WoW! Soon after the article mentioned below hit the ole Internet the folks from Car Biz today contacted me to see if I wouldn't mind speaking with them for a segment on their daily CBTNews show. Needless to say I was floored and jumped at the chance to be interviewed by the site that regularly features such powerful people in the automotive industry, and huge personal inspirations, like Mark Tewart and Renee Stuart! I was pretty stoked to get on the line with Russel Brown who co-anchors the show I watch and recommend to my staff so enthusiastically and it went great, I felt honored that the things we are doing here at Raceway Ford have got the attention of others and are looked at as 'how to do it right'. I feel like I am tooting my own horn a bit much lately so I will try to taper it off however the interview is HERE of you'd like to check it out!
A few years back I began to focus my efforts in learning about and getting involved with the mysterious digital black magic that is Social Media and how I could help my dealership not only increase its online presence but actively engage with our customers in all the areas that THEY were spending time. To that end I have created and manage pages for our store in many different online areas such as Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest etc... and we have built quite a nice community of friends and followers online. Being knee deep in the efforts of our dealership it was easy for me to assume that many dealerships were doing much the same thing and yet, surprisingly most aren't! A writer for the website Edmunds.com contacted me recently because she had become aware of Raceway Fords level of online activity and was impressed enough to want to write an article about us! While speaking with Laura she shared with me how our store, while not exclusive to having a great presence online, is still somewhat unique and after an interview wrote a very nice piece about the things we are doing to keep us engaged with customers in many areas to share Ford knowledge, entertain and educate as much as we can. Its a great piece and can be read HERE. For me, the recognition that we are on the right path was pretty awesome!
Famous horses have been featured in works of art for since the dawn of time, in the days of old a prize stallion would be immortalized in oil and the canvas hung proudly above its owners mantle for all to admire. Today your prize pony can also be immortalized and hung for admiration with an original print from the ‘Automotive Michelangelo’ himself, Mr Danny Whitfield. For a limited time with the purchase of a new Ford Mustang from Raceway Ford in Riverside, CA, you will receive a framed print signed by the artist of your new car purchased for you by me, Mike theCarGuy! Imagine having your co-workers admiration of your new Mustang when they see it hanging on your office wall or your friends and family being able to see your prized stallion as it hangs prominently on a wall in your home! I have been a huge fan of Mr Whitfields work for a long time and two of his prints myself, I wanted to offer my customers the chance to own one of these amazing works of art as well... and owning a new Mustang wont be all that bad either! The remaining 2014 Mustangs are moving briskly so time is critical, if you have your sights on a new Pony the time is now, and when you buy your new car you will get one to hang on the wall too!
You can see more of the amazing automotive artistry of Danny Whitfield HERE:
Imagine you are house hunting and you walk through a perfect house with all the bedrooms you could even want and every amenity you could desire. At the end of the tour the realtor asks you what you think about the $4 million dollar asking price and you reply; “if you could get the payments under $1500 per month we are ready to move right in…”
Ridiculous, yes however that same scenario plays out every day on dealership lots across the country. One of the biggest causes of difficult negotiations and bad feeling about the car buying experience stems from the real lack of homework being done regarding monthly payments. There is no shortage of websites these days that will give out all kinds of advice on how to get the ‘best price’ when car shopping, some will even show you pricing right on their site however, most of them fail to mention that there is a connection between that great price and the monthly payment it takes to pay back the loan for that amount. When folks ask me what the best advice I have about car shopping is I always answer the same way, “know you own monthly budget and what the buys, then stay within that amount when you go out shopping.” Sounds simple right? Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to work that way a lot of the time! Many times car shopping is done on impulse or, sometimes folks do their homework and know how much car they SHOULD be looking at and then get caught up in the excitement of new cars and try to buy more car than they can afford in the hopes that somehow the dealer will be able to ‘make it work’. The surest way to a long drawn out negotiation is to try to buy a vehicle that has a cost of more than the budget you have for yourself and think that ‘if the dealer REALLY wants to sell the car they will be able to make the math work’. I see it day in and day out, a customer will come in and pick out a car and sit down to work out the deal armed with all kinds of quotes from websites and other dealers. I agree to a price and then show the customer payment options and that’s when they freak! All the effort and time invested in getting a killer deal just to realize that the payments on that sweet price wont work….
To keep things basic I am just talking about a purchase here and yes, with enough down payment any monthly payment can be reached but for arguments sake let’s assume a no money down purchase just for a moment. Let’s say you like the new Fusion and pick one out that has an MSRP of $25995. It really doesn’t matter how much research you have done and how willing the dealer is to sell the car there is little hope of achieving a monthly payment of $350 per month without a whole lot of help! What often happens in a case like this is the customer gets frustrated and leaves, then pulls into another dealer ship with a better understanding of where his payment objective needs to be in order to get the car he wants and enters negotiations with a new target or, looks for a car that better fits his budget. Either way there is often a negative feeling about the first dealership and the car buying process in general.
There are many online calculators that will show auto financing payments and even without an exact idea of the rate you may qualify for its easy to get a general idea of a target payment will payback. For instance, to reach a target of $450 per month at 60 months the loan would payback somewhere between $18-27,000. Now keep in mind that might need to include tax, registration and any other fees that may be charged in your area. If you are looking for a car with a price in that range all should be good and negotiation may get you the deal you want however, if you had your sights on an SUV with an MSRP of say, $45,000 there is simply no amount of wheeling and dealing that will have you on the road and with a payment in that budget!
During my 25+ years of working for car dealerships I have been asked MANY times for advice on how to best research, negotiate for and ultimately buy a car. Quite often after I offer my opinion I hear the reply, “is that what the ‘car salesman part of you says or is that legit good advice?” The truth is, there doesn’t have to be a difference! Although some might assume that any advise I would have to offer wouldn’t necessarily be the best for the customer I will point out that there is already quite enough negative stereotyping about car salesman and yes, there is probably plenty to validate some of that negative I have always worked with the idea that if my efforts aren’t best for my customers they won’t be for my own long term success either. Each deal I make is in the spirit of it being the first in a long relationship I strive to build with my customers, something that has contributed not only to my achievements in the car business but also created quite a large following of customers that will pretty much only buy their next cars from me! I believe that a good deal is more than simply a number, yes price IS important but the experience and ease of purchase is equally important. Many sources of so called car buying expertise are free to give tips about how to find the lowest price but when it comes to actually working with a dealership and walking in to make the purchase they often fall short on real world, usable guidance. That is where I can help, I am hoping that shifting the direction of my blog to also include car buying help, tips and answers to many of the questions that arise during the car shopping experience can help people with real advice that will save them money and also time and stress when researching and buying their next car. There are many aspects to car buying that we will look at including; trading in or selling your car, now that I have an Internet price quote now what (?) and the benefits and draw backs of leasing in addition to answering any questions you may have. Keep an eye out for my future posts if you are looking to buy a car and if you have a specific question please feel free to send it in and I will answer it here. For the best research and product info check back to this site often for the latest in what’s new and what’s news in the automotive world! Until next time, I’m Mike theCarGuy and I want to help you ‘Buy Happy’!
To The Powers At Be At Ford Motor Company,
As this is the 50th Anniversary of America's favorite Pony car and for the first time it will be available in for sale in Europe its time to take the Mustang back to Le Mans! Not since 1997 has the thunder of a Ford V8 been heard on the most famous course in Europe although the Blue Oval has MUCH history there. Long ago Mr Carroll Shelby and his Daytona Coupes started a run of victories for Ford in Europe's race and the time to return and once again take the checkered flag with a Ford is now. Please take all your Ford Racing awesomeness, build a wide body, Trans Am style, new Mustang and put the pedal to the metal for the 24 Hours of Le Mans! Do it for Mr Shelby, Henry Ford II, Bruce McLaren, Dan Gurney, AJ Foyt, Mario Andretti,Claude Dubois, Chris Tuerlinckx, Holman & Moody, Steve Saleen and yes.... do it for Mr Steve McQueen too!
Click the Pony pic to go sign the online petition I started to let Ford know how much we want then to "Send The 2015 Mustang To Le Mans"!!
A lot has been made of the word transparency lately, especially regarding the car business. While I'm not saying customers don't want transparency it is my belief that many of us are looking at it from the wrong point of view. Many car folks hear transparency and instantly assume the customer wants to know what invoice is and attempt to use that as some type of negotiating leverage to force dealers into yet another race to the bottom of pricing. I think that consumers do want transparency however the transparency they are after is not about pricing at all but rather the process. I believe customers are willing to negotiate to a fair deal after seeing the value presented in the product but they would like a better understanding of whats going on. For instance the old 'let me go check with my manager' has been played out. Why go into a back office where the customer cant see you to get information? Why not have the sales desk out on the showroom floor where the customer can see the 'decision maker'? Hell, why not have the sales manager introduce himself at the beginning of the paper work process so they know who is going to be working on the numbers for them? With a more straight forward explanation of the process, transparency can be achieved and in a win/win for the customer and dealership. Just my thoughts as always, please let me know yours and until next time: Sell Something!
Recently my boss challenged me to follow thru on my rant about getting into better shape and signed me up to run a half-marathon relay with him, needless to say after sitting on the sales desk for many years I was not going to be able to get up and get into shape easily! I started by looking in the handy dandy ‘app store’ for an application that I could download that may help me put together a game plan for getting started in small and easy to accomplish steps. I was amazed at how many app’s were indeed available for beginning runners and downloaded one that looked like it would be easy for me to figure out. As we all know sometimes dealer life just gets in the way of outside life and a few weeks went by before I even realized I hadn’t been out to take the first steps to running a race… Imagine that, a fancy app with all kinds of potential that could give me all the stats and info I could ever want right at my fingertips however, because I hadn’t even opened up the application it was doing absolutely nothing for me! Sure enough once I got up early one morning, laced up my shoes and headed out the app came in handy and really helped me keep track of my progress and let me know what I needed to achieve in order to reach my goal of running the six miles of my leg in the relay.
What does this have to do with selling cars you ask? Everything. We have all heard the phrase, “there’s an app for that” at one time or another and when it comes to being a successful salesperson there’s an app for that too. Most CRM providers offer a mobile app that allows users to accumulate customer info, track process’s and maintain contact with their customer base, some better than others however the point is; just like my running app none of the CRM mobile solutions can do a single thing for you until they are opened! It’s not enough to say you simply want to sell more cars, you have to know what you need and how to get it to achieve greater results and with the help of a CRM you can. Take a hard look at your month, how many floor up, phone ups and eLeads have you taken? Look at your demo/write-up/close ratios and then it’s simple math to figure out how to increase your sales. Once you know how many you want to sell, work backwards to figure out how many write-ups it will take, how many demos it will take to achieve that and then how many customers you will need in order to take that many demos. Now, compare that to your last three months, can you get to where you want with your current average number of opportunities? Chances are, no. Where will you find the customers to fill the gap? Remember what I said just a few sentences ago, there’s an app for that! Look to your CRM, follow up with unsold customers, sold customers and keep on it until you think you can’t work your customers base anymore and then…. You guessed it, keep working it! Once you make a commitment to yourself that you won’t settle for anything less than your very best it’s amazing how many deals start presenting themselves to you but you can’t half ass it you need to seriously get into your CRM and make it work FOR you! Go on, get started, until you open up that app it aint gonna do a thing! Have a great week and ‘Sell Something’!
If you take the C out of closer what you really have is loser! Closing in my opinion is in fact, for losers....
Now before you prepare your letter bomb or nasty comments for the flaming thread that is sure to follow, allow me to elaborate…. Back when I got started the prevailing wisdom went something like "the sale doesn't begin until the 5th to 7th time you hear the word no...." and I focused much of my time early on in learning as much about 'closing' as I could, reading books and listening to every sales manager I could 'close' deals. As I grew in my own sales experience I discovered that the more I invested in the initial stages of the customer interaction the less I had to rely on my closing ability. When I became a Sales Manager with my first team I focused most of our training and preparation for the ‘Meet and Greet, Show and Tell’ portion of the sale and very little on the ‘write up’ as I knew the best way to overcome objections was to not have them and the best way to ensure there were few if any was with a strong presentation and demonstration. Over the years I have seen a fundamental shift in the employees that are coming into the business and especially after the recent tough economic times folks starting off in sales have a real lack of understanding of the importance of customer service and lean more and more on the strong closing skills touted by the big name trainers like Grant. It seems like as soon as new salespeople get finished with their new hire paperwork they want to skip right to learning how to work the deal like a 'closer', and unfortunately many, MANY dealership leaders are all to willing to start showing them how to overcome objections and hard close customers. The art of the customer qualification (no, not ‘hows your credit’ either!) has become thing of the old days of selling as many salespeople assume the customers have done their research and are ready to get down to business working the numbers. My focus with new people, and even the seasoned folks who have fallen into the trap, is to re-enforce the importance of the critical wants and needs analysis portion of the initial meet and greet stage, and the effective demonstration of the product based on the information gathered. In other words: "Spend two hours on the lot and the write up will take 15 minutes, OR... spend 15 minutes on the lot and the write up negotiation) will take two hours or more and end with the salesperson begging the customer to buy at a discounted price/payment"
Closing becomes crucial when the salesperson hasn’t done his job thoroughly, it’s as simple as that. If the salesperson asks the right questions, listens effectively and then demonstrates how his product best meets the wants and needs of the customer he doesn’t have to close, the customer sees value and agrees to the purchase. That’s not to say there is no negotiation required and that all customers simply lay down for the deal, I’m simply stating that I am convinced that the more focus we put on the initial stages of the sales process when training, the less we have to train the 'close'.
Not the most popular way of thinking with the old school car dawgs I have engaged with however I have seen great results in my own staff here at my store now and at many stores I have trained at. Thoughts? Let me know your perspective in the comments, good or bad lets have some discussion!
Saturday, May 10th was the 29th Annual Highgrove Days community event and car show. I snapped a couple pics of the sweet rides that came out for today's event, really great turn out of many awesome cars and trucks! Was great to see the communities of Highgrove and Grand Terrace come together for a wonderful day of fun and fast cars! Great job everyone, cant wait for next years!
Hey there, I'm Mike theCarGuy and here are some of my thoughts about cars, the car business and sales! Take a look around, maybe you will learn something or at the very least find your self smiling, and if you do... leave me a comment so I know I at least did something right! Thanks for stoppin by...
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