Trucks and SUVs – An Equity Mining Opportunity

equity mining trucks

There are two kinds of vehicle owners in this country, those that drive a truck (SUVs included) and those that want a truck. In the latest 2018 May sales recap, trucks commanded 62 percent of new vehicle sales. This paradigm change in the market is so complete that Ford will quit producing cars in 2020.

This presents a tremendous opportunity for equity mining. Every “car” in the service lane presents an opportunity. It’s not that people just want trucks – they need trucks.

American culture, both young and old, is increasingly focusing on wellness. Trucks and SUV’s are now crucial for hauling gear. Paddleboards, kayaks, biking, hiking – you name it – are all facilitated by owning a truck. Previously, those who owned a pickup truck also had a car in the driveway. But now, that second vehicle is an SUV.

Equity mining

The desire for trucks and SUVs is an opportunity to create incremental sales, shorten the customer trading cycle, and to establish a significant profit center for a dealership. These opportunities turn into success when equity mining their database and equity mining the service lane are married to the right process and the right tools. Dealerships that set up a full-time department/team and have them focus on equity mining for service lane sales can convert from 2 percent to 4 percent of their total customer pay and warranty repair orders into new vehicle sales. Additionally, they can convert 3–5 percent of the eligible database equity mining contacts into sales monthly.

A little push

Make no mistake about it, a new vehicle purchase is still an impulse item. Very rarely does anyone have to have a new vehicle. A truck or SUV is an impulse buy for very rational reasons: “It’s so handy for chores around the house.” “It provides greater visibility and safety.” “It allows us to haul paddleboards and kayaks.” And so on.

Place an SUV or Crossover equipped with a bike rack, paddleboards, or kayak in the service drive next to the customer lounge entrance. Have artwork on the customer lounge walls featuring trucks, SUV, and crossovers in lifestyle settings. We have always said that two of the most influential factors in sales are social acceptability and a compelling reason to buy. Trucks and SUVs give you both.

Another tactic is to incentivize buying with YETI giveaways. Try displaying these coolers near the truck, and advertise that they come free with vehicle purchase. These coolers are known for their high quality and cool factor – pardon the pun. Leveraging the outdoor and adventure lifestyle associated with the YETI brand will help you connect this image with the purchase of a truck.

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Prepare to win

Create an atmosphere for equity mining to be successful. We have all heard the quote, “The key is not the will to win… everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.”

Taking time to stage the service lane can give an extra push to your equity mining and provide a leg up for your salespeople.

3 Must-See Exhibits at the Hickory Museum of Art This Summer

art museum

Whether you’re an art lover or just want your children to develop an appreciation for it, the Hickory Museum of Art makes for a great rainy-day adventure for the whole family. While the museum always has fascinating works of art to see, this month is particularly a great time to visit due to the exhibits currently on display.

From the unseen artistic endeavors of Mathew Diffee, to the landscape paintings of Hickory native, Paul Hunter Speagle, these are three exhibits you do not want to miss this summer.

One Man Group Show: The Cartoons and Other Art of Matthew Diffee

The One Man Group Show exhibit includes many of Matthew Diffee’s cartoons and illustrations that have been published in The New Yorker Magazine. These cartoons are well-known for their craftsmanship and aesthetic design. While you may have seen many of these before, the main attraction is his paintings of landscapes and abstractions that are being put on display for the first time. If you’re a fan of his cartoons, then you must visit this exhibit before it ends on July 8.

Walking the Dog: Paul Hunter Speagle

Paul Hunter Speagle grew up in Hickory, North Carolina, and his artwork reflects the landscape of his hometown. Along with the mountainous landscape paintings, this exhibit is topped off with nature sounds and the smell of moss and apples to excite all your senses. Visitors will also be able to use the giant crayons, which Speagle engineers himself, on the massive coloring book of North Carolina Mountains until the exhibit closes on July 15.

Embracing A New Form: Paul Whitener’s Later Works

Paul Whitener was the founder and first director of the Hickory Museum of Art. He was also a well-known portrait artist and landscape painter.  In order to continue painting after doctors removed a brain tumor, leaving his right side paralyzed, he taught himself how to paint with his left hand. This led to him developing a more abstract style with the use of cato ink and casein paint. You’ll see both finished and unfinished paintings on display until June 24.

Visit the Hickory Museum of Art in North Carolina Today

The Hickory Museum of Art is located in the same building as the Catawba Science Center on the SALT Block. While general admission to the museum is free, tours are only $2 a person. An added bonus is the science museum that is just steps away, making a visit to these two museums a great way to spend the day with the family!

4 Unique Skills Your Employees Possess that Can Help You Sell More Cars

All employees are different. They come from different backgrounds, have different past experiences, and possess different skill sets. While you probably already know about certain skills that make them great in their position, you may not know about others that are completely unrelated to their job titles.

By discovering the strengths your employees aren’t currently putting to use, you can find ways to utilize them around the dealership. Not only will this benefit the company as a whole, but letting them do something they’re good at can make them more engaged and happier in their day-to-day role.

While uncovering these unique skill sets can be extremely easy with some employees, it can be a little harder with others. The easy way is, of course, just asking the employee about their hobbies, interest, likes, and dislikes. On the other hand, it may take you watching them as they work to get a better idea of their strengths and unique skills.

So what type of skills should you be on the lookout for? We have a few unique skills below that one or more of your current employees is likely to possess, plus how you can utilize them to sell more cars.

Social Media Skills

You know the guy or girl that checks their Facebook page at every possible chance and stays up-to-date on all the new social media trends? This is the employee you want helping with your social media. Whether or not you have an agency in charge of your social platforms, this employee has an inside look at the dealership and can provide valuable insight on what you should be sharing with your audience. While they can help write posts, they may also be great for creating interaction and engaging with potential customers on social media.

Photography Skills

In today’s online world, images are so important, and with just about everyone owning a smartphone with a quality camera, you don’t have to have an expensive photographer at all times. From snapping inventory shots of your new vehicles to capturing the fun at dealership events, there are a number of ways you can make use of an employee’s love of photography.

Organization Skills

You likely have some employees who can’t keep up with deadlines and often misplace important papers, but you probably have others with impeccable organization skills. These are the ones that would be great for helping you plan events or assisting you in other projects that you just can’t seem to keep your head above. Letting them take the lead on these tasks won’t only help you keep your sanity, but also get them more involved in the dealership.

Fundraising Skills

Being part of the community is something most dealerships strive to do. But often, it gets left to the wayside when things get busy. If you really want to get your dealership involved in charitable causes and fundraisers for various organizations in your area, leave it to the employees that genuinely enjoy helping others and have a knack for getting other people excited about charitable causes. While this will obviously benefit the dealership, this employee is sure to find even more fulfillment in their position.

It may sound tricky at first, but by simply taking the time to learn more about your employees and uncovering their unique skills, you can find countless ways to make them a more valuable employee, plus make your dealership more successful at the same time.

The Kiwanis Splash Pad is Ready for Summer

splash park

The splash pad at Kiwanis Park in Hickory is officially opened for the season, making now the perfect time to get the kids out for some water play and cool off from the heat. Located at 805 6th Street SE, the splash pad is right by the Zahra Baker All Children’s Playground and Kiwanis Park baseball fields.

If you haven’t been yet, you should know that this splash pad is a blast, for kids and even adults. All the elements of the splash pad, like the giant dumping buckets and water jail, allow the kids to run under, run through, and sit underneath the water, keeping them entertained for hours.

While the kids are playing around, you can sit in the shade in the pavilion and easily keep an eye on them. Once they’re done at the splash pad, there’s a playground right beside it, along with the Zahra Baker All Children’s Playground right up the hill where they can continue the fun. Oh, and did we mention the bathrooms are close by and clean? That’s a perk with any family.

So Many Kiwanis Park Activities

While a lot of people specifically go to enjoy the splash pad, the Kiwanis Park has a ton more activities the whole family can enjoy, like tennis courts, outdoor basketball courts, horseshoe pits, and walking trails. With all the energy exerted, you’re bound to get hungry, and that’s when you’ll appreciate the grills and picnic tables located on the park, so be sure to bring some hot dogs and buns for a fun, easy meal.

Made Possible by the City and Local Kiwanis Clubs

First opening in July of 2016, the splash pad continues to be a favorite spot in the community, and a few local organizations are to thank. Along with the City of Hickory, the Hickory Kiwanis Club and Western Catawba County Kiwanis Club partnered together to build the Kiwanis Park Splash Pad.

The Kiwanis Club strongly believes in giving kids opportunities to learn, be curious, and to thrive, and creating places where they can go have fun in their community is one reason they raised the funds to build this splash pad. The idea actually came about when the Club was looking for a way to celebrate their 100th anniversary in 2015. They wanted to celebrate with a project that would have a big impact on the local Hickory community, and most would agree, that goal was more than accomplished.

Take the kids out for some fun on the splash pad today, and you can take our word for it, they’re sure to be exhausted by the time you leave!

The Key to Managing Your Service Department’s Online Reputation

reputation management

Customers do their research online before deciding who they want to do business with, and even more than they tend to trust their friends and family, 84 percent put their trust in online reviews left by strangers. Low star ratings, bad reviews and even non-existent profiles, can all lead to a poor digital reputation – and a major problem for your dealership’s service department.

Don’t let a bad online reputation cause your customers to go elsewhere. Learn how you can effectively manage your service department’s digital reputation and win more customers by taking a few simple steps.

Establish ways to continually learn about your service department’s online reputation

Learning about your service department’s reputation isn’t a one-and-done type thing. It’s a continual process that never ends, but it can pay off big time when done correctly. As a dealership owner, your job is to employ ways to regularly get customer feedback. Fortunately, there are many ways you can go about doing this.

One of the best ways to elicit feedback is to email your customers a survey shortly after they’ve visited your service department. While you won’t get a 100 percent response rate, customers that are extremely happy or extremely unhappy are likely to respond. From here, you can encourage your happy customers to leave a review online.

Other than soliciting feedback, you should always be monitoring review sites and social media platforms. These include your Google Listing, Yelp Profile, and Facebook Page, to name a few of the most important. By simply watching these sites, you’ll be able to get a good grasp on your online reputation to see what areas are exceeding customer expectations, and which might need improvement.

Proactively respond to the good, and more importantly, the bad

While you should always thank your customers for taking the time to leave a positive review, those left by unhappy customers should be responded to just as promptly – and the quicker, the better. Waiting around hoping they’ll go away isn’t an option in today’s online world and will likely make the problem worse. Instead, look at the problem as an opportunity to one – show other potential customers that you truly care about their experience, and two – make improvements within your department.

In your response to the frustrated customer, first make sure you thoroughly understand the problem or situation. Then, focus on solving the problem and making the customer happy. Once you’ve done that, you can ask the customer to edit their review, and you’ll likely find that most are happy to do so.

Of course, your job doesn’t end there. Now that you’ve handled the complaint with the individual, it might now be time to correct the problem on an operational level, especially if this isn’t the first time the problem has occurred.

Online reviews and ratings can leave potential customers feeling like they’ve found the perfect place to service their vehicle – or they can make a customer want to steer clear. But if you actively monitor and manage your online reputation, you’ll know for a fact that it’s bringing customers in and not shooing them away.

Beer, Wine and Grub: Check out the Selection at Olde Hickory Tap Room

olde hickory tap room

As a locally-owned restaurant, Olde Hickory Tap Room is a favorite among Hickory, NC, residents. Located on Union Square, this place consistently has great food, amazing customer service and a selection of beer and wine that’s hard to beat. When you go here, you get much more than a tasty meal, you get a much-needed night out!

Olde Hickory’s Beer and Wine Selection

The Olde Hickory Tap Room serves none other than fresh brew from the Olde Hickory Brewery right down the street. Housed in the 1880 Historic Landmark building in downtown Hickory, this beer is brewed using select grains, robust hops, and cultured yeast without the use of additives or preservatives. From their famous Piedmont Pilsner to the Brown Mountain Light, many say they brew the best high-gravity beers in the state.

While the beer selection may steal the show for some, this place caters just as much to the wine lovers out there. With a selection of red wine like Rock and Vine Cabernet and Cypress Merlot, this place is sure to have a glass of red with all the flavors you desire. Same goes for the assortment of white wines, offering anything from citrus flavors to summer blends. There’s even a special selection of wines that have been handpicked by the owners.

Daily Specials You Can’t Miss

Another great thing about this place, aside from the beer and wine selection, is the daily specials they post on their Facebook page. While many crave their burgers and buffalo chicken sandwich, they have daily specials that are off the chart. Take for instance the Salmon BLT with salmon tips, bacon, lettuce, tomato and mayo on a fresh hoagie roll, or the Grilled Chicken Breast Rolled in Jerk Sauce topped with swiss cheese and grilled pineapple. Just a couple visits here, and you’ll see why many locals call this place “Ole Faithful,” as you’ll never be let down by any their dishes.

Events at this North Carolina Tap Room

No matter when you come out to the Olde Hickory Tap Room, you’re likely to enjoy live performances from a variety of musicians, or at least a great deal on the drink of the day. Every Thursday and Saturday night, you’ll get to see bands from around the region perform. Of course, Sunday’s are famous for the “Jazz on Tap” music program that features live jazz performances organized by local musician Rick Cline. There’s even other stuff to look forward to at the first of the week. Monday night is Pint Night where you get to keep your pint glass, Tuesday is none other than Tequila Tuesday, and Wednesday is for the whiskey connoisseurs.

Bring your friends along for a trip to the Olde Hickory Tap Room to devour some delicious food, drink some fresh brew and enjoy live music. Before you know it, this place to sure to become one of your favorite local spots in Hickory, NC!

4 Foolproof Ways to Use Your Dealership’s YouTube Videos to Sell More Cars

YouTube Marketing

Like many dealership owners, you already know the importance of search engine optimization and how digital ads can greatly increase your online leads. What countless dealerships aren’t already taking advantage of is the world’s second largest search engine – YouTube.

As consumers become more likely to prefer video over text, this platform has the ability to become one of your main sources of online lead generation. But, of course, without a well-thought-out video marketing strategy, you’re just taking a shot in the dark. Lucky for you, we’ve found what works, and below, we’re going to share with you exactly how to turn your videos into solid lead generators.

Here are four goals your YouTube videos should aim to achieve every time:

1. Build Trust

It’s nothing you haven’t heard before – people want to do business with companies they trust. But how exactly do you build trust with potential customers online? It’s simple – you let them get to know you, so by the time they come in, they feel like they’ve done business with you before. They know what to expect from your product, your team, and your dealership since they’ve already had an inside look.

Types of videos that build trust: Dealership walk-throughs, employee spotlights, customer reviews, and model reviews

2. Generate Excitement

What are you enthusiastic about at your dealership? The new models on the lot? The big sale coming up? Then show off all there is to be excited about in order to stir up enthusiasm and anticipation from your audience. Trust us, this excitement will show in the metrics with increased likes, shares, and comments, so you’ll know when you’ve accomplished your goal.

Types of videos that generate excitement: Model reviews, feature reviews, and sales/promotions

3. Solve Problems

While there are many reasons people decide it’s time for a new vehicle, it comes down to one issue – their current vehicle isn’t meeting their needs. Learn what your customers need, and find ways to solve their problems. Maybe they’re adding a new family member and the ease of installing a car seat is a huge factor. Or, maybe they’re about to have a teen driver and safety technology is at the top of their list. Demonstrate the features that may solve these problems. The same goes for your most frequently asked service questions.

Types of videos that solve problems: Model reviews, feature reviews, feature how-to’s, and service how-to’s

4. Encourage Action

No matter the feelings or emotions your video provokes, it should always contain a strong call-to-action, encouraging the user to take action on your website. Whether your goal for them is to view specific models, schedule a test drive, or apply for financing, make sure their next steps are clear and concise.

Types of videos that encourage action: All videos should, or you’re doing it wrong!

Each video you place on YouTube should serve a specific purpose, for a specific audience. It’s not about throwing something up just so you have a regularly-updated YouTube channel. When done right, YouTube has the ability to become one of your main sources of lead generation.

Why Direct Mail Still Matters in the Digital Age

Direct mail works

Why Direct Mail Still Matters in the Digital Age

Why do thousands of businesses all across the country still use direct mail marketing in the digital age? It’s simple. It still works.

The perception that direct mail is going the way of the dinosaur is contradicted by numerous studies showing that it remains a solid tool to reach prospects that delivers impressive return rates. We’re of the opinion that the internet has actually improved the effectiveness of direct mail marketing efforts for our clients.

Here’s how:

More Targeted Approach

The vast number of databases available online give direct marketers the information needed to provide targeted and, more importantly, personalized messaging to prospects. It’s no secret that personalization makes any marketing effort more effective, but when you combine personalization with a compelling offer that’s targeted to the right prospect – you get better response rates.

Scrub Those Lists So They Are Shiny & New

In the old days, scrubbing database lists was an arduous and tedious process. Now, with the new digital tools available, it’s easier, quicker, and can be done on an almost automated basis. It’s also still an essential piece of any potent direct mail campaign. After all, would you open a piece of mail that lists the wrong person, or a car that you haven’t owned in ten years?

Pinpoint Timing

With the online data mining tools available, you can determine who is currently seeking out a new vehicle, who is due for service or maintenance, or when a lease term is set to expire. This is real-time data that provides an opportunity to reach customers at the exact time when they are going to make a purchase decision.

The internet and traditional direct mail marketing aren’t mutually exclusive. When you combine the two, you’ve got an effective, low-cost marketing campaign at your disposal that generates true ROI for your business. We’re ready to help you grow your business with our direct marketing services. Just let us know how we can assist today!

5 Keys to Help Convert Used Car Shoppers to Buyers

Used Car Shopping

It’s no secret that your used car division is by far one of the most important profit centers in your dealership. According to the NADA, used car sales by new car dealerships are expected to rise from 15.1 million sold in 2017 to 15.3 million in 2018.

So, how can you ensure that you get your slice of the pie? Here’s a hint: it’s more than just advertising low used car prices on your website.  Pre-owned buyers have unique needs and a combination of factors go into successfully converting a pre-owned shopper into a buyer.

Here are five tips to help you make more used car sales in 2018:

Listen First – Sell Second

While it may be tempting to jump immediately into sell-mode when encountering a used prospect, it’s important to ask questions and establish some initial rapport/trust. Are they buying out of need? Is there a family development that dictates a change in vehicles? What are their needs/wants from their next vehicle?

Keep in mind that buyers walk into a dealership with preconceived notions about how they will be treated.  By asking questions and allowing the customer to be heard, you can transform a customer/salesman dynamic into an advisor/advisee relationship and build trust.

Promote Value Added Benefits

Does your dealership offer free car washes with used vehicle purchases? Service perks like free loaner cars? Rewards programs for loyal customers? Take the time to promote benefits for doing business at your store other than selection and price.

The more reasons you give a prospect for doing business at your dealership, the more likely they are to want to purchase from you.

Get Straight to the Point

Today’s consumers want to get the best deal and get it quickly. They know that you are in business to make a profit and don’t begrudge that fact. What they do resent, however, is if they feel like a dealership is playing games with them via lots of “back and forth” which increases overall transaction time.

One of the most prevalent complaints about the car buying process from consumers is the amount of time it takes. Minimize transaction time in any way possible in order to keep the process running efficiently and customers engaged.

Keep them in the Loop

Creditworthiness is a big concern for many used auto shoppers. Leaving a customer alone in the F&I office while running credit checks or generating paperwork without any updates increases anxiety.

It goes a long way with a customer when an associate keeps them updated with a quick word or two every five minutes or so to let them know where the process stands. Reassure them that everything is moving along fine and that everyone is working diligently to get them into the vehicle quickly.

Ditch the “Call For Price” Approach

Want to know the number one way to completely lose out on a prospect who is shopping for a used car before they even physically come to your dealership? Don’t list used car prices on your website.

Consumers want and expect to see a price when shopping for a used vehicle online. If you don’t provide a price, then they are just going to leave your site and move on to your competition and shop/buy with them.