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From the 20 Group: Old School Cool

Leo Hart
Written By: Leo Hart
Posted on November 01, 2016

My NCM 20 Group members have submitted some refreshing ideas recently that I want to share with you. They weren’t necessarily new ideas but refreshing because the ideas reminded me of days gone by. Our members promoted some old school practices but with a current-day twist!

Getting to the source

One suggestion, capturing customer source data, was presented by a member who was adamant about taking a few minutes with each client in the F&I office to discover what brought them in to purchase a vehicle. As I recall, he had a weekly recap sheet recording the information. Certainly, he had the usual categories like referral of a neighbor, television or direct mail, but he also had modern-day options such as Google, CarGuRu and Facebook.

His message to the group was to train their F&I reps to dig down for what actually triggered the buyer to come to their store. Don’t accept the first answer just to complete the delivery, he urged, but have the rep ask probing questions to get down to the best answer. Of course, the dealer felt that his weekly recap sheet helped him focus his advertising investments. And, I agree.

It calls to mind for me a similar presentation made many years ago, the early nineties, by a dealer in Tampa who likewise was adamant about sourcing buying customers. He focused intensely on finding out from the customer what part of his advertising— what radio, TV or newspaper ad— had actually triggered customers to come into his store. His records went back years. He credited a lot of his success to this daily exercise; and, he was a very profitable dealer.

Starting at the right deal

The second idea was “starting the deal” at suggested list price+++, no matter which medium brought the client into the store. The dealer even had a worksheet made up which helped the manager/closer detail the difference between the advertised price and the starting price on the deal sheet. The customer would be asked to sign both worksheets.

A good number of dealers seem to shy away from asking for gross profit. This presenting dealer advertised his vehicles less all possible rebates and less the dealer prep. Also, the first pencil would include a package of products that most clients purchase at delivery. I have been fortunate to know a good number of dealers who are unafraid to ask for profit on the first pencil. Of course, their personnel are skilled in negotiating to the final price that works for both the client and the dealership.

Sounds “old school,” don’t you think? Must be why I like it.

Need more new—or even old—ideas for your dealership? See how Leo Hart's NCM colleagues can help your dealership with 20 Groups and in-dealership consulting.

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