your approach to play off this fact.

Fortunately for most Internet Managers/BDC personnel, the majority of dealers are still holding onto the old ways - struggling to maintain control of the customer. We are in a revolutionary time in the auto industry. Call it the "Wild West" where anyone can be a gunslinger. Since Henry Ford made mass automobile manufacturing possible dealerships were successful based on two things: the brand they carried and location....anything else was a plus. Today, those factors haven't changed a whole lot, but they are going to. Customers want a fair price (not your best price), but what they really want is a fantastic experience....look at MINI and Scion, and soon SMART.

Before I get too far into my philosophizing, let me get back on the subject. There are ways to avoid a price quote with most customers: get them on the phone with a strong communicator who has a call guide or have the best value added program/reputation blasting in every media. The latter is very expensive by the way. If you don't have those two things going for you, then you're going to have to give the customer what he/she is asking for: a price. It doesn't have to be your best price, but it should be fair.
L
It must be tough. We offer our lowest, no haggle price upfront. Some want to dance with the numbers and many don’t. Give them no price, and that’s even more work. Maybe build value in the Dealership, and or Service Department there. I agree, gas cards, fruit baskets, and free key chains are a bit tacky. I have found that price is important to a shopper, but not the most important. Trust in the Dealer, and reputation goes a long way. Response time is the key to the internet lead. If you are waiting an hour to follow up, that’s too long and allowing others to give that client prices. The best bet is guiding them to your web site, to help them buy in to your Company. Remember; sell the appointment not the car. If you get that must have a price person, have a Sales Associate give them a call. Then you follow up and book the appointment. Good luck.
A
AutoRevenue vs. OnStation? Any thoughts. Anyone used AutoRevenue and then switched to Cobalt's OnStation? Which gave you better results?
L
  • L
    Lao Shi
  • October 9, 2007

What you are sending Internet customers is a reason to do business with your dealership over your competition? If you believe it's just about price then you should be listing your cars on an auction site like eBay discount sites like Craig’s list. If it's just price, everyone would be driving a base model, budget vehicle. It's about perceived value for dollars spent.

A successful ISM builds relationship and communicates product value. This means answering the questions to the best of your ability the client asks in their email.

The dealership confident of their formula: Service + reputation + price + value + brand + consistency over the years = successful business will not be ashamed to place inventory, price on the site and answer the questions the client has.

Always respond to all emails and clients as you would any client, never pre judge a client. You maybe right 7 times out of ten and you lose the 3.

Always respond to in a personal manner. You never ignore a customer who walks into your store; don’t ignore a customer in the inbox.

Contact the client right away. The longer you wait to respond to their initial inquiry, the greater the chance that they will get the information from another dealer. Develop the relationship early.

The Internet is a 24/7 operation 365 days a year. This gives your dealership a tremendous advantage if you set up the site and response programs well. Many dealers are still out to lunch, on ecommerce and how to use it effectively.

How many dealers have bought into the fancy flash sites at $4-6 thousand dollars a month that do very little to sell the client? They make the dealer feel like “Sumpom” and do little for the client except to reaffirm the dealership is as “tacky” as their website. The web site is a window on the dealer.

I have seen dealers who invest in a nice site and enjoy greater monthly sales for $8 to 1200.00 a month. That is a savings of $50-60,000 a year. The sites that rely on the supermarket tabloid approach with lots of pizzazz and no substance are a waste of money. Most customers do not want this; they want honest answers, good service, reliability, and to believe they are not going to get raked over the coals.

Almost 50% of car shoppers begin their search for their new vehicle on the Internet. Today the Internet is in 90 % of American homes many with broadband connection.

Answer their Email questions, honestly and to the point. If you lead them on or give them false hopes you are not being honest. This will prove you’re interested in earning their business.

Always follow up with emails and phone calls, as my grandfather and father always told me when we fished together; “keep the lines tight” Do not be pushy; be service orientated and helpful. Never give up….follow up.

R
Johnny,

If your Management Team does not embrace the internet process, and stand behind you 100%... WHY WOULD YOU STAY??? You said you work for a VOLVO store, It is a requirement of Volvo (Ford Motor Company) if a client requests a quote from Volvo's site you must give them one. What are you doing about this??? As you will find the question to Quote or Not the one that causes the most Friction between Dealers and ISMs.
L
  • L
    Lee
  • October 11, 2007
"Your dealer is ignoring the reasons why the consumer is on the Internet (they are weary / leary of the traditional sales tactics) and only having his own conversation."


I think that quote sums up how things are in the majority of stores. That, and a lot of "seasoned" sales/management that have the reality of things blinded by their huge ego's.
I
  • I
    Internet Jeff
  • October 12, 2007
Much like Brians dilemmas, I work GM BuyPower leads where General Motors instructs us to reply with any type of price quote within I believe it is 24 to 48 hours.

These are my issues with the leads:
1. Many arrive with generalized info: Silverado 1500 LT 4wd
2. The consumer just built and priced out the vehicle on gm.com
3. Over 50% of the leads are invalid (GM should look into some new scouring pads!)

How do you respond with accurate pricing without knowing what equip is desired on the vehicle?

I've been testing different processes for these situations. To those I responded with 'best pricing' upfront, not one sale. Most never acknowledged they even received the quote.

This is a reply received after a week of email correspondence, and having two different appt times set on an exact vehicle of interest:

'Thanks jeff for all your hard work. Decided this is not the right time to buy, when we are in the market again we will contact you first.' What? But, but, but...

A few days later, my Autotrader rep informs me of my great customer service from another dealership. Huh? Yeah, during the PURCHASE and negotiations, the customer talked me up to them about the dealership and my customer service, not price as they got much less of a deal there.

Only as a last resort, will I ever give 'best pricing' without phone contact first at minimum.

Open to fellow dealerrefresher suggestions please!

As Lao stated, “keep the lines tight” Do not be pushy; be service orientated and helpful. Never give up….follow up.
J
  • J
    Johnny Swartz
  • October 12, 2007
Thanks guys. Lao Shi, You are right, good stuff.

Robert,

You are right, Volvo Requires us to answer within 2 hours with a personal response but we dont have to quote a price we just have to say if the car is available, Who we are, Confirm the car they want, our business hours and have a personal greeting. Thats it.

When People ask me for a quote I have been sending them the MSRP and telling them to call me if they have questions. Of course I have been hitting the phones twice as hard trying to get appointments because my emails are aimed now at getting them to call me and commiting them to appointments.

I must admit just like Lao Shi stated. Providing customer service, building a quick relationship, and keeping the lines tight without be pushy has worked for me. My appointments have gone up quite a bit already without using numbers and my gross is looking much better.
S
  • S
  • October 12, 2007
We have tried both approaches and have come to costly conclusion that giving a price is the better track with Internet leads. I use an 'as low as' quote with a minimum of vehicle information and an exact quote with vin#'s and stock #"s. It seems to work, over average combined gross is pennies under $2,000
M
  • M
    Mark
  • October 13, 2007
I work for a DMS provider; I'm also a consumer, so I've heard car dealers from two different perspectives on this issue. I have to tell you, it's astonishing to me how scared some salespeople are to say, "This is just a rough guess, but..."

The last time I bought a vehicle, the quote I got from the guy I ended up buying from was about $1,500 lower than the final sell price. That was about $1,000 closer than his nearest competitor. It was also immeasurably closer than the non-quotes I recieved from the dealerships I never visited.

This is strictly anecdotal, I don't know how many other buyers are like myself, but I personally didn't even visit the stores that wouldn't give me a quote. Buyers are smart. We *know* there's more to the deal than just the listed price. Give a little respect, get a little respect.
G
  • G
    Gerald Hand
  • October 13, 2007
One thing that worked for me very well was to tell the customer on the phone "I am sorry, but my store prohibits me from providing pricing information over the phone or Internet." The majority of the time, customers would come in, the rest of the time, I would have my new car director turn and give a quote. This was at a Honda store in the Dallas area, so it is competitive. The other tactic is to quote a vehicle you may not have and switch to a different car, or, quote the vehicle before dealer adds.

Hope that helps.
N
You’re talking about an industry-wide problem. I don’t propose to know the answer but I may have a partial to the issue how much information to provide shoppers. See: www.VehiclePaymentShopper.com

Look over our web site and let me know what you think.

Noland Harris
President/Publisher
Vehicle Payment $hopper LLC

J
  • J
    Johnny Swartz
  • October 15, 2007
Thanks for the comments! Keep them coming please.

This past week when this "new" way for us to treat Internet Customers started I thought it may work. It seems it is not going to work. I know I just reported great appointments and higher gross but I believe it to be luck with people I would have reached on the phone anyhow. I am now stuck with a flood of emails of people wanting quotes or not even responding to me. Here is the most common response I have gotten from a customer when I resist giving him information and try to get an appointment.

"Can you provide with pricing 1st. This is the whole reason why I'm using the Internet department."

and

"Johnny,

Just give me your best quote and we can go from there.

Thanks,

Bruce"

I'm going crazy here. I don't think I can handle this much longer. Before I would look at these questions and attack with a good price. Now I just look at them like a deer in headlights. I cant move and I don't know what to do.

Thanks guys.

Frustrated ISM in San Diego,
Johnny Swartz




J
  • J
    Johnny Swartz
  • October 15, 2007
The Vehicle Payment Shopper on your web site Nolan, is a creative idea. The only issue I have with it is will it be confusing for the customer and it's not personal. It is very general like an auto-responder.
S
Johnny,

Personally I am given freedom to do as I see needed with all of my internet leads. And in my practices I have found it much more affective to only give an MSRP price and here is my reason behind this.

With the saturation of VW and Audi in my area, a potential buyer will recieve 5 emails within the day with pricing, and truely there is nothing that one dealership can do that another one (pricing wise) can't. Giving a customer an MSRP price sets your bar to hopefully be at the top of the list, then gives you a chance for everyone else to place their bids, then come in as the lowest and last bidder in the end. Setting a pricing bar and continuing a relationship with the customer will gain personal trust and the worth that you are actaully giving them a better deal. Once a price is in their heads, we all know how hard it is to justifiy having to make it higher.

Also finding a point that allows them to shop everywhere else first, and let me be your last place to shop.



N
Johnny,

Your comments are appreciated.

I developed the VP$ concept a few years ago as an annual direct mail piece and as part of my inquiry response program. My customers and prospects loved it. While my market was mostly upper-end, customer in lower market segments seemed to quickly grasp the concept.

After all, everyone, rich or poor, has a monthly budget. Additionally, VP$ opens the customer eyes to vehicles and trim levels that they may never thought of - vehicles that may be in the dealer's inventory. And VP$ displays manufacturer special offers along side the dealership's standard financing package.

Lastly, VP$ displays are an excellent reference. While they may not have all the specifics, they provide an immediate framework for communications without the gimmicks.

I invite you and any other sales personnel looking for a new way to reach their market to give us a try. How about a personalized (picture and a brief bio or sales message) direct mail program featuring the new model year?

J
First you need to step away from the dealership and make yourself a customer and this exercise will be very easy:

If you are worrying about money than it means one thing man, you dont have enough volume. So here is how to get it.

Step 1:
google search for Volvo in your metro area (i used san francisco)
these were the top 2 results and the text is from the description of their websites:
"New ...Royal Motor Sales of San Francisco Volvo sells new and used
Carlsen Volvo | A Palo Alto, San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose ...
Carlsen Volvo is a San Francisco Volvo dealer in Palo Alto, CA featuring a large inventory of new and used cars. We proudly serve as an Oakland Volvo dealer ..."

Lesson 1:
So Johnny we make damn sure we have the same and better keywords on our website day one. Also you need to get on Google Local with a Map and verification, it makes SEO organically much easier!

Step 2:
Search AutoTrader and Cars.com. Where are your cars and do you have 12+ photos for each? It's that simple, if you do have 12 photos for each piece of used inventory combined with a custom description you WILL receive at least 1 lead for each number of inventory on each lead provider website monthly!

Lesson 2:
see Step 1

Step 3:
How [email protected] is your website? Can I chat live with you when you are at your desk? can I see 12 photos and a custom description of each vehicle on the lot? is the damn site updated with specials!

Lesson 3:
Don fall victim to website laziness you need to eval-u-update your website at least every quarter!

Step 4:
Do you have a lead management tool? Get iMagicLab for $500/month and be done with it! set up an automated email process, pick up the phone at least 25 times a day and you will close 15-25% of all your leads

Lesson 4:
Dont be afraid of the phone! don be afraid of keith latman! don be afraid of paying 500 bills each commission check cause you WILL make it back, i pay out of my pocket for the tool and i dont even sell cars!

Step 5:
1+800 NUMBERS do you have them? If you dont get them they are cheap call callbright an setup an acocutn for $250/month with a couple cut numbers like 1-800-BUY-VOLVO or whatever and put them all over your advertising online and the website should ONLY show this number for sales.showroom. Then direct this number to your cell phone and start closing appointments!

Lesson 5:
Leads come from all places, make sure you get every phone call you can the first ring! the secretary will screw up the process if a salesman is not on the horn within 1 minute!

Good luck to ya Johnny hope my madness helps. I setup about 100 internet departments nationwide and saw the same thing everywhere man it is universal just follow these numbers:

- 12 photos + description = 1 lead for each inventory piece/month
- Call 25 leads a day form the last 60 days = 5 extra sales monthly
- Set appts with 50% of leads 30% show, sell 75% with test drives bam you have a 15-25 close ratio on leads!

Good Luck

Jake Wirth
W
We setup a pricing policy that encourages our customers to go out on the Internet; find they price they want to pay and bring it with them. We tell them we'll work with their price. The keywords here are 'work with.'

Its a way of addressing price without being cornered for a specific price. It gives the customer hope for gain and a sense of control.

The fact is, rarely does a customer bring in a price. Even if they do, our sales people are trained very well to switch the customer to a different vehicle. It's industry fact that approx 70% of people change their minds. They bring in a price on a car, but land on a suv. Now what good is the pricing info they brought in for the car?

We also explain our pricing policy keeps us from having to publish our low prices on our website for all our competitors to see. We do all we can to keep our costs down, blah, blah, blah.

You get the point...


Best Regards,
Wayne Anderson


S
Johnny,

Great question for the DealerRefresh audience. A few comments seem self promoting to me, but the one's from your true peers have some value.

Any method of getting customers to come in without answering their questions or providing the information they're looking for, forces you into traditional, manipulative, soon to die, consumer hated car sales tactics. If I ask you for a price and you give me bull$#!+ or offer me a cheesy gift to come in and talk price, your opportunity with me is over! Those dealers that continue to search for new ways of manipulating and controlling customers are simply putting off their demise.

You stated that you understand what your owner is trying to do. This is good, but it is essential for you to know that this is the wrong way.

"Get 'em in."
"Sell the appointment not the car."
"Your presence is your leverage."
"What will it take to get you to take it home today?"

Give me a break!

You must answer your customers questions, including price quotes. You'll lose more sales by not offering a price than by offering one and isn't it easier to find out early in the process that your prospect will not or can not buy than it is to find out later? What tone are you setting in the relationship with your prospect when you refuse to be straight forward and honest in the beginning?

The answer to your question is that any method that avoids taking care of your customer and treating them the way you would want to be treated is the wrong way. You're looking for ideas to get people in without giving them what they ask for. Is that the kind of experience you would want? Would these Jedi mind tricks work on you?

If you can't get your owner to leave 1987 and embrace what's going on in 2007, you many need to search for a store that truly sets you up to win. Crafting skills meant to manipulate and control customers will not benefit your future. Don't just think progressive, be progressive.

With encouragement and hope,

Shaun



J
  • J
    Johnny Swartz
  • October 21, 2007
Thanks for the comment Shaun you absolutely right.

Jake, I have taken your angle at things and trying to get more aggressive with a website, SEO and Autotrader. While this is not an instant solution it will benefit me down the road while I try to convince him what he wants me to do makes no sense.

-Johnny
J
  • J
    Jeff Kershner
  • October 30, 2007
Sorry for taking so long to get into this discussion.

Johnny, what you are experiencing is what I would venture to say 80% of the ISM's out there are are dealing with. Have a little respect for your manager and his position. His pay plan and lively hood is contingent upon making money on a product that a company deserves to make a profit on.

This is what makes this business what it is. This is what makes this business so hated by the consumer as well. But then again, it's BUSINESS and until the manufacturer adopts ONE PRICE we as sales people and as consumers have no choice but to work with it.

You have a percentage of customers that are all about price. It seems they don't care who they buy their car from, or the dealer they buy from. The lowest price is their main objective in the beginning.

You also have a percentage of consumers that are looking for the right deal. They want to build a relationship with someone and feel comfortable with the person they are spending so much money with (that's many of us!).

In order to find out what customer you are dealing with you need to take the right steps.

1. Your first email to the customer needs to help identify this and even create a little urgency.
2. (Can you) transition the customer to the phone?

I say "can you" because someone that will allow you to transition to the phone, 9 times out of 10 will allow you to build a little bit of relationship with them. This is where you NEED TO SHINE! I like to refer back to some Grant Cardone training here. GIVE GIVE GIVE! Give your customer what they want, what they deserve. Offer to fax or email the customer more information on the car, the CarFax or AutoCheck printout, an article from Car and Driver, Crash test ratings, performance ratings..even a credit application and a of course a huge copy of your business card along with a personal thank you note. Scheduling the appointment with the relationship builder will come easy once you GIVE to the consumer what they are looking for. Hey, they deserve it..they are looking to spend a lot of money with you!

Maybe you're unable to transition the customer to the phone. Now your shooting in the dark, right? I'm sure you have heard this before, especially if you have been reading dealerrefresh for awhile. If you do not provide the customer with what they are asking for (price) then you have about a 2% chance of ever earning this customers business.

From your seat (and I have been there before) you have 2 options. Slowly get your manager on board to allow you the flexibility to get done what you need to get done OR deal with it and focus all of your energy on working on the consumer that wants to build a relationship with their sales person by transitioning that customer to the phone. Let the hardcore price shoppers drop. YES, I know some would be quick to ridicule me writing that and I'm not saying to totally drop this customer, keep them in your radar with some frequent emails. But at the end of the day focus your energy on the low hanging fruit in front of you.

The relationship builders seem to be dwindling away but they still make up a majority of the consumers out there. Once you get this customer to visit your showroom they deserve the BEST you have to offer. DO NOT skip steps, give that customer a million dollar demo and presentation of the vehicle they are interested in, don't assume they know everything and of they know more then you then your not doing your job! Qualify the customer to be sure they are purchasing the car they need and want. Build that relationship and make a customer/friend that will buy another car from you in a few years.

Jeff
J
  • J
    Johnny Swartz
  • October 31, 2007
Thank you Jeff, Good advice.

I am trying to transition to the phone as much as possible as that seems to be the only way that I can make something of the leads I get. What I really struggle with right now is the customer that either does not provide a phone number or will not give one. Like you said these are the people that you need to "drop" and send out an email here and there in hope to get a 2 way with them to build a relationship. Thank you for all your responses.

Johnny Swartz
C
  • C
    Chris K
  • November 2, 2007
Looking over all these posts for this thread, I see that most people have the same issues. Lets face the fact that if you take 100 leads, within that group you have a cross section of the same type of people you meet on the street, or on the lot... there is a percentage of most personalities, some strokers, kids, etc. What I am doing is telling people in my first email that """"Hey - we got your internet request on the 2006 Ferrari 599 GTB (I wish), do you remember filling out that form sending it, that's why you're hearing from me? and Hey - the next step is the most important one: I will be calling you to make sure I got my facts straight, discover those small details, to find out WHATS GOING TO BE THE MOST IMPORTANT THING ABOUT THE NEXT CAR YOU OWN... and by the way, what is your phone number where I can reach you at, so I can help make this a great experience for you, whether you buy from me or NOT"""". I include my picture, links, hours and a motivating quote at the bottom. Now if someone doesn't reply, I mean give you the courtesy of a call or reply, especially after repeated attempts, why in the world would you send them a quote, especially if you haven't discovered the small details and what's important to them? Are you a Quote Clerk? Be a professional. Presently I am in the process of allowing the Law of Attraction to magnify my life experience, so I can be all I can. In a nutshell, when I do speak with someone, I immediately try to set up and appointment after a little discovery of their situation. If you ever speak with someone, ask them the million dollar question: WHATS GOING TO BE THE MOST IMPORTANT THING ABOUT THE NEXT CAR YOU OWN? I assure you that 98% of the ISM's and Salespeople they meet, NEVER ask them such an important question. I learned that you do not have to be better than anyone else - just be different by being yourself.
R
  • R
    Ray Doster
  • November 2, 2007
Hi Johnny,

I can feal your pain. It's very frustrating to be instructed to do something that you just know to be counterproductive to your cause. There have been quite a few posts with many good ideas prior to mine. I don't have anything different to say in that regard, but I do have one suggestion for you.

If your boss is open to any ideas at all, or if your comfort level permits doing it on your own, I would suggest taking a noticable percentage of your monthly leads and doing exactly with them as he would have you do. With the other percentage, or a test group, do with them as you think they should be done. At the end of a three month trial period, examine the results as to which method works best. If everything we hold to be true works as we think it should, there should be a noticable difference in performance between the two groups. If you can prove your way works better, how can he refuse?

Ray
C
  • C
    Chris K
  • November 2, 2007
Johnny,

I would step up and be THE MAN! Print out all the answer on this specific thread, make a meeting with the GM and Owner and tell them you need to find a system that's working, and that THEIR way isn't - to be perfectly frank. ASK THEM for flexibility, ASK THEM if they are truly committed to offering more one way to do business. Normally you find ONE WAY in a stockyard, just before slaughter!

Better yet, contact the last 100 people who actually bought at your dealership, and send them a small poll, telling them you are trying to make the experience the best - and ASK THEM for their answers and advice.

Compile the data and then present to the owner, with a demand for a raise, because you just did what none of their managers, or the owner did...

ASK THE CUSTOMER WHAT THEY WANTED!
S
  • S
    Shawn S
  • November 5, 2007
There are alot of great responses. It seems as if you have a Old school and New School sales battle at your dealership.

Jeff Kershner seemed to come the closest to combining the best of both. The dealership I work at gives me the freedom to make the decision about whether a best price quote will move the sales process forward or hinder it. The good thing about the internet is the wealth of information available within a few clicks of a mouse. The BAD thing is with all of the information, internet customers have a tenancy of hoarding information until that wornderful day arrives when it all makes sense and they feel comfortable enough to stop buy the dealership.

My philosophy is that you have two types of "Price Quote" shoppers.

1. The ones that ask for a quote because it seems like the right thing to do. When it comes down to it they are trying to get something accomplished that they feel MIGHT not be possible. (ie secure financing, trading a vehicle with negative equity...) Relationship building is essential with these customers. They are looking for the best OPPORTUNITY not the best PRICE. Quoting these customers a price usually winds pushing them away from visiting your dealership. What happens is, YES you did what they asked BUT it didn't get them one step closer to accomplishing their overall goal. Your best bet is getting them to look at ALL of the opportunities your dealership has available. Getting them off of the internet and on the phone is your only way of aligning their needs and wants

2. The second is the customer who doesn't have a phone number in the email sent to your dealership. These customers are the ones that want to conduct all of there business on the internet. They JUST want a price quote and thats IT. They have no intention of wasting their time if you cant meet their price on the car they sent in. 8 times out of 10 these customers have ALREADY driven the car. They have already sent in quote requests to multiple dealerships. You have ONE shot at this customer. Those gross profit loss deals will most likely come from here. The GM/Owner and I have the same thinking here.....send them the best opportunity you can offer and then.....do nothing. Either they will contact you to proceed with the purchase or you will never hear from them again. You've made them happy and in the process not wasted alot of time and energy. When we don't hear from them within 1 day we send an email which asks if our quote was satisfactory. Either is WAS or it WASN'T there is no grey area for this customer.

I can see how it would be frustrating if you are stuck at the Quote stage without being able to provide one but the owner you work for may be trying to push more traffic to the showroom. The only thing I can add is that if you are sending out a lot of quotes ask yourself how may calls have I made to this customer. I have a BDC dept and a product specialist which deal with the specific and the non-specific customers on new and used vehicles. Very rarely do I have to work a quote. We appoint about 70% of our internet leads before we get to that point.
J
  • J
    Jason
  • December 24, 2007
I get torn on this one.. we've tried different tactics at our dealership.. quote x% over invoice, quote invoice, quote 200 UNDER invoice, don't quote at all.

I was TOTALY against the old school 'don't quote prices'.

So far, our sales have been the highest w/o quoting (I'm talking new cars). Plus, our gross has been around 2500.

it seems that what people SAY they want, and what they actually respond to, are not the same.

I'm still trying to figure out the 'sweet spot' though.

I have often thought that some basic educating of the consumer would be worth trying:
"listen, here's the price I was able to get from the manager. But keep this in mind: the thought of losing a deal is much more realistic to him when you are sitting in front of him and he thinks you are going to walk. that's just human nature. Plus, there's a thousand diffenrent ways to configure a black jeep commander - each with a different price."
OK, it needs work :)
S
I preach the idea of "you don't ask you don't get". When you get on the phone with a customer you take two to three shots at setting an appointment by overcoming their price objections. I found what worked for me is telling the customer that "I have over 300 cars on my lot and I can give them a price on a car right now and when they can come our sale might be over or that we have 12 other sales people with customers who might purchase this car before they show up...if something changes and the numbers are different I do not want to look like a dishonest person. I prefer to meet with you in person to not only give you the best buying experience but to give you everything that you are looking for. After all would you prefer knowing that you met me and you knew that I was honest or would you like me to be a typical dealer that lies to you on the phone?" Now I wrote too much and I clearly do not talk so much when I am on the phone with a customer but these are my ways to handle objections. They will not always work and that is when you know you have a genuine mouche. At this point you break their legs, give away the car and move on. Get the appointment and sell it. However, the times these objections work you are able to get them in and spot them with more gross. You have to be able to read your customers mind by how they talk, where they are from and what their goal and objections are. It is not a very easy thing to do. As I plan to start doing consulting work I will teach these methods to dealers.
R
I don't believe there is a "No Quote" option. That being said the answer to your question is to become a student and master of the phones. The internet lead is simply an opportunity to begin a dialog with the customer.

I would recommend training programs like Alan Ram or Dealer Synergy. I made mastering phone skills a priority very early on in my career as a floor sales person. Little did I know that it would be instrumental in taking on and being successful in Internet Sales.
You must have a game plan and process in place and make sure that everyone is following it. The bottom line is strong phone skills can overcome the price quote without ever giving the customer the impression that you don't want to quote them. There will always be a situation where you must quote a price, but again if you are truly a "Phone Ninja" You will be able to overcome any obstacle.

I would recommend training programs like Alan Ram or Dealer Synergy. I made mastering phone skills a priority very early on in my career as a floor sales person. Little did I know that it would be instrumental in taking on and being successful in Internet Sales.
You must have a game plan and process in place and make sure that everyone is following it. The bottom line is strong phone skills can overcome the price quote without ever giving the customer the impression that you don't want to quote them.

There will always be a situation where you must quote a price, but again if you are truly a "Phone Ninja" You will be able to overcome any obstacle. This may seem over simplified but basically the ability to manage a strong internet team comes down to training, training, training. I hope this does not offend anyone but every sales person thinks that they are good on the phones. I have listened to sales calls for many years and let me tell you that is the furthest from the truth. Make the committment to a strong process and you will be more effective at setting appointments and steering clear of price and trade values.
R