Go for the Gold: Three Takeaways from the Olympics

Dealerships and the Olympics: Are you the winner or the loser?

So I completely have Olympic fever. From the moment the opening ceremonies began to the recaps every night, I am obsessed with the level of competition, the anticipation, and the excitement that accompanies each and every event.

Who knew I would watch Badminton and actually care about it?

Not me.

While breaking down why I was enraptured with all of these events, I started to think about the similarities between the excitement of the Olympics and the excitement in a dealership. And yes, I did just compare YOUR dealership to Olympic events.

Here are three ways selling cars could be like preparing for an Olympic event:

Know your competition.

Know your competition

Do you think Phelps came to the competition not knowing Chad le Clos’s stats?

Much of the preparation for any competition is studying your opponents, knowing their capabilities, strengths and weaknesses. Phelps came into these Olympics knowing who he had to beat, and knowing how to finish the job.

Do you know your competition? Who are you directly battling with for leads, sales, and service customers?

Do your research. Take time to look at their website, check out their offerings, and call the dealership and hear the level of customer service they provide. If you are not as good or better, you need to step up your game!


Put in the time and effort

Simone Biles

Simone Biles is a story we have all been following. Her ridiculous ability is not just innate--she logs many hours in the gym and has made sacrifices for her goals.

How much time do you put into perfecting your craft? Sales and management may have some innate qualities (people skills, ability to converse, extroverted), but there are skills you need to perfect to not only be good at your job, but to beat out the competition.

Know your CRM inside and out. When you can manage your customer relations and messaging, you will master the art of communicating.

Do some research on highly effective salespeople. They do not evolve overnight. There are videos, courses, and books that focus on the skills needed to bring your game and your career to the next level.

Age Doesn’t Matter

2016 4x200 Swim

How many dealerships like their process and don’t want to change? Just because you are established does not mean you can’t adopt new processes and be winners.

Michael Phelps and Ryan Lockard are two of the older Olympian Swimmers competing, and Michael Phelps is the oldest to win a gold medal. Do you think he has changed his training in and out of the pool as he has matured?

You betcha.

And we need to change, too. Dealerships get comfortable doing what has always been done. As long as the money is still coming in, there is little desire to change.

But customers are changing, shopping habits are changing, and customers expect more.

It’s time to change our process, make them current and relevant, and meet our customers where they are. And that all revolves around treating our customers better than our competition.

  • Text with information instead of an email or call.
  • Send a video of their car while it's in your service lane.
  • Be as transparent as possible to gain their trust.

Let’s Talk About It:

  • Are you stuck in “Old School” ways?
  • How are you taking the time to invest in your profession? Are you learning something new everyday?
  • When was the last time you researched your competition? Get to know them.


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Extraordinary Results With Your Internet Leads


How you handle your internet leads determine so much about your culture, your dealership, and your customer experience. Do you differentiate yourselves from the competition that surrounds you?


If you want to be a successful automotive sales professional, you need to have a plan in place concerning how you handle your internet leads, the rate in which you reach out to customers, and how you bring them into the dealership.


There is a ton of research that speaks to best practices in the dealership, how to best handle leads, processes, and how customers are shopping in the moment. Who has time to wade through all of it? So here are some facts that stood out to me:


  • The average mobile campaign significantly outpaces online in ad awareness. (Source: DynamicLogic.com)
  • Adults spend 10.1 percent of their media time on mobile, but only .9 percent of ad spends are on mobile. (Source: eMarketer.com)
  • 73 percent of smartphone users say they used the mobile web to make a purchase instead of using an app. (Source: JumpTap.com) We just had a very interesting conversation about this on Driving Sales.
  • 81 percent of smartphone users have done product research from a smartphone, and 50 percent have made a purchase via their phone. (Source: Prosper Mobile Insights)
  • 70 percent of mobile searches lead to action within one hour. (It takes a full month for the same percentage of desktop users to catch up.) (Source: MobileMarketer.com)
  • 9 out of 10 mobile searches lead to action. More than 50 percent lead to sales. (Source: SearchEngineLand)

And this data will change quickly. As new technologies emerge and disruptions are added, data grows, morphs, and develops into new, slightly different data. It is almost impossible to have “current” information because current is constantly evolving.

Think about how that affects the way we reach out, market, and talk to customers. It is an ever changing game and we need to either know the most recent rules or start creating some new ones.

A few points to take away from all this data:

Is your website responsive?

One major takeaway is that customers are searching your dealership and looking for information on multiple platforms. Is your website set up for a multi-device experience? If 81% of customers are doing research on their smartphone, and 70% lead to some form of action within an hour, you need to make sure you are meeting customers where they are. It is not enough to have a functional website, but you need a responsive one. One that provides the information they want without having to minimize to see the text or do the scroll of death to try and find the right margin. Your website should be completely functional on any platform with any device the customer chooses to utilize.

Are you prepared for change?

We are creatures of habit in an industry that does not embrace change as quickly as others. The problem with that is our customers ARE changing, and we need to keep up in a manner they find inviting. That means we have to have multiple modes of contact, advertising, and selling. Customers expect to have choices now, and we are more than capable of providing them. Texting, Chat, and Dealership Apps are the new kids on the block (maybe not NEW, but newer) and need to be discussed. One statistic I read today stated that texts get read in under 3 minutes. That is powerful, as long as it is not an intrusion for your customer. Dealer Apps are very cool, but you need customer buy-in. There is so much to think about that your head would spin trying to keep up.

Let me give you some peace of mind.

There are some things--some tried and true methods--that are still effective. You can add any new approach needed, but these are three static forms of contact that must happen.

  • You must email your customer
  • You must get them on the phone as soon as possible
  • You must set an appointment
  • You are already doing this, right?


You have one solid piece in place, as long as you are doing this well. With all of this innovation and change, take comfort that there are methods you already embracing. The interesting and exciting part is figuring how to weave the old with the new. How to incorporate texting or apps or geofencing with what you know needs to be done. Should you incorporate a service that immediately links you to a customer via phone when they fill out a lead?

You should not abandon prior methods, but you can enhance them and make them even more effective. So do what you are doing, but add what you can one step at a time. Master that, and then see if it works.

Because, at the end of the day, it does not matter if it is cool or cutting edge. What matters is if it helps you reach more customers and sell more cars.


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2016 GM Compass Tour in High Gear

2016 has been an incredibly busy year for BetterCarPeople--and especially for its CEO and Chief of Ideas, Matthew Belk.



In 2015, Matthew was selected by General Motors as a Subject Matter Expert and featured presenter at the GM Compass Tour. As a result of a successful tour, Matthew was asked again to join the 2016 Compass Tour to present about responding to online inquiries in the automotive space.

For the next two days, Matthew is in Dallas, TX followed by Houston, TX on July 18th.

The tour kicked off in Wilmington, OH on May 19th and has already had 6 stops to date. Each stop has been bigger than the last, and all have been received extremely well. The tours, which begin early in the morning and last until about 4 pm, are filled with everyone from General Managers, to Internet Directors, to Service Managers, to all levels of GM employees.

One of the main reasons the tour has been received so well is that the speakers are providing specific and tangible solutions to modern problems in the dealerships. The face of automotive has changed drastically, and will continue to change with technology, social selling, and varied forms of communication. The GM Compass Tour is providing real world solutions to relevant concerns--and the dealerships attending are giving great feedback!

Matthew Belk, alongside selected presenters, will continue to travel across America throughout the summer, ending the tour in September in Pittsburgh, PA. Check out the dates and make sure to register for the Compass Tour if you have not been already.

Remaining Dates:

July 18 | Houston, TX | Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel & Convention Center

July 20 – 21 | New York | Hilton Meadowlands

July 25 – 26 | Greensboro, NC | Grandover Resort

August 3 – 4 | Atlanta, GA | The Infinite Energy Center

August 9 – 10 | St. Louis, MO | St. Charles Convention Center

August 16 – 17 | Detroit, MI | Suburban Collection Showplace & Hyatt Place Hotel

August 23 – 25 | Chicago, IL | Tinley Park Convention Center & Holiday Inn

September 13 | Wilmington, DE (Baltimore) | Chase Center on the River

September 15 | Providence, RI (Boston) | Rhode Island Convention Center

September 22 | Orlando, FL | Osceola Heritage Park

September 26 – 27 | Pittsburgh, PA | DoubleTree Pittsburgh


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Better Car People Recognized For Exemplary Workplace Practices

Receives Prestigious When Work Works Award

MONROE, NC (JUNE, 1, 2016) – Better Car People has been honored with the 2016 When Work Works Award for its use of effective workplace strategies to increase business and employee success.


This prestigious award, part of the national When Work Works project administered by the Families and Work Institute (FWI) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), recognizes employers of all sizes and types in the Carolinas and across the country.


“We are thrilled to receive this recognition for our workplace practices,” said Matthew Belk, CEO of Better Car People. “Whether it’s working from home one day a week or taking a 30-minute break to enjoy an onsite massage (free to employees), we have learned that creating a culture of excellence brings satisfaction to our employees that translates to customer satisfaction.”


The award is the result of a rigorous assessment of the workplace. Worksites must first qualify by ranking in the top 20 percent of the country based on a nationally representative sample of employers. Two-thirds of the evaluation of applicants comes from an employee survey. Applicants are evaluated on six research-based ingredients of an effective workplace: opportunities for learning; a culture of trust; work/life fit; supervisor support for work success; autonomy; and satisfaction with earnings, benefits, and opportunities for advancement — all factors associated with employee health, well-being, and engagement.


“These employers have excelled at creating effective workplaces yielding tremendously positive results for business success, as well as for their employees’ well-being and productivity,” said Ellen Galinsky, president of FWI. “Effective workplaces recognize that employees are an organization’s greatest resource and make a critical difference in the organization’s ability to not only survive, but to thrive.”  


“The 2016 When Work Works Award winners confirm that leading employers are continuing the movement toward effective workplace strategies that benefit both business and employees,” said Lisa Horn, director of SHRM’s workplace flexibility initiative. “These innovative strategies are what sets these organizations apart, allowing them to attract and retain top talent, giving them a competitive advantage.”


To learn more, check out this interactive map, which includes winning organizations by state: http://www.whenworkworks.org/be-effective/2016-when-work-works-award-winners-state-listing


When Work Works is a national project that shares research results on what makes an effective and flexible workplace with the business community.

For more information about the When Work Works initiative and the When Work Works Award, visit www.whenworkworks.org



Better Car People are automotive and software professionals dedicated to bringing cost-effective solutions to dealers. In just under 7 years, our team of automotive experts has shaken up the digital space in the automotive world, making our cutting edge technologies, BetterAppointments for Service and OvernightBDC for Sales, a sought after commodity. We currently answer internet leads for over 2000 sales and service departments within the U.S. and Canada.

About When Work Works

When Work Works is a national initiative, led by the partnership of the Families and Work Institute (FWI) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), to help businesses of all sizes and types become more successful by transforming the way they view and adopt effective and flexible workplaces. When Work Works is one of the foremost providers of resources, rigorous research and best practices on workplace effectiveness and flexibility in the nation. The initiative administers the prestigious annual When Work Works Award, which recognizes exemplary employers for creating effective workplaces to increase business and employee success. Visit www.whenworkworks.org and follow us on Twitter @WhenWorkWorks @FWINews and @SHRMPress, and join the workflex conversation on Facebook.com/FWINews.


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Don't Leave The Lot Just Yet! (We still need you)

Digital is an expectation, not an enhancement or an addition.

Our culture has come to expect a digital experience in the smallest of our daily routines. Fast Food has become automated (now the kiosk can forget I said no pickles), I can just take a picture and deposit my check, (or just use Apple Pay and PayPal) and I even order my dog food off of Amazon.



In the automotive industry, this means from the moment of initial purchasing research until the moment the car is programmed for the buyer, digital seems to run the show.


Except when it doesn’t.


Amidst all this automation and technology, there is one thing that has remained consistent: Selling cars is still a social event. It is relational. People buy cars from people. People they like and trust.

Technology has removed most other variables in the purchasing process. Online Transparency eliminated the issue of pricing. Most new vehicles are priced with little margin, and used vehicles are competitively priced.


People search online to find the exact vehicle they think they want, including the trim levels, the mileage, and all other options. All that is left is to come into the dealership. And your sales and internet team need to win them over.


And that takes skill and communication.


Communication is the factor that can make or break a sale. How many of your salespeople are communication experts? How many are writing wizards and eloquent with every word.

Not too many?


Knowing how to communicate is a skill that is not easy to train. You must be able to read a person, listen to not only their words, but also their body language, and then adjust your message based on what they are saying (or not saying).


This is made even more difficult when the majority of the communication is being held online. There are some ways to utilize technology to make our conversations and emails with clients more personalized and well received


How to Make Communication a Little Easier:




Crystal is a free technology that gathers public social data about the person whose name you enter, and then analyzes any online information This software then tells you about the person's DISC, their preferred methods of communication, and how they choose to communicate with others.


This even gives you suggested email subject lines that should appeal specifically to the potential client. This is not 100% accurate (what in life is?), but close enough to help guide the way you talk to potential customers.


Oh, BTW. It’s free.


Social Media/Linkedin


Why are we not using this more when researching how to communicate to customers? You can learn so much from a cursory glance at someone’s LinkedIn or facebook. From bios, posts, etc you can see how formal or informal they are and what is seemingly important to them.


Just that little bit of information would help guide the length of your emails, your word choices, and your tone within the correspondence. And it truly takes 5 minutes of research to have this “insider information.”


PS--It’s not stalking if it’s already out there, however, remember that you are not requesting to friend, follow, or like any of their posts. That would be creepy





So, this is more of a “me” issue than it is for most, but I cannot stand when people try to sell me something through correspondence laden with misspellings, grammatical issues, and insane punctuation.

If you want to be considered a professional, present yourself as one.

Having said that, I also understand that that is easier for some than others. God made calculators just for me, and he may have made Grammarly just for you.

This downloadable angel will analyze your grammar, spelling, and word choice. It goes way beyond the generic spell check and is an intuitive virtual editor. It works in any document you are typing--including emails!


Let's Talk About It

  • Has communication skill been a factor when hiring new sales staff?

  • How to do ensure your staff can communicate the culture of your dealership? (Such as using specific customer-centric words?)

  • When was the last time you spot checked the emails and digital communications going from your dealership to potential customers?  I bet it is time to do that soon.
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It All Comes Back To The Customer Experience


The customer experience is what sets you apart from competing dealerships, and It's time to transform our approach from providing popcorn and balloons to really analyzing how we connect and converse with our customers. Dealerships need to understand who the customer is and then reach them when and where they are. Aimi Gundersen, Project Manager at BetterCarPeople, talks about what happens when dealers ignore customers.

I have two children who are now driving.


In addition to the lack of sleep that I get from constant worry, I am also looking for a vehicle for my daughter. I know the price range and basic model that I would be willing to purchase, and just started my online search.

I have filled out lead forms and interest inquiries to a local dealership I want to work with.

At the time of writing this, I have two generic auto-responses and no original, personal contact.

And I really wanted someone to contact me. I guess I am moving on to the next dealership.

If you think this scenario has not happened in your dealership, you either have an amazing internet process in place or are in denial.

I have studied the many (and I mean many) researched articles which have analyzed the viability of internet leads. These studies were substantial (some up to three years) and analyzed/quantified large amounts of data. From the Harvard Business Review to The Lead Response Management Study, they have all concluded the same results.

10 minutes

That is the amount of time in which you need to respond to a lead.  


10 minutes to send an amazing personalized email or to call a customer. After 30 minutes, the viability of making contact with the potential customer decreases 21%. After an hour, the likelihood drops significantly to almost the same percentage as a cold call (Lead Response Management Study).

That is fine during the day. That time frame should be more than attainable. Regardless of whether or not you have a BDC in place, or an internet team, or if the salespeople are taking turns answering the leads, 10 minutes should not be an issue during normal business hours. After all, an internet lead should be no different than a person walking into the showroom, right?

You could never imagine making a person wait that long to be greeted.

But what about your after-hour leads?

When you close your doors and turn off the lights, how do you reach out to those leads that come in at 9, 10, or 11 pm? There is a dangerous school of thought which deems late night internet leads as nuisances.

Kids on the computer.

People passively searching, but not really serious.

However, we know, and the industry knows, that the internet--specifically mobile--is the way people research their next vehicle purchase. The average car buyer is looking at multiple sources (18.2 ring a bell?) online before she ever steps foot on lot. And by that point, she has by all indication, most likely made her decision.

So when is she shopping? She is shopping after work. After things have settled down and she has time to take a moment for herself. Your digital showroom is open 24 hours a day. We need to treat is as such so we don’t lose valuable customers.

We also know from our research that about 30% of all leads come in after-hours. 30% of your potential business is submitting leads when your not at the dealership.

If you respond with an autoresponder, turn it off. The customer knows you are not working at 1 am and does not expect a call, but would still appreciate some human engagement to tide them over until the next morning. A personalized email answering any questions would do the trick.  Automotive News highlighted this notion in a January article which detailed how autoresponders actually hurt the sales process, the opposite of what was previously thought.

How does this all tie into customer experience? Experience is all about communication. And the way you communicate with your customers dictates the culture and values of your dealership. Communicate in a customer centric way--meet them where they are when they are there.

You need to respect that online customer just as you would the customer who walks into the dealership at 3 pm. Are you missing out on 30% of your business because of poor customer communication?

The dealerships across town may not be….


Let’s Talk About It:

  • What are some areas where your dealership excels in regards to customer experience?
  • How do you communicate with customers after hours?

  • What changes need to be made at your dealerships to improve the overall experience? 


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Is Your BDC Developing Business or Just Confirming it?

Guest blogger Deanna Haynes talks about what a true BDC is supposed to be as opposed to what it has become.

With everything I have to remember to do these days, it would be nice to have my very own personal assistant to remind me when I am due for an oil change.  Adele would be fun, but she might try to call me 1000 times!

That sticker in the upper left-hand corner of my windshield is just not doing it for me anymore.  

Even when I do remember to call and set up my oil change, it’s a hassle.  The phone rings forever, I get put on hold, or worse I get transferred to at least two different people and sometimes (which is one time too many) I get sent to voicemail!  

How is this even possible?

In a world where customer service should be priority #1 and the purchase of a new GM vehicle comes standard with free Onstar maintenance notifications, how is it possible that I am being sent to a voicemail when I call to set up a maintenance appointment?

Now let’s get back to this amazing personal assistant idea that I had.  

If the dealership I bought my GMC Sierra from keeps up with my records, why wouldn’t they call to remind me and set up an appointment for me?  Don’t they have people that do that?  Isn’t that what Onstar is for?  It seems to me this would be a no brainer for a Service Department to have an individual or a group of individuals who were solely responsible for reminding their customers to come back into their dealership to get maintenance done.  

Wouldn’t that just mean more money for the dealership?  

I’ve been told that my dealership has a BDC department specifically for the service department.  So I finally asked what the responsibility of this BDC department is (since I’ve never heard from them).  Apparently they call customers who have scheduled an appointment for service and confirm the appointment.  Maybe I am missing something, but I thought BDC stood for Business Development Center.  Which would imply they develop business, not just confirm it.  

It seems to me that my dealership’s BDC department needs some development of its own.  Maybe they could benefit from some type of training.  I think this little personal assistant idea of mine isn’t so crazy afterall.  

If there were a company (wink wink) that could show my dealership’s BDC department how to call their current customers, remind them that their vehicle is due for maintenance and set up an appointment for them I think that would be a gold mine for the dealership.  

I can’t be the only person who has had this experience trying to set up an appointment with their local service department.  Share your thoughts and experiences with me - together we can help them help us!

Contact BetterCarPeople if you are interested in maximizing your Service BDC!

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