4 Hiring Practices That Can Hurt Your Dealership’s Success

  • Job Descriptions
  • One-sided Interviews
  • Desperation
  • Fact-Checking

Your dealership employees are a reflection of your brand. They are who your customer interacts with, purchases from, and need to build trust with before they make their vehicle purchase. Each new hire costs a dealership an average of $10,000, which can add up if you have a high turnover rate.

According to a 2019 Cox Automotive Dealership Staffing Study, the average annualized turnover rate at a dealership is roughly 80% for sales consultants and 46% for dealership employees overall. You probably have a team consisting of entry-level salespeople eager to help people find their dream car. You may also have non-sales staff such as service writers who pull long hours but feel they don’t make enough money and should be compensated for overtime. 

Rather than discussing the specifics you should look for in the hiring process (every company has its own cultural and skill requirements), we’ve pulled together some hiring practices you may not realize can hurt your dealership’s success. Check them out: 

  • Minimal job descriptions: If you want to attract the best, you have to write a job description that has a bit more information than just the minimum requirements. Be clear with who and what you want out of that position, their required job experience, and what their job requirements would be. A short blurb will come off vague and will get a lot of applications from people who don’t have the necessary qualifications. 
  • One-sided interviews: Job interviews are not just one-sided. You want to present a workplace that would make someone want to work at your dealership. An interview is not just about you checking out candidates for a position. It’s also a first impression of what it would be like working at your dealership. If you instill a desire to work for you right from the interview process, they’ll be more enthusiastic about coming to work. 
  • Making an offer on the spot: When you make an offer on the spot, it comes off as desperate. You need to establish a comprehensive hiring process that includes different interviews, checking out references, and perhaps a trial project at the dealership to show them what a typical day would be. Something freely given has little value, so even if you are desperate to hire, don’t appear to be in a rush.
  • Not doing a background or reference check: Just as bad as it is to offer a job right on the spot, so is not performing a background or reference check. You may feel the pressure to hire someone right away and that verifying someone is who they say they are is a waste of time. In actuality, it keeps your dealership team and customers safe. Not to mention, it’ll save you money by hiring a quality, truthful employee instead of someone who lied about their work experience. After all, a survey conducted by CareerBuilder discovered that over half of hiring managers report they’ve caught prospects lying in their resumes. A simple reference or background check will save you that stress.

There you have it, four different hiring practices that can actually hurt your dealership’s success. Simply rearranging a few areas in the hiring process will not only save you time and future aggravation, but it’ll also save money from hiring people that aren’t in it for the long run. Make your hiring process a priority at your dealership by developing a system that guarantees any new hires you bring on will be the right hires. 

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! 

How To Avoid A Data Breach At Your Dealership

How To Avoid A Data Breach At Your Dealership

  • Keep What’s Needed
  • Be Aware
  • Be Prepared
  • Destroy Before Trashing
  • Button It Up & Lock It Down

Last July, almost 47,000 files of factory records from Ford Motor Co., General Motors, Tesla Inc., Toyota Motor Corp, and others were discovered in a data leak. The breach exposed company trade secrets that could be used by competitors to have an unfair advantage in manufacturing their vehicles. In addition, the data breach gave employee data, such as their names and ID photos accessible online. 

If you have a data breach happen at your dealership, you’ll not only lose revenue and customers, but your very reputation and brand could be ruined. Reputation is everything, as it is the very essence of who you and your brand are. If your customer’s confidential information is leaked due to a data breach, your dealership’s reputation will crumble. 

So, how do you avoid a data breach at your dealership? Below are ways you can develop a cybersecurity plan and prevent a data breach: 

Keep what you need

When you minimize the amount of collected information or data, this allows you to keep only the necessary information on file. Also, don’t have the data stored in many places. Keep it minimized to know what you keep and where it was kept. 

Cybersecurity awareness 

It’s crucial that all employees at your dealership are aware of the potential of a data breach and what they can do to eliminate it from happening. Assign a management team member to lead a cybersecurity training program. This education can inform your employees what information is confidential or contains sensitive data and what they can do to protect that data. Make it a requirement for employees to log off their computers and lock where they file confidential information at the end of each business day. 

Be prepared for the worst case scenario 

It’s important to be ready if and when a data breach does happen. Have a detailed and document Incident Management Plan already designed to guide you and your dealership through the incident. Have designated roles and assign responsibilities ahead of time, so it’s not a chaotic scramble figuring out who does what, if the breach were to happen. Most states have data breach requirements to follow. Already have someone designated for this and make sure your team knows who that person is. Otherwise, there could be fines and penalties. 

Destroy before trash

Simply deleting files or reformatting a hard drive doesn’t remove the data from existence. Use specific software that is designed to wipe the hard drive completely. All portable media, such as DVDs, CDs, USBs, etc. need to be destroyed. It’s best even to minimize the use of portable media, as these are more susceptible to be stolen or misplaced. Photocopy machines keep a copy of whatever document they scanned, so clear the data on there as well. Eliminate any paper trails by cross-cut shredding paper files before trashing any confidential information. 

Secure Computers and Laptops 

Passwords need to be changed regularly (i.e., once a week) and to something that doesn’t contain any personal information, such as name or birth year. Set up all computers or laptops to require someone to re-login if it’s been inactive for some time. Security software should be installed on all computers and laptops. This includes firewalls, anti-virus anti-spyware, and more, which keeps the security up-to-date electronically. Make sure every employee is aware of not keeping personal information on the computer or laptop unless it is necessary for business needs only. In addition, train your employees never to leave their computer or laptop unattended. 

There’s no saying if or when a data breach might happen at your dealership. But it’s always better to be prepared by practicing these safety tips to avoid it happening to you. After all, better safe than sorry. 

Image credit: blogtrepreneur.com/tech
Rainbow Cars

How Vehicle Color Affects Depreciation

According to a recent study from https://www.iseecars.com/ on 1.6 million vehicles that are three-years-old, the car’s paint color has a significant effect on how long it takes to sell and the vehicle’s depreciation. It may come as a big surprise that orange and yellow are the top 2 vehicle colors that depreciate the least after the three years are up. How is it that these vibrant colors, often seen on sport or exotic cars, depreciate the least? After all, they only make up 1.5 percent of the market. Are we missing something, despite their flashy colors?

Simply put, the reason why these two colors are the ‘least depreciated’ is that they are not a color we’d normally see for the daily drivers. Orange and Yellow cars are for those monthly day trips down the Pacific Coast Highway or a day in Beverly Hills. You’d never see a Yellow Bugatti at a grocery store parking lot. If you do, then the owner is clearly loaded and may have a few more like that back at the mansion.

That said, the top 5 colors making the lowest deprecation rates are listed below in no particular order:

  • Orange
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Brown
  • Red

As far as the colors that are the most common paint choices and with average depreciation rates, you can probably imagine what made this list. They are:

  • Gray
  • Blue
  • Black
  • White

Beige and silver used to be the most in-demand colors back in the 90s and 00s, so they have an even higher depreciation rate than the ones listed above. However, the color that has the worst depreciation rate (just shy of 34%) is also the third-fastest-selling color: gold. Nevertheless, beige vehicles take the longest to sell and are on the market close to two months before they sell.

Vehicle colors are just part of what contributes to the depreciation. It’s only standard that the value of cars lessens over time. Whether you have a yellow Lamborghini or a beige Hyundai, take care of your vehicle, and you’ll be able to have a better value for your car. Make sure you take it to get its regularly scheduled maintenance and don’t neglect any repairs. If you are a dealership, be meticulous in your reconditioning operations, paying attention to paint correction and matching, regardless of the color. Brighter colors may have the lowest depreciation rate, but a well-maintained car will always have more value than a car that is not.

Nissan 350Z

Make Your Inventory Pop With These Photography Tips For Dealerships

In the automobile industry, your dealership’s website is just as much a first impression as when a potential customer walks inside the dealership doors. But this isn’t about what you should and shouldn’t have on your website. This article is about the photos you have of your dealership’s inventory. Only having pictures uploaded with the vehicle information just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Your inventory photos need to grab the attention of a potential customer who’s looking to buy a new car. If you have just cellphone quality shots of your inventory, it lessens the quality of your overall dealership. At the same time, if you use stock images of the vehicle but not actual photos of the car on your lot, it’s just as bad as using cellphone quality shots, if not worse.

Here are some ways to make your inventory pop, from actual professional photographers:

Lighting: Every professional photographer will tell you that light is everything. Direct sunlight will create strange shadows, whereas the shade could hide details of the car. The time of day is a good indicator of how harsh the sun will be, which is why shooting early morning or early evening is usually a good time to shoot. Also, overcast days act as a natural “diffuser,” which means it lessens the intensity of the sunlight. It’s optional if you’d want to use any additional lighting. But the same rules for working with sunlight apply to using artificial lights. Even a flash can sometimes be too intense and detract from the overall picture you’re trying to capture.

Background: Your background is just as important as the lighting because you want to make sure the vehicle is the only focus of the picture. Not only is it distracting to see other cars in your inventory in the background, but it will ruin the picture if you have anything else be the focus other than the car you’re capturing.

Take Lots of Photos: The more really is the merrier. The more photos you have of the vehicle, the more a customer can get a real feel of the car ahead of the time. Not to mention, having multiple photos for the customer to look at online makes them even more ready to make a purchase once they come inside the dealership.

Get Inside: When you capture the car’s interior, this shows any future buyers that you really care about the driver. They want to see the condition of the seats, what the car looks like from the driver’s POV, etc. Perhaps they want to see if there are any additional features such as heated seats or a USB cable for their phone. Let alone the fact that they may not want a cream interior or leather seats. All of this plays a vital role when someone is interested in a car. If they don’t get an accurate visual of the vehicle before coming into the dealership, they’ll feel like it was a waste of a trip if the car isn’t exactly as it’s pictured.

Experiment: Sure, you want to make sure that you or your photographer is capturing the images possible for your car. But what about capturing it away from the dealership? Depending on the type of photographer you have, it might be cool actually to capture the car in motion on the streets. Or if you’re near a scenic spot, take the car there to get some really epic and cinematic shots. People are all about the image of what looks best, so why not create some content that adds a unique flair to the typical dealership photos of your inventory?

Another way you can experiment is with the angles. Shoot from below to make the car look more powerful. Or cut off some of the car for a shot if you’re getting a real close-up shot and nothing else is going to detract from the focus being on the vehicle. Shoot vertically as well, since many people will be checking out your dealership’s website while on their smartphone.

Have Fun: It sounds a bit cliché, but having fun with taking photos of your inventory will show to any potential customer. People want to do business where it’s a welcoming environment, full of people who genuinely enjoy what they do. Not to mention, you represent a car dealership. You want the customer to have an enjoyable experience from start to finish because then you earn their customer loyalty (which is something money can’t buy). You might as well give them something they’ll never forget, starting with the photos.

Heavy Storm Hail Ice

The Best Hail-Tracking Software For Your PDR Business

We’re a couple of months in hail season with several more to go. But how can you track the hail before it hits, so you’re ahead of the game? Surely, any weather app can provide you with enough comprehensive data to track hailstorms. But what if there was a way for an app to offer you instant storm reports, provide storm history on a location, and much more? The following are among the best hail-tracking software for your PDR business.

 

Hailstrike

An exclusive feature of Hailstrike is it lets you choose up to 2 states to get instant hail, wind, and tornado alerts from the best data available. An example of where this data would be coming from is NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). Another incredible feature of Hailstrike is coming with a Historical Storm Search feature, where you can find every storm that hit a location since 2011. This in-depth analysis will help hail chasers determine if an area would be a good location for business.

Price: The Premium package is $189 a month, while the Ultimate package is $249 a month.

 

Interactive Hail Maps

Similar to Hailstrike, the Interactive Hail Maps software provides you unlimited access to over 5 years of hail history. You can also have unlimited hail impact reports and connect the software to as many devices as you’d like. The Impact Explorer (part of the software) allows you to view the hail affected areas and provides on-the-ground data via NOAA. That way, you know exactly where to go instead of relying on a radar giving you the data.

Price: One state is $749 annually, Three States is $1099, and Nationwide is $1499.  

 

Hailtrace

One of the most significant features of Hailtrace is Client Management Tools. The software will help you manage your PDR clients and provide the necessary tools to know when hail will hit a location. Hailtrace is all about helping you in any way that they can, which is why they’re available with 24/7 “out-of-the-box support.” You can also manage your employees by assigning them different tasks and remind them through the iOS app. They have over 5,000 active users and growing each day.

Price: Call for price inquiry 1-(855)-334-HAIL

 

Map Forensics

Quite possibly the biggest seller for Map Forensics is its SAMS integrated software. SAMS is short for Storm Activity Monitoring System. It is a customer-focused system that helps you identify customers based on their exact location needing your services. SAMS can also provide the history of hail for a specific location in a matter of seconds. Map Forensics also gives 24/7 monitoring of over 2,500 locations with more available, if desired, and you received unlimited hail swaths for one state.

Price: $999 annually for one state. Additional states are available.

 

As we are approaching the halfway mark for hail season, we encourage you to ask around to other pros and see what their favorite storm tracking software is and why. They can offer their first-hand experience using the different apps and you may see that what they enjoyed wouldn’t necessarily work for your business.

Do keep in mind as you’re selecting the best hail tracking software, you’ll want to see what the geographical needs of your techs are as some of these apps offer limited locations. Of course, we hope you’ll be using ReconPro™ to manage your PDR business, regardless of how you chase hail this season. Time is money and we are ready to help you with your mobile business, every step of the way.

 

ReconPro is a trademark of Automobile Technologies, Inc. Other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
Digital marketing

How To Market Your PDR Business Online

  • Website
  • Social Media
  • Search
  • Content
  • Email

Online marketing includes any methods and promotional strategies a business will execute on the internet to reach its target audience. 70% of customers will conduct business online before contacting the company. Internet marketing is much more than having a website. It’s answering any potential questions that a customer may have and establishing a “brand identity.” But for someone working in Paintless Dent Repair, phrases such as lead magnet, AdWords, PFI, SEO, and PPC might well be a foreign language. They don’t need to be. Here are just a few of the most effective ways you can market your PDR business online:

  1. Website: When a customer goes to your website, they will instantly know if they want to do business with you or not based on your “brand identity.” Brand identity is when a business shows who they are through text, images, video, and audio elements. You can also include a page or highlighted section that contains the benefits of PDR and why they should choose your business over the competition (without name-calling, of course).

 

  1. Social Media: We are truly living in a digital age, and if you disagree, then you must still be using a flip phone and dial-up internet. Customers expect businesses to engage with them, especially if they are commenting about their experience or inquiring about a service. Facebook Pages and Instagram Business Tools have made this possible for businesses to turn social media into a platform to connect with customers and promote their business.

 

  1. Search Engine Marketing (SEM): SEM is all about marketing through search engines. Businesses can go about SEM in several different ways. One of the most common methods is from organic ranking through search engine optimization (SEO). SEO “is the method website owners use to help search engines find, index, and rank their web pages…” (Duermyer, 2018). You can purchase for your website pay-per-click (PPC) ads in something like Google AdWords. It’s an easy and effective way to drive traffic to your website. A third option is you can purchase pay-for-inclusion (PFI) listings in online directories, similar to Yellow Pages.

 

  1. Content Marketing: This is all about writing articles (aka “blog posts”) relating to your business and publishing them online to reach your target audience. When you write articles that answer questions customers may have, you’re able to connect with a broader audience. You could also have your written content published on other websites, drawing in new leads to your business in a completely different way. There’s always stiff competition amongst local PDR shops, so you want to do anything you can to stand out. Can you stand apart from the rest and prove you’re the best out there?

 

  1. Email Marketing: Email is a proven effective way to create and maintain a connection between business and customer. But how do you get the email list in the first place? You can entice people to give their emails if they want the exclusive website offer, like “half-price headlight restoration!” From there, you have their information to send them additional special offers, a newsletter, holiday greetings, car care tips, etc. Pretty much anything relating to your PDR business so ultimately, these leads can become customers and referrals. That’s the goal.

 

Conclusion

It’s important to keep in mind that as you begin online marketing for your business, the customer is the focus. If your website is challenging to navigate or you’re not replying to Facebook comments, then customers will go elsewhere. Utilizing even just one of the strategies listed above will help your PDR business grow, especially since the industry itself is ever-evolving and growing.

Although it’s possible to get rapid results, consistency is critical. Online marketing is all about long-term results and connecting with your target audience. Once that happens, their referrals will become new leads, and the testimonials/reviews of your customers will be what helps you stand out in the vast frontier of a digital world.

5 Simple and Effective Ways To Earn Customer Loyalty for your PDR Business

  • Customer Service
  • Communication
  • Incentives
  • Honesty
  • Innovation

New customers are exciting for any business. Sales are the lifeblood of the company and new customers mean growth. If the job is done right, the customers will be back again. This is known as “customer loyalty.” But how can you earn customer loyalty in the PDR industry? Surely, you don’t want them getting into yet another car accident to keep them coming back. There’s always a way you can let customers know just how important they are, even if you never see them again. Hello: referrals!

Here are 5 simple and effective ways to earn customer loyalty:

  • Great Customer Service: From the first phone call to when the customer first arrives, it is important that they are treated well. Studies show that over 50% of customers have ended a relationship with a business because of how they were treated. How you can ensure great customer service could be as simple as offering someone a water bottle or asking them how their day is going. Check to see if your customer service team is answering all of the customer’s questions and making them feel valued. Customers will remember when they’re treated well and when they’re treated horribly. On average, people who have a poor experience are more likely to share that opinion with others, and to share it with more people than they would a positive experience.
    Put simply: Happy customers = more business. Unhappy customers = no business.
  • Communication: By setting up a database of your customers’ contact information, you’re able to maintain communication in a number of different ways. These can be newsletters, birthday greetings, or some of the latest customer-relevant news in the industry that shows you’re a shop that knows the industry more than your competition. But don’t send the same junky emails that your competition is sending them with throwaway advice like “how to plan a road trip tip” and “how to keep your dog safe in a hot car.” Give the customers information they can actually use, or at least a personal message that will show you care about them as a customer (you can still automate these). and always, always ask for referrals.
  • Incentives: People love it when they get a little something extra for their business. Consider setting up a reward system that with any new referral from an existing customer gives them either a percentage off their next service, free car wash, etc. Whatever it is, these little perks help establish customer loyalty and gives them an incentive to reach out to their friends and family to be new customers.
  • Honesty: There’s a phrase that goes, “honesty is the best policy.” That’s because it’s been proven to work with the most successful companies and individuals. This is not to say go ahead and make mistakes. Rather, it’s about being upfront about whenever an error occurs, but maintain a sense of humility and apologize. By maintaining this sense of humility, it allows the customers to empathize with you & you with them, as opposed to jumping straight to anger with you over making a mistake in the first place. Just remember to be truly honest while being, well, honest. Nobody likes someone B.S.ing their way out of a mistake.
  • Innovation and Technology: Where a lot of auto repair shops and technicians make mistakes is they are stuck in their old ways of conducting business. Piles of paperwork containing valuable documents from estimates to repair notes consume offices and sometimes, all the business owner can really do is rely on the word of their technicians. This old way of conducting business may have worked 20 years ago, but we live in an ever-evolving technological world where the products and services we use become outdated. By using the latest technologies available that are easy to use and designed specifically for the auto repair industry, it allows you to be current in a better & smooth work environment. Not to mention, it looks a lot better for a customer to walk into a shop that’s not stuck in the stone age with desktop computers and fax machines. Consider using technology to make the transaction easier on the customer – from scheduling an appointment on your website to approving and paying for the repair right from the technician’s mobile device.

 

All in all, ask yourself what it would take for a business to earn your trust? Is it feeling important? Is it being truthful and owning up when they’ve made a mistake? Is it communicating with you and providing you with relevant knowledge? Chances are, a business earned your trust through making you feel valued and that you were in good hands with knowledgeable people. Whether you’re an auto repair technician or a fully operating shop, if you follow these simple and effective ways to earn a customer’s loyalty, you’ll have one thing money can’t buy: trust.

Best Auto Dealer Management Software Picks For 2019

If you’re reading this, you’re likely aware of all of the moving parts involved when running an auto dealership. Complications can arise from a poor workflow system, technicians making mistakes, and even simply going through paperwork. There are many things to consider, and inevitably, even the most successful auto dealerships run into productivity shortfalls.

We know that many of the problems tend to involve employee mistakes and miscommunication. If you’re like most auto dealerships, you’ve seen the shortcomings and have already implemented management software, such as ADP or Reynolds & Reynolds. It’s a step in the right direction; however, systems like the two we just named often have gaps in sales efficiency, inventory, and F&I information.

In auto dealerships, employee mistakes happen. Beyond that, you know there is always room for improvement– whether it’s updating your layout, installing a management software system, or simply eliminating inefficient and unnecessary steps. But management software, such as ADP or Reynolds & Reynolds have their limitations as well. Luckily for you, in 2019, there are plenty of software solutions out there that can help you fully digitize your inventory acquisition, marketing, inventory management, and reconditioning statuses. There are software solutions out there that can fill in those missing gaps.

Finding the right management software can be a long, headache-inducing, process. To help you out, we’ve created a list of our top 4 management tool picks that can make your auto dealership more efficient.

 

For Your Sales And Marketing

Hubspot

Each year, more and more auto dealerships (and companies in general) are seeing the benefits of Hubspot for their businesses. Hubspot is a software solution that helps your auto dealership with online marketing, tracking sales, and managing customer relationships. There are plenty of options within the software suite that you can choose from. While they’re all really helpful and beneficial for your auto dealership, they’re even better together.

In 2019, almost every search for a new vehicle begins with an internet search engine, such as Google or Bing. When people start that search, they’re looking for a business near them that provides the right answers to some of the most common questions buyers have. We call this inbound marketing, and it is one of the best ways to garner new customers and sales. You draw in customers through websites, blogging, social media, brand, and optimizing your content to draw in customers and rank high in search engine results.

Hubspot lets you create and publish content that you can track, measure, and target to generate leads.

 

For Your Social Media

Hubspot Marketing

While Sprout Social was our top social media management software pick just a year ago, Hubspot Marketing has begun to dominate even the social media market.

For any auto dealership’s marketing team, the number one goal has always been to advertise their business across the best and most efficient channels possible. In 2019, the internet (especially social media) is one of the best avenues that currently exist. Almost everyone has a smartphone in their pocket. Beyond that, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, nearly everyone from your grandparents (or parents) to elementary school students use social media platforms.

Hubspot Marketing allows you to to create social media marketing campaigns, has end-to-end marketing automation (publish content in a specific format in timed intervals), let’s you personalize your lead management, has an extremely user-friendly interface, customizable HTML and text messages, and SEO (search engine optimization).

 

For Your Accounting

Intuit Quickbooks

Intuit Quickbooks is probably the most fully fleshed-out accounting software there is. You can purchase Quickbooks for either Windows or Mac. However, as of 2019, Quickbooks is focusing more and more on a cloud-based subscription service where you pay a monthly fee for their software.

While the software is offered for both Mac and Windows, the Mac version doesn’t have nearly as many features as the Windows or cloud-based versions.

Whether your dealership is large or small, Quickbooks is very widely used by almost everyone in the market. It’s very easy to go online and look up information, guides, tutorials, and videos explaining exactly how all of the features work. Quickbooks works well for just about any business and offers quite a few monthly packages that can range from $5 to $25 a month; however, payroll, payment services, and enterprise installations do cost a bit more.

 

For Your Reconditioning Workflow Automation

AutoMobile Technologies ReconMonitor

ReconMonitor is one of the best software solutions out there for auto dealerships. You can monitor and manage any vehicles that are in the reconditioning process. The software allows you to track inventory and auction purchases from the time you acquire the vehicles, all the way to through the process to when they’re front-line ready. It enables tracking of each individual vehicle, the reconditioning stage it is in, the teams responsible, and alerts you to any workflow bottlenecks in real-time.

ReconMonitor is software that allows dealerships to track back-office operations, reconditioning processes, and front-end sales from anywhere on their desktop or mobile device.

Beyond that, it can alert you of potential problems in resource planning or process in order to maintain proper workflow momentum. Unlike common spreadsheets or whiteboards, this software solution is always available, in the office, on the lot, or in the field, at the push of a button.

How to Adapt to the Changing Recon Industry

  • Discover and remove bottlenecks in your operation
  • Fight the blindness of habit
  • Even small improvements are progress
  • Management Software can solve many problems

 

Regardless of the size of your shop, if you’ve been in the repair industry long enough, you probably enjoy a decent amount of business. However, even with all the jobs coming through and the money being made, you’ve likely run into a few problems here and there. You know how customers can be. They need their cars back by a specific day or simply demand quick action. To keep up with the customers and receive their continued business, you’ll want to reduce your cycle times and increase throughput.

On days that are especially busy for you, bottlenecks will become more apparent. You have time commitments you’ve made to the customers, but if one thing goes wrong, it sets all the other jobs back. It can be stressful and makes some days tougher than they need to be. You know something needs to be done, but you’re not quite sure where to start.

 

Shop Layout, Workflow, And Adaptability

Chances are if there’s a bottleneck at one station, there are bottlenecks in other places as well. Something as simple as the way vehicles move throughout your shop can greatly impact cycle time and throughput.

For example, in an article by Fender Bender’s, Tom Franklin, a small shop owner named Pete had an operation near a police station. Over time, the local police became his biggest customers since their vehicles often required repairs. However, because of the nature of their job, they needed their vehicles repaired as quickly as possible. They couldn’t afford to not have their patrol cars ready.

Pete struggled on some days to keep up with the demand and knew things needed to change. Eventually, he realized a lot of his problems revolved around the workflow in his shop. Originally, the vehicles would move around a central point in the shop in a circular fashion– but it had its issues. Once he removed the central wall that everything revolved around, he created a parallel workflow pattern that eliminated some of the bottlenecks he had been experiencing. It was such a simple fix, but it completely changed the efficiency of his shop.

“Old habits die hard and are often not recognized for what they are. What worked well in bygone days may actually be time-consuming and a bottleneck now” Pete said in a conversation with Franklin. According to Pete, one of the biggest things lowering shop efficiency are habits and a lack of change. In his statement, he suggests that shops tend to get comfortable with doing things a certain way. However, as the recon world evolves, the processes have to as well.

You can apply this logic to just about anything your shop does. Ask yourself a few questions: Do you still record invoices and jobs on paper? How about employee payments? Do you leave notes for important information around the shop that could easily get lost? Do you spend a lot of your day working on back-office operations?

Those are just a few questions you should ask yourself, but if you answer yes to even one of them, you’re likely spending more time than you need to on stuff that doesn’t involve actual repairs coming through.

The repair industry today isn’t the same as your father’s or grandfather’s. It’s constantly changing and there’s new technology released every year to make your life a little easier. There is some excellent workflow software out there that can streamline cycle times and throughput for you. They can track customer accounts and jobs in real-time both on your mobile device and desktop. Over the last few years, management software has become a staple for successful shops, so looking into the options is a good place to start.

In another example, Alex Osborn, from the Creative Education Foundation in Buffalo, New York presented the idea of “habitual blindness” when it comes to adaptation and change. In Franklin’s article, he looked at Osborn’s favorite analogy where a chicken is fed some grain on the ground. Of course, the chicken eats it the first time. However, the grain is then dropped on the ground again with a glass barrier between it and the chicken. The chicken continues to peck at the glass to get the grain in the way it had previously, but ultimately never succeeds.

According to Osborn, this is what he means by habitual blindness. Instead of going over, under, or around to get the seed, the chicken continued the same method that had worked previously. Not all situations can be solved with the same solution, and when things are constantly changing in the recon industry, you have to adapt to it.

In the instance of Pete in Franklin’s Fender Bender article, Osborn would refer to the rearrangement of his shop as “transformation” thinking. However, it’s only one part of a whole when it comes to bottlenecks in your shop’s cycle times. Fixing the individual bottlenecks are necessary, but they’re also only symptoms of a larger issue. To tackle it all as efficiently as possible, you may need to completely rethink all of your processes from the top down. Once you do that, you’ll often find ones that can be eliminated from your cycle.

 

Changes In Back-Office Operations

As we talked about above, the most successful recon businesses out there are constantly adapting to the latest technology. Nathane Vanhoose, Owner of SkratchHouse in Columbus, Ohio, said one the biggest constraints for his business was the back-office operations. He’d spend hours every night after work going through invoices, accounts, estimations, and so on. Eventually, he restructured his entire process with management software. Paperwork, billing, and employee payments that took hours were cut down to minutes once he adapted to the problems his shop faced.

For a lot of shops, estimations have become pivotal for moving things along. Before, you’d have to research all of the potential factors and information that could impact the labor cost of the jobs. Nowadays, management software has advanced to the point where they have databases to pull the most up-to-date information from. Things that used to take a bit of math on your end can now be solved for you at a click of a button. This helps just one bottleneck that can occur in back-office operations, but management software can do much more than that. Using up-to-date technology can help you avoid delays or quickly react to a situation and resolve it instantly with real-time updates.

For a lot of shop owners, a complete reorganization of processes and machinery may seem costly. Fortunately, even if you can’t make the most drastic changes, management software can organize it all for you with little cost or change on your part outside of putting the information into the apps. When looking back at Osborn’s transformational concepts, he also suggests you combine, modify, and divide processes into different parts for efficiency. Of course, management software can help you set that up, too.

Though management software can automate more-or-less all of your processes, it’s still important to have the right employees. Every shop has their own way of ordering parts, but the most successful ones tend to have a specialist who can anticipate issues and find and order the best parts to avoid any delays. When it comes down to it, a lot of delays happen because the right parts aren’t there or they need to be ordered– but don’t get there in time. It’s good to have someone who can decide what is needed quickly and can play a major role in eliminating bottlenecks with jobs.

Beyond that, one of the biggest problems in shops has to do with employee communication. What the front desk says could be completely different than what the estimator tells the customer. To put it simply, mistakes can happen and things can break down pretty easily if there’s a lapse in communication within the shop. With management software, all employees can update, share, and provide all information for everyone to get updated on in real-time. So mistakes that could become costly and time-consuming can be completely eliminated.

Even with management software, mobile devices, and computers, many shops still rely on scraps of paper or sticky note reminders to communicate information. We live in a time where we have the internet and electronic communication at our fingertips. We can send and receive information simply, quickly, and accurately within a few seconds, so why not use it? With management software, you can create email templates, customer forms, and more within minutes and send it instantly.

In Franklin’s conversation with Pete, the removal of the wall was a pretty straightforward and simple fix. However, most shops have much more difficult constraints to remove. Like Pete said,

“Old habits die hard and are often not recognized for what they are. What worked well in bygone days may actually be time-consuming and a bottleneck now.”

The days where you could stop, talk, and relax are slowly disappearing in the recon industry. It’s a business that requires adaptability. You no longer have the time to sort through paperwork like you may have been able to even just 10 – 20 years ago. So you have to break out of your comfort zone and revise your processes with the latest technology.

 

AutoMobile Technologies Can Help

AMT offers affordable software solutions designed to make your reconditioning process better, provide you with better visibility and control, and get your cars completed efficiently. If you are a dealership looking to move vehicles to the frontline faster, or a recon operator wanting better control and time management for your clients, AMT works to provide the right solutions for your business.