RelationshipBest Practices

Relationship
Community Minded Marketing Strategy
Community Minded Marketing Strategy

By

Marketing, customer-dealer interaction, and even your website are more than just the sales process, it is engagement with your community. Are you engaging in your language or your community’s language? For your dealership, engaging your community is the best way to grow your business and gain new customers.  There is a great deal of focus on engagement and experience, without covering how you need to engage with your community. If you are like most dealerships, you are focusing on the sales process itself, your reviews, and driving traffic, not thinking about how your website, marketing materials, and even customer interactions can help you grow your business. The car business must go beyond the goal of selling cars—you must connect with people. And when you do so in their own language, they will feel more comfortable buying from you. Brands across the board have been pushed to recreate their marketing strategies and focus efforts on building relationships that are driven by two-way communication.  One of the big questions is how to keep consumers engaged so that when they need your products or services, you are their first thought. To accomplish this, we need a shift in thinking to “Whose interests are being served?” For example, when you are posting on social media, are you posting content that drives butterfly effect engagement from your audience, or are you posting about the product only? By butterfly effect engagement, I am referring to the type of engagement that draws in people your audience is connected to and drives them to engage as well, allowing you to create a brand community. Consider that many potential customers will visit your social media pages before initiating the purchase process, reviews and content can impact the decision process in your favor. Putting out content that is of interest to your community is paramount, an example is Meta marketing content that is solely based on product and deliveries versus what interests your community. If you can scroll through your feed and cannot find anything that supports your local community regularly, you are not building your brand community. Remember, you are recruiting volunteers to champion your business, inundating consumers with sales purchases, and product places hoping to see results is simply disruptive marketing that desensitizes consumers and does not promote conversation. Unlike traditional advertising, which is primarily focused on getting new customers, a community marketing strategy is about connecting and engaging with people to build long-term relationships. It is about making customers feel seen, heard, and important. This type of strategy bridges the gap between the people driving your business, your team, and your customers. A vehicle purchase is no small thing, growing a sense of connection, support, and service within your community allows you to start building relationships before the sales process even begins. Providing value to your community is a great place to start What questions do customers most commonly have during the car buying process, what are some challenges you have helped others overcome, and what do people on your team specialize in? Sharing the details of how you serve and how it benefits the community paves the way for conversations. Participate Your community marketing strategy should take you outside of the virtual world of social engagement and participation in your community. Can you help educate young consumers on how they qualify for their first auto loan, how credit affects a large bandwidth of life or the ins and outs of the buying process? Getting involved early and giving young consumers the tools, they need as they move forward in life is a wonderful way to expand your value in your community. Consistency and accessibility are key Consistency is the foundation for trust, accessibility allows that trust to grow. How easy are consumers able to reach and converse with your team, do your internal processes allow for ease of communication or is there a backlog of calls to be returned and messages to answer? One large component of customer satisfaction is communication, the ability to reach contacts at the dealership amid the sales process, or even worse after delivery, is beyond frustrating to customers. This is a big part of the experience customers will remember when it becomes time to purchase another vehicle or service their current vehicle. Creating ways to engage with your audience in a way that works for them is crucial, whether by phone, text, email or messaging services - being accessible builds trust and impacts customer retention. Tell a story and use images Interaction on your social media posts gets on average 160% more interaction when you use relatable images, take this a step further and focus on telling the story behind the image. Consumers trust and value other consumers' opinions and experiences, share those success stories! Share other sides of your dealership, service, parts, community outreach, and team members - give your content an individualized touch. Consumers want to know who they are working with and look for connections and common interests on which to build relationships.  Over and above long-term benefits in customer loyalty and retention, executing a community marketing strategy can help to reduce your dependency on traditional advertising, often a large chunk of the dealership budget. While not necessarily immediate, this type of strategy will snowball as you continue to grow your audience and engagement. The use of social platform engagement isn’t going away, what you begin building now will impact your future sales and retention. Over the last few years, we have experienced a shift in consumer value, a shift that focuses on people and the community. Building value and creating relationships within your community is a powerful way to engage your customer base and community, create loyalty and trust, and grow your sales and retention - that is if you choose to accept the challenge before you.
Seeking and Creating Environments that Honor People: How Sarah Vantine is changing the BDC

By

In preparation for our meeting with Sarah Vantine of Quantum5 , we spent time researching the company and reviewing her profile. Anything but ordinary comes to mind. Clear messaging about who she is, what she does, and most importantly, why she does it, sets the tone for a very people-centric conversation; the synergy between Sarah and Quantum5 exceeded our expectations. As Sarah sits in front of an elegant bookshelf, decorated in accolades, she boldly smiles and tells me that she assembled it herself when she was eight months pregnant. What would follow would be two people interacting, truly engaged. By the end of our conversation, I would understand the power of forward-thinking approaches to the BDC, vision boards, and how a dolphin toy on the desk of an employee was the game changer that made it all connect. Balance, Success, Courage and Seeking The word balance, to me, has always kind of been misleading because it implies that you always hold everything in equal measure. The reality of it is that at different points in time, you need to let go of one thing in order to focus on another. You can't physically hold on to all of your work and personal responsibilities equally and at the same time. What allows you to achieve your goals, personal and professional, is having the courage to seek out opportunities in which you can build a support network. There are companies out there where the mission statement is cookie-cutter and may not actually be reflective of the core culture, something you will notice when you consider things like retention of employees. I have sought opportunities that have allowed me to have a level of support and understanding, which has really been the secret to my success. “This was the best thing to happen to me so far in my career.” I am so thankful to be a part of the team that I am with now. Finding Your True North “It's not personal, it's just business.” Ken Herfurth sums it up really well, "it's always personal." In every business, there are always people. There is a person at every single interaction. It is never just business, there are always elements of personal experience woven into the very core of business. When Dave O’Brien and Ken Herfurth, the Founders of Quantum5, approached me, I had, up till this point, really made an effort to create a future within the BDC departments. We really focused on the individuals within the BDC itself. The term BDC is such a loose term for a variety of departments. You may find a dealership that says that they have a BDC department and in reality, they have two people answering calls and transferring them to somebody else; they have no authority, there is no empowerment and their job is quite limited. This leads to people within the dealership viewing them as an expense and someone who will never have the opportunity to move up in the organization. And so, one of the challenges that I always encountered throughout my career was challenging the perception that existed in terms of the BDC and what the BDC was capable of. I focused on putting the human aspect first and by focusing on how I developed my people allowed for the development of better customer relationship and management skills. When Quantum5 came along and I asked them about their reason for building the company, some of the pain points that they highlighted were things I had experienced in my own career and their values really impacted me because my heart was fully aligned. I had the opportunity to do something I really believed in on a larger scale, impacting hundreds of dealers, based on values that really represented my true north. Oftentimes in automotive, training is an event and it is done in a vacuum. And so what often happens is you go to a training seminar or a trainer comes in and you're pulled off the sales floor, you're pulled off the phones, and you're stuck in a room with this person. And then at the end of the training session, you go back to reality. Whatever was covered in that session slowly fades away. So, having the opportunity to take what I was doing in the BDC, like daily check-ins with all of my staff, is also really important to me. Although incredibly time-consuming and at times quite difficult when you're talking COVID and some of the restrictions that happened with face-to-face interactions, we still made an effort to have those one-on-one conversations. We used those sessions to understand what the challenges were and what we needed to adapt and adjust. How could we better serve our clients and build on that culture of creating and nurturing mutual trust? One on one human development directly impacts culture, skills development, and creates a better learning environment. What can we expect at CXAUTO2022? There are three strategies that we are going to unpack in the work session. We are going to talk about enabling multi-channel communication strategies within the BDC and what that really means at the end of the day. There is a lot of technology out there, and there are a lot of conversations around removing the human element by introducing chatbots or a predetermined response menu where the customer selects buttons and that becomes the full engagement experience. The reality is that people want the best of both, a combination of human interaction and technological implements. The customer does not want technology in a vacuum; they want a personal touch and they want to feel like they matter as an individual to the business. One of the biggest opportunities is including the BDC in developing communication skills to deal with a variety of clients. For the client, it feels familiar when a business really takes time to listen to them and facilitate human communication, allowing for their receptiveness to be elevated. The conversation becomes something of value for the client as well as the business. It is important that the BDC is equipped with the skills necessary to understand strategies that are going to lead to success. The second component of our work session will be focused on step-by-step instructions for a dealership to adjust their processes to best suit their customers' needs. An example that I can share comes from one of our case studies. Noises in vehicles are often one of the hardest things for a technician to diagnose. If you don’t have a good strategy to help the customer communicate the issue, it becomes very difficult for the technician to replicate the problem and without the information, they are unable to diagnose it. This creates frustration as the customer ends up having to return multiple times, a clear indication of a pain point within the dealership which is reflective of an existing process not being beneficial to the customer experience. The case study that we will be sharing is that of the Scott Clark Auto Group, who is a brilliant example of what can happen when you truly understand and adjust your process to the customer's needs. Lastly, we will be talking about strategies that really engage and retain the best professionals for your organization. Everyone talks about employee retention. We will be focusing on the human element and understanding what drives employee attrition. The BDC Representative oftentimes feels unappreciated and undervalued, and this is sometimes linked to a lack of training and development, essentially a lack of opportunity to grow within the organization. People are seeking companies that put people first and invest in them individually through teaching them how to interact with people, and how to become a successful person not just at work, but in life. We have some amazing strategies that we will be sharing with dealerships that focus on how to truly gauge employee satisfaction and how to adjust processes in order to retain talent. We dig deep into figuring out and understanding the people on your team. What makes them unique, what are their challenges? How do we best integrate this alongside the department and dealership goals? In BDC specifically, oftentimes we get hyper-focused on how many phone calls are being made. How many customers we are talking to, and how many appointments we are booking. But really, at the end of the day the person behind the scenes has a very complex life and they have their own goals and challenges that may not be obvious or mirror the same as the department’s. And so, the key strategy is to understand and then align the goals to the business. Sarah will be joined by Elizabeth Martin, the Service BDC Manager at the Scott Clarke Auto Group , as they discuss The New BDC: Best Practices to Capture and Upsell Service Business at the upcoming CXAUTO2022 . You can expect great insights based on case studies that illustrate concrete steps implemented to improve retention and continue to build value for customers. The new BDC is driven by innovative management and leadership practices that focus on honoring the individual through training and development and, ultimately, aligning the complexity within people, teams, and departments to achieve business goals. We would highly recommend that you see Sarah live! You can read more about her here
Disruption is the New Normal

By

Disruption. One of the buzz words lately over-used and misunderstood. The standard business definition is “radical change to an existing industry or market due to technological innovation.”  I would argue is not always technological. And is that radical change good or bad? Is disruption good or bad?   The fact of the matter is,  DISRUPTION IS THE NEW NORMAL.   Whether we like it or not, as business owners, as consumers, as social citizens, we better embrace it. It is the new norm and will only continually cycle and accelerate.   If it is self-disruption, or at least a state of managed or accepted disruption, it can benefit our enterprise.  This agility and flexibility to take on disruption and capitalize through it and because of it, should even be a capability or culture that is driven in an organization. It will change the way customers expect products/services and experiences, it will change the way workers produce, and it will change the way we must manage our business models. In automotive, we could highlight a lot of major and recent disruptions. There is the pandemic effect amplified by home delivery and mobile service. There is the new mobility ecosystem accelerating around access to transportation on-demand. There is the new wave of EVs coming on due to many factors including gas and oil prices and a drive to a sustainable economy. Many technologies are disruptive to our previous industry and business models such as Cloud computing, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented and Virtual Reality, 5G and more. These technologies enable new experiences, real-time information, constant connectivity, and an overall overhaul of traditional, sequential, and transactional engagements. The customer experience with a brand is now always on, anywhere, anytime, and anyhow they choose. An illustrative landscape of some of the disruptive forces, effects and outcomes is pictured below. In the automotive retailer world, what have we seen in terms of disruption, again not just technological impacts but all kinds of disruptions or “disturbances”. There are quite a few, including but not limited to: Supply chain issues and inventory shortages Even more demanding customer expectations  New EV models and companies with direct-to-consumer models Ever increasing technology in vehicles including over-the-air updates Uncertain future of the “as is “dealer profit model  Ability to work with customers in a multi-channel format Some brands and vehicles getting more flexible financial access and even subscription models …and much more. The real question is, what do we do about it?  How do we handle these disruptions?  How do we survive and capitalize on disruption and build our business into future-proof models? The hard part, even though I asked the questions, is that there is no easy answer. There is no one solution, one technology, or even one way to ensure that your business can survive and thrive in the future.  I have heard before, “we cannot predict the future, but we must plan for multiple futures.” Good advice.  Meaning nobody knows what exactly the world, our industry or our business may look like in 5 years, 10 years and certainly not beyond. Anybody see the supply chain shortage coming 3 years ago? Anybody think Tesla would be on of the Top 10 market cap companies 10 years ago?   52% of the Fortune 500 companies from 2000 are extinct. That is not a typo. Read that again. So, there is no 100% prediction, and there is no one easy answer. But the recipe for success in an ongoing continuous cycle through any disruption must include some basic core operating principles and capabilities.   Some critical components and general principles include: Do not have a rigid business model, be willing to change Build a business model enabled by flexible business processes and enabling technologies aimed at delivering experiences and fulfilling needs (not transactional simple mundane tasks) Equip your people with training, knowledge, culture, and power to deliver customer experience (no barriers) Data and Insight. Understand what shifts and movements there are in your customers and your business.   You may think you are in the car business, but you are I the customer experience business. Focus on needs management over leads management. Take Action. Early, often and always. Do not wait for change to come to you, change what needs to be ahead of the curve. Consider your business as a platform (not a static and rigid set of transactional processes), with dynamic capabilities that can flex and pivot to meet demands and needs. These may sound high-level and unachievable for a dealership. But they are not, and they can’t be. They must be driven into the culture of your business .   In more tactical terms, your business must consider, deal with and optimize the ability to: Sell and service different (online, offline, omni-channel, mobile, and anyway the customer wants it.) Assess and determine new business models that can be viable for your customers and market: Subscription models Rental / car sharing models Other access and financial models to enable customers to access mobility Charging stations  The dealership as an experience center not as an inventory hub or “sales office” EV versus ICE customers service and overall needs More personalized build-to-order to overcome shortages Service as a service (more of a Geek Squad model) than a service bay model Be flexible to accommodate all different kinds of customers and their needs A tall order indeed. But if we think of and build our dealership business model more as a dynamic platform of capabilities and assets to accomplish the above and more, we can succeed in multiple paths of revenue streams.   It is not easy to accept that our business must be under a constant state of transformation.   But in order to continually survive, thrive and innovate we must always be in that continuous state of transformation. Be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Because one thing is certain, the future is exactly what we think it will be. The key take-away again, DISRUPTION IS THE NEW NORMAL.   Get used to it and realize we have to deal with it continuously and forever. Capitalize on the fact that if done right, we can enable our business to dynamically flex in new directions and new models to support and thrive in multiple paths. Put focus and effort on the notion that are business is a platform of capabilities, not a rigid set of workflows.   With the focus on the North Star of customer experience driving your business, the capabilities can be dynamically developed to withstand all change and disruption.
Disruption is Change

By

Disruption is about change. In the automotive industry we usually connect the word disruption to some up-and-coming vendor program, product, or new technology. When really disruption comes from how these things introduce new habits, adjust how you communicate, and/or change your approach. You may not need new products, services, or technology to create a disruption in your market, all you may need is to reflect and change. Technology is not the disruption; it is a confirmation of needs which are waiting to be filled. With technology having affected the way people consume and engage, becoming a force of positive disruption in your market is well within your grasp. Retail automotive has a never-before-seen opportunity to show with clarity how it has evolved to rise to the consumer challenge to “do better.” No longer is the showroom a place with fancy-suited strangers and cold metal, the most competitive dealerships are bringing the showroom, and their people, to their customers, creating more open and sustainable relationships. Social media has given us a spyglass into the lives of others, making people realize their own humanness is not so abnormal. Consumers are driven to engage with individuals and business they feel they know, trust, and relate to. Further reenforcing that people buy from people, and relationships matter. The key to disruption is not missing the point of disruption. Stop doing what you have always done. Consumers are clear about their needs, how to meet their needs and expectations, are we listening? They do not necessarily need more technology; they need more communication with clarity. Your customers expect their in-dealership experience and online experience to be cohesive. They want a process that is mindful of the buyer, a business that is community-aware and, believe it or not, a long-term relationship with you. Disruption is a mindset; it is when you genuinely care as much for the people you employ and the people you are selling to as you do your sales. Disruption mindset starts with leadership, it is creating the culture for employees that mirrors the experience you want for your customers. It is building long term relationships with your customers by fostering long term tenure with your employees. You’re thinking, all that’s great, how do I achieve disruption? Here are a few areas you can easily check yourself in and create positive disruptive change within your dealership: 1.      Does your employee culture reflect the experience you desire for your customers? 2.      Do your customer’s in-dealership experiences and online experiences feel cohesive and transition smoothly? Does it feel like a singular purchase experience? 3.      Do you have a social presence sharing outside of what you earn a profit from? Is it a place your customers return to after the sale? 4.      Is your dealership website a virtual showroom only for vehicles, or is it also a meet and greet for your staff? 5.      Are you actively listening to your customers' needs and expectations? “But tackling some of those would be like opening a can of worms.” Open that can of worms, friend. Without conquering these things, none of the disruption you achieve in your market will be sustainable.  
Need Management over Lead Management

By

It seems like a simple concept.  Take care of people’s needs first and foremost.  Yet, it continuously falls short on the planning and execution when the transactional mindset and objectives take over. We spent decades instituting and enforcing a “customer satisfaction” survey process.  That was supposed to put the customer first right?  But that was a post-mortem grade on how a dealer rated versus other dealers, in most cases on a transactional process, not really aimed at customer’s true needs in the first place.  We have now evolved to the concept of “customer experience.”  But we still chase it as if it is something we can develop and invoke upon the customer.   When in reality it is the “customer’s experience.”  They own it.   They dictate how they will perceive it and value it.  We merely need to be able to be flexible and personalized in our approach to their needs. I would argue vigorously that the future of retail, the success of the dealer footprint going forward will depend much more on Need Management versus Lead Management.  By its very nature leads are cold, transactional, and aimed at getting people into a car within the current sales month.  Needs are obviously more personal, more relevant and contextual to the exact need for the interaction and engagement.  Needs may not be aimed at a traditional sale either, but perhaps a service, or a question for now, or a more personal approach to the right vehicle and right financial arrangement. This proposition may sound basic, but the entire retail industry is built on a sales leads funnel to get people in and through the process and then survey them and ask how we did.  Our focus must shift if we hope to have long-term sustainability in retail in an industry and a function that is fast transforming.   As EV’s and other digital services and subscription models enter the scene, as new car inventories will be in flux through 2022 and used cars become an option, we must personalize the experience to focus on customer mobility and transportation needs. Even in the traditional new car sales process, we often miss the need.  As more customers move to digital shopping and retailing (you all know the increasing numbers), they are required to figure out their own need before they hit a human or the store.  We ask them to figure it out through a wonky pricing and configuration tool where they must select option codes and packages they are not even sure they want or need.  Most of us in the industry struggle knowing the difference between a trim level, model level or an option package.  The customer often muscles their way through it and lands on a “build and price” vehicle.  That then becomes the lead!  But have we really identified and resolved the need? I believe the whole process needs to be tipped upside down to start the with the need.  What does the customer (The “UP”) need?  It may sometimes be information they want to support some decision making that is hard to find in a sales brochure online system.  It may be information about best mobility options.  Assuming for a moment it is a vehicle that they want to own and acquire, is a new or used vehicle the best fit?  What type of driving will they do?  What are their weekly commuting needs?  What is their budget target?  Are they better of buying, leasing or even subscribing where available? I am not naïve enough to believe that the very process of moving inventory, monthly sales targets, transactional commission-based sales people are supportive of the idea of taking the necessary time to understand the customer need and taking the appropriate actions to deliver on that expectation.  What is success in automotive retail and sales will have to change. I would argue it already has changed.  Good dealers were already transforming processes and success metrics to understand that the future retail sustainability will be based on lifetime value, products and services, experiences and customer affinity to the dealer brand and experience.  The past year and a half with a global pandemic that changed customer expectations and mobility needs, and also disrupted supply chains for the foreseeable future, have all created more value on build-to-order (personalized orders) and personalized engagement for customer fulfillment of needs (not just sales). The new business imperatives that will drive success in the auto retail industry include: Access over Assets  The importance of the ability to engage the customer where they are in their journey as opposed to simply having inventory available.  That “permission” and capability for access and engagement is move valuable (even on a balance sheet) than the physical assets. Personalization over Transaction How much of the customer’s true needs were met versus our simple goal of a unit sale.  Transaction may help the monthly sales quota, but personalization will contribute to the customer lifetime value and the business sustainability. Service is not an event, it is an experience Treating every service experience as an opportunity to engage the customer deeper in their needs fulfillment entirely as opposed to a maintain or repair the product only mindset Users over Owners Leverage any and every customer who may want to engage with us at the retail level whether that be for product information, used cars, mini-fleet access or subscription models, digital services, maintenance and updates, charging, or future services as the goal over simply supporting owners only with the basic vehicle services.  They may not even be a “customer” in the traditional sense, but every interaction is of potential value for both parties in building a long-term relationship. Retail is not a location, it is an action and a relationship This means more than mobile delivery or service pick-up and drop-off.  How do we use retail experiences, which should include every interaction through every channel, to build a relationship and understand the customer’s context and needs?  Retail, and all it entails, is an experience building opportunity. While I mention these as imperatives, there are objectives and measurables that should be assigned to these efforts.  There should be focus on the people, processes and technology all aligning to this mission as the North Star experience.   It’s always easy to raise issues, but what are the solutions?  There is no one path forward to achieve these objectives and each dealership will need different focus and transformation depending on its maturity towards this goal. Let me offer a few thoughts and enablers I would consider critical to pivoting to need over lead. Define your North Star customer experience.  Clearly and concisely.  Is it well understood and communicated through the organization? Is the North Star experience supported by the right processes and measurables? Personalization not Transaction focus.  Do we really know and understand the customer needs? Do we have the right data and information to understand and respond appropriately to the need?   Are we asking the right questions and capturing the information? Does our technology share actionable insight, or does it just enable transactional processing? I would not suggest that this initiative mandates and overhaul of your technology platform and entire business processes.  But could they all be sharpened and aimed at the right objective?  I would suggest they could be optimized for this long-term success strategy.  Let’s utilize customer management systems and data across the organization (regardless of department or function) to create additive customer journey and customer need insight at each interaction.   Let’s evolve our business processes to be “customer-centric” and not functional-based or organizationally standard. Overall, the future of retail success will be predicated on the ability to deliver personalized, valuable engagements on the terms of the customer.  Their needs being fulfilled is the future of retail, not transactional exchanges.  That includes the what, where and how.  Retail is not a physical location; it must be an experience.  Customer needs will be met by somebody, it is up to you to make sure that somebody is you.  
loyalty culture
Dealership Culture: Make Trust Your North Star

By

Bolster your dealership’s culture with clarity, consistency and accountability to succeed in a multi-channel world According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Rory Blackwell, the ultimate one-man band, played 108 different musical instruments simultaneously on May 29, 1989 in Devon, England.  Fortunately, a car dealership is the opposite of a one-man-band. A dealership is full of skilled, well-trained and dedicated professionals, all ready to do their part to help the dealership succeed. That said, I believe the most essential instrument required for them to play in harmony is trust.  Yet building trust in a dealership is a lot easier said than done. It can apply (or not) across the board to ownership, managers, employees and customers.  Trust can be earned, of course, but it also can be easily or quickly lost.  Culture Matters I’ve been thinking a lot about trust after listening to a recent podcast hosted by Troy Scheer with Brian Kramer, the General Manager at Germain Toyota of Naples, in which the two discussed the important role played by culture in a dealership. A running theme throughout the podcast was the importance of a culture built on trust.  A dealership must first define its culture, however, and I believe the touchstone for any dealership culture should be the customer experience. The challenge is to bring sales, finance and service together as a team – whether online or in the store -- to seamlessly provide the desired excellent experience to each customer.  This united effort is complicated by the need to balance in-person and digital contacts with customers. An employee who is busy in the showroom meeting and greeting customers is unavailable, at the same time, to respond to digital leads. Yet both types of communication are essential and must be made. You can’t afford to ignore customers or make them wait too long. That’s why the best dealership cultures inspire everybody up and down the line to do whatever it takes to deliver a positive customer experience.  Getting there with a minimum of friction, however, requires management to take three steps: clarify what’s expected, be consistent in its application and hold everyone accountable.  Clarity Means No Surprises When buying a vehicle, I’m always mystified why the salesperson doesn’t walk me over to their service department and personally introduce me to someone in sales to initiate a more long-term relationship. Those of us in the business know that typically parts and service can generate 49 percent of a dealership’s profits.  My guess is that the salesperson is focused on the short-term and is already thinking of his or her next sale, instead of what’s best for the customer or dealership. This particular salesperson may not fully understand or appreciate or trust the store’s culture.  Automotive retail can be a pressure cooker, but clarity actually diffuses the pressure because everyone knows what’s expected.  Consistency Means Everyone Contributes Whether your customer-first motto is in your mission statement, your store, or on your website, you must consistently practice what you preach.  As an owner or manager, you should encourage your employees to take risks and try things without fear of repercussion.  If you tell customers that you want them to be customers for life, you need to prove that by standing behind that statement with products like Lifetime Powertrain Warranties. Many of the dealerships we work with offer lifetime maintenance and customer loyalty programs in the finance office and train their service technicians on how to create a first-rate experience to keep service customers coming back time after time.  Consistency means backing your mission statement up in every department across every experience.  Communication Means Accountability This is the attribute where the rubber hits the road, hard choices are made and, ultimately, trust is built. Make your people accountable for their actions, and allow them the privilege of learning from their mistakes. Nobody wants to be second-guessed or blindsided, of course, especially during the course of a busy day.  Likewise, you don’t want employees running to management to make a decision they could and should make. If they know you have their back, they’ll have yours.  Above all, keep it transparent. Nothing undermines a culture of trust more than a manager who allows a closed-door meeting to talk privately about somebody else. A Culture Where Customers Win Making trust the centerpiece of your dealership’s culture turns former roadblocks into speed lanes.  More importantly, it enables customers to believe in your brand, because they know your entire team is looking out for what’s best for them. Customers are listened to, calls are followed-up, questions are answered. And you can reward their trust by offering them extra benefits for doing business with you, such as lifetime powertrain warranties.  I’d like to finish up with one of my all-time favorite quotes from legendary coach Vince Lombardi, who says, “Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while, you don’t do things right once in a while, you do them right all of the time.”  There’s no better way I can think of to describe building a lifetime value culture across your dealership that will last the test of time – do it right all of the time.