3 Steps for a Smoother Annual Parts Inventory

It’s that time of year again, when your dealer principal or CPA requires a “firm” parts inventory count for tax and factory filing purposes. If you dread the event, you’re not alone. But it doesn’t have to be that hard. If you put several steps in place throughout the year to improve consistency and better secure your parts asset, you will minimize variances, risk of theft, and dread of the annual inventory. Industry consultant Mike Nicholes recommends every dealership put three steps in place to ensure a smoother annual parts inventory.

How to generate 25 percent website lead to sale ratio

Consumers not only spend more time online, but they want to do more of the major shopping steps before they visit the showroom. Until recently, dealers just did not have the retail-specific and dealer-controlled tools available that they needed to convert serious website shoppers into in-store buyers.

How to transition your reports from measured to meaningful

When I visit dealerships, the general manager wants to hear about the latest product enhancements, extra features, or how to increase productivity. I have never had a dealer approach me with excitement about reporting. I think of it in the same light as my college days when no one was eager to hear all about the math majors’ educational insights.  Reporting might not be the sexiest DMS featur, but if you follow these three steps, you can master your dealership reports, while also saving time, cutting costs and boosting your income. 

A view from the other side: Dealer practices that rile up plaintiffs' lawyers

In light of the ongoing increase in oversight activity, Dealertrack’s Compliance Counsel Randy Henrick recently conducted an interview with a very successful plaintiff’s attorney. And while she’s not an “enemy,” she represents a successful courtroom adversary, one who has won a number of $100,000+ settlements and judgments against automotive dealers in her home state. Her perspectives might have real value for your business.

CFPB goes on the offensive in auto finance. Or did they?

With several rulings and actions, the CFPB’s recently released Summer Supervisory Highlights and subsequent field hearing in September 2014 may seem to be yet another attack from the CFPB. But a closer look reveals that the release of the Summer Supervisory Highlights and subsequent field hearing may signal a softening of the agency’s harsh 2013 Auto Finance Guidance. Nevertheless, in the report, and at the hearing, the CFPB took five key steps that will most certainly impact automotive lending practices.

What do women want? Answering this age-old question for your service lane

What’s the best way to find out what women want when they go to have their vehicle serviced? Ask them. The answers can go a long way toward helping dealerships attract and retain more women in the service lane. That’s critical, because there are more women on the road today than men, and women increasingly call the shots when it comes to household purchases. Isn’t it in your best interest to cater to them?

Dealertrack sat down with Anne Fleming, president and chief executive officer of the women-focused dealer review website Women-Drivers.com, to share results of her company’s 2014 year-to-date survey results and tips for driving  more women into your service lane. 

Top 3 questions service managers should ask

Smart dealers know that the fixed ops department is their best bet for steady, consistent revenue. Yet the majority of service departments are leaving major money on the table. Why is this happening? It’s a perfect storm of a lax inspection process, no accountability and a service-not-sales mentality. In a market where competition is up and ROI is shrinking, you can’t afford to have your service technicians missing opportunities or just picking low-hanging fruit – like brake and power steering flushes – instead of completing a thorough inspection and selling customers on services they actually need. Not only does this approach improve sales, but it also improves customer loyalty and trust. Want to get more revenue out of your lanes? Make sure your service manager can answer these three questions. 

Protect Your Dealership Data

Do you know who has access to your data? And, what they’re doing with it?

Needless to say, these are the questions on the minds of a lot of people lately. If you’re a dealer principal or a manager, it should be on your mind, as well – in terms of dealership data.

When it comes to valuable customer information and data, you need to take real steps to protect it. And, your dealer management system (DMS) is an often-overlooked asset in your quest to protect your data and profits.

Advertising: New Times, New Media, New Rules

Advertising the sale or financing of motor vehicles has become increasingly complicated with an aggressive Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the need to reach consumers (especially Millennials) through social media, which was never thought of when advertising laws and regulations were written.  It certainly makes a dealer’s life more complex.

The FTC has launched a new automotive program since the Dodd-Frank Act gave it streamlined authority to write regulations.  It has also become much more active in pursuing dealers for deceptive advertising under Section 5 of the FTC Act.  (Since 2012, the FTC has brought 16 cases against auto dealers for deceptive advertising.)  The FTC’s Head of its Bureau of Consumer Affairs said the FTC believes that deceptive dealer advertising is a “significant problem,” many automotive dealer investigations are “in the pipeline,” and that this is a “priority area” for the FTC.

Aftermarket Selling – The New Focus of the CFPB

The automotive retail market has been under the federal microscope for some time now….with no end in sight.

Federal agencies are focusing in on a range of issues within the automotive retail market.  Everything from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issuing guidance on credit discrimination in the indirect automotive financing market to the Federal Trade Commission’s Operation Steer Clear initiative against deceptive automotive financing advertising seems directed at automotive dealers in one form or another.

And now, the CFPB appears to be expanding its scrutiny of automotive dealers and lenders to the sale of aftermarket products.  It’s no secret that the CFPB does not think aftermarket products provide value to consumers.  It is also questionable which aftermarket products the CFPB can assert jurisdiction over although it is apparent that they believe any financed aftermarket product is fair game.

Capture More Sales from Your Website This Summer

The automotive industry is on pace for record sales this year with new vehicle sales predicted to reach more than 16 million, and this spring, visits to dealership websites are also up dramatically from last year.   

With this swift uptick of automotive shoppers visiting more dealership websites, we are seeing more and more dealers making investments in uniting and streamlining their online to in-store sales workflow. For many dealers across the country, Digital Retailing website tools are proving to be the answer for transforming their online/in-store sales process, improving customer engagement and overall CSI performance, and increasing lead-to-sales conversions.

Implementing dealer-controlled Digital Retailing tools on your website today can help position your dealership well for this summer selling season, and give you a clear competitive advantage in moving past basic website lead generation and onto real-time deal generation.

3 Step Plan for DMS Conversion

As a dealer, I am sure that you’ll agree: a dealer management system (DMS) conversion can be an intimidating and difficult process.

However, the potential to cut monthly costs, boost efficiency and streamline workflow for your dealership can far outweigh any upfront inconveniences resulting from a DMS conversion.

In an article titled “How to Find the Right DMS” in the May issue of Auto Dealer Monthly, I explore the three critical elements you need to look at when selecting your next DMS.