Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Transforming The Dealership Part 4 - The Final Straw Case Study (Dealer eTraining)

Welcome to Part 4 of a live dealership case study.  This is the final chapter of a 6 week project.  You can catch up by reading part 3 and previous chapters as well.  In this chapter we will discuss what the dealership is now doing and what they have accomplished in the 6 weeks that I have spent working with them.


The dealership is now up and running with eLead CRM.  The sales department is bought in and are all using the system effectively.  This was one of the best setups and transitions that a dealership has had.  In fact, the only challenges came from DMS integration.  The dealership uses Lightyear which has had updates that made integration more challenging.  However, the problem is being handled.  One thing that was an eye opener for me was setting up a perpetual workflow for a process to handle internet leads.  This is something that I remember doing when I was selling cars as an ISM back in the day at Courtesy Honda where the system was not setup to alert me when I had an action due but rather I had to follow a calendar.  Initially, I wanted hard tasks like emails and phone calls to be setup.  But I was convinced that with less man power and a smaller internet department it will cause the reps to get behind.  So we installed a perpetual workflow using my Dealer eTraining customized processes and guidelines.  It has been working fine and the dealership has not missed a beat.  I have been getting rave reviews and lots of appreciation for making the power move of getting the CRM in place.  This is one of the biggest accomplishments that we achieved.


The sales managers are using eLead to desk deals and appraise vehicles.  It is "a breath of fresh air" as they tell me because they are enjoying the ease.  They were doing all desking in Lightyear and thought it was easy until they experienced what this tool can do especially when you factor in appraisal tools.

Inventory Market Analysis

The dealership never had an appraisal tool or let along a market analysis tools which are evident by the 8-10 units per week that I would change on the website as specials because they were over 100 days old.  In fact the store averages 20-30 used cars per month with 40% of the inventory being over 50 days old.  It was a tossup of getting vAuto which I was suggesting.  I really believe that with the dealership being located on car dealer row and with such a nice lot they should be rolling 50 used cars per month.  Luckily, eLead has an appraisal and market analysis tool which will not allow the managers to do a better job working the used car inventory.  I see used car sales moving up within the next 6 months with better inventory turns.  Being that the finance manager does a great job at this dealership, I am confident that the dealership will see big improvements in gross profits.  The managers are happy about this piece.

Reputation Management

While we still did not get iPads as I recommended, we started to diversify how we get reviews.  I placed an emphasis on being the most important site because they offer a chance to get $100 for signing up to leave a review.  The process that I created involves contacting all customers that bought and serviced cars at the dealership and sending them individual templates based on who their email provider is and sometimes just based on the source that they came from.  For example, if you an email address are a yahoo address I ask for reviews to be written on yahoo or dealerrater.  Another example is a Gmail user; I send them to G+ or yelp.  Some customers will be referred to and others to other sites.  The whole idea is to diversify a portfolio of reviews so that they are scattered all over the web.  We also incorporated as well.

Social Media

The dealer has been impressed with what has been posted and the increasing engagement on facebook.  We have been actively involved in local community news and events.  We have been taking more pictures and videos and optimizing them to create quality content for the dealership.

What does the future bring?

The future brings me back into the dealership for 1-2 days per month to help with content creation.  In addition, I will be handling phone training because that is the next important aspect of what needs to be improved.  The dealership remains to be number one in the district and is ranked as a top 100 dealer for the OEM.  It comes down to management of the people and maintaining quality control.  I think that we accomplished a lot in such a short time and we will continue to focus on growth.

What can dealers do to get ahead in 2013?

Every single dealership needs to create a checklist of what is and what is not working for them and create a plan to fix or adjust their situation.  Examples of what needs to be fixed:

-Sales Process Training: Train the basics as well as modern day standards in order to help mold your people into modern day sales professionals.

-Internet/BDC Training: The CRM needs to be updated with newer email templates and best practices need to be reviewed for all members that are involved in internet sales and business development.

-Phone Training: Everyone needs to improve their skills on the phone and be able to properly handle outgoing and incoming calls with different sets of objections to overcome.  Every process in the dealership has it's own set of word tracks.

-Hospitality Training:  Managers needs to improve the way their sales staff functions on the sales floor.  Stop tossing around a football or playing games and do something proactive to drive business when it is slow.  In addition, train mannerisms and create a 5 star customer experience so that they are welcome as guests of the dealership.

-Read Books:  Learn to brand yourself and your business.  Learn to motivate yourself and get fired up.  Do the things you need to do to be a success.

Do you need help?

Dealer eTraining has created a limited edition 2 day training program for managers, sales and BDC professionals to "Kick off 2013".  This program brings back the basics of "old school" and integrates "new school" business practices that will condition your staff to move to the next level and start to 2013 on the right track.  Dealers that want to get ahead need to contact me directly at or visit me on social networks.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

BDC Department at Castle Buick GMC IL - Dealer eTraining

This is a prime example of how a BDC room should be setup.  The Business Development Center is one of the most important departments in a dealership because the people in the department are responsible for driving traffic into the dealership.  This is why a setup such as this one is is important to have.

Castle Chevrolet Villa Park IL Best Business Practices - Dealer eTraining

Castle Chevrolet in Villa Park, IL is a high quality dealership that operates with a clear understanding of what the customer needs. In my visit to the dealership, I was impressed to see a vehicle exchange center, iPads for service customers to use, a children's play area, and many more amenities that most dealerships still do not have.

Castle Buick GMC IL - Best Practices - Dealer eTraining

A section with letters from happy customers, a value package proposition (value builders), a quality service department waiting lounge, and much more. Another best practice from Castle Buick GMC in IL.

Gus Medina Internet Director of Castle Chevrolet Buick GMC Likes Stan Sher and Dealer eTraining

Gus Medina Internet Director of Castle Chevrolet Likes Stan Sher and Dealer eTraining. Dealer eTraining spent 3 days evaluating every aspect of the BDC and eCommerce performance for Castle Chevrolet Buick GMC. This was a great experience.

Castle Buick GMC IL - Castle Exchange Program - Best Practice - Dealer eTraining

Castle Buick GMC IL - Castle Exchange Program - Best Practice - Dealer eTraining
This is a best practice that every dealership needs to have these days.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Stan Sher Thanksgiving 2013 Thankful Message


Thankful for a decent first official year in business. Dealer eTraining is making headway. I am told my mentors that I have come a long way and I must say that if it was not for the guidance, wisdom, and inspiration from the good people in my life I would not have made it this far. So thank you to all of my friends, lovers, haters, critics, people that give me a chance, people that do not give me a chance and make me work harder for it, and my family for supporting my dreams. To plug names in here will take me 2 days so you know who you are. This week I am available for communication and I am working a little but first and foremost I am enjoying the new apartment and just taking a few days to clear my mind, enjoy new friendships, live life to the fullest and enjoy thanksgiving. Rest assure I will be 200% back in action mode come Sunday night. I will finish 2012 strong and start 2013 even stronger. My focus is on the prize. The prize is success!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Transforming The Dealership Part 3 - A Live Week By Week Case Study (Dealer eTraining)

Welcome to Part 3 of a live dealership case study in which I am working on.  It has been two weeks since Part 2 was published.  I was away in Chicago consulting another client and also handling the Internet Sales 20 Group.  I came home to a major hurricane which slowed things down considerably.  But here is what we were able to accomplish.


We have been working on pre-installation processes with eLead by installing email headers, templates, and other important parts of the CRM.  It has been a simple process as the CRM company is accommodating.  eLead will be spending the week at the dealership training and installing the CRM at the dealership which means we will be live in a few days.


Once again, the major challenge is that it is OEM mandated and certain things are not able to be done while others are being developed as we speak.  As much as I respect what OEMs are doing to make all dealers in the same brand unified I feel that they make it difficult for a dealership to create a unique image to stand out from the competition.

We are in the process of updating employee pictures.  This is a tough task because the owner wants all pictures to be the same exact size.  The challenge is getting the pictures to show up on the website in the same size.  I am still trying to figure out with the vendor what is going on and this is the one time where I feel they are not helping me as they should.

We drastically improved the way the specials pages look with come great content and even more specials.  We started to add video testimonials to the website which was a challenge also because the videos did not want to upload from my end.  In addition, we made proper changes for the new month and any news pertaining to changes.

Social Media:

I have begun to focus on Facebook this past week.  I have been posting engaging content and getting people responding it.  In terms of twitter, I know we have followers but for some reason I am looking for the login which no one can seem to find.  I might have to setup a new account but I will give it a week before I do it.

I have continued to blog and syndicate content.  The content has been getting some views which tell me that people are reading it.  We had an announcement from the OEM that there is a hurricane relief discount available to people in certain areas that lost their vehicles to flood and hurricane damage.  I was quick to post it and promote it on facebook before any competing dealer can think of doing the same, if they normally do it.


It was disappointing to me that when I left for a whole week and asked sales people to start getting their own videos and pictures that not a single person took an action.  They got all excited about the fact that they can brand themselves but they took no action at all.  I addressed that with management because the process takes all of one minute and I am even here to get the content up.  All they need is to have a form filled out, snap a picture or capture a 30 second video and have me handle the rest.  I hope that they fix the situation and get to it.  However, one person did get a picture for me that is now posted.

I added more content to the Flickr account.

Traditional Advertising:

I have not had to be involved with this.

Online Reputation Management:

I discovered a challenge that I have never had before.  In all of my years doing this I was always able to grow a dealership’s online reputation without problem.  I sat in and listened to reasons why the service department has a hard time getting reviews and I am noticing from the sales department why they are not doing.

The sales department is not pushing for it at all.  The service department explains that whenever they ask for a review to get posted that customers do not want to post it.  The understanding that I am getting is that a lot of the customers here are generally in aged in the mid 40s and range as high as 70+.  They do not want to leave an email address and they prefer to leave a survey in pen and paper.  This raises a challenge to me, a social and digital warrior that believes that everyone and everything should be online.  I am thinking that we need an iPad in service and sales with a 4G connection and we should work closely with the customer to get what we need by guiding them or assisting them.  It is obvious that post cards with links to review sites do not work well for the customers as they do not pay attention to them.

I have never been a fan of spiffing customers for reviews.  However, has a really neat format of how to generate reviews. offers to place customers into a contest where the customer has a potential of getting $100 for leaving a review.  There is an email template for it.  I am thinking of also creating a process strictly for to let customers know about the offer not just as delivery but also after delivery where they can be guided through.  I mean, “Who wouldn’t want a chance to get $100?”  It is also my goal to learn from if the review can somehow be syndicated just like the way DealerRater does it with google.

If anyone has suggestions of how to get reviews from customers that are more mature and not as computer savvy, I am open to some responses on here.

Dealership Process and Operations:

While walking around the dealership looking for things that needed improvement I noticed a binder with parts specials that looked sloppy.  I took it upon myself to let management know about this and created a new professional looking binder with better specials and more transparency.

I have been spending time watching how the sales department functions from how sales managers are managing their people to how they work deals.  I have to say that when it comes to working deals and selling cars they do a great job and they have decent grosses.  The managers get involved in deals and are aggressive to sell cars.  This dealership is generally number one in its district.  The other things that I have been observing are how the one internet coordinator functions throughout the day.  The GSM complains about the coordinator because he finds him playing on his cell phone a lot.  The fix to the problem was that I monitored CRM activities in the old CRM and read comments along with emails that were being sent to the customers.

I noticed something interesting and disturbing.  When an internet appointment comes in the internet coordinator sits with them and talks with them sometimes as long as 20-30 minutes.  When I approached management they agreed and said that it needs to be fixed.  I had the perfect fix for that.  At the Internet Sales 20 Group, Ralph Paglia introduced the “Showroom Appointment Reception Agenda”.  This form is a professional way for the coordinator to meet the customer that they communicated with.  What is amazing about this form is that it explains in a quick and transparent fashion what the customer will accomplish on this visit which is a 4-5 step process.  The coordinator turns over the customer to a sales consultant and moves on with their job.  This takes 1-2 minutes.  We are implementing this as of this week as the new CRM is installed.  There were major changes made to the document that Ralph provided which I will describe in the next section.

Call monitoring is not very strong in the dealership.  The dealership relies on and their website provider to have toll free numbers.  It is amazing that the newspaper always had a local number.  No one really ever listened to phone calls.  In fact, all sales calls are being handled by sales consultants and not the internet coordinator.  This is a whole other issue that I will be tackling soon if I get the chance to.  The way I monitor the calls is I stand in the showroom and listen to the sales consultants talk to phone ups.  I then log into to my limited tools and listen to the conversation.  My plans are to do the same with service and parts soon.  While taking many notes, I have discovered flaws in phone skills and will be planning on phone training sessions at this dealership after the CRM is installed. 

Ownership Challenges:

The only real challenges in the improvement and transformation of the dealership are dealing with ownership in this case.  The dealer principle is not hands on yet has very interesting opinions to how things should run.  As far as sales and service is concerned, she lets the managers do their thing and make money for the store.  But when a highly paid expert that has built numerous success stories is brought in a challenge is created.  Now, I am not saying that challenges are not fun.  This is a unique challenge where I am working with a personality that involves me trying to figure out how they think. 

Every best practice email installed needs to be edited because the writing does not work for them.  This stalled the processes of installing emails into the CRM by two weeks.  Take website content, wording of some serious best practices just never work and they need to be changed.  My challenge is that I need to change content and write it as if I was this other person.  Again, it is an interesting challenge.

The best practice implemented by Ralph Paglia was another example where 60% of the content was rewritten and another 20% was omitted just to satisfy their feelings.  Now I am not saying the document became a bad document but it had changed the TO process from internet coordinator to sales person in a way that I personally would have done differently.

I respect the challenge and although at some point it is frustrating it is what makes me better at my job and what ultimately brings more success to the dealership.

That is all for Part 3.  If anyone has questions, always feel free to contact me.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Stan Sher, CEO of Dealer eTraining Speaking At The Internet Sales 20 Group In Chicago

Stan Sher, CEO and President of Dealer eTraining Speaking At The Internet Sales 20 Group In Chicago.  Stan had the honor of educating dealers on the importance of how to use Call Monitoring in solutions to avoid profit leaks as well as create in-house employee training sessions that inspire teams to improve their skills.  This was a powerful session.