THE SOCIAL MEDIA SUPERHIGHWAY

Facebook, Twitter, and similar Internet interaction sites are quickly becoming the average person’s first line of contact with the outside world, and the Internet has almost completely replaced print media and airwave advertising. Be a part of it. Embrace it instead of avoiding it. Point one: You don’t know unless you are there. If you do not have Facebook and Twitter account, open one today.
Facts: 57% of all American adults have a Facebook account, and 64% visit the site or read notifications daily.  The average adult has 340 friends. Young adults 18-29 have over 500. Most of these will be local people.  Half of the people who use the internet who do not have Facebook themselves live with someone who does. (Pew Research 2014)

Someone “liking” your dealership Page on Facebook exposes you instantly to between 340 and 500 people. Every time you post something new, it shows on the pages of those who liked your page, and is visible to all their friends. Posting purchases (with permission) and tagging the buyer does what no other print or airwave media can: it says: “Jane Smith bought a 2009 Ford Fusion from ABC Auto Sales.” It does this instantly. Not even Jane will personally tell 500 people where she bought her last car. But Facebook just did. And in the picture, she is smiling.

When you tell someone you bought a car, the invariable questions are: What did you buy, who did you buy it from, and did you get a good deal? Each person you tell has to ask, and you have to answer those questions repeatedly. The purchase status answers the first two. Then, if just one person comments on that status, and asks Jane, she only has to answer it once, but 340-500 people just got the same information. All at the speed of light. Tag your sales rep in the status, too, and Jane’s friends will know who to ask for. Hundreds of potential referral clients and all you did was copy a picture to a website, type a car description, and a couple names. Extreme Business Person Bonus points for a two-minute video of Jane gushing about her purchase.   

Use Facebook to promote your dealership and its’ community position. Get involved in the local charity events, and post that to your page. People really do respond positively when local businesses participate. Other business owners who participate will also be more open to doing trade with someone who has the same social involvement level. Besides that, the networking connections you develop could help you in more ways than you imagine.

Be supportive of the locals. Congratulate the high school or college team for making playoffs. If you are in a college town, images of mascots are huge draws. Ask the local team to come by and take pictures with your staff to post to your page, and donate for the trip to Capital City for the big game, or to purchase instruments for the band.  Host the fund-raising car wash.

Bonus: people can write reviews and put them on your page. Not just their friends, but anyone who sees the page will see the review. If it’s all good, then you get a lot of good press for free. If it’s bad, then maybe you should review your business practices and training. Even if you do get a bad review, the public wants to know how you handle it. If you respond positively and quickly, then that shows that businesses may make mistakes, but you are willing to address them. Never respond angrily or with accusations. Contrary to popular belief, the customer is not always right, but to his friends, he is. Do not post fake reviews. They will be exposed, and you will look much worse for it.


Shakespeare said that the evil that men do lives after them, the good is buried with them. It is true. One hateful, angry tirade will be findable on the internet and reposted for years and years, and be available to anyone on any search page even long after your business is closed. In this age of screenshots, even deleting it will not make it go away. Make sure that the business owner or general manager approves all except routine postings. You have an image to protect, and recent news shows that it can be ruined or permanently scarred with just one bad status. Take a couple hours one day and search for the term “Social Media Blunders.” You will be entertained and disgusted, but most hopefully, enlightened and educated at the raw destructive power of just one sentence. 

RIGHT-SIZING YOUR CUSTOMER

Did you right-size your customer in the car, or did you put your customer in an avoidable default position?

Verifying and working within the customer’s personal requirements, salary, and budget timeline makes for better deals, greater satisfaction, increased overall revenue, and higher numbers of referrals. Managing your Receivables goes beyond simply taking the money in after the sale. It has to start from the first time the customer asks if you finance, and be a part of all negotiations.    
“Personal requirements” simply means verifying that the car being delivered fits the consumer’s needs.  A family with two kids in car seats will not be happy with a coupe within a short time. Take the time to ask personal questions and qualify the unit to the buyer.

An unsatisfied buyer will find a lot of things wrong with a unit that a happy buyer will overlook. Keep in mind, too, that the consumer will find a way to also make you the bad guy for not putting him in the car he wanted first.

If the buyer does not mention financing, then it is your job to do so. Unless they are counting cash out, finance is invariably going to be part of the deal. Be upfront and honest about your offerings, and ask for the information from the buyer. How much down? What are his or her pay periods? Find out before showing or discussing specific units.

There is no sense in getting a buyer interested in a unit that at closing, you find out won’t work out for them. Their disappointment in having to “settle” for a lesser unit can lead to a lost sale or overall dissatisfaction with your business.

Financially, someone with just $400 in disposable income will not be able to pay a $450 per month payment for long. Likewise, if the payment is leaving the buyer close to his edge, a car that is a fuel hog or needs frequent repairs is not going to work out. 

It is in your best interest in every case to try to find a way to keep the buyer in the car. If the car or the payment did not work from day one, then that task is nearly impossible. Repossession should be an absolute last resort to working with a customer. It is expensive, and can get complicated really fast. No matter how you arrived at that, the dealer is always going to look bad. Too many dealers substitute this for a collections phone call, and you will soon find, these dealers have the worst reputations in town. Ironically, they are also the very first to bitterly complain that customers won’t call or communicate with them. Contempt and distrust of the customer breeds contempt and distrust of the dealer. That little piece of circular warfare we cover later. 

Appoint or hire someone with great people skills and a good grasp of personal finance concepts to act not only as your initial financing consultant, but also as a customer solutions representative. Authorize this person to talk to the customers when the payments are late, and charge them with finding a solution to getting the account back to current. You may need to empower this person to make minor modifications or allowances. This position will pay for itself in increased revenue, and happier customers. Happy customers who are riding bring a lot more referrals that the guy sitting at home angry because you picked up his car. 

Be proactive and understanding. Watch the local news for notices of major plant closings or work outages, and make a plan to work with those people affected. After all, you’d much rather see your name on Social Media as the Awesome Friend who helped out a person in need rather than the Rotten Jerk who kicked people while they were down.

Lastly, be realistic. If a person had his last five cars repossessed, then, the odds are yours will be the sixth. Sorry, but some people just cannot do a payment schedule, whether it is their own personal choices or just bad fortune. Sometimes, it really is better to say No than to enter into a contract that is certain to fail.

Avoidable default is one of the biggest, and most toxic, cancers a dealership can have. It’s also the single most preventable.  

DOUBLE-CHECK THAT PAPERWORK!

A few minutes spent catching VIN, mileage, spelling, and deal number mistakes before closing could save hours or days trying to make corrections and getting contracts re-signed. Making sure the deal is right the first time, every time, also has a positive effect on your reputation.
No one is perfect, and mistakes are sometimes made. It is important to verify the numbers are printed as agreed, including Sale Price, Payment terms/dates, and taxes and tag/title fees.  
Misspelled names, mistyped VINs, mileage, or driver license information and missing disclosures or forms can cause headaches at registration. Check with your local DMV or tag office for a list of required forms. Many states issue a Title Manual that will be very helpful in answering questions, and provide a documented basis for your decisions. 
 
Other forms that may not seem important now will be at some point down the road. For example, in Florida, if you are collecting the Tag/Title fees COD, you MUST have the COD agreement signed by the customer at the time of the deal. Otherwise, you cannot send the Registration Stop Request in later.
 
Missing insurance, arbitration, or repossession agreements can cause legal issues.  
 
This is your time to separate yourself from the consumer for just a few minutes to check these things and verify without distraction. Remember that this set of papers is a legal contract that binds both the consumer AND the dealership. Sometimes, it is a good idea to have someone else check the deal pack. Some of these issues can have the effect of having the deal rejected by a third-party lender.
 
A good idea is to always have your sale documents in a certain order. If you inspect the deal pack in the same order every time, you are more likely to notice a missing form. Presenting the forms to the consumer in a certain order each time will also smooth out the closing process. Take the time to present and explain each document, pointing out the key elements of the agreement.
 
Always remember that mistakes are infinitely easier to fix before closing than after delivery. 

Welcome

Let me explain:

I’m Louie. I work for Wayne Reaves Software & Websites. I’m a Senior Tech Support Analyst, and do IT work for the office.

I was in the Used Car business once, have sold franchise cars, and I was also a mechanic, and once, manager of a Tire Store. I consult with used car stores, and advise various people on it and how our software interacts with them.

Seems like a weird path? Yeah, it is.

But, I have done this for thirteen years now, and I’ve learned a few things.

I thought I’d share them with you.

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