Would you go on vacation without planning your means of travel, travel route, booking a hotel, identifying points of interest or activities for you and the family, and the starting time as well as the ending date of your trip? Unless you were free spirited with no cares in the world, and were part of the Brady Bunch Family, this was not you. As a matter of fact, since you are reading this blog, you are a “Type A” personality that rarely will walk out of your office without a purpose.
You have worked your way into a leadership position in the Automotive World. You have sacrificed relationships and personal time to earn the lifestyle the automotive industry provides for you. Carefully you have chosen your words and were insightful enough in sales meetings proving you belong in an automotive position of power.
You are confident. There is not a hair out of place on your head. Your Zegna suit shines across the room while envious colleages enquire about your tailor. When you walk across the showroom floor you glide like the breeze on a beautiful spring day. The stories you tell are the most adventurous and interesting topics of the day. The jokes you deliver are spot on, and could be used by Jay Leno if you were not too busy to provide them for him. Your advice to a subordinate will change their life forever. In short, you are the most important person in the dealership and have many people who owe their careers and lives to you…Right?
OK, you may not be that egotistical, but you do know what you bring to the table which is needed in every successful business. However, far too often, automotive leaders know they need marketing and advertising. Automotive leaders hate the expense, but understand the need.
Which Strategic Marketing Plan best describes you (or your boss)? READERS BEWARE…THIS MAY HURT…
- Prone Position. What is a strategic marketing plan? You have risen to your position because your last name is on the building. You stroll in the office about 10 AM take a two hour lunch and are out the door no later than 6 PM. You were never told no as a child and probably never been spanked for doing wrong. You have a plan, but it is far from strategic and may or may not have marketing in it.
- Gun Slinger. Continue to replace old vendors with new vendors. You embrace change. You will say yes to every idea that looks good. Some of these ideas are good, and if utilized correctly will help you with your marketing initiative. However, you are not looking at your plan and only replacing the pieces that need to be replaced. Always look to enhance and if the product, service, or vendor will not help you with your goal do not add or keep the service.
- Pretty Boy. Anything that has your face on it will help you sell more vehicles. Commercials and print with your name on it will help you sell more vehicles. Today’s consumer is not buying a car from your daddy! They really could care less about you because most of the time they will never meet you. You love the celebrity status, but it is not helping you sell more cars.
- The Thinker. You are presented with multiple ideas and over think them all ultimately not going down any direction. You are the poster child for “Analysis by Paralysis”. Overthinking can kill your marketing ultimately crippling any efforts by your leadership team.
- Big Bucks. You will spend everything you have until your budget replenishes. Vendors love you, but you will miss out on great opportunities. Spending just to spend doesn’t make sense and waste vital resources that you can put into growing your market share.
- Old School. Your billboard on the highway, local reputation, Saturday morning TV ads, and Sunday Paper slicks have made you look like the smartest man you look at in the mirror. Traditional media is important for branding. However, why cater to 10% of the market when you can improve your efforts by using a blend of modern innovations that will complement the traditional techniques ultimately increasing your market share. The only reason not to change what you are doing is if you and your entire company’s personnel are making too much money. You might be, but I doubt your staff will say they are making too much money.
- Dot.Com. If it has the word social in front of it, then you like it. You have the cool square rim glasses and never wear a tie because you are too hip. You and Al Gore collaborated together to create the internet. Anything new that is out, you know about it. However, you have not taken the time to see if these sites truly cater the market you are trying to attract.
- Bullet Dodger. You are afraid to make a different decision then your predecessor because you do not want to experience the same fate. This is an oxymoron in itself. You were chose for this position to make positive changes. However, you are afraid to do something new because you are happy with your new gig and do not want to rock the boat. Every business has this middle manager. The best way to get shot down by the competition is to expose your weakness and not take a risk. Take a calculated risk and trust your decisions and your managers decisions and the victories will be yours more times than not.
- Slick Willy. You are in bed with the company who is providing you services, so you keep them around to pad your pockets. As a dealer principle you hate this manager unless it is you lining your pockets. Either way, this person is stealing from company profits and ultimately hurting the consumer. Run away from this practice because ultimately it will catch up to you and you will lose. Besides, where is the loyalty beyond the money changing hands? A company that is paying you under the table to stay with them is making this up somewhere else in their services.
- Uncle Bob. This is the uncle you never talk about. He doesn’t have a job. He always is borrowing money from your family. This marketing plan is the same. You do not want to spend money on anything. Because of this your dealership misses on great opportunities to maximize your market. This type of marketing plan is a lot like the Bullet Dodger except instead of being afraid to take a risk; Uncle Bob just doesn’t want to spend any money. The saying goes, “you have to spend money to make money”. That is true, but be careful not to throw good money after bad money.
Just like your planned vacation you need to plan your marketing strategy. This should not be left up to your marketing department to determine what spend is a good spend. This should be a collaboration of good ideas. Who do you have in your meetings? Is it just the GM, GSM, Marketing Director, and then your signature? Do you have a representative from all departments? Do you have fixed operations involved?
How are you building market share? Every dealership cares about the following:
- Increasing Store Branding & Exposure via Web and Local Market
- Increase Published Positive Dealership Reviews
- Significantly Increase Sales, Referrals, and Repeat Business
- Dramatically Increase Fixed Operation Revenue
- Great CSI Scores
- Improve Employee Retention
- Increase Dealership Revenue
- Minimize Operation Expense by Eliminating Duplicated Efforts
A great strategic marketing plan starts out with you. Lay out a vision of where you would like to see the dealership in the next month, year, 3rd year, and 5th year. This will change constantly, but if you have the initial plan you will be able to adjust as situations dictate change.
Bring in the department heads of each department and share your vision. Have each of them do the same with their departments. This will allow you to assure everyone is on the same page. It will also allow you to identify long term players in your organization.
The success of every dealership or any organization depends on the success of each department. Do you see where Service can help sales and the Sales Department help Service? Do you have a program that has all departments cross promoting each other? Do you see where Human Resources can help you sell more vehicles? Once you have the departments sharing your same goals and looking for the best partners in the automotive industry you have assembled a good team. Are you treating your vendors like employees? If you are allocating resources to them then they are employed by you. Do your vendors have your vision and goals in mind when they are pitching their product or providing their service?
Accountability is your key to success when strategically marketing your dealership. If someone says they will deliver then expect the result in the time they stated it will be accomplished. This will prevent over promising and under delivering. It will also send a message to the rest of your team that they will have to deliver on their promises.
You do not have time to do everything yourself, so your team of managers and vendors is vital to your success. Placing the right partners in place will allow you to deliver successful results. This is not rocket science. It is just good business.
Look at the best athletes in the world. They have the same regiment in training every day. We know them by the wins they have on the field. What we don’t see is the daily routine of practicing and measuring their results. They control their weight. They strengthen their muscle. They hire the best trainers and mentally prepare themselves for success. Their plan is identified, and they make the needed adjustments to accomplish their goals.
The same concept applies to business. What is your strategic marketing plan and how are you going to accomplish your goals? Who is on your team? What are their plans and how are they going to accomplish them? How are you bringing all of these ideas together? I look forward to seeing you at the top!