Dealerships

4-step process for effective text messaging at your dealership

LEHI, Utah - 

The way that consumers research, find, and engage with dealership has changed significantly in recent years. In the past, dealers would buy newspaper and radio ads, put up a billboard, get listed in the Yellow Pages, and wait for customers to call or show up to their dealership.

Now, the process is much more detached. While traditional advertising and marketing are important to create awareness, they are no longer the primary sources car buyers turn to when deciding which dealership to choose. Online searches are now king. Today’s car buyer typically searches for dealerships near them, reads reviews, maybe looks at your website, and then calls or messages you directly from your listing.

The option for customers to message businesses is a new addition. Google recognized that more and more customers would prefer to message a business as opposed to placing a call. In fact, 90 percent of consumers want to use messaging to interact with a business – with 50 percent preferring to message via SMS text.

The problem is only 48 percent of businesses are capable of messaging with their customers, but that number will likely increase with the launch of Google Click-to-Message. To help you get started, we have outlined the steps to get your dealership’s account set up to accept messages from your customers.

Here are the four steps to setting up Google Click-To-Message:

1. Login to your Google My Business page

2. Select messaging in the left menu and add phone number

3. Verify that number with a code sent from Google

4. Now searchers can message your dealership

Tips for interacting with customers via text

Now that your dealership is all set up to take incoming texts, let’s review some tips that will help you successfully interact with your customers.

1. Be responsive

Oftentimes when consumers are conducting an online search on their mobile device, they want their questions answered immediately. This is because they are likely experiencing what Google refers to as micro-moments. These are when consumers want to know, want to go, or want to buy. If your online presence isn’t able to quickly answer their questions, they will probably move on to your competition.

One of the main reasons that online searchers want to connect with you via text is they feel like it is a quicker, more efficient method of communication. But that’s only true if the dealership is placing an emphasis on quick response times.

To ensure this happens, general managers should make sure their team is well equipped to offer quick responses to customers. If you don’t consistently respond to messages in a timely manner, customers will know because over time Google will post typical response times on your listing.

2. Don’t ask for sensitive information via text

This might seem obvious, but it bears repeating. Businesses should never ask for sensitive information like credit cards, banking information, or social security numbers over text. While text messages seem secure, the information isn’t encrypted so the data could be vulnerable.

3. Ask for customer feedback

Another valuable way to utilize text messaging in your customer interactions is asking for feedback. A lot of times customers don’t want to take the time to fill out a lengthy customer satisfaction survey, but they would be willing to answer a few questions via text. That is because asking questions via text comes across as more personal and less intrusive than a survey.

One way to approach this is by asking your customers after a transaction is complete, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely would you be to recommend this business to a family or friend.” And then follow that up with one or two questions about the service your business delivers. Our research has shown that approaching customer feedback this way results in significantly higher open and response rates than traditional CSAT surveys.

4. Invite customers to review your business

Text messaging is also a good method for collecting public facing customer feedback on your Google My Business listing. One of the biggest reasons to use text messaging to do this is many people are already signed into their Google account on their smartphone, so it’s much easier to connect them directly to your Google reviews page.

5. Encourage customers to add you to their contacts

Texting with your customers will help you build stronger more loyal customers. To help you reinforce that loyalty, try texting them a vCard with your contact information on it. If customers have access to your phone number in their contacts, it removes one of the steps in the car buying journey. It will help you evolve from being just a dealership to being their dealership.

Jon Eyre is director of content at Podium, which helps businesses drive user-generated content in the form of online reviews to increase visibility, improve business operations and drive the purchase decision. The company serves more than 50,000 users across all business sectors and has a robust automotive division. More recommendations from Podium are available through webinars the company has hosted with Auto Remarketing that are available here as well as here.

CarStory makes AI-driven analytics platform available to lenders, OEMs, software providers

AUSTIN, Texas - 

CarStory, the automotive AI platform from Vast, announced Tuesday general availability of its CarStory Analytics for marketplaces, lenders, OEMs and software providers.

CarStory Analytics powers the companies CarStory Market Reports, CarStory Insights, CarStory Leaderboard and CarStory Marketplace.

"The market is rewarding companies that deliver answers, not just information," Vast chief executive officer John Price said in a news release.

"Our suite of CarStory Analytics gives partners the market and vehicle insights they need to create more valuable solutions for their customers.”

CarStory Analytics provides insight on vehicle pricing, features, consumer demand, condition and images.

CarStory Market Reports are currently live on over 10,000 dealer websites.

The company said OEMs such as Volkswagen and Hyundai entrust the reports to boost CPO vehicle sales.

CarStory has a network of more than 7,000 dealers nationwide, who reach over 15 million consumers each month, according to the company.

Millennials say more tech would attract them to auto dealership jobs

CARY, N.C. - 

While millennials still name car dealer as one of the top three occupations they would like to avoid, if car dealerships integrated more modern technology into the sales process, these same millennials would be more likely to pursue a job there.

This is according to new survey data Roadster released in partnership with research firm Survata on Tuesday.

Car dealer follows behind tax collector, the second most avoided occupation. Politician comes in as the No.1 most avoided occupation.

Fifty-four percent of millennials told Roadster that if car dealerships used more modern technology they would be more likely to consider a job there, according to the report.

“Imagine if you’re a millennial and the only way you’ve bought a car is through the traditional process, negotiating back and forth, writing everything down on a piece of scratch paper, but everything else you purchase is through an iPad, iPhone – some sort of screen device,” said Honda of Seattle General Sales Manager Tim Miller, who uses Roadster’s Express Store solution. “We’re attracting millennials by giving them the option to sell cars the way we sell it, which is through the Roadster Express Store, and that allows them to sell the vehicle just the way they purchase products off of Apple, Amazon and any other online retailer.”

When millennials were asked what retailers they would make car dealerships like, they listed companies Amazon (37 percent), Apple (23 percent) and Starbucks (11 percent) as their top three.

Over 90 percent of the millennials surveyed said having access to technology was important.

“On our end, normally when you go in to buy a car and you want to look at payment options, everything’s done on a piece of paper, and you have to go back and forth between the sales manager or an office,” Miller said.

“Now when you come into one of our dealerships, and you want to see the payments on the vehicle, the cash price, a lease quote, everything is done right there on the showroom floor without any management necessary and everything’s done on an iPad. For a customer, normally it takes 20-25 minutes just to get the customer the information of how much it’s going to cost to pay for this vehicle.”

With the Roadster Express Store, sales staff can have those options available to customers in about 30 seconds, according to Miller.

“We really try to value our customers time, because that is the most important thing that they have in their lives and certainly us as a dealership we value time over everything,” he said.

The survey also found that 61 percent of millennials say that one element about car dealerships they would like to change is the high-pressure sales environment.

Miller said that employing modern technology solutions not only simplifies the sales process and experience for customers, but also for dealership staff as well.

“Training is much easier because all the information is up front, so they don’t have to ask management what are the prices for the car, or what the interest rate is, everything’s on the Express Store. So it really just allows us to focus on customer service, selecting the right vehicle and then minimizing our customers’ time in store," Miller said. 

Additionally, 57 percent and 30 percent of millennial respondents, respectively, named less commission-based compensation and a more predictable work schedule as other changes they would like to see at dealerships.

Between Oct. 11 and Oct. 12, there were 1,006 online respondents interviewed for the survey.

PERQ joins growing CDK Global Partner Program

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. and INDIANAPOLIS - 

PERQ is the latest company to join the expanding CDK Global Partner Program, the company announced Thursday.

The program recently reached over 350 partners and 450 unique applications, according to CDK.

“The continued expansion of the CDK Partner Program plays a critical role in our ability to enable end-to-end automotive commerce for our customers,” CDK Data Services vice president and general manager Howard Gardner said in a news release.

“We want to provide dealers with more choices and ultimately help them deliver a better customer experience through increased integration with CDK systems and partner applications. We look forward to further broadening the range of solutions available to support dealer operations and the marketing of dealership inventory and services,” he said.

PERQ’s Online Guided Shopping Solution, designed to increase leads and improve close rates for dealerships, is now part of the program’s marketplace of applications.

“We’re very pleased to introduce PERQ as the newest member of the CDK Global Partner Program,” added Gardner. “PERQ is a welcome addition to our vibrant program that provides dealers with a range of partner choices and the assurance that their programs can be seamlessly integrated with our applications.”

The program fosters data and workflow integration between CDK products and partner applications. Participants can integrate with a range of CDK applications and CDK dealer websites.

“We’re thrilled to be part of the CDK Global Partner Program, which will make it easy for forward-thinking dealerships to take advantage of our unique online guided shopping solution,” said Stephanie Ragozzino, executive vice president of product at PERQ. “PERQ helps dealers make better online connections with buyers by creating an online guided shopping environment that rivals the experiences consumers get from big brand websites – all with just one line of code on their existing website.”

NADA report: Franchised dealers on pace for more workforce records

TYSONS, Va. - 

More workers making more money.

That’s the crux of the latest report from the National Automobile Dealers Association

Employment and payroll at franchised dealerships continued to rise through the first six months of 2017, according to a new midyear report released by NADA.

Officials tabulated that franchised dealerships directly employed 1,134,200 workers through the second quarter of this year, up from a record 1,131,900 in 2016, according to NADA Data 2017: Midyear Report, which provides a biannual financial profile of franchised dealerships, as well as data on employment, payroll and more.

“We expect to see employment at new-car dealerships reach an all-time high at the end of 2017,” NADA senior economist Patrick Manzi said in a news release. “In addition to the direct employment provided by dealerships, more than another million other jobs in local communities are dependent on dealerships.”

The report indicated payroll at franchised dealerships reached nearly $33 billion in June year-to-date, up more than 11 percent compared to the same six months in 2016.

The average compensation for employees at franchised dealerships was $69,784 per year in 2016.

“For the past several years, dealership employees have seen steady increases in their incomes as well as in their total compensation,” Manzi added. “Dealership jobs offer significantly higher compensation than other retail sectors.”

Manheim to host charity auction for NIADA Foundation at NABD event

ORLANDO, Fla. - 

The National Alliance of Buy-Here, Pay-Here Dealers, Manheim and the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association are all rallying during the East Coast BHPH Conference that begins on Monday to help operators still impacted by hurricane damage.

Officials from NABD and Manheim confirmed with Auto Remarketing on Friday that a golf cart will be auctioned off by the staff from Manheim Orlando during the conference with the proceeds benefitting NIADA Foundation’s Hurricane Harvey relief campaign.

Officials said the item will be at Manheim’s conference booth, and the sale will take place during Tuesday evening’s networking session.

NABD also highlighted that operators who can’t get away from their stores for all three days of the conference can attend for at least a day. Dealers can gain important training, industry updates and networking opportunities for just $150 on Monday, $250 on Tuesday or $100 on Wednesday. To learn more, call (832) 767-4759.

And in the process, attendees can help NIADA’s philanthropic efforts.

The Disaster Relief Fund was established by the NIADA Foundation to provide a venue for members of the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association and its industry partners to assist fellow dealers and others in the automotive community affected by the recent storms.

The NIADA Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization that serves as the focal point of NIADA’s charitable efforts and coordinates the association’s charitable giving.

Perhaps the bidding for this golf cart will generate at least a portion what conference exhibitor gave recently as Spireon contributed $100,000 to NIADA’s charity arm.

The NIADA Foundation will continue to fund hurricane relief efforts in the coming months.

It is not too late to donate. For more information or to contribute, visit www.niadafoundation.org.

Columbus Day shopping activity takes a downturn this year

CARY, N.C. - 

Columbus Day Weekend car shopping activity was down this year, according to new data from Cox Automotive brands Dealer.com and Dealertrack.

“Normally we see an increase in shopping behavior on holiday weekends, but on Columbus Day we saw a decrease,” Cox Automotive product analytics senior director James Grace said in a phone interview with Auto Remarketing. “Last year we saw a similar trend for Columbus Day in terms of being down, but not as much as this year.”

This Columbus Day weekend, Dealer.com’s DataView saw a 5-percent drop in visits and a 1-percent drop in vehicle views compared to the six prior weekends, while Presidents Day and Memorial Day saw shopping activity go up by single and double digits, respectively, on Dealer.com dealership websites this year.

Grace said, “I think there’s a couple of reasons for that. It’s difficult for me to parse out how much percentage credit to give to all the factors, but first of all I think the hurricane and fires are definitely impacting those areas affected.”

As the end of the year approaches, the industry has struggled to create additional demand, according to Grace.

“We’re seeing OEMs continue to put a lot of incentive money out there. Inventories in terms of dates and supply are still quite high, so I think there’s been a pretty consistent push for serval months on getting additional demand out there.”

Grace suggests that the time of year is a key factor when it comes to car buyers shopping activity in October because consumers don’t typically see it as a car shopping holiday when faced with other expenses this time of year.

“With everyone going back to school at the end of the summer and families kind of adjusting to that period, there’s definitely some new expenses that come in during this time of year," Grace said. 

For the next Columbus Day weekend, Grace said local dealers can capitalize on the holiday by mirroring OEM advertising.

“When there’s an OEM or franchise dealer doing an advertising campaign, a lot of times its really wise for local dealers to sort of do their own advertising at the same time and sort of draft off of that larger national spend that’s going on," he said. “In this case, dealers are really going to have to focus on every sale, every opportunity, really measuring the quality of their efforts to finish the year out strong.”

TradeRev makes 3 executive changes following KAR's purchase of remaining interest

CARMEL, Ind. - 

TradeRev announced three executive changes Thursday, including sales team promotions and additions following KAR Auction Services recent acquisition of remaining interest in the company earlier this month.

In 2014, KAR purchased a 50-percent stake in TradeRev and over the next four years, acquired the remaining interest for $50 million in cash and an additional $75 million.

The company said the new role changes are aimed at both boosting TradeRev’s market expansion and integrating KAR’s capabilities into its buying and selling experience.

TradeRev’s leadership changes include sales and operations executive vice president Keith Crerar, who will take on the additional responsibilities of leading commercial accounts sales and account management for the company's U.S. and Canada markets.

Prior to his current role, Crerar served as vice president of dealer services for ADESA, a business unit of KAR.

Crerar has more than 15 years of automotive industry experience and has been recognized through Nissan’s Club Excellence as one of the top three Sales Managers in the country for five consecutive years, according to TradeRev.

Will Farmer, who most recently served as southeast regional director, managing the southeast sales team and account management for major auto group operations, has been promoted to executive director of dealer sales for the U.S. markets, and will report to Crerar.

In his new role, he will focus on national sales growth and management of TradeRev’s five regional sales teams, according to the company.

Farmer has more than 14 years of experience as a licensed auctioneer, including being president and owner of Farmer Auctions in Virginia. Before heading Farmer Auctions, Farmer worked at ADESA East Tennessee.

Additionally, TradeRev has brought on Vince McNeal to serve as executive director of commercial sales for its U.S. and Canada markets, and he will also be reporting to Crerar.

Since 2013, McNeal has served as executive sales director at ADESA and will continue to oversee a number of KAR commercial clients while serving in his new role, according to TradeRev.

He joined ADESA in 2005 as a dealer sales representative and later transitioned to management and leadership positions, including fleet lease manager and assistant general manager at ADESA Lexington.

Last year, McNeal earned a spot on the Remarketing & Used-Car Industry’s 40 Under 40 list, and Farmer made the list this year. 

When announcing the acquisition of TradeRev’s remaining interest this month, KAR officials highlighted that TradeRev brings mobile and digital technology to KAR’s portfolio of 250 whole car and salvage auctions and floorplan financing solutions.

Black Book becomes AutoAlert valuation partner

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. - 

Black Book announced Thursday it has partnered with AutoAlert to populate the data-mining and communication solution’s algorithms with its vehicle valuation data.

“With the addition of Black Book, our dealer customers will have access to the industry’s most accurate vehicle valuation data, which can make a significant difference in elevating profit potential,"  AutoAlert general manager and executive vice president Meg Stapleton said in a news release. “Today’s dealership environment requires resources and partners that are trusted by automotive professionals, particularly in an effort to grow their business and maximize sales potential.”

With Black Book as its valuation partner, dealers using AutoAlert can maximize sales opportunities and profit potential when making trade valuations as well as during service and repair visits, the company said.

“Data and equity mining are practices that are not necessarily new to the automotive world, but recently have become even more critical as dealers continue to find ways to maximize profits in light of a sales environment that has begun to plateau,” said Jared Kalfus, senior vice president of Black Book. “As such, dealers need the most accurate vehicle valuation data in order to effectively leverage all data practices, and we’re proud to know they can rely on Black Book to put them in the best possible position.”

NADA reiterates IRS warning about new phishing scam

WASHINGTON, D.C. - 

The National Automobile Dealers Association relayed a warning from the Internal Revenue Service about the latest tax-related activities generated by unscrupulous entities on the Internet.

The IRS warned all e-services users to beware of a new phishing scam that tries to trick tax professionals into “signing” a new e-Services user agreement. The phishing scam seeks to steal passwords and data.

Officials explained the scam email claims to be from “e-Services Registration” and uses “Important Update about Your e-Services Account” in the subject line. It states, in part, “We are rolling out a new user agreement and all registered users must accept its revised terms to have access to e-Services and its products.” It asks the individual to review and accept the agreement but takes them to a fake site instead.

NADA suggested that all tax professionals should be aware that as e-Services begins its move later this month to Secure Access authentication and its two-factor protections, cybercriminals likely will make last-ditch efforts to steal passwords and data prior to the transition.

“As the IRS has warned over the past few years, these sophisticated schemes are adaptive in nature, and everyone should be cautious before clicking on a link or entering sensitive personal information,” NADA said.

IRS commissioner John Koskinen added, “These scams evolve over time and adjust to reflect events in the news, but they all typically are variations on a familiar theme. Recognizing these schemes and taking some simple steps can protect taxpayers against these con artists.”