If you were one of the more than 21,000 attendees at the National Automobile Dealers Association’s annual convention, then you hopefully partied, learned and were exposed to the latest and greatest that our industry has to offer — not necessarily in that order.

Attending the event is definitely a juggling act. I personally had to keep an eye on speaking duties, meetings to expand my business and running my annual “Dealers, don’t buy anything without calling me first” program. Yes, I encourage my clients to keep their American Express cards in their pockets until they touch base with me to figure out how the new tool or service they want fits into their current dealership strategy.

So, to help you do the same, I thought I’d offer you 4.5 areas that you need to strengthen this year in order to realize a strong 2013.

1. CRM: Having been involved with CRM since 1999, it is scary to think about a dealer operating without one. The trap  many dealers fall into is treating CRM like a check-off item on a to-do list. The key to CRM mastery is to be highly proficient in three key areas:
1. Daily usage of the system for both accountability and reporting
2. Executing a customer life-cycle marketing plan
3. Utilizing the data to identify training, additional business development trends and growth opportunities

The sophistication level of CRMs has certainly grown way beyond logging “ups” and sending letters. My challenge to you is to engage the management team and assess how much of your CRM you are using, and using effectively. Also consider what additional enhancements may be available to close the gaps in your sales process.

2. Human Capital: Developing your human capital through training and skill development is something most dealers know they must do, but they tend to struggle in two common areas:

1. Training being delivered is outdated, recycled and not customer-centric: You may like touting your store’s daily training regimen, but what exactly are you training on? See, there are basically two forms of dealership training: process and sales. Training on how to fill out a buyers order is process training, while training on how to get a commitment so you can start filling out the form is sales training.

I always cringe when I learn that a dealership’s managers are training employees on things they learned as a newbie. Think about it: If you have been a manager for 12 years and a salesperson for six years before that, then you could be passing along information that is 18 years old. The thought of those old word-tracks being passed on to the newer generation is just too scary to think about.

2. No Consistency to Training and Development: I will never forget the dealer who told me I was the first person in 12 years to conduct training at his store. I guess that’s why the store kept the lights out in one section of the showroom to save money on the electric bill. When people aren’t properly trained and motivated, sales suffer, gross suffers and everybody loses.

3. Efficiency: Utilizing a single-source program that can manage several aspects of your operation and eliminate unnecessary steps in any process will decrease transaction time while increasing transaction volume. Remember, the utopia of business success is to achieve more sales revenue with less labor and workload.

4. Digital: It’s mind-boggling how fast the digital game changes. Heck, I’ll bet the game will have changed by the time you read this column. My suggestion to you is to vet your potential providers hard and find a trusted source of information. Also, the rules about jacks-of-all trades haven’t changed, so be open to vendor partners who specialize in certain aspects of digital.

4.5. Culture: Finally, the new momentum and energy of 2013 is a great opportunity to assess the work environment. Try a survey using SurveyMonkey, and look for trends and opportunities to create a better work environment.

Now, don’t be cynical and think all the feedback is going to revolve around employees who just want you to pay them more money. There could be some real issues you are unaware of. And hey, if your employees are satisfied, you can bet your current and potential customers will also be satisfied for years to come.

Cory Mosley is principal of Mosley Automotive Training, a company focused on new-school techniques. E-mail him at [email protected].

About the author
Cory Mosley

Cory Mosley

Dealer Consultant

Cory is a sales training specialist who brings a new-school approach to automotive retailing. Get his monthly take on the opportunities and challenges impacting today’s front-end departments right here at www.fi-magazine.com.

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