Reputation Stars and Lightbulb

Positive Online Reviews – The Secret to Protecting Your Dealership’s Reputation

Customers already have a difficult time trusting car dealers, yet they need to feel trust in where they are making their next car purchase. One of the most effective ways a potential customer can gain trust with your dealership is to read reviews.

Turbo vehicle

Detailing the Batmobile

The most important car you work on is the one ahead of you. Treat it like it’s special. It is!

Group fist bump

5 Ways To Create Employee Engagement

  • Recognition
  • Purpose
  • Leadership
  • Collaboration
  • Make it Special

Employees who are fully engaged in their workspace and what they do can genuinely change a company. They are fueled with inspiration and focused on the company vision. When this happens, it can spread to the entire company and positively affects the customers. 

However, recent studies have shown that the most experienced employees are often the least engaged in a company. One study showed that 68% of employees are “not fully engaged at work” (Gallup). That’s well over half of your entire staff! Another showed that Service and Sales departments had the weakest level of employee engagement (Netsurvey). In other words, the employees who have daily interactions with customers are the least engaged. 

That’s not what you, or any business, would want. Thankfully, there are ways to help your employees stay motivated. We compiled a list of 5 ways that have been proven to keep your team motivated in the workplace. Check them out below: 

1)  Recognition 
Your team needs to feel their work is noticed and appreciated. Take time to give positive feedback to your employees. It will make them feel valued and encourage them to engage even more in the company to help bring the dealership to new levels. 

2)  Create A Purpose 
Employees want to be a part of something beyond a paycheck. Perhaps your dealership partners with a charity during a Summer Sales fundraiser event. Or maybe when a customer purchases a new vehicle, a portion of that sale goes to the charity of their choice. Now, more than ever, people want to make the world a better place in any capacity. If you show that your dealership gives back, your employees will feel more engaged in a business that represents a positive contribution to the community. 

3) Top Positions Need To Lead By Example
Whether they are managers, executives, or team leaders, the top positions at your dealership must set an example for being engaged in the workplace. As noted above, the most experienced employees often have the least engagement. Create opportunities for top positions to work together with other team members to create an exciting atmosphere in your dealership. Your top positions must demonstrate they are fully engaged and motivated because this will influence the rest of your team. 

Leading by example will give your staff the incentive to work hard and contribute. People can instantly tell walking in if they want to do business with your dealership, based on the energy they feel. If they can tell your team lacks motivation, they’ll go elsewhere. 

4) Work Together 
Your employees may be lacking engagement because they feel like they have no voice. Have your leadership positions work together with the rest of your team allows them to give opinions, suggestions, etc. This will allow your leaders to note which employees lack motivation, and encourage your stronger employees to step up and grow within the company. 

5) Make Them Feel Special
First days, birthdays, and work anniversaries are all big deals at the workplace. Treating these like just another day misses an easy opportunity to keep your employees engaged. You must make your employees feel appreciated right from the start and throughout the year to create camaraderie among the staff and a welcoming environment where they’re genuinely excited to work. 

Your dealership could be their dream job if you encourage employee engagement. It’s possible, and these are just 5 of the ways you can create that. 

Cideo clapboard

Benefits And Ideas For Video Marketing Your Dealership

  • People prefer to learn visually
  • Visual learners mentally project themselves into the experience they are watching
  • Creating videos is easier than you think

Over the past few years, video marketing has been a proven way to engage with customers and increase sales. Most consumers are conducting online research before they ever walk into a dealership. The more answers they can get online, the more confident they’ll feel in their vehicle purchase. People prefer learning visually over reading a textual explanation. This is where video marketing can significantly benefit your dealership to gain more customers, boost sales, and have a more prominent presence. 

Check out some of these statistics about video marketing from recent years: 

  • A recent Cisco study found video traffic will be 82% of all consumer internet traffic worldwide by 2022. This is a 75% increase from 2017. 
  • 96% find videos helpful when making big purchase decisions online. (Animoto) 
  • 72% of customers prefer to learn about a product through video (Hubspot)
  • 81% of businesses already use video for marketing purposes (Hubspot) 
  • People have a 95% higher chance to retain a video’s message compared to only 10% of those who can retain a message from reading (Forbes

There is ample evidence that video is beneficial for any business, and this is especially true when it comes to car buying. Your brand is the cornerstone of how you market yourself online. Dealerships have to stand out or be swallowed whole by competition who have perfected their marketing. If they have video content and you do not, get ready to be swallowed.

You read the statistics and now want to know where to begin. Here are a few video marketing ideas to boost sales for your dealership: 

Virtual Walkaround 

Filming a virtual walkaround of the vehicles you’re selling is a great way to engage with online customers. They can see how the car looks from all angles, inside the vehicle, and any additional features that come with the car. Have the sales rep explain the vehicle the same way they would if a customer was right there with them to create a personal experience, even online. The purpose of this video is to showcase a car before a potential buyer visits the dealership. These videos can be posted everywhere your dealership has a web presence and linked to the vehicle listing. 

Customer Testimonials 

What better way to engage with customers online than to show other customers’ experiences? There is no better proof than filming various testimonials of customers describing their experience at your dealership. It also doesn’t have to be limited to car buying. Get testimonies from specific departments, including Finance, Service, and Parts. Also, testimonial videos create an opportunity for customers to share videos on their social networks. This gives your dealership instant credibility from the buyer’s friends and family members who also might be in the market. 

Introductions 

Filming introductions of your sales and customer service team allow for potential customers to see who they would be interacting with. This is an excellent way for your dealership to engage with prospects because it creates a more personalized experience. Besides, it allows your sales team to highlight their language skills and other specialties that may be better suited for a particular customer. As far as your customer service goes, filming their individualized intros creates welcoming energy to your entire dealership. By the time the customer arrives at the dealership, they’ll feel a sense of familiarity walking in and less like they’re going to be attacked by predators after their money. 

New Model Releases 

Anytime a new model is released, it’s a great chance to create a video showing the upgrades and changes from the previous model. Film it in the same walkaround style as your inventory videos to give a real in-depth look at what the new model has to buy it. You can even film a sales rep explaining why customers might want to consider purchasing the new model as opposed to the previous model or comparable cars in the same category. You might also be able to get video footage directly from the manufacturer in advance of receiving the new model and add in your own audio.

How else can your dealership use this powerful medium to benefit your customers and your bottom line? Ask your team what videos they think would be effective, and let them be part of the process. Video has proven to be a beneficial marketing technique to boost sales and engage with potential customers. It’s easy to do and super fun at the same time. You never know where video can take you! 

Fleet Trucks

Fleet Managers Face Big Challenges

  • Operating Costs
  • Repair Costs
  • Vehicle Availability
  • Misuse
  • Driver Safety
  • More…

Being a manager of a fleet operation is no easy task. You’re responsible for heavy-duty operations and your employees being all over the place. Despite emerging new methods to manage fleet operations, such as telematics solutions and on-demand maintenance services, the problems continue.

The following are some of the biggest challenges that today’s fleet managers face: 

Increased Operating Costs: Fuel is what drives a fleet, and increasing fuel costs make all the other operating costs more expensive, too. Labor rates, cost of oil, and the increasing fuel cost all impact additional operating expenses such as tire replacements and general maintenance. 

Increased Repair Costs: With fleet drivers ignoring the signs to take their vehicles to be maintained, a simple oil change could turn into an engine failure. Not to mention, if a car is damaged in an accident, the cost of collision repair has increased as advancements in-car technologies have continued. Modern vehicle systems are increasingly integrated, so damage to one component can impact multiple vehicle systems. The cost to replace these more sophisticated parts, and the skilled technicians required to do the work are all higher. 

Truck Availability: Production dates can often be delayed, which creates unpredictability with lead times. This means the vehicles you expect and require just aren’t available. It’s truly “hurry up and wait” since fleet managers are all ready to go, but don’t have the inventory. 

Misuse of Company Assets: It can be challenging to manage every aspect of your fleet effectively, even if your hardware and asset management is buttoned-up. Your people resources can be an equal challenge. Drivers could be taking longer than scheduled breaks tor driving recklessly to make up for the wasted time. Operators could be using the vehicle outside of work hours, increasing vehicle wear and the potential risk and liability that comes with that misuse.. 

Lack of Individual Attention: Many Fleet managers work in large companies that are often growing and handling upwards of thousands of assets. Because of this, operators can often feel more like workhorses instead of valuable company assets. It can be a challenge to implement systems to ensure drivers feel well-managed and appreciated.

Driver Safety: NHTSA reported an increase in large truck accidents from 2017 to 2018, despite a decrease in many other categories. The increase is tied to drivers working longer hours and the associated lack of sleep. Without implementing software tracking solutions to monitor a driver’s safety or hours, there’s no way to determine when they need to have rest. Lack of rest means they’re a hazard to themselves, their vehicles, and other drivers.  

Additional Fleet Management Transaction Fees: Several companies are using separate services to aid in fleet management. These include motor vehicle records, registrations, tolls, etc. The cost of using these ancillary programs create additional transaction fees, and integrating the data to an effective fleet management solution can be daunting. 

These are just a few of the challenges that fleet managers face today, and if you manage a fleet, these may be all-to-familiar. You’re not alone. Thankfully, there are solutions out there for each one of these challenges. From telematics software to maintenance management programs to mobile repair services, the answer to each one of these challenges is available to help you keep your fleet in top condition, and turn your challenges into accomplishments.

Man sea rock horizon

5 Ways To Conquer Your Fear In Decision-Making

As the person responsible for the success of your business, making decisions for your dealership can be a daunting task. Even those who are at the top of their field can still get nervous when it comes to making decisions. You may feel like you don’t have enough data to make a solid decision, and that can add to the pressure to make a call. When the stakes are high, there’s risk involved with every possible choice. All of these are valid reasons to feel anxious about committing to something. That’s why we pulled together some ways you can conquer your fear during the decision-making process. Check them out below: 

 1) Review Past Successes 

It’s crucial that as you are prepping for a big decision that you reflect on past achievements you were able to accomplish for your dealership. Too often, we focus on the areas where things went wrong rather than focus on the areas where things went right. What were the steps you took to achieve those goals? And when there were failures, what did you learn and how did you move the business forward beyond that setback? Once you start to believe in what the dealership is capable of, nothing will stop you!

2) Don’t Forget To Breathe 

Too often, when we’re focused on making an important decision for any business, we forget to breathe. There may be local competition or market forces that are putting on the pressure for you to act fast. Very few wise decisions were ever made on impulse. You may need to step away from the process for a few minutes, hours, or even a few days, depending on how big the decision is. This reflection will allow you to regain focus and have a renewed sense of clarity before you finalize your decision. 

3) Recognize Potential Risks 

As you approach your decision, you’ll be able to recognize any potential risks. Depending on the situation, the riskier option may be the better choice if it reaps bigger rewards.  Big bets can lead to great success, but it’s important to have backup plans in place. It’s essential for each member of your team, across all impacted areas of the business, to understand the risks and know how to respond. There are really only 3 possible outcomes to prepare for: wild success, expected success, or lack of success. If you build plans against each of those outcomes in advance, there will be no time lost in trying to decide how to proceed when the results come in. 

4) Realize There Are No Wrong Decisions 

Anytime you’ve made a decision for the betterment of the dealership, it’s always been what you have felt was right in that exact moment with those circumstances. Even if some past decisions led to mistakes, you and your team learned from them and evolved. There’s no use to lamenting over what happened or what could have happened. When you decide your dealership is ready to evolve once again, realize there’s no such thing as a wrong decision, you’ll be much more confident in making the next one. 

5) Communicate

A dealership can be a big team across several different departments. Communication is critical during this time to make each team member feel like they play an important role in the decision-making process. Your employees need to feel valued, and soliciting input and information from them will also show honesty and integrity on your part. People like to feel like they are part of something and are valuable assets, not just there to do the work. The final decision is yours, but the process of sharing the challenge with others can give you perspective. You’ll gain more supporters encouraging you in your choices for the dealership by doing this as opposed to doing everything solo. After all, there’s no “I” in Team. 

Finger pointing

5 Ways To Manage Conflict At Your Dealership

  • Find the Cause
  • Stay Human
  • Document
  • Eyes on Goal
  • Lead by Example

Conflict happens everywhere, whether we like it or not. It can be a simple disagreement, an absence of something essential, or a significant problem. But what’s a bigger problem than the actual conflict is if you don’t do anything about in hopes that it will “work itself out.” This is absolutely the wrong thing to do. 

So, how can you not eliminate, but successfully manage conflict at your dealership? The following are 5 ways you can effectively do that: 

1) Don’t Point Fingers – Find the Cause 

When conflict arises, it’s in our human nature to want to point the fingers to anyone but ourselves. Sure, there may have been a mistake that a single person did that caused the conflict. However, focusing on what could have been the root cause of the conflict will help your overall team in preventing mistakes from happening in the future. 

2) Understand That Everyone Is Human

You know the phrase, “I’m only human, after all,”? Well, this applies for a way that you can approach managing conflict at your dealership. Be sympathetic towards the situation as we all make mistakes, and work together with your team to understand why it happened. This will create strong problem-solving skills and will strengthen your team as a whole. 

3) Document It 

Write down the root of the conflict and the triggers that caused it to happen. Make sure everyone knows their individual and department responsibilities, as these will differ depending on the groups involved. Documenting the entirety of the conflict will help avoid it from presenting itself in your dealership ever again. It can also serve as a reference point to any potential future lessons or reminders you may need to give team members. 

4) Stay Goal-Oriented 

A dealership is a team effort, not a single person running it all. This is why it’s essential when conflict happens, you remain focused on the goals. Discussing conflict in the workplace is never an enjoyable topic of conversation for anyone. However, if you present and remind about the goals of your dealership, the parties might be more apt to discuss the conflict and how best to work through it to achieve those goals. 

5) Lead By Example 

Only after you’ve discussed the conflict with the entire team, will you be able to show the change that can follow after a conflict. Lead by example to show how your dealership can handle conflict with ease and confidence. Once your team sees that conflict doesn’t mean the end of the world, they’ll be empowered and enabled with the techniques to successfully manage any future conflict. 

There’s an inspirational quote that goes, “every setback is a set up to an even greater comeback.” Follow these 5 ways on how to manage conflict at your dealership, and you’ll have a great comeback.

Scam

How Do You Avoid Being Defrauded At Your Dealership?

Whether you work in the service and parts department or new and used car sales, there are fraud risks that some dealerships may not be aware of. The following are some common fraud risks in each of these departments, and solutions to the problems. 

Parts Department 

Problem: Management or staff substituting aftermarket parts for OEM parts. 

Solution: Has your staff been trained on the latest OEM repair procedures? The way many cars are repaired nowadays requires specific repair procedures using only factory-manufactured parts. Neglecting these repair procedures can cause damage to the vehicle and/or void warranties. Consider setting up an anonymous hotline where employees can report any fraudulent repairs. 

Service Department 

Problem: Sales staff releasing serviced vehicles before the customer pays. 

Solution: Consider having signs posted that prohibit anyone but authorized service personnel to release a vehicle back to the customer. Let your employees know that they’ll be held responsible for paying for any unpaid repair bills if they let a customer take their vehicle before the bill is paid for in its entirety. 

Problem: Service staff charging the manufacturer for warranty repairs they didn’t perform. 

Solution: All warranty repairs should only be authorized by the service manager or the assistant service manager, mainly because of their qualifications to manage the business side of the operations. Mechanics should be evaluated based on properly performing a warranty repair. Compliance requirements can also apply to any other incentives your dealership may provide your staff, such as bonuses. 

New Car Sales

Problem: Sales managers or staff issuing “dealership rebates” not approved by the manufacturer. 

Solution: Have your accounting manager make sure none of these rebates are present during a transaction. Also, require every team member on the sales floor to sign a statement acknowledging that “dealership rebates” are not allowed. 

Used Car Sales

Problem: Used car management team are purchasing high priced auction cars in exchange for kickbacks. The used car sales team is also wholesaling cars below their current book value. 

Solution: The accounting department should frequently monitor the amount used cars were purchased for at auction versus their current book value. Your accounting department needs to keep track of the cost of any used cars that come into your dealership. 

The Solution To It All

Let each department in your dealership know that you’ll be performing various check-ups to prevent fraud. It’s an inexpensive way to let your employees know you’re regularly checking in on them. What gets measured gets managed. Knowing that they are being monitored can help prevent fraudulent activities happening in any department. It’ll also give you peace of mind that your dealership is not doing any shady business. Not to mention, it also shows your employees you care about them and their job. It’s a win-win for all.

Street of SUVs

SUVs Are Packing Dealer Lots With More Coming

  • Nearly half of new vehicles sold are SUVs
  • Growth continues but seems to be slowing
  • Dealers are running out of space as vehicles sit longer

Over the past few years, SUVs have been an increasingly popular choice among consumers. Just this year, the sales of SUVs and crossovers increased by 1.6% in the first half of 2019. They also make up over 47% of the new-vehicle market sales. Car manufacturers can tell this is a popular choice among consumers, which is why they are releasing more models of different sizes and price ranges. It sounds ideal in the world of vehicle sales, but there’s also another side that is adding stress to dealers across the country. 

There is a big problem with the increasing distribution of these sport-utility vehicles. Dealerships are running out of space for these vehicles, and as a result, sales are dipping. In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, “…companies are resorting to more sales promotions to keep inventory from piling up…And yet, automakers are getting ready to roll out even more sport-utility offerings in the next few years, further packing U.S. showrooms.” 

Take a look at this graph showing growth in U.S. SUV sales from 2015 to now. While growth continues, it’s less than half of what it was last year: 

Sure, this is a good thing for customers since they’ll have a hidden selection of vehicles to choose from and better deals. There are currently 96 crossover and sport-utility models on dealership lots as of this year, which is a significant increase from 70 back in 2014. A Bank of America report recently stated, “that figure is expected to rise to 149” by the year 2023. 

As mentioned above, with the continued rollout of these vehicles, it’s taking significantly longer for dealers to sell the cars. One thing is to give consumers several different choices. But it’s an entirely different thing when they have too many to choose from that they end up leaving the dealership without a purchase. According to data collected by edmunds.com, SUVs, and crossovers are sitting on the lot longer and longer each year. In 2015, the average amount of days these new vehicles were on the lot was 51. Last year, it increased to 63 days, and as of May, the average vehicle sitting for 2019 is 71 days. That is nearly 2 and a half months. Dealerships don’t need any more cars filling these lots. They’re past vacancy and beyond capacity. 

Car manufacturers don’t seem to be too worried, as they feel this is simply the future of the car buying process. Although sale rates may be decreasing, there’s still a demand for SUVs and crossovers. Bill Fay, Senior V.P for Toyota North America, even stated, “our crystal ball has this continuing.” 

The only thing dealers really can do is keep the promotions rolling, and the sales will follow. After all, SUVs are the most popular choice for consumers purchasing a new vehicle. From the looks of it, conventional sedans are steadily decreasing while SUVs have significantly increased over the past 4 years. Check out the graph below and prepare your dealership for the continuation. It’s only going up from here on forward. 

4 Key Tips For Business Longevity

4 Key Tips For Business Longevity

  • Team
  • Community
  • Competition
  • Vision

Whether you’re own a dealership or an auto body repair shop, you want your business to be successful. Whether you’re a regional MSO or a stand-alone shop, the following are key tips that have been proven successful for long-lasting businesses. 

1) Employee Incentives

Let’s face it: work can sometimes feel like more of a routine without any variety than a place we look forward to going to every day. When your technicians know they are given a bonus for their billed hours, it encourages them to keep working hard to earn that incentive. Perhaps there’s a goal amount of collected money from your shop or a sales goal at your dealership. This would not only encourage your technicians but for the rest of your staff to work in unison to achieve that goal. 

2) Get Involved With Your Community 

Getting involved with your community shows that you actually care about people and not just making money. After all, without these same people, you wouldn’t have a business. Perhaps do a back-to-school fundraiser where proceeds go to a family in need or a charity of the customer’s choosing. The proceeds can be from repair service, car wash, or even purchasing a new car. It benefits the customer because of their vehicle need, it benefits you because you’re making money, and it helps the community as a result. 

3) Analyze The Competition 

You can’t own a business and assume that you’re the best across the board. The trick here is to find something you have that your competitors don’t. This is called competitive advantage. If you want your competitive advantage to stick, then make sure it’s something that can’t easily be replicated. An excellent way to determine why your customers choose your location over your competition is to simply ask them a brief set of questions. Understanding the source of your business is the first step in identifying opportunities. You can see what they prefer, where you’re excelling, etc. Also, include an area that gives a place for customers to write any areas where they feel your business can improve. 

4) Have A Clear Vision 

A business without a vision is like a car without gas: it can’t go anywhere. Having a clear vision for your business helps you focus on long-term goals. The trick here is those can only be met by successfully achieving your daily, weekly, monthly, etc. goals. Through attaining those goals and keeping focused on your vision, it inspires your team to achieve that vision.

Follow these four key tips, and you’re sure to have a business that is built to last.