An Update Just For You – Our Quarterly Newsletter

An Update Just For You – Our Quarterly Newsletter

On July 1st 2021 we published our first Newsletter. We were very excited to get it completed. We put a button on our website for visitors to Sign Up for it and we received a modest, but significant, interest in the first Newsletter. Thank you for all of you who did Sign Up. For those of you who are interested and have not yet signed up for it you can access the Newsletter Library from the Resources tab on the website, www.learningwithoutscars.com. We are working on the upcoming Fall version on October 1, 2021 now. It features many inputs from the readers of our first one. Don’t miss out. Sign up to receive it automatically in your inbox by clicking on the Sign-Up button on our website.

Our goal with the Newsletter is clear – to continue to transfer information and knowledge to the operational people and leaders in the Capital Goods Industries. To accomplish this, we have split the Newsletter into a series of sections: –

  • Person of Interest
  • Aloha a Learning Without Scars Introduction
  • The Parts Business
  • The Service Business
  • Product Support Selling and Marketing
  • The Business of Business
  • Lifelong Learning.

The Fall Newsletter will be sent to you with a link for the Parts, Service, Product Support Selling and Marketing and the Business of Business sections Clicking on the links will enable you to receive a file of the Newsletter content in a .pdf format. This should make it easier for you to distribute to your co-workers. On a side note, you can get them to sign up for it themselves and you won’t need to have the .pdf link at all. It is these individual sections that we are creating for our readers so that they will be able to have easier access to the specific content thoughts and ideas for their consideration.

We hope that you will share the appropriate sections with other employees in your business. Have them read it and then set some time where you and the team can discuss it. This is part of the ongoing work of leading and enabling a team of people to continue their individual growth. Communications on matters of common interest. We have provided the content such that there are thought provoking ideas and suggestions in each section. Plus, don’t forget that everything we mention we have implemented around the world for the past forty years. Where you find items that might make a difference in your business. Select items you want to focus on and implement change. Talk with your team, assign a project leader, establish the what-how-when-with whom plan, and then set up a schedule for the implementation. That is one of our mail goals with the Newsletter – provide content which causes teams of people to think about any changes they could or should make to affect the work of the employees and make it more rewarding as they continue to satisfy the needs and wants of your customers.

In our Lifelong Learning Section, we provide you with suggestions for applicable and pertinent books to read. This has been a normal practice of mine, for many years, either as a leader in a dealership or in my consulting practice. Pick a book that you think will resonate most with your team. Buy the book for everyone in that team, that is a very inexpensive training cost. Give everyone a month to read the book. Set up a date where the group will meet, either face to face or via a Zoom/Teams type virtual meeting platform. Talk about the book. What did they learn? What did they find of interest? Talk about it. This is about encouraging every member on your team to try and become better both professionally and personally.

Our mission in Learning Without Scars is very straightforward: assist each individual, we touch, in the identification of their personal or professional potential. Once that potential has been identified then we want to be involved in the creation of a plan of action whereby each individual can get on a path to achieving that potential. This is not easy work. Growing as an individual is not easy work either. Believe me I work at it all the time.

If you look at the world around us and understand that change is a given and that the rate of change is accelerating then you will understand why we believe this is of critical importance to each and every one of us. Aim I aiming too high? No one has every accused me of thinking small. What do you think?

The time is now.

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The Digital Dealership: Information is the Core

The Digital Dealership – Information is the Core

At the core of the digital dealership is information. Tonight, Mets Kramer shares more about the key information you need.

Perform an Information Audit to develop your Digital Dealership

 

In our last podcast about the Digital Dealership, Ron and I discussed what some of the first steps are that any dealership should take to become a dealership of the future.  Since the basis for the digital dealership is the complete use of information, I suggested the first step should be to review how the dealership is currently storing and using key information.

Key information, in the Digital dealership, revolves around the customer and equipment, and especially customer equipment data. To become an integrated dealer, making the most out of the information available, information needs to be collected, analyzed and shared among all areas of the business. It’s important that areas of the dealership don’t become information silos. It’s especially important that the different areas of the business don’t operate on disconnected versions of the same data.

To do this means a few things:

  • First, information should be kept in a single database or “single source of truth” for each type of information. Whether it’s customer, account, equipment or contact information, there should be one primary place to store that information, and no more. Whether it’s equipment information on work orders, customer information and contact data in CRM or unit number information in parts, they all need to draw from and update the same single source. This is especially true if the information is also needed in the other departments.
  • Second, information needs to be shared out to all departments to help make decisions. The Sales team should see equipment information on machines serviced by the shop, they should see parts sales by machine from the parts department. Service needs to know about machines sold to customers before they come in for their first service work, and everyone needs to know the engagement of customers on marketing and digital platforms.
  • Third, information should be enhanced with data from outside sources and inhouse analysis should be performed. When the sales team looks at a customer fleet list, they need to know how much should have been generated by each machine through parts and service, not just the actual numbers. Sales should be able to see market price on equipment when they review a machine, not have to ask the office to get this. Service should be able to see if customers have open quotes and deals on replacement machines when advising the customer’s techs about required repairs. The Marketing department should see what activities are generated from their marketing activities or customer engagement.

To prepare you for your dealership’s journey toward becoming a digital dealership the first step is to review existing systems, available information and the areas where information is missing.  This Information Review identifies what needs to be done, where the problems lie and what systems are limiting your dealership’s efforts. This review is often hard to do with in house people. Most people are too busy running the day-to-day transactions in your dealership, but it’s also hard to find the things you don’t know to look for.

If you’re looking for a detailed review of your information systems, a strategic plan of issues to resolve and initiatives to complete on your Digital Dealership journey, my Company Strategic Evolutions (https://www.strategicevolutions.ca)  can provide this service for you.  With a week onsite, reviewing your systems and talking to people from marketing to service, we’ll prepare a detailed presentation and provide recommended activities to make information an important driver in your dealership’s growth and future.

Are you ready to see your Digital Dealership grow?

Mets.kramer@strategicevolutions.ca

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The Digital Dealership: Change and Remaining the Same

The Digital Dealership – Change and Remaining the Same

In tonight’s blog, guest writer Mets Kramer continues to speak on the digital dealership with a look at change, and remaining the same.

I often hear, and most of us have said, the following word.  “The equipment business is a relationship business”, “Relationships make the difference”.

Nothing could be truer about this industry.   Our products create long term relationships because each of the products have a long-life cycle during which we need to engage with and support our customers.  Relationships make all the difference during many phases of the machine’s life cycle.  I first learned this lesson dealing with 330 Excavator issues.  This work horse machine was relied upon by many customers, just it had lots of issues.  Cylinders, pumps and final drives to name a few.  Having a strong relationship helped us navigate the problems with the customers and come up with workable solutions and agreements.  Through it all, we maintained the relationship and the next generation of the same machine still had lots of buyers.

So, this is often what I hear from dealers when talking about the development of the Digital Dealership. “Digital isn’t important, it’s a relationship business”. As if relationship is all it takes to maintain a customer. If that were true, we would all still have a roll of quarters in the truck and be looking for pay phones to get a hold of the office and the customer, rather than get a cell phone to get better.

The Truth is, while relationships matter, the digital transformation has supported it all the way and needs to continue to do so.  It’s naive or “old fashioned” to get stuck in the glory of the past.   Just like your cell phone caused the demise of the Pay phone because it allowed you to do things better. The rest of the digital world is there to support you. Not replace you.

This past week I sent my 4Runner in for service.  Just for fun I went online, found the nearest dealer, booked an appointment, chose my preferred communication method, got a quote for the service and discussed additional required services at my mileage. Then I got to the Dealership and talked face to face with the person I’d been emailing with. All my car information was entered, and we wasted no time.  I built a relationship with Jallone the Assistant Service Manager.  He looked after my needs and I tried to steal him from automotive to the equipment business, because he did a great job. When the service was done, he followed up with electronic invoices and discussion on open items.

The Digital dealership supports and improves your existing operations, it does not destroy the value of relationships, it only makes them easier to create and maintain.

Take this example I heard from Alex Kraft at Heave.co this past week. A contractor told him he’s been waiting for 3 weeks to get a quote from his sales rep.  All this customer wanted was a piece of paper (or electronic quote) for a machine, but the sales rep is too busy or the process too onerous to get a quote out. How is it helping that dealer and customer not to have the dealership invest more seriously in digital systems to provide quotes faster. In the end this contractor went to a new platform that exposed his needs to dozens of other dealers, who quoted him automatically or saw the Quote request and responded.

Digital supports your business; it doesn’t take away from it; unless you decide to implement it poorly.

How else does Digital augment your relationship?

A core aspect of the Digital dealership is the use of information.  As the equipment expert your customer relies on, you need to be seen as the trusted advisor, not a quote provider or order taker. Find ways to use digital information to be ready to support your customer with all the equipment related information you can. Specs, performance, analysis, operating cost and market pricing data. When you become the Digitally enabled Trusted Advisor, you’re always welcome.

Oh, and don’t forget to have inventory info at your fingertips and be able to price something.

Years ago, I had dinner with a colleague in Chicago during my only 1.5 years not in the construction equipment business.  He told me a story of being a young regional manager, sitting with his customer.  He proudly boasted about the improvement their business had made in delivery.  He told his customer “We can now ship any product we have in stock to you in a week”.  He was so proud of the giant gain in delivery speed.   His customer looked at him and laughed “You’ve got to be F@#%@ kidding me, from stock to out the door in seven days???”    Expectations are the point.  Your customers have a learned experience of what’s possible.  No matter how good you think you are, if someone is doing it better, that’s the new standard.

Creating a strong Digital Dealership, however that applies to your dealership, improves your relationship with your customer.

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Target Marketing

Target Marketing

In his guest post for this week, Ross Atkinson highlights the critical importance of technology when it comes to target marketing.

It is truly amazing how times have changed in the last 20 years! Dealerships have gotten larger through consolidation and spread further apart. The dealer is servicing more customers with less staff. Welcome to the world of running “lean and mean.”

The customers aren’t staying small either as they continue to expand in order to survive in this ultra-competitive world. As customers get larger, the likelihood is that someone other than the owner will be the one picking up or dropping off. The days of the customer grabbing a coffee, sitting down for a personal discussion and allowing you to get to know them better, is a faded memory of the good old days.

Technological advances can also be partly to blame for the lack of face-to-face interactions. It’s commonplace today for many transactions to be done without the need of talking to a salesperson by utilizing internet-based ordering systems. Let’s not forget, even if you do visit a bricks & mortar store, you may still have limited verbal communication with a human being considering the availability of digital lookup and self-checkout kiosks. And if the goods aren’t being delivered to your customer’s home or business, the conversation at pickup is trivial at best.

Even if we did have a need for human interaction, we have the next generation of workers who have grown up in an era of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It’s bad enough they don’t teach cursive writing or spelling in schools anymore, but with today’s youth spending countless hours in front of screens growing up, they are missing out on the opportunity to learn social skills with other people like their friends.

So as dealerships lose personal contact with their customers, they look to other means of communication and one of the few things available is technology. Using an automated, self-controlled method of recognizing certain conditions, a notification can be sent to the customer electronically or interactively. I call this “Target Marketing”. It is a term I use for targeting a single customer based on triggers or events that happen every day. Call it what you will, these kinds of systems are available today and can reach out to your customer through some form of digital communication like a text or email. It can let them know that their parts order has arrived or notify them when their machine is due for service. No more manually calling, no more busy signals, no more answering machines, and no more forgetting.

There are an endless number of “triggers or alerts” that can facilitate a communication to your customer. Words of warning though, do not go overboard. Ensure that the most important, time sensitive notifications take precedence. The last thing you want to do is alienate your customer by sending them 15 emails or texts a day.

Having this information sent to your customer’s fingertips can be very beneficial. The immediacy of the message sent to their phone or device allows them to take action right away. For the dealership, it eliminates the need for staff to take time away from their busy day to chase down the customer.

At the same time, the trigger and alert concept can also be used within the dealership to benefit the customer. When a work order is opened for a customer’s machine, wouldn’t it be important to know there is an outstanding recall?

Although the interactions between the dealership and the customer isn’t what it used to be, when you do get an opportunity to be face-to-face, take full advantage of the time to know your customer better. Wish them a Happy Birthday or thank them for their purchase. Ask them how they are doing and what’s happening in their business or personal lives. Your customers will appreciate the attention and interaction; you may actually learn something about them that will improve your relationship.

We should also consider what else computer systems can do to better understand and help the customers. With the collection and analysis of customer transactional data, you can get an understanding of specific patterns which may result in some form of target marketing for things such as bulk purchasing.

This same data analysis can also be significant for your dealership. It can help identify patterns such as peak order times so that you can staff accordingly or ensure that you have the appropriate stocking levels. It may even facilitate changes to your day-to-day business processes.

As you know, Ron’s podcast tagline is “The Time Is Now.” Well folks, if you want to keep in touch with your customers today, you better get on the technology bandwagon! The Time Is Now!

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The Digital Dealership – Self Serve

Digital Dealership – Self-Serve 

In tonight’s blog, guest writer Mets Kramer continues to speak on the digital dealership and the freedom it gives us when it comes to self serve.

Satisfying our Self-Serve Desire

Last Month, I did something I haven’t in a long time.  On a trip back home, I came across a Full Serve gas station and used it! These used to be the norm, no one pumped their own gas, and every teenager had a job. Then the world started changing. Gas became more expensive, as did the teens, and self-serve became more common.  Why pay extra and wait for the slow teenager to pump your gas when you just do it yourself and get it done faster and easier? In the same way more and more things have become self-serve.  Self-serve gives us the feeling of moving at the pace we want and reduces the need to interact with other people.  It’s not that we’re asocial, but it does feel like other people slow us down, or we have to wait to get access.

So, now we live in a world that has been designed and tooled to allow us to do things for ourselves, often from our phone.   Even the most “Full Service” new trend is really just self-service.   Ordering your dinner though an app such as Uber Eats, or Door dash is really about satisfying your desire to make things easy and at your pace.   Multiple restaurants are presented to you to review and decide what you’re “cooking for dinner”, payment is processed online, and the food shows up ready to go.  A full Self-Service Experience.

The truth is, each of us are becoming more accustomed to and preferring of Self Service.   It lets us do things when we want, where we want and at our own pace.

Your dealership should be no different.  Your customers are people, like yourself, who increasingly prefer the self-service option.  They want to have more information presented about their decision than if they call a person.  Just like you, your customers research and look up information about what they need on a plethora of sites.  Then they find the easiest way to acquire what they want or need.   This is a significant change from the mindset of the past, which looked to person to person contact for the highest level of service.

So, what are the main aspects of a self-service approach in a Digital Dealership

  1. Provide information
  2. Support the preferred communications methods
  3. Deliver the product/service

First, don’t be short on information.  If you have information to help the customer, make decisions, present it while the customer is in the research phase.  If they don’t find what they are looking for, they, like you, are quick to do a second Google search for what they need.   This information can be presented on open webpages, but also presented only to trusted visitors to your digital dealership.

Next allow your customers to communicate with you the way they want, but don’t “Drop the call”.   Too many dealers drive their customers to forms that end up in email boxes.   The response rate and times are terrible.  If it, was you and any other method, you wouldn’t stand for it.  So why do this to your customers.   Make sure every channel is viewed in real time, during extended business hours.   Make sure contact info is checked and related to your CRM data and finally make sure you respond quickly, and preferably in the format the customer contacted you.

Finally, enable delivery.  By delivery I mean take the transaction as far as possible.  If you’re listing items or services through any of your digital channels, enable an immediate action option.  Call it a “Buy it Now” button.   We are all familiar with that.  This doesn’t mean you have to provide digital payment processing, but you can capture commitment from the customer.  In this case we want to enable and cement the customer’s decision.  When you offer the customer a “Contact Us” form to fill when they want to buy, it leaves the door open for them to keep searching.   A “Buy It Now” button allows the customer to feel like they have solved their problem.

We all think our time is valuable.  We want to make sure the time we spend on resolving a need, is efficiently spent.  This is what has driven our Self Service digitally enabled world.  When I go to Starbucks and order my coffee, I now do it from my app.  It remembers what I want, it pays for me, and I just walk in and grab it from the counter.   That’s a Digital Coffee Shop, supported by a bricks and mortar building with a real human barista.   I always have the option to walk in and have a chat while I place my order, but I can use a digital channel if I’m in a hurry.

Your digital dealership shouldn’t be any different.

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Equipment Data and the Digital Dealership

Equipment Data and the Digital Dealership

Tonight, to accompany the podcast released on this subject today, guest blogger Mets Kramer continues to educate us on all the digital aspects of our business with a look at equipment data and the Digital Dealership.

When I started Strategic Evolutions in 2017, it was based on two things.   First, I wanted to help smaller dealers do a better job and grow their business. Second, I wanted to show people how to use information to do exactly that.   One of my first engagements was to speak at the Associated Equipment Distributors on the topic “A Granular, Data Driven Approach to Strategic Sales”.  The focus of my presentation was the value and importance of using information, specifically customer equipment data, to drive dealership activities.

Customers work with you, the dealer, for one reason: they own equipment. (And let’s not forget, it’s also because you’re great people!)

Numerous people in the industry have pointed out the value of customer equipment information.   Most frequently, and in the topic of my presentations, the customer equipment information provides a clear indication of future sales opportunities.   Our industry is focused on equipment with a predictable life cycle.  If you’re a dealer representing any OEM, you should be using this information by now, to drive potential sales opportunities and providing your sales reps with new leads.  Furthermore, by analyzing and predicting the replacement time of a machine, it’s the easiest way to make sure low volume customer aren’t lost to competitors.  Think about the customer with only a few machines, who doesn’t engage with the dealership frequently. These types of customers are often lost because they didn’t connect on time. However, if they had used a CRM system to notify the sales rep to reach out at the right time, we could have prevented this loss.  How do you get this information?  Either through the sales team or by digitally engaging with the customer.

Equipment information is just as valuable in aftersales at the dealership. We all know having this information makes parts and service support easier.  For example, customers call with unit numbers because they don’t use serial numbers to reference their equipment.  With a CRM, your team can quickly find the serial number of the customer’s unit from the database.

From a marketing perspective, equipment data can help you measure the potential size of the aftersales market.  If you’re selling maintenance contracts, you already know how many dollars per hour of parts and labor each machine should produce.   With a complete fleet list, you can estimate total potential revenue and market share.    Now, you have a sales lead for your aftersales PSSR reps.

In the Digital Dealership, aftersales should also be utilizing equipment data.   By integrating the equipment data with your Digital Dealership, you can present equipment information in the online parts store, but more importantly, all over your Digital Dealership.  You can promote Parts Kits, PM kits or Maintenance programs to the customer when they visit.  As a comparison, the digital world’s success started when websites stopped being static and started to tune the content to each visitor.  It’s no different with your Facebook, Amazon and countless other social sites.  These businesses present you relevant information based on what they know about you.

To make this all work, it is as simple now as it was 20 years ago.  To build an information driven dealership, your systems need to be up to the task.  An ERP, DMS or CRM that can store customer fleet data is critical and should be a key item to consider when switching to a new Dealer Management System.  If your current system can’t handle customer fleet data, and you’re not switching, get an integrated CRM. Next, make sure you have your sales and aftersales teams think about collecting this data.  If it becomes a normal part of your conversations throughout the dealership, and a focus of your customer service, gathering the data gets easy.

Finally, invest in a partner or team member who’s full or part time job it is to analyze the data and implement programs using the data, with the business unit owners.  Your sales manager or product support manager needs support.  Most of the dealers I know have limited resources in house, so it might mean a new person or finding a vendor to help you.

One thing is for sure, and you see it all around you, the most successful businesses today, have a strong digital presence and use the information they have to their advantage and their customer’s benefit.

Did you enjoy this blog? Read more great blog posts here.
For our course lists, please click here.

The Digital Dealership: Comparing Equipment Presentation

The Digital Dealership: Comparing Equipment Presentation

Tonight, guest blogger Mets Kramer continues to educate us on all the digital aspects of our business with The Digital Dealership: Comparing Equipment Presentation.

One of the Statements I have made repeatedly in this series is: “The average buyer does 85% of their research digitally prior to contacting the dealer” (Thanks @Charles Bowles). What does this mean for dealers?   In the most practical way, it means “Call for details” is dead. Providing information is critical.

In this blog, I would like to get each of you to do some research. Considering my statement above, which of the following websites or products would you feel ready to buy (assuming you needed it) based on the digital presentation of the product.

To get started I would like to look at the used passenger vehicle market.  This is one market we all have experience in, and one that has seen a radical change over the last 10 years.  It has also been a strong industry, leading the Equipment industry by 10 to 20 years, showing where digital technology is going in the future.

First let’s look at Carvana and CarMax, leaders in digital sales, presenting the vehicles they have for sale.

https://www.carvana.com/vehicle/1836344

https://www.carmax.com/car/19617484

Then Compare the Experience Here at a Toyota Dealer, which does a decent job, but is behind.

https://toyotaoffortworth.com/vehicle-details/used-2017-toyota-4runner-limited-JTEZU5JRXH5155428

Notice how Carvana and CarMax are highlighting issues to avoid surprises, providing delivery and a 7-day guarantee to handle risk and objections.

Which of these listings made you feel like you know enough about the vehicle?  It is a big step to buy your first vehicle without seeing it, for sure, but would seeing it in person really tell you more?  If you could not see it in person, which would you choose?

Now let us look at Equipment, the topic we all focus on daily.

Compare the following sites

  1. DeWitt Equipment Hitachi ZX-160LC-3, presented with images, 2 videos, details, and a PDF specifications document from Hitachi.

https://dewittequipment.com/our-products/2009-hitachi-zx-160-lc-3/

  1. Holt CAT 289D, presented with an inspection report and report from Electronic Technician, specifications, and images

https://holtused.com/2018-cat-289d-ces001277-near-austin

  1. Marcel Equipment CAT D6N – presented with images, detailed description and full repair and condition info.

https://marcelequipment.com/inventory/2016-caterpillar-d6n-lgp/

  1. 4Rivers CAT 320E, presented with 4 pictures and a short description

https://www.4riversequipment.com/shop/general-construction/caterpillar-320e-995554/

After Reviewing these different sites, which machines do you feel you “know” best?  Which one would you buy without seeing it in person?  More importantly, which machine would you be ready to contact the dealer about if you only contact dealers when you’re close to purchasing?

When presenting your equipment on your website you have the greatest opportunity to present the machine fully, since you control your site.  Your goal should be to present enough information to stop visitors from hunting around for more information.   You need to get them to stop scrolling or clicking, call, contact, email, etc. The best way to do this is to answer all their questions.

How would you change your website, to present your equipment better, with this in mind?

If you would like to review your website and look at how easily you can present your equipment with more detail, simply contact me at:

mets.kramer@strategicevolutions.ca  or (289) 680-6387

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The Digital Dealership: Getting Practical

Digital Dealership: Getting Practical

Tonight, guest blogger Mets Kramer continues to educate us on all the digital aspects of our business with The Digital Dealership: Getting Practical.

For the past few weeks, we’ve looked at creating a digital dealership and what defines going fully digital.  One of the main areas of focus, was changing our understanding of how providing information was a key aspect.   Being fully digital, requires being able to provide all the information customers require, about your inventory, in a digital, and typically self-serve way.

Working from current research on purchasing, we know customers are doing 85% of their research, about their purchase, digitally prior to calling a dealer.   This means customers want to find the information they need, to make a purchase decision, in your online platform.   As a digital dealer you need to provide this information.

To put it into perspective, you cannot call Amazon to ask a question about the product you are looking at, so Amazon provides lots of space for product descriptions, so you can make a decision.

For equipment it’s no different.  To provide adequate information to buyers, a digital dealer needs more than a short summary of a couple features and a few pictures.   Consider the following as important.

  1. Specifications, of the machine and model
  2. Service History
  3. 10+ images
  4. 1 or more videos – Operating, walk around, engine running, etc.
  5. Oil Sample history
  6. Repair and condition report
  7. Market and operating cost info
  8. Attachments and features

In a traditional approach, of digital billboard advertising, providing all this information and making it available on the website, takes a huge separate effort loading data into the site, or an outside system.  Furthermore, in all “out of the box” or “off the shelf” platforms, the presentation is standard and doesn’t present the equipment in a way that reflects your dealership.

So, I’m going to put my money with my mouth is;

I would like to show any of you, how manageable taking charge of your own digital presence is.  Modern software and website technology makes building a website easy and representative of your dealership.  It allows information to flow from your inventory management to your website and back to your CRM.  This will allow you to serve up video, images, documents, and detailed descriptions, and even recognize visiting customers.

If you have been following this series and want to see it in action, I’ll provide for you a CRM and a blank website template, linked to your inventory in the CRM.  The Site will be a cutting edge Litespeed server with an Oxygen website template connected to the Vizybility CRM and your inventory, using our WordPress plugin.  Our team will show you how manageable it is, how you can present your inventory and products exactly how you want.  We will work with your team for two months to show you how it will change your digital presence and your customers engagement.  We will even connect your customer data from CRM to Mailchimp so you can run standard and drip campaigns to keep your customers engaged.  If after 2 months you are not convinced, it’s on me.

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The Digital Dealership: Integrated Website

The Digital Dealership: Integrated Website

Tonight, guest blogger Mets Kramer continues to educate us on all the digital aspects of our business with The Digital Dealership: Integrated Website.

In my last article, “The Digital Dealership”, I painted a picture of what the digital dealership looks like.  What defined the digital dealership was information and a continuous flow of that information.  In this week’s article, I want to take a closer look at this, primarily because “Going Digital” has a particular assumption many people in our industry struggle with, especially around websites and sales. This struggle assumes “Going Digital” is about website shopping carts and electric payments, but this is not true.   You do not need to have a shopping cart or checkout function on your machine listing page to be a digital dealership.  What you need to do is have a connected flow of information that anticipates your customer’s needs.

Here are three things to consider when developing your digital dealership

First, stop separating your e-commerce customer portal solution from your main website.  Create a website that transitions from information site to portal seamlessly, and treats every visitor as a customer.  Do not make them search around for the portal login button and drop them into a different environment.

Your physical dealership doesn’t have a sign over one door labeled “Visitors” and a second door labeled “Customers”, so why do it at your digital dealership.

Using analytics platforms, you can monitor your site visitors. It won’t take long to realize a large percentage of your visitors are repeat visitors and existing customers.  These visits are often to learn more about the products they own, or products they are considering.   Your integrated website should present information on products, connect your available inventory, and create a sales connection.   Your website should integrate to your CRM, automatically creating new leads and generating Quotes in your CRM quote system.   The days of contact forms via email are over.

This brings up the second point to consider, recognize your visitors.   Without getting technical, your website can learn to recognize repeat visitors and customers.  These are visitors who may have done business with you and are in your CRM.  Yes, I’m talking about using Cookies and CRM integration.   When customers return to your site, you should know about it, and the site should recognize them.  The site should build on the existing knowledge of that visitor. Make sure your site can say “Welcome back!”.

Your physical dealership does not treat returning customers like strangers, so why would your digital dealership.

Presenting returning visitors with information about items they last viewed makes their visit more relevant.  For a known customer, show them as already “signed in” to customer areas.   Do they own a Model XYZ? Make sure they know their price on a new one or place a custom offer on the page for them.  No one else will see it because your digital dealership knows who the visitor is from your CRM.

Finally, when your customers enter your digital dealership, make sure their fleet data is available. Your customers and prospects do business with you for one reason.  They own equipment and you sell and service it.  Link services, knowledge, parts, and more to the customer’s known fleet.  Fleet data should be a visible function and updated easily.  Make sure it can capture, and save to your CRM, all brands of equipment, even if you’re an OEM dealer.

In implementing these 3 ideas your digital dealership moves beyond a billboard website or a machine advertising site, it becomes a digital dealership application that meets the needs of your customers. It engages them, provides them with ways to make doing business with you easier, and gives them the information they need.

While this may seem difficult, Modern CRM platforms like Vizybility are built to integrate with website applications and connect your digital dealership to daily operations.   Vizybility handles all your customer and prospect information and can store detailed fleet data for each.   Our complete API makes it easy and secure to connect your website to your sales and support teams.

If you would like to learn more about how we can help you build a digital dealership platform, contact me at mets.kramer@strategicevolutions.ca

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The Digital Dealership

The Digital Dealership

Tonight, guest blogger Mets Kramer continues to educate us on all the digital aspects of our business with The Digital Dealership.

Over the past months I’ve covered various digital aspects of sales and marketing.  We talked about shifting our mindset from Digital Billboarding to Engagement Marketing.  We looked at how your website is more than just a confirmation of your existence, but a key part of your growing digital presence.   Research shows your customers are now completing up to 85% of their new purchase research before calling your dealership.

Let’s face it, we live in a digital world!  Almost everything we do is digitally enabled, even our most hands-on team members, technicians, open laptops and connect to machines prior to most repairs, and they certainly open them to execute their work at some point.  Our sales teams do digital quotes, get digital contracts signed and transact a sale in a digital system.

In our last conversation, on Ron’s podcast, Ron and I started to look at the general idea of a Digital Dealership.  A dealership not bound by the analog world, but one that recognizes our perpetual digital interactions. It shifts its thinking by starting from a digital perspective.  Imagine a green field dealership – a virtual one.

So, what would a digital dealer look like?  Here are some thoughts

A digital dealership starts by recognizing information is the driving force behind the digital change in how we live and work. The internet is often called the information superhighway and we are all connected.  Access to information is what drives each of us to “Google” something each day, just out of curiosity.  Information is what brings value to an interaction, it connects us with the knowledge we need to execute our work and businesses.

The digital dealership looks at how information flows through the business, from marketing and sales to service and support programs.  It looks at how the information of a customer’s engagement or transactions flow into the business, and then, it does one very important thing.  It looks at where that flow gets broken or disconnected.  Discontinuity, in our digital information flow, kills transactions, so the digital dealership makes sure it doesn’t happen.

In a practical sense, this means the digital dealership looks at how marketing efforts lead to sales, then to initiating and even closing a sale.  Customers have the option to change medium, but the flow doesn’t stop them if they know what they want, it uses information to enable.   On the parts and service side information powers a digital transaction in the same way.  The digital dealership no longer asks its customers for the machine serial number when they call for parts.  The Digital dealer recognizes incoming calls, remembers the customer’s equipment, offers them a digital purchasing options or creates automatic parts carts for common jobs.

In service, the digital dealer has analyzed what is the likely problem via telematics and service history to determine a possible cause, and solution, prior to driving to see the machine.  This is a scenario we have all talked about, but how many of you are working out how to make it happen?

Customer Portals provide customers with 24/7 access to fleet information.  Equipment is linked to product data so customers can determine if it fits their next project.  It provides historical information on service, links to past financial transactions, provides service recommendations for the future and a replacement unit when the hours get too high.   It offers online chat or a button to get a call back immediately so they know someone will be on the line to help them.

In the end, the digital dealer connects all the information about a customer, and their business, together in a seamless process which captures the customer needs and makes it easy.  The dealership’s customers appreciate it, because they get the same treatment in so many other interactions in their personal lives.

The digital dealer uses bricks and mortar, where needed, to deliver a real product to their customers in a digital way, removing many of the traditional limits of territory, and possibly capital requirement limitations too.

Taking your dealership into the digital future may seem like a lot of work, it may seem too futuristic and technical, but each of the items I’ve listed is already available and being done in our industry to some degree.  The difference is the digital dealership combines them into a single experience.

Finally, it is also important to remember that the digital information doesn’t replace the knowledge and experience your team has.   The digital connections merely enable your existing relationships and empower them, making the knowledge gained by your team available to support your customer.   At the same time, the digital connection also enables you to reach more people and expand your presence.

Our industry is on the verge of these transformations.  Closely related markets are already seeing this change.  Will you be one of the first digital dealers in our industry?

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