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If you are a regular user on Facebook then you have probably heard about the new feature that they are testing in a few markets called “Deals”. Deals is similar to Groupon and Living Social in that you can subscribe for free to either site and they will send you daily offers in your area for 50% to sometimes 90% off! The catch is that there is a time limit as to how long the offer is available, and in some cases, to get the deal there has to be a certain amount purchased before you get the deal. I LOVE Groupon and Living Social and I buy at least 1 deal a week – if not more! I even think that they read my mind sometimes. The other day I was thinking about how badly we need our carpets cleaned and I logged into Groupon and what do you know…there was an offer for 55% off Baby Safe Carpet Cleaning…bingo! Facebook took notice of the popularity of these sites and is now piloting their Deals in 4 markets – Dallas, Austin, Atlanta and San Diego. Lucky for me, I live in Dallas, so when the message popped up yesterday asking if I wanted to receive daily Deals I immediately replied “yes”! I am always looking for a good deal, especially when it comes to servicing my car. Just yesterday one of my co-workers Googled “oil change” and found a coupon for a $9.95 oil change at a place here in town. Now who knows what kind of oil or filter they are using, but either way, all she cares about is that it only costs her $9.95. I have noticed that some dealerships are taking advantage of Groupon and Living Social and offering discounts on light maintenance services, like oil and filter changes, tire rotations and brake inspections and on other services such as wash and detail. What a great idea! What is the one stigma that still plagues dealership service departments today? That they are too expensive and it will take too long for the service to be performed. Here’s a thought…offer a deep discount on oil and filter change and throw in a multi- point inspection to get people in the door….then sell them on your wonderful customer service! I used to work with service departments and I know for a fact that they are NOT more expensive. In fact, sometimes they are priced the same, if not cheaper, then the Wal-Marts and Firestones of the world. So get them in on a great offer and then show them why they need to keep coming back!

You may or may not be aware of sites like www.groupon.com or www.livingsocial.com where companies send out a special of the day type promotions and site members race to purchase the limited number of those specially priced deals. The Home Depot has a great promotion and by “Like”ing them on their Facebook page you get an opportunity to purchase a great item as they have them on a wide variety of closeout items at huge savings with free shipping. Well move over Groupon and Living Social here come Facebook Deals. You may have already seen the lading page for this new area on Facebook but the New York Times is reporting today that the Facebook Deals has launched service in a test environment in the following cities: Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, San Diego and San Francisco. The great thing is these specials will spread via email and the all important News Feed. Facebook will also be adding REAL credits to their program allowing members to build a stock pile of credits for future purchases.

Who is ready to go to New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys! OK seriously so how is this an opportunity? If an oil change is $19.95 on special at your dealership and the true cost of oil, filter, labor is around $7.00 what kind of volume and EXPOSURE would you get if you did a $9.95 oil change? How many people on Facebook would spread the word about your dealership to their friends regarding this great promotion and finally how many of them will “Like” your Facebook page?

All of that to gain “Likes” and positive word of mouth Terry? Heck NO, I ran this exact promotion for all employees of our local school district. Anytime someone came in for the oil change promotion I went out on the service drive to meet them face to face and thank them for taking advantage of the promotion and their dedication to our community and students. WAIT, I also sold no less than 2 cars a month with some months being 10+ just off this promotion. No a huge deal but it made money!

Look for this new opportunity and when it comes to your area take advantage of it. You stand to grow your online and social media efforts exponentially.

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If you have watched the news or read a paper over the weekend then the chances are you read an article about Nissan inspecting vehicles being shipped out of Japan for radiation. I have to admit I am a little confused by some of the reports and blogs. I see numerous blogs/articles saying that Nissan is inspecting cars imported simply to build/ensure consumer confidence in their product. One thing that seems to be reported differently is if the vehicles are inspected before they leave Japan or after they arrive in the United States. I have watched video of the inspections taking place and it clearly shows they are inspecting cars PRIOR to them being put on the ship and the 10 vehicles tested out of the 5000 per ship are giving a radiation clear sticker. In addition some models like the Nissan Altima, Maxima, Xterra, Frontier, Pathfinder, Titan, and Infinity QX56 are built at Nissan’s factory in America.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhaFQFn9rsw&feature=player_detailpage

So my question is if Nissan was truly just trying to accomplish a consumer confidence campaign why can’t I find anything on their Facebook page, TV ads or radio related to this? Has anyone seen an executive from Nissan discussing this or a press release?

I recall the first flight that landed in Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport from Japan after the tragedy and that flight set off the radiation detectors at the airport. When you combine the continued radiation leaks at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant with radiation being detected outside of Japan just after the earthquake it would make sense that Nissan is testing these vehicles for more than just consumer confidence. Frankly it is hard to believe not all of the Japanese manufacturers are not doing the same thing.

So what is the real reason for the testing? I think it is a combination of things including consumer confidence and a ship that returned to Japan after 3.5 microsieverts per hour were detected but to me the primary reason has to do with the increasing restrictions on imports of Japanese products. 29 countries and regions have suspended or tightened controls on agricultural and dairy products and the last thing Nissan wants or needs is restrictions on cars. Currently Nissan has reported a 50 day stock of vehicles which is down from the normal 60 day stock and keeping these vehicles shipping and sold may just put a tiny bit of good in a horrific situation.

The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association has already declared there are no dangerous levels of radiation on cars being exported and many are calling for Nissan to stop testing as they consider it to be an over reaction but Nissan is committed to the radiation testing until they believe all the potential for radiation contamination has disappeared entirely from their products. Hats off to Nissan for doing what they feel is right and with their engine plant 37 miles and other plants inside 100 miles, I say for good reason! Could you imaging the damage to a manufacturer if a vehicle was found to have radiation on a dealerships lot inside the US? Over reaction, not in my book!

Great companies always show how truly great they are in times like this and going the extra mile to protect your company, customer loyalty and your dealer’s ability to get vehicles and parts is just plain smart business. Keep up the great work Nissan and my thoughts and prayers are with you and your country.

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As this social networking phenomenon continues to grow exponentially, it is critical that dealerships arm themselves in this revolution. With over 500 million Facebook users spending an average of 25 minutes a day on the site, don’t you see the value of even a fraction of those viewers spending even a fraction of that time on your page? And if these masses are going to spend a little time on your page, you better throw ‘em a bone! A great way to add value to your Facebook fan page is to offer users an incentive to become fans. According to surveys, Facebook users want a little something special from businesses they are fans of. I guess the old “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” is at play here. Well, more along the lines of “if I ‘like’ you, you sure better ‘like’ me”. The reality is, we live in a “tit-for-tat” society. So, how do you “like” those wonderful Facebook fans? What bones are you throwing them and what love are you showing them? You can post “fans-only” weekly coupons and specials, offer discounted services once a week, start a helpful fan page question/answer section, run contests or giveaways http://www.facebook.com/promotions_guidelines.php….all these ideas are great for your fan pages because they build a loyal audience and make your fans feel special and appreciated.

What better incentive does your dealership need than to know you may actually win over a Facebook fan to become a true brand loyalist and satisfied customer?

Let me know the creative ideas your dealership uses on its Facebook fan page!

Training. It’s something that everyone needs but most people don’t want to do. Personally I like training. It gives me a chance to learn something new and stay on top of what’s going on in the industry. I like to know what is new in the market, what is working and what isn’t. Here at Liquid Motors we offer training 2 days a week, every week Monday and Wednesday at 1:30 pm Central. Obviously we have training for new customers but we also offer it to current customers that might need a refresher course or for anyone new at the dealership. To this day I still learn something new at every training! I love it when a customer asks to be on the next training because they want to learn more about the tools that they have and want to maximize their efforts. I love that! I love to hear “I didn’t know I could do that in the system”? Why yes mister dealer you can! You can pretty much do it all and then some. So if your fumbling around the portal with lingering questions as to how to do something call or email your account manager today and sign up for the next training! Or you can email training@liquidmotors.com.

If you subscribe to Dealer Magazine then you may have seen the cover of the March issue spotlighting the Scott Family of Dealerships http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/325d93ed#/325d93ed/1. In the article they talk about how they are using social media, and from the sound of it, they do it all! They mentioned what really sets them apart from everyone else is the blog they started, www.scondablog.com. If you haven’t read their blog yet I urge you to read it immediately! What I love about their blog is how they write about not only what is going on in the dealership but in their community as well. The logo at their dealership is a sailboat. I know it doesn’t sound that exciting but you should see the way they incorporate the sailboat into every aspect of the dealership. The sailboat is on everything from t-shirts, sweatshirts and dresses to license plates, it’s even painted on the top of their building! Yes, they actually painted a sailboat on the top of their Honda store for Google Maps! I know all of this because they blog about it. They also blog about the monthly coloring contest they have, coloring in a sailboat of course, and how the winner is announced every month on the blog. You know how I mentioned the t shirts and sweatshirts with sailboats on them? They took it one step further and have pictures of people wearing the shirts all over the country. Kind of a “Where’s Waldo/Flat Stanley” kind of thing. People take pictures wearing the shirts and submit them and they post them on the blog. They even named it “Sconda Hoodies Across the World”. It doesn’t always have to be about the new model that is coming out or the big sale that is going on that weekend. All of their posts go to show that just because it’s a dealership blog doesn’t mean it can’t be fun!

Facebook has become one of the most powerful social networking tools in history. Businesses are now recognizing the importance of connecting with their customers and potential customers through the social media site in an effort to keep them informed on their latest news and promotions. While it is extremely important to build a large fan base on Facebook for your business, it is more important to build a QUALITY fan base. Lately, I have seen companies pitching to dealers that they will grow their fan base by several thousand fans nearly overnight. These practices are typically based on the same practices that bring those emails everyone loves to see for cheap VIAGRA to their inbox. The real power behind Facebook stems from the fact that people are more likely to buy a good or service based on the recommendation of a friend or even a friend of a friend and Facebook helps facilitate this connection. When people begin to see your network grow with people who clearly have never done business with you their level of trust begins to dwindle. While it is true that global brands such as Coca Cola or BMW’s networks would include fans from all over the world, odds are slim that your local East Texas car dealership would have a huge network of fans from the Far East and even more unlikely that those fans from the Far East will be coming in for an oil change any time soon. Take the time to grow your fan base the right way and you will see increased ROI from your Facebook marketing efforts.

For all of you skeptical dealers out there that think that Facebook is a passing “fad”, I am here to tell you “You are wrong!”

I am sure that most people saw this commercial http://dai.ly/fP7dro when it aired during the Super Bowl, or if you were like me, you were at NADA attending the eBay party eating yummy food and sipping on drinks and “watching” the game. Regardless, I missed this commercial, so when I saw it last night I about fell out of bed! The new Chevrolet Cruze now has live Facebook status updates! What???? You literally push a button and the car asks you what you want to do and you say “Live Facebook news feeds” and it will read all of your news feeds to you. How crazy is that? Their tag line is “When the good news just can’t wait!”. I am here to tell you, it can! There are already so many driving distractions and now they go and add one more. So not only will people be driving around texting or talking on their phone, now they can do that AND listen to their Facebook updates!

Is it just me or does it feel like Facebook is taking over the world? I was watching World News with Diane Sawyer the other night and at the end she said something along the lines of “…and don’t forget to visit us on our Facebook page”…..Diane Sawyer, an award-winning journalist, said that. Am I the only one that is kind of scared by this phenomenon? It started out as a way for college kids to stay in touch and see their friends pictures and it has now taken on a life of its own. I like Facebook and all and it has served a great purpose in times of need, such as the Tsunami that recently hit Japan, but where will we draw the line? Clearly not before we have our cars giving us our live Facebook updates while driving.

So, as crazy as it seems at times, and regardless of some of the applications for its use, Facebook is here to stay, folks. If this is the case, why not jump on board and ride the wave??

I think most of us would agree that roller coasters are fun. The anticipation of that next big hill and then the next big drop at high rates of speed can really make your heart pound. But when you are in the car business, roller coasters are often not so exciting. And here we go again. Hang on tight! Gas prices rise and so does the price of used cars as the demand for them rises. Consumers start to freak and decide they cannot afford the larger payment a new car can bring, yet they are trying desperately to get out of their gas guzzler or want to add a commuter car to take away the sting at the pump. So the demand for used cars is on.

It’s times like these when dealers are trying to maximize profit on every deal as the deals are fewer and slimmer. They are struggling with the high price of a vehicle at auction knowing they will not be able to get much for it on the lot. Then there is the fear of buying these used cars at a high price and then the market turns around, and they are stuck with them. It’s a roller coaster that is actually quite frightening.

One thing dealers should consider is hanging on to what they are getting for trades instead of passing them on to wholesalers. Why not sell those vehicles on your lot and make a little/maybe a lot more than you would normally. So many dealers are afraid of selling those vehicles that could present problems. But, making sure the customer is aware that the vehicle is a typical auction vehicle and is sold AS-IS, they should not face too much backlash. Now if a vehicle has some major issues, those should go, but if the vehicle has 150k miles and seems in good condition, keep it.

eBay and Craigslist are great sites to advertise these “wholetail” type vehicles. A lot of shoppers on Craigslist are looking for a cash type vehicle and putting your vehicles on eBay can expose them to a larger audience which could lead to more profit. Having some of those cash type vehicles around can be beneficial as well when you have your normal inventory on eBay and have those bidders bidding $5000 on your $15000 car because that is all they have. Now you have an opportunity to cross-sell them on the $5000 car. If you have not used eBay before, they offer you 4 free listings in a 12-month period. The usual $50 insertion fee is waived, and you only pay if the vehicle sells. You have nothing to lose.

Instead of trying to jump off the roller coaster, why not ride it for a while. Try retailing the cream of the crap, if you will, and keep some of the profit on those wholesale vehicles for yourself. Not only do some of the vehicles make great commuters for those concerned about the gas prices, but they also make great first time buyer vehicles.

If you have never listed vehicles on eBay before, Liquid Motors can show you how. We have the tools you need and the experience to guide you to success. Just give us a call at 877-573-6877, and let us know you would like to get started.

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