Aja Goldey

Bespoke Auto Marketing Strategist | RPM Marketing & DealerApps

Combining her love for the car business, a passion for marketing, and over 20 years of experience in retail automotive, Aja has earned a reputation of success by helping clients build solid marketing foundations. Leading with a unique hands-on approach, and focusing on caring for the basics before spending, Aja has guided dealerships and ad agencies to strategies resulting in greater profit and customer retention with lowered expenses. 

In 2020, Covid made a ripple effect across the vendor side of the auto industry; Aja found herself serving the automotive industry in new ways. Vendors and dealers reached out for guidance and coaching, during this time relationships grew, and Aja found a new passion serving automotive in a different capacity. 

Aja continues to consult on marketing, strategies, and creative solutions with customized service offerings. Teamed up with DealerApps, a leader in response capturing and tracking, Aja shares her expertise with agencies and dealerships alike. Aja looks forward to sharing real-world experience, practical easily implemented solutions and back-to-basics insights with the readers of Dealer Marketing Magazine.

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.  
Changing the Narrative to Sustainable Profit

By

Sustainable profit - Profit which everyone benefits from, growth driven by things you become. Unsustainable profit - Where one group benefits at the expense of another, growth driven by things you do. I can vividly remember discussing a car deal with a sales manager and him telling me, “Get all the profit you can, it’s not like they are going to be back to buy another one.” To me, coming from a Ford store in Michigan where most buyers were A-plan and exceptional customer experience is what made loyal customers, this statement hit hard, I could not believe my ears. Years later, after starting my own agency, I considered also starting Unsustainable Business Models Anonymous, I jest. You see, it is not the business model, because no dealership sets out to provide a poor experience for their customers, they just do not have a plan in place not to. The biggest difference in sustainable and unsustainable profit is how we get there. Sustainable profit is growth driven by what we become; unsustainable profit is driven by things we do. One key factor is the view of profit and loss. A sustainable view begins with an action that takes care of everyone from within and grows by influencing others to join. Unsustainable profit represents a pessimistic and single-minded view of life, where the primary goal is survival. Objectification places people in an out-group vs in-group dynamic, where competition exists, hence scarcity. Sustainable businesses have a solid foundation to prove it, they invest in assets that work for them in present and future conditions, allowing them to achieve new objectives. Today’s customers are looking for more than just a functional vehicle. Vehicles and the ownership experience must satisfy other critical needs as well; both physical and emotional. From the moment a customer enters your dealership, you have an opportunity to make an investment in their lives and in return get more than just profit. Sustainable profit is more than just numbers on a sheet. Sustainability is being honest and open with your customers so they can see you as human beings, not just as participants in a transaction. As such, sustainable profit is best realized in the long term by building trust and relationships along the entire lifecycle of a customer. This process begins at that first meeting when that customer enters your dealership and continues until long after the sale. So, where do you start to build a model of sustainable profit? Where can dealerships make investments everyone, including customers, can benefit from? Where results are realized in both the short term and long term. On the sales side, leading with pricing based sale or themed sale is an example of something you do vs something you become. These types of events, while profitable, when not conducted properly are band-aid solutions. For sales, focusing on finding ways to serve your customers in a way which positively impacts their lives, an example, working with a diverse credit group. Investing time and effort in customers with less than perfect credit will grow loyal relationships. You would be amazed at how deeply reliable transportation can impact a person’s life. Benefits of working with a diverse credit group include deepened relationships with your customers, wider market reach, and increased customer satisfaction as reach to meet customer needs. This is an opportunity to increase your sales and serve a greater customer base.  An even greater opportunity lies in Fixed Ops, sorry Sales I still love you! If you want to focus on the long-term sales, Service Advisors are the individuals with the most customer contact, largest impact on CSI, greatest opportunity for gross, and a major factor in whether a customer will return to make a vehicle purchase. Service Advisors are the first, and sometimes only, dealership’s representatives customers have contact with during their time at your location. They are the first impression of a dealership and can create trust through information gathering and interactions that lead to a successful purchase, or distrust that leads to an unsatisfied customer. We have all heard the adage, "Sell the sizzle, not the sausage." I am here to tell you that in most dealerships we have drifted from that process. Customers want value and they want options, so we must pay attention to both needs while interacting with our service customers.  What is a stellar Service Advisor without a solid Technician? Wait, those are in ridiculously high demand you say? Ahhh, yes, so you have an opportunity for an advantage if you are bold. This is going to come down to pay, culture, and resources, not necessarily in that order. When you find a technician with experience, strong training and customer service skills, honesty, and a love for what they do - you have a unicorn. These unicorn technicians are those that go beyond the call of duty, they can be a rock for a team. Not only do they keep your core services running, but a great one is also a living, breathing documentation library on your systems - documenting loose ends and potential pit falls. Find the best techs, unicorns if you can, and do what you can to get and keep them - you will never regret this move. In short, growth driven by serving customers, rather than the customer as your competition. Bring your customers along on your journey, help them grow with you.
Connecting & Collaborating to Grow to Boost Your Dealership

By

By now we have become all too familiar with the realities of limited inventory, looking for alternative ways to help customers and create profit can give you the boost you need to get through lean times with a little more ease. With our normal trade-in cycles disrupted, customers are facing expiring warranties, increased maintenance, and repairs. The place customers are still doing business face to face is service, putting extra emphasis on needs discovery and solution sharing in the service drive can benefit the whole dealership. Working Together to Grow When we think about Finance and Service it may seem like they operate in completely different worlds, they should be symbiotic. When was the last time you saw F&I Managers and Service Advisors working together to grow in opportunity areas? There is much to gain from these departments understanding how they can support each other’s growth and working hand-in-hand. Service Advisors are the long-term salespeople in your dealership, they see more customers per day than any other sales point in the store, with the most one-to-one consistent contact with customers they have more opportunity to grow relationships and trust. When it comes to building value in service contracts and warranty products with customers, educating Service Advisors in F&I product areas could be key in planting the seed for future purchases and selling contracts from the service drive. Knowledge is Power Consider the exponential increase you will see in service and warranty contracts when you educate your Service Advisors on your F&I products. “Extended warranty” calls have been a long-standing joke for years, they’ve even been made into memes, there must be people buying when the phone rings for us to keep hearing “I’m calling about your car’s extended warranty”. Often those calls are inconvenient and come when customers are not amid vehicle maintenance or repairs. Imagine this offer coming at a time when it is most needed, while the customer is in the service drive, presented by a trusted source; a knowledgeable Advisor could give customers immediate value, relief from repair costs, and peace of mind. Training is Key Providing your team with training on how to drive F&I products will help Advisors refer to those products and their benefits when working with customers, the more familiar customers are with what the warranty and service products provide, the more likely they are to consider purchasing. Often, when introduced to products in F&I, customers have already been bombarded with purchase information, they get to the service and warranty portion and it is more money, more decisions, and they are overwhelmed. Customers are not always in the right frame of mind to process the value of those products. You do not have to train your Service Advisors to sell like F&I Managers, that is where the F&I team comes in, a referral from the Service Advisor to F&I will allow Finance to finalize the details while the customer’s vehicle is being serviced. Having service Advisors who are knowledgeable on the features and benefits of service and warranty contracts is not just an investment towards increased profitability, it is investing in greater customer satisfaction. When your team on the drive has a complete understanding of the products your customer has purchased in the finance office, it eliminates confusion, frustration, and conflict from misunderstandings over coverage when it comes time for customers to use their products. With added training, advisors are equipped to head off potential complaints and dissatisfaction when they can quickly identify misaligned customer expectations,  Building collaborations between F&I and the Service Drive is a solid investment in the future of your dealership, each department builds value for the other and customer loyalty to the dealership. The two also lay the groundwork for and maintain ongoing long-term profit. 
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.
Building Customer Relationships with Tactile Action-Based Marketing

By

If you’re like most dealers, you invest thousands of dollars each month into various marketing channels. Some of which you may be deploying right now: TV, radio, digital, email, direct mail, social. If you’re not active in your community while building positive connections to your dealership name, and your team, you’re missing out.  I call it tactile action-based marketing, it’s people building relationships in your local community. Your store doesn’t have to be in a small town to make it work or to make a significant impact. I advocate for this type of outreach because it’s hands-on, cause and effect marketing, which builds relationships with both community members and local businesses. It begins with an action on your part, social media is a great launching point, and turns into word of mouth in your community. Done properly, it turns observers into engaged fans. It is also simple, cost-effective, and you can start right now. How does it work? Instead of focusing on the dealership, put the emphasis on your customers and the community, two subjects that hold people’s interest. Consider how many people pass by your dealership on any given day, does seeing your sign or building spark a positive response in them? Imagine building great relationships with people who aren’t even your customers...yet. How do you know if you need to implement tactile action-based marketing? A quick scroll through your Facebook or Instagram will give you the answer. It’s time if your pictures primarily show your staff, vehicles, or vehicle deliveries. If in your advertising, all you talk about is money, it’s time. If your posts are dominated with phrases like: “Here at ABC Dealer” “We want to buy your car” “The 2021 Make Model…” “Our goal is to…” It’s time, right? Your followers will stop paying attention if it’s "the all about you" show. Start by sharing customers’ wins Share about their businesses. How about posting what their children accomplish? Don’t forget to recognize community member’s accomplishments, sports team’s wins, and academic accomplishments. You can be a positive light in your community. Show gratitude Engage your social media followers with #thankfulthursday, each week on social media give away a gift card to a locally owned restaurant or small business. You just made a potential customer happy while supporting and promoting a local small business. Win/Win! Support your schools and teachers whenever possible Not only are you showing the teachers what they do is important, but also, you’re showing the parents you value their children. Parents are especially responsive when someone tries for the benefit of their children. When you say, “We care about providing you an excellent experience at ABC dealership” the community knows this to be true because they have seen your actions in the community. When you say, “We go to bat for you to get you the best interest rate,” this carries weight because you have been going to bat for them in their businesses and their schools. One hand washes the other, see how it works? Let’s start creating an amazing experience all the time though changing your social media approach and building relationships using tactile action-based marketing, you won’t regret it.