MarketingBest Practices

Marketing
Fixed Operations Marketing: The Revolution

By

The Niello Company started 101 years ago in the Fixed Ops Department. “I try to remind everyone of that all the time” Tully Williams, The Fixed Operations Director, laughs. I was projected onto a boardroom smart screen and before me, sat two gentlemen in really good suits, with the company values behind them. They smile and introduce themselves. I meet Tully and David together; they will be presenting at the upcoming CXAUTO2022 in Marina Del Rey this June. Tully’s Story You have extensive experience in Fixed Operations. How did you get started and what has kept you here? I started as an independent technician and I really just enjoy dealing with people. I really love to talk to people and Fixed Ops gives me that; I get to help people out. I love to be in service, greeting the customer; I am training to have my retirement job as a Walmart Greeter. I just want to help people and listen to all the stories and Fixed Ops has a lot more engagement with customers, long term engagement. "People keep me here, customers and employees." What has changed, what has been disrupted? When I started, we hand-wrote repair orders and of course, we now have computers and systems in place. What has been disrupted is the inspection; the electronic part of the inspection of the automobile. With the technician inspection piece, before it was like, my car is broken, fix it. Now we do an in-depth inspection on your car, we take pictures and video, we are marking down all the stuff to give you a list of the specifics and to me, back when I started, that wasn’t even in the realm of operations. The whole thing has changed for the better of the consumer and I believe also better for the technician. As we continue further along this journey, what we are really focussed on is making it easier to do business with us. We are focussed on mobile integration and accessibility; how can we make everything visible on the customer’s cell phone? How do we get them to say yes via their mobile device? There are a lot of people in this space but it is still kind of clunky. David’s Story Can you share your journey within the automotive industry with us? "Joining The Niello Company, working on the retail side, feels like I have completed the triangle" I always wanted to start in DMS so that I could truly understand what dealers prioritize and focus on. In order to become a Lead Installer, you really need to master all aspects of the DMS and I was fortunate enough to achieve that within my tenure at Cox Automotive . I then went over to the OEM side of the business working for Ford Direct , the digital arm of the Ford Motor Company which was just fantastic. In terms of my region, I was responsible for the Pacific NorthWest, from San Francisco up to Seattle and all the way over to Montana, over 193 dealerships and focussing on all aspects of digital marketing. I was working with the regions and the dealers on what they were doing to drive more quality traffic to their websites, what they were doing to convert that traffic into leads, and, then most importantly, what they were doing in terms of lead management. There was an opportunity for us to improve processes in order to harness the potential of the traffic that was being driven to their sites. My performance got the recognition of Chrysler and I then got recruited to work for their biggest business center, which covered six States in the South East. With a little over 360 dealers, that role expanded my responsibilities and I got control over our Tier Two budgets, and then also complete control over the Tier Three spaces as well. We focussed more heavily on Tier Three because that is where we saw the most opportunity. As the National Digital Marketing Manager of Stellantis , a really fantastic experience, I had the opportunity to work with all aspects of an OEM and assist in keeping our dealers afloat during COVID by rolling out our digital retailing strategy. What is different now, how has your focus changed? With the OEM, it's really easy to get focussed on just one aspect of the business. In my role, I was laser focussed on new vehicle sales. There are so many profit centers within a dealership, I can now expand my horizons and create profitability across all departments, there is just so much more to work on to create a healthy and successful dealership.At the start of the pandemic, with Stellantis, the focus was really, how can we save as many employees as possible? When I transitioned over to retail amidst a different kind of crisis, the micro chip shortage, I was presented with a whole new set of challenges, challenges we continue to confront every day. On the Partnership between Fixed Operations and Marketing: What is certainly understood here at Niello, from the top to the bottom of the organization, is that we are all part of the same Ecosystem. That Fixed feeds Sales and Sales feeds Fixed and that is our universal truth; that is something that we hold near and dear to our hearts. On average within the industry, about 3% of the marketing budget is dedicated to Fixed Ops, that is not the case with The Niello Company, we take Fixed very seriously. One thing that makes us unique is that we have a specific Agency that is dedicated to Fixed Operations and the main reason is that we want them to be passionate about Fixed Ops. We need them to focus and to understand that what is important is answering how they are actively helping us to drive more traffic and convert more appointments so we can have more inspections. We take it seriously, we track it every day, and we meet with our Agency three times per month. We start with a past month’s performance review and then we meet in the middle of the month to make sure we are dealing with course corrections: is there anything we are falling behind on and are we hitting our targets And then, most importantly, what are we planning for next month? We are really committed to that and what is really fun about it is that we bring everyone into those meetings. It’s not just our Fixed Ops Director. We have our department heads included, our Service Managers and Parts Managers; they are all on those calls. We are focussing on what they are focussed on. We have that kind of community, the idea of centralized success. Within Fixed Ops, we focus on crafting a clear message and then making it measurable. "The key question is: are we driving appointments into our service bay?" Marketing and Fixed Ops work together really well. We set the message and monitor it through the rest of the month. We do see this happening elsewhere but only at forward thinking dealerships. We have the right platforms to do this, and the right agencies. On Getting Buy-in, across departments and across Stores: We really want the Store to be involved. “Tully and David don’t know what is best for the Stores”; the Stores do. We may have a lot of ideas and we will most certainly share them but essentially, we want the Stores to make those great decisions. And of course, if we disagree, we will challenge that, but to be honest, we know that they know what is best. They also feel very engaged. It's their marketing plan, the Stores’ plan; we are here to support them on implementing and achieving that. On Change: "Are we projecting out what the change is going to be? Are we showing them the benefit?" We don’t force feed anything. Whenever we want to roll out anything, whether it is a new partner or a new region, we sell it to our Stores. We want them to see the value, understand what is expected and say “Yes, we want to move forward, we want to share this success too”. It starts with the culture of the store, behind us are our values. At The Niello Company, embracing change comes from the leadership and that really impacts culture within the Stores. Also, we show the change and we show it in multiple ways. We have these huge television sets in the service shop with all the stats of the technicians in the store, showing them how well they are doing and how great they are. In the sales office, we are talking about stats with the sales people and F&I people. We also push communications internally. "We communicate" The truth is, you can’t be secretive about the stats. We are an open book, transparency is not only important for our customers but for our employees and teams as well. “I want them to take a picture of their name on the screen and show their mother", Tully smiles. What to expect at CXAUTO2022: A high-energy and in-depth discussion on creating better customers through changing the way Fixed Ops services is marketed; through digital customer experiences. They work together to increase their service department value by building trust with their customers before they arrive. David and Tully will share new communication methods as well as their 3 Pillars of Fixed Ops Marketing Success. "All our decisions have to be based on a foundation of clean, visible analytics that every department head has access to" The Niello Company has been around for over a century, and together, Tully and David educated us on Fixed Operations Marketing, with insight that could only be gained through time and energy spent working hand in hand with their Stores. See the duo live at CXAUTO2022 We would highly recommend it! See more about Tully here and David here
Embracing the Future Facebook Ecosystem of Today

By

The title may have seemed confusing. If we’re going to take a dive into a  future  ecosystem, how can it also be available  today ? The answer is simple: adoption rate. The capabilities outlined in this article are available right now; however, many dealers are not embracing them and continue to advertise on Facebook as they always have. You have an opportunity to do today what all of your competitors will — or at least should — be doing in the future. Here’s what we’ve been so accustomed to do … Create a carousel ad. Send the consumer to the website. Retarget those who don’t engage. The second step is problematic. It’s important that we break the cycle of thinking that all traffic must go to the website. With a 3-5% opt-in rate of Apple users deciding to share their data with Facebook and its applications and losing 85% of website-based conversion data because of this and other privacy constraints, continuing to advertise on Facebook as we always have is already outdated thinking.  Facebook has products that allow advertisers to embrace a completely native ecosystem.  Here’s a question: If a consumer is choosing to be on Facebook, why would we remove them from that place of comfort and take them to a website? Here’s a second question: Isn’t our role as advertisers to meet where consumers want to engage with us and offer a seamless experience?  So here’s how we do that. A Breakdown of the On-Facebook Ecosystem Branding — Top-of-the-Funnel Let’s first caveat this part of the ecosystem. Branding lives outside of the 30-day cycle, and you don’t want to hold these ads accountable to metrics beyond reach, impressions, and frequency. While these will create clicks and drive traffic to your online properties — mostly your website — these ads are intended to keep your dealership top-of-mind as consumers who aren’t quite in-market spend their time on the Facebook platform and its network partners. Your branding ads should communicate your differentiators, value propositions, and culture. They should also communicate facets of your business that are evergreen, such as your ability to purchase consumer cars or the loyalty programs and free estimates that your fixed operations may offer. Such as with Douglas Volkswagen, who’s inviting local potential shoppers to come experience the “Douglas Difference,” which has been nurtured for nearly 70 years. Or you may want the local community to know that you’ll buy their vehicle — whether or not they bought one from your dealership. Regardless of the ad’s message, you want to make sure that the page they land on when they click the call-to-action — in these cases, “Learn More” — is directly aligned with the content of the advertisement.  AIAs and Service Ads — Middle-of-the-Funnel As you continually hold a presence with branding ads, you’ll want to capture those local shoppers who are in-market.  Side Note — We recommend that you don’t rely solely on Facebook targeting as you can add layers of depth and precision to this with a partner like IHS/Polk, who can provide an accurate number of households based on parameters you set — and this data isn’t affected by privacy updates or website data-loss as it’s based on actual sales and credit reporting data, not on online signals like pixels. The ability to create hyper-local, highly targeted audiences will make creating ad sets and ad copy easier as you’ll have a clear understanding to whom you’re delivering those ads. Automotive Inventory Ads (AIAs) are a carousel of vehicles that are relevant to the targeted audience, except these offer advertisers the capability to keep consumers on Facebook for a streamlined experience. The carousel ad gets delivered to the audience to browse the relevant vehicles that are available for purchase at your dealership. When they click a vehicle that interests them, a VDP-like page near instantaneously appears. It has all of the information that your traditional VDP contains, it has deep links to your dealership’s website and onsite VDP for dealers who need a little comfort in making this transition — and most importantly, it has different actions to actually capture a lead, including click-to-call, directions request, and chat. This method keeps consumers within the Facebook ecosystem, so we don’t lose any conversion data. Facebook collects the information on how consumers are behaving, what different attributes and facets of the VDP are most effective, and other pieces that can better inform them and us on what works. The more data that we can feed Facebook, the more accurately they can update this content and assist us as advertisers to make more strategic decisions. Here are the results when we looked at all campaigns that took consumers to the dealership website (non-AIA) compared to campaigns that kept consumers on Facebook (AIA). Significantly more content viewed, significantly lower costs, and significantly more actual leads from Facebook — people chatting, calling, and requesting directions from the on-Facebook VDPs.  I wrote that this is also applicable to service. It’s true: we currently use IHS/Polk ownership data to layer onto native Facebook targeting to create a more accurate picture of the audiences to whom our ads will be the most relevant, breaking these ads out into the big four — brakes, batteries, tires, oil changes — and general service ads. At this moment, we do not have the mechanisms in place to keep consumers on Facebook and embrace the new ecosystem; however, our Social Media Director wanted to be deliberate in getting the sales portion fine-tuned before diving into fixed operations. What I can say at this moment is that there are more sophisticated schedulers that can integrate with your dealership’s internal systems to create the same experience in service as we have in sales. Now not every customer in-market or near-market will become an immediate lead. Just like as with website visitors in the past, the consumers who click on one of your ads will be placed into a retargeting pool. This is where our strategic approach to the Facebook ecosystem has evolved the most. Retargeting Lead Generation Ads — Bottom-of-the-Funnel This is where I may lose you because you’ve done lead generation ads before on Facebook. I’m going to challenge that pushback. The approach is where we, as advertisers, went wrong in leveraging lead generation objectives on Facebook. We cast a wide net and hit people with ads who had potentially never engaged with any of our content — and we expected them to simply opt in to sharing their information. That’s unproductive. It yields spammy leads. It wastes your time and your budget. It was a shiny “instant lead retrieval” object that had foregone deliberate strategy.  The correct philosophy is to understand that consumers who have demonstrated intent and interest in our inventory and services — with our middle-of-funnel ads — are more likely to see a lead generation ad as relevant to their interests and, thus, is much more likely to be a qualified lead.  So using lead generation as your measured and deliberate retargeting campaign will work in your favor because the element of intent or interest is at play. They’ve clicked through one of your middle-of-funnel ads and browsed the VDP but didn’t contact the dealership via Messenger within the last 30 days.   That, however, isn’t the only parameter (intent/interest) that makes an effective lead generation retargeting campaign. It’s also important to still task the consumer to take an action without putting an undue burden on them. We want to pose a question that gauges the urgency of their purchase intent. So when the consumer has engaged the lead generation ad, their name and email is automatically populated — but to ensure that a click isn’t merely accidental, the consumer has to actively select an option from a dropdown menu.  When they have done that and done any necessary changes to email, name, or even add their phone number, they are opted into terms and conditions that they have to accept, and then are given a notification that they will be contacted — that information all gets routed to your CRM so that you can track it from form submission to the sale of the vehicle. Our team uses  LeadsBridge  for this capability. So you’ve ensured that the consumer has chosen to engage with the lead generation ad and has taken actual actions to share their information, which demonstrates several layers of intent.  It’s all a matter of keeping things simple and structured. When our team put this into a beta test, it generated an average of  83 qualified leads  per month at a cost of around  $8 per lead .  The On-Facebook Ecosystem Facebook has adapted in the face of privacy constraints and the eventual deprecation of the third-party cookie. It’s important that we embrace the future Facebook ecosystem of today because this is the environment in which we will all compete. By understanding how consumers want to engage with us, as well as the fact that platforms like Facebook and Google are creating ecosystems that keep consumers within their own properties, we will be better equipped to produce content that better resonates with them. If you have any further questions regarding this evolution or the different tactics presented in this article, please feel free to reach out to me, Dane Saville, at dane@reunionmarketing.com.
transformation building block
Dealer Marketing: Embracing the Future Facebook Ecosystem of Today

By

The title may have seemed confusing. If we’re going to take a dive into a future ecosystem, how can it also be available today ? The answer is simple: adoption rate. The capabilities outlined in this article are available right now; however, many dealers are not embracing them and continue to advertise on Facebook as they always have. You have an opportunity to do today what all of your competitors will — or at least should — be doing in the future. Here’s what we’ve been so accustomed to do … Create a carousel ad. Send the consumer to the website. Retarget those who don’t engage. The second step is problematic. It’s important that we break the cycle of thinking that all traffic must go to the website. With a 3-5% opt-in rate of Apple users deciding to share their data with Facebook and its applications and losing 85% of website-based conversion data because of this and other privacy constraints, continuing to advertise on Facebook as we always have is already outdated thinking.  Facebook has products that allow advertisers to embrace a completely native ecosystem.  Here’s a question: If a consumer is choosing to be on Facebook, why would we remove them from that place of comfort and take them to a website? Here’s a second question: Isn’t our role as advertisers to meet where consumers want to engage with us and offer a seamless experience?  So here’s how we do that. A Breakdown of the On-Facebook Ecosystem Branding — Top-of-the-Funnel Let’s first caveat this part of the ecosystem. Branding lives outside of the 30-day cycle, and you don’t want to hold these ads accountable to metrics beyond reach, impressions, and frequency. While these will create clicks and drive traffic to your online properties — mostly your website — these ads are intended to keep your dealership top-of-mind as consumers who aren’t quite in-market spend their time on the Facebook platform and its network partners. Your branding ads should communicate your differentiators, value propositions, and culture. They should also communicate facets of your business that are evergreen, such as your ability to purchase consumer cars or the loyalty programs and free estimates that your fixed operations may offer. Such as with Douglas Volkswagen, who’s inviting local potential shoppers to come experience the “Douglas Difference,” which has been nurtured for nearly 70 years. Or you may want the local community to know that you’ll buy their vehicle — whether or not they bought one from your dealership. Regardless of the ad’s message, you want to make sure that the page they land on when they click the call-to-action — in these cases, “Learn More” — is directly aligned with the content of the advertisement.  AIAs and Service Ads — Middle-of-the-Funnel As you continually hold a presence with branding ads, you’ll want to capture those local shoppers who are in-market.  Side Note — We recommend that you don’t rely solely on Facebook targeting as you can add layers of depth and precision to this with a partner like IHS/Polk, who can provide an accurate number of households based on parameters you set — and this data isn’t affected by privacy updates or website data-loss as it’s based on actual sales and credit reporting data, not on online signals like pixels. The ability to create hyper-local, highly targeted audiences will make creating ad sets and ad copy easier as you’ll have a clear understanding to whom you’re delivering those ads. Automotive Inventory Ads (AIAs) are a carousel of vehicles that are relevant to the targeted audience, except these offer advertisers the capability to keep consumers on Facebook for a streamlined experience. The carousel ad gets delivered to the audience to browse the relevant vehicles that are available for purchase at your dealership. When they click a vehicle that interests them, a VDP-like page near instantaneously appears. It has all of the information that your traditional VDP contains, it has deep links to your dealership’s website and onsite VDP for dealers who need a little comfort in making this transition — and most importantly, it has different actions to actually capture a lead, including click-to-call, directions request, and chat. This method keeps consumers within the Facebook ecosystem, so we don’t lose any conversion data. Facebook collects the information on how consumers are behaving, what different attributes and facets of the VDP are most effective, and other pieces that can better inform them and us on what works. The more data that we can feed Facebook, the more accurately they can update this content and assist us as advertisers to make more strategic decisions. Here are the results when we looked at all campaigns that took consumers to the dealership website (non-AIA) compared to campaigns that kept consumers on Facebook (AIA). Significantly more content viewed, significantly lower costs, and significantly more actual leads from Facebook — people chatting, calling, and requesting directions from the on-Facebook VDPs.  I wrote that this is also applicable to service. It’s true: we currently use IHS/Polk ownership data to layer onto native Facebook targeting to create a more accurate picture of the audiences to whom our ads will be the most relevant, breaking these ads out into the big four — brakes, batteries, tires, oil changes — and general service ads. At this moment, we do not have the mechanisms in place to keep consumers on Facebook and embrace the new ecosystem; however, our Social Media Director wanted to be deliberate in getting the sales portion fine-tuned before diving into fixed operations. What I can say at this moment is that there are more sophisticated schedulers that can integrate with your dealership’s internal systems to create the same experience in service as we have in sales. Now not every customer in-market or near-market will become an immediate lead. Just like as with website visitors in the past, the consumers who click on one of your ads will be placed into a retargeting pool. This is where our strategic approach to the Facebook ecosystem has evolved the most. Retargeting Lead Generation Ads — Bottom-of-the-Funnel This is where I may lose you because you’ve done lead generation ads before on Facebook. I’m going to challenge that pushback. The approach is where we, as advertisers, went wrong in leveraging lead generation objectives on Facebook. We cast a wide net and hit people with ads who had potentially never engaged with any of our content — and we expected them to simply opt in to sharing their information. That’s unproductive. It yields spammy leads. It wastes your time and your budget. It was a shiny “instant lead retrieval” object that had foregone deliberate strategy.  The correct philosophy is to understand that consumers who have demonstrated intent and interest in our inventory and services — with our middle-of-funnel ads — are more likely to see a lead generation ad as relevant to their interests and, thus, is much more likely to be a qualified lead.  So using lead generation as your measured and deliberate retargeting campaign will work in your favor because the element of intent or interest is at play. They’ve clicked through one of your middle-of-funnel ads and browsed the VDP but didn’t contact the dealership via Messenger within the last 30 days.   That, however, isn’t the only parameter (intent/interest) that makes an effective lead generation retargeting campaign. It’s also important to still task the consumer to take an action without putting an undue burden on them. We want to pose a question that gauges the urgency of their purchase intent. So when the consumer has engaged the lead generation ad, their name and email is automatically populated — but to ensure that a click isn’t merely accidental, the consumer has to actively select an option from a dropdown menu.  When they have done that and done any necessary changes to email, name, or even add their phone number, they are opted into terms and conditions that they have to accept, and then are given a notification that they will be contacted — that information all gets routed to your CRM so that you can track it from form submission to the sale of the vehicle. Our team uses LeadsBridge for this capability. So you’ve ensured that the consumer has chosen to engage with the lead generation ad and has taken actual actions to share their information, which demonstrates several layers of intent.  It’s all a matter of keeping things simple and structured. When our team put this into a beta test, it generated an average of 83 qualified leads per month at a cost of around $8 per lead .  The On-Facebook Ecosystem Facebook has adapted in the face of privacy constraints and the eventual deprecation of the third-party cookie. It’s important that we embrace the future Facebook ecosystem of today because this is the environment in which we will all compete. By understanding how consumers want to engage with us, as well as the fact that platforms like Facebook and Google are creating ecosystems that keep consumers within their own properties, we will be better equipped to produce content that better resonates with them. If you have any further questions regarding this evolution or the different tactics presented in this article, please feel free to reach out to me, Dane Saville, at dane@reunionmarketing.com.
digital disruption
No Third-Party Cookie Data? How Dealers Can Leverage Marketing

By

Third-party cookies have slowly phased out of the internet for years with stricter privacy regulations taking effect in Europe and several different states in the U.S. including California. This can also be seen with major web browsers (Firefox, Chrome and Safari) and significant-tech companies (Apple, Google) also making changes to the way they operate search functionality and target marketing products for business customers.    As a result, dealers and their advertising partners are now emphasizing how critical it is for auto retailers to utilize information from their own systems about customers to promote themselves since this industry can no longer track consumer information and trends across different automobile websites. This is not limited to just one dealer as thousands of retailers are all facing a similar situation.   Dealers Must Now Rely on First-Party Data   The end of use of cookies results in the challenges of increased difficulty targeting customers and the threat of fewer personalized ads. However, a solution for dealerships is to work with their marketing partners to identify new strategies to build and access their own first-party customer data for target marketing purposes.   Many dealership marketing executives believe   that eliminating third-party data collection makes customizing marketing more difficult and retargeting campaigns more vulnerable moving forward.   With this major shift now taking place, retailers and their agency partners must see that the first-party data willingly shared by customers gives dealerships a trove of data about their own customers, such as email, home addresses, phone numbers and even shopping intent or vehicle preferences.    This disruption to legacy marketing practices was initially thought to break the connectivity dealerships had with consumers so dealers must evaluate whether their marketing providers are equipped to build campaigns using first-party data.   Social Media Marketing Just Became Even More Important   Marketers said another solution is that dealerships can reach customers through social media platforms like Facebook to track their users’ activity.   The fear among dealers is that a high price tag and the length of time shoppers spend deciding upon a vehicle purchase (typically 3-5 years) would see car sales more negatively affected than other e-commerce-driven products that leverage first-party data practices.    These dealers fear that marketing strategies in the automotive industry cannot reach the same broad audience compared to marketing efforts of household goods, which is why having good insight into first-party customer data is critical.   Using Marketing Technology To Get More Personal   Savvy automotive marketing consultants instead say that with the growing need for first-party data, dealerships can offer something of value (like personalized discounts or loyalty programs) in return for consumers agreeing to share personal information, which can also address customers’ privacy concerns and provide transparency about how the data is used.   What’s more, dealerships can work with social media companies and host vehicle detail pages with the social platform. With Facebook, the site can identify when someone views any automobile content or engages with an ad. Utilizing this data, dealerships and their marketing providers can build an audience and retarget consumers.    These social-specific strategies are being driven by companies such as PureCars, which has taken the last few years to help dealers build custom marketing programs that not only drive traffic to the web, but also help in creating more conversion efficiency during the pre-qualification stage.   Facebook can’t share or sell to other social media platforms but they can use the data to make more informed advertising decisions on their platform.   Facebook executives said the company is working to build privacy-enhancing technologies to help minimize the amount of personal information it processes, while still allowing to show relevant ads and measure ad effectiveness.   Dealers who have not relied solely on third-party data say they aren’t very concerned about the shift since their stores have always used more first-party data from customers in advertising. The data includes information on visitors to the stores’ websites and customer data from the customer relationship management system.    This data not only helps with the initial target marketing, but can also help dealers, lenders and OEM partners construct unique and personalized offers and payments in a more scientifically accurate way, such as the payments data now built by companies like Market Scan and utilized online and in the showroom to create a more seamless, consistent shopping experience for customers.   The world keeps changing for dealers, and that includes the way in which they leverage data to market toward their customers. By focusing on web, social and other marketing technology, dealers will find new ways to collect more targeted data from their customers so that they can build promotions and offers that appeal to them even more than what they had with third-party data.  
dealership sales
5 Keys to Get More Customer Referrals

By

We all know that referrals represent our greatest opportunity for peak profits and predicable growth. As Mark Zuckerberg has acknowledged, “People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.”  There is no other business strategy that can provide the compounding results that can be realized through executing the right referral strategy. It’s simple math. With only half of your customers providing just a single referral every two years, your business doubles every three years.  Unfortunately for most teams, their strategy is simply to ‘ask for a referral.’ This too often leads to an awkward experience with many people avoiding the exchange altogether. There is a better way! With the right referral strategy customers actively share your message and support your business. If you are ready to get more referrals now, ask yourself these five questions: 1. Are my customers capable of referring business? In order to be capable of referring business, your customers must remember you, remember what you can do, and remember why people choose you.  Our customers might know how we’ve helped them and why they said yes, but that doesn’t mean they know all the ways in which we can help. We cannot expect our customers to remember us and how we can help each time an opportunity arises unless we’re in regular communication creating engagement, sharing successes, and continually providing value. Thankfully this can be accomplished with minimal effort leveraging old tools in a new way. You already possess the contact methods and the mediums. The next step is to marry automation with personalization to maximize each interaction and compound your results. Professionals who get more referrals now, execute a next level strategy that ensures they stay top-of-mind, they stay connected, and they stay relevant. 2. Are my customers compelled to refer business? Customers that are compelled to refer business are all motivated by one or more of the following three factors. First, these customers genuinely like us. When you align and connect with your customers on a personal level they not only gladly say yes, but they gladly tell others why they said yes as well. Second, these customers enjoyed a remarkable experience. They did not just have their expectations met; they had an experience worthy of a remark. What is unique and memorable about what you do and how you do it? For some it is a special gift, for others it is a special gesture, for some it is a special service, and for others, it is as simple as a special greeting and goodbye. Third, these customers genuinely want to help. These customers might want to help you because they want to see you succeed, they might want to help the people they are referring because they want to save them from an alternative and potentially bad experience, or they might want to help themselves because of an incentive or rewards program that you have in place. Professionals who get more referrals now, execute a next-level strategy that compels and drives their customers to openly share their experience. 3. Do my customers know I want them to refer business? When conducting a next-level referral workshop, I often ask the class to think of a business they recently worked with where the representative met their expectations, where their experience was positive, and where their needs were met. Then I ask the individuals to raise their hands if they have referred business to that company and representative. To no surprise, very few, if any hands go up. The purpose of this exercise is to demonstrate that doing a good job does not equal referrals.  When it comes to getting more referrals now, good is never good enough! We have to ask for referrals, and then we have to continue to ask. This is accomplished by having purposeful conversations at the time of sale, after the honeymoon period, and around key dates on the calendar. A cornerstone of these conversations is the personal referral story crafted in the workshop. Each persons’ referral story is unique to them, but every story helps customers emotionally connect, conceptualize the value, and convict themselves to refer business.  Professionals who get more referrals now, execute a next-level strategy that creates an environment where customers know that referrals are wanted, important, and beneficial to all. 4. Is it easy for my customers to share? One thing is for certain, if we make it awkward and difficult for our customers to refer business to us, we can expect little to no referrals. Technology plays a role. With that said, there is a lot that can be done with your existing technology, without having to invest in anything new. Aside from technology, there are three things you can do to make sure it is easy for your customers to share your message and refer business.  First, ask at the right time. Whether it is at the time of sale, or at a later date, there is a best time to ask. At the time of sale, it is not when you are signing agreements, or when you are saying your good-byes. When you follow up with your customers at a later date, it’s not on their birthdays, or when the new programs and incentives come out. The best times to ask are times where we can have a real purposeful conversation that strengthens our connection and compels our customers to act. Second, always put your customer first. One of the reasons why so many people feel awkward when asking for a referral is because they shift the focus from their customer to themselves. It doesn’t have to be this way. The focus should remain on the customer the entire time. After all, there is much that our customers stand to gain from referring business. Lastly, ask for the right number. One. Just one! One at a time. Too many people ask their customers to identify multiple people who might be interested. In this situation, the focus shifted away from the customer long ago. If a customer wants to refer more than one person to you at one time, great, but I recommend only asking for one. Invest your energy into that one, and it will turn into three more. Professionals who get more referrals now, execute a next-level strategy that makes it easy for customers to engage and refer business. 5. Do I share? The final question to ask yourself is: who am I referring business to? There must be people with whom you’ve conducted business that are worthy of a referral. Think about all of the people you’ve worked with over the past year both personally and professionally. What if all of those people were capable of referring business to you, were compelled to share their experience, and knew exactly how the act of referring business benefited everyone involved? One thing is for certain, when you refer business to these people, they will seek to refer business to you. Maybe not right away, but eventually the Law of Reciprocity will kick in. When you invest in the success of others, more people will want to see you succeed as well. Prioritize your efforts and begin referring business today. We all know that referrals represent our greatest opportunity for peak profits and predictable growth. Unfortunately, for most teams, their strategy is simply to ‘ask for a referral.’ Too often this leads to an awkward experience, with many people avoiding the exchange altogether. There is a better way. It all starts with answering the five questions above and executing a next-level referral strategy. If you want to build greater influence in your market and double your business every three years, focus on getting more referrals now! If you believe in the power of referrals as much as I do, reach out and share your experience. It would be my pleasure to connect.
winning team
Why Your Team Should Be Part of Your Marketing Strategy

By

"The leader is one who, out of the clutter, brings simplicity …" - Albert Einstein We humans complicate things, and it’s no surprise in dealerships it manifests in grandiose form, especially noticeable when it comes to how teams, training, and advertising relate to technology. These four areas, when not in harmony, work against each other. I have found the most successful stores don’t have the most cutting-edge technology or the newest tools, the most successful stores are the ones that have mastered the balance between team, training, advertising, and tech. Why these four areas? Each one directly affects the other, when you understand how one can affect another you avoid the chain reaction domino effect preventing you from streamlining and propelling your team forward. Recent technology is often marketed as a trade-off for training, the proverbial easy button, which is attractive when you’re focused on growth. Unfortunately, band-aids like this won’t last and we’re left with a glut of tech solutions that aren’t streamlined and overlap. You know what happens next, a collision course with chaos, with wasted budget, time, and we didn’t improve our customer’s experience. Connecting Training, Advertising and Technology I use the four questions below with my clients to ensure the team, training, advertising and technology don’t become disjointed, bloated and to address weak links. Does it already exist in any of our current products or services? Is this something that solves a problem which can’t be solved with training? Is it simple enough to flow seamlessly, support my team, and our processes? Will it benefit our customers and reduce pain points? Sounds simple, right? These four questions provide great touchpoints for inspecting when and where to add new products and services, they also ensure you’re making the most of products and services you already have in place. It’s also beneficial to make a habit of evaluating your outside services and products every month, considering these questions when you do. Like tools in a mechanic’s box, the tools you use in your dealership need fine tuning, maintenance, and at times replacement. Bloat is not exclusive to overindulging on Thanksgiving; it creeps in when dealerships continue to add the “next new thing” without evaluating what is already in place.  Where do my team and training come into this? Let’s hit the hard truth first - if you’re adding tech to overcome lack of training, you're compounding the problem. If you’re working with an outside company to handle your social media because you don’t have someone on your team with the training to manage it, you’re only hurting yourself. Here’s the thing, hiring an outside company to do what should be an inside job is not sustainable, nor is it going to bring healthy growth; you’re selling based on transactional relationships, which do not last. We want your team, tech, and advertising aligned and working together as one; the only way to accomplish this is through training. Adjusting your perspective to view your team’s training as part of your marketing strategy will help you achieve balance. It will also help you to reframe how you view your technology assets, focus on how your tech supports your team, and how to make it easy for your customers to do business with you. Instead of looking at tech as a funnel for leads, try looking for it to support your team in growing relationships that become loyal customers. Your team members are going to be your true sources of long-term, non-transactional business, providing your team training and technology to that end is where your tech investment will be your best investment. Addressing the Elephant in the Room Advertising is always the painful elephant in the room, it doesn’t have to be. When you make your team part of your marketing strategy, incorporating training and goal setting, advertising becomes a daily habit. Now let’s take that one step further. Consider how the diversity in your team represents the diversity in your audience and customers, creating a space and culture where your team members contribute to your advertising allows your message to be presented with a different personality, now reaching everyone in your audience with their preferred “flavor” of marketing. Prioritizing Customer Facing Tech Making it easier for our customers to do business with us where we have the most room for expansion and I believe where we will see the biggest strides in advancement, this is the tech you should be on the lookout for. Customer facing tech has for so long been lacking because we have been focused on driving leads, rather than building relationships - change is coming. How you choose to train your team, and whether you achieve harmony with your team, training, advertising, and technology could mean the difference between growth and exponential growth as that change rolls out.