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