It’s the last few days of the month and the store is either below the number of sales they should have or they’re close to hitting a unit goal for some stair-step money. The sales manager is pushing everyone. He’s pushing the salespeople to not let any customers walk without not only a turn but also talking to a manager. He’s holding meetings to review all the deals that weren’t made during the month frantically trying to see if any can be revived. He’s listening to phone calls on their call recording service to hear if there were any phone calls that were mishandled and could be deals. He’s combing through the Internet leads to see if there were any deals that they were close on but didn’t make. Every minute of those last days matter. As stress and frustration (mixed with just a little sweat) mount, he’s fielding calls from his GM, possibly his owner and definitely his OEM rep who are continuously inquiring where the numbers are and pushing him to reach his goal, increase sales, and reduce the heat sheet. While the sales manager continues to down Red Bulls and triple-shot lattes, he’s making salespeople call everyone they’ve met this month. He’s throwing out spiffs that are higher than normal. He’s spot-delivering anything that “might” stick and throwing deals against a wall that for the first three weeks of the month he would turn away. The last day of the month comes and goes and it’s time for “the reckoning”. Maybe he made his number, maybe he didn’t. What he does know is that on the last few days of the new month, he’ll be doing it all over again.
Why did I tell this story? Because we all know that this is exactly what happens in a high percentage of dealerships across the country. Depending on ownership/management, some of the same pressures will always exist. This is the car business and no matter what you do, on those last few days of the month, more is expected. I don’t have a magic solution to all of these problems but I believe that there are things that you can do – whether you’re a Sales Manager or an Internet Director – to avoid a few of these each and every month.
Almost every dealership does two things: use a call tracking service and buy third party leads. Both of these cost money and, in most cases, dealers might as well be lighting that money on fire. Many Sales Managers and Internet Directors don’t bother listening to their staff’s phone calls or looking at what the Internet Managers are doing with the Internet leads that they’re spending a bunch of money on. At least they don’t until those last few days of the month when, most of the time, it’s too late.
Managers should be listening to phone calls and paying attention to their Internet leads daily. I’m pretty sure that this is not an original idea. I’m also pretty sure that many managers agree and have the best of intentions to do so. However, from my experience, I also know that both the story above and the fact that these two things aren’t getting done are, in many cases, fact.
Let’s assume, for a minute, that Mr. Sales Manager truly doesn’t have the time to do some of these things. There is so much floor traffic and deals lined up to be desked that he literally doesn’t have the time to monitor everything. In these cases, the enlightened dealers will outsource some of this monitoring. The unenlightened ones will turn a blind eye… until those last few days of the month when the days magically turn longer and Tylenols transform into Tic Tacs.
For the enlightened ones that are truly under-staffed, help is available for two of the most time-consuming activities I’ve described: call monitoring and Internet lead monitoring.
The first service I would recommend is Phone Ninjas. Their service is phenomenal in not only listening to your phone calls but providing your staff training on how to handle calls through both in-store training and during each lead they review during the month. I have no idea how much the service costs but my guess is that the extra car deal or two you get every month would probably cover that expense. You can see and hear and example of a call here. [Coaching Review]
The second service is Task Teacher by DealerKnows. This service will go into your CRM and analyze Internet leads based on a process and send you individual reports on how the Internet Managers handled the leads. The reports include valuable coaching feedback for the salespeople on how they could do better in the future and inform you of not only how well they are doing but could also help you identify deal(s) that could be saved whether they weren’t because they weren’t handled properly or because the customer had issues that were never addressed.
Dealers spend a lot of money to drive phone traffic and receive Internet leads: tens of thousands of dollars a month and, in some cases, more. If you can’t pay attention, at the very least get someone to pay attention for you….
… or you can keep buying triple-shot lattes and Red Bulls at the end of every month while you start listening to these calls and reading these Internet leads and realize just how many deals you “could” have made had you paid attention.
[Disclaimer: I am not affiliated in any way with Phone Ninjas. In fact, the owner, Jerry Thibeau, won’t even invite me to dinner with the rest of the “cool kids” when those occasions arise. That doesn’t mean his service is bad (hence the recommendation), it just shows that, eventually, I’ll get voted off the island at tribal council. I am, however, affiliated with DealerKnows and while my recommendation could be interpreted as a pitch, it really isn’t intended to be. I recommend this service because I know it intimately and, as far as I know, it’s the only one of its kind.]