Jones Junction Auto Group: The Customer-First strategy that helped them become Central Atlantic’s No.1 Customer-Retention Dealer

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Jones Junction Auto Group: The Customer-First strategy that helped them become Central Atlantic’s No.1 Customer-Retention Dealer 

Ultimately, customers vote with their wallets. This is the simple truth that determines who wins and who loses in every market and this is the foundation for the “customer-first” strategy that has made Jones Junction Auto Group one of the most profitable dealer groups in the country.

Several years ago, when car sales were at an all-time high and virtually every other dealer in the country was focused on marketing and moving metal, Steve Smeltzer, the group’s president and the leadership team for Jones Junction Auto Group made the bold decision to make customer relationships the key to their long-term growth.

“It’s simple”, says Smeltzer, “we don’t have customers. We have clients. We believe every relationship has a lifetime value of $500,000 so we focus on creating an environment that makes it easy for our clients to buy more, service more and refer more.”

The results of this strategy have been amazing. In addition to maintaining profitability through the recession, all 6 Jones Junction dealerships now rank in the top 3 in their zone for volume. Seventy percent of vehicle sales now come from repeat customers and 99 percent of the 1,200 customers they deliver every month are being absorbed into the service department. Gross profits and CSI are also at record highs. So much so that OEMs are taking notice. Jones Junction Toyota is number one in customer retention for the Central Atlantic Region and Chrysler executives were so impressed that they personally visited the dealership to present Jones Chrysler with the coveted “Chrysler Premier Dealership” award.

“The key to our success was combining our “customer-first” culture with a call-management strategy that allowed us to get control of our incoming and outgoing communications”, says Smeltzer. “We can have the best intentions in the world but we are never going to get prospects into the dealership if we don’t handle them properly on the phones.”

Interestingly, the challenges Jones Junction was having before implementing their call-management strategy were very similar to the struggles many dealerships continue to wrestle with on a daily basis.  According to a recent study that monitored over two million sales and service calls in 2012, 39 percent of all incoming calls are missed. Fifty percent of sales calls that do connect end without being asked for an appointment, or contact information. Sadly, most managers are completely unaware of what is happening.

“This information was difficult for me to see at first,” says Smeltzer, “but I knew this was a big opportunity for us. We chose a company that monitors 100 percent of our sales and service calls and gives us the ability to respond in real-time when a call is not handled correctly. This allows us to reengage with our clients before the relationship is damaged and adjust the behavior of our employees so that it does not cost us future business. This has significantly increased the quality of our phone interactions, which results in more appointments, more in-store opportunities, more transactions and higher gross profits.”

In addition to the alerts they receive when something needs correction, Jones Junction Auto Group also receives real-time business intelligence that allows them to see what they are doing right. This combination of fixing what’s broken and duplicating what’s right has had a significant, positive impact on the way calls are managed. Compared with other dealerships, Jones Junction sets 27 percent more sales appointments, 44 percent more service appointments and 42 percent more parts appointments than competitive dealerships.

Here’s how their process works.

First, every incoming call is monitored from start to finish. If anything occurs during the call that needs to be addressed, managers receive an alert on their mobile app or a text message on their mobile phone. After the call is terminated, a call summary is created that includes an overview of everything that was discussed during the conversation. This summary is then delivered into the CRM system along with all of the customer’s contact information, the vehicle the prospect is interested in, the vehicle the prospect is currently driving and a link to the recorded conversation.

Jones Junction uses a centralized call center that monitors the appointment load for every store and manages outbound calls. This call center also has a dedicated team that monitors call activity via a live dashboard and is responsible for responding to alerts and reconnecting with clients who get lost in the phone tree, hang up while on hold, get disconnected, or have been accidentally mishandled. As a result of this process, those calling a Jones Junction store are 2 times more likely to speak with a live person than customers calling a competitive dealership.

All dealership managers are equipped with a mobile app and a web-based dashboard that gives them real-time visibility into all of the dealership’s call activity, how each rep is handling their calls, the number of appointments being set, and how alerts are being addressed.

Smeltzer also receives weekly and monthly Enterprise Reports, by franchise, that enable him to not only quickly spot areas that require more attention, but also maintain a healthy competition among the Jones Junction GMs by acknowledging those with the best results.

Finally, Jones Junction Auto Group meets regularly with their call-management company to constantly refine their processes. “We have conference calls every two weeks with CallRevu (the company that provides Jones Junction’s call-management services) to review our progress and get insights on how we can improve,” says Smeltzer. “The ongoing training we receive from them is a big part of our success.”

A wise person once said that we all ultimately rise or fall to level of our relationships. This is certainly true for Steve Smeltzer and the team at Jones Junction Auto Group who are reaping the rewards from their “customer-first” strategy. Their commitment to their customers and their dedication to their call-management strategy is allowing them to get more appointments from the same number of calls and get more gross profit from the same number of customers but, most importantly, it is allowing them to offer superior customer service as part of their competitive advantage.

In the Bel Air, Maryland market, car buyers have many choices regarding where they spend their automotive dollars. However, many of them are voting for Jones Junction in the way that matters most – with their wallets.

In a Nut-Shell

  • Adopted a “Customer-First” approach to create a customer-focused environment throughout their dealership that fosters long-term customer relationships.
  • Implemented a call monitoring system to monitor, review, transcribe and report on call activity to improve how customers are handled in every department and to serve as a training tool to improve dealership and employee best practices.
  • Partnered with a strategic call monitoring service, www.CallRevu.com, to monitor all their calls and provide daily updates and text alerts in real-time to save deals and improve CSI.

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Rick Case Honda of Davie Doubles Sales Opportunities and Increases Gross Profits by $200K a Month without Spending a Single Extra Dollar in Advertising

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Rick Case Honda of Davie Doubles Sales Opportunities and Increases Gross Profits by $200K a Month without Spending a Single Extra Dollar in Advertising

Converting calls into customers is the common goal of every dealership in the country. However, after spending hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to make the phones ring, the average dealership connects less than 50 percent of its incoming calls with the intended agent, and more often than not fails to obtain enough customer contact information to conduct worthwhile follow up or future marketing campaigns.

Rick Case Honda of Davie, the No.1 Honda dealership in the Southeast and the No.1 gross-profit Honda store in the country, set out to conquer this industry-wide problem by implementing an intelligent call-management strategy that enables the dealership to put missed opportunities back in play, fill-in missing contact information and accurately load incoming sales opportunities into their CRM where people and processes can increase the number of sales each marketing dollar generates.

“This strategy took a huge problem and turned it into a huge competitive advantage,” said Richard Bustillo, General Manager of Rick Case Honda of Davie. “We now have the ability to take action in areas where our competition is completely blind. This has nearly doubled the value of our marketing dollars and, more importantly, has helped us convert frustrated customers into raving fans.”

Just 12 months ago, over 40 percent of Rick Case Honda’s incoming calls were lost or terminated by the customer before they reached the desired location. This included customers who terminated the call after being left on hold, customers who were transferred to the wrong department, as well as a variety of other undesireable scenarios.

“This may sound strange to some, but when I realized what was happening, I got pumped up,” said Bustillo. “For the first time, we not only had a way to see where we were disappointing our customers but we also had a way to reconnect with these customers before we damaged these relationships.”

The comprehensive strategy that Bustillo and his team use focuses on three critical profit leaks that were undermining the effectiveness of their advertising budget. As a result, the same number of incoming calls now puts twice as many sales opportunities into their CRM while adding more than $200,000 in gross profits to their bottom line.

To illustrate the significance of this new strategy, the following breakdown highlights Rick Case Honda of Davie’s three part call-management strategy and how it has significantly affected their numbers.

Part 1: Increase the number of customers that connect with the dealership

In September of 2012, Rick Case Honda of Davie received approximately 3,500 calls from their tracking numbers. Fifteen percent (550) of these calls terminated before connecting with a human being. Forty percent (1,400) of the remaining 2,950 were mishandled and/or terminated without getting the customer’s contact information. This meant that only 45 percent (1,575) of the total incoming calls were actually connecting with the proper person in the proper department.

In many dealerships these calls would have been lost, but because Rick Case Honda uses an intuitive call-management system that monitors all calls, not just connected calls, the dealership receives alerts in real-time when calls are missed or mishandled. These real-time alerts go directly to dedicated staff members who quickly re-engage the customers before they become lost opportunities and make it possible for Rick Case Honda of Davie to recapture 65 percent (1,251) of their missed and mishandled opportunities – effectively connecting them with a staggering 81 percent of their customers.

Since sales calls make up 25 percent of all incoming calls at Rick Case Honda of Davie, this translates to approximately 707 sales opportunities, 313 more than their previous process. Eleven percent (78) of the customers who spoke to a sales person actually purchased a vehicle. Thus, 629 sales opportunities remain in need of follow up.

Part 2: Increase the number of sales opportunities with accurate name and contact information

Of the remaining 629 sales opportunities that did not purchase a vehicle, 40 percent (283) had missing or incomplete customer information. To avoid losing these opportunities, Rick Case Honda’s call-management system uses a proprietary technology that matches incomplete customer records against national cell phone directories and NCOA databases before loading leads into their CRM. On average, this process completes 60 percent of their incomplete customer records. In September, this unique, proprietary technology delivered an additional 170 confirmed prospects.

“This is incredibly important,” said Bustillo. “Seventy percent of customers call our dealership from their cell phones so most reverse lookup systems would completely miss this.”

Part 3: Increase the number of opportunities included in follow up processes

Before implementing their new call-management strategy, Rick Case Honda of Davie entered approximately 60 percent of incoming calls into their CRM system. Although they were performing much higher than the industry average, this was costing the dealership over 200 follow up opportunities each month. To overcome this challenge, their call-management partner uses a revolutionary, proprietary technology that accurately loads over 85 percent (309) of incoming sales calls into their CRM. The sum total of these incremental increases has doubled their active sales opportunities on a monthly basis with game-changing results.

“This system operates at a completely different level,” said Bustillo. “It automatically assigns incoming calls to the sales person named in the call. It automatically cross-references every call with our existing opportunities and ad sources to avoid duplicate entries, and it automatically inserts call summaries, alerts and links to the recordings into our CRM in a way that’s easy to read – and it’s all done in real-time.”

These automated processes are all part of the comprehensive, intuitive call-management platform that has helped to dramatically improve the dealership’s internal processes.

Brian Kane, BDC Manager for Rick Case Honda of Davie, shares Bustillo’s enthusiasm for their call-management strategy and points out that this new call-management technology has had a significant impact on the efficiency of their call center, “I used to spend 25 percent of my day de-duping our CRM,” said Kane. “This cuts out a lot of that busy work so I can focus on selling cars.”

When one looks at the effectiveness and results generated by this three-part call-management strategy, it is easy to see how any one of these efforts would provide a noticeable boost in most dealerships. However, the combined benefits of all three parts seamlessly working together from a single technology platform are nothing less than extraordinary, as they have produced measurable growth in every profit center at Rick Casa Honda of Davie.

When asked about the impact this new call-management strategy has had on his business, Bustillo answers in very black and white terms. “It’s simple. Before we implemented this strategy I connected with 45 percent of my incoming calls and generated approximately $266,000 in gross profit. Now, I connect with 81 percent of my incoming calls and generate over $475,000 in gross profit from the same 3,500 calls – all without spending a single extra dollar in advertising. That’s $2.5 million a year that I would have otherwise left on the table.”

“It’s hard to argue with the math. Capitalizing on missed and mishandled phone calls is a huge opportunity,” said Chip King, Managing Partner of www.CallRevu.com, the call-management partner that Rick Case Honda of Davie uses. “Bustillo and his team aggressively stepped up to an industry-wide problem that plagues auto dealers and knocked it out of the park – to the tune of a couple ‘extra’ million dollars annually.”

The average dealership misses or mishandles over 50 percent of their incoming calls. Rick Case Honda of Davie solved this problem by implementing a comprehensive call-management strategy that allows them to connect, convert and keep significantly more of their opportunities. This three-part strategy has increased monthly gross profits by over $200,000 by increasing the number of customers that connect with their dealership, improving the quality of their customer data and increasing the number of opportunities that are accurately posted to their CRM.

In A Nutshell

Rick Case Honda of Davie Doubles Sales Opportunities and Increases Gross Profits by $200K a Month without Spending a Single Extra Dollar in Advertising

  • Increased the number of calls connecting with their customers by using an intelligent call-management strategy that enables them to quickly re-engage lost, dropped or misdirected calls before they become lost opportunities.
  • Improved the quality of sales opportunities by using a proprietary technology that detects incomplete customer records and automatically appends missing data before submitting leads into their CRM.
  • Increased the number of customers included in follow up activities by using an intuitive system that automatically cross-references every call with existing opportunities and ad sources and accurately posts incoming calls into their CRM
  • Partnered with a call-management expert, www.CallRevu.com, to implement a phone strategy that has effectively doubled their sales opportunities and increased gross profits by $200K a month, without spending a single extra dollar in advertising.

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Acton Toyota of Littleton Saves 3 to 4 Deals a Day with New Call Monitoring System

Acton Toyota of Littleton Saves 3 to 4 Deals a Day with New Call Monitoring System

The phone can be a problematic blind spot in the dealership where customers and profits are lost in every department, every hour of every business day. Dealers spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each year on advertising to get their phones to ring, yet many fail to invest in a process to effectively monitor the way their advertising leads are handled once a call comes into the dealership.

Too often, representatives who answer the phone, regardless of department, mishandle customers and not only lose deals for today, but potentially lose customers for life. Subsequently, the phone system can be one of the biggest profit leaks a dealership consistently faces.

Recognizing this systemic problem, many dealers try to have their management team listen to all recorded inbound calls, but the effort proves to be mathematically impossible. With hundreds of calls coming in over a busy weekend by the time an opportunity opens during the week to catch up on reviewing calls it’s too late to save deals or repair CSI concerns. Sporadic spot checks also prove to be ineffective because it means that for the few calls that are actually reviewed and responded to in a timely manner, the majority of calls go unchecked.

Acton Toyota of Littleton, located just outside the Boston metro market, has long subscribed to a monitoring service that recorded all their calls, but it left the dealership facing the same ongoing issue: high call volume with little time and manpower to review calls. Recognizing the phone was an area in need of more attention, Acton Toyota implemented a new call monitoring system that now monitors every incoming call with live call center operators who score each call and notify Acton Toyota’s management team with text alerts to their smart phones whenever a call is mishandled.

“This new system has been eye-opening and extremely enlightening for our managers,” said Mike Hills, General Manager of the Acton Toyota store. “It was amazing to see how poorly calls were being handled. We just didn‘t realize how big a problem we had, but now we receive real-time alerts that allow our managers to immediately address problematic calls and help coach the sales team on the spot.”

“There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t save 3 or 4 deals with an immediate callback to the customer from the manager,” said Glenn Hoffman, Assistant General Manager.

The real-time text alerts quickly highlighted some of the biggest trouble spots for the Acton Toyota store, as with so many dealers: sales calls were not reaching a sales rep in a timely manner resulting in hang-ups, calls were incorrectly routed after-hours, calls were being sent to voicemail of which many elected to leave no message, connected calls were being ‘off-lined’ for a call back, and a low percentage of sales calls were resulting in appointments. Now managers are able to readily step-in, follow up on any misdirected or lost calls and address issues with the sales rep right away. Acton Toyota’s managers are proactive in coaching a sales rep when the lost opportunity is timely and relevant and then they quickly follow up with the customer and set the appointment.

Daily, weekly and monthly reports further provide valuable information like the individual closing rates for sales reps which has helped to improve the overall performance and accountability of the sales team.

“This gives us a huge competitive advantage. Being able to immediately coach our sales reps on how to better handle a sales lead has improved sales. Our reps have added 2 to 3 additional sales deals per month, each! Two to 3 additional sales per month multiplied by 20 or so sales reps – that’s a big deal,” said Hills.

Acton Toyota of Littleton has always been dedicated to customer service, receiving the highest CSI scores in their region for Toyota. Customer service is their thing. They provide stellar service from the minute the customer walks in the door, from giving them a tour of their state of the art facility, introducing them to staff, overwhelming them with kindness – they ‘wow’ the customer. Once the customer walks through the door, odds are pretty good they will do business with Acton. So improving their ability to turn inbound sales leads into an actual appointment over the phone and get the customer into the store is critical.

“There’s ‘good phone’ and there’s ‘bad phone’. If we give ‘good phone’ and get the customer into the store, we blow them away once they’re here,” said Hills.

Now every single inbound call is monitored, reviewed, transcribed and reported. Real-time text and email alerts are sent for matters needing immediate attention within minutes so management can respond right away and daily reports are emailed to management each morning by 8:30.

“We can’t imagine operating without this tool. The opportunity is so huge for us given our high call volume. The phone has become a big differentiator,” said Hoffman.

Since implementing their new call monitoring service, Acton Toyota has been focused on righting the wrongs of ‘bad phone’, but they’re anxious to begin taking advantage of some of the other benefits of their full service monitoring system like using ad tracking to help them better allocate their marketing dollars on advertising sources that generate the best response rates.

The call monitoring transcription helps to identify what source a call has generated from with reports that detail the customer call. “I’m looking at your newspaper ad and have questions about the Camry you have for $299/month,” despite the fact that the call came in on the web site’s toll-free number, it was actually generated from the newspaper ad source. The ad tracking will allow Acton Toyota to make better marketing decisions.

“Without listening to calls you can’t accurately track what ad sources work well because many consumers will view the paper or a mailer, visit the dealer’s website and then call the toll-free number on the site. The dealer thinks the source is the website when in reality it was the print campaign that generated the call,” said Chip King, President of www.CallRevu.com, the call monitoring company Acton Toyota of Littleton uses.

By switching to a new full service call tracking system, Acton Toyota of Littleton has been able to identify, troubleshoot, and correct their phone system’s problem areas enabling them to greatly improve how calls are being handled by their own staff and effectively converting calls into profitable customers.

In A Nutshell

  • Actively monitor, review, transcribe and report on call activity to improve your profits by improving how you handle customers who call your dealership.
  • Use call monitoring to help identify areas where training is needed to improve your sales team’s ability to set appointments and turn sales leads into real deals.
  • Subscribe to a call monitoring system that will transcribe all your calls so you can accurately track which ad sources generate the best response and help you allocate your marketing dollars more wisely.
  • Use a call monitoring service like www.CallRevu.com to monitor all your calls and provide daily updates and text alerts in real-time to help you save deals.

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Save Customers, Save Deals, Save Money

Save Customers, Save Deals, Save Money

Call monitoring system helps Rick Case save deals, make better ad decisions

It is a well known fact that dealerships spend a lot of money on advertising to generate leads and make the phone ring. Too often, however, dealership representatives who answer the phone, regardless of department, mishandle customers and not only lose deals for today, but potentially lose customers for life, not to mention jeopardize their reputation. While dealerships have come a long way with tracking advertising sources by attaching trackable toll-free 800 numbers to each ad to determine which mediums are generating the best customer response, dealers still are not doing enough to monitor and verify how calls are being handled by their own staff or how effectively they are converting calls into profitable customers.

That is not so for Rick Case Honda of Davie Florida. ”We spend a lot of money to make the phone ring so we wanted to make sure every single customer was handled the right way,” says Richard Bustillo, general manager of Rick Case Honda, one of the top Honda dealers in the world. Rick Case has every one of their calls monitored and their managers receive alerts to their cell phones whenever a customer is mishandled. “If we get an alert we listen to the call first, then we call the customer and more times than not we save a deal, solve a CSI problem, avoid a lawsuit and most importantly win over a customer.”

Rick Case has always been fanatical about customer service and doing the right thing for his customers. “We spend too much money to make the phone ring only to have those customers mishandled, and it gives me great peace of mind to know that every single call is being monitored and should anything go wrong our skilled management team is alerted in real-time so they can immediately contact the customer and make things right. It’s my business, but also my reputation how I handle my customers, which in many cases are my family and friends in my community,” says Rick Case, owner of the Rick Case auto group.

Saving Lost Deals

Rick Case Honda has always asked their management team to listen to all the recorded inbound calls, but the effort proved to be mathematically impossible. The Davie-based dealership averages 120 sales appointments per weekend. By the time a gap opened up in the weekly schedule to catch up on reviewing calls it was too late to save deals or repair CSI concerns. Sporadic spot checks also proved ineffective because it meant that for the few that were actually reviewed and responded to in a timely manner, the majority of calls went unchecked and lost.

Today every single inbound call is monitored, reviewed, transcribed and reported. Real-time text and email alerts are sent for matters needing immediate attention within minutes so management can respond right away. Daily reports are emailed to management each morning by 8:30, and each manager has a dedicated online portal that continuously updates in real-time the calls that come in to each profit center, and resolutions are posted upon completion to ensure every opportunity is addressed.

“Our monitoring system has proven to be invaluable. We measure ROI on everything we do and the alerts we get save us 50-70 customers a month,” says Bustillo.

Mistakes that Ad-Tracking Numbers Make

The call monitoring has increased Rick Case’s appointments and has helped them spend their advertising budget more effectively with mediums that generate the most appointments. “Without listening to calls you can’t accurately track what ad sources work well because many consumers will view the paper or a mailer, visit the dealer’s website and then call the 800 number on the site. The dealer thinks the source is the website when in reality it was the print campaign that generated the call,” says Chip King, president of www.CallRevu.co, the call monitoring company Rick Case uses. By monitoring and reporting on their calls, it became evident when reports read: customer calls, “I am looking at your newspaper ad and I have questions about the Accord you have for sale for $199/month,” despite the fact that the call came in on the web site number, it was actually generated from the newspaper ad source. Now Rick Case’s ad tracking is more accurate and helps them make smart marketing decisions.

The most important number to track is not how many calls each ad source generates, but how many appointments are set. Two ad sources could generate a hundred calls, one source has a 50 percent appointment rate and the other a 25 percent rate, thus half the total appointments. Effectively one ad generates 50 appointments and the other generates 25. “Taking a closer look and tracking appointments gives Rick Case real results and helps them spend money on what gets better results. It is more effective to judge advertising by appointments set than on calls generated because actual appointments indicate a better return on investment,” adds King.

Profit Leaks Identified by Listening to Calls

By listening to all their calls, Rick Case was able to identify, troubleshoot, and correct many problem areas including new car sales calls never reaching an agent or hanging up while on hold, calls being sent to voicemail of which half elected to leave no message, sales agents failing to identify themselves, sales agents failing to get contact information from caller, connected calls being ‘off-lined’ for a call back, a low percentage of sales calls resulting in appointments, appointments being set with no time or date specified or being set for future dates, and failure to create a pleasant and positive impression with the primary call handler. By monitoring all their calls Rick Case identified and resolved these issues and continues to monitor all their calls so they can track the effectiveness of their ads, people, processes and phone system.

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How Penske Honda of Ontario went from 24th to 10th in 8 months

How Penske Honda of Ontario went from 24th to 10th in 8 months

After changing their marketing strategy, Penske Honda of Ontario, CA, jumped from 24th to 10th in the highly competitive Southern California region, one of the most competitive regions in the country.

Since the fall of 2010, when Penske Honda of Ontario changed up their marketing strategy, their sales are up 20 percent over the same period last year, and are up 154 percent year to date over 2010 – jumping 14 spots in regional manufacturer rankings.

At the time, Penske was relying a lot on traditional mass marketing that was increasing in cost and shrinking in results. After reviewing the dealership’s ad tracking numbers it became clear that a lot of the mass marketing was not generating calls and business for sales or service.

Research: “We used to spend more of our ad budget on mass marketing for TV, radio and print, but our market research showed that the majority of our business comes from a localized area,” says Roger Penske, Jr., owner of Penske Honda of Ontario. “The goal is clear, we want to target those consumers living in our primary marketing area who are in the market to buy or service their vehicles with us,” Penske, Jr. says.

“Ultimately this saves us money. We used to spend a lot of money advertising to people who were simply not in the market for what we sell and not even in our primary marketing area, so the chances of them buying or servicing with us were slim,” says Gaby Katrib, general manager of the Penske Honda of Ontario store.

The first step the dealership took was to conduct extensive market research that helped Penske identify the consumers in their market that have the best chances of spending more and coming back more often. “By using manufacturer research, R.L. Polk market data, historic sales and service data from their DMS and a few other databases it was possible to identify what we call the “perfect prospects” who have the highest statistical probability of buying and servicing today and returning tomorrow,” said Sean Wolfington, owner of www.Tier10Marketing.com, the marketing company Penske hired to help them implement their new marketing strategy

Market where Consumers Shop – The Internet With over 90% of today’s Honda consumers using the web to research, Penske has implemented an in-depth digital marketing strategy that includes search engine optimization, display banner ads, email and text marketing, social media and reputation management. When consumers look for the vehicles Penske sells in their market they find them on the top of the leading search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. “When customers search for a dealers name or their town and brand on Google the first thing they will see is Google Places – a map of the store along with the dealerships review rating from 1-5 stars,” said Wolfington. “It is imperative for the dealership to have a high star rating or they could lose business in the short term and their reputation in the long term.” Penske has implemented a detailed reputation management strategy that helped them achieve a 5 star rating that every customer sees when they search their name on Google. “The new word of mouth reaches thousands of consumers who search for a dealer’s name so reputation management is essential to a dealer’s strategy,” added Wolfington.

Penske also has a very active social media marketing strategy with a custom Facebook, twitter and YouTube page with active friends and followers. “The Penske brand is perfect for social media because it is a name people trust and consumers are interested in their race team and Roger himself,” says Wolfington. The entire dealership group utilizes social media to connect with their customers and to build a larger database they can use to communicate for free in the future when there is an attractive promotion or an important sales objective they need to make.
Penske implemented an intelligent targeted marketing strategy that communicates with all in-market Honda consumers by sending custom offers based on exactly where they are in the ownership cycle of their vehicle, and level of service activity with the dealership. Penske sends custom campaigns via targeted direct mail and email with customized offers based on their vehicle’s mileage that promote all their profit centers, new, used, finance, service and parts.

“We use our data to send the right offers to the right customer at the right time,” says Roger Penske, Jr. “If a customer is driving a 3 year old vehicle that has equity we will send both a sales and service offer so it generates business either way. All our campaigns have the same clear message and theme throughout all our marketing mediums, so our digital ads, social media, targeted mail and email all relay the same cohesive messaging,” he notes.

“Penske’s communication strategy starts after they take delivery and continues throughout their ownership cycle until they buy another vehicle. Each customer receives a thank you letter and email, introduction to service, information about accessories, service reminders, lease renewals, equity alerts and an invitation to upgrade their old vehicle when they can get a new one for the same payment, explains Budd Blackburn of www.TeamVelocityMarketing.com, the targeted marketing company Penske Honda uses. Penske’s regular communications keep their active customers coming back more frequently and activates their less active customers with more aggressive service offers to lure them back to the dealership. As a result, Penske increased their customer retention rate by 76 percent and have improved both their sales and service revenue.

Penske is known for excellence and Roger sets the bar high for his employees to maintain a superior level of customer service. “We conduct ourselves with the highest standards of professional ethics, honesty and integrity,” says Katrib. With the majority of all leads coming in via the phone, Penske Honda has made many efforts to ensure those calls are converted into appointments that show up to the dealership.
To ensure all incoming calls are handled properly, Penske Honda monitors, tracks and transcribes every inbound call and managers receive instant mobile alerts whenever a call is mishandled or needs escalation to management. Additionally, managers receive daily, weekly and monthly reports that help them manage their appointments and track their advertising based on which source generates the most appointments for the dealership. As a result, their appointments have increased and they are spending their advertising more effectively with mediums that generate the most appointments. “Without listening to calls you can’t accurately track what ad sources work well because many consumers will view the paper or a mailer, visit the dealer’s website and call the 800 number on the site. The dealer thinks the source is the website when in reality it was the print campaign that generated the call,” said Chip King, president of www.CallRevu.co, the call monitoring company Penske uses. “The most important number to track is not how many calls each ad source generates, but how many appointments each source generates. Two sources could generate a hundred calls but one has a 50% appointment rate and the other 25%, thus half the total appointments. It is more effective to judge marketing by appointments generated rather than calls because this indicates the results and return on investment better.”

Penske Racing has done very well on the track this season and Penske Honda has also improved their position rapidly in a highly competitive market in Southern California. Their integrated marketing strategies that combine traditional and digital advertising has helped them grow a lot in a little time and their competitive desire to constantly improve will surely help them grow even more in the future.

The Bottom Line

Penske Honda of Ontario jumps from 24th to 10th in the highly competitive Southern California market; sales are up 154 percent year to date and they have increased customer retention by 76 percent.

What They Do:

  1. Use extensive market research to identify consumers that have the highest statistical probability of doing business with their dealership now and in the future.
  2. Use integrated campaigns throughout multiple marketing mediums, including digital, social and targeted mail and email to convey a clear and cohesive message to the customer.
  3. Send targeted direct mail and email with custom messaging that is unique to the customer’s vehicle status with clear calls-to-action to buy or service.
  4. Monitor all inbound calls to improve customer service, quickly resolve potential CSI issues, and track what ads generate the best response.
  5. Protect and promote their positive reputation on and offline by delivering a world class customer experience and inviting their happy customers to share their reviews online.

Resources They Use:

  1. DMS: Reynolds and Reynolds (www.ReyRey.com)
  2. Marketing Agency: Tier 10 Marketing (www.Tier10Marketing.com)
  3. Targeted Marketing Company: Team Velocity Marketing (www.TeamVelocityMarketing.com)
  4. Call Monitoring System: CallRevu (www.CallRevu.com)

Recommended Actions:

  1. Conduct extensive market research to define your ideal market and identity consumers that have the highest statistical probability of doing business with their dealership.
  2. Implement a smart integrated marketing strategy that communicates a cohesive message across multiple marketing mediums.
  3. Use intelligent communications with custom messaging that reflects the appropriate status of your customers’ buying and servicing activity.
  4. Actively monitor all inbound calls to preempt and resolve potential CSI issues, improve appointment-set ratios, and train staff on proper call-handling.

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Put an End to Your Biggest Profit Leak

Put an End to Your Biggest Profit Leak

Dealers spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each year on advertising to get their phones to ring, yet many fail to invest in a process to effectively monitor the way their advertising leads are handled once a call comes into the dealership. The phone system is undoubtedly one of the biggest profit leaks a dealership consistently faces.

The phone is the primary method of customer contact before, during and after the sale and most dealers will readily admit that their phones are not handled the way they would like. Countless sales are lost, customers are mishandled, and CSI issues go unresolved.

This industry-wide problem has some surprisingly poor statistics with 19% of new car sales calls never reaching a sales representative, 6% of new car sales calls hanging up while on hold and 13% of new car sales calls are sent to voice mail with almost half of those callers electing to leave no message.

With most sales calls costing a minimum of $150 to generate, dealers cannot afford to let these calls slip through the cracks. With an average of only 24% of all sales calls resulting in an appointment, the return on investment can be a challenge. Further studies show that 16% of all sales agents fail to properly identify themselves and a shocking 45% of all sales agents fail to get contact information from a caller, a total loss for the dealership.

It is essential that dealers invest in a call monitoring service, whether internal or by hiring a third-party specialist, to provide 24/7 call monitoring and real-time alerts directly to its management team so that any mishandled call can be followed-up with immediately.

“Not only do we have real-time alerts providing us with immediate call-to-action information to save deals and customers, we also have a live online view of all calls as they happen. With this tool we will never miss an opportunity again,” says Richard Bustillo, general manager of the Rick Case Honda Davie store. In addition to real-time alerts Rick Case Honda Davie also gets unlimited toll-free numbers, ad-tracking, daily and weekly reports that not only help them monitor customer calls, but also enables them track what advertising is generating the biggest response from customers.

An average of 28% of all connected calls are ‘off-lined’ for a call back and as many as 32% of all appointments set have no firm appointment time which risks that the customer will end up on the back burner and ultimately lost. However, with a system that provides Real-Time monitoring reports a dealer will be able to ensure that these types of calls are followed-up with quickly to confirm that the call turns into a firm appointment and a sale. The call monitoring service that Rick Case Honda Davie uses provides a Real-Time view of all calls as they happen and daily reports by 8:30 am each morning, so Bustillo can review the previous days calls over a 20-minute cup of coffee and verify that every required action was taken on the previous day’s calls.

“The Rick Case group is dedicated to measuring their customer’s experience,” said Chip King, president of CallRevu, the call monitoring company that Rick Case uses. “The best processes have the most value when they are engaged with passion. Rick Case demonstrates the ultimate in engagement and customer-centric processes and it shows.”

The phone is a dealership’s lifeline to its customers. Dealers need to sustain that lifeline with proper vigilance. More than four times as many customers call a dealership than walk-in, so it is imperative that dealers actively listen, monitor and measure all their call activity to improve customer retention, manage CSI and increase profits.

Implementing a call monitoring system enables a dealership to take control of incoming phone calls. Having a highly trained staff or third-party specialists available 24/7 to listen, categorize, transcribe and summarize all phone calls and provide a detailed report every morning will allow a dealership to manage all aspects of their phone traffic.

Customers tell you every day what you need to do to improve your bottom line – all you need to do is listen.

Real-Time text alerts enable you to never miss an important call.

Mobile Mania is officially here. It is not the future, it is now.

Mobile Mania is officially here. It is not the future, it is now. And it’s going to dominate how dealerships interact and market to their customers.

Already, 93 percent of the U.S. population has a mobile device, and 40 percent have smart phones or mobile web devices. At some point in 2013, more people will access the Internet using a mobile device than they will with a PC.

In 2010, mobile web browsing jumped 32 percent while there was a 90 percent increase in mobile app users.

Mobile Commerce

The kicker is that people are using their mobile devices to conduct business – researching and shopping for products – including buying and selling products. Clearly, people are becoming more comfortable using their smart phones for various activities. People spend what amounts to 125 years daily playing the popular game Angry Birds. On eBay, a mobile transaction occurs every second; and recently, 72,000 burgers were sold in 72 hours via a Groupon coupon.

According to a recent study conducted by Ipsos OTX on behalf of Google, 78 percent of smart phone owners use their phones for shopping.

“It’s happening faster than all of our internal projections,” Google Chairman Eric Schmidt told attendees at the Interactive Advertisers Bureau Leadership Conference in April of this year. There are more than 200 million YouTube videos played on mobile devices daily, he notes.

Investment firm Morgan Stanley estimates more than $119 billion in commerce will be conducted over mobile devices by 2015.

Automotive Mobile Opportunity

Numerous studies indicate much of that commerce will happen in automotive. A recent study by mobile ad platform GreyStripe shows that 78 percent of the people planning to buy a vehicle in the next 12 months will use some sort of touch smart web device (iPhone, iPod Touch, Android) during the purchase process.

“Industry studies show approximately 17 percent of the U.S. mobile audience are ‘auto-intenders’ – people who will buy a new car over the next six months,” said Sean Wolfington, owner of www.Tier10Marketing.com. “With 20 million auto-intenders in the mobile universe and one of three of them using a mobile device at some point during their vehicle search process, car dealers need to capture this market.”

Cars.com, which developed a mobile application four years ago, gets 18 percent of its traffic today from mobile devices. AutoTrader.com, meanwhile, is getting nearly a million hits a month with its mobile application. Traffic patterns indicate mobile users were most interested in finding vehicles for sale and locating a dealer, versus some of the more in-depth auto reviews and “research and compare” functionality. Like Cars.com, much of the traffic occurs on the weekends.

According to the GreyStripe study, 48 percent of the people who say they will use a mobile web-enabled device in their vehicle search will conduct initial research into vehicles; 44 percent will compare prices of different dealerships while on the lot; 32 percent will find a dealership using their mobile device; and 23 percent will actually use their mobile device to contact a dealership.

Importance of Apps

It’s not going to be enough for a dealer to have the mobile website or texting capabilities. Much of the interaction is going to come in the form of apps – compact software downloaded to the smart phone that performs specific tasks and is easy to use.

There was 90 percent increase in app usage in 2010 and that number is only going higher. As of the fourth quarter 2010, 68 percent of smart phone owners used apps.

The question for car dealers is how will they leverage mobile technology to market to and maintain relationships with their customers? At this early stage there are a few automotive mobile solutions providers who help manufacturers and retailers use mobile to attract, sell and retain more customers for less cost than traditional or internet marketing. The leading mobile solution providers in the industry today are CarFactor.com, GroupAutos.com, IntellaCar.com and DealerAppVantage.com.

Using Mobile Solutions to Attract Consumers

Some mobile apps help customers shop and are used by dealers to attract more leads and sales. Two popular apps that help customers in the car shopping process are Car Factor (www.Car-Factor.com) and GroupAutos.com (www.GroupAutos.com). As of April, Car Factor was the No. 1 most downloaded automotive app in the world. It has a four-star user rating, the highest consumer rating of any automotive app in the App Store.

Using Car Factor, consumers can build and compare vehicles, view vehicle reviews and obtain pricing. Another app — newly patented – GroupAutos.com, gives consumers the ability to scan the bar code on a vehicle’s MSRP sticker and get an instant guaranteed low price on every vehicle in the dealer’s inventory.

“Dealers can advertise that they can provide Instant Guaranteed Low Price quotes in 60 seconds or less,” said Chad Collier, CEO of GroupAutos.com. GroupAutos.com has partnered with Affinity Development Group, Inc. (www.aagautogroup.com) which operates auto buying programs for 50+ million Costco, AAA and Navy Federal Credit Union members who bought more than 300,000 vehicles from 2,300 participating franchise dealers last year, more than any retailer in the world. Our auto buying programs offer attractive, pre-arranged pricing and deliver in-market purchasers with a 45% closing rate within 72 hours of first meeting with our exclusive, local participating dealer. We believe that GroupAutos.com’s patented mobile pricing app can significantly shorten the time it takes our members to drive off with their new car,” said Jeff Skeen, Affinity’s CEO. “We are working with Affinity to build an exclusive national dealer network of 3,500+ participating franchise dealers for GroupAutos.com’s customers to be able to instantly see GroupAutos.com’s Guaranteed Low Price while standing in front of the exact car they want to buy”, stated Chad Collier.

Using Mobile Solutions to Serve and Sell Consumers

One observation regarding the growth of smart mobile devices is that customers have greater access to information and often are more informed about the vehicle than even the dealership salesperson is.

IntellaCar is putting a different spin on mobile apps creating one that is for dealership usage. It has developed an app for the iPad and other mobile devices that help salespeople promote the dealership, vehicles, finance, accessories and service. “Since most customers research online before visiting a dealership, they often know more than most salespeople about the vehicle they are considering, and this knowledge gap can hurt a salesperson’s credibility,” said Jim Hughes, co-founder of IntellaCar.

IntellaCar’s app helps salespeople quickly access product benefits that are tailored to the customers’ hot buttons (safety, performance, comfort, convenience, etc.), walk-around videos, pictures, videos about the dealership, certified programs, leasing, finance products, and accessories, along with introducing the customer to the service department.

“When used properly in the sales process, these showroom apps help salespeople increase their closing ratios, average gross profits and CSI because they can answer questions quickly while also building value in the dealership and the products they sell,” said Bruce Polkes, Hughes’ partner at IntellaCar.

Sales consultants typically see an impact in the first week using IntellaCar, with results such as selling 2 to 4 more vehicles each per month while generating up to 30 percent higher gross and 47 percent higher CSI.

Dealers are also giving service customers access to these apps on iPads in the service lounge where they can view videos about additional services like car detailing, dent removal and even new and used vehicle specials.

Using Mobile Solutions to Retain & Resell Consumers

Just in the last year, hundreds of dealers have started providing free apps to their customers following the purchase or service of a vehicle. One such dealer app, created by DealerAppVantage.com, lets customers view their owner’s manual, schedule appointments, buy accessories, get roadside assistance, find their vehicle in a crowded parking lot, find a cheaper gas station, report an accident, receive alerts when the parking meter expires or when their kids are going beyond the speed limit.

Enterprising dealers are finding the app helps to improve the customer ownership experience, satisfaction and loyalty by delivering service reminders, recall notices, lease end tutorials, equity alerts and specials that bring the customer in more often for service, repeat sales and referrals.

The most popular tool on the DealerApp Vantage’s app is the ability to find gas stations that are less expensive, says Ed Louis, co-founder of the company. “Customers can save hundreds of dollars by using the Cheap Gas station finder to save money on gas,” he says.

“Customers love to use the app to make service appointments and view specials,” said Mike Adler of Laurel BMW, an AutoNation store. “Customers aren’t typing the dealer’s URL into the mobile browser anymore because it is a lot easier to use the app to get there.”

Dealerships are finding it a lot easier to give the customer a free app that they can use on their mobile phone than it was trying to obtain email addresses a few years ago. The good news is that their phone is always with them and the read rates of messages delivered to the phone are dramatically higher than through email.

“Our dealers post signs all over the dealership promoting the app in sales and service,” said Louis. “Dealers download the app onto customers’ phones as they wait for the finance department and in service while they wait for their car. Many dealers also promote it to people who visit the dealership but aren’t ready to purchase by showing them how it can help them in the shopping process.”

“Our dealerships mobile app is advertised on all of our newspaper ads, in our service department and it’s a great selling point for salespeople in the showroom. The app has generated a big increase in Website, Facebook and showroom traffic,” Adler said.

Get On Board Now

The time to put a mobile strategy in place is now. “The rate of adoption for dealers leveraging mobile solutions seems to be much faster than it was for the Internet,” Wolfington, of Tier10 Marketing, said. “A lot of dealers took a ‘wait and see’ posture when the Internet first arrived, but it seems like they are reacting faster this time around.”

Dealers are learning that mobile is a cost effective way to stay in front of the customer. “We get a lot of leads from our app for a fraction of the cost of Internet leads,” said Brian Benstock, co-owner of Paragon Honda and Acura, the top selling Honda and Acura dealer.

Dealers that get it and understand technology are going to be the businesses consumers want to interact with. It’s time to get ready with a clear mobile strategy that integrates into existing marketing plans.

Intelligent Marketing Plan Helped Brickell Motors Grow 1000%

Under the leadership of Mario Murgado, President and CEO, Brickell Motors has sold more Honda and GM vehicles in the last 10 years than over the previous thirty years combined by using intelligent, innovative and integrated marketing strategies that have helped the organization grow over 1000%.

To build a successful business, Murgado knew he would need a highly-effective marketing strategy to affect multiple marketing mediums including traditional, digital, targeted, social, media, publicity, niche marketing, and reputation management. Murgado also felt strongly that pro-active involvement in the local community and effective advertising to the local Latino population would be key to the success of the Brickell organization.

This Success Story highlights some of the processes and practices that Brickell Motors has developed to grow its organization over 1000% by attracting, servicing and retaining more customers profitably for less cost in a competitive metropolitan market.

The basis of Brickell’s strategy begins with market research. Brickell sought to identify consumers with the highest statistical probability of doing business with their dealerships and to target those customers and prospects with custom messaging based on the status of their vehicle. “We use a combination of manufacturer research, Polk market data and the dealer’s historic sales and service trends to map out which customers to target now and in the future,” said Budd Blackburn, owner of www.TeamVelocityMarketing, the targeted marketing company that Brickell Motors uses. “With the market data and our state-of-the-art print technology Brickell not only targets the best customers, but is also able to talk intelligently to their customers based on their vehicle status,” Blackburn added.

Brickell’s marketing strategy consistently communicates a cohesive message throughout the five year life cycle of the customer that begins by thanking new customers, providing maintenance and service reminders, recall notices, and extended service warranty information. Brickell also has sales retention campaigns that target off-lease and retail finance customers. All Brickell’s customer communications are delivered with a message that is unique to the customer’s status whether they are due for minor service or are eligible to upgrade to a new vehicle.

Additionally, Brickell incorporates bi-lingual messaging on all its marketing given the large Latino population in the Miami metropolitan area. With approximately 50 million Hispanics living in the U.S. Latinos are the fastest growing demographic in the nation and represent over half of Brickell’s market.  “For us to market successfully within the Hispanic community it is important to be in-touch with the emotional, cultural and traditional values of the community,” said Murgado.

Brickell has always been actively involved in the community partnering early on with Camillus House, a non-profit organization that provides humanitarian services to men, women and children who are poor and homeless. “Camillus House extended its hands to the first Cubans who arrived in this country. Partnering with this organization was a way to tell the community ‘we are here for you’, and we are still here for them today,” said Murgado. With the continued growth of the Hispanic and Latino population nationwide it is essential for dealers to understand how to market effectively to this demographic and Murgado’s background gives him a natural sensibility that is authentic.

“It is very easy to work with Mario to market Brickell Motors because he is deeply involved and respected in the community so he is very aware of what consumers want and what they will respond to,” said Sean Wolfington, owner of www.Tier10marketing.com, the company that does all of Brickell Motors’ marketing in both Spanish and English. “There are more Latinos in the U.S. than there are Spaniards in Spain or Canadians in Canada, it is imperative to know how to market effectively to this population.”

Always looking for opportunities to reach out to the community, Brickell also developed a special niche marketing program for local teachers with a “Back to School” promotion that honored all Miami area public and private school teachers with an exclusive special of only $50.00 over Brickell employee pricing on any new Honda in-stock, and the teachers kept all incentives. “We consider today’s educators pillars of the community who continue to educate our youth during a time of unprecedented budget cuts and economic adversity.  We would like to extend this special thank you to them,” said Murgado. Their investment in the community is sincere, whether through special teacher programs or charitable works the Brickell organization is a true member of the community.

Brickell’s commitment to outstanding customer sales and service has made them a stand-out in the Miami area. They are rated the #1 Honda Dealer in Miami by Google reviews so when you google Brickell Honda every result is positive which is not typical for most dealers. “To make it easy for our customers we built a web site, www.BrickellMotorsReviews.com, that gives our customers step-by-step instructions on how to share their positive reviews,” Murgado explained.

Brickell is also a member of the Automotive Advertising Network (AAN), the 3rd most popular lead generation platform, after Auto Trader and Cars.com, which generates thousands of in-bound links that increase Brickell’s online ranking.  “If you search google for “Miami Honda”, Brickell Honda pops-up as the first Honda dealer for the region and in a competitive online market that’s where you want to be – on top,” said David Boice, co-founder of AAN (www.automomotiveadvertisingnetwork.com).

Brickell also utilizes Video Search Engine Optimization (VSEO) to appear at the top of search engines for highly competitive search phrases. Consumers in the Miami market who search for vehicles online immediately find positive videos about Brickell and the cars they sell because Google gives 55 times more authority to video than text results, said Karry Moore, President of www.Car-mercial.com, the VSEO company that Brickell uses. “Video combines the power of sight, sound and motion that gets the customer excited and drives them to Brickell,” added Moore.

Murgado has a passion for excellence and sets the bar high for his employees to make sure that every customer is handled with the utmost care, “We strive to clearly and honestly explain the products and services that we offer. Our customers want to be respected and understood, and it’s up to us to make this happen,” said Murgado.  “Every call that comes into the dealership is monitored 24/7 and we send real-time alerts so the dealership can repair broken relationships before it’s too late,” said Chip King, owner of www.CallRevu.com, the company Brickell uses.

“This system also helps us track our advertising to see what marketing initiatives are generating the most response – it’s a real eye-opener when you discover that calls you thought were simply coming in off our web site are actually initiating from other campaigns that directed consumers to our web sites. It helps us prioritize our marketing dollars more efficiently,” Murgado explained.

“We spend a lot of money to attract customers and we want to make sure we exceed their expectations. My managers are alerted immediately whenever a potential problem or concern arises so that we can quickly reach out to the customer and hopefully fix whatever concerns they may have and create a customer for life,” said Murgado.

In A Nutshell

Brickell Motors has sold more Honda and GM vehicles in the last 10 years than over the previous thirty years by implementing an intelligent marketing strategy across all marketing mediums.

  • Brickell Motors conducts in-depth market research to find customers with the highest statistical probability of buying or servicing a vehicle with their dealership.
  • Brickell targets the best in-market customers and prospects with custom messaging specific to the customer’s vehicle status
  • Brickell Motors uses Video Search Engine Optimization (VSEO) to appear on top of the search engines for the most popular search phrases in their market.
  • Brickell has a comprehensive bi-lingual marketing strategy that targets the growing Latino community.
  • Brickell monitors all customer phone calls to ensure sales and service calls are being handled properly and alert management so they can save a deal today and customers over the long term.
  • The Brickell organization is deeply involved in the local community.

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Teddy Nissan Averages Over 60% Sales Call Appointments Set and Consistently Captures Over 95% of All Inbound Service Calls

After discovering in early 2010 that approximately 20% of all sales calls were going to voicemail and over 30% of service calls were going unanswered, Steve Risso, President of Teddy Nissan, began keeping a watchful eye on all inbound calls, the phone system and processes.

Every morning Risso begins his day with a deep dive into the previous day’s calls. He receives daily reports that identify areas for improvement in marketing, call process, phone system and follow up. Calls are reviewed and transcribed in a few-sentence summary and Risso uses these reports to customize training to improve their people, processes, and results.

“By charting our lost opportunities by hour and day we are able to better staff and train specific departments when problem areas are identified,” said Risso. “We are now under 5% missed calls for both Sales and Service and voice mail is almost non-existent. We have much greater confidence in our ability to manage these opportunities,” added Risso. As a result Teddy Nissan has increased their advertising budget and has seen a significant increase in their return on investment.

Teddy Nissan’s calls are recorded with ad source, time, department requested, and representative who handled each call. “We are very surprised at the number of callers who request departments other than the ad source line they call in on like our website sales line gets a lot of service appointments, and vice-versa,” noted Risso.

Risso is planning to start a daily competition for best inbound appointments set and best follow up results. “Phone calls are serious business. The phone and internet are the Dealership. Initially we spent millions on our showroom, but failed to realize our dealership is built first by phone or internet communications,” explained Risso.

“I no longer focus on appointments that are set, rather my total focus is on the calls that did not set an appointment. I receive an alert for every sales call that does not end with a hard appointment. Then I have key management get that door closed and the customer into the dealership. Once the customer is here 70% will buy a vehicle,” said Risso.

Risso and his management team receive instant alerts when a customer call is mishandled so they are able to follow up with the customer immediately. The instant text alerts include a short summary of what happened and a recording of the call. “Teddy’s team has one of the fastest alert response rates of any dealership we work with,” said Chip King, Managing Partner of www.CallRevu.com the company that Teddy Nissan uses for call monitoring. “When a call is not handled the right way Risso’s team immediately reaches out to the customer to resolve the issue. The customer is usually pleasantly surprised by the quick response and in the end Teddy Nissan saves the deal or the day,” said King. “Our DealerRater.com scores have us ranked at #1 in New York for Nissan,” added Risso.

Another key benefit to their monitoring system is the ad-tracking. “We closely track our ad sources to see which ads are generating the best results, so we can shift more marketing dollars toward campaigns that bring in the customers,” said Risso. “This has ultimately saved me money. I put the budget where it needs to be to make the phones ring.”

Teddy’s sales and service business has greatly increased by improving the customer experience over the phone. “Our service department has grown steadily as a result of using the information we get from monitoring our phone process and our RO volume is up as well,” said Risso. “We set an all-time sales record in the Bronx for Nissan in 2010, in a down market, and now we’re pacing to sell 265 units for March 2011, up from a previous high of 225,” said Risso with a smile.

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The Phone – Your Biggest Profit Leak or Greatest Asset

One of the largest profit leaks in a dealership is the phone system. Dealers spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each year on advertising to get their phones to ring, yet many fail to invest in a call tracking process to effectively monitor this markedly greatest asset.

The phone is the primary method of customer contact before, during and after the sale and most dealers will readily admit that their phones are not handled the way they would like. Countless sales are lost, customers are mishandled, and CSI issues go unresolved. This industry-wide problem has some surprisingly poor statistics with 19% of new car sales calls never reaching a sales representative, 6% of new car sales calls hanging up while on hold and 13% of new car sales calls are sent to voice mail with 6% of those callers electing to leave no message.

With most sales calls costing a minimum of $150 to generate dealers cannot afford to let these calls slip through the cracks but only 24% of all sales calls result in an appointment, not a favorable return on investment. Further studies show that 16% of all sales agents fail to properly identify themselves and 45% of all sales agents fail to get contact information from a caller, a complete loss for the dealership.

Aware that the phone is a blind spot where customers and profits are lost in every department, every hour of every business day many dealers require their managers to single-handedly listen to all in-bound calls, but often this is not practical during peak sales periods. Dealers really need to invest in a system or process that ensures every call is handled properly.

Capital Honda, located in Okemas, MI, began using a call monitoring service last year that provides 24/7 call monitoring and provides real-time alerts directly to its management team so that any mishandled call can be followed-up with immediately. In addition to alerts Capital Honda also gets unlimited toll-free numbers, ad-tracking, daily and weekly reports that not only help them monitor customer calls, but also help them track what advertising is generating the most buzz.

“The alerts help me save deals and the ad tracking reports help me spend my marketing money smarter,” said Anthony Gomez, Owner of Capital Honda.

An average of 28% of all connected calls are ‘off-lined’ for a call back and as much as 32% of all appointments set without a firm appointment time, that’s a lot of uncertainty that will likely end up on the back burner and then lost. However, with a system that provides daily monitoring reports a dealer will be able to ensure that these types of calls are followed-up on quickly to confirm that the call turns into a firm appointment and hopefully a sale. The call monitoring service that Capital Honda uses provides daily reports by 8:30am each morning, so Gomez can review the previous days calls over a 20-minute cup of coffee, find out what deals need attention and remedy any customer concerns right away.

“Capital Honda does an incredible job responding to customer concerns within minutes of receiving real-time text alerts,” said Chip King, President of CallRevu.com the call monitoring company that Capital Honda uses. “Their team has saved many a deal with quick reaction time.”

The telephone is naturally an industry-wide sales tool and can be a dealer’s greatest asset if managed properly. Implementing a call monitoring system enables a dealership to take control of incoming phone calls. Having a highly trained staff available 24/7 to listen, categorize, transcribe and summarize all phone calls and provide a detailed report every morning will allow a dealership to manage all aspects of their phone traffic. More than four times as many customers call a dealership than walk-in, so it is imperative that dealers actively listen, monitor and measure all their call activity to improve customer retention, manage CSI and increase profits.

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Paragon Honda & Acura Soar to #1 New & Certified Pre-Owned Honda & Acura Dealer in the U.S. in Short 6 Month Period

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Paragon Honda and Acura grew from #17 to the #1 New & Certified Pre-Owned Honda & Acura Dealer in the U.S. in a short 6 month period during one of the most challenging periods in the history of the automotive industry by redefining their marketing, sales and service strategies. “Overall, it was our best year in business despite being one of the worst years in the industry,” said Brian Benstock, GM and partner of Paragon Honda and Acura, and their new strategies laid the foundation that continues to breed success and phenomenal results.

Paragon took a close look at the marketing practices they had in place and found that they were using multiple vendors to execute their advertising and it was confusing for their customers because the TV and radio commercials had one message, direct mail had another, and email communications had another, yet none of the messaging was consistent with what was on their web site or the merchandising materials in the dealership.

“In the past we worked with 12 different companies to execute every part of our strategy, but the vendors didn’t work together so the campaigns were not integrated. It was confusing for our customers,” said Benstock. “We wanted a more cohesive message and once we took steps to consolidate our vendors our advertising strategy improved dramatically. We hired one company to develop and implement one integrated marketing strategy that is completely connected and consistent.”

Paragon carefully assessed who they were targeting. “We had always spent more money on mass marketing through TV, radio and print, but market research showed that over 90% of our business came from less than 10% of the city, so we began targeting our marketing to the consumers that live in those areas and that are in the market to buy or service their vehicle in the near future,” explained Benstock.  Paragon conducted extensive market research to identify consumers that have the highest statistical probability of doing business with their dealerships now and in the future. “We use the manufacturer’s research, Polk Market data and the dealer’s historic sales and service trends to identify which customers to target,” explained Sean Wolfington, Owner of www.Tier10Marketing.com, the marketing company Paragon hired to help them revise their strategy.

Traditional advertising on TV, radio and print is expensive in New York, like other major metro markets so Paragon shifted their traditional ad budget toward more targeted marketing efforts that generate better returns. “This saved us a substantial amount of money that we used to waste on people who were either not in the market for what we sell or who were not in our geographical market and therefore had a low probability of coming in for sales or service,” said Benstock.

However, since Latinos make up half of Paragon’s market, Paragon does leverage some good buys on Spanish radio, as well as, print ads in the New York Times where they include QR technology, a barcode that links consumers’ mobile phones to Paragon’s website where they can learn more about the offer and contact the dealership. “We recently did a radio buy that promoted a film premiere we sponsored in Queens,” said Benstock. “We invited people to visit our website and Facebook pages to enter to win tickets to the premier and provided additional entries for people who shared the promotion with others on Facebook and twitter.”

Online and social media marketing is also a large part of Paragon’s strategy. With over 90% of Honda consumers using the web to shop, Paragon has an in-depth strategy for search engine optimization and marketing, email marketing, banner ads on popular websites like Facebook, social media marketing, online reputation management and mobile marketing. “We have a lot of friends and followers on the top social media platforms including Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and Bebo,” said Benstock.  “As a result of our digital marketing campaigns, we increased the size of our database by approximately 50,000 in the last 6 months and we are sending out professionally designed emails that have credible themes and clear offers that generate leads from consumers who will buy and others who need service.”

All of Paragon’s digital marketing efforts drive consumers to campaign micro sites where the message, offers, look and feel are consistent with every other part of the campaign. The campaign micro site is designed to convert the maximum number of visitors into email, phone and showroom leads. Some examples of their micro sites are www.ParagonHondaInfo.com and www.ParagonExpressService.com.

“Our best source of leads are our own websites because the closing ratios and average gross profits are much higher than the typical lead providers, as most 3rd party lead generators sell the same lead to multiple dealers,” said Benstock. “We only work with lead providers that generate a good return and have a lower cost per sale compared to our other marketing.  We use www.AutoTrader.comwww.Cars.com and www.AutomotiveAdvertisingNetwork.com because all three of them deliver exclusive leads which means they don’t resell the same leads to all of our competitors.”

AutoTrader and Cars.com have long done a good job with pre-owned and they give dealers exposure to clients they may not otherwise reach. The Automotive Advertising Network promotes Paragon’s vehicles on the most popular search engines and social networks and sends them unlimited leads for a nominal flat membership fee. AutoTrader and Cars.com are more expensive but often generate more leads.

With the majority of consumers using search engines to find their next new vehicle, Paragon uses organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Video Search Engine Optimization (VSEO) and targeted pay-per-click search marketing campaigns to attract in-market consumers who are shopping for Acuras and Hondas to their website and dealership. As a result, Paragon appears on top of the search engines for the most popular search phrases in their market “New York Honda” and “New York Acura”.

Paragon tracks what consumers are searching for on Google and they implement search strategies to appear on top of the results for popular search phrases. For example, during cash for clunkers Paragon generated over 5,000 leads in less than a month through Paragon’s website, www.CashForClunkersNY.com, which was the #1 result when customers typed in “NY Cash for Clunkers”. When Toyota’s recall was announced, Paragon received leads from the Automotive Advertising Network who optimized a website called www.ToyotaRecall.org, which appears on top of the results when consumers search for information about Toyota’s Recall. “The Automotive Advertising Network also provides thousands of inbound links to Paragon’s website, which increases search authority and position on the search engines,” explained Brian Pasch, founder of the Automotive Advertising Network that Paragon uses.

Traditionally, television advertising has worked well for dealers because consumers experience the sight, sound and motion that other mediums don’t deliver. And now Paragon is using video to promote their dealership but they are optimizing the videos to appear on top of the search engines for the most popular search phrases their consumers use to find an Acura or Honda. “We hired a VSEO company, to produce and position hundreds of positive videos about our dealership on top of the search. They also post comparison videos for consumers who are searching for competitive brands like Toyota and Nissan, so they can see the advantages of the Honda and visit our website to get an instant price quote,” said Benstock. “Google gives advantage to video results over text results and consumers like video more than text,” said Karry Moore, Owner of www.Car-Mercial.com, the company Paragon uses for their VSEO strategy.

Paragon also communicates with all in-market Honda and Acura consumers by sending custom offers based on their vehicle, miles and position in their ownership cycle. Paragon sends custom campaigns via mail and email to promote all their profit centers, New, Used, Finance, Service and Parts. “We dial into Paragon’s DMS to target in-equity customers and we use variable print technology to send a custom message to each consumer that shows them how they can get a newer vehicle for a lower payment,” said Budd Blackburn, owner of www.TeamVelocityMarketing.com the targeted marketing company that Paragon uses. “We also include offers that promote the service the customer needs, extended service agreements and accessories.”

To further integrate their messaging, Paragon Honda and Acura make it obvious that something is going on at the dealership even if consumers don’t know about their sale, by the merchandising that quickly reminds them they’re lucky to have stopped by at the right time. “We want our customers to see a consistent message through our advertising and our in-store posters, tri-folds, balloons, hang tags and brochures,” said Benstock.

Just as important as communicating an effective and cohesive message to new customers, Paragon works hard to implement a detailed loyalty strategy to bring back customers for service and to resell their customer base more often. “We have a 360° customer communication process from the moment a customer buys to the time they renew into a new vehicle and everything in between,” said Benstock. Paragon uses email, phone, voicemails and direct mail to communicate with their customers when they need service, accessories, an extended warranty or a new vehicle.

Paragon Honda and Acura are the #1 Certified Pre-Owned in the world. Actually, Paragon Honda sells more than twice the certified pre-owned vehicles of the 2nd place Honda Certified retailer and broke Honda and Acura’s all-time record by selling over 300 Certified Hondas and over 100 certified Acuras in one month. “We source most of our certified vehicles from trade-ins because we have increased our new vehicle sales to customers who trade-in 2 and 3 year old vehicles as a result of our targeted marketing,” said Benstock. “We give every customer an autobiography that includes the vehicle’s history, lemon check, service history, and pricing information on competitive vehicles so our customers have a lot of confidence when they buy a Certified pre-owned vehicle from our dealership,” explained Benstock.

To make sure that everything they put into place is working Paragon tracks their advertising, employees, and how their customers are treated by listening to every call that comes into their dealership. “We use a company called www.CallRevu.com to monitor all our calls 24/7 and they send real-time alerts to our managers when a customer is mishandled on the phone,” said Benstock. “Our managers save a lot of deals because they contact customers immediately before it’s too late.”

In A Nutshell

Paragon Honda and Acura grew from #17 to the #1 New & Certified Pre-Owned Honda & Acura Dealer in the U.S. in a short 6 month period during one of the most challenging periods in the history of the automotive industry by redefining their marketing, sales and service strategies that promotes all their profit centers.

WITH COMPANY SITES

  • Paragon Honda & Acura use www.Tier10Marketing.com to deliver a cohesive marketing message across all marketing mediums to promote all their profit centers in sales and service.
  • Paragon only works with lead providers like www.AutoTrader.com, www.Cars.com and www.AutomotiveAdvertisingNetwork.com that generate a good return and have a lower cost per sale compared to our other 3rd party lead providers.
  • Paragon target-markets to quality single-owner trade-ins for their Certified Pre-Owned program.
  • Paragon uses www.Car-mercial.com for Video Search Engine Optimization (VSEO) to optimize videos to appear on top of the search engines for the most popular search phrases their consumers use to find an Acura or Honda.
  • Paragon works with www.TeamVelocityMarketing.com to target in-market customers and prospects who have the highest statistical probability of doing business with your dealership today and for the long term.
  • Paragon uses www.CallRevu.com to monitor all customer phone calls to ensure sales and service calls are being handled properly – and act quickly when CSI concerns arise.

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Hendrick Lexus Soars Ahead 14 spots in Market Share in Just 3 months

Hendrick Lexus implemented new marketing strategies across multiple mediums that improved their sales and service profitability and positively affected all their profit centers, while reducing their overall costs per sale.

This flagship Lexus dealership opened its doors in 1989 and has become the #1 luxury retailer for the Hendrick Automotive Group, the largest privately owned group in the country.  Located in Charlotte, NC, Hendrick Lexus has grown into a national leader for Lexus in numerous categories and currently ranks as the #1 volume dealership in the Carolinas.  In addition, they are the only dealer in the country to win back-to-back awards as the #1 Certified Pre-Owned Lexus dealer in the nation.

“We are consumed with delivering a world class customer experience that far surpasses our customers’ expectations – we want to WOW our customers every chance we get,” said Brian Gendron, General Manager of Hendrick Lexus. “We believe that no one will treat our customers as well as we do, so we owe it to everyone in our market to make sure they know about Hendrick Lexus and have the opportunity to enjoy the experience our employees create.”

To ensure that every eligible customer knows about Hendrick Lexus, Gendron took time to assess and reengineer the dealership’s entire marketing strategy to attract, serve and satisfy more customers for less cost than they spent before. “We need a holistic marketing plan that communicates a consistent message through every touch point with the customer,” said Gendron. “We were spending too much money with too many companies who were sending out different messages to our customers with a different look and feel.  This confused our customers and our even own employees.”  Hendrick Lexus’ new strategy uses the same messaging, designs and offers across all advertising mediums: TV, radio, print, outdoor, web, search, social, email, mail, publicity, point of sale merchandising and retention. “We work with one company rather than 15 different vendors and we are spending less for a more integrated strategy that delivers a positive and consistent message to the market.”

While Hendrick Lexus continues to provide the award-winning experience that their customers and employees have come to expect, they are now able to let more people know about it through their new marketing strategy that promotes all their departments, New, Used, Service & Parts, and Finance. “Too many dealers focus most of their marketing only on sales despite the fact that their service departments are the life-line when the market slows down,” said Sean Wolfington, owner of www.Tier10Marketing.com, the marketing company that Hendrick Lexus uses. “It is critical for dealers to integrate all 10 tiers of marketing so the dealership has the same message, look and feel in all their advertising and marketing materials,” Wolfington added.

“We now promote both sales and service to customers who have a better chance of doing business with our dealership,” said Gendron, and their dealership has saved a lot of money by shifting their focus from more expensive traditional mass marketing to a more targeted advertising that speaks to consumers who have the highest statistical probability of buying and servicing their vehicle with the dealership.

“Customers that live far away are naturally less loyal, but customers who live closer to a dealership’s “perfect market” have a much higher probability of returning more often, spending more money and referring more of their friends,” said Budd Blackburn, the creator of the “perfect prospect predictor” and the owner of www.TeamVelocityMarketing.com, the targeted marketing team that works with Teir10Marketing.com for targeted email and direct mail campaigns for Hendrick’s sales and service departments. “We use the manufacturer’s research, Polk Market data and the dealer’s historic sales and service trends to target in-market customers who buy and service more often with the dealership over their lifetime,” added Blackburn.

“We are making an effort to spend money more effectively by attracting and retaining customers who spend more with us, not just today but over their life time,” said Gendron. “When the press said we were in the worst market in 18 years, we actually felt some wind in our sails because of this new strategy. We were connecting differently with consumers and it drove them to us.  We had moved up 14 spots in YTD rankings over 2009 in only 3 months and it was evident our plan was definitely working.”

Another component to Hendrick’s new marketing strategy is online videos to promote the dealership. Today over 70% of online car buyers initiate their new vehicle search online and Hendrick uses video search engine optimization (VSEO) to appear on top of the search results with hi-impact videos that promote their dealership and the products they sell. Google changed their algorithm so that video results have more search authority than traditional text results so Hendrick uses VSEO to appear on page one for the most popular search phrases in their market. “Google gives advantage to video results over text results and consumers like video more than text because it combines sight, sound and motion,” said Karry Moore, Owner of www.Car-Mercial.com, the company Hendrick uses to produce, optimize and place hundreds of positive videos on top of the search engines.

In addition to attracting new customers, Hendrick works very hard to create customers for life by delivering a world class customer experience. “We want to astonish our customers with extraordinary service. We monitor how our customers are being handled so we can make sure that they receive a 5-star experience at our dealership,” said Gendron. Hendrick monitors 100% of their inbound calls so they can measure their advertising and track how their customers are handled on the phones, the number one entry point for consumers today. “Our managers get instant alerts whenever a customer is mishandled so they can contact them immediately to resolve issues, save a deal and save a customer in the long term. We save multiple deals a week and repair broken relationships that could lead to lost customers and even worse, bad word-of-mouth,” explained Gendron.

Hendrick uses their call monitoring strategy to ensure that every customer is handled properly and their advertising is generating the highest yield. “Within minutes of Hendrick’s management team receiving an alert, they are able to contact the customer directly and resolve their concerns,” said Chip King, president of www.CallRevu.com, the company that provides the call monitoring service to Hendrick. Hendrick uses the reports to measure the effectiveness of their advertising and to monitor all customer phone calls through daily, weekly and monthly reports, as well as, real-time alerts that save deals and prevent potential CSI concerns. “Our team’s compulsive focus on serving the customer has enabled us to become the proud recipients of the ‘Elite of Lexus’ award for several years in a row,” said Gendron. “While we have had a fantastic year, we have a lot of areas we need to improve on so we look forward to improving and growing in 2011.”

In a Nutshell

  • Hendrick Lexus moved ahead 14 spots in YTD National rankings in less than 3 months by implementing a holistic marketing strategy that combines traditional advertising with digital, social media, reputation management, publicity, targeted marketing, point of sale merchandising and retention.
  • Hendrick Lexus’ advertising has the same look, feel and messaging so consumers are exposed to a consistent professional message and creative.
  • Hendrick Lexus executes a highly-effective comprehensive marketing strategy with clear calls-to-action across all marketing mediums.
  • Hendrick Lexus targets consumers who have the highest statistical probability of doing business with their dealership today and in the long term.
  • Hendrick Lexus promotes all their profit centers with cohesive messaging.
  • Hendrick Lexus optimizes their online visibility with search marketing, video search marketing, targeted email campaigns and banner ads.
  • Hendrick Lexus monitors all customer phone calls to ensure customers are handled properly, examine ad tracking, and assess employee call performance.

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“Dealer of the Year” Jessie Armstead a Proven Champion On and Off the Field

Partners Jessie Armstead and Mike Saporito skyrocket to become one of the top 10 Honda Dealers in the country in less than 12 months.

Jessie Armstead, a 5-time pro-bowl linebacker for the NY Giants and Washington Redskins was recently recognized as “Dealer of the Year” at the 15th Annual Urban Wheel Awards in Detroit, MI. When a pre-season injury prompted Armstead to retire from the league, he would continue to win off the field and on the lot of Hamilton Honda in Hamilton, NJ, the 65,000 square foot, state of the art dealership he opened in May 2009 with partner and automotive veteran Mike Saporito. Just one year after opening its door Hamilton Honda skyrocketed into one of the top 10 largest Honda dealerships in the nation.

Now the dealership prepares to finish its second year in business with tremendous momentum and Armstead was recognized as “Automotive Dealer of the Year” at the 2011 Annual Urban Wheel Awards. For 15 years running, the star-studded ceremony has honored companies, executives and suppliers for recognizing the growing multicultural consumer and embracing diversity in operations and missions. Armstead took home the Oscar-style statue that celebrates the dealer’s creation of products and implementation of services that keep the diversity of their consumers in mind.

“It’s an honor to share this award with other leaders in the industry who acknowledge the multicultural communities that support our businesses,” said Armstead. “I can only hope that the awards show will continue to inspire my colleagues in the industry to not only consider, but to embrace the diversity that exists across the nation.”
Editors at Decisive Magazine and an independent panel of 15 professional automotive journalists and business organizations selected all nominees, finalists and winners. Armstead accepted this notable honor alongside other industry trailblazers who distinguished themselves for their approach to multicultural consumer base.

Other awardees included Tony K. Brown, Ford’s group vice president of purchasing, accepted the award for “Executive of the Year” from two distinguished presenters; his boss, Ford CEO Alan Mulally and U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). NASCAR’s Max Siegel, Owner and CEO of Revolution Racing, received the “Pioneer of the Year” award. Rodney O’Neal, President and CEO of Delphi, Andra Rush, President of Dakkota Integrated System, and Frank Venegas, Chairman and CEO of The Ideal Group, Inc., all took home “Lifetime Achievement” awards.

Held at the MotorCity Hotel and Casino in Detroit, the awards show drew in an impressive crowd of 1,500 automotive executives, supplier executives, politicians and members of the public. Celebrities, awardees and community leaders also graced the VIP “Green” carpet, hosted by Ed Foxworth III and Naomi Patton. Master of Ceremonies CBS News Analyst Jamal Simmons kicked off the award celebration that honored leaders in the automotive industry and showcased the Urban and Green Vehicles of the Year.

The ceremony marked the start of the North American International Auto Show, one of the most prestigious auto shows in the world, by recognizing the following vehicles: The Chevrolet Cruze was named “Car of the Year,” Jeep Grand Cherokee was named “Truck of the Year” and the VW TDI Jetta was named “Green Car of the Year.”

Hamilton Honda’s extraordinary growth has been a result of their active community involvement, exceptional customer service and their volume pricing strategy, which gives consumers guaranteed low prices, free oil changes, loaner cars and car washes for life. The dealership has become known for its customer-friendly team and its state-of-the-art facility is equipped with an internet café offering free refreshments and a mini-museum with Jessie Armstead artifacts from the brightest moments of his career that makes every visit to the dealership a top-notch experience.

“On and off the field Jessie is a leader and he inspires greatness from all those he works with,” said Sean Wolfington, owner of www.Tier10Marketing.com, the marketing company Hamilton uses.

Armstead’s recognition as “Automotive Dealer of the Year” comes on the heels of other notable achievements since his venturing into the automotive world. Last year, AutoSuccess recognized Armstead and Saporito as “Automotive Pioneers” for their role in growing Hamilton Honda into one of the top 10 Honda dealerships in the nation.
Although Armstead has received a lot of national recognition, he is deeply committed to serving his local community and supports a number of not-for-profit organizations including YMCA, where he was honored as the recipient of the prestigious 2010 Community Enrichment Award. Armstead is also actively involved with DARE, Cystic Fibrosis, My Sisters Place, City Meals on Wheels and Make-a-Wish Foundation. New Jersey Senator Tom Goodwin recognized that “Hamilton Honda has become an important member of the New Jersey business community since in its first year, employing more than 100 individuals and generating more than $90 million in sales revenue.”

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Brickell Motors Adopts Innovative Marketing Strategies to Grow Over 1000%

Dealer Magazine

February 2011

The Brickell organization has sold more Honda and GM vehicles in the last 10 years than over the previous thirty years since the organization was purchased in 2001 by Mario Murgado, President and CEO.

Murgado, a Cuban exile immigrant who came to this country in 1966 and a 20+ year veteran of the automotive industry, is credited with reviving each of the ailing dealerships of the Brickell organization which includes Pontiac, GMC and Honda.

Murgado is a visionary who is deeply involved in the local community, very in-sync with what consumers want, but also keenly aware of the big picture and emerging trends. Under his leadership, Brickell implemented an innovative marketing strategy across all marketing mediums including digital, targeted, social, media, publicity, niche marketing, reputation management, as well as, active involvement in the local community and effectively advertising to the Latino community. This cohesive marketing strategy has proven extremely successful in attracting more customers for less cost and Murgado shared a bit of what Brickell has done to grow its organization in a competitive multi-cultural metropolitan market.

Brickell Motors relies on extensive market research to identify consumers that have the highest statistical probability of doing business with their dealerships now and in the future.  This in-depth market research enables Brickell to target the best audience with the right message to consumers who are most likely to either buy or service vehicles with the dealership. “We use the manufacturer’s research, Polk Market data and the dealer’s historic sales and service trends to plan which customers to target now and in the future,” said Budd Blackburn, owner of www.TeamVelocityMarketing, the targeted marketing company that Brickell Motors uses.

Brickell has an intelligent marketing strategy that consistently communicates a cohesive message throughout their customer’s life cycle that starts by thanking new customers, then provides maintenance and service reminders, recall notices, extended service warranty or retention campaigns targeting off-lease and retail finance customers all with a message that is unique to the customer’s status whether they are due for minor service or are eligible to upgrade to a new vehicle. And with Miami having a large Latino population, Brickell always has bi-lingual messaging.

Murgado recognizes that with approximately 50 million Hispanics living in the U.S. Latinos are the fastest growing demographic in the nation and represent over half of Brickell’s market.  “For us to market successfully within the Hispanic community it is important to be in-touch with the emotional, cultural and traditional values of the community,” said Murgado.

Brickell has always been actively involved in the community partnering early on with Camillus House, a non-profit organization that provides humanitarian services to men, women and children who are poor and homeless. “Camillus House extended its hands to the first Cubans who arrived in this country. Partnering with this organization was a way to tell the community ‘we are here for you’, and we are still here for them today,” said Murgado. With the continued growth of the Hispanic and Latino population nationwide it is essential for dealers to understand how to market effectively to this demographic and Murgado’s background gives him a natural sensibility that is authentic.

“There are more Latinos in the U.S. than there are Spaniards in Spain or Canadians in Canada,” said Sean Wolfington, owner of www.Tier10marketing.com, the company that does all of Brickell Motors’ marketing in both Spanish and English. “It is very easy to work with a leader like Mario Murgado to market Brickell Motors because Mario is deeply involved and respected in the community so he is very aware of what consumers want and what they will respond to.”

More recently, Brickell developed a special niche marketing program for local teachers with a “Back To School” promotion that honored all Miami area public and private school teachers with an exclusive special of only $50.00 over Brickell employee pricing on any new Honda in-stock, and the teachers kept all incentives. “We consider today’s educators pillars of the community who continue to educate our youth during a time of unprecedented budget cuts and economic adversity.  We would like to extend this special thank you to them,” said Murgado. Their investment in the community is sincere, whether through special teacher programs or charitable works the Brickell organization is a true member of the community.

Brickell’s commitment to outstanding customer sales and service has made them a stand-out in the Miami area. They are rated the #1 Honda Dealer in Miami by Google reviews so when you google Brickell Honda every result is positive which is not typical for most dealers. “To make it easy for our customers we built a web site, www.BrickellMotorsReviews.com, that gives our customers step-by-step instructions on how to share their positive reviews,” Murgado explained.

Brickell is also a member of the Automotive Advertising Network (AAN), the 3rd most popular lead generation platform, after Auto Trader and Cars.com, which generates thousands of in-bound links that increase Brickell’s online ranking.  “If you search google for “Miami Honda”, Brickell Honda pops-up as the first Honda dealer for the region and in a competitive online market that’s where you want to be – on top,” said David Boice, co-founder of AAN (www.automomotiveadvertisingnetwork.com).

Brickell also utilizes Video Search Engine Optimization (VSEO) to appear at the top of search engines for highly competitive search phrases. Consumers in the Miami market who search for vehicles online immediately find positive videos about Brickell and the cars they sell because Google gives 55 times more authority to video than text results, said Karry Moore, President of www.Car-mercial.com, the VSEO company that Brickell uses. “Video combines the power of sight, sound and motion that gets the customer excited and drives them to Brickell,” added Moore.

Murgado has a passion for excellence and sets the bar high for his employees to make sure that every customer is handled with the utmost care, “We strive to clearly and honestly explain the products and services that we offer. Our customers want to be respected and understood, and it’s up to us to make this happen,” said Murgado.  “Every call that comes into the dealership is monitored 24/7 and we send real-time alerts so the dealership can repair broken relationships before it’s too late,” said Chip King, owner of www.CallRevu.com, the company Brickell uses.

“This system also helps us track our advertising to see what marketing initiatives are generating the most response – it’s a real eye-opener when you discover that calls you thought were simply coming in off our web site are actually initiating from other campaigns that directed consumers to our web sites. It helps us prioritize our marketing dollars more efficiently,” Murgado explained.

“We spend a lot of money to attract customers and we want to make sure we exceed their expectations. My managers are alerted immediately whenever a potential problem or concern arises so that we can quickly reach out to the customer and hopefully fix whatever concerns they may have and create a customer for life,” said Murgado.

The Bottom Line

The Brickell organization has sold more Honda and GM vehicles in the last 10 years than over the previous thirty years by implementing an intelligent marketing strategy across all marketing mediums.

What They Do:

  1. They conduct in-depth market research to find customers with the highest statistical probability of buying or servicing a vehicle with their dealership.
  2. They use Video Search Engine Optimization (VSEO) to appear on top of the search engines for the most popular search phrases in their market.
  3. They have a comprehensive bi-lingual marketing strategy that targets the growing Latino community.
  4. They monitor all customer phone calls to ensure sales and service calls are being handled properly and alert management so they can save a deal today and customers over the long term.
  5. They are deeply involved in the local community.

Resources They Use:

  1. DMS System: Reynolds & Reynolds (www.ReyRey.com)
  2. Targeted Marketing Company: Team Velocity (www.TeamVelocityMarketing.com)
  3. Ad Agency: Tier 10 Marketing (www.Tier10Marketing.com)
  4. VSEO Company: Car-mercial (www.Car-mercial.com)
  5. Call Monitoring: CallRevu (www.CallRevu.com)
  6. Lead Generation: Automotive Advertising Network (www.AutomotiveAdvertisingNetwork.com)

Recommended Actions:

  1. Target in-market customers and prospects who have the highest statistical probability of doing business with your dealership today and for the long term.
  2. Assess your marketing efforts and develop clear, cohesive messaging across all marketing mediums so customers and prospects ‘know’ and easily recognize your products and dealership.
  3. Align your dealership at the top of search pages for the most popular search phrases in your local market and improve your dealership ranking among the most popular search engines.
  4. Monitor and improve your customer processes and get managers involved early when a customer has concerns.
  5. Become actively involved in organizations that your consumers are passionate about.

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Paragon Honda and Acura Skyrocket to #1- Here’s how they did it in 6 months

Paragon Honda & Acura

Paragon Honda and Acura grew from #17 to the #1 New & Certified Pre-Owned Honda & Acura Dealer in the U.S. in a short 6 month period.

“Overall, it was our best year in business despite being the worst year in the industry,” said Brian Benstock, GM and partner of Paragon Honda and Acura. “We had a record year for volume and profitability during a record low year for the car business.” The biggest thing that impacted Paragon’s growth was changing their marketing, sales and service strategy last June.

“We had an in-house ad agency but decided to bring on an outside company to help us build and implement a new plan to grow our business,” said Benstock. Below is a summary of the strategies that had the biggest impact on Paragon’s business over the last year according to Brian Benstock himself.

Leadership

Paragon’s mission-driven leadership team is passionate about astonishing their customers by delivering a Ritz-level customer experience in all their departments. The leadership of Paragon is known for its commitment to customer service and extraordinary work ethic. “Paul and Edith Singer founded the dealerships years ago and they set the bar high by their example and extraordinary work. Since Paul passed away, Edith has infused the culture of the dealership with her passion and tireless work ethic but also has added the heart that is essential to premium customer care,” said Benstock.

Market Research

“Paragon uses extensive market research to identify consumers that have the highest statistical probability of doing business with their dealerships in the future,” said Sean Wolfington, Owner of www.Tier10Marketing.com, the marketing company Paragon hired to help them create their strategy. “We use the manufacturer’s research, Polk Market data and the dealer’s historic sales and service trends to plan which customers to target in the future,” said David Boice, Co-founder of www.Tier10Marketing.com. “In the past we spent more money on mass marketing through TV, radio and print, but the research showed that over 90% of our business came from less than 10% of the city, so we targeted our marketing to the consumers that live in those areas and that are in the market to buy or service their vehicle in the near future,” said Benstock. “This saved us a lot of money that we used to waste on advertising to people who were either not in the market for what we offer or who were not in our geographical market and therefore had a low probability of coming in for sales or service,” added Benstock.

Traditional Advertising

Traditional advertising on TV, radio and print is expensive in New York, like other major metro markets. As a result, Paragon shifted a lot of their traditional ad budget to more targeted marketing that generates better returns. However, since Latinos make up half of Paragon’s market, they have leveraged some good buys on Spanish radio, as well as, print ads in the New York Times where they include QR technology, a barcode that links consumers’ mobile phones to Paragon’s website where they can learn more about the offer and contact the dealership. “We recently did a radio buy that promoted a film premiere we sponsored in Queens,” said Benstock. “We invited people to our website and Facebook pages to enter to win tickets to the premier and provided additional entries for people who shared the promotion with others on Facebook and twitter.”

Micro Sites

All of Paragon’s digital marketing efforts drive consumers to a campaign micro site where the message, offers, look and feel are consistent with every other part of the campaign. The campaign micro site is designed to convert the maximum number of visitors into email, phone and showroom leads. Here are some examples of micro sites we currently use www.ParagonHondaInfo.com and www.ParagonExpressService.com.

Public Relations

Paragon realizes that a free five minute story on a major TV network that appears online forever has a bigger impact than an expensive 30 or 60 second TV ad that runs out when the budget expires. “Our marketing company creates and distributes relevant press that generates interviews with local press and we have received exposure in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, NY Post and hundreds of stories on national outlets, including CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX and MSN,” said Benstock.

Reputation Management

Today’s consumers rely more on other consumers’ reviews than advertising, so Online Reputation Management is a top priority for Paragon. “When consumers google our dealership or my name they will find out about all the things we are doing in the community and they will be able to read positive reviews from satisfied customers,” said Benstock.

Targeted Marketing

Paragon communicates with all in-market Honda and Acura consumers by sending custom offers based on their vehicle, miles and position in their ownership cycle. Paragon sends custom campaigns via mail and email to promote all their profit centers, New, Used, Finance, Service and Parts. “We dial into Paragon’s DMS to target in-equity customers and we use variable printers to send a custom message to each consumer that shows them how they can get a newer vehicle for a lower payment,” said Budd Blackburn from www.TeamVelocityMarketing.com, “we also include offers that promote the service the customer needs, extended service agreements and accessories.”

Niche Marketing

Paragon’s marketing company promotes a corporate purchase program to employees of large organizations in their market that gives them special pricing and service when they do business at Paragon. “Our marketing company sends an information package to the HR department of the largest organizations in our area to ask them if they want to give this free benefit to their employees,” said Benstock.

Merchandising

When you walk into Paragon Honda and Acura, it is obvious something is going on. Even if consumers don’t know about their sale the merchandising quickly reminds them that they are lucky they stopped by at the right time. “We want our customers to see a consistent message through our advertising and our in-store posters, tri-folds, balloons, hang tags and brochures,” said Benstock.

Retention

Paragon implements a detailed loyalty strategy to bring back customers for service and to resell their customer base more often. “We have a 360° customer communication process from the moment a customer buys to the time they renew into a new vehicle and everything in between,” said Benstock. Paragon uses email, phone, voicemails and direct mail to communicate with their customers when they need service, accessories, an extended warranty or a new vehicle.

Certified Pre-Owned

Paragon Honda and Acura are the #1 Certified Pre-Owned in the world. Actually, Paragon Honda sells more than twice the certified pre-owned vehicles of the 2nd place Honda Certified retailer and broke Honda and Acura’s all-time record by selling over 300 Certified Hondas and over 100 certified Acuras in one month. “We source most of our certified vehicles from trade-ins because we have increased our new vehicle sales to customers who trade in 2 and 3 year old vehicles as a result of our targeted marketing,” said Benstock. “We give every customer an autobiography’ that includes the vehicle’s history, lemon check, service history, and pricing information on competitive vehicles so our customers have a lot of confidence when they buy a Certified pre-owned vehicle from our dealership,” explained Benstock.

Tracking Advertising, Employees and Customer Care

Paragon tracks their advertising, employees, and how their customers are treated by listening to every call that comes into their dealership. “We use a company called www.CallRevu.com to monitor all our calls 24/7 and they send real-time alerts to our managers when a customer is mishandled on the phone,” said Benstock. “Our managers save a lot of deals because they contact customers immediately before it’s too late.

The Bottom Line

Paragon Honda and Acura sky rocketed to the #1 New & Certified Pre-Owned Honda & Acura dealer in only 6 months by implementing a comprehensive marketing platform that promotes all their profit centers.

What They Do:

  1. They deliver a cohesive marketing message across all marketing mediums.
  2. They have a comprehensive marketing strategy that promotes all their profit centers in sales and service.
  3. They target-market quality single-owner trade-ins for their Certified Pre-Owned program.
  4. They conduct aggressive conquest marketing campaigns to attract, sell and service same brand consumers.
  5. They monitor all customer phone calls to ensure sales and service calls are being handled properly – and act quickly when CSI concerns arise.

Resources They Use:

  1. DMS: ADP
  2. Ad Agency: Tier 10 Marketing (www.Tier10Marketing.com)
  3. Targeted Marketing Company: Team Velocity (www.TeamVelocityMarketing.com)
  4. Call Monitoring: CallRevu (www.CallRevu.com)

Recommended Actions:

  1. Assess your marketing efforts. Be sure your messaging is clear and cohesive across all marketing mediums so customers and prospects ‘know’ and easily recognize your dealership.
  2. Target in-market customers and prospects who have the highest statistical probability of doing business with your dealership today and for the long term.
  3. Create integrated marketing messages with clear calls-to-action that promote all your profit centers.
  4. Monitor and improve your customer processes and get managers involved early when a customer has concerns.

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Teddy Nissan Boosts Sales from 30 to 225 in Only 9 Months

How did the same dealership with the same brand in the same location increase their sales from only 30 cars a month to nearly 300 cars per month in only a half year’s time during the recession? Teddy Nissan, formerly Cox Nissan, was purchased in August 2009 by Ted Bessen, formerly a partner of Potamkin Automotive Group, and Steve Risso, an automotive veteran who ran multiple stores and NADA 20 groups. This story explains how these 2 guys bought and paid for the cost of the entire dealership within 9 months of reopening a closed point and creating close to 100 new jobs for the local economy in a economically challenged environment.

“We saw the peak of the recession as the perfect opportunity to reopen this point,” said Bessen. “Timing was good with the revitalization that Cash for Clunkers brought to the market.”

Bessen and Risso updated the facility and opened their doors August ‘09. “We both have run multiple stores but this was the first time we had to start from scratch so we had a lot of work to do without a lot of time,” said Risso. “Getting the facility right, buying equipment, hiring and training the right people and bringing in enough customers to pay for it all. Generating traffic and revenue was our primary goal because the dealership was out of business for about a year and there was no customer base. With all we had in front of us, we hired www.Tier10Marketing.com to help us create and implement our marketing plan for sales and service.” Below is a summary of the strategy Teddy Nissan implemented to grow their sales by over 200 vehicles a month in the first 9 months of being in business.

Marketing Plan
Teddy Nissan is located in one of the largest markets in the world where everything is expensive, especially advertising. “New York city has 11 million people and traditional advertising costs a lot, and generates too little, because most consumers watching TV and listening to the radio are not in the market for a Nissan this month,” said David Boice from Tier10Marketing.com. “We identified 56,000 prospects in the Bronx that had the highest statistical probability of buying and servicing with the dealership so we could execute blended marketing campaigns that had a higher return. We used less expensive, higher impact campaigns that blended the internet, search marketing, email, text, direct mail and point of sale merchandising at the dealership so everything was connected.”

Teddy Nissan’s marketing is not like your typical car dealer. Their logo is a teddy bear and the design of their materials look more like manufacturer ads than local car dealer advertising. “Customers have a hard time trusting dealers and we wanted to soften the edge and increase the credibility of our brand with high-end designs that build trust with consumers,” said Bessen. “When a customer sees an offer on our banner ads they will see that same message and campaign integrated on all our advertising, our websites, emails, direct mail and the point of sale materials in the dealership. Many dealers will have one ad on tv, another message in the paper, another on a mailer, nothing about their sale on their website and emails sent with a completely different message. That is why we hired a marketing company who specializes in digital and traditional advertising, so we could have one strategy that is completely connected and consistent…. and it works.”

The Web
“Since most of our customers shop online we have an in-depth strategy for search engine optimization and marketing, email marketing, banner ads on popular websites and positive online reputation management. In a short time, we have built a big following on top social media platforms including Facebook and twitter. Now we can communicate with thousands of customers for free and we drive them to a campaign micro-site where the message, offers, look and feel are consistent with our current campaign. One of our sales micro-sites is www.TeddyNissanInfo.com and ww.TeddyExpressService.com is a micro site with all of our service offers. We also use www.AutoTrader.com to promote our used cars online but the closing ratios and gross profits of our own leads are much higher.

Online Reputation Management
Teddy Nissan has made a lot of progress improving the reputation of the dealership after taking it over. When consumers google Teddy Nissan’s name or the name of the dealer principles they will discover positive reviews from satisfied customers and news and information about Teddy’s positive involvement in the community, like the fact that Teddy Nissan recently sponsored a Bronx Youth Basketball team that competed in a national tournament in Las Vegas and placed 2nd. “We also try to take pictures of all our customers with their car, send them the photo and ask them to post it on Facebook so we can get positive exposure to all their friends,” said Risso. Additionally, “all our satisfied customers receive post cards that give them instructions on how to share their positive opinion on popular review sites like Google Place Reviews and Dealer Rater amongst many others.”

Niche Marketing
We built and advertised a Nissan Vehicle Purchase Program to all our eligible employees and companies that qualify for Nissan’s program. In addition, we build our own program for companies who want to give their employees an additional benefit. Our Corporate Vehicle Purchase Program offers eligible employees special pricing and service and it has helped us attract and sell a lot of customers who otherwise were not considering a Nissan. “We built and sent an information package to the HR departments of the largest organizations in New York to ask them if they would like to offer this free benefit to their employees and we give them a campaign kit to promote it internally,” said Scott Fletcher from Tier10Marketing.com.

Targeted Marketing
“One of the highest impact parts of our strategy has been to send targeted email and direct mail to consumers who are in the market now,” said Bessen. “A lot of dealers send multiple emails and mailers from sales and different ones from service, but that costs too much and it overloads the customers to the point where they pay less attention.” Teddy Nissan only sends one set of emails and mailers a month that promote all of their profit centers in one communication and they customize the offers based on the customer’s vehicle, miles and position in their ownership cycle. “If a customer is driving a 3 year old Maxima with 30,000 miles they may want to trade-in their vehicle or they may need major service and would benefit from buying an extended service agreement,” said Budd Blackburn, co-founder of TeamVelocityMarketing.com, Teddy’s targeted marketing company. “We send a custom email and mailer that includes a sales offer to trade-in their vehicle and we include a service offer along with an option to extend their service agreement all in one contact. It costs less money than sending 3 separate mailers and it is easier for the customer.” Risso added, “we track all our ads with dedicated 800 #s and listen to every call that comes into the dealership to help us identify which targeted marketing campaigns work the best. For instance, we know direct mail generates the most phone calls for sales and service and is most cost effective because everything is more expensive in a big market, like New York, but the cost of email and postage is the same here as it is in the smallest market in the country.”

After a customer buys a vehicle Teddy Nissan has a complete communication system to thank their customers, welcome them to service, remind them when they need to come in, when they need an extended service agreement, how they can buy accessories and when they can upgrade into a new vehicle all over again.

Every Customer Counts
No one knows the value of a customer better than dealers who open a new dealership without any current customers. To make sure our customers are being treated right, we use a company called www.CallRevu.com to monitor every single call that comes into the dealership to track the advertising and to make sure every customer is treated properly. “We spend a lot of money to make the phone ring and we want to make sure we convert as many calls into customers as possible,” said Bessen. “We use www.CallRevu.com to monitor and transcribe all our calls and they send real-time alerts to our managers when a customer is mishandled on the phone so we can respond and repair the relationship within minutes. “We get daily and weekly reports that identify what marketing is working, our appointment rates and closing ratios by ad source and representative. It is a great tool for our daily “save a deal” meetings and for our ongoing training to improve our team’s phone skills.

Facility & Customer Experience
“We go through a lot of effort and expense to bring customers into the dealership so we do our best to make their experience at the dealership a pleasure,” said Bessen. “Part of that is having the signage, clean showrooms and service areas, friendly staff and the right ambiance. We spend a lot of time training our team so we can provide exceptional customer service.” Teddy’s facility is first-class and the point of sale posters, brochures, table tops and balloons are professionally designed and consistent with their overall marketing message to consumers.

In a Nutshell
• Teddy Nissan increased sales from 30 units to 225 in only 9 months.

• Teddy Nissan used www.Tier10Marketing.com to implement a comprehensive marketing strategy that integrates all aspects of marketing including, digital, traditional, targeted direct mail, email, text, publicity, social, reputation management, niche marketing, point-of-sale merchandising and retention.

• Teddy Nissan used www.TeamVelocityMarketing.com to target consumers with the highest statistical probability of purchasing or servicing their vehicles with the dealership using email, text and direct mail to consumers who buy more, service more, return more and refer more.

• Teddy Nissan increased their leads by putting a new dealer site at the top of search engines.

• Teddy Nissan improved dealership reputation by asking satisfied customers to share their positive experience on sites like Google Place Reviews, Dealer Rater, Facebook and Twitter.

• Teddy Nissan created a Nissan Vehicle Purchase Program for their employees, as well as, a Corporate
• Vehicle Purchase Programs for large corporations to offer to their employees.

• Teddy Nissan updated the facility and use point of sale merchandising that is consistent with all their advertising.

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Growing Hispanic Demographic Urges Bi-Lingual Marketing in Automotive Industry

January 2011

Some may argue that it is a dealership’s location that requires its leaders to lend so much attention to prospective Hispanic consumers. But with approximately 50 million Hispanics living in the U.S., they are the fastest growing demographic in the nation, and experts are quick to point out a nationwide need to engage in Hispanic marketing opportunities.

Marketing to the Hispanic demographic has multiple benefits that reach beyond just those initial consumers exposed to an ad. According to a 2007 Univision More Auto Sales Focus Group, Hispanics hold different attitudes toward purchasing a vehicle than do their non-Hispanic counterparts; purchasing a vehicle is an event, a proud celebration that arises emotions. Treat this perfect prospect with understanding and respect and they will be likely to point their family and friends in your direction.

Mario Murgado, President and Chief Executive Officer of Brickell Motors in Miami, Florida, is credited with reviving each of the ailing dealerships for Pontiac, Buick, GMC and Honda within the Brickell organization.

In 2000 after serving almost 20 years with one of South Florida’s largest and premier automobile dealer organizations he left to run Brickell Motors in 2001 ready and eager to apply his knowledge and expertise to change the direction of the fledgling group. Under Murgado’s leadership the Brickell organization has sold more Honda and GM vehicles in the last 10 years than over the previous thirty years and Murgado attributes much of the success to embracing the local Latino community.

Located in Miami’s “Little Havana”, Brickell Motors is immersed in the Hispanic community as the neighborhood’s name implies of its Cuban roots. Immigrating to the U.S. as a young boy, Murgado remains closely-tied to his Cuban heritage and the Hispanic-immigrant community and he has succeeded in marketing to this growing community where others have not. Murgado smartly capitalized on the business aspect of targeting a specific audience, but also generously reinvests in the local community where his neighbors have a great respect for him and the Brickell name.

In recent years while the economy struggled, Murgado’s neighbors enabled Brickell to thrive and gain momentum as an expert in marketing to this ever-growing demographic. “From a global perspective, while every other economic power country is down-trending, the U.S. is experiencing an increase in buying power that is fueled by Hispanic growth,” says Murgado.

Murgado recognizes what the Hispanic consumer is looking for when making the second largest purchase of their lifetime. Murgado also recognizes that the Hispanic market share is dramatically on the rise in many areas and will continue to gain momentum.

A large part of understanding this demographic involves being in-touch with their emotional, cultural and traditional values. For instance, Murgado feels it is important that marketing is reflective of the community. Early on Brickell partnered with Camillus House, a non-profit organization that provides humanitarian services to men, women and children who are poor and homeless. “Camillus House extended its hands to the first Cubans who arrived in this country. Partnering with this organization was a way to tell the community ‘we are here for you’. Investing in the community brought legitimacy to the Brickell organization as a genuine member of the community.

Advertisers must recognize that the family unit is very important to the Hispanic culture. Part of sharing and being a family unit is watching TV together. “One of the many reasons Hispanics follow more Hispanic media and TV is the way we live in our homes. It’s common for grandparents, parents and children to live together.” Thus, television is arguably one of the most essential components in Murgado’s marketing model.

According to Experian Simmons, Hispanics 20+ years old spend 5% of their time viewing print media, 3% on the internet, 4% listening to radio and 24% watching TV. As a result Brickell allocates a significant portion of their marketing dollars to Hispanic media. “We know we’re talking to a large 18 to 35-year demographic and we strive to clearly and honestly explain our products and services that we offer”, said Murgado. “They – we – want to be respected and understood, and it’s up to us to communicate in a way that they will understand,” added Murgado. They aim to reach the right consumers and leave them with the right reasons on why to buy at Brickell.

Murgado’s team is known for delivering reputable marketing campaigns. They work with a marketing company that helps deliver clear and honest messaging to promote sales and service. “There are multiple strategies as they relate to the products or how to make the products more attainable. If the consumer is looking for a way to put less money down, we try to fulfill that and do it in a genuine way with no unpleasant surprises. Bottom line, we’re talking to them, not at them. And we make sure we are listening which is an important element retailers forget,” said Murgado.

To market successfully within the Hispanic community it is important to understand how Hispanics differ from other immigrant groups. Murgado explains Hispanics are ‘acculturating’ not ‘assimilating’ and their desire to speak Spanish and maintain their culture is stronger than ever. In fact, a Pew Hispanic Center study discovered that even third-generation youths are speaking Spanish despite the fact that they were born in the U.S to native-born parents who are mostly English dominant.

“I believe that in the past other immigrant groups’ goal was to assimilate and weave themselves into the fabric of this country,” says Murgado. “Hispanics, however, love this country and also cherish their traditions and language. They will participate in all things American, but will integrate their customs and traditions.”

“What I would share with my colleagues, especially those in the Sunbelt and in the South, is to take a look at the growth of the Hispanic population around you. Look at the demographics – drive the area where people are living and get involved. Only then can you advertise to them,” Murgado urges. “If you look at America, you’ll see that there is a definite increase driven by Hispanics, and if you’re going to sell to a growing market, Hispanics have to be a part of your equation.”

“There are more Latinos in the US than there are Spaniards in Spain or Canadians in Canada,” said Sean Wolfington, owner of Tier10marketing.com, the company that does all of Brickell Motors’ marketing in both Spanish and English. “It is very easy to work with a leader like Mario Murgado to market Brickell Motors because Mario is so deeply involved in the community and is very in-tune with his consumers, yet he is always cognizant of the big picture and market-trends.”

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Salem Ford Hyundai up 65 percent in sales and 100 percent in service in just three months

December 2010

Recently Salem Ford Hyundai, a member of the Key Auto Group, implemented a new targeted marketing strategy that has shown impressive results — a 65 percent increase in sales and a 100 percent jump in service ROs written, from 1890 to 3925, as compared to the same three-month period in 2009.

Located in southern New Hampshire, Salem Ford Hyundai serves customers in both southern New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts with the majority of its business coming from a specific geographic area. Reevaluating their marketing practices, Salem Ford Hyundai sought a more targeted focus. They determined that it did not make economic sense to advertise to the broader New Hampshire and Massachusetts region, and they wanted a strategy that would help them reach their local customer base.

“Why should we spend our marketing dollars to reach an entire region when 90 percent of our sales come from a limited local area,” said Salem General Manager Tania Pulkowski. “We do have phenomenal prices. Our ‘Hassle-Free Zone’ guarantees the lowest prices around, so customers will drive an hour or more to save a few hundred dollars to buy a new car, but the lifetime value of these customers is much lower than a local customer, due to the lack of service and repeat business.”

While carefully defining their ideal target areas within their local market, Salem Ford Hyundai also wanted to streamline costs by combining sales and service messaging to their current customers and potential new customers. They developed a combination sales and service marketing communication platform that would speak to everyone in their database, providing current service offers that matched the customer’s unique service status. They also aggressively targeted Ford and Hyundai owners in their market who were not yet Salem customers.

“Since starting on this new strategy, our sales are up 65 percent,” Pulkowski said. “What’s more amazing is that our service department was down by 13 percent the previous three months before starting this new strategy, and now it’s up 87 percent since September – that’s a 100-percent turnaround.”

“We wanted to help Salem Ford Hyundai target the perfect prospects with the highest statistical probability of buying or servicing with their dealership,” said Budd Blackburn, owner of the targeted marketing company that Salem Ford Hyundai uses. “By conducting an in-depth, five-year historical assessment of their data and researching the local market trends, we helped them target the best audience.”

Their goal is to positively affect all five departments — new, used, finance, service and parts — with their new marketing strategy to get the absolute most out of the money they spend. “Another key factor for us is used cars – 50 percent of our market comes from used sales and we needed a way to continue to build our pre-owned inventory with quality, one-owner trades that are not easy to find and can be expensive at auctions,” Pulkowski said.

To help effect their used inventory, Salem Ford Hyundai created a special trade-in campaign that offered to buy-back used vehicles at above Kelley Blue Book value. The campaign was successful and they plan to use similar campaigns a few times a year to keep inventory up. “It’s not just about sales,” Pulkowski said. “We want to create a customer who will continue to come back to service their vehicles with us and eventually buy with us again, and again — creating a greater lifetime-value customer.”

Susan Givens is the publisher of AutoSuccess. She can be contacted at 877.818.6620, or by e-mail at givens1@autosuccessonline.com.

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Hendrick Lexus Leap Frogs 14 spots in Market Share in only 3 months

December 2010

Hendrick Lexus implements new marketing strategies that improve their sales & service profitability while reducing their overall cost per sale.

Hendrick Lexus is a flagship Lexus dealership and has become a luxury leading retailer for the Hendrick Automotive Group, one of the largest privately owned groups in the country. Located in Charlotte, NC, Hendrick Lexus has grown into a national leader for Lexus in numerous categories and currently ranks as the #1 volume dealership in the Carolinas, and is among the top Lexus dealerships in Certified Pre-Owned category for Lexus Nationally.

“We are consumed with delivering a world class customer experience that far exceeds our customers’ expectations – we want to WOW our customers every chance we get,” said Brian Gendron, Vice President and General Manager of Hendrick Lexus. “We believe that no one will treat our customers

as good as we do, so we owe it to everyone in our market to make sure they know about Hendrick Lexus so they can enjoy the experience our team members create.”

To ensure customers know about Hendrick Lexus, Gendron re-engineered the dealership’s entire marketing strategy to attract, serve and satisfy more customers for less cost than they spent before. “We want a holistic marketing plan that communicates a consistent message through every touch point with the customer,” said Gendron. “We were spending too much money with too many companies who were sending different messages to our customers with a different look and feel. This confuses customers and our own employees.” Hendrick Lexus’ new strategy was to use the same message, design and offers across all their advertising mediums: TV, radio, print, outdoor, web, search, social, email, mail, publicity, point of sale merchandising and retention. “We work with one company rather than 15 different vendors and we are spending less for a more integrated strategy that delivers a positive and consistent message to the market.”

Hendrick Lexus continues to provide an award-winning experience that their customers and employees have come to expect, but they just let more people know about it through their new marketing strategy that promotes all their Hendrick Lexus Leap Frogs 14 spots in Market Share in only 3 months departments, New, Certified Pre-Owned, Service & Parts, and Finance. “Too many dealers focus most of their marketing only on sales despite the fact that their service departments are the lifeline when the market slows down,” said Sean Wolfington, owner of www.Tier10Marketing.com, Hendrick Lexus’ marketing company. “It is just as important to integrate all 10 tiers of marketing so the dealership has the same message, look and feel in all their advertising and marketing materials.”

“We are promoting sales and service to customers who have a better chance of doing business with our dealership,” said Gendron. The dealership saved a lot of money by shifting their focus from traditional mass marketing to a more targeted advertising that speaks to consumers that have the highest statistical probability of buying and servicing their vehicle with the dealership.

“We are making an effort to spend more trying to attract and retain customers who spend more with us, not just today but over their lifetime,” added Gendron. “Customers that live far away are less loyal but customers who live closer to a dealership’s “perfect market” have a much higher probability of returning more often, spending more money and referring more of their friends,” said Budd Blackburn, the creator of the “perfect prospect predictor” and the owner of www.TeamVelocityMarketing.com, the targeted marketing team that works with www.Tier10Marketing.com for targeted email and direct mail campaigns for Hendrick’s sales and service departments.

“We used the manufacturer’s research, Polk Market data and the dealer’s historic sales and service trends to target in-market customers who buy and service more often with the dealership over their lifetime,” added Blackburn.

“When the press said we were in the worst market in 18 years, we actually felt some wind in our sails because of this new strategy. We were connecting differently with consumers and it drove them to us,” said Gendron. “We moved up 14 spots in YTD rankings over 2009 by the end of September and our plan was definitely working.” Hendrick also started to use online videos to promote the dealership. Today over 70% of online car buyers initiate their new vehicle search online and Hendrick uses video search engine optimization (VSEO) to appear on top of the search results with hi-impact videos that promote their dealership and the products they sell. Google changed their algorithm so that video results have

more search authority than traditional text results so Hendrick uses VSEO to appear on page one for the most popular search phrases in their market.

“Google gives advantage to video results over text results and consumers like video more than text because it combines sight, sound and motion,” said Karry Moore, owner of www.Car-Mercial.com, the company Hendrick uses to produce, optimize and place hundreds of positive videos on top of the search engines.

In addition to attracting new customers, Hendrick works very hard to create customers for life by delivering a world class customer experience. “We want to astonish our customers with extraordinary service. We monitor how our customers are being handled so we can make sure that they receive a 5-star experience at our dealership,” said Gendron.

Hendrick monitors 100% of their inbound calls so they can measure their advertising and track how their customers are handled on the phones, the number one entry point for consumers today. “Our managers get instant alerts whenever a customer is mishandled so they can contact them immediately to resolve issues, save a deal and save a customer in the long term. They will save multiple deals a week and repair broken relationships that could have led to lost customers and bad word-of-mouth.”

Hendrick uses the call monitoring strategy to ensure that every customer is handled properly and their advertising is generating the highest yield. “Within minutes of Hendrick’s management team receiving an alert, they contact the customer and resolve their issues,” said Chip King, president of www.CallRevu.com, the company that provides the call monitoring service to Hendrick.” Hendrick uses the reports to measure the effectiveness of their advertising and to monitor all customer phone calls through daily, weekly and monthly reports, as well as, real-time alerts that save deals and prevent potential CSI concerns.  “Our team’s compulsive focus on serving the customer has enabled us to become the proud recipients of the ‘Elite of Lexus’ award 13 years running,” said Gendron. “While we are having a fantastic year, we have a lot of areas we need to improve on so we look forward to improving and growing more in 2011.”

THE BOTTOM LINE

Hendrick Lexus moved ahead 14 spots in YTD National rankings in less than 3 months and their New car sales are up 27% over 2009 as a result of implementing a holistic marketing strategy that combines traditional advertising with digital, social media, reputation management, publicity, targeted marketing, point of sale merchandising and retention. All of their advertising has the same look, feel and messaging so consumers are exposed to a consistent professional message and creative.

What They Do:

  1. They execute a highly effective comprehensive marketing strategy with clear calls-to-action across all marketing mediums.
  2. They promote all their profit centers via cohesive messaging.
  3. They optimize their online visibility through VSEO.
  4. They monitor all customer phone calls to ensure customers are handled properly, examine ad tracking, and assess employee call performance.

Resources Dealer Uses:

  1. DMS: Reynolds & Reynolds (www.reyrey.com)
  2. Ad Agency: Tier 10 Marketing (www.Tier10Marketing.com)
  3. Targeted Marketing: Team Velocity (www.TeamVelocityMarketing.com)
  4. Video Search Engine Optimization: Car-mercial (www.Car-Mercial.com)
  5. Call Monitoring: CallRevu (www.CallRevu.com)

Recommended Actions:

  1. Re-evaluate your current marketing strategy to see if you have a clear strategy that integrates all the mediums of advertising with a consistent message, look and feel.
  2. Target consumers who have the highest statistical probability of doing business with your dealership today and in the long term.
  3. Increase your online presence with search marketing, video search marketing, targeted email campaigns and banner ads.
  4. Monitor call activity for tracking your ads, employees, process and to protect and save customers who are mishandled by your staff. well as, real-time alerts that save deals and prevent potential CSI concerns.

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New Honda Dealer Surpasses over 1,030 Dealers Reaching #9 in the Country in Only 12 Months

December 2010

Over 600% Increase in Repair Orders Written

Hamilton Honda opened its doors in May 2009 and never looked back. Within 12 months Hamilton landed a coveted spot among the Nation’s top 10 Honda retailers.

Founded by automotive executive Mike Saporito, a 24-year veteran of the automotive industry, and Jessie Armstead, a 5-time Pro-Bowl line­backer, Hamilton Honda is one of the fastest growing Honda dealer­ships on the East Coast.

From the ground up Saporito and Armstead built a phenomenal 65,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art facil­ity on 12 acres complete with all the bells and whistles, including an internet café that offers breakfast, lunch and free refreshments, as well as, a mini-museum with an exclu­sive Jessie Armstead collection high­lighting his 11-year NFL career.

Saporito and Armstead attribute Hamilton Honda’s extraordinary growth to a comprehensive strategy that includes their active commu­nity involvement, a discounted vol­ume pricing approach which gives consumers guaranteed low prices, free oil changes, loaner cars and car washes for life, and their virtual deal­ership, www.HamiltonHonda.net, that makes it easy for consumers to shop, buy and service their vehicles online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Hamilton has become an important member of central New Jersey’s lo­cal business community, employ­ing more than 100 individuals and generating more than $90 million in sales revenue in its first year selling over 4,600 new and used cars and servicing over 27,000.

Hamilton Honda combines tradi­tional advertising with digital mar­keting, targeted email and direct mail, publicity, social media market­ing, reputation management, niche marketing, point of sale merchan­dising and a complete retention pro­gram to keep customers loyal to ser­vice and sales. “We have a consistent message throughout all of our mar­keting and our team has one focus – exceeding our customers’ expec­tations,” said Saporito. “We are pas­sionate about customer satisfaction and our team does whatever it takes to make our customers happy.”

One key part of Hamilton’s strategy was the execution of a smart target­ed marketing strategy. “We identi­fied Honda customers who had the highest statistical probability of pur­chasing and/or servicing a vehicle with Hamilton and we sent targeted email and mail with attractive offers and Hamilton’s advantage of free car washes, oil changes and loaner cars,” said Budd Blackburn, owner of www.TeamVelocityMarketing.com, the targeted marketing company Hamilton uses.

One of the campaigns Hamilton promoted was the “2010 Hamilton Honda Vehicle BuyBack Program.” The program targeted Honda own­ers who were in equity and had a high probability of being in the market for a new vehicle. “The BuyBack Program offered cus­tomers additional trade-in value to “buy-back” their Honda and pro­vided additional incentives toward the purchase of a new Honda,” said Sean Wolfington, owner of www.Tier10Marketing.com, Ham­ilton Honda’s marketing company. “Hamilton also included service offers for the customers who may not want to get a new vehicle but needed a major service.” Like all of Hamilton’s integrated marketing campaigns all the materials had a consistent message, look and feel. “The program was a great success and brought in a lot of quality, low mileage, single owner, late model Honda’s that are not easy to find and can be very expensive at auc­tion,” said Saporito.

Another successful marketing initiative created by Hamilton is a unique Teacher Appreciation Purchase Program, where teach­ers received special pricing and service from Hamilton. “We like to get involved in the community and help in any way we can,” said Saporito. Hamilton has created several other specialty vehicle purchase programs including one specifically for the military for ac­tive, reserve and Guard Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps military at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. All military person­nel and their families are eligible for special pricing and service through Hamilton Honda.

To ensure every customer gets 5 star service Hamilton hired a company to monitor every inbound call and to alert management whenever a customer is mishandled or has a customer service issue that can­not be resolved. The management team also reviews daily, weekly and monthly call monitoring reports to improve their processes and the customer experience for the grow­ing number of customers that pre­fer to call before coming into the dealership. “We use the reports to track our advertising sources, em­ployees, processes and to make sure we exceed our customers’ expecta­tions,” said Saporito. “Hamilton’s managers respond immediately to alerts and do a great job respond­ing to their customers’ needs,” said Chip King of www.CallRevu.com, the company Hamilton uses for call monitoring. “Whenever there is an issue with a customer our managers get and respond to the alert within minutes by calling and resolving the customers concerns. Many custom­ers are pleasantly surprised that a manager contacted them so quickly and addressed their issue,” said Sa­porito.

It was not sheer luck that Hamilton Honda surpassed over 1,030 Honda dealers to reach the #9 spot in the country in only 12 months. They implemented a comprehensive marketing strategy that promotes all their profit centers, New, Used, Service, and F&I. Their marketing strategy is targeted to in-market consumers and their message, look and feel is consistent across all mediums: TV, radio, print, direct mail, web site, digital marketing, publicity, retention and even the point of sale merchandising. In addition to Hamilton’s integrat­ed marketing strategy to attract ready-to-buy consumers they de­liver a world class customer expe­rience that has earned them high cus­tomer satisfaction and will certainly translate into loyalty down the road. “We want to make sure that every cus­tomer’s expectations are not only met, but exceeded,” said Saporito. If year one is any indication, there is no doubt that Hamilton Honda will have many more successful years in the future.

In a Nutshell

• Hamilton Honda generated more than $90 million in sales revenue in its first year, selling over 4,600 new and used cars and servicing over 27,000.

• Hamilton Honda experienced a 600% increase in service ROs written on combination sales and service marketing initiative.

• Hamilton Honda uses www.Tier10Marketing.com and

www.TeamVelocityMarketing.com to implement targeted marketing campaigns that attract, sell and service in-market consumers.

• Hamilton Honda’s call monitoring program, www.CallRevu.com, sends alerts to their management team whenever a customer is mishandled so they can save a deal and a customer for life.

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Paragon Honda and Acura Sky Rocket to #1

This Is How They Did It In Just 6 Months.
By Cliff Banks

Special Edition Magazine
November 2010

Paragon Honda & Acura

Paragon Honda and Acura grew from #17 to the #1 New & Certified Pre-Owned Honda & Acura Dealer in the U.S. in a short 6 month period. This document provides an overview of what they did in that time period.

“Overall, it was our best year in business despite being the worst year in the industry,” said Brian Benstock, GM and partner of Paragon Honda and Acura. “We had a record year for volume and profitability during a record low year for the car business.” The biggest thing that impacted Paragon’s growth was changing their marketing, sales and service strategy last June. “We had an in-house ad agency but decided to bring on an outside company to help us build and implement a new plan to grow our business,” said Benstock. Below is a summary of the strategies that had the biggest impact on Paragon’s business over the last year according to Brian Benstock himself.

Leadership

Paragon’s mission-driven leadership team is passionate about astonishing their customers by delivering a Ritz-level customer experience in all their departments. The leadership of Paragon is known for its commitment to customer service and extraordinary work ethic. “Paul and Edith Singer founded the dealerships years ago and they set the bar high by their example and extraordinary work. Since Paul passed away, Edith has infused the culture of the dealership with her passion and tireless work ethic but also has added the heart that is essential to premium customer care,” said Benstock.

Consolidation

“In the past our in-house ad agency worked with 12 different companies to execute every part of our strategy and the vendors didn’t work together so the campaigns were not integrated. It was confusing for our customers because our TV and radio commercials had one message, direct mail had another, my internet manager was sending emails with different offers and none of it was on my website or point of purchase materials in the dealership. Our advertising strategy improved dramatically because we consolidated our marketing vendors and hired one company to develop and implement one integrated marketing strategy that is completely connected and consistent.”

Market Research

“Paragon uses extensive market research to identify consumers that have the highest statistical probability of doing business with their dealerships in the future,” said Sean Wolfington, Owner of Tier10Marketing.com, the marketing company Paragon hired to help them create their strategy. “We use the manufacturer’s Paragon search, Polk Market data and the dealer’s historic sales and service trends to plan which customers to target in the future,” said David Boice, Co-founder of Tier10Marketing.com.

“In the past we spent more money on mass marketing through TV, radio and print, but the research showed that over 90% of our business came from less than 10% of the city, so we targeted our marketing to the consumers that live in those areas and that are in the market to buy or service their vehicle in the near future,” said Benstock. “This saved us a lot of money that we used to waste on advertising to people who were either not in the market for what we offer or who were not in our geographical market and therefore had a low probability of coming in for sales or service,” added Benstock. “There are over 11 million people in New York City but there are only 87,500 consumers that have a high probability of doing business with Paragon so they are the primary target of their marketing plan,” said Boice.

“With intelligence and boldness, Brian thrives in an urban environment where few could survive,” said Dale Pollak, chairman and founder of vAuto. Paragon uses vAuto to get accurate used vehicle market pricing to implement an intelligent strategy for buying, marketing and selling used vehicles. “Before we would price our cars very high in the hope of making a very large gross profit and we would slowly reduce the price as time went on,” said Benstock. “Now we market price our pre-owned vehicles to move them fast so we can increase the frequency of our sales and get a better internal rate of return on our capital. In short, we make a lot more money by making less money more often.” When a customer wants to shop, Paragon shows them similar vehicles in the market that cost more money so they can see they are getting a good deal without leaving Paragon’s showroom to prove it.

Traditional Advertising

Traditional advertising on TV, radio and print is expensive in New York, like other major metro markets. As a result, Paragon shifted a lot of their traditional ad budget to more targeted marketing that generates better returns. However, since Latinos make up half of Paragon’s market, they have leveraged some good buys on Spanish radio, as well as, print ads in the New York Times where they include QR technology, a barcode that links consumers’ mobile phones to Paragon’s website where they can learn more about the offer and contact the dealership. “We recently did a radio buy that promoted a film premiere we sponsored in Queens,” said Benstock. “We invited people to our website and Facebook pages to enter to win tickets to the premier and provided additional entries for people who shared the promotion with others on Facebook and Twitter.” Paragon has integrated technology into their traditional advertising to build their database and to multiply the reach of their promotions through viral strategies that incentivize consumers to share their promotions with their friends.

Online Marketing

Over 90% of Honda consumers use the web to shop so Paragon has an in-depth strategy for search engine optimization and marketing, email marketing, banner ads on popular websites like Facebook, social media marketing, online reputation management and mobile marketing. “We have a lot of friends and followers on the top social media platforms including Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and Bebo,” said Benstock. “As a result of our digital marketing campaigns, we increased the size of our database by approximately 50,000 in the last 6 months and we are sending out professionally designed emails that have credible themes and clear offers that generate leads from consumers who will buy and others who need service.”

Lead Providers

“Our best source of leads are our own websites because the closing ratios and average gross profits are much higher than the typical lead providers, as most 3rd party lead generators sell the same lead to multiple dealers,” said Benstock. “We only work with lead providers that generate a good return and have a lower cost per sale compared to our other marketing. We use AutoTrader.com, Cars.com and AutomotiveAdvertisingNetwork.com because all three of them deliver exclusive leads which means they don’t resell the same leads to all of our competitors.”

AutoTrader and Cars.com have long done a good job with pre-owned and they give dealers exposure to clients they may not otherwise reach. The Automotive Advertising Network promotes Paragon’s vehicles on the most popular search engines and social networks and sends them unlimited leads for a flat membership fee of $995. AutoTrader and Cars.com are more expensive but often generate more leads.

“Now that AutoTrader.com has bought vAuto we are eager to see what Dale Pollak and Chip Perry will do together, I am sure it will be big,” Benstock said.

Search Engines

Since the majority of consumers use search engines to find their next new vehicle, Paragon uses organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Video Search Engine Optimization (VSEO) and targeted pay-per-click search marketing campaigns to attract in-market consumers their websites and dealerships.

As a result, Paragon appears on top of the search engines for the most popular search phrases in their market “New York Honda” and “New York Acura”. Paragon tracks what consumers are searching for on Google and they implement search strategies to appear on top of the results for popular search phrases. For example, during cash for clunkers Paragon generated over 5,000 leads in less than a month through Paragon’s website, CashForClunkersNY.com, which was the #1 result when customers typed in “NY Cash for Clunkers”.

When Toyota’s recall was announced, Paragon received leads from the Automotive Advertising Network which optimized a website called ToyotaRecall.org that appears on top of the results when consumers search for information about Toyota’s Recall. “The Automotive Ad Network also provides thousands of inbound links to our website, which increases search authority and position on the search engines,” noted Benstock.

Video SEO

Television advertising has worked well for dealers in the past because consumers can experience the sight, sound and motion that other mediums don’t deliver. Now Paragon is using video to promote their dealership but they are optimizing the videos to appear on top of the search engines for the most popular search phrases their consumers use to find an Acura or Honda. “We hired a VSEO company, to produce and position hundreds of positive videos about our dealership on top of the search. They also post comparison videos for consumers who are searching for competitive brands like Toyota and Nissan, so they can see the advantages of the Honda and visit our website to get an instant price quote,” said Benstock. “Google gives advantage to video results over text results and consumers like video more than text,” said Karry Moore, Owner of Car-Mercial.com, the company Paragon uses for their VSEO strategy.

Pay-Per-Click Search Marketing

“Our primary strategy for pay-per-click is to improve our organic search results so we don’t have to pay a lot of money on our pay-per-click strategy. So far this year we have generated 10 leads organically for every 1 lead from pay-per-click, and that has dramatically reduced our cost per lead and sale. We only use targeted pay-per-click search marketing campaigns for the search phrases where we don’t appear for free on the search engines and that have the highest closing ratios at the dealership,” explained Benstock.

Micro Sites

All of Paragon’s digital marketing efforts drive consumers to a campaign micro site where the message, offers, look and feel are consistent with every other part of the campaign. The campaign micro site is designed to convert the maximum number of visitors into email, phone and showroom leads. Some examples of micro sites we currently use are ParagonHondaInfo.com and ParagonExpressService.com.

Public Relations

Paragon realizes that a free five minute story on a major TV network that appears online forever has a bigger impact than an expensive 30 or 60 second TV ad that runs out when the budget expires. “Our marketing company creates and distributes relevant press that generates interviews with local press and we have received exposure in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, NY Post and hundreds of stories on national outlets, including CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX and MSN,” said Benstock. As a result of his public exposure, Benstock was recently invited to host an Automotive Advice call-in show on the top radio station in New York every Saturday at 4pm and he is piloting a similar car show on Fox TV to give consumers advice on shopping and servicing their vehicles. When you google “Brian Benstock” and search for “Videos”, two pages of video interviews on national TV shows appear as a result of Paragon’s effective publicity campaign.

Reputation Management

Today’s consumers rely more on other consumers’ reviews than advertising, so Online Reputation Management is a top priority for Paragon. “When consumers google our dealership or my name they will find out about all the things we are doing in the community and they will be able to read positive reviews from satisfied customers,” said Benstock.

“Our marketing company automates a process to ask all our satisfied customers to share their experience on popular consumer sites like Google Reviews, Dealer Rater and many others. By asking our satisfied customers to share their experience on the internet, our online reputation dramatically improved in a few short months and we are always working to make it better,” said Benstock. Paragon also has an active social media marketing strategy through Facebook, Twitter and their dealership blog ParagonHondaInfo.com. Paragon takes pictures of all their customers with their new car, sends them the photo and asks them to post it on Facebook and share their positive experience on the review sites. To increase the chances, Paragon also gives customers step-by-step instructions on “how to” post their review on Google, Dealer Rater and the other popular review sites.

Targeted Marketing

Paragon communicates with all in-market Honda and Acura consumers by sending custom offers based on their vehicle, miles and position in their ownership cycle. Paragon sends custom campaigns via mail and email to promote all their profit centers, New, Used, Finance, Service and Parts. “We dial into Paragon’s DMS to target in-equity customers and we use variable printers to send a custom message to each consumer that shows them how they can get a newer vehicle for a lower payment,” said Budd Blackburn from TeamVelocityMarketing.com, “we also include offers that promote the service the customer needs, extended service agreements and accessories.“

Niche Marketing

Paragon’s marketing company promotes a corporate purchase program to employees of large organizations in their market that gives them special pricing and service when they do business at Paragon. “Our marketing company sends an information package to the HR department of the largest organizations in our area to ask them if they want to give this free benefit to their employees,” said Benstock. If a company wants to join the program they receive a communication kit from Paragon that explains the program to their employees. Companies have the option of having brochures customized with their logo and sent to their employees directly so they don’t even need to stuff their payroll envelopes.

Merchandising

When you walk into Paragon Honda and Acura, it is obvious something is going on. Even if consumers don’t know about their sale the merchandising quickly reminds them that they are lucky they stopped by at the right time. “We want our customers to see a consistent message through our advertising and our in-store posters, tri-folds, balloons, hang tags and brochures,” said Benstock. The dealership has extensive POS Merchandising that promotes the Paragon Guarantee and Paragon’s Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles.

Retention

Paragon implements a detailed loyalty strategy to bring back customers for service and to re-sell their customer base more often. “We have a 360° customer communication process from the moment a customer buys to the time they renew into a new vehicle and everything in between,” said Benstock. Paragon uses email, phone, voicemails and direct mail to communicate with their customers when they need service, accessories, an extended warranty or a new vehicle.

“According to our ad tracking phone numbers, we have had the most success with the variable mail campaigns because the response rates and closing ratios are higher than other mediums,” said Benstock.

“Most dealers will send multiple campaigns to promote all their profit centers,” said Budd Blackburn, Owner of TeamVelocityMarketing.com, “Paragon’s custom mailers promote all their profit centers in one campaign that has multiple offers for sales, service and finance,” added Blackburn. “While most advertising is a lot more expensive in New York, the cost of mailers and postage is the same here as it is in Nebraska so direct mail has proven to be our best return on investment,” said Benstock.

Paragon Certified Pre-Owned

Paragon is the #1 Certified Pre-Owned Honda and Acura dealers in the world. Actually, Paragon Honda sells more than twice the certified pre-owned vehicles of the 2nd place Honda Certified retailer and broke Honda and Acura’s all-time record by selling over 300 Certified Hondas and over 100 certified Acuras in one month. “We source most of our certified vehicles from trade-ins because we have increased our new vehicle sales to customers who trade in 2 and 3 year old vehicles as a result of our targeted marketing,” said Benstock. “Our Certified team inspects, repairs, and reconditions our vehicles to make them nearly-new and we get them front-line ready in days so we can maintain a fast turnover of our inventory.” As a result, Paragon has zero 60-day vehicles, not due to wholesale policies but due to better retail marketing. Paragon promotes their Certified pre-owned vehicles with posters, brochures, table tops, hang tags and window clings so it is easy for consumers to learn about the value of their Certified pre-owned vehicles. “We give every customer an ‘autobiography’ that includes the vehicle’s history, lemon check, service history, and pricing information on competitive vehicles so our customers have a lot of confidence when they buy a Certified pre-owned vehicle from our dealership,” explained Benstock.

Trade Cycle Management

Over the last few difficult years, Paragon has learned that the loyalty and frequency of their customer activity is essential to survive the ups and downs of this business. That is why Paragon launched a loyalty management strategy centered on trade cycle management and short-term leasing. “We educate our customers on the benefits of a short-term lease and we are implementing a renewal process that dramatically increases our loyalty rates at lease-end,” said Benstock. “Our goal is to build a large bank of loyal lifetime customers who buy a new or used vehicle every 2-3 years rather than every 6-8 years.” Paragon’s trade cycle business plan forecasts the dealership being able to double their business every 6 years by increasing the loyalty and frequency of their customer base without generating any increase in volume from new prospects. “The best part is that this strategy will ensure we have a lot of low mileage, late model pre-owned Hondas that we can sell through our Certified pre-owned program which is always in need of these hard to find vehicles,” said Benstock.

Tracking Advertising, Employees & Customer Care

Paragon tracks their advertising, employees, and how their customers are treated by listening to every call that comes into their dealership. “We use a company called CallRevu.com to monitor all our calls 24/7 and they send real-time alerts to our managers when a customer is mishandled on the phone,” said Benstock. “Our managers save a lot of deals because they contact customers immediately before it’s too late. We also review daily and weekly reports that tell us what marketing the customers responded to, the appointment rates, show rates, and closing ratios by ad source. With this information we adjust our marketing to spend more where we get the results and less where we don’t.”

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CallRevu…take control of your phone

We all know that the telephone is the best sales tool. Callrevu enables you to take control of your incoming phone calls. Callrevu’s highly trained staff of transcribers will listen to categorize, transcribe and summarize all phone calls to your business. Providing you with a detailed report every morning allowing you to manage all aspects of your all important phone traffic. Additionally Callrevu alerts your management team throughout the day on potential deals and CSI issues.

With Callrevu you can:

  • See how your calls are being handled
  • See if your phone system is working properly
  • Ensure that the phone is being answers
  • See that your customers are being treated in a professional manner
  • Track appointment rates
  • Evaluate employees
  • Save deals
  • Stop negative CSI issues

Capital Honda Saves a Deal a Day by Listening to Calls

August 2010
Anthony Gomez
Capital Honda

In most dealerships the phone is the primary method of customer contact during and after the sale. Most dealers will readily admit that their phones are not handled the way they would like, but they don’t know exactly what is happening when customers call. Not Anthony Gomez, Managing Partner of Capital Honda, who monitors every call that comes
into his dealership and follows up with mishandled customers within minutes when calls go wrong.

The phone is a blind spot in many dealerships where customers and profits are lost in every department, every hour of every business day. Nationwide call volume has increased, but Sales appointment rates are under 20% and Service appointment rates are under 30%. “We were paying for a lot of 800 numbers to track ad sources and record all our calls, so I had my managers listen to all the calls that came into our dealership. It didn’t work well because they didn’t have the time, and when they found the time it was often too late,
sometimes a whole day after the call,” said Gomez. “We signed up with a new program that gave us all the call tracking #s for free and they charge us to monitor all my calls and alert me when anything goes wrong.”

“The instant alerts help me save deals and the ad tracking reports help me spend my marketing money smarter,” said Gomez. “Our previous ad tracking reports were inaccurate because they attributed calls to our website’s 800# that were not created by the website. Many customers, who called the number on our website, were driven there from other advertising, but they used the 800# on the site to contact us. By listening to every call we now know exactly what brought them to our site and what messaging is working best in our ads. For example, by listening to our calls we realized that we received a lot of calls from a direct mail campaign on our website’s 800# rather than the number on the mailer. A lot of people who got the mailer, visited the website, and then called the 800# on the web page. Our daily reports prioritize the important calls from the previous day with recommended actions to take. We also receive weekly and monthly reports with ‘Vital Statistics’ that compares our dealership to national group averages,” said Gomez.

The reports include categories like:

• Appointment % for sales
• Appointment % for service
• % of contact information captured
• % of calls forwarded to voice mail

“We conduct save-a-deal meetings every morning for 15-20 minutes where we review all of the high priority phone opportunities from the previous day,” said Gomez.

“We also use the CallRevu reports to identify systemic problems that hurt our business. For example, we had a surprising number of calls forwarded to voicemail and too many customers called to complain that they were never called back… so we fixed it. And last month we made almost 50 appointments from Call Alerts alone. A year ago those represented 50 lost sales”.

The Bottom Line:

Capital Honda uses a company (CallRevu.com) to monitor and measure all call activity at the dealership. They receive free 800#s to track ads and calls. They receive real-time alerts when a customer is mishandled on the phone and their management follows up within minutes to save the deal.

What They Do:

1. Calls are recorded with ad source, time, department and representative on the call.
2. Calls are reviewed and transcribed in a few sentence summary.
3. Dealership team receives instant alerts when a customer is mishandled so they can follow up immediately to save the customer.
4. Instant text alerts include a short summary of what happened and a recording of the call.
5. Management receives daily, weekly, monthly and annual reports that identify areas for improvement in marketing, call process, phone system and follow up.
6. The dealer uses reports to customize training to improve their people, process, and results.

Resources Dealer Uses:

1. DMS – Reynolds & Reynolds (www.ReyRey.com)
2. Phone System – Toshiba “KeyPhones Direct”
3. Call Monitoring and Alert Service – CallRevu (www.CallRevu.com)

Recommended Actions:

1. Actively listen, monitor and measure call activity to improve your profits by improving how you handle customers who call your dealership.
2. Spot check calls on your own or divide calls amongst the management when they have time.
3. Hire a full-time staff to monitor all your calls.
4. Dealers who don’t want to hire a staff, due to the expense and resources required, can hire a company like Capital Honda did.

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Autosuccess 2010 Special Edition

DEALER OF THE YEAR

Paragon Honda breaks records during record low year in the automotive industry

Paragon Honda leap-frogged from #17 in U.S. market share for Honda to the #1 Honda New and Used dealer in the world in only 6 months. “We had a record year for volume and profitability during a record low year for the car business,” said Brian Benstock from Paragon Honda in Queens New York. We met with Brian to find out in his own words what led to their success. Some of the companies Brian works with are on our Top 10 list this year (Tier 10, Level 5, Team Velocity, CallRevu, Car-mercial).

Research

Paragon used historic market research to plan their future. “The marketing company we hired (Tier 10) gave us a market research report that identified which customers had the highest probability of doing business with our dealership in the future. We also relied on important used vehicle data provided by one of our vendors (VAuto) to help us implement an intelligent strategy for buying, marketing and selling used vehicles, which is a huge part of our business,” said Benstock.

Traditional Advertising

We bought less traditional advertising this year but took advantage of some good buys on radio, TV and print when they were available. We are also leveraging all of our outdoor real estate by putting campaign messages on our own billboards with our theme of $5 a day and $6 a day for Civics and Accords.

Digital Marketing

Our strategy includes search engine optimization and marketing, email marketing, banner ads on popular websites like Facebook, Campaign micro-sites and social media marketing. We have a lot of friends and followers on all the top social media platforms including Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and Bebo. Over 70% of consumers use Search Engines to find their new vehicle so we have a plan for organic search engine optimization, video search engine optimization (Car-mercial.com) and targeted pay per click search marketing campaigns. We drive consumers to a campaign micro-site where the message, offers, look and feel are consistent with the every other part of the campaign. We have increased the size of our database by approximately 50,000 in the last 6 months and we are sending out professionally designed emails that have credible themes and clear offers.

Public Relations

“Before this year we did not pay much attention to public relations but I quickly learned that a positive 5 minute story on a major TV network was much better than a 30 or 60 second TV ad. The marketing company I work with helped us create and distribute relevant press releases and they booked me for interviews with the local press. As a result we have been in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times 3 times, NY Post 5 times and included in hundreds of stories on national outlets, including CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX and the home page of MSN twice.” We Googled Brian Benstock and searched for “Videos” and 2 pages of video interviews appeared. “Our online Reputation Management is our top priority now. We just started to use our marketing company’s automated process to ask all our satisfied customers to share their experience on popular consumer sites like Dealer Rater and Google because otherwise complainers are the only people who complete the reviews. Our online reputation was dramatically improved in a few months time and we are still working to make it better.”

Targeted Marketing

“Each month we contact all the “in-market” customers with a custom offer based on their vehicle, miles and position in their ownership cycle. We send custom campaigns via mail, email and phone to promote all our profit centers, New, Used, Finance, Service and Parts. One mailer informs customers that they can upgrade from their current vehicle into a new vehicle for a lower monthly payment .The mailer includes their exact current payment, the new lower payment and a picture of the new car. This is possible because the mail company we use (Team Velocity) uses our DMS data and their variable printing technology to send a custom message and picture to each consumer. We also develop other successful campaigns to include targeting consumers who need service, extended service agreements and who are coming off lease in the next 3-6 months.”

Niche Marketing

“We built a corporate purchase program that offers employees of large organizations special pricing and service when they do business at Paragon. We send an information package to the HR department of the area’s largest organizations to inform them of this free employee benefit and to offer a communication kit to explain the program. The companies have the option of having brochures customized with their logo and sent to their employees directly so they don’t even need to stuff their payroll envelopes.”

Merchandising

“When I walk into Macy’s during one of their sales it is obvious something is going on. Even if I didn’t know about the sale, the merchandising quickly reminds me that I was lucky to run into a big sale. At Paragon we want our customers to have the same experience when they see our campaign posters, tri-folds, stands, balloons, hang tags and brochures. This year we had great merchandising for every campaign we implemented.”

Retention

“The best customer we can ever find is the one we already have. We implemented a loyalty strategy to bring back customers for service and to re-sell our customer base. The key to this strategy was contacting our customers with the right message at the right time. We use email, phone, voicemails and direct mail to communicate with our sales and service customers when they are in the market. The most effective thus far has been mail – the response rates and closing ratios are higher than other mediums and it doesn’t take any of our time or resources because we outsource it; (Team Velocity).  Most of our mailers include new, used, finance, service and parts so we can get the maximum return from each contact. When we target in-market prospects they need to replace their vehicle or they need to do a major service if they keep it longer. “

Paragon Certified Pre-Owned

“We have our own Certified Pre-Owned program for vehicles that are inspected and guaranteed but may not meet Honda’s program requirements. Our goal is to only sell pre-owned vehicles we can certify so our customers never have to be worried about the quality of the pre-owned vehicle they get from our dealership. Our certified pre-owned program and marketing campaign includes ads, merchandising and an “auto-biography” for each pre-owned vehicle we sell.”

Trade Cycle Management

This year has taught us that the loyalty and frequency of your customer activity is essential to survive the ups and downs of this business. We are launching a loyalty management strategy centered around trade cycle management and short term leasing. We will educate our customers on the benefits of a short term lease and we are implementing a renewal process to increase loyalty rates at lease end. Our goal is to build a large bank of loyal lifetime customers who buy a new or used vehicle every 2-3 years. After working through the math this strategy has the potential to double our business every 4 years by increasing the loyalty and frequency of our customer base. The best part is that this strategy will ensure we have a lot of low mileage, late model pre-owned Hondas that we can sell through our certified pre-owned program.

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