On Saturday, November 1, 2014, DealerQB Consultant/Trainer, Dani Zandel, stood on the second floor of a large Los Angeles area CDJR dealership, staring down into the showroom floor. With exception to the 5 cars on the floor, it was empty! It’s never a good sign to be working in a dealership in which there is no traffic on a Saturday! Like a sore throat being a symptom of strep or throat cancer, you cannot cure the problem until you understand what the exact problem is. An empty showroom is a symptom of a bigger problem, and unless you understand the thinking of the management (which is usually at the root of many dealership problems), you can not solve the problems for which you see the many symptoms.
In this entry, DealerQB excitedly introduces Frank J. Lopes, and his article, “Everyday Is The New Saturday”. His article is originally hosted by Digital Dealer, and the cause of our excitement is the fact that Frank is describing the showrooms that we are standing in and want to help! In this representation, he calls out the dealerships for the differences in appearances on the lot between a Saturday and a weekday. He expands on how the market has changed with the evolution of technology, and he cites the one issue that baffles dealerships, that we here at Dealer Quarterback have been having conversations about from Day 1: Why are the Internet Leads FLYING into the dealership, but the cars are not FLYING out?
Unlike most guest posts, included at the end are a couple of postings (including Dani Zandel’s opinion) from Frank sharing this article on his Facebook page.
It is very easy for people to tell you, the Dealership GM or Sales Manager, what you are doing wrong. It’s not often that you find people who genuinely want to provide the solutions to make your situation right. If you want an honest outside opinion, please reach out to Frank. And if you are ready to create a strategy to fix the problems, please reach out to us!
Compared to only a decade ago, the number of dealerships visited before a buyer pulls the trigger is down an astonishing 84%. More often than not, dealers are only getting one shot to align the stars, dot the I’s, cross the T’s and close a deal. This is more than likely the one drastic change in buyer behavior that has caused the most adjustment and redesigning of a dealership’s overall sales strategy – except in one area – the anticipation and expectancy of having Saturday be the busiest day of the week.
In dealerships all across the nation, Saturday mornings carry a certain intensity or buzz about them that can be compared to a NHL or MLB playoff game. Perhaps it’s the big Saturday Morning Meeting with it’s one-hour early start time and ritual partaking of carbohydrate laden breakfast items chased down with hot and cold caffeine infused beverages. This meeting is generally run by a member of management whose conversation content would normally only contain friendly snarls and grunts— but on Saturday, could give the Grant Cardones or Tony Robbins’ of the world a solid run for their money. Perhaps it’s the smell of the freshly lit barbecue or your observation of the music in the showroom being played at a volume just a little higher than normal. There’s just something special about a Saturday in the car business — except for the results.
Over the last few years (moreover the last few months), closing time on a Saturday brings feelings similar to an ending of a summer blockbuster that “could have been better.” This leads us to Monday morning meetings with nearly all members of management and dealership marketing personnel that include questions like “What went wrong?” and “Why is traffic off?” All the while, telephones in the BDC are ringing and email alert “chimes” are going off, all leading to appointments scattered all over the calendar throughout the upcoming week (with Saturday being the exception). It’s obvious to us all that the digital age has changed the way everyone shops, especially when it comes to shopping for a car. But have we changed our mindset, procedures and focus to follow, or are we still checking the gauge on the helium tank and sending the lot kid to Costco for more burgers and buns on Friday afternoon?
A study recently published by Autotrader showed that 56% of buyers want to start the negotiating process online. The same study showed that 3/4 of buyers want to complete credit app and financing paperwork from the comfort and privacy of their home or office. How do they even know what car they want to negotiate over? Because they have spent the last umpteen hours on ours and other websites searching and raking through our inventory, finding the car that is right for them without as much as even driving past the dealership.
Combine all of this with the fact that buyers are more time conscious than ever, meaning they don’t want to spend their entire Saturday in our showrooms, and Saturday just doesn’t have the same organic sense of urgency that it used to. These facts should open our eyes to the fact that every dealership, in essence, is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and the day of the week is always Saturday. It’s time for dealerships to look at the other days of the week with equal importance and to prepare by first putting out their “Saturday best” every day of the week. Start right on the showroom floor!
A dealer client of mine always says, “Balloons sell cars.” While I may not agree 100% with that statement (people sell cars, not balloons), I asked him, “Do we not want to sell cars today, because I don’t see any balloons.” My point is, dress the showroom, front line and lot like its Saturday everyday of the week. If your Saturday morning routine includes a walk of the inventory, review of undelivered deals and leads, exercise those tasks every day! Keep the excitement and intensity consistent! And what’s wrong with firing up the grill on a Tuesday evening while you’re working deals. You just may calm a customer’s hunger or quench their thirst long enough for them to relax and realize you’re actually the dealership they WANT to buy from!
Then move on to your website. The battleground has moved from our showroom floor to the screen of the customers laptop or iPhone. Value in the dealership must be built immediately following the click that brought the customer to your homepage, because it is from there that the decision as to whether you get to be 1 of the 1.4 dealerships that a customer is going to physically visit before he buys begins is made. I’m not saying to put up web banners that say “Today is Sale Day” or some other call to action—those really won’t work! Take a look around with the same behaviors as a customer. Start with your inventory. Do you have sellers notes for every vehicle? Do you have vehicles listed that don’t have photos? Are the photos you have posted high quality that focus on the selling points of that vehicle? How about your specials—are they updated? Do you even have any? Is your “why buy” and “extra value proposition” prominently displayed on EVERY PAGE? These are the things you have to do (that your competition is more than likely NOT doing) that will make you stand apart.
What’s that? You know how important the “internet” is? Do you? Do you really know? Maybe you do, but from looking at most dealership websites these days, I know there are a lot of you out there that still underestimate its importance. Most dealerships are still placing bets equal to their entire month’s gross profit on “Saturday to WIN!” at stupid high odds as their competitors are going with a week’s worth of favorites coming home with winnings every race day. Consistency in everything is the key to winning.
The smart, sure bet is leveraging and compounding your winnings every day with a strong, value building online presence, combined with a persistent and effective response strategy to set and secure appointments, followed up by a solid and deep bench of polished, trained, young and hungry sales pros (product advocates, brand specialists or whatever the factory wants you to call them) full of product knowledge and genuine care for the customer. Motion creates emotion so get up, get everyone else up and get moving! Start each day with the intensity, focus and excitement of the traditional Saturday (less carbs of course) and you’ll be driving home every night with the same feeling of fulfillment you used to have on Saturday.
Dani Zandel Having skimmed the article, one point clicks as where a MAJOR part of the issue may be: ” “Why is traffic off?” All the while, telephones in the BDC are ringing and email alert “chimes” are going off, all leading to appointments scattered all over the calendar throughout the upcoming week (with Saturday being the exception).” — Two-part opinion here, folks. Part 1: “Appointments scattered all over the calendar” – Your phone people need to be trained to handle the calls properly, and that includes the verbiage to schedule an appointment no further than 48 hours out. Most often, appointments scheduled further become no show, and we get back to wondering what went wrong. Which leads to Part 2: Follow-up — Obviously, I’m not saying that you don’t schedule an appointment with someone who wants to do so further out, but your follow up has to be ACTIVE. Mr. Customer says he can’t come in until 2 Mondays from the 3rd Monday after next – that does not mean that you wait the 6 weeks before calling him, and that the call is “to remind him of the appointment”….”Mr. Customer, I understand how busy life gets. We have some great promotions that end (pick a day no later than 72 hours in advance) and I would really like to make sure you are able to take advantage of the special pricing/availability/etc. My goal is to get you the BEST deal possible, and I know the programs currently available will do that. We’re open until 9pm, can you sneak us into a few moments after your workday?”…. And if he/she still says no — NO Problem, call A few days later, and then a few days after that, and a few days beyond that. Have a REASON for each call — “Mr. Customer, that special I told you about ended yesterday, but one of my banks just announced a incentive rates good for just this week!” or “You told me you wanted the purple with pink exterior. That’s been a difficult color combination to acquire, but we just got one in on trade from another dealership and I want YOU to have right of first refusal, how fast can you get here?” …. Every call must have a reason, and there must be consistency in your calls. If you follow-up and follow-through, those people who are on the fence, doing their homework from behind the computer, they WILL eventually make a move — and they will make the move to meet the people who were PLEASANTLY Persistent! You want your dealership to be that ONE dealership they are visiting, because if you are not, the next call you make (if you ever make it) will be the one in which they say “Thanks, but we bought already”….. PS — Frank, this is a great article you have penned. May I add it to my website as a Guest Blog, giving you full credit, link to the original posting, and a link to you so people may contact you directly? Thank you for the consideration.