Used cars parked

Empathy, Cooperation are Key to Industry Restart

How to restart an industry? Work together as an industry!

Car detail cleaning

7 Things No One Tells You About Starting A Car Detailing Business

From Detail King CEO Nick Vacco

For anyone looking to start a car detailing business, it has the possibility of being an extremely lucrative venture full of exciting opportunities and endless room for growth. Detailers are in high demand and dealerships struggle to find and keep detail staff and vendors. Unlike other specialized fields in car repair, such as SMART and PDR, car detailing doesn’t require extensive training or even a significant investment to make it happen. Blazing new paths is what business is all about, however, listening to the experts can sometimes get you where you want to be much faster than if you figured it out on your own.

Nick Vacco started his mobile detailing business over 30 years ago from the trunk of his car while he was still in school. Today, Detail King is a two-building, 9500 square foot space that is “regarded as the premier leader in the auto detailing industry for supplies, equipment, training, and customer support.” 

Here are 7 of his expert tips you need to know before starting your own detailing business: 

  1. Get the right training: Unlike other fields in car repair, detailing doesn’t require a certification or degree before you can begin. However, you do need to get the proper training to know how to perform the services offered at detailing businesses. According to Nick, “if you’re working on somebody’s vehicle, especially with today’s new cars costing around $40,000, you have to know how to perform the various detailing and protective services.” You want to be educated on the business side of the industry, so you’re always up-to-date on anything that’s happening and new methods.
     
  2. Get Experience: What better way to become skilled in car detailing than on the job experience? Depending on where you train, most courses at training institutes will have you learn different methods of detailing and cleaning. Then, you have to practice these skills repeatedly, so you might want to consider working at a detailing business to gain experience. You’ll improve your abilities and can see first hand how a detailing business is run. That way, you’ll know what you would do similar or different when opening your own. 
     
  3. Start…but only when you’re ready: You never want to rush into working on cars until you’ve received the proper training and have the right experience. This business doesn’t require you to dive right in until you’re ready. Many times, you can build up a strong reputation with the services you offer and even have a customer base while working for other businesses before you even open up the doors of your own. Once you establish that, this would be the perfect time to start your own business since you’ve created a reputation backing up your work.
     
  4. Get licensed: Forming an LLC or another type of corporation isn’t just to legitimize your business. It’s also to protect you if you have any personal assets. You never know what might happen, so it’s better to be prepared than to have to deal with something that could have been avoided in the future. 
     
  5. Invest in what you need: Whether you plan to start off as a mobile business or at a location, you’ll need to invest up to $10,000 in the necessary equipment. Some of these basic necessities would be towels, hot water extractors, pressure washer, buckets, buffers, and sponges. 
     
  6. Create a marketing plan: Nick Vacco stated, “you should consider every vehicle on the road as a potential customer.” This is where having a good marketing plan comes in, which is pretty much essential for running any business. A marketing plan will help you narrow your focus on what you want to do, who you want to reach, and answer any potential questions customers might have. If you haven’t already, create a good-looking website detailing your services and contact information. Engage with customers on social media, which can be another great platform advertising your services and showcasing previous work. 
     
  7. Never stop learning: You never want to give your competition any reason why they should be ahead of you. This is why it’s critical any time a new method or service comes out, you (and your team) get the necessary training to offer the latest services. Just think of the amount of profit you can generate simply by offering something your competition doesn’t. 

There’s no secret ingredient for running a successful car detailing business, other than having the proper preparation. Be sure to follow the above steps that will guarantee business longevity. Otherwise, you may not get the results you want, and you’ll be struggling to figure out your next steps. And when you’ve got your business up and running, consider using software like AMT’s ReconPro to help keep you organized and professional. The car detailing world offers so much creativity and growth potential, so why not see what can happen when you open your own detailing business? 

Dealership happy customers

5 Tips From Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec To Improve Sales At Your Dealership

Robert Herjavec

When a person comes to your dealership, they’re in the market for a car. Whether they make a purchase is an entirely different story. As a result, you may find selling your inventory takes a lot longer than it should. 

According to Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec, selling can be “easier than most people think.” Whether you’re a seasoned dealer or are in your first year, there’s always room for improvement. 

Here are 5 tips straight from the entrepreneur himself on how you can improve sales at your dealership: 

  1. You’re not just selling a car. You’re selling yourself: If a customer shows up and doesn’t like you, they aren’t going to want to do business with you. Dealers are notorious for being overly pushing, trying to sell anything on four wheels. Be the dealer you would want to buy a car from, and you’ll be more effective in building that trust with your customers. 
  2. Listen: The highest-performing salespeople in any business listen just as much as they speak, if not more. Customers can tell when someone is genuinely interested in what they have to say, versus someone who’s just nodding their head and eager for the commission they’d make off the sale. The more you actively listen to their wants and needs, the quicker you can help them find a car and have a faster deal. 
  3. Know your customers: It’s essential to know every customer has their own wants and needs, including sticking to their set budget. Dealers often make the mistake of trying to sell the car that’s out of someone’s price range, and as a result, end up without a sale. Be realistic and fulfill your client’s needs by helping them find a car that sticks to their budget. You’ll both be more satisfied in the end.
  4. Discover what’s important to them: Part of knowing your customers is discovering what’s important to them when making their car purchase. What will the car be used for? What features of a vehicle are important to them? This shows you’re paying attention and want to help meet those needs. The more you understand their needs, the better you will be able to promote a vehicle that can meet them. 
  5. Keep it simple: Less is more when it comes to selling cars since you don’t want to overwhelm them with information to sound knowledgeable. According to Robert, “the mark of true knowledge in anything is how well you can explain to the average person.” Focus on the key points, listen, and guide how your customers will feel. Once you do that, you’ll have no problem improving sales at your dealership. 

While 2020 is the start of a new decade, automotive pundits were predicting another decline in auto sales even before the strong economy faltered. It can never hurt to get into the habit of huddling up with your sales team and reviewing sales tips from expert salespeople, like Robert Herjavec.

Credentials

What is Your Strongest Credential?

The dictionary defines a credential as, “anything that provides the basis for confidence, belief, credit, etc.”  In business, we use credentials as a shortcut in persuading customers or partners to trust us enough to do business with us. The credentials, “MD”, “PhD”, and “JD” convey that the holders have mastered the knowledge required to obtain them, and that alone can give a client confidence in their abilities. Technical certifications, diplomas, testimonials, accolades, licenses and franchises are also in this broad category of credentials.

Whether you have letters following your name or not, everyone has credentials. What are the ones you choose to share in your business? In other words, what qualification, achievement, personal quality, or aspect of your background do you use to indicate that you are suitable for business?

A credential, plain and simple, promotes trust and confidence. It can be anything. For detailers or cosmetic repair technicians, their best credential could be before and after photos of their work, a mechanic may have ASE certification or OEM endorsements. Dealers have their own designations, like 20-group or association membership. Your years in business alone is as valid a credential as any to elicit confidence and overcome doubt. 

Think about your other credentials, too. When I was shopping for a car, I noticed the salesman had pictures of his wife and 3 children on his desk. He didn’t remark about the photo, and neither did I, but when he described the safety features of the car I was considering, knowing that he had children made him more credible to me when discussing safety. For all I know, it might have been a stock photo that came with the frame, but in that moment, it was his credential – the connection point that told me he was believable.

We all have a drawer full of credentials that we might share. Climbed a mountain? You have fortitude and determination, Single parent? You’ve got organizational and time management skills. Backstage pass? You know somebody. Fly fisher? You have patience and value detail. Played sports in school? You understand the value of teamwork and shared goals. The list is as endless as our life experiences.

So when you are trying to persuade a customer or partner, reach deep into your drawer and find the right credentials for the occasion. Find the thing of yours that connects you to the other’s needs, and gives them the confidence to say yes. 


Want to learn more about AMT’s credentials? Click here.

Were Open Sign

How To Let Customers Know Your Dealership Is Open For Business During The Coronavirus

Even if your state has a shelter in place order, dealerships are allowed to and will continue to stay open as you are all deemed essential businesses.

However, your customers may not be so sure of your status. Sales will undoubtedly be down this month and perhaps for months to come. That is why it is essential to communicate today that despite the current situation; your dealership is still open for business. Continue to generate as many sales as possible to help operational continuance during and immediately after the pandemic has passed.

Your dealership has likely also experienced some altered protocols with how you deal with the public to maintain social distancing.  As this has likely altered your normal business procedures, and how customers are accustomed to working with a dealership. It is important to get the word out about any alterations to how the public is to conduct business with your dealership. This includes information such as “the doors are locked, but we are here to meet your needs” type of communication.

Here are four quick and easy ways to let your customers know that you are still open for business during the outbreak.

1. Google My Business

When people Google your business or when they Google the phrase “(Brand) dealership in (town name)” they are going to find the Google maps, also known as Google My Business, as the very first result, except any Google ads that might appear this may differ by specific keyword searches).

Not many people realize that you can post messages directly into Google My Business. This message can be a post, a blog, even a video. If you have claimed your Google My Business (GMB) page, you will have the ability to post messages on your GMB page.

It’s important to realize that the GMB page is different from your website. When a person clicks on your dealership name from the maps, the box that pops up to the right is the GMB page, and within that page, it can contain a link to your website, and it can contain content.

How to Access Google My Business

To get to this for your shop, you need to log into your Google my business account https://www.google.com/business/ and click sign in. If you have a google account, this will be the @gmail.com email that you used to claim the page. If you have not claimed your page, you will need to do that.

Once you are signed in you will see a side bar with options. Click on “posts”

From there you will see a box with some options such as “add Offer, Add Update, Add Event, and Add Product. Click on “Add Update”

From there you can insert a photo and add your text.

Once you are done, hit “publish” and this is what you will see:

Here is an example of a dealership that takes advantage of this Google My business posting option:

It is worth noting that of all the Ford dealerships we searched in this particular are, only one dealership was posting content to their GMB page. Unfortunately, they missed an opportunity to post a message directly to their customers here.

Clicking on “View all” shows a list of posts from this dealership:

2. Website Pop up

Posting a pop-up to your website is the fastest way to disseminate information to your customers. Your website is where people will go to confirm if you are open (if they haven’t looked on your GMB page). Most dealerships are using a platform from Dealeron, Dealer.com, or some other similar dealership platform. Each of these service providers should offer the ability to quickly add a pop-up. If you have a custom-coded website, you may want to contact your website development company to request that they add a pop-up.

3. Social media posts

The third place people will look to see if you are still open is your social media. I don’t need to walk you through how to make a social media post, but our suggestion is you just create a post and make it a sticky post or pin it so that it will always stay on top until you un-stick it.

4. Email blast

Now would be a good time to do an email blast to your whole database. You could either do this on a dealership level or have your sales staff reach out individually to their customer list. Let your prospects know how to reduce their interaction with outside people during this time of social distancing. You may also want to include any discounts or rebates that are happening now.

So there you go, four quick ways to let your customers know that you are open for business and taking every precaution with their vehicle. Stay healthy and stay safe.

Coach statue

Coaching Benefits For Your Dealership You Never Knew About…Until Now

If you knew there was a way to increase the self-confidence of your employees by 80% and improve their performance by 70% (International Coaching Federation), would you do it? 

As the cold months of January and February keep many away from dealerships, this can be a difficult time for dealership employees. Slow days of waiting for customers to show up can be stressful. Doing little or even nothing can be exhausting and frankly, make your employees feel depleted at the end of the day. 

If you’re reading this, and morale and engagement at the dealership are flagging despite you doing everything you can think of to keep your team engaged and upbeat, you’re not alone. If anything, it feels as if you hit a wall and tried every method to create the best possible workplace for you and your team. Is there anything that can be done other than giving your team additional days off to recharge? 

Thankfully, there is a solution: coaching. We’re not talking about hiring someone to blow a whistle around the dealership, but rather implementing some methods that help your employees reach their goals and help managers prepare for the day leaders retire. In other words, coaching “can be used for solving problems, helping with goals and objectives, and improving performance” (Wavelength). 

Here are just some of the benefits that come from coaching: 

Improved Motivation: We all could use a boost of motivation from time to time. Coaching can motivate your employees to get things done, whether it be accomplishing personal goals or goals that will help the business. When people know their role and the work they do is important for the success of the company, it gives them a renewed sense of motivation to accomplish more. As a result, employees are more engaged in the workplace, improving overall workplace productivity. 

Personal Awareness: Another way employees benefit from coaching is because they have an improved sense of their awareness. A coach can help employees become aware of areas they might not know need improvement and can work towards improving them. This will allow them to turn any weakness into strengths, which can be utilized not just for personal improvement but can also positively affect the dealership. Who wouldn’t want that? 

Increased Engagement: Working in a dealership environment can often make employees feel like the sales team are the only people who matter. In actuality, every department is dependent on one another for the dealership’s success, no matter if you’re a powerhouse dealer or a family-run location. Coaching encourages your employees to become more engaged in the workplace. As a result, they feel more desire to participate as a team with the rest of your dealership team and feel like an essential part of the dealership’s success. When employees are actively involved in the workplace, they feel more valued and have increased productivity.  

Planning Ahead: Many people in leadership positions fear the day their top managers retire or if prominent individuals decide to pursue other ventures. These people are critical to the success of the dealership, so what happens when they leave? Coaches can work with your top team members to prepare capable employees to take over once an old leader leaves through a method known as “succession planning.” It’s a process that will most likely require these individuals to acquire “bench strength” or the necessary new skills, in the meantime, to prepare them for taking over one day. Coaching can help throughout this whole process. 

Implementing workplace coaching is important for any business that desires to grow and achieve goals as a team while being prepared for the future. Increased employee engagement, better decision-making processes, and improved communication are just a few of the benefits businesses see from coaching. Give it a try today, and see how a coaching culture benefits your dealership.

Photo Credits:
Top: Caleb Roenigk
Middle: Deb Nystrom
Bottom: Chris Hunkeler

Dealer Metrics Graph

6 Crucial Metrics Every Used Car Dealer Should Track

As you’re gathering everything you need to evaluate your dealership’s performance, what are the metrics that matter most?

Hiring handshake

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