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The More We Learn The Less We do I have been pretty much silent in the realm of Auto Industry knowledge lately. Perhaps it is because I needed to learn more or discover what has changed on a real sales floor. Since July last year, I have...

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The More We Learn The Less We do I have been pretty much silent in the realm of Auto Industry knowledge lately. Perhaps it is because I needed to learn more or discover what has changed on a real sales floor. Since July last year, I have...

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More Proof That Verified Car Dealer Reviews Are Necessary I found this article very interesting. If you are a car dealer you should read the whole thing. Oh, and you reputation management consultants read this too because your days are numbered. http://www.webpronews.com/just-how-bad-is-yelps-fake-review-problem-2014-01

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Car Dealers Need To Think About Their Review Process   Dealer Report Cards is not your everyday rating and review platform for car dealers. When Dealer Dimensions set out to design and build a solution that enabled car dealers to evaluate customer...

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Tracking Results For Improvement

Posted by Kim Clouse | Posted in Car Sales Goals, Helping Car Dealers and The Auto Industry | Posted on 10-07-2011

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You know, I have been in a few new stores lately and one of the first things I have been just walking up and asking everyone on the sales floor is; “Can you tell me your closing ratio?” What types of answers do you think I get?
Well, I don’t track it because some folks call, stop in or send a request from the same household. Huh?
Then there is” what is a closing ratio?” “Are you serious? How long have you worked here?”
My closing ratio is 42%! “Can I see how you figured it?” I’ll get it for you when I finish this. “This what?”
42% of 10 % maybe. I bring this up because it is disturbing. What happened to setting goals and tracking?

An example:
If I want to sell 15 cars I need to talk to 100 people because I know my closing ratio from all sources is 15%.
We all look at these statistics e-mail leads answered in 3 minutes close at ___
Phone calls from a referral close at _____
Service customers usually close _______

And in every single store so far, very few have their closing ratio, their demo’s, their TO’s but we keep throwing out numbers and we believe them. The reason salespeople need to know this and their direct manager needs to do a 1 on 1 with them every month is not because of big brother! Not because they are picking on you.
How can you improve if you do not have any idea where you are? We all need goals and activities to reach them. They have to be real and reachable not pie in the sky, fluff or fictitious. If you can’t swallow this get out of the car business, right now. Do your family and yourself a favor and go.
The best salespeople 15 years ago could tell you this stuff in 10 seconds and they did not have computers.
They tracked by hand, without automation, and I know it was more accurate because they needed it to improve and survive. They did not look at it as a scolding or punishment when they were asked because they had to know. Those that actually worked 8 hours a day were true professionals.

Do we need to know?  Really?  Ask yourself if you actually work just  5 hours a day and be honest now, do you think you could sell two or three more cars a month?
Just a thought.
KC

The More We Learn The Less We do

Posted by Kim Clouse | Posted in Live and Learn | Posted on 08-04-2014

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I have been pretty much silent in the realm of Auto Industry knowledge lately. Perhaps it is because I needed to learn more or discover what has changed on a real sales floor. Since July last year, I have been back at Carl Cannon Chevrolet Buick GMC Cadillac in Jasper, Al.

This is where the journey began for me with GM BuyPower and Autobytel in 2006. I know we all realize what has transpired since then with technology. What I have found that has not changed is; The fact that without professional sales people who have been properly trained to greet, speak, listen, and evaluate, cars do not get sold. Whether online or in person the big numbers just do not happen. It truly seems that the more we learn, the less we do and that is the reverse of what is necessary to get to the top. This is just a quick “hell yes I am still here” shout out. Those of you who get after it all day, every day, are winning. Those of you who are taking shortcuts and using technology to cherry pick your prospects need to find another job because your success is temporary.

Sell well,

KC

More Proof That Verified Car Dealer Reviews Are Necessary

Posted by Kim Clouse | Posted in Dealer Report Cards Car Dealer Ratings and Reviews, Helping Car Dealers and The Auto Industry, Reputation Management | Posted on 18-01-2014

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I found this article very interesting. If you are a car dealer you should read the whole thing. Oh, and you reputation management consultants read this too because your days are numbered.
http://www.webpronews.com/just-how-bad-is-yelps-fake-review-problem-2014-01

Dealer Dimensions Product Dealer Report Cards FAQ

Posted by Kim Clouse | Posted in Helping Car Dealers and The Auto Industry | Posted on 05-06-2012

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  • What are the benefits of having a page on Dealer Report Cards?
    A. Car shoppers are going online to find not only pricing information on vehicles but also to locate dealerships who have a good reputation in the market.
    B. Dealer Report Cards helps you get visibility on the web by having a robust profile with good information.
    C. You will attract buyers in the market looking for a true professional to work with on their purchase transaction.
    D. Consumers will be able to check your grade on Dealer Report Cards, and make a decision on who they want to buy from.
    E. We help promote individuals as well as dealers and we do not leak your customers to your competition like other solutions.

 

  • How does an auto shopper find my page?
    By zip code or they can also put your dealership name in to search. Your DRC grade will be viewable by consumers as well.

 

  • Do you put dealer or manufacturer logos on the pages?
    Yes, we do it for you with links for better branding.

 

  • When a consumer searches for a sales person how are the results ranked?
    Results will be ranked by DRC grade. This gives those with higher grades an advantage, and motivation to keep up the good work! It also helps those who need a boost to get with the program.

 

  • How does Dealer Report Cards insure that reviews are legitimate?
    We invite only your customers to review you. There are no random posts by
    non-customers.

 

  • What happens to my page if I leave the dealership and go to another dealership?
    The pages of the reviews for individual sales people belong to the dealer.

 

  • Can I embed any videos on my Dealer Report Cards page?

             Yes, and change them at will.

 

 

Car Dealers Need To Think About Their Review Process

Posted by Kim Clouse | Posted in Dealer Report Cards Car Dealer Ratings and Reviews | Posted on 04-05-2012

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Dealer Report Cards is not your everyday rating and review platform for car dealers. When Dealer Dimensions set out to design and build a solution that enabled car dealers to evaluate customer issues and respond accordingly, we decided to start with the one thing that all dealers needed to know about, their true customers experience. We understand that prospects are customers too, but CSI for most manufacturers of automobiles, is dependent on how an individual or business felt their experience was up to and at the time of purchase. After that purchase, the future service experience needs to be understood as well, and this is where Dealer Report Cards differs from all other reputation management solutions.

The fact that we focus daily on deals that are closed in finance and RO’s that have been closed in service allows us to cross reference all relative customer and employee data to automate the review process. There are companies who provide dealers with templates to send to customers and they work well but automation and a controlled posting environment yield better results. If you can control where reviews are posted and make that data cache above all other search results for “Dealer Name/Reviews”,  you are much better off. Here is an example.  If you don’t think so, go to all of your current review sites and see for yourself. With one or two exceptions, every single rating and review site that is viewed by your prospects has a complete listing of all your local competition, complete with links to their websites. It is like owning the billboard on your property and asking your local competition to put their ad there. Why would any dealer or group allow links on their websites that enable the customers they are paying to attract to go directly to any of their competition?  This alone proves how important reviews have become in todays automotive environment. Car dealers have been duped into thinking their reputation can be managed in this way.  Small problems that used to get swept under the rug have become paramount to determining monthly CSI and reputation because everyone is carrying the internet around in their pocket. Why not use it to your advantage?

Another thing, if you were the customer how likely are you to create a username and password and sign up for a service to review your store? I promise, when the OEM review gets there they may not bother with it even if they love you. We all know what happens when we only get four or five responses for a reporting period and two of them suck. On the other hand, if their experience was marginal they will get right to it. Wouldn’t you rather be pro-active and handle the issue before that happens? You need Dealer Report Cards   

There are no extra usernames, passwords or sites for the customer to sign in to and create an account just to tell the dealer they had a good experience or a problem. They get an e-mail, click on their answers to five questions and click submit. Then dealers get the results with the ability to respond and ask for a review update.

So, a review webpage for every employee who interacts with your customers, SEO, video, reporting and notification or, your competitors ads?

Sell well and be professional.

Kim Clouse CEO – Dealer Dimensions

Editorial on Dealer Dimensions Reputation Solution for Car Dealers

Posted by Kim Clouse | Posted in Dealer Report Cards Car Dealer Ratings and Reviews, Helping Car Dealers and The Auto Industry | Posted on 11-03-2012

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We at Dealer Dimensions want to thank the folks over at Loyalty IP for helping to bring the capabilities that Dealer Dimensions  has built into Dealer Report Cards . We promise, all of our future products are great too.

Try Dealer Dimensions unique Dealer Report Cards solution, There are never any contracts because we feel when a product is a solution and works like designed, you never have to worry about retention.

Dealers go to http://www.dealerreportcards.com/ClaimListing and get your free page with back links, map and phone. Why wouldn’t you want a free page?

Automotive Internet Evolution and Car Dealer Reputation

Posted by Kim Clouse | Posted in Helping Car Dealers and The Auto Industry | Posted on 28-11-2011

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Quite a few years ago, I remember working in my secluded office at the local Toyota dealership. I had chosen that office specifically because it had a private entrance and was once the “alternative finance office”. At that time in e-commerce it was the best place to control the entrance of the internet shoppers because we felt that they had to be handled differently and we were right. I know lots of you out there remember different articles and posts on the early blogosphere about it. Some of them were funny, some terrible, most were really good because the guys writing them were selling cars. We shared what worked and what didn’t because it was a new frontier and you did not want to be the outcast.
For those of you who aren’t as old as some of us, we had a word track to keep customers away from the showroom before you greeted them. Mine was, “Remember to pull in on the service entrance side when you arrive. If I am not waiting for you, walk to the service desk and say I need to see Kim”. That way, they would avoid being mugged by the vulture crew on the floor. And believe me, there was no limit to what I would do for those service writers. Lunch, keep their computers clean, whatever. As long as they pointed at the door right behind them, they had me in their corner. This was part of our early internet training because there were no internet departments yet, just guys who knew how to follow up and wanted to be part of what we thought was inevitable. Then there were those who were the only ones that could work with windows, and they were told to “just handle it”. We got paid for selling cars and just like most everybody else, straight commission. The early days were bad for a lot of great sales people because once the growth started and personal computers became more popular for the entire dealership, they had to deal with all the problems. Remember no pay plans, only commission, and now their workload was increasing. Since they depended on leads and repeat or referral business their pay was decreasing because they were changing ink cartridges or chasing network cable for vendors. I wonder how many truly awesome sales professionals departed automotive because of it.

Early on, if a person had a computer and sent a request it was platinum. Computers cost 3-5k and only people with money or credit owned one. There were very few e-mail providers so you knew if it was a company address to ask permission before you just called. We learned early on the importance of what we now call lead deconstruction.
There have been several different thoughts on this but if a request said e-mail only I did not call until we answered all of their questions and got permission. A lot of very good trainers have always said “if there is a number, call it.” Would you want a call if you asked for an e-mail response only? What about calling someone at work that is not supposed to be on the computer or phone and they do not answer, but their supervisor does. Oh yeah, we are selling two cars now right? Nope, they got reprimanded and your prospect is gone. Here is where it gets funny, the follow up call keeps showing up on a fancy to do list and you keep calling. The company employs 1000 people and has 200 delivery drivers in 3 surrounding states. They have their vehicles replaced every 24 months and they use your brand. How is your reputation about now? Just calling the number if it is there does not seem like the best decision to me.

This is the sickness that we deal with every day.
Let me say what I truly believe again: Dealers are responsible for their own reputation!
The GM, GSM, F&I, Parts and Service managers are trusted to make sure it is managed by the people who interact with prospects and customers daily. I know a lot of you out there have always taken the necessary steps to train employees and keep training them. Your repeat and referral numbers show it too. However, there are still far too many revolving doors at these stores. One of the 15 year professionals I spoke with the other day said it was like a war zone. He did not even want to know their name until they had been there 6 months. What can this possibly do to help dealer image in the community? How can a reputation management company change this?
They can’t.

I only use the term reputation management because of SEO. If you do not have it in your keywords, all of the people who read about it every day will not see you. They have been convinced that reputation management is a must have process that is new and somehow different. Selling cars is the same thing it has always been. In this age, internet requests are cherry picked because everybody has a computer. They carry them in their hands and since they have been taught to read every single thing they can about automobile purchasing; the reputation management, rating and review statements are read by whom?  It is like we are feeding piranhas for our favorite fishing hole, then throwing them in with our fish. We fish and all we catch after while are those piranhas.

Would you agree what we really need is reputation maintenance? Something that says, “Hey, here is a problem that needs addressed.” Then you let everybody see you acknowledged it. If it was a problem you handle it, make the customer happy, and show that too. It is called an “honest exchange.” The other side of this is useful when the customer is not being truthful or reasonable, show that too. Invite them to engage and be transparent because they have been taught to study automotive before they make a decision. The good thing is showing you make mistakes. It touches human emotion, is realistic, and believable. Dealer Report Cards allows you to do all of this.

There are a lot of opinions about reputation management.
Here is mine: If your dealership is doing the right thing, you are managing your dealers’ reputation and you should be. If not, you need to find another place to work because nobody can change the damage bad habits do to grass roots marketing. If a reputation management company tells you to get rid of dead weight and who it is, I am cool with that. If they are hiding customer remarks online and delaying the response for you to do better, how are they keeping them from talking at the barber, beauty shop, the mall, or when someone asks them; where did you get your new car?
They aren’t.
Then they are stealing your money.

I had a BDC manager tell me the other day” We just tell people to go to Google and write a good review about us.
Who tells them, who is we? The sales people might, but they may make follow up calls too. F&I? When they are tracking 40k and it is the 3rd week of the month, yeah right. The BDC? If there is a problem, how do you know? Who caused it? What day? Is it fixed? They are trying to develop business by maintaining reputation?

This is what happens: Go to Google at your convenience, and give us a good review please. For 2 weeks every day in an email until it gets dropped. If they have a problem that is when you will get most reviews in this scenario. That is because you follow up and ask “Did you go to Google and review me?”  I think there are customers who will brag about a great experience even without being asked. Which do you think is more likely?  

Why were these rating sites created?  Share your opinion if it is different than “money”.

There is a better way, come find out at www.dealerreportcards.com .
Other great stuff at www.dealerdimensions.com and it will keep coming.

SMALL CHANGES FOR BIG RESULTS IN MORALE AND PROFIT

Posted by Kim Clouse | Posted in Dealer Process | Posted on 14-08-2011

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Over the last few years, I have been away from writing my usual opinions about processes at car dealers. Of course, we all know that I have been a champion for dealers to practice over the top customer service. It was the topic of several of my speaking engagements at various events and I would like to thank those of you who attended those events to listen to me rant. Several new buzz words have emerged over this time from the flood of new automotive consultants and vendors. I thank them for making my previous points about customer satisfaction and employee retention valid.

 

It seems the more things change, the necessary adaptation by dealer principals, general managers and fixed operation managers is getting better. We really had no choice; every single entity who listed our inventory, labor time guides, and overall manufacturer information, listed it with everything available they could get their hands on. It was also advertised on those manufacturer sites, social, and every available PPC slot money could buy. There is nothing wrong with that because once the consumer got a sample of how they thought us dirty car dealers and sales people were stealing from them, they starved for it. Thinking about this is what tossed me back into the world of voicing my opinion. Those of you who know me know how much I love sugar coating and snake oil. In a bit of a twist, I decided to land on our customers for a change just this once.

 

This kills me and we have all heard it; you have other invoices (although it is printed on the sheet they arrived with,) the internet says my car is worth another $2000.00 (we lie if we explain, even though it is like new, we have to inspect it to sell it.) The dealer across town offered me a better deal, on and on. Fine; if the customer does the math for just a mini deal paying sales $200.00 minimum and with the special rates finance gets $200.00 without products. A 10 car month yields the salesperson a whopping $2000.00 plus any bonuses. Wow, we are really taking advantage aren’t we? Sure, there are dealer incentives and management driven spiffs but not enough to raise wages to the next tax bracket for a sales person or perhaps even management. Most people who are complaining about this would never work for the money they are demanding we settle for. That brings me to the title of this post about small changes.

 

Money motivates people, even small amounts. Just put up a $10.00 spiff for verified appointments that show and see what happens to traffic. If we work the formula at the dealer principal and general manager level, we can determine how many extra cars we need to sell above our average to offset any amount of payroll increase. If we do this in small increments over time and adjust to the trends we do more than spend money. Our sales go up and overall morale right along with it. Good morale translates to better customer service which translates to more word of mouth and increased sales storewide. More sales, more profit, more money = better morale for everyone involved. On the other side of this coin, if I am a general sales manager, GM or used car manager there is no way I am sharing my income with the asshats that just wait all day on something. Fire their ass, quit hiring people that can’t type or at least spell check. Make your veteran salespeople train the ones you need to keep to earn the extra cake. If they do not take to the training or the Pro’s do not want to teach, do not give them incentives. Make it mandatory! Process and policy are nothing without consequence, good or bad. They are just more words that pass right through their head. I feel these small changes will improve the overall status of your store. Then we can display it on Dealer Report Cards.com to prove it.

 

KC

About Kim Clouse

Posted by Kim Clouse | Posted in Helping Car Dealers and The Auto Industry | Posted on 23-06-2011

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Automotive Change

If you want to succeed pay attention

Kim Clouse has been involved with automotive internet sales and process for over 16 years. He is a charter member of the AAISP, and winner of the Lemons to Lemonade Award given at Digital Dealer. Kim spoke at the 4th Digital Dealer Conference in Orlando, the 5th in Grapevine, Texas in 2008 and the 6th in Las Vegas for 2009. At the 6th Digital Dealer Conference, Clouse moderated in the roundtable discussions for automotive internet sales professionals. Kim Clouse also spoke in the general session at Digital Dealer and spoke in a separate breakout session for auto dealers and internet sales managers from across the United States the same day. Kim is managing owner of I Auto Consultants LLC which recently merged with Level 3 Creative LLC. Together, they will provide new and innovative solutions that will set new standards for truly assisting car dealers. One of these solutions, Dealer Report Cards,™ provides interactive car dealer reviews, ratings and pro-active reputation management. Coupled with the social media management solution Social BDC they will help remove all of the snake oil flowing through dealerships every day. Another product, Webpush™ will change the way we interact with our customers forever. These products have been tested, improved, and tested again to minimize the current ridiculous learning curve or just “trust me” factor that has car dealers falling through what seems to be a never ending dark bottomless pit of confusion.
Kim only works with select strategic alliance professionals who are quantifiable and share the vision of bringing about true change at the dealer level. By assisting automotive professionals with awareness of customer satisfaction levels quickly, problems are addressed in a pro-active metric rather than being reacted to. Think of it as “Daily CSI”
The company’s services also include:
*Dealer needs analysis and assistance with the development and implementation of the correct process
*Assisting in creating successful dealership policy in all departments
*Proper consequence with adherence and implementation practices. Process and policy are nothing without consequence.
*Proactive Car Dealer Reputation Management including hosting customer evaluations and reviews on the Dealer Report Cards platform and all social media.
*The most comprehensive Managed Interactive Social Media Solution available for automotive (personal interaction on demand or in real time.)
*Website design, development and deployment with quantifyable results.
*SEO
*Video syndication with campaigns on demand including video ppc.
*Avocar, making dealer inventory appear alive for commercial broadcast and web applications
*Helping the dealer control cost, increase customer satisfaction and ROI while avoiding the Snake Oil in this industry.
Kim Clouse has been a member of Southeast Toyota Pro’s – Master Level, GM Mark of Excellence for multiple years, Cadillac e-certified and Honda i certified. His training experience is in all GM makes, Honda, VW, Mazda, Toyota, Ford, Nissan and Hyundai. Kim has extensive experience in marketing and advertising as well.
From budget analysis and strategic planning to in studio pre and post production, engineering and mastering.
If you want to succeed pay attention.

Managers, Are You Leading or Just Passing Through?

Posted by Kim Clouse | Posted in Dealer Process | Posted on 28-05-2011

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Every dealership I have visited lately has the phone calls tracked or not, going to the switchboard. Then they round robin to sales staff if the ISM is busy “We know that never happens;” The problem is either the GM, GSM, or phone king, will not make it mandatory that the salespeople have inventory, incentives, and information open on their desktop all day. They all have computers but they refuse to use the data or, the login to pertinent data is top secret. I knew it, gotta have a 4 square right?

Managers who keep information from sales staff are practicioners of Bovine Skitology period.
We know all of our customers are online. We know the manufacturers and everyone else who can gives them data that is, for the most part correct. Below is what I hear when I listen to calls. But are all of the walk in customers immune to the data flow we are feeding to the universe?  It is simply impossible. Be ready or stay away from customers, period.

Thank you for calling ABC motors: ” Yes new car sales please” one moment: “new car sales this is Joe Bob,”
“kelp ye?” (Yes seaweed) ” I am calling about the 2006 Camry you have listed on usedcars .com, gold with tan leather, is it still available?”
“Yep sure is” ” can you tell me anything about it?” “I think it has been marked down to $21699 but I can beat that a little” “Really, online it says must go $14650.00 out the door” That’s a typo” Oh, okay do you know what it should actually be?” ” Naw but I can git with the manager and call you right back, whats that number?”   click:

And they tell everyone about this highly professional individual.
The other thing is “get this now,”  we have started slipping away from the basics again. I know  it is hard to believe, not us.
Now that people are selling cars we are right back to the shortcuts. If you are always looking for the easy way out, get out of
the car business. You are the reason we we have obstacles with our customers and they have a hard time respecting us.
This is our problem. Get rid of the dead weight and start practicing customer service.

Either way you loose the deal.

Does anyone else see this? If you are doing this, do you need to be at Burger King saying, “would you like some fries with that?”
When phone prospects buy 85% of the time, why screw it up? If you do not know what you are doing or you do not feel comfortable,
stay away from the phone, pay attention and learn.
Managers, do not lose focus on the fact that you are responsible for taking up slack. In a store the other day I watched in amazement as a lady
who had lost her vehicles in the recent storms call back 3 times to get to someone. Instead of just taking the call, the managers had to find a sales specialist
to do it. Yep, five more minutes observing fault instead of contributing to leadership.

I’m just sayin!

Sell Cars, Have Fun. It is still possible.

Kim Clouse

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