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Recession Busters

Rod gives dealers five strategies to survive and thrive in today's economy.

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been shopping for a new vehicle for my wife. We have three children and are expecting our second set of twins early this spring. Yes, second set, and yes, it was a surprise, but it should be fun, right? Ok, don’t answer that. Anyway, after some conversation about car seats and adequate kiddy accommodations, we decided a larger vehicle was in order, and the official shopping process began. I was excited to go through the buying process to see how some of the largest, most progressive car dealers in Atlanta are conducting business in the “new economy.” While some did pretty well, and some not so well, it’s clear to me that regardless of what business you’re in, the new economy demands new strategies, and plenty of ’em. So, here are five recession-busting strategies you should closely evaluate in your dealership.

Take Your Online Storefront Seriously
Yes, I’m talking about your website. The first thing my wife did was Google the vehicle she was interested in. Actually, I was sitting on the couch with my laptop and did the exact same thing. Just as you must have a sale process for walk-ins and phone-ups, you must also have a process for online lead capturing as well as quote requests. I highly recommend you mystery shop. Take it from the top, just as if you were sitting on the couch at home one night and decided that you were in the market for a new 2009 XYZ 1800. What would you do and what would your expectations be? You might be surprised.

Ensure Every Lead Opportunity Is Being Handled And Accounted For
If you don’t have a CRM in place, then get one. If you have a CRM, chances are it’s capable of much more than you’re getting out of it. Get serious about implementation and leveraging its fullest potential. For more than 14 years, the strength of the economy and market conditions have covered up a plethora of marketing and operational sins. The new economy is not forgiving and operational deficiencies such as lack of customer lead follow-up will not be tolerated. Out of three quote requests I submitted, I received three email replies with generalized pricing. Two of the three followed up by phone. One followed up leaving one voicemail while the other left and a voicemail and then called me back the following day and caught me at a good time. Who do you think got the appointment? Of course the one who never even called me wasn’t in the game, but the more persistent of the two secured the appointment.

Employ The Rainy Picnic Principle
Imagine you’re at a picnic, and it starts to rain. All of your friends and family run for their cars, but you stick around. Now you can eat until you’re heart’s content without competition. The same is true with a recession. Most of your competitor’s knee-jerk reaction is to hold everything, tighten the belt and wait it out. As Napoleon Hill says, “ Look at what your competition is doing and do the opposite.” Many dealers are cutting back on advertising and training. That’s na

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