Archive for June, 2010

6 Steps to Work Through Change at Your Dealership

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Steve_DozierIn the automotive industry, if there is one thing we know for certain it is that change is constant and necessary for survival.  Whether it’s changes in management, sales people, service writers and/or what incentives are in place at the dealership…change is bound to happen…and frequently.  Every dealer would love to put into action a permanent sales plan and deal flow but that won’t lend itself well to reality.  Car dealers better be good at change in order to survive.

How can you be good at change?  I know it’s easier said than done but the key is to have a process in place as to how you’ll deal with change and document the process!  In essence, plan for change as well as possible.  Unfortunately creating that process is the easiest part of “the process”.  I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that “the Devil is in the details” and that’s certainly true when you’re trying to create/change a process in your store.

Have you ever stopped, taken an outside the box view and asked yourself why changes are so hard to implement?  I’ve not only asked, I’ve studied it.  Here are some of the reasons or challenges to why change is so difficult to accomplish:

  • You’re convinced the changes you’re going to implement will improve the situation.  But no one else is.  Since they are likely the ones that will actually do the day-to-day work, you NEVER see improvement.  Most people see new processes or change as “just one more thing I have to do today!”
  • As a manager, you create a process and expect it to be followed.  However, you don’t micromanage it and ultimately you don’t inspect the process.
  • A new process gets implemented in your store, but there are no tangible measuring tools.  You follow up by asking people, “How’s the new process going?”  We all know what’s going to happen next…they’re going to tell you it’s going great!

I’ve been there, I’ve heard your staff talk and trust me… what they’re saying is “Don’t worry about following this plan; he’ll change it or forget about it in a couple of weeks”.  And they think to themselves, “If I ignore it, “it” will go away.”  But as you and I both know, it won’t go away.  Something new will always change.

Here are 6 steps to successfully implementing new processes and ultimately change at your dealership:

1. Think your solution through first.  It’s okay to make minor changes, but don’t put yourself in a position to have to make major changes every couple of weeks in order to reach your “final destination”.

2. Share the problem with your staff members.  It’s imperative that your employees understand why the current change is needed (and perhaps even required).

3. Get employees’ commitment to implement the new process/change.  In other words, have them take some  “ownership” in the process.

4. Create obtainable/tangible landmarks within your process

5. Explain your measuring “tool” when and how you’ll evaluate improvement.

a. Define the rewards for the staff members involved who achieve success and define the negative consequences for those who don’t.

b. Give the staff members the appropriate level of authority to make the necessary decisions to achieve the goal.  Give them a sense of “empowerment”.

6. Micromanage the project for at least 21 days.

The worst thing you can do after you’ve got a good start to this process is to assume it’s going to continue to improve when you’re not micromanaging it.  Evaluate your staff’s performance.  Also identify a “leader”…You’re not looking for another manager; you’re looking for a project coordinator.  Explain to the staff that the coordinator is not their manager; he’s the one reporting the results to you on a weekly/semi weekly basis.

Communication is one of the most important aspects in the process.  As I’ve said throughout, change is constant and necessary…you must communicate this to your employees.  The majority of the time, change doesn’t come from within; rather, it comes from the manufacturer or from the consumers.  Don’t hesitate to explain this to your staff so they understand the reasons behind the need for change and the process you’re implementing.

When your dealership comes up against change, put a plan together, work through it and encourage everyone in the dealership to get on board!

~ Steve Dozier, National Director of Training @ DMEautomotive

Bio:

Steve Dozier brings 15 years of experience in the automotive industry to DMEautomotive (DMEa). Before joining DMEa, he held upper level management positions in the retail industry. Steve also owned a consulting company that specialized in CRM and direct mail, which brought in $2 Million in Sales for approximately 5 years. While serving as a consultant Steve was consistently recruited by the top 3 CRM firms of that time. Steve started at DMEautomotive in a managerial position overseeing the Direct-to-Dealer team, and is now responsible for developing and growing DMEa University; DMEa’s in-house dealer training organization. Steve is married with two children and enjoys scuba diving and boating in his free time.

Case Study on Employee Use of Facebook in Auto Industry

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Throughout my four-part series (of which this is the final part) I have argued for the use of social media…specifically Facebook…by your dealership’s employees to create new opportunities.  I’ve outlined the benefits and the “how to,” and  today we will look at a case study to show this does indeed work.

Johnny Londoff Chevrolet in Florissant, MO recently began a dealership-wide effort to engage in social media, including the recommendation to use personal profiles to expand their networks…and ultimately their dealership’s reach on social sites.  The majority of Londoff employees are now actively engaging on Facebook, suggesting that their friends “like”Johnny Londoff Chevrolet’s Facebook Page and using their profiles as a way to facilitate some dealership-centered conversations.   Employees have been talking about what’s happening at Londoff Chevrolet, whether it’s just a story that happened at the dealership (a difficult sale closed, a customer who left happy, etc), or news about a unique pre-owned vehicle, incentives, rebates, and service specials.

The results: Johnny Londoff Chevrolet has experienced an increase in sales, with direct links to social media.  In some cases, buyers are coming from other towns to buy from Londoff because of connections and affiliations with employees.

Why does this work? Let’s face it…most sales people hate cold calling!  They’ll do just about anything to avoid it.  Facebook, on the other hand, is a great way for employees to generate traffic and create conversations about their jobs and the dealership.  It is a more comfortable environment and, when done correctly, can be less intrusive and not come off as a “hard sale.”   What do I mean by “done correctly?”  Employees should pass along stories, interesting insights about their job, auto industry and dealership, and provide insider tips…they should make it interesting!  For example, “Londoff Chevrolet just built a new showroom.  It’s sweet!  Makes it so much more comfortable for our buyers.”

The fact is employees will use Facebook during work hours whether they are allowed to or not.  Seriously, think about it…if they can’t get access through their desktop at the office, all they have to do is turn to their mobile device and voila…access to their Facebook application.

It can be argued that the initial gut reaction of companies banning social media is driven by fear, lack of intelligence over how to regulate social media use and, perhaps better yet, how to mobilize your employees to use such sites as a way to increase brand recognition and ultimately drive revenue.   Instead of prohibiting online activity or avoiding the problem all together, more and more dealers need to find a way to harness and leverage this invaluable technology.

~ Missy Jensen, Social Media Manager at DMEautomotive

Bio:

Missy designs, deploys and maintains the social media initiatives for DMEautomotive in an effort to increase brand awareness, distribute company and industry news, provide updates on products and services and promote consumer engagement. Missy enjoys the process of learning; researching and watching projects come to fruition!

Prior to her transformation into a web specialist and work with DMEautomotive, she has 10 years of experience in the marketing and communications industry. Missy served as the Director, Handicapping & Communications for a regional golf association and helped successfully launch and maintain a cutting edge technology-based ticket resale program on behalf of the St. Louis Cardinals

Missy attended St. Lawrence University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BS in Psychology. She also holds a Master’s Degree from Miami University in Oxford, OH. She can be reached at missy.jensen@dmeautomotive.com and check her out on LinkedIn.

Additional resources:

Download our white paper Navigating Social Media in the Automotive Industry for additional information!

How To Encourage Your Employees to Use Facebook

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

First and foremost, it is critical for your dealership to set up standardized rules and guidelines for your employees to abide by when engaging in social networks. Need a sample? Feel free to use DMEautomotive Guidelines and/or also visit Altimeter for additional assistance. Your dealership should incorporate the social media guidelines within your dealership’s employee handbook because, as indicated on DealerRefresh, “that’s where all employees gain the same base of knowledge of company practices…and the company ensures that each staff member thoroughly understands its view of and approach to social media”. The handbook should make recommendations about specific (and acceptable) amounts of time that your employees can dedicate to adding content, commenting, responding and general research during the “normal business hours”.

Once you set up your expectations and guidelines, get your employees involved! Tap into the knowledge base of your employees…whether it’s your Sales Manager who can talk about the sales process…to your F&I department who has insights about the financial aspects of buying a car…to a Service Technician who will talk about important service milestones. Encourage them to discuss their “expertise” on their personal Facebook profiles to build additional rapport and trust with their extended social network.

To help your employees successfully engage in social media on your dealership’s behalf, you should provide them with dealership-specific content to use on their personal profiles. Content can include (but not limited to): videos, photos, dealership news, manufacturer news, specials and coupons.

Urge all employees to become a fan of your dealership’s Page (as well as other relevant industry pages) and to post or comment on posts to drive the conversations, which will aid in the development of your thriving community. Why should your employees engage on your dealership’s Fan Page? Once your employees start engaging with your Facebook Page, their friends and other connections will see their activity, which may entice them to join in. Some companies have even begun to employ internal Facebook Fan Page promotions where employees receive incentives for bringing in X number of fans. Others are hosting company parties when their Fan Page reaches a certain milestone (i.e., 1000 fans). The important factor is that your dealership can use your own employees to help spread the word about the services and vehicles you provide…all of which is done through the credible and effective word of mouth.

Next up: Case Study on Employee Use of Facebook in the Auto Industry

~ Missy Jensen, Social Media Manager @ DMEautomotive.

Bio:

Missy designs, deploys and maintains the social media initiatives for DMEautomotive in an effort to increase brand awareness, distribute company and industry news, provide updates on products and services and promote consumer engagement. Missy enjoys the process of learning; researching and watching projects come to fruition!

Prior to her transformation into a web specialist and work with DMEautomotive, she has 10 years of experience in the marketing and communications industry. Missy served as the Director, Handicapping & Communications for a regional golf association and helped successfully launch and maintain a cutting edge technology-based ticket resale program on behalf of the St. Louis Cardinals

Missy attended St. Lawrence University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BS in Psychology. She also holds a Master’s Degree from Miami University in Oxford, OH. She can be reached at missy.jensen@dmeautomotive.com

LinkedIn Profile

The Benefits of Encouraging Employees to Use Facebook at Your Dealership

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Your employees are already some of the best brand ambassadors you have (this is especially true of dealerships that have a great relationship with their employees) and are currently representing you. And in most circumstances, they are probably doing so completely unsupervised and without organization. When given direction and incentive (i.e., motivated), they can serve as your best marketers!

Reported by Mckinsey/Thompson Lightstone, it has been stated that 67% of consumers purchasing decisions are influenced by word of mouth. When you harness your employees’ knowledge about your vehicles and dealership services, the success stories they posses and the rapport they have within their social network, it can result in one powerful sales environment. Why? Because your employees’ friends TRUST THEM! They believe that their friend knows what they are talking about and that their opinion matters. Your Service Manager’s friends surely believe that he is “the man” when it comes to car maintenance and repair.

Also consider this: the average Facebook user has 200+ friends. If your dealership has 100 employees, of whom 20 of them use Facebook, your dealership has a potential 4,000 friends at your fingertips. So take advantage of it! Allowing your employees to use social media actually leverages existing assets to create opportunities.

Additionally, social media can help your employees keep up with emerging trends and news within the automotive industry, increase their knowledge and position themselves (and ultimately your dealership) as a trusted resource. One of the most important reasons to engage in social media is to have constant interactions and to participate with others online in order to develop trustworthy relationships. Who do you buy stuff from in the “real world”? Your doctors…your accountant…your insurance agent? You trust them, don’t you? People feel better about purchases and transactions when they trust the person, company or brand. And how do companies do this? By consistently providing value, appearing to be like their customers and having similar interests. Social media is no different… it is about people and creating kinships. Thanks to social media, businesses can engage and interact with customers faster and in a more low-pressure environment…and your employees can facilitate this. Quite simply, social media can help strengthen the ties between your dealership, its customers and prospects, as well as among coworkers.

Next up…How To Encourage Your Employees to Use Facebook

~ Missy Jensen, Social Media Manager @ DMEautomotive.

Bio:

Missy designs, deploys and maintains the social media initiatives for DMEautomotive in an effort to increase brand awareness, distribute company and industry news, provide updates on products and services and promote consumer engagement. Missy enjoys the process of learning; researching and watching projects come to fruition!

Prior to her transformation into a web specialist and work with DMEautomotive, she has 10 years of experience in the marketing and communications industry. Missy served as the Director, Handicapping & Communications for a regional golf association and helped successfully launch and maintain a cutting edge technology-based ticket resale program on behalf of the St. Louis Cardinals

Missy attended St. Lawrence University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BS in Psychology. She also holds a Master’s Degree from Miami University in Oxford, OH. She can be reached at missy.jensen@dmeautomotive.com

LinkedIn Profile


Encouraging Your Dealership’s Employees to Use Facebook to Create Opportunities

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Facebook, and social media in general, is THE talk of the automotive industry. Think of the number of presentations and sessions at NADA, Digital Dealer and other industry conferences directed at getting your dealership on board with social media. It’s EVERYWHERE…and for good reason. The reason of course is that the old school ways of marketing where you push your message out via television and radio aren’t as effective as they once were. No ifs, ands or buts about it. Instead, dealers may have more success and ultimately better sales leads when a consumer who is already learning about and shopping for the products and services they offer finds themand they will likely first find you and research you online. How do they find you? By having regular social media activity and great search engine optimization, people will be able to more easily find you, because people are searching online for you!

Not only are dealers trying to figure out how to operationalize and monetize social media to drive revenue but you’ll also find General Managers and other upper level management trying to determine the best course of action to deal with the ever-increasing popularity of social media and the use by their employees during the work day.

According to a late 2009 study, 54% of companies surveyed prohibited their employees from any online social networking activities. Let’s face it…the reasons behind this prohibition aren’t entirely implausible because there are risks associated with employee activity on social media. One of the biggest concerns expressed by employers is about the use of Facebook and other social media networks hampering employee productivity (though studies have found the opposite to be true – Source). Additionally, according to Social Networking Law blog, what an employee does online may:

- Hurt the employer’s reputation, or disparage the company or its officers;

- Disclose proprietary information (maybe even inadvertently);

- Result in vicarious liability for the employer (for example, supervisor harassment via Facebook); or

- Otherwise violate company policies.

So you’re probably wondering what are the benefits to advocating the use of social media by your dealership’s employees and how can you manage this activity successfully (and to your advantage)?? Have no fear…I’ll cover that in my next blog post.

~ Missy Jensen, Social Media Manager @ DMEautomotive.

Bio:

Missy designs, deploys and maintains the social media initiatives for DMEautomotive in an effort to increase brand awareness, distribute company and industry news, provide updates on products and services and promote consumer engagement. Missy enjoys the process of learning; researching and watching projects come to fruition!

Prior to her transformation into a web specialist and work with DMEautomotive, she has 10 years of experience in the marketing and communications industry. Missy served as the Director, Handicapping & Communications for a regional golf association and helped successfully launch and maintain a cutting edge technology-based ticket resale program on behalf of the St. Louis Cardinals

Missy attended St. Lawrence University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BS in Psychology. She also holds a Master’s Degree from Miami University in Oxford, OH. She can be reached at missy.jensen@dmeautomotive.com

LinkedIn Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/missyjensen

Other Resources:

  1. 3 Benefits of Social Media Use at Workplace
  2. Social Media Play Book For Mazda Dealers
  3. Turn Your Employees into Social Media Ambassadors
  4. 10 Must-Haves for Your Social Media Policy

Download our white paper Navigating Social Media in the Automotive Industry