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As I was thinking about my blog this month and what to write about I was flipping through a popular industry magazine hoping to find inspiration.  As I went from page to page I was trying to think what a dealer would want to hear about or learn.  I started to notice titles of articles:  “QR Codes you must have them”, “Your Facebook is not working”, “Website evaluation today”. As I started to look over some of these I realized that they are really not educational articles teaching industry best practices they were more trying to convince me that what I am doing now or the company I am using now is not what I should be doing. As I thought about that I started to notice that the articles were tied to specific products or promotions particular companies are pushing.  Now before I continue let me say myself or Liquid Motors is not completely innocent of this if you even consider it an issue but what it really got me thinking about is the best way to choose a vendor and why dealers stay with certain vendors for long periods of time.

To determine how to best choose a vendor I thought it would make sense to talk with and look into why our very own dealers and auto groups have stayed with us for such an extended period of time and here are the main areas of feedback I received:

 

  1. The      support I receive is top notch and the fact that you offer 24/7 support      really tells me Liquid Motors is a partner in my efforts to be successful.
  2. I got      as good or better solutions when I moved to Liquid Motors and the fact      that I would consolidate to just 1 or 2 vendors versus the 5 or 6 I had      before saves me money every month.
  3. As the      GM I don’t have time to look into my Internet department everyday but the      reports I get automatically emailed to me gives me a quick snap shot and      allows me to identify issues early on.       The end of the month detailed report from my Liquid Motors account      manager gives me a great overview also.       I don’t get this with other vendors I have.
  4. Most      vendors tell us how their solutions will make us better, Liquid Motors      works with us to provide the solutions we feel we need for long term      success.  Sharing strategic plans      with a vendor who can understand our vision and then provide solutions to      allow us to achieve that vision is invaluable.

 

As I heard these comments it became very clear what dealers and auto groups should look for when selecting a vendor:

 

  1. Support–      Does this vendor offer the level of support that I need?
  2. Cost– Can I save money with this      vendor or does the solution truly validate the expense or additional      expense?
  3. Partnership– Is this vendor going      to care about my success or failures?
  4. Solution– Am I able to make      feature request to enhance the solution so that my specific goal/plan can      be achieved or will I be placed in a “cookie cutter” type solution?

 

These items may be easy to assume you can do this with your current vendors but understanding that many companies white label other company’s solutions or use other companies platforms to power their solution make it virtually impossible for them to customized items for your particular dealership or auto group.

 

I hope this helps when you start your search for your next vendor and as always thank you for following us on facebook, twitter and our blog.

 

Technology is ever changing and staying up with the times is more important than ever.  Dealers are starting to use what may have been thought of as unimaginable technology 10 years ago that is becoming part of our culture.  We are demanding faster service, more accurate information and something to grab our interest at all times.  How will we ever keep up?

 

It’s amazing to go into dealerships now and see what technology is being used.  You may be one of 300 customers that visit a dealer in that particular day, but your service advisor who greets you knows your name and probably already knows what you are there for.  The service advisor may not even have a pen and paper anymore, but rather an iPad or tablet of some sort.  Your tire measurements have already been checked for pressure, tread depth and premature edge wear with a Vin Tech system you rolled over on your way into the service drive.  Or if you are returning your borrowed loan car there is already someone in your vehicle bringing it to the drive with no call ahead notice due to an RFID tag.  It’s just amazing the steps dealers are taking not to get one step ahead, but stay up with the times.

 

As expensive as all of these products are there is such a benefit to using them.  You are saving cost on supplies, being eco-friendly and most importantly improving your business through pure efficiency!  Why wouldn’t you want to be staying in the game?

 

If you’re a dealer that is looking to move forward, do some research or visit conventions that will demonstrate products to increase your business.  Not every product or vendor will be your perfect match but it’s good to know what’s out there and test some products.  I would hate for you to be left behind.

Yes, I am stealing a title of a great book that I would encourage everyone to read author Jim Collins studied 1,435 good companies over 40 years and tried to pin point events that triggered them going from good to great. A basic summary of the book is companies that make the change from good to great have no name for their transformation—and absolutely no program. They neither rant nor rave about a crisis—and they don’t manufacture one where none exists. They don’t “motivate” people—their people are self-motivated. There’s no evidence of a connection between money and change mastery. And fear doesn’t drive change—but it does perpetuate mediocrity. Nor can acquisitions provide a stimulus for greatness: Two mediocrities never make one great company. Technology is certainly important—but it comes into play only after change has already begun. And dramatic results do not come from dramatic process—not if you want them to last, anyway. A serious revolution, one that feels like a revolution to those going through it, is highly unlikely to bring about a sustainable leap from being good to being great.

 

I think the above information is important to understand before you follow my recommendation and conduct an evaluation of your Internet/BDC manager.  I continually hear things like 70% or 80% of all dealership traffic originates from the Internet which of course is true which leads me to the obvious question, Is the person managing this team of people in your Internet department or BDC the person you want training, managing and leading that team?  More importantly are they at the level that you would trust them with 80% of all your customers from start to finish?   Most of the time they are a salesman promoted from the floor, an IT guy who is new to the business or a seasoned sales professional who has just gotten to the point where they can’t run the lot anymore.  I would argue that this person is the single most important person related to your sales success or failures in the entire dealership.  This person should not only know how to sell, train and manage but also be negotiating 3rd party contracts for services and software they need and be an expert in marketing and the tools and technology that exists in the industry.

 

Before you make any decisions on this person make sure you have a full system in place that tracks all metrics of that department.  Don’t forget about simple things that make a huge difference which I have coined the phrase for them: Show More, Tell More, Sell More.  Show More- means take more pictures of your new and used cars 40+ is where studies show make the biggest jump in lead volume.  Tell more- are you doing custom descriptions and custom titles of your vehicles and Sell More is the result of the other two.  Once you have your metrics results ask your fellow GM’s or Dealer Principals and compare your findings.  Then when you discover you have a very talented and productive professional running that area then ensure you keep them happy or someone else will.

 

Thank you for following all of the Liquid Motors blog writers and please feel free to share or comment we appreciate your input.

We will be heading out to Vegas for NADA 2012 in a few short weeks and I am curious as to what everyone is looking forward to this year? To be honest I haven’t really heard much buzz around this years NADA so I am interested to see once we get there what the “big thing” is this year. So in the mean time I’ll ask all of our loyal readers to tell me what is on your list this year? What are you hoping to accomplish at NADA?

I wanted to give you all the results of my blog on QR Codes back in November http://blog.liquidmotors.com/author/terryholbrook/

. First of all thank you for the tremendous response via phone and emails it is appreciated.  Remember feel free to post links to these blogs and send them to people who you think would benefit from them.

If you have not read the November blog yet please do so prior to reading the results of the survey. Anyway, let’s get to the results of my 4 survey questions:

  1. Question:  I would place my QR code on the?
    1. Window Sticker          
    2. Buyers Guide
    3. A separate form

 Results

Do you agree with these results?

  1. Question: I have tried to scan my own QR Codes and they will scan through any level of window tint I have on my cars?
    1. Yes
    2. No
    3. I have never tested it 

Results:

Do you agree?

This is a shock to me in two ways.  First I have tested virtually every smart phone with QR Codes and have not found a code I could not scan through every type of window tint.  Now I am not saying it does not exist but I have not found one in months of testing.

Secondly, how many have never tested their own QR Codes to even make sure they work.  C’mon MAN,,,, get out there and test your products.  I don’t care if it is Liquid Motors or someone else get involved!

    Question 3: When a customer scans my QR Code I want them to see?

  1. My web site home page
  2. The vehicle details page on my main web site
  3. A customer contact form
  4. My mobile web site vehicle details page

Results:

 Nearly 40% of responses said they want their customer to see the details page of their main dealer site.  WHAT!  As my 3 year old would say, “Are you kidding me”.  Please if you agree with their answer please take a minute and view a mobile dealer site on your phone versus a non mobile site.  http://www.hooksautos.com/ has a mobile site you can use to compare to any non mobile site.  Try things like click to call, clicking on buttons or links you will see the difference your customers see.

     Question 4:  Customers know what QR Codes are and how to use them?

  1. Yes
  2. No

Results:

Just over 70% of our survey takers said YES that customers know what QR Codes are and how to use them.  Do you agree with them?

A resent study was done to answer this exact question.  According to the 794 customers that responded just 36% know what QR Codes are and of those 11% have actually used them at least 1 time.

Does this lack of awareness mean that QR codes are not such a valuable tool, or do they target a smaller but potentially more valuable audience?  What say you?

However, the same survey found that 54.7% of the people that scanned QR codes had a household income of $75,000 or more (with 36% over $100k), suggesting that marketers are targeting a wealthier audience. 

Here is the link to read the entire survey: Customer Survey on QR Codes Awareness

I know this is a busy time of the year with Thanksgiving, Christmas and budgeting for the 2012 so thank you for taking the time to read our blogs, facebook and twitter posts they are meant to benefit you.

Best wishes to all of your in 2012 may we grown, increase profits and have a very blessed 2012 together!  God bless you and your family from our family here at Liquid Motors.  Peace Joy and Happiness – Terry Holbrook

Last week one of the Internet managers I work with called to make sure his inventory exports to the sites where he markets were going out properly, because his leads were down. Though that could be a possible reason why the leads were down (and I verified it wasn’t), there is so much more involved in lead generation than just having your vehicles online. The competition is stiff out there, so you better be on top of your game if you want your fair share of the pie. We’ve all heard it before, and I have certainly tried to beat it into my dealers’ heads, but you have got to show your shoppers why you are the one they should buy from. Aside from SEO (let’s just assume they got to your site – your website analytics will tell you if they did), showcasing your merchandise is so important. You can have the best SEO’d site, but if your site is not user friendly or your vehicles are not updated, shoppers will leave. I know, I am a shopper, and I’m gonna leave.

Going back to leads being down, if the shoppers are not shopping, there is not much you can do about that, but when they are shopping, and you have been fortunate enough for them to have chosen to see what you have, make sure you are giving them what they seek. We’ve said it over and over, 30+ pictures is a good number to give a decent walk around description of your vehicle. When taking the photos, act like you have the customer right there on the lot and you are walking around showing them how clean and nice the vehicle is. Build value for the car. Once they are done looking over the photos, shoppers will look to see what you have said about the car. Again, talk to them like you would if they are physically at the dealership. “This is a nice one owner vehicle just traded here at Liquid Motors. It comes with leather, navigation, and a sunroof. It is a non smoker and compares to the Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion, and Nissan Altima. This car drives great and won’t last. Please call me today for a test drive.” How hard is that? Apparently some think it is hard, because not all dealerships are telling shoppers why they should buy from them. Why should you expect they would if you are not even taking the time to tell them how excited you are to offer them such a nice vehicle? If you don’t care, they probably won’t either.

If you happen to be one of those dealers that does a great job with merchandising your inventory and are seeing a decline in leads, it may be a good time, to go to all the sites where you market and send some test leads. It never hurts to make sure you are getting the leads. Also, ask yourself if you are taking advantage of any free advertising. The main site that comes to mind is Craigslist. If you are not posting to Craigslist, you are missing leads. Try posting without price. Your phone will ring.

I feel like a broken record sometimes as I blog about these basics that should be a normal part of Internet advertising, but until I see that my dealers are all on top of it, I’m gonna nag. And remember, if you are not seeing the results you are expecting, it could be your fault. Check your process and reevaluate if necessary.

I was skimming through the October 2011 issue of Auto Success and I came across an article, on page 32, that talks about mining your own data and how a dealer is sitting on a gold mine. Think about it, instead of spending thousands of dollars on print ads and mailers to new prospects why not dig into your own database and market to current customers that have purchased from you and service their car with you? Clearly they are already coming to you so you need to take advantage of that. If you want to spend money on a mailer then spend it on a in-equity letter that you can mail out to all of your current customers that you have a much better chance of getting into a new car then someone that has never stepped foot on your lot. Also use the service department to your advantage. When someone drives into the service department take a minute to look and see how much that customer has in their car or better yet have that info ready before they even get there, if they have an appointment already scheduled, and have a sales associate on hand to talk to them about what their options are. These are just examples and there are a million different ways to mine your data but don’t miss out on great, and easy, way to gain some more sales.

If you weren’t able to get on our eBay advanced training, hosted by the wonderful George Hatch, today then you missed out! But you are lucky because I took notes and here were the highlights.

* The click experience equals the brick experience!
-Every page view=a buyer walking your lot
-Every bid=a serious buyer looking to make a deal

* Traditional Retail eBay/Internet
1) Meet/greet 1) Online 1st Impression
2) Lot Walk 2) Virtual Showroom
3) 6 Position 3) Virtual Walk Around
4) Test Drive 4) Virtual Test Drive
5) Resale 5) Messages/Question
6) Trial Close 6) Bid/Offer

* How to create the best notes: 5 steps

Paragraph #1-What is the vehicle? Make, model, year, mileage, condition
Paragraph #2-Why is this vehicle special? Options, warrant, VHR
Paragraph #3-Price support-Low reserve, price, special financing
Paragraph #4 Who are you and how do I reach you? Name, phone number and photo
Paragraph #5-About you-About the dealership; why buy from you?

* Subtitles are one of the best ways to improve your search results. Use ALL 80 characters-key search terms, major options

It was a great training! We help our dealers on a daily basis on eBay and no matter how many times I train someone I still learn something new every time. If you have any questions about eBay or maybe you have never done eBay and you are ready to try it out call your account manager today, we are here to help!

Have you signed up for our eBay advanced training on Wednesday, October 19th at 1:30 Central yet?

If not make sure you register today and reserve your spot! If you have any questions please reach out to your account manager!

https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/631598104

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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