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On the Point

Stepping Up Your Game

Instead of resorting to name calling, Da Man says dealers and their sales teams could learn a lot from sales event companies.

January 21, 2015

Without exception, every sales department in every dealership in the world is underperforming in virtually every profit center. Even the stores that are dominating their market could use more sales, more frequent sales and higher grosses.

I know that’s a bold statement to make, but it’s been proven over and over again. Think about it. Have you hired a sales event company to come into the dealership and put on a three-day super sale? These firms will bring in their own sales teams, including managers and closers. They’ll also take over the store’s advertising. Sometimes, they’ll even help the dealership buy inventory to prepare for the event.

And it’s not uncommon for these companies to seriously outperform the dealership’s normal business volume, as they typically put up staggering numbers in just a few days. As an observer with no skin in that game, I just watch and learn as these firms deliver high grosses and high unit volume.

Mention that to dealers and their managers and you’ll usually hear every excuse and defense as to why these firms outperform them. They’ll liken the sales teams these companies send out to a crew right out of the Pirates of the Caribbean, with Captain Jack Sparrow at the helm. They’ll even resort to name calling, referring to these outside sales teams as gypsies, tramps and thieves.

In fact, tell me if this sounds familiar: “Those traveling road show people are drunks and bums with questionable tactics. And after they leave, the worms start coming out of all their deals.”

I guess I can’t blame dealership personnel for getting so defensive. Hey, they have to justify their employment at the dealership, right? Well, the problem is those excuses keep them anchored in mediocrity.

Truth is, the majority of these companies are reputable and professional. And they’re really good at what they do, and that’s why they’re so hated. They expose just how badly the dealership is underperforming, and they tend to squash every weak excuse the dealership’s sales team hides behind.

See, the real question a dealer needs to ask is why their stores aren’t achieving the numbers these firms are putting up. The answer to that question is the reason many people put these firms down.

If anything, the performance of an outside firm should serve as a wakeup call that those numbers have always been there. So instead of complaining, why not figure out what these companies do that wasn’t being done before. Maybe they advertised more effectively. Heck, I’ve seen some of these companies flood a showroom with buyers using simple hybrid mail and email campaigns.

“But Mr. Ziegler, you should see the quality of the customers they brought into the dealership. We felt like we were wading in the shallow end of the gene pool.”

Yes, I’ve seen and heard that, too. But those customers can and did buy cars, and the dealer cashed their contracts and collected the money just like any other buyer. Maybe you need to stretch your special finance department a little further. These people were obviously in your market and could buy if the deal was put together right.

“But Mr. Ziegler, the cars they bought and stocked are not our usual inventory.” So you’re saying you’re not stocking the right cars to maximize sales?

“But Mr. Ziegler, they are hard closers.” Well, evidently, you’re not closing hard enough.
The one thing I’ve noticed about these companies is they stick to their sales processes without exception. Can you say the same?

Truth is, even the best dealerships have a lot to learn and improve. From my experience in this business, we are, by nature, excuse-makers who will defend our turf. But we’re also slow to admit when we’re not doing the best job possible.

If you thought this article was about sales event companies, you missed the point. I just used them to point out how they’re able to capture sales in your market that you weren’t able to. And they’re doing that while achieving grosses and unit volume that you aren’t.

Perhaps their advertising is more effective. Maybe they have the right inventory. Maybe it’s the fact that instead of pushing out those boring advertising campaigns that every other dealer pushes out, they’re putting on a big sales event and promoting it as such. Hey, if your dealership doesn’t look and feel like it’s having a big sale, then you’re probably not having one.

Jim Ziegler is the president of Ziegler SuperSystems Inc. Email him at jim.ziegler@bobit.com.

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Author Bio

Jim Ziegler

President & CEO of Ziegler SuperSystems

Jim 'Da Man' Ziegler joined the magazine in 2011 to deliver his On-the-Point message about the car business to dealer principals and store managers. He'll offer strategy advice on everything from sales and F&I to marketing in the digital age. Catch him every month at www.fi-magazine.com.

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