Archives For Compliance

While participating in a meeting during NADA 2015 in San Francisco, I challenged Brian Pasch’s assertion that car dealers should not invest too much time or energy on Pay-per-Click Search Engine Advertising strategy or tactics… Almost a year and a half later, I believe Brian has come to understand why I still work so diligently at educating dealers about Google Adwords as a strategic digital marketing tool.

Recently Brian published an article on LinkedIn which references Ford Motor Company’s latest initiative to compel their dealers to spend more of their advertising budget on PPC Search Advertising.  This article is compelling because it showcases a major OEM doing whatever they can to drive their Dealer Network’s competitive positioning in Search Results Page rankings via the use of Google Adwords.

Although I agree that dealers need more and better educational resources for their digital marketing proficiency, I do not believe it is a 100% educational issue, nor will the problem be resolved by learning alone. Car Dealers have an almost inexplicable affinity for the off-line advertising media that has served them so well over the years… In the past. This will only be overcome when those of us in the automotive digital marketing world learn to communicate, present and close deals as well as the old school media sales professionals.

Here is the bulk of Brian Pasch’s article:

Education Is a Cause of Low Impression Share

Founder of PCG Companies, Author, Keynote Speaker

Education Is a Cause of Low Impression Share

Recently, Ford sent out a memo to their franchise dealers outlining their new co-op policy regarding funds associated with digital media investments. The new policy will require Ford Dealers to use 50% of the digital media funds for paid search, starting July 1st, until dealership impression share increases.

The reason for this change in policy, according to Ford, it the abysmally low AdWords impression share that Ford dealers have when consumers conduct a search in their local market for Ford related terms or general shopping terms.

The dealers must increase their paid search spend until they hit a target impression share, which would make the brand more competitive in search results.

While I understand the reason for this policy change, and how it will help to support the national advertising campaigns that Ford runs, it does not fix the underlying problem.

Why are Ford dealers not seeing the need to invest in search engine marketing?

According to Ford’s memo,  their dealer network is being outgunned by competitors by nearly a 3:1 ratio in paid search. Other dealer networks are investing in paid search, protecting their brand related terms, resulting in a much higher impression share.

So what is really the root cause of this competitive disadvantage? An issue is the current state of franchise dealership education. It is not a problem unique to the Ford dealer network. While some Ford dealers may not understand that they must advertise online, why is the Ford network they so far behind their peers?

While policies that require spending in specific strategies (SEM) makes sense in the short term, to protect market share, the bigger problem at hand is the failure of dealership education and certification regarding online marketing.

Franchise dealers hate being told how they have to advertise their dealership.

So, I’ll raise my hand to offer assistance to the Ford dealer network regarding strategies to help Ford dealers understand the “why” behind digital advertising and online marketing. PCG has developed a comprehensive catalog of online workshops designed to educate dealers on automotive digital marketing and sales process.

Once Ford dealers understand the “why” behind this policy change, they will adjust their spending patterns naturally. Forcing franchise to spend their advertising dollars in certain areas, without establishing a clear financial benefit first, will create friction between Ford and their dealer network.

Right now, affirmative action is needed. I support that decision, however, what about social media advertising? Video pre-roll advertising? Will the beatings continue without education?

Do you agree? Share your thoughts below.

2016 Digital Marketing Strategies Conference

I invite all dealership leaders to join me at the 6th Annual Digital Marketing Strategies Conference (DMSC), May 22-24th in the Napa Valley. This conference is designed for dealership owners and managers who want to gain a competitive edge with their online marketing strategy. 18 tickets remain; act quickly.

Conference details: http://digitalmarketingstrategies.org/

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

 

THE CAR BUYING JOURNEY

Is Your Job Worth Going To Prison For? – DealerELITE.net

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!

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