By Darrell Briggs
[OK] July 2011 - Vol 8, No 7
I recently was shopping online for a car, and in doing so I decided to find out who the big dog was in town. So I submitted a few inquires here and there; I also called a few dealerships and asked a few questions and finally came up with this dealer in Owasso, Okla. of all places. I must say I was very impressed on many levels, so I interviewed the owner – Keith Haney and Wayne Cline of Classic Chevrolet in Owasso – and this is what I found out.
Haney & Cline have made Classic Chevrolet in Owasso become the most successful e-commerce dealer in Oklahoma selling 155 vehicles via internet sales in their dealerships for the month of May 2011. When I asked Keith what is the secret to his success, he simply said, “There is no secret. Great people, hard work and a positive attitude will always give you the results you’re looking for.” Keith also added, “It takes time to get those results – it did not happen overnight. There is a significant amount of trial and error as the possibilities are endless with every vendor in the nation coming at you with everything they have. It takes time to think about and look at with an objective outlook. The vendor sales people out there believe in the products they sell, so always wanting to improve on budget and profitability, it is easy to get wrapped up in it all. We have tried many third party sources of leads, applications, etc… We are always looking for that one item that takes us to the next level.”
Keith always came back to his great sales team and said, “Without those people we have nothing, so I supply the best of the best with just that: the best of the best. We currently employ VinSolutions websites and lead management software which gives us more options than we can possibly handle, such as pushing coupons to customers on the websites. This technique is being proactive with your customers online. If you had a guest out on your lot, would you let him just stand there? No, you send out that sales person. Well your virtual lot is just the same: you have to be proactive with those people on your virtual lot.”
“You also have to be very proactive when they try to contact your dealership,” Haney adds. “If you let a contact sit in your CRM for more than 30 minutes without a phone call or e-mail, then your risk of losing that customer is almost a guarantee. If you send an e-mail to my store, you should get a call within five minutes from a knowledgeable sales person. Plus, that sales person is going to know more about that customer than most other sales people at other dealerships because my sales person has clicked through Facebook and LinkedIn to gather as much information as they possibly can before they call or e-mail. Many times, my sales people find that they either know that person or know someone else that is friends with them. There is not one individual item that creates sales on the internet; it is a combination of everything and finding the right mix.”
So we asked Keith how long it has taken to get to this point. He laughed and said, “We really started to buckle down and put things in place in October of 2009 when I became part-owner in this store. I realized the importance of internet sales and I wanted to have what it took to be the most proactive dealer and take care of my virtual lot customers. What I noticed when I came to the store, is that no one had a clue where all the leads were going and there was no organization. I had heard about a consultant that had been successful at a number of other dealerships and set up a meeting with him. Frank Davis met with me in November of 2009 and we immediately went to work on putting together a game plan for organizing. We found that we were selling less than 10 true internet deals per month, and we discovered that we really needed a lot of work. After about 19 months or so, Frank Davis is still with us and together with all the managers and sales people we have found what works for us. Now don’t get me wrong, as there is always room for improvement, but we have come a long way.”