Hisham Tabet

Sink or Swim in the Automotive Industry

What Exactly Differentiates You?

We all know this, your car dealership business has too many competitors to list. Sometimes you may feel a bit “choked-up” or you may have an overwhelmed feeling take over you. Then you lose sleep, stress takes over your daily life, and well – I am sure you know the rest of this story. My blog is not about how you are going to mentally and physically overtake your business’ stress. I am here to open your eyes on the endless possibilities that you could be pursuing, all while bringing a new breath of life into your dealership.

You are not limited to your local community – remember that. There is a whole world out there that might be struggling to find the cars you have on your inventory. The untapped demographics are waiting for your creativity and smart research to be targeted correctly towards the consumers you are seeking to sell your vehicles to. First and foremost, you need to make sure that the advertised price fits the market you are targeting. For instance; if you are trying to sell your bright yellow Corvette in Reno, NV most likely you will have a hard time selling it than you would in Las Vegas. After you research the Vegas market for the similar vehicle (approximately the same mileage on the ‘Vette, similar color, year and engine size) you might be surprised at times where the value for a certain vehicle is higher than of the one in your local community. Thus, not only giving you an advantage on your competitors to sell the Corvette faster, but also giving you a bit of a cushion room to adjust your price accordingly to fit the market in Vegas. Same example for that big lifted truck you have, Texas called – they have been waiting to proudly own it, so on and so forth.

The use of social media marketing has become easier – more intuitive – and most importantly its reach is now worldwideBe proud of what you are building, this portal will take you places you have never thought of before. This is your edge, this is what sets you apart. Intelligent business marketing, can you handle it?

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly…

Do you have any idea how much of an impact online reviews can leave on your business? Roughly about 80% of online consumers report that the internet is their go-to before they physically take the trip down and purchase a big ticket item. Think about it. When was the last time you were skeptical about that LED TV you have always wanted? You will never fall into the pressure of the salesperson, and would much rather review the product thoroughly on the Web before making the purchase.

Classifying your inventory into the right demographics of your area gives you an edge over your competition. The variety of vehicles that you will be catering gives you a better Return-on-Investment on your social media platform – people will recognize your brand, your diversity, and in return you will have a bigger chance at witnessing discussions about your cars. The power of a bad review has ripple effects, consumers excel at speaking out loud and having their emotions and feelings heard online. When the next potential customer comes along to purchase a vehicle from your lot, well yes, you have guessed it. They will not trust you, they will not choose you.

When a review is posted, it is going to stay there, the internet is not closing tomorrow. Comment cards, angry post mail letters are things of the past. The consumer voice has gotten louder because of the internet, everyone is a publisher now. This is the true weakness of businesses, how could you afford to give out a bad experience to a customer? The domino effect will soon catch on and before you know it you have found yourself buried under a sea of  trouble.

There is a clear correlation between negative reviews received online and a lower profit margin for that specific quarter. Businesses will be shooting themselves in the foot by not paying careful attention to their online reputation. Do not let yourself become prone to a shot of self inflicted pain.

Image Credit; Review Trackers.

The Wild Assumptions

How do you figure out if your staff’s hard work is yielding meaningful results? In the car business it is each man for his own, the effort of one sales person vanishes in a matter of minutes if the potential customer decides to walk away. So what technique can be used to successfully create a fortress of a business that capitalizes on every potential opportunity for a sale?

The wild ones will tell you repeatedly; pressure, pressure, pressure, and some more pressure. Please do not be just another dealer. You want to stand out from the rest don’t you? So how about you take initiative and set yourself apart from the rest of the herd. In a such a competitive atmosphere you and your employees have to be professional and on point every day. It is your staff’s responsibility to make the customers feel at home, whether it is a simple phone conversation or a one-on-one test drive. The impression that needs to be given to prospective buyer is an inviting one, and not a persuading, full of stress conversation. There are always room to learn and adjust, your customer for the old Ford truck is going to respond differently to a sales pitch than for the one interested in the shiny Mercedes-Benz sitting on your lot. Our world has become overly filled with variety – a diversity of people and of the products they are seeking, Your job is to adjust and learn to adopt to the sometimes crazy curve that your potential buyers present you with. Do not underestimate your customers, do not disrespect and cut short a conversation. You will be surprised by how much of a curve ball each interested buyer is going to throw at you.

The most important lesson to learn here is patience, patience with your staff and with your customers. Adapting to the new changing atmosphere could take you a while, but at the end it is all for your own good. “Patience is the greatest of all virtues” – Cato the Elder

Image credit; Digital Journal.

Your enemy is your best competition

Throughout your business experience, have you ever had that deep, ugly feeling of jealousy? We all start from somewhere – whether it be the tippy top or if you are an average person then you get to start from scratch. Let’s be honest. What matters is that each and every one of us despite our personalities and values will always have that nature-like vein of jealousy running through us. Not to be confused with hatred, but to be put in the same category as the main reason to build yourself an ‘enemy’ is probably the true outcome of a jealous circumstance.

Whatever the reason may be for your jealousy, and I do not care if you are willing to admit it or not, they say there are always positives to every negatives; well whoever said that turns out to be correct. Your so called enemy inspires you. Your portrayed ‘enemy’ gives you incentives. You may not analyze this directly. But, all of a sudden, you are absolutely determined to crush the competition. You may deprived of sleep at night, unfocused during the days, feeling in a daze whenever your enemy’s brand is mentioned, so on and so forth. You are not alone, angry business owner. The trick to this is using it to your full advantage – let that so called enemy drive you stronger and forward. Do not accept any competition, instead tailor your services and business to be rated at least a few notches on top of the enemy’s. So the next time you hear the competitor’s name, you will simply wear that sarcastic grin of yours so confidently, knowing that you have pushed yourself and brought your business into a safe and robust position.

In the car business, owning a car dealership specifically, allows you to push the envelope as far and wide as your heart desires. There are no limits, the bar can be set by you and your workaholic staff as high as possibly needed to confidently lay your dark shadows on the competition.

Here is a motivational line for when you find yourself angry at the office and desperately seeking inspiration and drive;

“Do not tell me the sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the mean” – Dorothy Parker

 

Have you had enough?

People just don’t learn sometimes. It is rather annoying when you find yourself talking to the same pale walls on the job daily. Your staff is your backbone support and if you cannot manage it correctly then it is your own fault for wasting your time on them. Sometimes you will find low energy levels at work, other times you will be shocked with the over achievements made by your team. In order to keep that high energy flowing, you will definitely need to push for initiatives and milestones to reach within the week or the month.

The same way you can put the internet to use for your business, the same concept is how well the web facilitates the process of finding new replacements for a staff refresher. Your team is your single most important weapon to turn your investment into real profit. By ensuring the effectiveness and determination of your workers, you can rest assured that the inventory you hold will be sold before you even know it. Of course, granted you have been following my tips and suggestions on how to market your vehicles and where. The possibilities are endless on the internet, it is a platform with no limits, truly a turn-key opportunity for your business to survive and excel at selling various inventory. What is the worth of each employee you have? What is his true value for your company? I am not talking about how well he closes a customer, I am talking about what his job really is when there is no traffic coming in? Your business needs “go-getters” – if your staff is not researching market prices, reviewing competitors and their inventories on a daily basis. Then, my friend, you have a major problem. Your staff is now overpaid and under-worked.

The arrogance of the old days, where you owned the street, no longer applies. Now it is all about who owns the west, the east and central. The world wide web has made almost every business grow exponentially, are you ready to keep up or have you had enough?

 

Image credit; funny random pictures.

Perception is Reality

The truth of the matter is; emotions enter our eyes first, then our ears and then the rest of our senses. When consumers browse through thousands of cars looking for the one that will jump in and attract their undivided attention, even if they were not in the market for a gas guzzler for example, they will still click on that image as long as it has won their emotions over. It is human nature, curiosity runs through our eyes, into our blood.

So what is the ultimate selling technique? Is it all the blah-blah-blah that sales people enjoy pressuring customers with? Absolutely not. A successful sales person does not try to lure car buyers with attractive monthly payments and other empty promises. Instead, a salesperson should be able to treat his inventory like he is the proud owner of each and every vehicle on the lot. All of the specifications from maintenance tips to drive train knowledge should be acquired and researched prior to speaking with a potential buyer.
Why do we say perception is reality? This is the exact reason – your presentation on the social web, as in your cars’ display should look phenomenal. Nothing short of perfect. Every angle is covered, every option, even all of the flaws should be presented in a professional manner. Your online transparency is the first step to winning the emotion and trust of potential car buyers.

What will set you apart in this field is a set of tools, beginning from the online presence to your staff training and management. It takes dedication, focus, drive and some serious competitiveness. The yielding results will be forever reaped, the bar will be set pretty high for any competitor to try and play the catch up game. If you are serious about business longevity, it is not too late to start from right now.
Sink or swim – the decision is yours.

 

Image credit; MMS from a friend.

Rotten inventory?

Every car dealership goes through this phase; lot-rot problems can be difficult to solve. This could be a result from various reasons: paying too much for a certain car, purchasing the car with the wrong (missing) desired options, perhaps the ugliest color combination ever made, etc… So what can you do, how can you engage with your audience correctly and help bring a refreshed breath into your lot?

As many may suggest – short sale it!! No. That is not the way to go. Every car holds its value well, it takes you from point A to point B with virtually no headaches (that is why you chose to feature this car on your lot in the first place, right?) Well, OK… I am sorry about that. Anyways, lets focus back on how to market this vehicle correctly. First;y, you are now dedicated for the next week or two to solely concentrate your market research and advertising on this specific vehicle(s). What are the main characteristics – 4×4 for areas like Reno, Tahoe or is it a gas saver two wheel drive perfect to market in the Bay area? Let us assume it is a fast, stylish sports car. You are having a tough time selling this baby in the Reno area. No problem. You run your ad campaign in Arizona, Last Vegas, and Southern California. If this is an ultimate hard to find/sell vehicle, then investing a few extra dollars will ensure finding a closing deal for your dilemma. By running a concentrated ad campaign on eBay Motors, Craigslist, or other socially embedded businesses will help expose this specific vehicle to a broader audience correctly.

Smart ad running campaigns requires a lot of study and research. You cannot simply take the plunge into that area without laying out the pros and cons. As with everything related to social media, it cannot be carried out recklessly. Believe it or not, your website and business can be wiped off the top search listings if you think that algorithm does not punish the wrongdoers!

image credit: Everything About Cars.

Do you feel overwhelmed?

Social Media Sickness

Every now and then, with the pressure of this technologically driven world, we feel a tighter choke as we become overwhelmed with the amount of information surrounding us. You have already signed up for these challenges, correct? You vowed that your business will survive despite all struggles, and as a commander of your future you will not give up in the search for the newest and latest tools that could really save the moment.

How about we take a new approach and help you present your inventory in a way that stands out from the rest. This is all happening meanwhile your social arsenal is fighting the Google algorithm and making a dent in the first search page, locally, for now, hopefully. To give it that extra boost it is indefinitely going to need the help of your inventory manager. The main task is now to research the car(s) being posted and include a comprehensive description of the actual condition of the car and also its specifications. Do not throw out sale pitches, do not mention any silly terms like ‘in MINT condition‘, ‘looks like a dime’, ‘perfect running  & cosmetic shape’ etc… Instead, try to focus on what consumers are really looking for; ‘great gas mileage’ , ‘powerful towing capabilities in this 4×4′, ‘great commuter/daily driver used car’, ‘low maintenance fees, easy to upkeep‘ and so forth.

We have to hint back to our previous blog post (So you want to jump on the bandwagon, too?) Where we mention that the first impression is what puts things into perspective and attracts or drives away potential car buyers. When a car is posted on the inventory online, whether you like it or not, it is being pulled (or scrapped) into other advertising websites. For various reasons, mainly traffic and views incentives but we shall not get into that off-topic right now. The point that needs to come across is this: Each and every big ticket posted online to the inventory needs to look phenomenal – from the description, to the business information, and most importantly, most importantly, most importantly (Did I stress that enough?), the pictures.

You see, the pictures constitute for about 90 percent of the buying decision. The 10 percent left is the will to take the drive down and see the car in person. This is how customers are attracted. It is all about show – moderate show. If you succeed at keeping things balanced among your team members, then you my friend are on route to building an untouchable empire.

Image Credit; New Web.

So you want to jump on the bandwagon, too?

Most consumers nowadays research the Web before purchasing big ticket items (a car for instance), is YOUR content relevant and attractive??

Let us face the fact, no one likes to be left behind. Why should you be left in the dust? You were born to do well in this world, you acquired a strong mindset and built on your stubborn determination to be successful in the business world (hopefully). Now that you have made it this far, there is no turning back. You can take control by handling one issue at a time, by managing your employees as a team – rather than slaves. Opportunity needs to be handed out for results to be reaped.

Shall we narrow it down to the roots? I believe it is time to get down on the fundamentals and hit on the important, overlooked treasures of business management. Every day is a chance to better our own business, to rebuild on its strength while keeping the weaknesses in mind. In the Automotive industry, or any other business for that matter, market research is one of the most valuable and rewarding work anyone could do on a daily basis. It is critical to study the market within [at least] 300 mile radius to ensure the product being sold compares fairly to the industry we are in. Your digital research rewards you in ways your neighbors cannot. Meaning – it allows you to compare and contrast how well-exposed your business and its products really are, it shows you what your competitors are up to, what their latest inbound internet marketing techniques are based on, and let us not forget how well it classifies the attractiveness of your products being sold.

Bottom line is, you have to be aware of your surroundings. You can learn a great amount about the industry you are in by simply observing the various trends within a reasonable geographical surrounding area; [which car is the most searched for? What is the current (daily) market price for my inventory? How are inventories displayed and informed about in other dealerships? And so forth...]  Step two is to trust and allow your team to work together towards the same goal – raising the exposure of the business professionally and thus skyrocketing monthly sales. Presentation is everything – they say the first impression is the last impression. Time to turn your storefront display into a profitable harvesting tool!

image source; Mud on The Boots.

Another one bites the dust…

“He who rejects change is the architect of decay.  The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery.” – Harold Wilson

We are living in a time that does not forgive – a time that moves quickly and has no patience whatsoever to wait around for those who are still walking to catch the train. The times we live in are undoubtedly tough and may be a bit harsh on some. This is not to be confused with, what we think is, life’s endless unfair games that our souls go through and our bodies suffer. We are the masters of our future, of our fate. We are the sole commanders of our ship, we either conquer what we set our vision to or we simply blend in with the rest and hope that the waves, will someday, wash us into the shores that we have been hoping to reach.

My blog is not about applying life’s valuable lessons daily, but it is about managing our lives wisely. With an extra dash of dedication, focus, creativity, and vision. It is about standing out from the rest, building our own path, climbing our separate mountains, to independently reach the goals we have set for ourselves. The title of this post is about ‘stubborn’ business owners and managers – the people who believe times are not changing. The ones who are convinced that social media for instance, can only harm rather than do good for the future of a small business. This is without a doubt a strategy to bite the dust.

From a first hand experience, to the numerous closely and deeply involved cases – I can share one thing. That is, standing still will lead to nowhere. Hence my swimming campaign – be faithful to your business, give it back what it deserves and treat it with respect. For you to successfully take it to the next level you have to face the fear of moving forward. Yes – do not misunderstand me, swimming into dark and unknown areas may be full of sharks, perhaps even filled with mines. Fortunately, as with everything in this world – there are right and awfully wrong ways to conduct a strong and boldly managed campaign in order to successfully overcome, what seems from the beginning, a dangerous route to venture into.

Let these thoughts sit through your minds, mingle with your inner selves and most importantly, allow this be a solid stepping ground for the live and specific examples that will be showcased in my blog soon.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.

More to come,

Hisham Tabet.

image credit: hyperlink opens in new window.

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