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!
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’!
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’!
Recently I had the privilege of sitting in on an awesome discussion with the incredible Rebecca Chernek and Patrick Antrim of Careersinauto.com about Rebecca's awesome Finance Training and mastering menu sales. Rebecca is training todays leaders to become tomorrows legends and she is someone I follow closely and admire greatly! Whether you are working in the F&I Office or not its a great watch for all Car Pros!
On the evening of April 9th, 2014 over 300 classic, high performance and specialty Mustangs gathered at the Saleen Speedlab in Corona, CA to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of America's Pony and set out on a cross country Pony Express of fun! I was lucky enough be invited to the party and snapped a few pics of some of my fav Pony's!
When I started out on the line as a salesperson my personality and ability to work well with people helped me achieve what I felt was great success in sales numbers and I was sure making a lot more money that I had as a mechanic at the dealership! After a few months of being among the top sellers at the dealership became quite cocky and started breaking all the basic rules of sales; pre-qualifying customers, taking every short cut possible and even ‘brooming’ customer without management introduction. One of the drawbacks with my quick leap into sales was I though I had it figured out pretty well and blinded to my own shortcomings. It became more entertaining to engage in horseplay and practical joking than to spend my time working with those ‘jacks’ that always came on the lot just before the punch line of the joke I was telling! My numbers fell drastically however I refused to take any responsibility and continued to find all the wrong reasons for my sudden lack of sales. One of the Sales Managers of the dealership began to keep a close eye on me, luckily for me. The part that didn’t make any sense to me for many years was that he wasn’t even my own closer, and yet he helped me more than mine ever did. I was always told by my father that the likely hood of you doing the wrong thing depends greatly on the potential that you are being watched and sure enough it seemed like every time I wasn’t doing what I should have been doing this particular manager would be right there as I did it! Whether I was grabbing the keys to a vehicle on the lot to turn on the radio so I could listen while standing out on the point or playing some practical joke on a co-worker, once I looked around I would always see him looking at me with that same ‘tsk tsk tsk’ look on his face. He soon began calling me ‘Mikey Bad-Habits’ and it was a nick name I loathed! Each time he saw me he’d say “whats up Mikey Bad-Habits? When are you gonna get serious?” As he wasn’t my manager I would mostly blow him off and go about my day, usually ending up engaging in some time wasted antics that resulted in no car deals but kept me in the running as the lots ‘funnest guy to be around’! After an extremely disappointing check he saw me sitting in one of the booths, head in hands trying to figure out what the hell I was going to do and how I was ever going to pay my bills. In the booth he walked, sat down opposite me and asked me if I was far enough down on my ass and if I was ready? I felt pretty bad at that moment and asked him why he gave a shit about me, why wasn’t he worrying about his own team and he looked at me with a cold, hard stare that chilled me. He said, “nothing, and I mean nothing pisses me off more than wasted potential kid. You got a ton of potential but until you get over trying to be Mr Popular you wont ever reach your potential and that pisses me off.” I took a deep breath and said “ok, what can I do then, to get back in the game and sell cars again?” He told me to take out one of my cards and turn it over, on the blank back side he told me to write these words;
Am I Doing the MOST Productive Thing Possible RIGHT NOW? If Not, WHY NOT?
He then instructed me to put that card in my shirt pocket and to take it out and read it at LEAST 20 times a day. I wrote out my question of success and put it in my pocket, and at least a couple times a day he would ask to see it. At first I would look at it constantly to remind myself to stay focused and on track but soon it became a thought that constantly ran through my mind over and over as I worked through my day. That same manager lent me his own copies of many sales books and was the guy that later introduced me to the trainer that changed the whole game for me, Mark Tewart. Over the years I have told countless sales people to write out that phrase on a card and check them often as I was. It’s easy to get sidetracked by the many distractions that appear when you take your eyes off of your goals, and that in itself is the key. Keep your sights on your goal and the distractions fall to the wayside. As I write this I’m asking myself if it is the most productive thing possible and yeah, it is. Because I will look back over this one day and it will help remind me to stay focused and working hard to be the best I can be; the best manager, the best coach and the best leader. If you find yourself not being able to stay on track or getting distracted easily try it, write it down on the back of your card and look at it often. I hope it helps even just one person stay in the game and reach their goals! As always, Sell Something my friends :)
As many Internet Sales Professionals would agree, the new popularity of videos as follow up does not ensure car deals by themselves however as an integral step in a strong follow up process they can be highly effective. Above is a video message I made for my team as a 'Managers Message' and it it attached to an email that goes out on the third day after an Internet request has been received. Although the views don't reflect the real reach the response the email gets in reply's and in texts is great. Just like when working with a customer in the showroom sometimes having a Manager to speak to can be the assistance needed to assure the customer that they aren't making a mistake and doing business with the right folks. In the video I offer our guests the ability to reach out to me direct by calling, texting or replying to the email and it works, by allowing our customers the options that best work for their communication comfort we show that we are indeed here for them. Its not the best quality or produced but its gets the point across and was easy to make, as a manager could your process benefit from more of your direct involvement? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section, I look forward to your point of view!
These days it seems like every vender that sits in front of me has the same catch phrase; “content is king”. Now I’m sure this is a valid point but this is not about venders or even anything online, I wanted to talk about the other king today. Here at the dealership I have a similar saying that I have spoken many thousands of times over the years; “accountability is king” which is a para phrase of a saying I'm sure you have heard many times yourself, “inspect what you expect”. There's a difference though between repeating it and doing it! Many times we look only at the results of an employee and mistakenly assume the activities that led to them, both positively and negatively. Sometimes we may assume that our 20 car a month salesperson does a fairly good job of his daily work-plan, or that he in fact does have one! Conversely looking at a low performing staff member and making the assumption that he isn't working his daily plan. The real problem is an overwhelming lack of accountability that prevails in the car business. Now if your dealership has it figured out to a tee then forgive the implication however after 25 plus years in showrooms I do speak from real experience! We all get busy, believe me I know and I get busy too! Its all to easy to lose track of the day and simply nod as my sales people check out at the end of their shift with a casual, ‘good night boss’…. If this type of check out is left unchecked it suddenly is the last weekend of the month and the scramble is on to find those precious few more deals that we hope will make up for a slow month. The reality is simple. There are no slow months, there is only the lack or preparation followed up with implementation and inspected by management so as to hold our people accountable for their own production. Lets face it our people rely on us to keep them on track and earning their living so its our responsibility to make sure they; have clear and easily understood goals, they have reviewed their goals with us as managers and are being inspected daily to ensure they are working toward those goals. Before the end of a month the following months activities should be clearly planned out. For a retail person on the floor they should be able to project how many up, demos and write ups they will need to reach their goal and most importantly what they need to do to acquire those opportunities. Internet people have similar steps to manage with how many leads, phone call, appointments , demos, write ups etc. Its imperative to look through our CRM daily to see what our people are, and aren't doing and then consult with them to offer praise or guidance when needed. If wee look up at the sales board and see someone selling a bunch don’t assume he or she is doing a bang up job of follow up and leave it at that, look into it and if they are well then praise them however, if they aren't ask them how amazing their numbers would be if they were! If you have a low performer drill down and find out where the breakdown is, if a guy has taken a ton of ups but can't get to the demo work on that. If hes had a great demo ratio but isn't asking for the business there is your next training session etc. I’m not breaking any revolutionary new ground here, but it is advise that needs to be repeated often! Fire up your computer, log into that CRM and find more deals by holding your team to a higher level of accountability! Until next time, Sell Something!
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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