Archives For September 2012

Posted by Eric Suesz
Don’t have skills with Photoshop or other image editors? Don’t worry. There are a ton of free online image-editing services that will let you create an image to use as your header — or for whatever else you need. I’m going to give you a half-dozen to start with. Use these if you ever need to edit an image, create a logo, or just run a favorite photo through some nifty-looking filters to give it a unique look.

One of our favorite free online image editors is Pixlr. It offers an easy-to-use Photoshop-like interface. It has a wide range of tools and is a solid choice. I’d make it your go-to choice if you want a straightforward online image editor.

Another really excellent tool to try out is PicMonkey. It’s strength is that it lets you try out all kinds of neat filters on your images (kind of like you would using Instagram). Tons of experimentation you can do with this, especially if you like distressed looks.

Splashup is another decent choice. One thing this editor has in its favor is that it can let you pull in your existing Flicker, Picasa, or Facebook photos. Very handy if you need that kind of thing.

A lot of tools follow the Photoshop model very, very closely. SumoPaint is one of those. It has an impressive number of tools to choose from (including layers), so if you have more advanced skills, this one might be the one for you. They also offer a downloadable version in addition to their web-based version.

If all of these are too complicated, there are tons of more newbie-friendly choices. If you just want something basic, try

Incidentally, we don’t mean to pick on Photoshop. It’s the gold standard for image editors, and they actually do offer a free “lite” online version, Photoshop Express, that you may want to check out. It isn’t as full-featured as some of these others, but it carries the weight of brand trustworthiness and familiarity if you’ve used Photoshop before.

[Note: Almost all of these kinds of online tools will require the Flash Player. Your browser probably already has that installed, but you may want to update to the most recent version of Flash if you haven’t done that in a long time. ]


Two more tools that might come in handy when editing images:

Web Photo Resizer is a simple tool that just resizes things for you. It can optimize images for you. Got a massive file that you don’t know how to best shrink? Use this.
Need to figure out how to resize something to fit a specific size? Use this Aspect Ratio Calculator. For example, if you use an HTML template to send out a regular newsletter and regularly need to make your images fit a predetermined size, this is a great and simple tool for that.

[Sent from my iPad]

Ralph Paglia

Automotive Internet Sales 20 Group Composite – Chicago, October 23-25 2012 At The Downtown Hilton

I am proud to be one of the presenters selected to speak at the Automotive Internet Sales 20 Group in Chicago from October 23rd to the 25th and highly recommend this event for dealers and managers who are seeking to improve their Internet sales results. The way Sean Bradley has designed this event, participating dealers will be included in monthly conference calls to review participating dealer composite reporting ala “Dealer 20 Group” style, but specifically for handling online marketing and sales.

It’s not difficult to project where Google can take this approach. They debuted the Glass technology by strapping it onto a skydiver’s head. Now they’ve handed Glass to a designer for a more in-depth experiment. Don’t be surprised to see many Glass documentaries unfold through the eyes of increasingly large tastemakers and celebrities. Watch an NFL game through the eyes of a quarterback, or a rock concert from the perspective of the lead singer. It’s a deal that will work for everyone.

via Behold, The Very First Documentary Shot With Google Goggles | Co.Design: business + innovation + design.

Eighth Element of the Automotive Consumer Journey – Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

Want to Sell More Cars? Then don’t forget Eighth Element in Modern Automotive Consumer Journey from Shopping to Buying!

When I read The Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) I think back to my early sales days – with more hair and less weight! – standing in the showroom next to a brand spanking new Dodge Aries. From that vantage point, I’d see consumers who would drive from dealership to dealership, gathering information and brochures while adding or removing cars from their consideration list. In-store sales processes back then were constructed around stopping the shopping, and if we failed to do so, our manager’s idea of constructive criticism and coaching was to call us “weak.” Yikes! What a memorable First Moment of Truth (FMOT) that must have been for the consumer!

We know from ZMOT that seven of the top eight automotive buying influences are online. The “eighth element” is your in-store processes. Sadly though, as I’ve witnessed in too many dealerships, a winning ZMOT strategy combined with antiquated in-store processes equals a recipe for disaster. Digital processes are improving, but what about the 89% of consumers whose First Moment of Truth takes place over the phone or by walk-in? For many dealerships, the eighth element, phone and in-store processes, is as antiquated as a K-car.


Tips and Tricks for Creating a Modern In-Store Process

  • Manager Meet and Greet: The Manager T.O. worked great when cars still had retractable seat belts and cassette players, but now consumers don’t want to be turned over to a manager after they have made a decision to leave…or introduced to some mysterious person when a deal can’t be agreed upon. Dealership managers should get out from behind their desks and walk the showroom meeting and greeting customers at the beginning of the sales process, not at the end. This simple change in your sales process creates a friendlier environment for the consumer and injects a feeling of transparency into the sales process. If this is not a standard practice in your dealership today…it should be!


  • Customer Qualifying: Let’s start with some good news: if they are physically in your dealership, you’ve already won the Zero Moment of Truth! But you still need to win the First Moment of Truth, and expanding your qualifying process can easily help you deliver a victory for your dealership. Embrace the fact that your consumers will likely have received some serious education by the time they set foot in your showroom. Let your customer know that if they have questions or need access to additional information while they are shopping, that you have a computer or iPad available where they can privately get online. This simple statement provides transparency in the shopping process and helps you remain in control of the sales process. It’s better for the consumer to do additional research in your dealership than leaving to do it at home.


  • Negotiating: Consumers want transparency as well as an expedited sales process. They don’t want to spend five hours in your dealership buying a car. As Sales Managers, you control the deal flow. So when it comes to negotiating price, don’t implement a sales process that requires your salespeople to run back and forth negotiating numbers with the desk. Your dealership sales process should allow the sales manager’s first pencil to be directly with the consumer. Remember, your consumers are educated and have the same information in front of them as do you. So get out from behind the desk and go in and close the deal! If your sales process includes the Manager Meet and Greet as mentioned above, you’ll be well on your way to delivering a positive First Moment of Truth.

Do we still want to “stop the shopping?” Of course! But today, by the time the consumer has entered the dealership, they have stopped shopping. They have narrowed their consideration list to a small handful of vehicles and dealerships. With seven of the top eight buying influences occurring online, it’s up to dealers to deliver that critical eighth element that is going to take shoppers from the floor to over-the-curb.


Written by Steve Hanson, Cobalt Performance Improvement Consultant



Is Your Job Worth Going To Prison For? –

For those that react with “That could never happen to me”, let me attest from personal experience to the fact that over the 30 years I have worked in the car business, I have seen numerous cases where people I worked with have been prosecuted, arrested and served time in prison for actions they took OR SIMPLY ALLOWED TO HAPPEN.  

For example, I worked with a Sales Manager by the name of Dan Mourneau while selling cars in San Diego.  Dan “curbed” a used VW Beetle that he bought from a customer when the dealership would not provide an acceptable ACV… Dan and a salesperson resold the used VW and signed odometer statements that the mileage shown was true and original.  The vehicle had been “rolled back” by the previous owner that traded it in at the dealership.  Dan served 6 months in California State Prison for odometer fraud.  

On another occasion, I saw a Finance Manager create a second contract showing a much higher down payment than the customer had actually paid. This was to allow the customer to get a better loan rate from their credit union… John Downing, the Finance Manager was charged with bank fraud and was put on probation for several years and banned from working in a car dealership.  I could go on and on, but let’s just say that Jim’s article is not an exaggeration, nor is it far fetched… People who do the wrong thing, or let those wrong things happen in dealerships can and will be held accountable.  

Two of the best car guys I ever met, the Daly Brothers (twins) came to work for me in Phoenix in 2005 after one of them was released from prison and both of them were banned from working in any car dealership in California for forging customer signatures on routine documents.  These highly talented automotive professionals made the mistake of doing something that seemed harmless enough, and saved them the time of getting customers back into the dealership to sign ATFI, Demonstrator Statements and other routine documents, but ended up getting them convicted of Forgery, one of them going to prison and both of them basically run out of the highest car sales state in the country.  Yes, it can happen to you if you DO THE WRONG THING!

Introducing Google Now – Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

From a strategic positioning perspective, I see Google Now as the alternative to iOS Siri on iPhones and iPads.  The intersection of GPS location with time of day is fascinating.  Let the competitive development wars continue… Will Siri include contemporaneous integration like Google Now seems to have?