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Third Party Digital Retailers are Driving Leads in the 2022 Auto Industry Climate

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In early 2020, no one could have imagined what the next two years would hold for the world- or the automobile industry. Through the shut downs of the early pandemic to vehicle shortages, a tightening economy and higher prices, to the in-dealership challenges of retention and growth, so much has taken place during this transitional time.  At DealerPeak , we acknowledge and have tracked these changes. Our research team used a first-touch attribution model to analyze data collected from hundreds of rooftops across the U.S. in Q1 2022. The data shows that there is a significant shift in how leads are generated in favor of third party digital retailers, along with an overall increase in online marketplace conversions. It is predicted that continued uncertainty will hover in the market for at least another year or more. With this understanding, DealerPeak expects dealer groups to become even more reliant on third-party organizations for inbound lead support. The Industry Continues to be Tested Q1 of 2022 has shown that issues like dealership inventory, manufacturing stagnancy and inflated prices are continuing to affect conversions and the way in which consumers shop for vehicles. One of the largest obstacles for both manufacturers and dealer groups is the semiconductor chip shortage, a situation that is forecasted to plague the industry through 2024. Lacking inventory plus an impending potential recession means that retailers must get creative and stay optimistic. Smaller brands with smaller market share are having an easier time keeping up with it all. Mazda and Maserati, for example, are able to achieve a much higher conversion rate compared to other manufacturers as they offer greater vehicle availability.  One Emerging Trend to Avoid Dealers are looking to cut costs. It’s inevitable during a challenging time, however DealerPeak has identified a major trend to avoid. In Q1 2022, website provider conversion rates dropped across the board. This is attributed to the fact there has been less incentive for dealer groups to maintain their websites based on the current market conditions, coupled with less need to generate dealership foot traffic. We believe maintaining a strong website is vital for long-term success. The best performing website providers offer buyer-focused features such as chatbots, digital engagement, and embedded digital retailing tools. What the Future Holds for Automotive Resilience and adaptability are common themes among dealer leadership in 2022. Seeking opportunities wherever they arise is now essential to annual planning, and that may mean expanding partnerships with third party groups. As mentioned, third-party leads dominate as a primary lead source because these platforms have a large variety of vehicle inventory to share with buyers. Organizations and groups that can evolve from “me” to “we” will go far in this new chapter of automotive innovation. There was also an increase in overall conversion rates for marketplaces like Autotrader compared to recent quarters. Online marketplaces allow consumers to shop and compare across all available inventory in the market - an asset in an economy where on-location dealership selection is low. This gives the buyer a sense of opportunity and control, keeping shopping frustrations to a minimum. Autotrader performs better than other marketplaces due to a large, high-converting database of vehicles. Thanks to high-ranking SEO and brand recognition, they attract abundant amounts of consumer traffic.  Support is Available Now DealerPeak is an exclusive auto dealer CRM specializing in centralized data for multi-franchise dealer groups that provides real-time insights. It's our duty to help dealerships and vendor partners succeed - and this is more important than ever in times of uncertainty. We hope you found the information to be helpful in your late-quarter 2022 and early 2023 planning. Please reach out with questions or to learn more about our CRM, Desking, Equity Awareness, or Open API programs. This article was contributed by Zach Ferres , Board Chairman of Dealerpeak, in partnership with Laurie Halter, Dealer Marketing Magazine Expert Panelist and Owner of Charisma! Communications.
Bucket Filler or Bucket Dipper?

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There are two types of people in life.  Bucket dippers and bucket fillers. People that invest into others and pour their time, effort & energy into helping, fixing and developing others, are bucket fillers. The people who continue to simply take from and not give to others, are bucket dippers.  Bucket fillers typically use kind words. They are inclusive and work well together with others. They have manners and say things like, “please and thank you” and “I’m sorry”. They like to share and are generous with what they have and don’t live with expectations of reciprocity.  They ask lots of questions and actually listen to the answers without constant interruption, because they are being present and engaging. They will continue to help others, even when it is not deserved. They will push through tough times, because they see the good in others and they know they have the ability to be the light. Bucket fillers ARE the light.  They are the good energy people to whom everyone is naturally drawn.  Bucket dippers are the opposite. They are the ones who steal the light. They are the vampirical form of the worst of us. They typically have low self-esteem. They consume the energy and emotional gifts from those upon whom they prey. They are typically very selfish, lazy individuals who proudly admit to it. They can’t tell the truth easily and engage in selective omission. They are people who are constantly behaving in ways proven to be self-serving, allowing them to deceive people opportunistically. They are narcissists. Sometimes, they are gas lighters, the WORST ones. They frequently blame others and have a difficult time admitting they are wrong, not only to themselves but others as well. They are messy. They don’t share. They rarely offer to pay for things. They are takers.  You get the idea? Terrible people. Bucket dippers typically don’t have a knowing problem. They have a doing problem. It is totally controllable and correctable if you are on the wrong side of the bucket.  In the dealership world, as a manager, your job is to build up your team. Your job is to connect with and engage with all of the people on your team. It is your sole responsibility to make sure the people on your team have the right words of affirmation and quality time spent with them to feel valued and appreciated. Those managers who pump up the team and bring the positive energy to the store daily have happier, more productive members of the team.  The managers who treat their team like brown shoes, are the worst kind you can be. They are the reason that salespeople quit their jobs. They make the people on their team feel guilty for no reason. They offer nothing of value in terms of compassion or support. They make people on their team feel bad, and question everything.  Eventually the people on the team feel like they have gone crazy and after losing countless nights of sleep, they wake up one day and decide, no more.  If you want to take your team to the next level, it starts with you.   I encourage you to take the bucket filler pledge When you wake up in the morning, as part of your daily mindset routine, remind yourself that you will do your best to be a bucket filler at the dealership, at home, and everywhere you go. You will feel better about yourself, knowing you chose to do the next right thing. This will yield a lifetime filled with meaningful relationships, as opposed to running through friends, relationships and customers simply as transactions. This is what takes you from being average to becoming a polished professional.
Building Summits: Creating value through Networks

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We sat down with Pam Walter, the VP of Business Development for Thought Leadership Summits, the producer of CXAUTO Summit Series and Founder of MAPconnected Membership Forum and the VEHICLE SERVICE & WARRANTY LIFECYCLE Summit. Pam is remarkable in the way in which she engages with people and has helped build a brand and community that is changing the way that the automotive industry comes together. How has the last couple of years affected the CXAUTO Summits? At the start of 2020, we had already begun planning for the CXAUTO summits in June. I never thought that we would need to go virtual. We kept moving the date out until we realized that things were not changing, in fact, the restrictions were becoming more severe as the year progressed. We had to adapt our strategy to support our brand and our community. It took a lot of work, coordination and relationship management; we were just not set up for virtual conferencing and it required a lot of effort and understanding to make it successful. After CXAUTO2020, I had considered what we had achieved and was grateful that we had been able to adapt our model and make it work. That said, I never in my wildest dreams imagined that we would need to do it all over again, virtually, the following year. When CXAUTO2022 was in its planning phase, we decided to focus on in-person fully and decided not to adopt a hybrid model and include digital. It may have been more accommodating to those who are still not traveling but based on our brand, our audience and our business platform, it made more sense to create an exclusive and closed environment in which to share and meet people. What was different about this years’ summits in comparison to those held, in-person, in previous years? There was a distinct sense of appreciation for creating an environment for people to connect in-person, to shake hands, to step out from behind their computer screens and connect once again with people. Attending an event in-person, forces you to be fully present without the distractions that come with digital technology being the sole environment to connect. It really created the opportunity to share, engage and network. What makes CXAUTO different? There are many conferences that take place in our industry, there is a huge market and an incredibly diverse ecosystem within automotive. As a smaller and select group, our events allow for everyone to experience direct access. Anyone they want to speak to is available and so you are able to create relationships with people easily and the quality of the engagement is beyond that which can be experienced at large events or in a different environment. We have found that based on the exclusive environment that we create, everyone in attendance, as well as our sponsors, come prepared to share and receive thought leadership and experience something very personal and unique. How did CXAUTO come to be, how did you come to build this brand and create these experiences? I specialize in automotive and have been running CXAUTO within the Thought Leadership Summit brand for the last 6 years. I think that traditionally, my role represents a very transactional function. However, I am fully invested in each person who forms part of our ecosystem, I truly want everyone to benefit from participating and attending. I truly care about people, their brands and their business. My distinct specialty is relationship marketing and having built my foundation in the hospitality industry, I am able to bring something different to the table. I stay in touch with our network and really focus on sharing the experience with everyone in it. For the most part, we have an exceptionally high retention rate based on the experience we create and the relationships that we build. In terms of my own story, I spent the late 1990’s and early 2000s in Chicago working for Hyatt Hotels. I was selected for the Executive Committee, Director of Catering role to re-open the flagship Park Hyatt on Water Tower Square and was really on top of my game. My husband was approached by his company to launch a program which he had started in the US, over in Europe. What was meant to be a 2-year sabbatical had turned into a 15-year European Adventure and it forced me to look at other career opportunities. It was at that time, living in Amsterdam, that I got my first taste of being a hotel customer while creating and hosting pan-European business to business conferences in key cities such as Amsterdam, Barcelona, Brussels, Berlin and Paris. Living abroad and working extensively while immersed in different cultures changed our lives. It was such an incredible opportunity and experience. When we returned to the US, I knew that I wanted to continue to focus on automotive conferencing and that I wanted to do it through building real human relationships. What is up next in the calendar? Well the dates for CXAUTO2023 have been confirmed and we will be back at the Ritz-Carlton Marina DelRey next year June 20-22 but until then, I am really focused on MAPconnected Members Forum which I started in 2021. It is a network of executives responsible for the warranty lifecycle: warranty, aftersales, aftercare, technical services; all the way from the manufacturer’s warranty through to additional extended warranty and financial services products. There are a lot of events focused on marketing and new and used car sales which get a lot of attention in the industry but very limited attention and forums for warranty and technical services peer networking and benchmarking: which is a huge expense for manufacturers besides raw materials.   MAPconnected was created for this reason and offers different levels of membership and varying packages which allow for single or multi user executives who are interested in connecting with like-minded people. The MAPconnected model provides monthly small virtual benchmarking and sponsored webinars, and our messaging forum allows you to further communicate as well through private and group threads throughout the entire year.  And, the annual summit, VEHICLE SERVICE & WARRANTY LIFECYCLE Summit will be taking place October 25th and 26th at The Southfield Westin in Detroit, open to leading automotive, powersport, bus, truck, construction and agricultural equipment OEMs, Parts & Equipment Suppliers, their Retailers, Dealers, Distributors, Logistics & Services Providers.  We have a really exciting lineup of 35+ speakers who will be sharing case studies on Strengthening Your Warranty Roadmap in a Customer-First-Connected-World focused on 7 core topic pillars including: Warranty & Quality Strategy – Connected Customer & Recall Strategy – Financial Services & Extended Warranty – Service Operations & Parts – Legal & Regulatory Compliance – EV Warranties & New Services – Technical & Field Service Ops Take advantage of the July early bird special and receive 2 tickets for the price of 1 through July 15th.   Reserve & Read more here: www.mapconnected.com Pam Walter LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/pam-walter-4aa9143/
Communication Has Changed: A Conversation with Joe Shaker

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How do you interview someone who is truly an industry heavyweight, a Massachusetts Dealer of the Year, the CEO of a Tech Company, and who has been interviewed so many times before? You prepare. And then you scrap your prep notes and questions and you allow magic to happen.  “I think the first-mover advantage is the first person to learn, right? Whoever learns first, has the advantage, and we've learned a lot.” Meet Joe Shaker , owner of the Shaker Auto Group and the CEO of TruVideo . Someone who is “trying not to be famous,” doesn’t exist on LinkedIn and openly shares his story with honest excitement, energy and a formidable presence that, honestly, left us invigorated.  Below is his story, in preparation for CXAUTO2022 . When I tell the story, I tell it from a point of: these are the real problems, this is what we've learned and this is what we did when we learned it. And then guess what? We learned something else. So when I say it's genuine, it's actually true. I wanted customers to see what they're paying for. What is being disrupted, what is changing? Communication is changing.  I think one of the key things that I like to remind people, and what I've learned myself, is that we forget about the big picture. Sometimes when we're talking about service or sales we get focussed on details that don’t matter. I tell Dealers: don’t change the way you do business, change the way you communicate.   Overall, 95% of customer experience is largely embedded in how well or how poorly you communicate. So we need to really focus on how we communicate and what it is that we are communicating. I like to joke around with the OEMs. I love it when I go to the meetings and people talk about trust and transparency or when the marketing team talks about meeting people on “their terms”: Yeah, just a quick question. How do you deliver on that? How would I execute that? Oh, you don't know. You're just saying that. Okay, great. Thanks for the punchline. So what we end up doing is going back to the theory without an execution model, but we can solve these problems! The stars have aligned for TruVideo and the reason I say that is because texting is the most used function on a phone and 10 billion videos are being watched daily on Facebook alone. Customer behavior has fallen inline for us, and with phones now taking high quality video, there has been an alignment between consumer behavior and technology. Asynchronous communication is how customers want to communicate. They love it, they click on it, they open it and, if you want to do business with a customer, it's the best way to maintain a relationship based on all the data and stats. Also, because of where we are in this journey, we can now also see how customers are interacting with the communication.  If we take it a step further, focussing on the customer experience, CX personalisation is probably the strongest underpinning right now. Video has provided this personalization which has allowed these communications to explode on the customer experience front as well as dealer revenue. Simultaneously, you get to take two bites out of the same apple. “TruVideo really took off within the sales department of forward thinking Dealers” We have a case study that analyzed 16 stores, within a large group, during December of 2020. The case study showed that when you sent the video to a customer that personalized their experience, the appointment set rate and show rate, both increased. We all know that when we are talking about leads and customers, we are looking at how many leads were generated, how many appointments were made, how many were confirmed and how many customers showed up to those appointments. The next layer, percentage wise, is how many vehicles were sold after this whole process. Any change on any level, with any of those factors, makes the number at the bottom go nuts because it’s a multiplier.  Well, with the case study group, they sent out just under 7000 videos and sold around 560 more cars during COVID than they did prior to the pandemic in December 2019. We started to realize that so many people were watching the videos over and over again and sharing them, we realized this data is actually more valuable than the website data. We can send videos, we can scrape words and phrases, we can really grab all this rich analytics and data and reach customers.  How are you able to manage your duties within Shaker Auto Group as well as deliver on your goals as CEO of TruVideo? One of my favorite quotes is: “Commit to the process, and surrender to the result.” Our Business, the car business, has been largely built around processes. When we hire, we share our process, our system, which we are willing to hire into. It is not a blank slate. We are willing to hire you to work within this ecosystem and we have spent a lot of time creating a systems and process driven environment. This means that hiring correctly and training people to thrive within our environment, really is our big picture.  We do behavioral profiling so that we get the right fit within the environment and we also have a different way of paying our people versus other Dealers. The reality is that someone like me is usually buying more stores to grow further. I have chosen to diversify what I do and how I do things through software and technology. I have a great management team that we have cultivated in order to run the process environment and this allows me to grow in different ways typical to the industry.  In an environment where everybody is focussed on training, how do you truly integrate training into your environment? Theory without execution is hallucination, and I don’t like to hallucinate. People do and say things, buzzwords, but don’t execute on them. When people say they do training, I want to know what that means. Usually, theoretically they are right but I want to understand how they execute on these things. And I think that's really the secret; we won't sign up with vendors if we don't believe we, as the dealership, can execute on it. There is a difference between those who flippantly use  training  as a component of their operations and ourselves. It’s part of our system, our process, it’s a religion with us. What can we expect at CXAUTO2022 TruVideo has really been an incredible experience for us and some of what I'll be talking about at the Event is  conversational commerce ; what it is and how we found ourselves there. We knew we were doing something different but found out that the concept existed, we were just executing it in a very unique way. When we started learning about the communication chain, we realized everyone was getting the same message. We had to fix that and, then, that’s when we really started learning. We spent the first few years really focussed on solving the customer problem. The word  engagement  slips in all the time but when we really think about it, has the message been delivered and not just the text lines? Maybe we know the open rate of an email, but do we really know anything else? “I want to talk to the Doctor, not to the Receptionist” In 2021 we released the ROVI Report; We wanted to share data from our first 7 million videos. One OEM partner that shared data with us showed us  a 1.1 million repair order sample. The ROs that had video were $55 more, and, simultaneously increased CX scores. Customer “Intent to Return”, went up 4 points on the Net Promoter Score and “Value for Service” went up 3 points on NPS. Some of our OEM partners have exploded on the JD Power Service Index; so we are truly seeing the impact on the customer.  Following the data has shown us that we can not only eradicate doubt, but fix the communication chain. We realised we had data when we saw 35% of videos being shared in service. The inspection from the technician was no longer diluted by going through various people. The same transparent message was now going to the advisor, customer and any friend or confidant.  What matters about data and analytics is: how do we make it actionable? How many times are people watching, sharing, what is the real time data? We can show that through our dashboard, allowing managers to know what they need and allowing the Dealer to control the communication.  Our high-energy conversation ended with us sharing our personal views on how the world needs  more . More communication, more technicians, more perspective, more creativity and more acceptance of differing skills. Especially when it comes to breaking negative cycles through inclusive thinking.  See Joe live at the CXAUTO2022 in Marina Del-Rey next month! We would highly recommend it!
Curing your COVID Hangover

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If you ordered a new vehicle and were told it could take a few weeks to come in, and all you had to do was leave a deposit and wait, you’d be pretty excited right? Well, what happens when a post pandemic global chip shortage starts to squeeze automakers’ abilities to deliver their vehicles to their dealer network? Dealers are now delayed in scheduling retail deliveries with their customers, and have to disclose missing items. The chip shortage is creating catastrophic wait times, crippling dealers’ ability to offer vehicles containing the high-tech features many customers want. The outward-sensors are controlled by microchip processors and therefore some manufacturers are building vehicles without the features altogether. Others are simply pausing production. Either way, it’s not a happy problem to have. There are a variety of anomalies occurring in the automotive industry currently. The biggest challenges we face include: managing customer expectations, factory constraints, and used vehicle valuations skewed by current market conditions. The values, because of low supply, are at an all-time high. Meanwhile, increasing delays leave some customers wanting to back out of their orders. The others customers remain waiting weeks and months more. When they do finally take delivery, the sales process suffers greatly. In the customer’s mind, they were lied to and ignored. They are extremely frustrated. They are anxious about getting their new vehicle. Increases in MSRP and egregious dealer addendums, have customers feeling squeezed by the charlatans. After being ignored by their salesperson for the last few months, they have no patience left for our process and they certainly aren’t interested in spending extra time in the business office listening to our pitch. The customer has the cashier’s check in hand, made out to the penny, and can’t wait to torch you on the factory survey. Those customers are also highly likely to leave a really nice 1-Star Google or DealerRater review. Did I miss anything? Vehicle sales plummeted to some of the lowest levels at the start of COVID and now that we have sold through the bloated inventory, we struggle to build back up again. We are reminded that after enduring what we have all experienced during this pandemic, including its shortage repercussions, people’s psyches have changed. Not only our employees, but our customers too! It’s time to re-adjust our approach, our attitudes, and our actions.  To fix this, we start with an attitude adjustment and increasing the amount of engagement. Simply reach out periodically with updates, and let your customers know what’s happening. It makes people feel nice when you call or text them. It makes them feel like a priority. They are happy you didn’t forget them and they know someone is paying attention to their vehicle and its arrival date. We change our negative attitudes regarding low inventory, it’s low everywhere. Next, pay attention to our appearances and the vibe we give off. When people are dropping $100,000 on a new Escalade, they want to know we care about their purchase. Finally, take action! Start realizing one of the biggest perks our industry is experiencing - low volume and high profits.  How fortunate are we? You’ve never had to sell fewer vehicles for more gross profit in history. Commissions are at an all-time high and life is pretty good considering. Get excited about having more time to spend with each customer. During busy times when we give cars away for little to no profit, we are always rushed. We never seem to get quality time, connecting with them and solidifying meaningful relationships. If you spend extra time with customers now, you can set clearer expectations. This allows you to manage communication more effectively during the waiting process. This ensures the delivery is more successful and brings the customer back again for their future purchases in sales and service. It’s time to get re-connected with our customers and stay there.  
Mobile Shopping is Impacting Online Parts Sales

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For millions of people, shopping online has become the preferred method, especially over the past two years since the start of the pandemic. However, just because things have begun to look more normal doesn’t mean people are giving up their shopping habits. The rise in online purchases across all retail industries has caused many retailers to pivot their strategy to a fully optimized buying experience. This pivot has not escaped the automotive industry as new franchised dealers turn to eCommerce to drive additional revenue. However, recent data also shows that if dealers want to maximize online efforts, they need to keep the mobile experience in mind.   Don’t Ignore The Data A recent report from  RevolutionParts  that looked at the shopping behavior of over 100 million online parts shoppers showed that nearly 59% of consumers shopped for parts through a mobile device, marking a nearly 5% increase in mobile shoppers from 2020. Mobile users spent an average of $168 in parts orders and made up a little over $204k in total revenue for dealers signed up with RevolutionParts in 2021.  Not only were more shoppers searching for parts through mobile, but they were also purchasing more often, with 1.2k transactions made through mobile compared to 1.1k transactions made through desktop.  Although in 2020, we saw more shoppers searching for parts using mobile. However, 2021 marked the first year more consumers completed their purchases through mobile devices. What Does This Mean For the Parts Department? The dealership’s online parts business needs to be mobile-friendly. This rise in mobile purchases means dealerships will have to include mobile shopping in their online parts strategy and understand their customer’s mobile shopping experience.  Building an online parts business where the mobile experience is lacking will cost the parts department sales. Ignoring the data in the report mentioned above could lead to losing half of the department’s potential online sales. To ensure customers have the best online shopping experience when shopping from their mobile device, you need to make sure that the mobile version of the parts web store meets specific criteria. Otherwise, when a customer lands on the parts website, they may not know how to navigate the site to find what they are looking for, or they may have difficulty inputting their information and checking out. A poorly made mobile version can also confuse mobile shoppers, especially if it is visually unappealing, the text is difficult to read, or links don’t work. When building an online parts business, there are certain qualities you want from the mobile version of the website:  -       Easy to navigate  -       Quick load time -       Text is easy to read -       Visually appealing on a small screen -       Links are easily clickable -       Forms are easy to fill out Ensuring an online parts store is mobile-friendly is a must. A mobile-friendly parts site with these qualities is more likely to increase parts sales and deliver higher customer satisfaction.  Mobile shopping isn’t the future of shopping; it’s already here and growing. If the parts department wants to build a successful online parts business and capture more sales, the data shows that implementing a mobile-friendly shopping experience is a must. Get the Full 2022 eCommerce Shopper Behavior Report The RevolutionParts  2022 eCommerce Shopper Behavior Report  gives parts sellers insight into the behavior online auto parts customers, devices they shop from, how much they are spending, and demographics. To view the full report, visit: https://www.revolutionparts.com/