page contents Automotive Thought Leadership: Ralph Paglia: July 2018 My title page contents

Monday, July 30, 2018

Attention Car Dealers: Want to Maximize Retention?

Attention Car Dealers: Want to Maximize Retention?

Want to Maximize Your Dealership's Customer Retention?


Creating a Service Drive Experience to Maximize Retention

Bringing a car to the service drive for maintenance and repairs is necessary, but few customers look forward to the task. Even the smallest repair can take time out of the day and create an inconvenience. Yet, for a dealership, service revenue is huge to the bottom line. And the best way to keep service revenue growing is to ensure your customers come back on repeat visits.

By the Numbers

Women are often the ones who bring a car to the service drive. So, let’s look at women’s satisfaction ratings and trends compiled by in 2018:
  • 90% of women report that the work was done to their expectations. That is a good number, but what about the 10% who weren’t happy? Where will they go next time?
  • Nearly 15% report they are not happy with the way they were greeted by the service advisor. Women will bring their car to someone they trust. How much service revenue are you losing due to poor attention?
  • 25% of women report that the amount paid was NOT consistent with what they were quoted. This certainly results in a drop in trust, confidence – and loyalty.
  • 1 in 5 report not being satisfied with their car’s cleanliness when picking up vehicle. Returning a clean car to your customer is a very simple fix that nets positive feelings.

4 Tips to Increase Retention

Are you crystal clear about what the numbers are in your fixed opp center? If not, read these tips:
  1. Independently survey customers to effectively get their experience and preferences. Using the Women’s Satisfaction Index DEALER DATA provides tremendous tracking metrics to gauge the interactions and measures ways to increase loyalty.
  2. Independently monitor your employees’ greetings and communications – in-person and on the phone. You may have an excellent service center but lose customers simply because of poor follow up. Schedule periodic training sessions and ask for suggestions for improving these interactions.
  3. Audit your estimates and actual repair totals to see where and when the differences appear. For the inevitable differences, be sure your advisors are providing adequate explanations for the changes in a timely basis, not at pickup.
  4. Check to be sure the cars are returned to your customers with clean windows and a vacuumed interior, and perhaps a full exterior wash. Women lead busy lives and driving away in a clean car will be much appreciated. This is your last touch-point – make it count.
Making a few simple, inexpensive changes to your fixed opp processes can mean the difference between a customer walking away and a customer returning several times during the life of her car.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Legal Weed in Nevada: First Year Review

Excerpts from Las Vegas Review-Journal Report on First Year of Legal Recreational Marijuana In Nevada

Recreational marijuana sales became legal in Nevada on July 1, 2017. In the year that's passed, cash has flowed, businesses have grown and no major controversies have surfaced.

The year that was 

A lack of drama during the first year of recreational sales is the biggest victory for the local industry, said Jim Lamb, vice president of the Las Vegas Medical Marijuana Association.

In July 2017, eight months after voters passed a ballot measure by 9 percentage points, Nevada joined Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia as places where marijuana can be legally purchased without a doctor's approval.

"I think the most impressive thing is how little change there's been," said state Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, who helped usher in legalization. "There's been virtually no notoriety, no issues. It's amazingly smooth."

That first month had Senator Segerblom waiting anxiously...

Segerblom was the driving force behind bringing medical marijuana stores to Nevada back in 2013. Voters had legalized cannabis for medical purposes in 2000, but the state had never set up a regulated structure for any sort of sales until the 2013 legislative session.

So for Segerblom, who has become a bit of a cannabis celebrity thanks to his unabashed support for and business connections to marijuana, waiting to see that first month of sales data was nerve-wracking.

"It's like elections. Everyone tells you you're doing great, but at the end of the day the taxes are the hard, cold facts," Segerblom said.

The projections proved to be low, with recreational marijuana sales eclipsing $27 million in the first month.

The state Department of Taxation projected that in the first year dispensaries would sell $265 million worth of retail marijuana and generate roughly $50 million in tax revenue.

Through the first 10 months, the most recent available data, Nevada dispensaries surpassed all ANNUAL projections. In ten months Nevada has sold north of $340 million and brought in over $55 million in tax revenues.

"It has gotten off the ground quicker than what we thought," said Bill Anderson, executive director of the tax department.

The state has increased its staff of regulators and administrators in order to keep up with the industry.

Nevada's recreational marijuana industry survived confusion in the White House over legalization. Attorney General Jeff Sessions made moves in support of federal intervention in marijuana businesses, but President Donald Trump has supported legislation to protect businesses OK'd by states.

In the past year, recreational marijuana saw small signs of a possible future acceptance by gaming. Regulators approved a licensee seeking building space from a businessman who rents to a marijuana company.

In May, Caesars ended marijuana drug screening for job candidates.

A softening by regulators included 24-hour stores, the city of Las Vegas' flirtation with consumption of marijuana at the places where it's purchased and the state's approval of an extra $1.3 million for taxation department staff and technology to regulate the industry.

"Everybody could start breathing again around January," Lamb said. "Everybody's been treading water. We're now seeing businesses recoup their money and attitudes change."

But Clark County regulators have developed a reputation as tough on the industry. The county has banned ads at the airport and issued warnings for buses that allow on-board consumption and ads that advocate consumption during yoga activity.

What's next 

For Exhale Nevada CEO Pete Findley, the legalization of recreational marijuana has meant double the employee count to about 65, more products in his store, plans to remodel his store and scouting for additional locations.

His customer base has become a mix of locals and tourists, patients and people who just want to get high, Findley said.

Challenges that will stay with him in marijuana's second year — and more years, possibly — are high taxes keeping the product too expensive for some consumers and the continued cost of maintaining a license and following regulations.

But regulations do come with a benefit, he said.

"That's the value of buying at a dispensary. You get a pristine product," he said. "We need the black market and gray market to become as muted as possible."

Findley has consulted with regulators and businesspeople in other states interested in the possibility of recreational marijuana where they are located.

He said he tells them that even once sales explode, don't forget the patient.

"Businesses get excited at adult use," he said. "But you can't forget about the real reason you got into this."

From a national perspective, Nevada had a more successful first-year of recreational sales compared with other states, said Chris Lindsey, legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project, an advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.

The future for marijuana in Nevada will include new business models, like home delivery and food and drink sales on site, Lindsey said.

But Nevada will have appeal to outsiders as it continues to make usage easier in a tourist-heavy state. And that's one of the next steps Segerblom hopes Southern Nevada governments will soon be willing to take.

All forms of public marijuana use remain prohibited in Nevada, and gaming resorts ban cannabis use at the guidance of state gaming regulators, who are wary of interfering with federal laws.

But Segerblom said that's unfair to the tourists.

"If we're really going to advertise and bring people from around the world to raise our sales, we have to have places where (resorts) can say 'Go over there and use it,' " Segerblom said.

Lamb, the vice president with the Las Vegas medical marijuana group, said the state benefited from adopting more stringent lab testing protocols to include tests for mold and pesticides as opposed to just levels of the marijuana component that causes the high.

He said the state needs to better define impairment for people who smoke and drive days later, and whether those drivers should be held to the same testing rules as people who drink and drive.

Opponents seek data 

Multiple media reports show Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Capt. Todd Raybuck has spoken in New Jersey at least twice against the state legalizing recreational marijuana.

"The seizure of illegal marijuana in 2017, after we legalized it there for retail sales, increased 47 percent over 2016, Raybuck told a local PBS station after a March meeting by New Jersey's Assembly Oversight, Reform and Federal Relations Committee. "The illegal market is flourishing."

Kevin Sabet, co-founder of Alexandria, Virginia-based Smart Approaches to Marijuana, said an analysis by his group shows more consumption among teenagers since Nevada legalized recreational sales.

Sabet said he wants the state to better collect and analyze the effects of legalization on crime, impaired driving, the black market and other facets of life.

"One year is simply not enough time to truly grasp the damaging effects legalization has on a state," Sabet said. "It will take decades for a full assessment."

Review-Journal staff writers Rio Lacanlale and Michael Shoro contributed to this report.

Contact Wade Tyler Millward at 702-383-4602 or by email: 

Follow @wademillward on Twitter. 

Contact Colton Lochhead at or by phone at 702-383-4638. 

Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Russians Infiltrate American Democracy

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department will crack down on agents who are working to advance foreign agendas in the United States, Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, said on Thursday as he warned of a growing Russian threat to the United States.

Written by Katie Benner

Influence operations undertaken by foreign governments "are a form of information warfare," Mr. Rosenstein said in a speech at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado. "The Russian effort to influence the 2016 presidential election is just one tree in a growing forest."

Mr. Rosenstein, whose remarks came as he delivered a report from the Justice Department's cyberdigital task force, said that the government would step up enforcement of laws governing foreign agents and inform victims when they had been targeted in influence schemes.

His speech followed a week in which Russian influence was once again shown to have a transformative impact on modern American political life.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

3,000+ Car Dealer Mystery Shops Reveal Several Surprises

It's unusual for someone to show up at a dealership and say, 'I don't know what I want,'" O'Hagan notes.

Auto Dealership Mystery Shopping Indicates Which Brands Rock

For the first time, Audi dealers top the Pied Piper Satisfaction Index. In the cellar is Tesla. 

A by-brand mystery-shopping study of how well auto dealerships deliver customer satisfaction indicates top scorers had something in common: They helped customers more.

"'Helpful' is one word that determines how dealerships did," says Fran O'Hagan, president and CEO of Pied Piper Management, a consultancy that sent secret shoppers to 3,466 dealerships nationwide.

"And fact-finding is essential to being helpful," he says, referring to a point in a sales process when the car salesperson asks questions about customers' mobility needs to help them select the right vehicle.

O'Hagan contends such factfinding remains relevant today, even though many customers extensively shop and research online. Many of them know exactly what they want when they arrive at the dealership. Others aren't so sure. That said, "It's unusual for someone to show up at a dealership and say, 'I don't know what I want,'" O'Hagan notes.

"The customer may have done the research but came to the wrong conclusion," he tells WardsAuto. "That's especially true if they are moving into a new brand. For example, someone buying a BMW for the first time might not be entirely sure which one is right for them."

That's where it is helpful when the salesperson asks customers questions, such as how they primarily will use the vehicle and how many miles they typically drive in a year.

For the first time, Audi dealers top the Pied Piper Satisfaction Index, followed by Lexus, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz and Infiniti. In the cellar is Tesla, a brand that has never scored well on the Pied Piper test.

Mystery shoppers found some Tesla salespeople were outstandingly effective, but too many of them weren't, basically because they just answered customer questions. O'Hagan likens them to museum curators.  

(A graph showing how all major brands ranked is at the top of this story.)   

Some people may disdain small talk, but the Pied Piper study says it helps when dealership salespeople first meet customers.

The 12th annual study indicates salespeople compared with past years do a better job of connecting early on with potential car buyers, yet that still occurs only half the time.

"Usually, it's just, 'May I help you?' vs. small talk that builds rapport," O'Hagan says, adding it is essential that dealerships create a selling process and get staffers to follow it.

"If left to their own devices, salespeople (especially veterans) tend to size up customers and go for the hottest prospects," he says. "Dealerships that are most successful say, 'These are the things you are going to do; it's not up to you.'"  

Here are some of his tips for effective car selling:

·       "Ask if the customer visited the dealer's website. The most effective salespeople determine what a customer already has learned about vehicles in the dealership's inventory."

·        When given a choice, customers prefer to work with a single person at a dealership, rather than obvious back-and-forth negotiation with an unknown manager. "But the fact is, the salesperson doesn't set the price," O'Hagan says. "Introduce the manager early on, so if there is back and forth, at least the customer knows who the salesperson is going to."

·        Involve the customer with visual aids. A test drive is the ultimate way to engage a customer, but showing multimedia material or a product cutaway are good ways to demonstrate unique features and benefits.

·        Give reasons to buy. A customer's time is a valuable commodity, and smart manufacturers and dealers are using service convenience solutions (such as mobile "come-to-you" service or service pick-up and delivery) as a reason to purchase.

·        Suggest going through the numbers or writing up a deal, rather than outright asking if the customer will buy the vehicle. "At some point, move from talking about the product to talking about buying the product," O'Hagan says. "It can be the softest of closes, such as 'Would you like to sit down at the desk?' We consider that asking for the sale."

 Ralph's iPhone 7+)

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

How To Grow The Fuck Up...

How To Grow The Fuck Up! 
In detail... each item is linked to the detailed instructions. 







Better You

Friday, July 6, 2018

Digital Marketing Should Be Top Priority at Your Car Dealership

Why Digital Marketing Should Be a Priority

Why Digital Marketing Should Become a Greater Priority at Your Dealership

As time goes by, digital marketing is increasingly integrated into car dealerships’ ad budgets.
Because of that, many options have developed which allow dealerships to create exposure and deliver ads in a more direct and targeted way -- more than was ever possible with traditional media.

Even some forms of traditional media have become digital, such as radio, which in its digital form allows you to target a specific demographic and interests, which certainly wasn’t possible before. Because of this explosion of digital marketing options dealers can be hard-pressed to keep up with the choices and any ROI, which they may, or may not, get from their advertising budget.

Historically, the dealer or general manager would meet with their ad agency regularly to discuss creative, budget and frequency. The ad agency would then make the appropriate media buys and the dealership would hope for the best. With digital marketing, so many channels are available to utilize that it’s harder than ever to be on top of your game for every channel.

According to a recent blog on Digitally Cognizant,  digital marketing spending will be close to $120 billion by 2021. And, bringing it closer to home, a recent article in Automotive News states that, according to 2017 NADA data, Internet ad spend has eclipsed all other advertising spend combined. Therefore, your dealership would be wise to consider having someone in-house on your staff to oversee your digital marketing and ad spend.

For most dealerships, the person in charge of digital marketing inevitably ends up being the Internet manager, or Internet director (by title), whose pay plan is centered around sales commissions. Because of this, those staff members are more interested in selling cars than managing digital ads, the website or, at the very least, paying attention and analyzing where that budget is going and how it’s performing.

Many dealerships look to sales performance and expect an Internet department to pump up unit volume – and rightfully so. But that stud Internet department which pumps out units and profit can suddenly grind to a dreadful halt if someone isn’t paying attention to – and optimizing – where the digital budget is going and how it’s performing.

Having someone whose sole job is to manage, analyze and optimize that ad spend could, in fact, INCREASE sales performance; simply because budgets can be dynamic and shifted to better performing channels. Yes, dealers are used to designing pay plans around sales. It’s safe. But it may be costing you money in wasted ad spend and missed opportunities.

Who should you look for when (not if) you end up choosing to create a position like this? The Digitally Cognizant blog suggests that you may not want to look at experience as a hiring factor; rather someone with education and knowledge in current digital marketing platforms – like a recent graduate.

Why? Because, the article states, “it’s not years of experience that matters but finding someone who’s worked with digital marketing tools and techniques on actual campaigns and can point to tangible results.”

My thoughts are that most successful dealerships and groups have someone in place whose sole job is to ensure their digital marketing spend and channels are performing. This person identifies those which are performing or failing to perform, optimizes the ones which are and cuts the ones which are not.

Many dealers will consider this an extra fixed expense but, in all actuality, it’s necessary. As Internet spend budgets continue to increase as a percentage of dealership budgets, it will only become more important and necessary to have someone with the knowledge, skill set and focus on what will become, if it is not already, most of your advertising budget.

And, by optimizing your digital marketing ad spend, that employee is helping you sell more cars. Which is what every dealer wants.