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November Newsletter: The 120% Factor

This November sees a presidential election, so you may have had your fill of candidates throwing numbers around in an attempt to win votes. My goal is not to be elected, but to alert, and 1.8 is the number that drives this month’s newsletter. Once you realize the significance, it may raise some concern, but it definitely establishes the level of effort required now and in 2013.

A recent survey of buyers established that they physically visited 1.8 dealerships during their shopping process – 1.8 – down from 4.5 dealerships less than five years ago. Do the math on this and it seems obvious that if you aren’t the one dealership being visited, the .8 creates no sense of certainty or security.

At a time when many dealerships are scheduling management meetings to plan for 2013, the standard has been set, in my opinion, for what it will take, and that is “The 120% Factor.” Think about it, because the 20% extra effort is the minimum to bring that .8 to a full number. Get into the mind of those buyers surveyed – they visited a multi-million dollar operation and apparently something left them feeling incomplete – and that “something” could have been dealership appearance, the meet and greet, a failed process, or any other number of experiences. There is no question about the competitiveness of this business, and many a dealer has told me “all I want is one shot” at the perspective customer…one, not .8.

What do I hope you draw from this November newsletter? “One” is a sense of urgency in communicating to your people, from the receptionist to the GSM, how important their role is in achieving the professionalism that impresses. Any gap between attention-to-detail and attention-deficit needs – you got it – prompt attention.

For the decision makers at the dealership, there must be a willingness to realize that little things merit a closer look because they add up. As you plan for 2013, look at your list of priorities, processes and possibilities with the attitude to make them bullet-proof. First and foremost is reviewing what can be done to increase traffic. I stand by my belief that the current owner body is the one area, when properly cultivated, that produces the best results. To achieve this requires planning regular customer contact for existing sales and service customers. On the other side, there needs to be solid UPs accountability to ensure everything from a proper greeting for every shopper to a walk-around that exceeds expectations.

Look at every aspect of your operation through the eyes of the shopper. Scrutinize the used car operation from lot presentation to available price range. Be aware of the opportunities for new business. They pull up every day, lured in by POP featuring service specials, or an exceptional sales representative who recognizes the potential for a new car trade. Whether it is the online presentation or the way vehicles are lined up on the lot, everything needs to become a “plus” for your operation.

The “120% Factor” will be the key to growing the wow factor. In our own research, doing exit-surveys with buyers, we have found time and again that the tipping point in their decision was an overriding feeling that their business was appreciated and the dealership was buttoned-up. It starts with your people – when they make the extra effort, they close the deals. We have produced our share of ads that say “shop us first, shop us last.” All I am saying is “two” makes that a certainty and 120% effort is now what it takes to make it happen. In case you were wondering how to open your 2013 management meeting, the 1.8 statistic should get everyone’s undivided attention.

John Paul Strong

John Paul Strong combines his two decades of automotive marketing experience with a team of more than 150 professionals as owner and CEO of Strong Automotive.

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