Friday, November 2, 2012

Three Deadly Sins Your Social Media Vender is Making

Brett Morgan from whitehat three60° talks three big mistakes your social media vender is most likely making inside of your dealership.

A quick but enjoyable read:

Dealership Social Media Strategy
Dealership Facebook Strategy
Dealership Social Media Strategy
Social Media Marketing
Dealership Marketing
Social Media Automotive
Reputation Management Dealership
Dealer Rater Dealership
Google + Local Dealership
Google Places Dealership
Yelp Dealership

Friday, October 26, 2012

Could your business's fleet take advantage of a Section 179 Tax Deduction?

Ok I am not a CPA. I did not fare well in Accounting back in business school. My friends might say that I would struggle to balance a check book. They may not be wrong. But I do have good people around me and sometimes they bring up resources that I'd like to share with others. I remind you - please check with your Accountant before you make any purchase decision based on this information. Ok my disclaimer is over and remember this would apply to NEW vehicle purchases only.

For 2012, the Section 179 Deduction is available for most new and used capital equipment, and also includes certain software.  Bonus Depreciation can be taken on new equipment only (no used equipment, no software)  When applying these provisions, Section 179 is generally taken first, followed by Bonus Depreciation – unless the business has no taxable profit in 2012.

So if a Company purchases a Pickup Truck for $40,000 after All incentives, the total tax savings will be an additional $14,000 or 35% of the Vehicle Price.

What this means for your company:
These deductions are generous, and this is the last year they are scheduled to be so high. This is why we recommend taking advantage of Section 179 right now, it means a lot to your bottom line THIS YEAR


See SECTION179.ORG for Full Details and consult a tax professional for your eligibility.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Lamborghini Tampa Florida FL

Tampa's Morgan Auto Group has Florida's newest Lamborghini store. Lamborghini Sarasota serves the Tampa Bay area and has since 2010. For Sales and Service Contact General Manager Victor Young or Fabio Ruiz in sales.

Lamborghini Sarasota is behind BMW of Sarasota off Clark Road in Sarasot

Lamborghini Sarasota

5145 Clark Rd
Sarasota, FL
Sales, Parts & Service: 
(941) 556-2980

Visit our showroom to view our current Lamborghini lineup. 

Lamborghini Aventador Tampa
Lamborghini Gallardo Tampa 
Lamborghini Urus Tampa

Pre Owned Lamborghini Aventador 
Pre Owned Lamborghini Gallardo Tampa 
Used Lamborghini Tampa
Used Lamborghini Sarasota 
Used Lamborghini Aventador Tampa 
Used Lamborghini Gallardo Tampa 
Exotic Car Tampa 
Exotic Car Lamborghini Tampa 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Ford Turns to Tablets to Grow Consumer Loyalty

When you buy a gift card at Starbucks you have the option to place the card directly on your Smart Phone. When you order a pizza online you can track the Pizza’s progress from the oven to your driveway.  If you were speaking to Ford’s Vice President of North American Sales Ken Czubay he would tell you Ford is behind on the technology front and they know it.

Czubay, whose LinkedIn profile states he is Ford’s “Sales Guy,” is counting on Apple iPads to increase customer engagement. He spoke recently in front of a packed house at Wesley Chapel’s Saddlebrook Resort in Wesley Chapel during Ford’s regional Southeast business meeting. The tablets will be launched in both Sales and Service with a variety of applications targeted at giving customers a greater and more efficient experience. In Service applications will quickly pull up a customers vehicle history and offer an efficient RO build.

Ford began using tablets and their new “Showcase” application recently through a Dealership opt-in program. The application is an extension of allowing vehicles to browse inventory and customize the Ford order of their dreams.

Czubay admits that despite Ford’s recent strides they need to become more of a car company being that the opportunity with their best selling F-150 truck is limited. While Ford’s Mike Rowe-lead commercials are favorably received customer loyalty is flat on both of the arena: sales and service. Whether or not tablets become a part of the successful culture of Ford remains to be seen but will in a large part come down to execution. Ford admits that until they find a differentiated customer strategy at the dealership level they will still be haunted by third-party Internet providers like TrueCar that offer and deliver a unique customer experience.

In a Challenging Economic Climate Gainesville's Buick GMC Completes $2 Million Dollar Renovation

[Gainesville, FL], August 21, 2012:  Wade Raulerson Buick GMC has been entrenched in the Gainesville community as a family owned dealership (under a few names) for over 30 years and in 2012 has undergone a major face-lift amounting to $2 Million Dollars for the Tampa-based Morgan Auto Group. 

“We feel good about the store’s reputation in the past but we wanted to show customers (new and current guests) that we believe in the Buick GMC brand and want to provide them with a better experience,” said Wade Raulerson Buick GMC owner Larry Morgan.

“Times are challenging and Gainesville residents have many options when it comes to their new or used car purchase. We wanted to say that we are serious about earning their business.”

The remodel brings a covered and climate controlled service drive and write up area to Gainesville’s Buick GMC franchise as well as a remodeled showroom to showcase current models. “For the first time in maybe forever we will have our cars right inside our showroom to demo for our guests,” recalled General Manager Andrew Vislosky.

The facility will add increased capacity and comfort for service guests, media and business access for those who need to work while they wait and a children’s play area.

“I lived here in Gainesville for three years while working with our Buick GMC store. I made some fantastic relationships here and Gainesville is a special place to me,” offered Larry’s son and partner Brett Morgan.

“We continue to invest in Gainesville not based on today’s market conditions but because we are positive about the future here in Gainesville.” The remodel is set to be completed by the 1st week of November.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

MINI targets Growth and counts recent Success

At their annual Regional MINI meeting in Atlanta, GA MINI USA targeted growth and opportunity while lauding the year’s successes including MINI of Wesley Chapel’s state of the art new facility and franchise.

The United States have become MINI’s largest market and are quickly, in light of BMW’s woes in China, becoming a real focus for BMW as well. MINI targets growth to 100,000 units annually by 2016; which would be a 34% increase for the manufacturer. They also state they will double sales of CPO (certified pre-owned MINI’s) in four years.

The New MINI Paceman Concept is Coming Soon

A large part of their strategy is to fix quality issues inside the brand. MINI has vowed to improve JD Powers initial quality issues which are the single black eye in one of the US’s most exciting car brands. MINI plans to add a few points as well which has not typically been a part of the MINI growth strategy.

MINI also plans new product launches with Paceman, which will be the first MINI to feature a rear boot badge. While MINI is careful not to lose it’s “MINI” appeal it has targeted the larger small car segment (Countryman) as a real growth opportunity. Nationwide events like Dragon and “MINI takes the States” have become more less a cultural phenomenon and will continue to be a point of MINI’s brand awareness strategy. Awareness of the brand is a challenge amongst a humble ad budget and small dealer body but the upcoming MINI advertising campaign will attempt to resonate with the unique proposition and personality of MINI and MINI buyers.

Follow @MINIofWC on Twitter!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Toyota Unleashes New Slogan; Promise of 8 new models in 2013

HomeNews Releases

Categories: Toyota Corporate

September 12, 2012
Toyota Provides Annual National Dealer Meeting Highlights
LAS VEGAS, NV (September 12, 2012) -- Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. held its annual Toyota division national dealer meeting here yesterday attended by representatives from over 1,400 of Toyota’s U.S. dealers. Speakers included Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) President Akio Toyoda, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. (TMS) Chairman and Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) Executive Advisor Yoshi Inaba, TMS President and CEO Jim Lentz, Toyota Division Senior Vice President Automotive Operations, Bob Carter, Toyota Division Group Vice President and General Manager Bill Fay and Vice President-Scion Doug Murtha.

Mr. Toyoda shared his vision for the company and his focus on collaboration as a key contributor to the company’s success moving forward, when speaking about the new tag line, “Let’s Go Places.” Some key points from his speech included:
“Let’s Go Places,” Toyota’s engaging new tagline, reflects the company’s commitment to more exciting products and the promise that customers are invited to take part in shaping Toyota’s future. The new tagline will be integrated into all of Toyota’s national and regional advertising in 2013.
Collaboration not only within Toyota, but across the industry and with key businesses in other industries. Mr. Toyoda pointed out recently formed alliances with Tesla, Microsoft, as well as BMW and a partnership with Ford on the development of an advanced new hybrid system for light trucks and SUVs. These collaborations help the company stretch beyond its own boundaries and create cars that will improve the lives of customers.
While acknowledging that his vision of collaborating with competitors may seem unorthodox, Mr. Toyoda explained, “Let all of us in this industry strive to make the best cars we can and work together for the greater good of all our customers.”

Highlights from other executive speeches included:
Seven new or updated Toyota and Scion vehicles launched in 2013. The company continues its commitment to building in the U.S. with strong product cadence including the new Avalon and others.
Toyota’s Sales Recovery. Customer loyalty was key to realizing the strong and successful recovery. Toyota’s U.S. sales are up 31 percent from last year, while the industry is up only 14 percent. The company expects to sell over 2 million vehicles in 2012 – the first time since 2008.
Prius family launch. The brand continues its success and domination of the hybrid market with more than 50 percent market share.
The launch of the new generation Camry. The passenger car sales leader launched successfully, resulting in large gains appealing to younger drivers and families. The average Camry buyer is now just 52 years old, down from 60 years old previously and below the segment average of 58. There are 7.5 million Camrys on the road today, and Camry continues to have the highest owner retention in the segment.
Toyota’s commitment to putting a fuel cell vehicle on the road by 2015. Toyota is researching bio-fuels and next-generation materials to help make vehicles that will be lighter, safe and more fuel-efficient. Telematics, another area of investment for the company, will contain research into car-connectivity technology such as gesture recognition and an autonomous car project that would help eliminate driver distraction and improve safety innovations.
Toyota is committed to the communities in which it does business. Since 1991 the company has given nearly $600 million to charities in the U.S. and with the 100 Cars for Good program in its second year, more than 200 local organizations will benefit from the use of a new vehicle to do good.
The new Customer First program. Executives lauded this new program’s launch designed to help connect customers throughout the ownership cycle, from shopping and sales to parts and service.

Media Contacts:
Celeste Migliore
Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.
(310) 468-4491

Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Media Line 310-468-5297

About Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.
Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc. is the marketing, sales, distribution and customer service arm of Toyota, Lexus and Scion. Established in 1957, TMS markets products and services through a network of more than 1,400 Toyota, Lexus and Scion dealers. Toyota directly employs more than 34,000 people in the U.S. and sold more than 1.76 million vehicles in 2010.

For more information about Toyota, visit,, or
toyota national dealer meeting corporate

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Honda of Ocala (Case Study): Using Facebook Offers to Drive RO Counts

I am smack dab in the middle of my first trial using Facebook Offers to drive repair order counts at one of our stores. My guinea pig is our Honda of Ocala dealership. I am using Honda of Ocala cause we are smack dab in the middle of a car giveaway as well and that Facebook page has quite a bit of new fans (many not our core customers) and lots of activity. 

1) Choosing the Offer:

The offer we chose was one that had done well in previous mail outs. I wanted to make sure that the offer would never be in question only Facebook's ability to get customers attention and to get to try our service center.

One thing I have realized is that with our mail outs we had more of a captive audience: our past customer. Also most of that audience was familiar with our location and more than likely still owned a Honda vehicle. On Facebook especially within the contest of our Civic giveaway we have less than a focused target. Our Facebook fans (knowing 70% of our fans had come in the last 30 days) more than likely drove other makes and models.

What I am getting to is that perhaps our offer could have been more focused on those that drove other makes outside of the Honda brand. Also a more inexpensive offer with less bundled "features" may have been a better approach. So moving forward our next offer may be simplified at a lower price point with a focus on non-Honda customers.

2) Implementation:

The offer was built as our "Facebook Special" and was "re-shared" across our platform each day and promoted as well for $5.00. We decided to promote the ad so that "friends of our fans" would have exposure to the ad as well.

We created a separate operation code for our DMS system and began the offer on Friday August 10th at around 3pm. While it is only Tuesday of the following week and we only have around 5 coupon redemptions it's probably not too early to look at the success of the campaign from an impressions and "claimed" standpoint.

Our most successful post was our first "Offer launch" on the 10th.

3) Results of First Post

As of today we have had 828 organic impressions through our timeline. We have a little more than 1100 Facebook fans but this seems to be a good number.

The key here is seeing over 2,600 "Viral" shares meaning that our fans shared the offer to their friends. This increasingly supports the notion that people can and will use Facebook to seek and find offers much like a Groupon or discount website.

The remaining impressions were 1150 some "paid" and supported listings working out to about 4,655 total post impressions.

4) Conclusion of our " Honda of Ocala " case study:

As of current date (5 days after launch) we have 33 offers claimed with a combined reach of 8,558 and 87 Engaged Users and 65 Clicks resulting from low cost promotions. Total dollar amount spent $30.55 in promoted ad spend. Conclusion will have to wait to see who has actually come into our facility off the offer but so far Facebook looks like a viable campaign medium for our Service department.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sam Raabe promoted to general sales manager at Brandon Honda

Sam Raabe promoted to general sales manager at Brandon Honda

Tampa, FL – July 19, 2012 – Sam Raabe has been promoted to general sales manager at Brandon Honda. Mr. Raabe is originally from Ocala and was formerly employed at Morgan Auto Group’s Honda of Ocala in sales and finance for eight years before joining their Brandon Honda dealership earlier this year as its business manager.

In his new role, Mr. Raabe oversees the day-to-day new and pre-owned vehicle sales operations of the dealership. “I’m excited to have the opportunity to clearly focus the dealership on the art of true customer service,” said Mr. Raabe. “All too often, managers get caught up in managing the bottom line, rather than focusing on their customer relationships. I’ve always found that if you just put the customer first, success will always follow.”

“Sam embraces the unique Brandon Honda brand of customer centric services that we want every sales representative to provide every customer, every day,” said owner John Marazzi. “He and his team are boldly moving us forward in a way that distinguishes us from other area automobile dealerships.”   

Brandon Honda was acquired by Morgan Auto Group and John Marazzi in August 2011 and is located at 9209 E. Adamo Drive in Tampa, FL 33619, one mile west of I-75 on Route 60. Their exclusive eight-point Brandon Honda Promise includes a free lifetime and extended warranties, breakdown coverage, and price protection for buyer peace of mind. For more information, call 813-664-1234 or visit

Monday, July 16, 2012

5th Annual Morgan Auto Group Charity Basketball Tournament - Success!

On July 15th 2012 the Morgan Auto Group hosted their 5th Annual Charity Basketball Tournament to benefit the Helping Hand Fund (an employee emergency relief fund).

The tournament boasted ten teams from our car stores and affiliated companies: Highway Safety Devices, Brandon Honda, Honda of Ocala, Honda of Gainesville, Wade Raulerson Buick GMC, Ford of Port Richey, Creative Sign Designs, BMW of Sarasota/MINI of Wesley Chapel, Toyota of Tampa Bay and Moore & Scarry Advertising.

Highway Safety Devices overcame a 1st half deficit of 15 points to take the championship, overcoming a very strong Brandon Honda team that had blown past Ford of Port Richey and Honda of Ocala.

Honda of Gainesville fell in the other semi-final game to Highway Safety Devices.

Authorized Free Agent Tanner Boyle was acquired by Ford of Port Richey for a $1000 dollar donation but then sold to Highway Safety Devices (who were playing with only five men) for another $500 dollar donation.

The tournament for the first time was moved from Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Clearwater, FL to the Long Center where three games could be played simultaneously. Each team was guaranteed at least two games (win or lose) and many teams (those who had play in games) ended up going 3 games.

Award Winners:

Tournament Winner - Highway Safety Devices

Consolation Bracket Winner - Toyota of Tampa Bay

Philanthropy Award (Money Raised) - Toyota of Tampa Bay

"HORSE" Award - John Marazzi (BH) defeated John Gliem (TOTB)

Three Point Competition - Tony Suares (Moore & Scarry)

Tournament Highlights: 

Authorized Free Agent: Tanner Boyle in the "Decision" 

Tournament Highlights:

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Custom Walk Around and Comparison Videos are a Powerful Tool

You've been hearing it for ages. Custom video is a quick and efficient way to either create interest with a customer or prepare a customer for a dealership visit. So why aren't you doing it? In the video above Wade Raulerson Buick GMC Sales associate Matthew Duke helps a customer select between a Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SUV and a GMC Terrain SUV. We took a few minutes to the edit (frankly it's about 45 seconds too long even in present form) just to add some professional touches.

Here is a few pieces of advice for sales associates looking to add video to their skills:

1) Keep it short - 45 seconds to 1:15 per car; people want information in short concise bursts
2) Get to the point - you can still use e-mail to offer the customer other information, utilize the video to focus on features and benefits of the car
3) Don't be afraid to have a friend drive while you take your camera with you on a brief test drive
4) Keep the camera still; you don't want your customer at home looking for their last dramamine pill nor do you want them losing focus on what you are saying
5) Stay serious but friendly --- you aren't filming a commercial so keep comedy out of your video
6) Use video to follow up --- video isn't just for customers who have requested information it could be perfect for someone who did not have time for a proper demonstration on the lot
7) Keep private names and personal information out of the video. Then you can also use these videos to build organic search content either on your webpage or youtube channel.

The statistics show that customers early in the purchase funnel utilize video to help make their vehicle selection. Why not start to build the dealer relationship while giving them information they are looking for?

Remove the Speed Bumps from Your Business!


In the last month I have witnessed presentations from 4 different motivational speakers. One common thread in all of their presentations has been the idea of removing the barriers to conducting business and shortening processes to make them more relative to your customers real wants and needs.

Guy Kawasaki (former Apple Enchanter) and Grant Cardone (Business Expert/Motivational Speaker) deserve credit for harping on these themes. They are both right on the money. We are and have become a society of instant gratification. Technology has given us the uncanny ability to bring people to the precise information they are looking for. Need we look any further than the success of Google for proof of this? People are used to being delivered to exactly what they want, when they want it.

In business I have always been a principled man. I was slow to evolve in some ways --- "how dare you water down a long tested process" I used to think when I'd watch my employees struggle to master every step in our sales process. I would go home after long days of training and reason that maybe some employees just didn't care, lacked the necessary discipline or didn't have the mental acumen to truly become a master at their craft. At some points I even considered that maybe poor results were due to my own inability to communicate desired outcomes and train effectively. Looking back now I realize that the failure wasn't necessarily my people, or myself --- it was a process needing to evolve in a changing world.

Every day in my business (Auto Industry) it seems the life of a sales associate gets more complicated. Compliance and new legislation seems to add a new form and process every month. The OEM's seem to always be fighting for their attention as well. Sitting here in a store I used to run (Wade Raulerson Buick GMC) I can remember countless phone calls tracking OnStar registration, Customer Satisfaction, Vehicle Delivery Quality, and Training percentages. Then you get back from the 20 group meeting and it's on to a full after-market accessories presentation after the closed sale or it's a full wander through a crowded service department. We know why these things are important but the road to accountability is complicated especially with what has become such a time consuming process.

Give time back to your people and to your customers! Simplify your operating strategy --- learn to adjust and evolve based on how your customers ACTUALLY WANT TO CONDUCT BUSINESS.

Thank you Grant & Guy. Transmission accepted and mission chartered. We are on our way!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Google + ... "This Place is Dead Anyway..."

I love that scene in "Swingers" (the cult classic written by Jon Favreau from '96) where Charles their "man of few words" LA-Hipster-Buddy announces "this place is dead anyway" just moments after the "crew" has arrived at a hip and hard to find LA bar.

I recall the first time I saw the movie wondering how anyone could have even finished a drink in the time it took Vince Vaughn and company to arrive, take in the scene and then quickly depart. The funny thing is ... I thought that bar looked cool! The bar lighting was nice, ladies looked fine not to mention it seemed hard to find and semi-exclusive. But Charles time and time again cracks me up by launching into a dry and cocksure, "This place is dead anyway."

Tonight I was thinking about Google + and this scene came to mind. Google + really is a fourth mover in what has become a complicated world of Social Media. Yes that's right Socialites I am counting 1) Friendster 2) MySpace 3) Facebook and now 4) Google +. Google + is not so different from the "Swingers" bar that seemed so full of promise that Charles was so quick to dismiss. Remember when Google + was invite only (semi-exclusive)? It's got a great design template right? No denying that! Facebook has already ripped a page out of the Google + mobile app by bringing bigger pictures to your handheld. On the outside Google + does still have the "Google" in it correct? So there you go. Google + is that semi-exclusive LA hideaway with a sharp looking bouncer and great lighting on the inside...

So what's the problem? Well the problem is ... "this place is dead anyway!" Google + has never been able to gain the critical mass in most people's circles to gain any real social media traction. It's like a bar full of people that seem unapproachable. When I login engagement is nearly unattainable because I have so few friends participating in the "conversation." For Social Media to fire on all cylinders there has to be a conversation that is ready to join. Right now the pockets of chatter aren't enough for the average user to stick around.

What might happen: Google + is going to open up your mouth and cram itself down your throat! Don't believe me? Fine! I was at Google's Mountain View two weeks ago and listened intently as several "Googlers (Google Employees)" described Google + as the SPINE of GOOGLE! Google is not a Jellyfish so surely how could Google + become their spine? Truth is Google is going to find a way to take your Gmail account, your Google Drive account, your Google Places account and make it become a Google + page. If they can do that successfully it is possible that more Social users would stick around for some "one stop shopping."

What may keep it from happening: No one likes a chameleon. Google + is going to take steps to make sure they don't walk in the similar steps of Facebook which means blazing a new trail. I do believe Google is capable but that is a tough challenge. Essentially without further innovation (and trust me Facebook will do their best to keep up) Google + will continue to be a place that is "dead anyway."

Monday, May 21, 2012

All-New BMW 3 Series Sedan Earns “Top Safety Pick” from IIHS

BMW of North America, LLC

All-New BMW 3 Series Sedan Earns “Top Safety Pick” from IIHS 

Some excellent news for BMW, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety today named the all-new 2012 BMW 3 Series Sedan a “Top Safety Pick”, continuing the company’s long-standing commitment to offering class-leading safety with each new model.

In order to earn “Top Safety Pick”, a car must receive a rating of “good”, the Institute’s highest rating, in all of four tests – 40 mph frontal offset impact, side impact, rear impact protection/head restraint and rollover protection – and must be equipped with an electronic stability control system like BMW’s Dynamic Stability Control.

To read more information, please click on the following link: BMW 3 Series Sedan Earns “Top Safety Pick” from IIHS

Morgan Auto Group owns and operates BMW of Sarasota with managing partner Victor Young E-mail Victor here 

Honda Announces Segway competitor! That you can steer with your butt!

Innovation at Honda continues! Honda has built a Segway competitor. Except that you can steer it with your butt! Who wants one? I know I do.

I always said when I was selling Honda's that Honda power trains had a great reputation whether we were talking Indy Cars or Pressure Washers; now we can add personal mobility to the list!

Friday, May 18, 2012

GM's Facebook Ad Pull Now a Part of Marketing Reorganization?

Just hours ago General Motors announced they would not be buying TV advertising space in this years Super Bowl. So the bottom line is this - GM is going through a top to bottom marketing reorganization. It is now obvious that their decision to pull $10 Million in Facebook advertising was not an isolated decision. So now I ask you? Doesn't GM look a little opportunistic in the way they released the Facebook news days before we learned (as Paul Harvey would have said) "the rest of the story?"

Does this news worry you about the future and vision of General Motors? Does it weaken their argument that Facebook advertising is ineffective? Kind of seems like General Motors may not be the best person to ask.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

GM Stops Advertising on Facebook / Ford Reacts Quickly (Exclusive)

The timing of the announcement certainly is curious to some but today General Motors (GM) announced that they would be pulling their paid advertising from Facebook. For the full article please check out the Wall Street Journal Online today.

The news cannot be welcome news to the Menlo Park Social Media Company. Many Facebook leaders including Mark Zuckerberg have been on the road building interest in Facebook's IPO. It's still too early to see how news of losing GM's $10 Million dollar annual ad spend will effect Facebook's initial offering but yesterday's news had the initial stock price upwards to $38 dollars a share -- much higher than the initial $28 dollars to $35 dollars per share expected. 

Now Morgan Auto Group has a GM franchise. In fact I used to run that dealership specifically. I am reluctant to comment specifically on what GM is thinking in pulling from Facebook but I will say that I do feel that there is some great value in what Facebook offers as an "Identity Platform." 

Ford Motor Company has shown some real leadership in Social and has some strong "Faces" behind some first class social efforts. One of those faces is former Toyota Exec James Farley who is now Ford's Chief Marketing exec. Another and a personal favorite of mine is Scott Monty who I was able to meet earlier this year. So instantly upon hearing the news from GM today I (and many others) took to Twitter to get Ford's take from Scott Monty. 

Scott any read on what GM is hoping to accomplish by both pulling from Facebook and timing of announcement? 

Our focus is on Ford and our continuing relationship with Facebook. It's all down to execution. 

Scott continued in other replies to various Twitter Questions: 

"We've seen FB ads as effective when strategically combined with engagement & innovation, not as a straight media buy." 

In one especially pointed response Monty responded to a Tweet stating "Bad news for Facebook" with "Or a play for attention." 

While I have no crystal ball to tell you whether or not Facebook's stock offering will sink or swim I will say this. Because of guys like Farley and Monty, Ford Motor Company will be on the cutting edge and continue to create distance between themselves and other manufacturers. They will do this by engaging in this new age, not by turning their backs. 

Brett Morgan is the Variable Operations Manager for Morgan Auto Group which owns and operates 11 franchises in the state of Florida. (Tampa, FL) 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Walking in the Land of Search and Social

Dope Indeed. 

The phone in my pocket buzzed. I was receiving a text or an “SMS” (if you are talking to a software engineer in Palo Alto). 
“So did u check in AT Facebook ON Facebook? Cuz that’d be pretty dope!”
Google's HQ in Mountain View
I glanced up from the conference room table at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California and smiled. My buddy Ryan was being sarcastic --- but he had to know that I was secretly geeking out. I’ve known for quite a while that social media was not a fad. In my college days I was an early adopter of the social site Friendster. Post college I remember sitting at my ABC radio office in Richmond and receiving my first e-vite to try Myspace. I also can still recall the first night that I attempted to login onto Facebook. It might have even still been entitled “THE” Facebook and I do recall that because my University was not associated with the site --- I could not login. 
Facebook has taken over the old Sun-Microsystems Campus
Fast Forward to 2012. In May Facebook reported 901 Million active monthly users. They have changed the course of how we interact, communicate and network with the people we meet. Facebook to me is no longer an efficient way to keep up with old college buddies its a platform that binds the majority of Americans. For me having the opportunity to visit both Facebook and Google felt like a long overdue pilgrimage to Palo Alto. I was a guest of Haystak Digital Marketing who had brought a group of dealership personnel, factory representatives, digital marketing professionals, advertising executives and guest speakers for a two day Digital Summit on the campus of Google. 
Google for many internet users is a diving board to all things web related when consumers search for information on cars they wish to purchase. At the dealership level it's easy to concentrate solely on late game marketing that creates traceable actions related to the sale of a car. What we often don't realize is that our paid search efforts and organic search content are already vying for the opportunity to become a given consumer's dealership of choice --- even long before they have decided which car they are going to purchase. 
In 2011 the Automotive industry meant nearly 2 billion in sales revenue to Google or about 5% of their total revenue. 96% of Google’s revenue comes from paid search revenue such as sponsored links and display. What does that mean? Well it means that Automotive outpaces nearly ever industry outside of travel, general retail and finance and insurance. We are important to Google and Google is becoming more important to our customers and the ways they discover information when they shop. Research has shown that Americans research nearly 18 different sources before they purchase a car --- that’s more than consumers shopping for a new computer or an elective medical procedure. Search drives a great deal of our customers fact finding and we are finding creative ways to talk back. 
E-mail and usage of general web portals are down. Use of search and social networking are up. It’s the next phase of the internet evolution. The goal is arriving there before our competition.  
5 Quick Take Aways from the Google “Digital Summit at Mountain View” for YOUR DEALERSHIP TODAY: 
  1. Mobile usage is growing and many dealership websites lack in their mobile capability.
  2. The ability to research online is shortening the shopping window. 81% of consumers purchase within 3 months.
  3. Customers utilize video in the early shopping stages to decide which vehicle to select.
  4. Customers who “like” your dealership on Facebook typically have a higher level of trust with your store and brand.
  5. % of Consumers utilizing dealership websites is increasing. Website usage peaks within 30 days from purchase.

MINI Cooper of St. Petersburg ???

People have asked me on more than one occasion why I have moved to St. Petersburg rather than areas closer to where our businesses operate in Hillsborough and Pasco counties. The answer is easy. I have been a Pinellas County resident off and on since 1992 (only leaving for a stint in Richmond, VA for college and than Gainesville for work). I believe St. Petersburg is the best kept secret on the West Coast of Florida period, end of story.

Between a mile to two miles from my home I have great restaurants (think Red Mesa, Parkshore Grill), the two best museums in the bay area (Dali, Museum of Fine Arts), the Tampa Bay Rays (Tropicana Field), The Tampa Bay Rowdies (Al Lang Stadium), a beach, a country club, a resort (Vinoy) and great parks and walk ways. I enjoyed South Tampa but St. Petersburg just has more to offer.

It is sad to think that because our businesses are not close that I won't be able to have my friends and neighbors do business with me. That just isn't the case though. We have many brands that frankly don't even compete with local St. Petersburg businesses (Lamborghini Sarasota). For one MINI of Wesley Chapel is one of only two Tampa area MINI dealers. So if you are looking for a Clubman, Cooper, Countryman, Coupe or Roadster and live in St. Petersburg ... you can do business with a local family! And I think it's safe to say we'd even deliver it to you!

I know I am going to end up supporting St. Petersburg in many ways. I am already a Tampa Rays season ticket holder and I won't even tell you how well I have supported the local food scene. I'll let my growing belly do that talking!

Shop and than drop me an e-mail

We would love for you to see our one of a kind new MINI Service facility - but we will delivery your purchased MINI right to you in Pinellas County as well!

Follow MINI of St. Petersburg ... I mean MINI of Wesley Chapel on Facebook at 

Monday, April 16, 2012

"Birth of a Car-Guy:" MINI COOPER S and a Lamborghini Gallardo LP 560-4 Spyder

If you are reading this and we have never met I feel the need to preface this article. I am a nice person. I am a mama's boy. I believe in giving back to the community and I believe in genuine human kindness. If you are a car guy and don't know me what I am about to tell you may fill you with a jealous rage. You might instantly not like me. I need to say one more thing. I am humble and I do not take my life for granted. Oh, ONE last thing: I currently have a Lamborghini LP 560 Spyder and a brand new MINI Cooper S model sitting in my drive way right now. Don't get too upset, neither whip is mine as I drive a 2011 GMC Terrain.

As the Variable Operations Manager of the Morgan Auto Group I do live a kind of charmed life. When I first entered the business in 2005 I was not a car guy. I was more less a student of our business, of people and customer service. My focus was on providing a better transactional quality inside of our business not necessarily what was going on under the hood.

Over time I have become a car guy and it had me wondering this weekend --- What Changed? Was it hours upon hours of Top Gear viewing on BBC America? Was it countless deals worked with my friend and colleague Matt Duke who is a legitimate car nerd and enthusiast? Was it simply learning that business and sales were more fun when you have drank the proverbial "car-guy" kool-aid? Was it inheriting a '62 Chevy II from my Grandfather? No. It was simply getting behind the wheel of something exceptional and letting it provide me with what it was built to do.

I've always needed a push in life. While my interests are many I can be far from daring. My father has offered to let me drive his Lamborghini Gallardo a combination of 52 times over the past year. The culmination of my Lambo experience is a single ride on Christmas day while under the watchful eye of 4 Clearwater Beach Police squad cars. My top speed was 28 MPH. My Dad would not have a Lamborghini if it wasn't for our ownership of Lamborghini Sarasota and partnership with businessman Victor Young. In many ways our entry into the car business was a surprise and our entrance into the Supercar business a bigger one.

This was all until this weekend when my friend, car-guy and car enthusiast, Matt Duke joined me for the Tampa Bay Blues Festival. We borrowed the Lamborghini. We drove the Lamborghini. We experienced the full bliss of popping both paddle shifters into neutral and revving the V10 for a large downtown crowd. We felt the cars power out onto interstate on ramps and the raw speed burning from a dead stop. We hit the valet at the Vinoy near downtown St. Petersburg and watched families stop to take pictures with the car. Is it possible that one car could bring so much joy to so many people? The answer is yes. The answer is also that a vehicle a fraction of the cost can provide a very similar experience.

On Sunday after a night of a cool Florida breeze and crunchy blues riffs we loaded up and headed to our newest dealership addition MINI of Wesley Chapel. It is only Tampa's 2nd only MINI store and one of only two in the country that shares a unique new MINI dealership design and image. We were having a big conquest test drive event that including stocking a new VW Beetle and a Nissan Juke. Matt and I were there in case the store was overrun with guests. We were. It was a fantastic event. And just to top it all off I decided to drive home a new MINI Cooper S just to see what I thought.

In quick summation 181 horsepower has never felt more like 245 horsepower. The cock pit is surprisingly roomy and non-claustrophobic. Being an anglophile myself I am very much in tune with the premise of MINI as a brand and as a marketer. As a driver I am very much impressed with the MPG but also the drivability of MINI. MINI is flat out fun to drive. Today while conducting business with my father he asked me to drive in my MINI and yes that was him smiling as he exited his BMW X6. Tonight I had a choice of what to take for a quick evening the drive --- the Gallardo or the MINI. I took the MINI. Remember us car guys like to have fun too.

For more information:

MINI of Wesley Chapel

MINI of Wesley Chapel's Facebook Page

Lamborghini Sarasota

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Nothing MINI about Opening

It was a soft opening. No formal publicity just word of mouth. General Manager Malcolm Cheek had many pre-orders and tons of service appointments lined up but Saturday March 24th was surely going to be a day to get settled in; especially with no real formal announcement of opening.


After years of planning, months of building the facility, weeks of anticipation and one hectic Friday full of moving furniture & displays, completing PDI of vehicles and a few IT concerns – doors opened to customers at 26645 State Road 56 in Wesley Chapel. The MINI of Wesley Chapel story had begun.

I arrived at around 9:30 am to a crowded and bustling service drive. Porters and writers were giving full facility tours with big smiles on their faces.
Guests were smiling and General Manager Malcolm Cheek was flying around inspecting every part of the operation. Technicians continued to PDI and detail
new MINI’s; a process held up by MINI receiving a few last minute permits only
days before.

The facility is one of only two MINI franchised dealerships in the country
with the signature 2nd story “Jewel box,” essentially a
2nd story glass box with a full car elevator. The other store is in
Madison Wisconsin. Many joked all day that our new MINI store was sleek enough
to become a night club after sales hours had ended. Customers enjoyed a spread
of bagels and MINI employees enjoyed well…organized chaos. The store seamlessly
flows from the service drive into sales but after just a few hours I realized
this store was busy!

With a crowded showroom far outnumbering the number of sales associates I was
most impressed by MINI’s sense of teamwork. It was truly a family affair with
Malcolm’s wife and daughter managing key positions and finding sales associates
for customers wanting test drives. Service Director Jason Faiella was bringing
cars for demonstration one by one out of PDI all the while interacting with
guests. Teri Cifredo the store admin was flying around showing cars, bringing
customers’ refreshments and always smiling. Malcolm and sales manager Larry
Stephens worked with customers one at a time in their office. Larry Morgan stood
at the door and shook hands and made sure every guest was having their needs

When the dust settled ten new customers had committed or were driving home in
a new MINI. Countless RO’s had been written and one thing was for certain: MINI
of Wesley Chapel has something special about it from the unique facility right
down to the smile on every associates face.