|When we think of Camelot, most of us think of castles, knights in shining armor, festivals, fair maidens, white horses and ivory towers. We think of mountain mist and the fire-breathing dragons. We think of singing swords and juggling jesters. We may even think about the good-looking English teacher that read to us during 6th period literature, but how many of us stop to think about how it all began?|
We remember the glitz and the glory, but we often forget that it all began with an ordinary boy seeing an opportunity and pulling a sword out of a stone.
Funny isn’t it? When we think about greatness, we automatically think about the finished product. However, when we take King Arthur off of his pedestal and put him into everyday life, he was just an ordinary guy who achieved extra-ordinary success by taking advantage of opportunities as they came his way.
As the king, Arthur reminds us of a legendary leader, but as the “ordinary guy”, he reminds us that there may be a hero hidden somewhere in us all.
To put this into a more modern context; many of us get discouraged when we look at today’s Internet “mega-dealers” because the results they achieve seem too good to be true. However, what we forget is that we are focusing on what amounts to a finished product. In most cases, these “Virtual Camelots” were started by guys like you and me who saw an opportunity and made something happen.
To borrow from a popular expression, Camelot wasn’t built in day. In fact, it wasn’t even the original daydream destination. The original storybook kingdom was a called Carleon and was not replaced by Camelot until the late 13th century.
That’s right, the concept of Camelot took hundreds of years to perfect, but regardless of when and where, “once upon a time” happened. We need to remember that the events we refer to as happening “a long time ago” and in a place “far, far away” were happening “right here” and “right now” for King Arthur.
“What the mind can conceive and believe, it can a achieve.” -Unknown
Here are a few “Arthurian” principles you can apply in the not so distant future that may help you take the first step towards the road to Camelot.
Find a Round Table
Unless you are one of the lucky few who have complete autonomy on a deal, chances are your process is partially dependant upon people in other management positions. Try to set up a regular meeting where everyone involved can talk.
These meetings do not have to be every week, but I would suggest that you have at least one a month to discuss the following:
Slay the Dragons
Round table meetings will often uncover “Dragons” that interfere with deals. Take a proactive approach and slay them. Taking quick action will set a good example for the others in your department and will help validate the input from the other managers. If you are seen as “the guy who makes things happen,” others will be less likely to stand in your way.
Here are a couple of ways to kill commonly found dragons.
Poor response time.
Low quality leads
Isolate what is corrupting the lead and identify the source. A couple of things to check are:
1. Is the information on your Web site and with your vendors current?
2. Are you asking for too much information?
3. If you are tracking geographical areas, try opting for a zip code field in lieu of asking for an entire address.
4. When trying to initiate a response:
Inaccurate Trade-in Values
This is one of the biggies. Using an online evaluation tool is a step in the right direction when it comes to winning a customer’s trust, but it often has the opposite effect when the estimate is several hundred dollars off. Overcoming these differences when the customer comes onto the lot is never fun and can put you into the “let me ask my manager” process that many Internet shoppers are trying to avoid.
Once again, there may be other similar products available, but Intelliprice does 3 things that are significant.
Like I mentioned earlier, there might be other alternatives, but the important thing is not the product but the results. If it doesn’t work, all you’ve lost is a little time. If it does work, you are one step closer to overcoming a major hurdle.
Build Your Army
Find the people within your organization that are interested in the Internet. Everyone may not be excited about what you are doing but there probably are a few. Likely candidates are your parts manager, your service writers and your finance managers.
Here are a couple of ways you may be able to get other departments interested in your cause.
1. Service Manager/ Service Writer
2. Finance Manager
3. Parts Manager
Unite the Allies
Once you have your army assembled, it is important you keep them on your side. Generating short-term enthusiasm is easy – maintaining it is the tough part. You will need to find creative ways to build a team atmosphere that gets everyone interested in working together.
Here are a couple of ways to do this:
1. Have sales feed service.
Most of us have a few extra minutes with the customer while the deal is being loaded for F&I, so why not use this time to introduce the customer to the Web site. CSI surveys always ask if the customer was introduced to the service department. Instead of marching them all over the dealership, do it online. Create a page on your Web site that shows the interior and exterior of your service department along with a picture of your service manager (or service writers). Use this to “introduce” the customer to the service team and schedule the first service.
When the customer gets home, they will have the auto-responder in their e-mail box as a reminder of how considerate you were.
By the way, this is also a good time to have them opt in to your e-mail list. This will allow service (and the rest of the dealership) to inexpensively market to them on a regular basis.
2. Have service feed sales
Add a line to your Schedule Service form that asks, “Would you like to test drive a vehicle while your car is being serviced?” and have them page you when the customer arrives.
3. Create a Dealership Newsletter
There are many companies that offer inexpensive ways to mass e-mail your customers (check out www.constantcontact.com). They take care of all of the legal mumbo jumbo and automatically remove e-mail addresses that have chosen to “opt out.” This is an excellent way to keep in touch with your customer base and market to cold leads.
With very little effort you can publish a professional looking newsletter that includes press releases on new vehicles, upcoming sales info, special APR’s, rebates, etc…
On top of that, it is a great way to get the other managers excited about your monthly “round table”.
A wise man once said, “the difference between a dream and a goal is a deadline.”
In our dreams, Internet departments sell 50 percent of all vehicles sold. They all make $2,000 on the front end. We all work 20 hours a week and we tell our customers to ignore the mist as they come into our ivory tower dealerships for delivery.
We may never ride to work on white horses or work in ivory towers but, with a little effort, we can all improve our work environments.
Many dealerships already sell 20 percent of their vehicles online. Some even have separate facilities with luxurious delivery areas and cappuccino machines. Throw in the fact that almost 70 percent of all car buyers use the Internet before making a purchase and suddenly the goal of 50 percent doesn’t seem so far out of reach.
The car business is still the car business, so we may always work ungodly hours. However, if we are willing to trade-in our goblets for coffee cups, we just may find ourselves in Camelot after all.
DealerFire’s website platform is now available through Honda’s Digital Certified Program.