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Here at Liquid Motors not only do we offer ways for our dealers to improve their lead volume with innovative software but we also offer dealers tips and trainings on how to improve processes related to vehicle sales. So as someone who is asked weekly “how do I get better” or more commonly “how do I get more leads” something struck me over the weekend. I was trying to schedule an appointment and got very frustrated when none of the times that were offered to me matched my schedule and I got to thinking. Why would any business not work to determine their customer’s availability to come and spend money before setting their hours?

Well this got me thinking about our dealers and what portion of time a dealer’s inventory is being viewed they are closed. Remember your website and the Internet do not sleep. So when I got to my office this morning I pulled a report and did a sampling to see if my assumption was even close. What I found were that almost 20% of phone calls where after hours and judging by the length of the call once they heard a voicemail they hung up. Believe it or not in many cases the customer tried to call right back to reach a live person but no voicemail was left by the customer.

So here is your interactive part of this blog: Run your call tracking report and see what percentage of your inbound calls are coming in after your business hours and post them when you reply to this blog.

For those of you who have your calls sent to a sales person after hours again don’t be shocked by the percentage of non answered calls but I will say you are WAY ahead of the competition if you are doing this.

How many of your BDC centers are staffed up to 10PM or after sales hours? I have noticed a trend that a large percentage of eBay listings are being viewed between 5-8pm and even later than that for Craigslist which ties into the customer’s schedule.

This brings me back to my original question, are your business hours in line with your customers schedule? Your analytics will tell you this and then it is up to you to react.

Guys and Gals this is not a new idea in the business world. Restaurants do this all the time; will we make more money by opening for lunch or staying closed, should we be staying open 2 more hours at night? Imagine if you could not open at 8am but open at 12PM and stay open until 10PM and increase sales by 15% or more?

So for those of you who want to increase your leads by 20% or more try looking at your hours and making sure they match your customers schedule.

So how do I solve this, I can’t stay open 24/7? Here at Liquid Motors our support department is open 24/7/365 and it is not an answering service it is a full time Liquid Motors team member who takes their rotation throughout the year. That’s right; everyone from our President down takes a week at a time of after hours support phone. This is a small amount of time to ensure our dealers are taken care of immediately regardless of the time. What if you had a rotation like this with your sales team? Now that is customer service.

Thank you for reading and posting your findings on our blog and for following Liquid Motors.

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As we have all heard for several years, customers are on the Internet LONG before they step foot into your dealership. While online, hopefully your website content is interesting and engaging enough that the curious car shopper can’t help but to up the phone and give you a call. And once this critical connection is made, make sure you hold onto them with all your might and reel them in!

One thing that is really important to your sales team is good phone skills. I know, you think that seems too elementary, right? Everyone assumes they have good phone skills because they can operate the device, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. I am talking about phone etiquette.

You only get one chance to make a first impression. Think about it, every time you talk to a salesperson on the phone, you are left with an impression, I know I am. It may not be an honest representation of the service or product they are offering, but regardless, something sticks! If the person on the line appears disinterested, distracted, rude or rushed…. I cannot get off the phone fast enough and NOT do business with them! On the other hand, if the salesperson is courteous, knowledgeable, attentive and respectful….then they have my full attention and, quite possibly, my business.

The employees at your dealership need to be trained on proper business phone etiquette because every call is an opportunity to “WOW” a potential customer and influence them to want to do business with you. A phone conversation is usually a consumer’s first personal contact with your dealership, to insure it is not their last, make a positive and powerful impression that can develop into a memorable (and profitable!) customer relationship.

I really love my job at Liquid Motors. Not only am I an account manager working with a lot of fascinating dealerships, I serve as a consultant, therapist, mediator (this role is actually pretty funny..boy do I have some stories to tell), provide some comic relief, you name it. It’s quite interesting most days. But as I was playing therapist a few weeks back, one of my (once not so internet marketing savvy) dealers called to vent. She was telling me that she just realized that day how for the last 4 or 5 years she had not been getting any email leads from one of her main dealership websites. I know you might be thinking how ridiculous that is. How could this happen? Are you kidding me? Really? But, let’s face it. This is not uncommon. Hopefully the 4 or 5 years part is. But, going back to what I said before…the “not so internet marketing savvy” part, they simply did not realize they should be inspecting what they were expecting. As she spoke to the website vendor, they explained that a lead forwarding address was never set up when the website was created. OUCHY!! You know what really stinks about the whole thing? They missed a ton of leads because there was no competition for that brand within a 200 mile radius of them.

I blog about every other time I blog reminding dealers that they MUST send test leads from all sites where they market as well as phone verify all tracking numbers at least monthly. There should be a designated person that on the first of every month (or whatever time works best) sends out test leads and keeps a record of what has been tested. It can not be assumed that things always work like they are supposed to. Think about when a change is made in sales personnel, CRM company or inventory management system, there are a lot of vendors that need to be contacted. That is a lot of people updating information, and mistakes (typos, transposed #’s, etc.) can and will happen. Don’t tell anyone I said so, but I even make a mistake from time to time. WE ALL DO! So a second set of eyes looking out for your best interest is a MUST.

I hope every dealership I know reads this blog. Hopefully it will be an eye opener for those that just assume everything is happening as it should. Do you know who’s looking out for you?

eBay is still a great place to sell your vehicles. At this moment there are just under 54,000 vehicles listed there. What should you do to maximize your efforts to be successful on eBay? Below are a few tips to consider:
1. Picking the right vehicles. What are the right vehicles? The answer is simple – any vehicle. I’ll explain in a subsequent tip.

2. Properly showcase your vehicles.
a. Photos: eBay will tell you the more photos, the better. 40+ photos gives you a 75% higher chance of success than having less than 40 photos. Obviously, lots of photos are key. Be sure to take pictures of any issues the vehicle has including small dents and paint scratches. The more you tell someone about the vehicle, the more trust you will build. Let’s face it…buying a car you can see can be scary…buying one sight unseen is very scary.
b. Description notes: The more you tell, the more you sell. Again, build that bidder trust with good description notes describing the qualities of the vehicle including any issues. A good way to earn BAD feedback is to not describe a vehicle properly and have someone fly in to drive it home or have it delivered to them, and it is not what they expected. Disclose everything!
c. Customize your title: eBay gives you an additional 55 characters for a subtitle to include key search terms shoppers may use to find your vehicle. You should use every space. The default search on eBay is the title, so this is important. If you have space left over after the key search terms, include things like one owner, clean Carfax, certified, etc. to draw attention to your listing and to help justify price. Before listing your vehicle, go to eBay and see what your competition is doing. Then do BETTER.

3. Choose your listing type (auction, fixed price, etc.): Here’s the tip I mentioned in tip #1. Consider eBay just another site where you market. What you want is someone to contact you about the vehicle they see, and if it turns out that it is not the vehicle for them, cross-sell them on something else. All kinds of vehicles sell on eBay, so it does not matter what you list. eBay shoppers are not any different than any other shopper. They certainly will attempt to get a deal that makes sense since they will probably incur some extra costs in order to get the vehicle if they are not local, but they are JUST shoppers. Speak to every customer with the intent of selling them A vehicle. When customers walk on your showroom floor interested in a vehicle you do not have, you do not simply say, “Good luck”. You actually find out why they are wanting that particular vehicle so you can determine what you have that may work just as well if not better. We know a large percentage of people end up buying a different vehicle than the one they initially inquired about. To use eBay as a lead generator, you should try a RESERVE/NO BUY IT NOW auction and start your bidding low. Yes, $100 low. Bids on your listings help you more than you think. When someone bids, you do get their contact information so you can do that cross-selling I mentioned if you need to. But, also, the more bids you get, the quicker you get better placement on eBay. There are several factors that dictate your placement, and bids are one of them. Take advantage of this. Keep in mind if you are doing a fixed price listing, you are probably only going to get the opportunity to sell that one vehicle. If someone sees your price and you are out of their range, they are not even going to give you a shot. What they do not know is you may have a vehicle that is similar but cheaper that they could consider. The average hits on an eBay listing are 350 so if you are not seeing this #, you are missing opportunities.

4. Create some sense of urgency: Consider a 5 or 7 day length for your listings. This will let buyers who are very interested know that they must act fast or they could miss out. Also, include some verbiage in your listings that the vehicle is available for sale locally, and the auction could end early if sold. Let them know as well, that you are willing to add a “buy it now” at any time and end the auction early. This will let those people who do not want to wait and do not like the bidding game know that they can buy at any time.

5. Call all bidders: If you are not going to work every lead you get on eBay, you should not do eBay. You are spending a minimum of $50 per listing, so you should maximize your efforts. Again, it’s the cross-selling that you will find aids in your success. Also, respond to all inquiries, ie. questions and emails as quickly as possible.

I hope you find these tips helpful. I cannot tell you how many times I have been called and thanked for the advice above because a dealership is increasing sales due to eBay. I have been told more than once that dealers are finding that their success is because of eBay but not necessarily on eBay as they are cross-selling potential customers when necessary. When you think about it, the above just makes sense and when we do what makes sense, success will come.

Good luck and happy eBaying!!

Every Saturday morning my wife and I like to go out for a cup of coffee. We drive by 2-3 perfectly good Starbucks stores to the other end of town where our favorite mom and pop coffee shop resides. There is nothing fancy about this particular coffee shop, just a small house converted into a store with a few tables a couch and a bar loaded with old coffee and espresso machines. The coffee is about as good as what you would find at any other coffee shop but there is something a little different about this particular one. Every Saturday when we walk in their store we are greeted by name. The owner of the store comes around the counter shakes my hand, gives my wife a hug, smiles at our son and begins asking us about our week. As we follow him up to the counter to order some coffee and breakfast he grabs me the morning paper and ask one of the employees to clear off a table for us. All this service for about a $4.50 purchase, every Saturday morning. Yet, we keep coming back every Saturday and have been doing so for more than 3 years.

I think that this story is important because in today’s world we are all surrounded by hundreds if not thousands of different options. Buyers are better informed than ever before thanks to the sea of information the Internet provides. All things equal a cup of coffee is a cup of coffee…It is the experience that a customer has that makes them continue to do business with a particular company (or coffee shop, dealership, vendor, etc.). In sum, companies that go out of their way to create quality products and services and ensure the greatest possible experience for their customers will continue to thrive in any market.

I have been asked a lot lately, “do I need a mobile website?” I don’t need to tell you how our mobile devices have become one of the main ways we communicate, surf the net, manage our Facebook accounts, and do our jobs. You are probably reading this blog from your phone. So, you might think that you need a site that is designed to be navigated easily via a mobile device. When I am approached with the question, I recommend the following to help you decide whether or not you should invest in a mobile website. You should take a look at your website analytics first. The analytics are important as you can see how many visitors are coming to your website, how they are getting there, what is their behavior on the site, and even how long they are hanging out. There is even an area to see how much mobile traffic you are receiving. If you are seeing 10% to 15% of your traffic from mobile devices, you should start to consider it’s time to make the investment. You definitely do not want to make a decision based on the fact that everyone is doing it, so you want to jump on the bandwagon. It may be better to reallocate those resources that can yield a better result elsewhere until which time your traffic does increase from mobile devices. If you are seeing that the traffic is low and decide not to invest in the site, be sure to check your analytics regularly to reevaluate.

Mobile websites can definitely enhance a shopper’s experience. A mobile site has most of the functions of a normal website but is formatted with a better view from the mobile device. Even though Oprah tells us not to do it, people are still driving and using their phones. Maybe they are just browsing while stuck in traffic or while at a red light, but having a mobile website can help them get where they want to go quicker and easier so less time is spent looking at the phone and more time on the road. Not only that, we are browsing the Internet via our phones while waiting in lines, sitting on our couches watching tv, at dinner, sporting events, you name it. We are always on our phones. What your main concern should be is the experience someone has on your website regardless of how they got there. Can they find what they want, and can they contact you to get it?

Every day I find myself reading through at least one forum, if not more, on one automotive site or another. I like to keep up with what is out there and know what people, dealers, are talking about. This morning I read this entry on a great forum, Automotive Digital Marketing, When’s the last time your saw an evidence manual?. If you haven’t taken a minute to check out their forum I urge you to do so today! The author of the post asks the question, Where is your evidence manual? To be honest I didn’t even know what he was talking about and then I read on and thought, “That’s a great idea”! For those of you who don’t know what an Evidence Manual (EM) is basically it’s a “brag book” with pictures of happy customers and testimonials etc. I used to work with Saturn dealers and the one thing I loved about going to visit them is they all had pictures showering the showroom of happy customers and their new cars. What better way to build a potential buyers confidence then showing off all of the happy customers you have?? Jae went on to say that with today’s technology it’s even easier cause all you need is a camera, memory card and an electronic picture frame. Perfect! So all you have to do is take a picture with your happy customer as soon as they get the keys to their shiny new car and upload it to the electronic picture frame that is sitting on the front of your desk on the showroom floor and viola..instant customer testimonials!

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