Category Archives: Advertising and Marketing

You’re On A Need To Know Basis!

Everyday I talk to automotive dealers who tell me that their advertising isn’t working. They say they run their advertising on television, on the radio, in the newspaper, and through direct mail—and none of it works. Well, they are right. No medium will work until you understand what makes advertising effective.

Even though this discussion should take several days to explain, let me cut to the chase and tell you what you need to know and why you need to know it. There are five variables in advertising. I call them the 5 M’s. They are the market, the money, the media, the message, and the messenger. You must know all the M’s and how they relate to one another to obtain successful results from your advertising. To keep things interesting, the 5 M’s are constantly changing. They are directly dependent on: supply and demand, consumer confidence, availability of media, factory programs, inventory, competition, and other assorted variables. Each of the 5 M’s has a rule associated with it.

Keep in mind: the market is what it is—and you can’t control it. You can only control your piece of the pie. If the market is good, you may be selling a lot of cars, but you could be selling less than you should be based on a “good” market. If the market is bad, you may be doing great based on the units you are selling as compared to the market and not even know it. There are only so many cars that are going to be sold this month in your specific market. Understanding your market will help you know what kind of advertising you will need; only with successful advertising will you own your piece of the pie.

If you are not spending a lot of time knowing and understanding your market, there is no way you can know what type of advertising will result in success. The market dictates how much money you need to spend on advertising, as well as the type of media you need to buy to reach your targeted buyers based on demographics, psychographics, frequency, and reach. The market dictates what your message must say to get buyers to come to you first. The market determines the message presented by the messenger. You wouldn’t spend the same amount of money on the same media repeating the same message from the same messenger in a good market as you would in a bad one.

Knowing how much to spend, what media to buy, what to say in your commercials or ads, and how to say it so that your prospective customer will come to your dealership with the expectation of buying a car or truck, all starts with your understanding of the market. Knowing the market is just the beginning—but it is definitely the first step towards effective advertising.

Larry John has founded several successful business ventures, including one of the nation’s top national automotive advertising agencies and a business-consulting firm focused on increasing profits. He has a no shirt no shoes policy, but you can always reach him at or 480-833-2915.

Zen Marketing And a .357

With the tightening of the auto market along with the purse strings of your ad budget comes an inevitable Catch-22. You have to hit customers twice as hard to draw them in, but now you have half the resources. This is not the time to “spray and pray.” You need to know exactly where your target market is and make each shot count.

My wife and I recently moved to the mountains of Western North Carolina. The views are spectacular and the people are unbelievably nice. But being this remote did bring concerns of personal safety, “just in case.” Not having grown up around guns left me doing quite a bit of research before taking the plunge. I was surprised at how many misconceptions I had. The more I learned, the more I saw the parallels with dealer marketing.

When times are good and the money’s flowing, most dealers haphazardly pursue an uncoordinated “shotgun” approach. Just shooting their name out there in the paper, on TV, the Web, radio, outdoor, whatever, assuming that somewhere in there is the target customer.

That’s actually a bad idea in any market because it’s just a wildly inefficient waste of money. Sure, assuming money was no object, why not look like you’re the only dealer in town? Now that times are tough, many dealers are still using the same old shotgun, but because of budget constraints they’ve shifted to birdshot. They still hit a lot of customers, but now with all the impact of a school kid’s spitball.

The other approach seems to be the target .22. This is coordinated by a media representative who knows exactly how to use their charts and graphs to direct every dollar you spend with them to your base client’s age group, sex, race, income level and credit score.

The problem is that it is their job to steer as many of your advertising dollars towards their specific paper, or station or whatever media outlet they represent. It has been proven in recent studies that diversifying the delivery systems for your message magnifies the market impact far beyond the effect of spending the same money in any one marketing avenue.

The second problem with this target .22 approach is the impish effect of the round when it hits. Media reps will push their own in-house staff’s unlikely ability to come up with the right message and the most eye-catching way to present it. In-house creative teams are usually overworked, often uninspired, and the least capable to be able to step out of the box in a way that’s going to grab anyone’s attention. Plus, because they’re writing and producing a majority of the other ads at their company, your ad will be nearly identical to everyone else’s.

Which brings me to the last parallel I saw between guns and marketing, the ammunition. Back to the personal safety example. The best way to stop an attacker is for each round to transfer as much kinetic energy as possible when it hits. The wrong bullet, just like the wrong message will bounce off or pass right through. Bland messages that don’t have a distinguishing hook or ones that are not carried through on the Web site and at the dealership are pointless. Conversely, in today’s high-stress environment, slamming, in-your-face yelling ads just get turned off and tuned out.

What you’ve got to do, on your own or with a respected ad agent, develop a solid, welcoming message that not only calls buyers to move, but by distinguishing your store’s identity from your competitor’s moves them to your store. Carry that identifying message consistently into every facet of your marketing. Beat today’s advertising Catch-22 and turn your marketing plan into a well-aimed Smith & Wesson .357.

Rob Boulware is the founder of Horsepower Ads, a national advertising and animation studio, recently acquired by the Leedom Group. He remains Horsepower Ads creative director. He brings more than 15 years experience in the automotive advertising and commercial production marketplace, and has helped hundreds of automotive retailers significantly improve sales and market awareness through clever advertising campaigns. You may contact him at 877.224.6288 or send an email to

Horsepower Ads – Sarasota, FL

Your Customer base Is Your Best Source of New Sales

A recent article in Automotive News stated, “Year to date, about 27 percent of all auto dealers are operating in the red.” According to John Ahlstrom of NCM Associates, a professional auto consulting firm, “The automotive industry has changed more in the last 10 months than in the last 10 years.” In these changing times, automotive dealerships that want to get more buyers onto their lot and more customers filling their service department schedule, can’t continue to use ten to twenty-year-old marketing strategies (except one) to reach their target market.

What’s not working

The average age of today’s newspaper reader is 55 years old and newspaper penetration is 50 percent less than it was twenty years ago. Digital cable and satellite TV provide hundreds of channels to choose from, and now the average age of a network news watcher is 59 years old. Many people are giving up on the commercially-loaded radio stations and switching to Sirius or XM radio, both of which are commercial-free. The average age of today’s car buyer is between 23 to 49 years of age.

After testing direct mail with predicted buyer lists, garage predictor lists, and bad credit lists, I have discovered that none of these lists are performing well right now. Fancy closed-envelope mailers only have a 20 to 30 percent chance of ever being opened. Finally, most car buyers are savvier now and see through offers that are mostly fluff, no longer finding them compelling. None of these have been very successful in this dynamic time of change for the auto industry.

What is working

After researching a variety of different marketing strategies for auto dealerships, I have found that a dealership’s own customer database is the best list working, not only at the moment, but for the past 20 years. Certain types of postcard mailings get excellent responses because postcards are already opened and human curiosity causes most people to read them. Especially if the postcard is simple and straightforward. Since most people are concerned about the high cost of fuel, free gas incentives are one of today’s most compelling offers. Finally, it is well known that if you mail to a person six times, they consider that they have a relationship with you. So regular mailings to your hard earned customers not only strengthens your relationship with them and keeps them coming back, but also has them referring your dealership to their friends and family.

Postcard mailers with a compelling offer, regularly sent to your dealership’s own database of new car buyers, used car buyers, and service customers will bring car buyers onto your lot and fill your service department. The key is the compelling offer, and your own hard earned customers.

You don’t want to be one of the 27 percent of car dealerships losing money. It’s time to stop giving your hard earned customers away to your competition.

Edward Waldman is the senior VP of Auto Crowds. He can be reached at 800-604-6535 or email Visit for more information.

Your Customer Database Is Your Best Source Of New Sales

Database mailers work—it’s just plain and simple. Where’s the proof? Joe Girad, the world’s number one car salesman (according to the Guinness Book of World Records) proved it. Year after year, Joe Girad personally sold over 100 cars a month. And while I’m sure Joe was a great car salesman, what made him truly successful was a steady stream of prospects to talk to. Each month, Joe would mail a card to everyone in his database, and they came back year after year.

Back in the 1970’s when Joe was sending mailers, there were no computers, which made the whole process very costly and a huge hassle. Today it’s much easier to keep a database—there are many companies that offer turnkey database support services to do this for you.

Why does it work? First of all, the people in your database have done business with you. They bought a car from you, or they used your service department. They like you. Why not give them a reason to continue to picture your dealership in a positive light? That’s exactly what regular mailings do.

Research has definitely proven that if you contact a person at least six times, they feel connected to you—social conditioning says that you are a “friend” after six contacts. Use this to your advantage and become a friend. Prior to closing the first sale with a customer, you were their adversary. Then you became their friend. Don’t lose that friendship by ignoring these customers. Continue to keep your name in front of them, month after month.

And you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to stay in touch. Unfortunately, many dealers pay over a dollar per mailer. Joe didn’t waste money—he would send out a holiday greeting card every month. For example, send a Valentine card in February with a compelling offer like, “Get $500 off on your Valentine car purchase and spend the savings on your sweetheart.” It’s really very simple—just make different “themed” offers each month that corresponds with a holiday or event that falls within that month.

It’s far more effective to pay less for each mailer and mail more often. Forget those “one shot wonders, “mail pieces that cost $1 to $2. Invoke the law of social obligation and caring by mailing regularly. Find a company that specializes in database mailing to keep your costs down. A general rule of thumb is to pay no more than $.29 to $.49 per mail piece. This means that for about $4 a year you can stay in touch with your customer monthly. Just think, if you mail this month to your database of say 5000 sales and service customers, it will cost you about $2000. Generally, one or two customers (who probably would have shopped somewhere else) will cover that cost. More likely, you will sell 20 to 30 extra cars.

The key is to make your database mailing program cost-effective and consistent.

Edward Waldman is senior VP of Auto Crowds. You can contact him at 800-604-6535 or at

Your Marketing Budget: Less Can Be More Effective

Everybody knows the economy has seen better days. In times like these, we tighten our belts and try to make the most of our expenditures. Your marketing budget is one expenditure you can’t do without. However, you can do something about our increased need as a dealer manager to reduce the marketing budget during times like these.

The new length of the sales funnel gives us a good indication of where to put the majority of our marketing money. Ye old sales funnel was marked by well defined steps such as awareness, consideration, familiarity, etc. Each of these steps was fostered by separate advertising entities (TV, radio, newspaper-RIP). Today’s sales funnel incorporates the same steps, but the lines are blurred. Who do we have to blame for this expedited and inclusive funnel? The Internet. The Internet is able to foster each of these steps with increased efficiency and speed… not to mention the fact that some 90% of car buyers start their search online.

In other words, the best place for your marketing spending is online. It has the lowest cost of customer acquisition. Also look at online spend options as having different efficiencies as well. Example: your lowest cost/highest close rate lead is from the dealers’ own website. Make sure it is getting all the organic traffic possible and always be pushing for higher conversion (visitor/lead) ratios. Once you’ve covered your bases and made sure that all your online building blocks (text ads, banner ads, a good website, consumer generated content, video, etc.) are in place, use your surplus budget on specialized components like TV and radio commercials. Be sure to follow the rules of integrated marketing and send all traffic to the same location.

Dealers today are still looking at their marketing budget from the standpoint of first at their Events, Newspaper, Billboards, TV and Radio, then allocating what is left over to fund Internet. Today top performing dealers are looking at making sure the first set of marketing funds (if not all) are allocated to Internet channels, again ranked from most to least cost effective. Then after maxing that, they go to up to the more costly customer acquisition options like Print and do some Branding!

Simple really. You spend money being in front of the people that are raising their hands saying they are actively looking for your product or service (like buying text ads on Google), before putting a direct mail piece out to a zip code radius and hoping for a few people in the bunch to read your postcard.

To sum it up, save on your marketing budget and increase exposure at the same time.

Written by Dean Evans

Why Visitors to Your Website Are Not Converting

Do you know how your vehicle detail pages are converting compared to specific landing pages on your website? Ever want to know what in particular on your website is catching your audience’s eye and converting leads? What ads offer the highest conversion to leads?

Well, with heat-mapping, eye-tracking technology and multi-channel funnels you can get these answers and put the information to use in your traditional and digital marketing strategy. Website analytics make up a very important piece of the digital aspect in marketing.

You need to see how the potential customer interacts with your website – the click paths and page depth and page exit percentages, as well as how they got to the website. Although your marketing campaigns may be driving a lot of traffic to your website, often dealerships find many of these visitors aren’t converting into buyers. In fact, an average dealer’s website does not convert 97 percent of all website visitors. You need on-site analytics which tell you what people are doing and not doing on your website.
Naked Lime

Do you know where to place information on your pages to drive the highest conversions? What you need to do is expand your website tracking, understanding shoppers’ digital body language and what specifically is working or not working on each individual page. That is where heat-mapping comes into play.

Heat maps are a visual way to analyze different types of click tracking. Maps consist of a range of colors from black and dark blues up to bright reds and whites. The “hotter” colors indicate areas that mouse cursors spent more time on while “cooler” ones represent less or no activity. In the old days, these heat maps were created via a large, expensive eye-tracking machine, but in today’s world, nothing that elaborate is required.

On-site analytics track several different types of data, all of which are obtained from a site visitor’s digital body language.

Some of the items tracked include:

– Clicks on specific points of a page, images or tabs,
– Hover points of a visitor’s mouse,
– Page scrolls, and
– Day of week and time of day specific clicks are most popular.

Heat maps show where potential customers are looking and what is catching their eye enough to actually click. Heat maps also show how far visitors are willing to scroll down a page, allowing you to place your most important information in the areas that will receive the highest conversion.

Heat maps can be used in simple A/B testing or split-testing methods to compare changes on a new page from its original design to see if modifications are effective. By testing your changes before implementing them, you can better understand what changes will drive positive results.

To find out even more about your incoming traffic, you can introduce the use of multi-funnel channels. A conversion can be defined many ways, but what is also important to track is the activity that takes place before a user converts. Those steps leading to the final conversion are just as important, if not more so, than the last one.

Multi-channel funnels allow you to see the big picture, so you can determine the pattern customers follow to get to the conversion. Channels include, but are not limited to, paid and organic search, referral sites, affiliates, social networks, e-mail newsletters and custom campaigns. Multi-channel funnels track and report the channels utilized to drive a user to a conversion. From this you can see the patterns visitors follow coming into the site, allowing you to change keyword and channel strategies so they can work better for you.

Heat-mapping, eye-tracking and multi-funnel channels will provide actionable information that can be used in your dealership marketing strategy. We have found that used car shoppers are most likely to engage a website on a Thursday. The second-most popular day is Wednesday. New-car shoppers are much more even across the week. Used car shoppers exhibit increased engagement when vehicles they are interested in have walk-around videos embedded into the website page. New-car shoppers, on the other hand, tend to engage more with on-site chat pop-ups. Another interesting bit of data we collected was that people who directly type in a website URL spend less time on the website than those who got there via a search engine.

These tools will allow you to build a higher-converting website and reduce your traditional advertising cost. Learn what it is that makes your website good, and fix the things that aren’t

Before you know it, your conversions will skyrocket and your advertising cost per lead will decrease. The best leads available are the ones already on your website. The question is, are you ready to increase your own website’s conversion?

Paul Potratz
Potratz Advertising

Why Work Twice as Hard For Twice as Much

During this unprecedented time in economic history, we all need to ask ourselves if we’re willing to work twice as hard for half as much. Times are tough; times are uncertain. In fact, the only certainty is that things will only get worse before they get better. Only dealers who face facts and improve their business processes will make it through this time of uncertainty. So, are you willing to work twice as hard for possibly half as much?

Auto sales account for about 20 percent of all retail sales in this country, so when the auto industry slows, the economy as a whole takes a significant blow. The concern all dealers currently face is: am I the next victim? In September, auto dealers cut 12,000 jobs, and sales floor traffic decreased about 50 percent, so it’s a legitimate concern. Surprisingly, however, despite the low floor traffic numbers reported in September, total vehicle sales volume was only off 27 percent. I believe this is because good dealers did more with less.

How do half the sales opportunities disappear, yet overall sales only drop 27 percent? It is because more customers than usual on the showroom floors across the country got approved for financing and drove off the lot in September. Believe it or not, closing ratios actually went up in September.

Outside of GMAC, captive finance companies have been reassuring dealerships that they are still lending money. Both Toyota and Ford sent memos to their franchisees to let them know they were still financing. The real root of the problem is not the finance companies, but a lack of buyers. Customers are staying on the sidelines. So, now is the time dealers have to do more with less.

This fact really stood out in early October when I sat on a conference panel with my friend Denny Long from ProMax. The panel was supposed to discuss lead generation and advertising during a conference workshop, but instead, the workshop topic quickly turned into a discussion on sales processes. The questions were almost all the same. How are dealers successful with your leads? Why is my dealership having trouble when other dealers are successful? How do we turn the leads into sales?

Denny answered the questions the same way I always do. He said, and I am paraphrasing a bit, the problem is half the leads generated for dealerships never even get a call. I agree with his statement 100 percent. With floor traffic so low, these bad business processes have to change. If dealerships need floor traffic, then their sales teams had better get on the phones. Dealerships need to put a process in place to make sure their lead sources are being covered properly and thoroughly.

I believe the things I’ve consistently preached to dealers working with our leads are more important now than ever. 1. Never, ever pre-qualify a buyer over the phone. I’ll say it again; never, never, ever, ever pre-qualify. 2. Call every lead no matter what, and get them onto the lot. I don’t care who you are or how much you think you know about sales; you couldn’t sell a car over the phone this time last year and you certainly can’t do it now. Get every person possible onto your lot. Don’t use their lead information to try and pre-determine their ability to get a loan. Just look at the name, phone number and best time to contact, and call them. If you are looking to maximize the efficiency of your business, start here.

Most dealers think if they gather some information on the phone before they set the appointment, then the people who come to the lot will have a better chance of getting in a car, but this isn’t true. What really happens is you dwindle your opportunities down to the point where your margin of error is way too thin. Even some of the best dealers these days are only closing one out of every 10 customers that come to the lot. So what does that mean for dealers who take a 100 leads and filter them down to 10 or 20 appointments? It means they will only see enough customers to sell one car out of the original 100 leads.

With all the downsizing in the auto industry, many dealerships don’t have the personnel in place to work leads effectively. If your dealership is cutting staff and reducing payroll, then you might find yourself in the same circumstance. If 50 percent of your leads never get a call back, this number will only get worse as you cut staff. So what’s the solution?

Many dealerships with staffing and customer outreach issues choose to outsource these responsibilities to a third party. There are a lot of companies out there who offer telephone services that will set, confirm and call missed appointments to help improve sales floor traffic.

There needs to be a mad dash to every lead. If you’re only calling half your leads – or worse yet, none of them – you’re completely removing yourself from the game. So, commit to working twice as hard, even if that means only half the returns while the going is tough. Commit to calling every lead, and don’t pre-qualify customers over the phone. If you don’t have the personnel to manage the lead properly, then outsource these tasks to a third party who can help improve your customer traffic. If you work twice as hard now, the benefits will be more than plentiful when the market improves.

Written by Rob Anderson, President
Focus Inc

Winning The Race For Sales

For the last six months, the competing dealership across town has outsold you every month, and the gap is growing. You cant figure out what they have done to lure your shoppers away. You both advertise on TV and in the paper, which hasnt changed in years, but they must have developed some secret strategy to steal your customers.

What that other dealer has done is to recognize and act on new shopper behaviors that have turned automotive marketing on its head. Only 10 years ago, if a consumer became interested in a car, the only way he could research it was to walk your lot or visit your showroom. There was a direct connection between your OEMs brand spending and traffic to your dealership. This world no longer exists.

For 80 to 90 percent of shoppers today, a chasm has emerged between you and your OEMs brand and promotional marketing investment on your behalf. This chasm has been filled by an almost infinite variety of information sources on the Web, ranging from unfiltered user reviews to and from blogs to social networks. Todays shopper has infinite opportunities to be confused and distracted away from the path to your dealership. The irony is that the user is in control of their purchase experience, yet often wanders around aimlessly hearing a wide variety of opinions. In that wandering many never make it to your showroom, even though you or your OEM may have started them on their journey.

What that other dealer recognizes is that this confusion creates an opportunity for them to get their unfair share of demand created by your OEM and regional associations marketing spend. On average, OEMs and regional associations spend two to three dollars for every marketing dollar you spend at the dealership. Your competitor paved a road across the gap and installed signposts wherever the consumer could get lost, capturing much of the traffic that used to go to your dealership.

They paved the road by making sure their online marketing messages stay in lock step with their OEMs campaigns. If a consumer sees a promotional ad and then searches for the promotion on the Internet, the dealership shows up in those search results because they bought those search terms, so their name appears at the top of the Google or Yahoo search screen. When the user clicks on the search link they go straight to the dealers Website, with that promotion front and center.

The signposts are additional search and online display advertising for consumers, in their local area, that build a steady awareness of their dealership so the consumer will turn to them whenever they want research information only the dealership could provide-such as inventory and local promotions.

What about that other dealers steady presence on TV and in the paper? Many a battle has been won by generals who left their campfire burning while they marched their army around the enemies flank.

Chris Reed is VP and chief marketing officer at Cobalt he can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . For more information about Cobalt visit

Working With Family Members

Working With Family Members—It’s Not Personal, It’s Just Business

If you’ve ever been in business with a family member, you know there are several advantages, but even the most dedicated, hard working family member can experience or create tension, stress, and conflict in the company. Can you really separate your family history, emotions, and knowledge you have of a person at a deeper level and also have a great working relationship?

Families have successfully worked together, but there are reasons why it’s worked. What are the qualities that facilitate successful family working relationships? What are the common issues in practices that exist within companies that employ family? If you are in business with or thinking about working with family members, being aware of the following issues can prevent them from becoming problems in your business.

Loyalty leading to micromanagement

Often, family members are more dedicated to the success of their business than other staff members. The old saying, “blood is thicker than water” is true, and yet too much caring can cause conflict.

One business owner employed his mother. The owner had established his vision and goals, but he had trouble developing a consistent, fair style of leadership. He found the staff management was much harder than actually doing the work. His mother, in her eagerness to help him succeed, was openly voicing her concerns and opinions during business hours and outside the office.

She felt the office staff wasn’t diligent enough in collecting money at the time of service and inconsistent in their processing methods. She felt they weren’t doing a good job and needed more attention to detail. The boss had difficulty enforcing his policies because of the conflicting views between his mother and the other team members. His mother became a micromanager, telling everyone how they should be doing their jobs, in detail. She meant well and only wanted to help the business succeed, but her micromanaging drove the morale of the business down.

Taking work home

One business owner enjoys working with his wife. His wife, however, was concerned that the team members weren’t held accountable for their work.

Because the owner is sensitive to conflict, he avoids team meetings, coaching, and performance reviews. His wife is quite verbal during the off hours about her feelings, which causes him discomfort as he’s sensitive to criticism and creates tension in their personal relationship. It’s important, especially for couples to separate their work life and personal life. Bringing personal issues into the workplace and visa versa can create tension and an uncomfortable environment for all employees.

Hiring someone you can’t fire

Business owners can be hesitant to talk to a family member about a problem within the office because of how it might impact them on the personal/home front. They may walk on eggshells at work, worried about how the family member might respond if they were treated the same as other employees.

To be successful as a team member, family members need to know their role in the business. Being a family member and an employee can put anyone in a difficult position. Other employees, no matter how hard the family member works, may look at them differently. Because of this, your family member employee will always need to hold him or herself at the same or even higher level of accountability than other employees.

Unfair pay

Some business owners try to help their family out by paying more than the average wage for that employment category, which can impact the total payroll overhead. It is unfair to neglect the rest of the team’s income because you want to give special treatment to a family member. You’ll see resentment and unhappiness build if this is the case. Remember, when morale goes down, productivity goes down.

In addition to pay, gender difference or age differences that impact your relationship with your team may feel intensified with your family employees. Recognize that some conflict develops due to these differences and work at learning about better communication and leadership.

What are the traits of a great family team member?

If you happen to be an employee in your family member’s business, there are several things you can do to avoid the above issues including:

[list:283p05jt]1. Be early

2. Be dependable

3. Pay attention to your work responsibilities; be accountable.

4. Follow through

5. Be friendly and have fun

6. Be encouraging. Use the words “Absolutely!” and “Certainly!”

7. Be a mentor

8. Take an active role in learning about the business; be excited about your industry

9. Always speak positively about the owner and the business, both in and out of the office

10. Offer advice when asked or ask first before discussing a concern[/list:u:283p05jt]
If family employees and your employees just can’t seem to get along, you must resolve the issue. If you don’t, tension will build, morale will go down and the business will suffer. Most don’t like to deal with these issues…it’s easier to brush them under the carpet. Yet talking about these issues is exactly what you’ll need to do in order for your business to have the harmonious atmosphere that clients seek.

If you find your employees don’t get along, you’ll need to facilitate the discussion. There are two questions that you can ask yourself that will help take the emotional side of the problem out of the equation:

[list:283p05jt]1. Is “whatever is happening” in the best interest of the customer care?

2. Is “whatever is happening” in the best interest of the business as a healthy business?[/list:u:283p05jt]
The key to a successful employee/family relationship is that everyone in the office is treated the same. You need the same level (or higher) of accountability, timeliness, and dedication to customer service from all of your employees, especially family members to be successful. Specifically outlining each employee’s role and keeping personal issues out of the workplace will ensure a positive work environment for you and your family member.

Dr. Rhonda Savage is an internationally acclaimed speaker and CEO for a well-known practice management and consulting business. Dr. Savage is a noted motivational speaker on leadership, women’s issues and communication. For more information on her speaking, visit or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Why Is The Guy Down The Street Selling More Cars Than You?

I’ve heard it said a thousand times before: “My competitor sells more cars than I do. We need to get more market share and outsell him. What is he doing that makes him a bigger dealer than us?” Well, the answers to these questions are more complicated than they seem. There are several reasons why one dealer may outsell another.

First, your competitor probably spends more money in advertising than you do. Advertising dollars usually translate into sales. Oh sure—some campaigns and some methods of advertising are better than others. Nevertheless, you can typically look at what a dealer spends in a market and see a direct correlation in sales. I know dealers who set their budget each month to hit a certain number of sales for that given month. One thing is for sure: if you don’t spend money in advertising, you won’t make the sales. Once in a while, you will get lucky and have a good month with a lower budget, but that way of thinking will catch up with you sooner or later. You may not spend a lot of money in June and still have a good month, but you will begin to feel the pain in July or August. Spend money in advertising; it’s probably the most important investment a dealership can make.

The other reason the guy down the street may be outselling you is he may be smarter than you are. The truth is, he is probably making better decisions on how to position his store and how to spend his advertising money. He is probably committed to a plan and has a different way of thinking than you do. The old adage has never been truer when it comes to advertising: “You must spend money to make money.” Here are a few tips for becoming a better marketer:

Think your advertising through. Involve your managers. Make this a priority in your dealership. This is an expensive proposition; it can make or break your bottom line. Plan on a weekly advertising meeting and follow through.
Find good people who not only know how to make good ads but also know the car business. Too often, you have GSMs trying to design ads. Stick to selling cars and find the right people who know how to handle the advertising. Either get an auto-advertising specialist on your team or find a good local ad agency that understands your dealership(s).
Find out what is working for other dealers around the country. Good ideas will generally work well in all markets. When you find something that works, stick with it. Don’t change for the sake of change.

So, the next time you see the numbers of the guy down the street, think about it and act on it. There’s no reason why any dealer in the country can’t increase sales if they are committed to the process. But remember, you need to spend money to make money.

Tom Letizia is the president of Letizia Ad Team-Automotive Marketing Division, a full-service advertising agency specializing in automotive. He can be reached at 702-870-2362 or via email at