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By: Toni Anne Fardette, President & COO, The Billion Dollar Girl, Inc.

As the former director of business development for ten years for the Atlantic Automotive Group in NY, a 1.1-billion-dollar organization, and a top 10 US dealer group, I preached and trained for many years on how to personalize emails to prospective customers. Yet, it never failed that I would continue to find whether by accident or via mystery shopping that the BDC agent or salesperson could barely answer the customer’s question, never mind personalize the email. So here are a few all too common mistakes, and some ways to avoid making them.

  1. Please be a lead detective. There is a common misconception that you really don’t have to read the notes in the internet purchase or lease request. That al customers are the same. WRONG. What the customer in the market to purchase or lease a vehicle really wants is a customized experience. If you cannot take a minute or two to read the request and look for things like address or zip code in proximity to your dealership, specific stock # and/or color/equipment preferences and certainly whether there is any specific comment or question in the notes, then this is not the position for you. At the very least, you won’t be very good at it.
  2. ANSWER THE QUESTION-FOR THE LOVE OF GOD…If a potential customer takes the time to type out specific question or comment in the form, have the decency to at least address it even if you don’t flat out answer it in the first written response.
  3. Think about how you can connect with this customer. Take their email and plug into Facebook or IG. Check out their interests and include any brief common ground you can to customize their experience.
  4. Stop pre-qualifying who is a “buyer” and who isn’t based on lead source. OWN UP to the role you could be playing in the propensity to close that lead source based on what you may not be doing that you should be.
  5. A “lead” is a person. Treat them like one. It’s that simple. Stop thinking like a car dealer and start thinking like a human. The best advise I can give on how to increase customer engagement through personalized emails is the good ole’ Golden Rule. Treat others as you want to be treated. Period. The End.

Are You Holding Your Vendors Accountable?

By: Toni Anne Fardette, President & COO-The Billion Dollar Girl, Inc.
Coaching Counseling & Process for the Next Generation Dealer

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times in my 18 years in the retail car business, I have watched GM’s cancel great marketing, advertising or lead providers. Times start to get rough for one reason or another, and BOOM- they just started cutting whatever they FEEL is not performing. Here’s the problem with that mentality-YOU CANNOT OPERATE ON FEELINGS in any industry if you expect to perform well. There is no my opinion or your opinion. Last time I checked, 2+2 still equals 4. So why are we not looking at the data? At the metrics? At the FACTS?

I’ll tell you why. Because most GM’s, GSM’s and DP’s do not understand enough about marketing or advertising to hold their vendors accountable. Now, don’t get me wrong. This is not a dig at these operators, but the fact remains that most were never “taught” anything about advertising or marketing especially digital marketing. Most GM’s, GSM’s and DP’s came up through the ranks from salespeople.

With, this, it is not an excuse not to learn enough to be able to hold your vendors accountable.

So here are some quick tips:

  1. You don’t have to know ANYTHING to be able to schedule one day per month to meet with all the vendors you advertise with whether in person or via web meeting to review the prior month’s results. Just make sure they know you are watching!
  2. Own your own Google Analytics, Ad Words, Google My Business, Bing and all other business listings. Even if someone else on your team managers, them, you OWN them.
  3. Get Google Analytics and Ad Words Certified. Commit to a video per week. It’s easy and done online. At least know enough to be dangerous.
  4. Always have a trusted outside partner with no vested interest in taking over your account watching your advertising and marketing including the rates you pay.
  5. Go to the top 5 3rd party websites you either advertise on or that your competitors advertise on (i.e. Edmunds, True Car, Car Gurus) and attempt to look for a car and submit your information. See what your customers see.
  6. Once a month attempt to do something quick on your mobile site. Is it painful?
  7. Once a month randomly check specials or spot check inventory and see what you find.
  8. Mystery shop your store both via phone and email once a month from a different ad source each time

Remember, stop with the “I FEEL” and understand your vendor metrics enough to make decision based on DATA.

Interview with Toni Anne Fardette

Toni Anne Fardette

Director of Business Development

Atlantic Auto Group, NY Auto Giant

Toni Anne Fardette is the Director of Business Development for the Atlantic Auto Group ($1.1 Billion Dealer Group) in Long Island, New York. Atlantic brands include Lexus, Audi, Hyundai, Toyota, Honda, Ford, Lincoln, Nissan,Volkswagen, Chevrolet, Jeep, Dodge, and Chrysler. With over 2,200 employees, Atlantic is a major employer in Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

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