How to Reduce Your Costs Regarding Automotive Sales

I have personally been in the automotive industry for many years and have witnessed the constant changes which are happening when it come to automotive sales. There are constantly changes being made to financing methods, marketing strategies and pricing structures which could easily cost someone who is not aware of their rights a whole lot of money.

When it comes to automotive sales, the dealers and big business as a whole are spending billions in order to be able to make their sales as profitable as possible and believe me when I tell you they are doing a really good job of it, every year they are able to increase their profits, no matter what condition the automotive sales market is in.

The fact of the matter is that no matter how bad they claim the market condition may be, automotive sales are designed so that there is enough profit to carry them through the hard times. The way by which they are able to do this is by making all sorts of schemes and plans available in order to secure automotive sales even in troubled financial times.

They do this by means of offering the buyer options such as residual payments, balloon payments, no deposit purchases and any number of other options. At the end of the day, the more incredibly easy the plan or offer might seem, chances are the more money the dealers and banks will be making with these types of automotive sales.

The only way you can reduce your cost and unnecessary expenses when it come to automotive sales is to take the time and put in the effort in order to understand the financial impact which many of these options will have on your life. Get a better understanding of ways by which you can pay the least and get the most, invest in yourself, before you invest in a vehicle.

Automotive Advertising Agencies Must Promote Training To Help Them Sell More Cars And Services

To train – or not to train – is not the question according to automotive advertising agencies who understand the importance of investing in the people part of the sales and service process by providing training before, during and after the sale.  Training has often been considered as an afterthought by auto dealers who have enjoyed the luxury of having more customers than cars with a never ending supply of salespeople and service writers who earned a higher than average income for their efforts.  Today’s consolidating auto industry has changed the math for auto dealers who now have to deal with shrinking sales volumes, reduced profit margins and the resulting loss of a ready willing and able sales and service staff whose incomes have been reduced along with dealer profits. 

Automotive advertising agencies have always been tied to their auto dealer clients bottom line – whether they knew it or not – and today’s automotive advertising agencies are realizing that their areas of responsibility do not stop at the front door of the auto dealership.  Automotive advertising plans geared for the Internet using digital marketing platforms coupled with internal sales and service processes powered by integrated technologies provide efficiencies that allow auto dealerships to operate with reduced budgets and support staff in sales and service. 

Unfortunately, many auto dealers and automotive advertising agencies have been operating with the false sense of security that the people aren’t as important as the technology and/or the processes that they have applied to replace them.   That is as untrue today as it was yesterday. People still like to do business with people that they like and human nature has survived on the world wide web.  The real solution for auto dealers forced to operate with fewer sales people and service writers is to train them in the use of the new technology, however, not at the expense of training them in understanding human nature and proven old school best practices to sell a car.

New technologies and automotive advertising applications include training solutions that offer efficiencies similar to other sales and service processes that have been applied to reduce expenses for auto dealers.   However, even the best training system can’t teach someone to be a nice person and/or to place their customer’s interests ahead of their own.  These applications must be coupled with people skills that are best hired vs. taught and they start before the sale or even the hiring of the sales person or service writer ever begins. 

Internet based applications like Hire The Winners help human resource departments sort through applicants in the hiring process.  Their focus is on personality traits and people skills surfaced in a series of videos posted on a site that is linked to help wanted ads.  This screening process allows the auto dealer to determine how the applicant will react to various real world scenarios in the sales and service process.  Applying this filter before investing in training and lost sales opportunities caused by a bad hire provide an R.O.I. that can be easily verified with improved employee retention, C.S.I. / S.S.I. scores for the dealership and incremental increases in sales and service productivity by a well screened employee.

Similar advantages in training during the sales and service process can be applied by applications like DealerMouth that allow sales and service staff to promote themselves through their own websites hosted – and monitored – by the auto dealer to promote best practices.  This ongoing training by senior management compliments the desire by the automotive advertising agencies to extend the reach and frequency of their online automotive advertising messaging beyond the auto dealerships websites and or third party automotive advertising platforms.  Training by example is a proven practice that can be applied on the internet super highway in the virtual showroom much like it used to be applied in brick and mortar facilities.

Newly developing applications focused on enhancing the sales process with integrated training components are also in development.  Applications designed for kiosk, desk top and even mobile platforms promise to support sales and service staff before, during and after the buying and shopping experience for customers.  Providing sales people and service writers with best practices and word tracks to enhance the customer experience during their sales and/or service presentation will empower the staff by offering them relevant information to help the customer make a buying decision.  In addition to increasing their individual productivity on a real time basis, there is a residual benefit of training the sales and service writer who will be better able to apply and retain the information built into their more consistent presentations to their customers.  

Automotive advertising agencies are tasked with evaluating new technologies and automotive advertising applications to provide more for less for their auto dealer clients.  The presumption that these technologies can – or should – replace people in the process is misguided if it doesn’t increase the productivity of the people that remain.  Training will increase the R.O.I. that auto dealers receive from their staff.  More importantly for automotive advertising agencies is that training will directly impact the auto dealers bottom line which is certainly part of the job description for automotive advertising agencies in today’s challenging auto industry.       

Automotive Advertising Agencies Focus on People Using Social Media Vs Product or Price

The role of the automotive advertising agency has changed to follow the new rules of the road on the Internet Super Highway. Newly empowered consumers are no longer limited to shopping for a vehicle using information provided by self serving auto dealers pushing information to them using conventional media like radio, T.V. or newspaper. Social media has allowed car shoppers to gather information from like minded customers before, during and after their shopping and/or buying experience. These online friends are playing an increasing role in the car shopping process and automotive advertising agencies are using them to influence buyers.

The new pull / push nature of the market powered by the Internet requires automotive advertising agencies to focus on people vs. product or price. Car shoppers are following their own agendas when pulling information from the world wide web that no longer requires them to rely on an auto dealer as the source. Today’s online shoppers prioritize people when selecting a dealership they are willing to do business with. That is not to suggest that product and price aren’t important. It simply suggests that all systems start and end with people and that people are the true asset of any auto dealer, automotive advertising agency or vendor!

The most obvious evidence of the priority that people play in the auto shopping/buying/service experience is the explosive growth that social media has enjoyed as a marketing media vs. conventional radio, T.V. and print that used to dominate the automotive advertising landscape. Automotive advertising agencies recognize that people have always preferred to do business with people that they like and social networking has expanded the spheres of influence of car shoppers/buyers to include their online friends.

The market is a conversation amongst friends before, during and after the car shopping/buying/ service cycle. Auto dealers that have friends in the social networking communities are more likely to be invited to participate in the dialogue. More specifically, automotive advertising agencies realize that it is difficult to befriend a building or a website! It is the people that work at the dealership to support their families that have the story to tell to their friends and who will earn the sale — not the Chevrolet, Toyota, Mercedes, etc. — or the extended service hours and weekly specials. Saturday service hours have no appeal if the customers don’t like or trust the people that they are handing their keys to. Having a friend in the car business is a relief that trumps the best process, product or price for the average car buyer.

Automotive advertising agencies also recognize that people play a role in both the real and virtual world showroom experience which will be reflected in the number of units sold and their job performance at the end of the month. First impressions are irretrievable and they are not limited to a large inventory, clean showroom or a dealer centric selling system that processes customers in sales and/or service. The atmosphere in a well run dealership reflects the morale of the staff in sales and service which directly impacts the customers that an automotive advertising agency drives to the dealership.

A smiling sales person, service writer, operator and cashier can’t be forced as a part of policy — much like customer satisfaction can’t be bought or taken for granted by simply offering the best price; it must be earned. It is earned when a dealer or manager appreciates the individual and team contributions of his staff — and tells them so on a regular basis! It is maintained by HR departments and hiring practices that select personality over prior auto sales experience with compensation plans that reflect individual contributions along with job descriptions and defined areas of responsibility that are managed and monitored by a caring management team.

Employee retention is directly linked to customer satisfaction and customer retention and neither can be taken for granted. Automotive advertising agencies are counseling their auto dealer clients to invest in their people before, during and after they are hired to compliment their investments in automotive advertising. It is their people that will represent their dealership and it is their people who will sell their cars and service to a growing list of friends and customers.

Automotive advertising agencies have extended their areas of responsibility to include their involvement in all aspects of day to day operations at an auto dealership. Most selling systems and related processes include a meeting and greeting, an initial manager T.O. to qualify the customer’s needs, an inventory and facility walk, a test drive, a feature benefit presentation, a desking procedure, a manager T.O., negotiations, an F&I introduction, a delivery procedure and service introduction. All of these steps are then supported by a state of the art CRM/ILM, DMS and follow up system. Unfortunately, all of these well thought out procedures are only as good as the sales person who entered the customer into the system and/or who is expected to follow up if not sold or who is relied on to solicit future service and referrals.

All of these actions reflect on the job performance of the automotive advertising agency and they must be addressed as part of their areas of responsibility. Automotive advertising agencies recognize that sales training is all too often limited to a few weeks immediately after the hire and/or some outsourced trainer hired to pump up the staff. Given the complexity of a well planned selling system — as described above — how can a new hire be expected to retain everything that they need to know? Add product information and an understanding of how human nature impacts the negotiation process and — once again — the investment in the people becomes self evident.

There is a paradigm shift taking place in the way that sales and service training should be applied at a dealership and it is up to the automotive advertising agency to insure that it is understood and applied. Forward thinking automotive advertising agencies have discovered that sales and service training can’t be limited to the new hires and or as needed to motivate the staff. It must start in the hiring process by selecting trainable personalities and then integrated into the selling system in such a way that the processes teach the sales person as much as the customer. Buyers and sellers must form a habit to listen and learn from each other before they can presume to sell or buy anything. A sales person does not need to know everything — they simply need to know where to find the answers that are relevant to the customer to move them through their buying decision.

Automotive advertising agencies often rely on new technologies to provide efficiencies applied to proven old world wisdom. New mobile sales applications are being developed that promise to provide a salesperson with the right information at the right place and the right time which will integrate training into the sales process. The key is to focus on the people part of the presentation supported by the processes, products and the price rather than the other way around.