The Chicago Times-Herald race was the first motor car race in America. Announced in June of 1895, it was not so much a race as it was a contest, an invitation to test the viability of a self-propelled vehicle.
The contest required vehicles to have at least three wheels and be able to carry at least two people, one of whom was to be an umpire selected by the judges to ride with the driver during
the race. Entrants also had to run their vehicles through a preliminary test. The cars were placed on a machine built by the Chicago City Railway Company that simulated road conditions. Officials measured and noted various aspects of the automobiles' performances, (fuel consumption, load capacity, tractability, etc.), and compared these findings against the horse and wagon.
Saturday, August 18, 2012
All professionals, especially those who conduct business online, can be subject to bad publicity. All it takes is one negative comment on a blog or website with the right (or wrong) mix of traffic to drive a company’s reputation into the ditch. If your company has not heard of or are not doing Online Reputation Management (ORM), here are the basics and why this is something every business needs to start doing now.
What is Online Reputation Management (ORM)
ORM is the process of following online references to a brand, company, person or service while having a plan in place to deal with any negative feedback. It is a three-step process, although they may not always occur in this order:
Monitor – Maintain an ongoing system for researching and keeping track of public perception.
Evaluate – Consider individual feedback, as well as the source, outlet, reach and timing, to come to a decision about the risk.
Act – Comment, rebut, draft a formal response or simply ignore what has been said, based on your company’s evaluation.
ORM is typically considered to be a mix of marketing (including SEO) and public relations. There are numerous firms offering ORM services, although it’s something companies can do on their own for free.
Why Companies must have an Online Reputation Management Program
Let’s say your company has years of experience, a solid client base, and great relationships with your clients and colleagues. Your company recently bid on a huge design project with a well-known company and won. One of the other candidates, who was not awarded the job, is resentful. Not only did he put hours into the process, but a friend within the company essentially guaranteed him the job.
Upon discovering that your company was awarded the work, the other candidate publicly attacks your company’s character, work ethic and values in his very popular design blog with over 5,000 readers. Unbeknownst to your comapny, one of the top Google results for your name is now this scathing post, which at this point has 35 comments from people who don’t even know your company, agreeing with the author. Anyone who Googles your company will now see this negative response -- potentially before they reach the business’s website.
It takes two weeks until the company is aware that there is a drop off in normally steady inquiries, and a call from a long-term client asking for details on the situation further highlights the situation. At this point, your company has no way to know how much business has been lost, but senior members are quickly scrambling to find all references to this post, and trying to do damage control.
If your company had been monitoring its online reputation, senior management would have immediately known about the negatively. Now the business’s executive team would not have been able to avoid this situation, but they could have done a few things immediately to defray some of the damage. The most important part of online reputation management is being aware of what’s being said about your company, to whom and why. It also requires that the proper methods be implemented to be quickly advised of negative comments on the Internet and that that there is a plan in place when action can be taken.
How to Handle Negative Publicity
Ideally, with every project taken on and every relationship formed, companies need to work toward building a professional reputation. Your company can enhance the effectiveness of a positive reputation by:
Doing great work
Being customer service oriented
Making yourself approachable
Collaborating with others in your industry
Forming personal relationships
But even if your company does everything right, there may come a time when negative publicity raises its ugly head. Harmful feedback can happen for many reasons – a misunderstanding, a wrong-doing on by a company employee, varying points of view, a disgruntled former employee, a competitor, or any number of other reasons.
How your company reacts to negative feedback is dependent on the type of comment, who said it, what forum it was said in, and the potential it has to damage your company’s reputation. However, there are some ways to gauge the risk of negative publicity and determine how best to handle it.
Think It Through
We’re human, so our initial reaction to negative comments is usually anger, belligerence, and/or defensiveness. The worst thing a company can do is react quickly without thinking the situation through because your company may only make the situation worse. Put yourself in the other person’s position, and be honest with yourself. Take a deep breath and ask yourself these questions:
Is the comment true?
Can I see how this person could view my company’s actions this way?
Did an employee do something that was misunderstood or misconstrued?
Is my company in the wrong?
By being rational and at the same time pragmatic about the situation, the senior management can avoid doing further damage. Senior management may want to get a focus group of company employees together to further analyze the situation and get a new perspective.
The saying, “All publicity is good publicity,” may not be entirely accurate, but your company can certainly turn some negative situations into positive events. Negative publicity can give your company the opportunity to right a wrong; it can provide a platform for your company to address an issue; and it can make your company better at what it does.
Respond or Not?
Not every negative comment deserves a response. In fact, your company may decide not to respond because they feel the situation is best simply ignored. If the impact is minimal, don’t fuel the fire by pleading your case when it’s not necessary.
In some cases, your company may want to go to the source and try to work it out offline. A personal conversation may uncover information that would not have been otherwise known. If your company was in the wrong, your company can rectify the situation, and ask the author to publicly retract their comment or provide further information to defray the impact.
Your company can also respond by posting a public comment or publishing an acknowledgment letter on your company’s website or blog addressing the situation and providing your own perspective. However, be sure not to be overly defensive or personally attack the other party as that will only make your company look unprofessional.
Use It to Your Advantage
Keep in mind that whatever method your company chooses to handle the situation, your company cannot change the actions of others. Handle the situation as your company thinks is best, but don’t be pulled off-track by the negativity of others.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Let’s face it…You do not have time to do everything the dealership needs to succeed. That is why America and the Free Enterprise system are so great. Automotive dealerships provide jobs for many people, and help jump start the economy by providing transportation allowing individuals to get to their jobs. Thus, increasing spending which helps all businesses. Just ask my daughter who has convinced her mother she needs a whole new wardrobe for back to school. (She is going into 4th grade, and acts like she is starting a new job.)
Dealership managers do not have time to create nor truly manage necessary applications that will provide strong online reputation management, high value search engine optimization, accurate locals’ optimization, complete and total web domination, strategic social media marketing, and a customer loyalty program that will increase fixed operation revenue, sales, repeat, and referral business. Sure, dealerships can do all of these things, but they cannot do them completely and correctly without overspending on the necessary personnel or flawless processes that will automate the program without compromising the personal attention that is needed to turn “one-time customers” into “Life-time Customers”.
Before you say to yourself, this is another self-promoting advertising piece for a company that wants my business I implore you to continue reading the blog. (Don’t get me wrong, I write these pieces to help you, but also to show you that my company will help you make more money. I do want your business, and relish the opportunity to build your dealership into a powerhouse that you desire.)
As a business owner, I like to have complete control over everything I provide for my customers. However, at times it makes sense for me to turn to a vendor to provide excellent services for my clients. For example, our company provides follow up cards such as birthday, holiday, thank you, and anniversary cards for dealership clients as a part of our customer loyalty program. We do not print these cards because the cost would be enormous, and quite frankly, I do not want to be in the business of printing cards. I leave that to an expert printing company that will pass the savings of their bulk printing business to me, so I can pass those same savings to my dealership clients.
We solely focus on what we are experts at.
DeliveryMaxx has developed a program from a dealerships perspective. We have done this because over 95% of our employees have spent some part of their careers in the automotive industry, and mostly at the dealership level. That’s right, our employees have sold cars, worked the desk, penciled deals, closed the gates, ported cars, bought and sold at the auction, and gone bell to bell weeks at a time. Our employees have been General Managers, Internet Directors, Sales Managers, Managing Partners, Marketing Directors, Business Development Managers, Human Resource Directors, Service Advisors & Managers, Trainers, and Sales People participating in the automotive industry.
DeliveryMaxx was founded by “Car Guys”, creating a more efficient method for successfully completing the sale at the point of delivery. We have developed a system that effectively increases the positive experience of buying a new vehicle, accurately tracks the process, and generates increased customer retention. We do this utilizing modern innovations and traditional techniques. The net result to our dealership family is Increased Sales both repeat, referrals, & new business, Higher CSI Scores, Complete and Total Web Domination of Branding, Real Published Positive Reviews, Additional Revenue for Fixed Operations, and a follow-up data base that assures “Keeping the Customer for Life.”
So how do you find the right vendor partner for your dealership? We know! We have been there! You do not want to have to interview another vendor or listen to another vendor tell you how great their product or service is. You do not want to listen to a vendor tell you how they will revolutionize the automotive industry. You have heard it all before, and need to focus on your sales staff and advertising budget. You need to make sure you have enough inventory, and a plan to move it quickly so you can do the same process all over again in four more days. Your time is better spent looking at reports, and trying to identify the reason your CSI score dropped two tenths of a percentage point. You are too busy to see a new vendor! However, be careful. Being too busy today, may free you up in the future because you were told in the form of a box sitting on your desk with your awards, family pictures, and a plaque with a quote defining success by Vince Lombardi that your services are no longer valued at this dealership. Are you missing good partners that can make your life easier and less stressful? The answer is simple, and can be explained like a potential vehicle sale. Everyone who walks on the lot is a potential sale. Not only are they a potential sale, they have a friend who has the same credit as them, and will be looking to purchase a vehicle soon. The same goes for the vendor. The vendor would not be on your lot if they did not have something that your dealership has or needs to increase business. You just have to have a process that will help you identify quickly if you need to enter into serious discussions with this vendor.
Let’s look at why you would not look at a vendor. You may know some of these guys I am talking about.
1. Your dealership cannot improve anymore and know everything there is to know about the automotive world. This type of manager, I cannot help. They wake up in the morning, and thinks that they could leave the bathroom door open because the whole house will smell like roses when they leave. It’s OK if you work for this manager. He is in his late 50’s, and will have a heart attack pretty soon. Unfortunately, the turnover rate at this dealership is high because his employees are being stifled and cannot grow to their full potential. Just hope he drops before you get canned for his ego.
2. You are satisfied with your vendor because you have used them at another dealership and they were easy to work with there. This makes complete sense, right? If you were making great bonuses at your past dealership, why would you leave? If that vendor is not constantly improving the way they do business then they have fallen behind the times. If you do not like change, then you should not be in the automotive industry.
3. You do not have time to listen to another sales pitch because you are too busy. Come on now. You have to eat sometime. Have the vendor take you to breakfast, lunch, or dinner and listen to their idea. You might even be able to require your current vendor to adopt best practices that you liked from the vendor that bought you a meal.
Now that we have established that you should listen to new ideas, this is What you should look for in a Vendor.
1. Will the vendor provide a service that will improve your business? In short, will your dealership be able to provide better service, achieve its marketing goals, or sell more cars because of the vendor?
2. Does the vendor make you sign a long term contract? Anything other than a 30 day contract is long term. At DeliveryMaxx, we believe our services should speak for themselves. If we are not accomplishing point number one then we should be fired. A long term contract only means security and complacent service for the vendor.
3. Are you getting a fair price for the services provided? Price is not the end all, but it is very important. There are some vendors that have a low price, but that usually means they are doing things that you can do yourself with the personnel or programs you already have. Take the time to do the math. Look in detail at the program and see what it would cost to develop the applications or programs and hire personnel to implement the program. If you cannot do the service at a high quality and less expensive then you should look at using a vendor. Will the price fluctuate with your business? Why should you have to pay for a service if your business is not improving? If your dealership is hurting, so should your vendors.
4. Can the vendor provide multiple services that will help you manage more effectively? This point you have to be very careful when evaluating a vendor’s service. A common practice is to “take a hit or bath on certain aspects of the program, and then overcharge on other parts of the program. Evaluate every part of the program, and see if the value is there. If not, negotiate.
5. Does the vendor practice what they preach? If a vendor is trying to sell you on Search Engine Optimization or Branding, then shouldn’t they be strong in those areas as well?
6. Who are the vendor’s employees? Do they truly understand what your business does, and what it needs? You can spot these vendors when you talk about your business. A good vendor has a passion about the automotive industry, and truly cares about how your dealership is doing. I feel this makes a great partner.
7. Is your vendor easily accessible? If you needed to contact your vendor after 9 PM can you? Customer service is lacking in every business. You should never settle for this in life, much less your own business.
8. Do you understand how your vendor makes money? They are taking your money. Shouldn’t you know if they are running their business properly, so you are not adversely affected by their decisions?
9. Have they provided you with referrals? Many vendors do not want you to contact their clients because their clients may not have something great to say about them. Take the time to research the vendor, so you do not spend good money after bad. The market will dictate strong companies that can stand the test of times.
10. Biggest is not always the best. Don’t get caught up into the hype of the bigger the vendor is the better they are. It is simple. If a vendor is huge and does not have the employees to support your dealership then they cannot give you the service they desire. Ask them what their role-out plan is. You want to make sure you continue to get personalized service. You should always feel like you are their only client.
DeliveryMaxx practices each of these points when we hire a vendor for our company, or when we provide our services to our dealership network. It would be crazy for me to write this article if we didn’t. When our CEO, Josh Deaton & myself, James Schaefer started this company, we started it out of necessity. We identified that the automotive dealerships lacked our type of services both in programs and value. We were serious about helping dealerships turn “one-time customers” into “Life-Time Customers”. After strong research, strategic planning, software developing, and putting together the right team, DeliveryMaxx was created. Our results speak for themselves, and dealerships are happy to speak for us.
DeliveryMaxx is one of the fastest growing companies in the automotive industry, and has a plan to continue to make each of our clients feel like they are our only client. For more information, visit us at www.deliverymaxx.com
We look forward to speaking to you in the near future, and want to see you at the top!
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
DeliveryMaxx has acquired an insider who is an expert in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Local Search Engine Optimization (LSEO), Online Reputation Management (ORM), Pay per Click, and Social Media Marketing (SMM). This individual has over 30 years of success in the automotive industry including running internet programs for publically traded companies, and owning dealerships.
We are choosing not to identify him publicly at this time because the information he is about to give to the public will upset a lot of the “big boys” who continue to charge dealerships for services that should not be charged for. DeliveryMaxx is a growing company which was founded by people who have been executives in the automotive industry. We make it a practice to hire experts who enjoy helping the automotive industry become familiar innovative ways to market and talk to today’s consumer.
Below is an excerpt from who DeliveryMaxx is calling “The Bureau”. Have fun with the read, and stay tuned for more to come:
'Before I climb onto my Soapbox I want to clear something up. SEM is Search Engine Marketing not Pay Per Click (or even paper clips) SEM is the art (yes art) of utilizing the search engines (SEs) for your business’s advantage which can include PPC (Pay Per Click) campaigns.
Now give me a moment to climb on to my soapbox.
For years now we have heard that PPC was an absolute to be successful in any business in the Market Place. There is some truth in my opinion in this statement but do you really know what you are getting for your advertising dollars?
You just think you do!
Think about these points:
• How many impressions does my PPC ad get?
• What search engine do my impressions come from?
• What is the position are my ads displayed on the search engines?
• What time of day do my ads display to the public?
• Do my ads show on Mobile Devices?
• Are my PPC Ads pointed to a proxy website or my website?
• Is a Proxy Phone Number displayed in the PPC Ad?
• Is a Proxy Phone Number on my Local Area Listings?
• Do I have access to a real reporting tool so I monitor my ads?
• How do I know the reports on my ads are not skewed?
This list could go on and on but this should be enough to raise some pretty interesting conversations with your marketer or marketing company. Be prepared to see the “Deer in the Head Lights” look. I can almost guarantee it.
1. Let’s start with Ad Impressions… Impressions are how many times your ads were displayed on a search engine, right? Well there is a bit more to it than that. What if your ad is in the number 8 position on Google. Which most of the time is below the fold (the fold is the bottom of the webpage before you scroll down). If your ad is not in the top 5 then you LOOSE! You will receive an impression, but not receive the benefit of it being viewed by the public… this skews the reporting numbers - Marketing 101 right here.
2. Impressions and Search Engines. Most people assume (remember that word assume) that their Marketer or Marketing Company is placing ads on Google and Maybe Bing or Yahoo…. WRONG! To get cheap clicks most Marketers and Marketing Companies place your ads on Second Tier Search Engines such as 7Search, Lycos, Kanoodle and Enhance as well… Never heard them, of course not, but Marketers or Marketing Companies know about them. These clicks can cost as little as 2 cents, but produce nothing other than cheap click… now here is the kicker… Many Marketers and Marketing Companies don’t report the impression from these Search Engines, which elevates the click thru rate…
3. What is position of my PPC Ad? – Do you know, have you looked… if they tell you we can keep you in the number 2 position all the time, you better call them out. Because all PPC campaigns work on a bid system there is no way they can guarantee position. You might be number 1 at 10:00am and number 10 by 11am… and if your campaign contains several hundred word and 10 to 20 ads… well do the math… It is not possible… that’s why they get you an average position report at the end of the month.
4. What time of day do my ads display – We hope during business hours, Right? Most of the time your ads are gone by 2 or 3 in the afternoon do to budget restrictions… most marketers or marketing companies don’t advise their clients properly and give them an accurate estimate of a daily budget. A Car Dealership in a major metropolitan area can easy spend $300.00 per day in real money (not their marked up budget) on Google alone to stay in the top 5 during business hours. (Remember most Marketers and Marketing Companies keep 55 to 60% of the PPC money you spend)
5. Mobile Devices – Some Companies do not turn this feature on for their clients, because it can burn thru cash very quickly. Which in turn can have you dark in a matter of a few hours, that means your ads will not display because your budget is depleted for that day.
6. Proxy Websites – This is a great one – Most Companies use proxies (mirrored image of your site, but you don’t get organic credit for it because it sit on their server) because they say it is the way from them to get an true report on how your marketing dollars are spent. NOT TRUE, this the way they skew the number to their benefit to keep you as their client. Ask them if they ever hear of Java Script Source Tracking.
7. Proxy Phone Number – This is the same thing as Who’s Calling, Call Source or Call Bright… they are recording the calls to justify the ad spend. The real question it, where do these calls really come from? Once you read number 8 you’ll realize how they skew these numbers as well.
8. Locals, Places and Area Network Sites – You will know them as Google Places, Yahoo Local, Local.com, City Search, YP and so on. Do you know most marketer and marketing companies create these listings for you and place their Proxy Phone Numbers on these sites to enhance their call reporting… Have you ever noticed that you may have 3 or 4 or even more duplicate listing in some for these places and you can’t understand why…. Well here is the reason… if you have worked with several PPC companies of the years… there is no doubt you have duplicates spread across hundreds of sites.
9. Access to Real Reporting – As you can see there is no such thing with Marketers or Marketing Companies… think about… Have you ever called your buddy at another store and ask how many cars they have out… how accurate do you think that number is? Same thing here, only they package it up for you with bright colors and cool charts and graphs. We all know how Car Dealers love Bright and Shiny things!
10. Reports are Skew – After all of this I think is fairly accurate to say if you don’t manage your ads and use a Marketing Company the reports are skewed in one fashion or another.
The reason I wrote this today is I read a blog from an Automotive Marketing Company that was singing praises for SEM while talking about PPC… and I thought … These people are misleading (I had to edit misleading from stealing) the dealers with their nonsense. I my opinion again this company is clueless and people are buying into it…
I’m not saying at PPC is not something a dealer shouldn’t invest in. What I am saying is be very careful and pay attention to what they are reporting to you. Ask and have them prove to you they are a proven company or better yet, hire someone that can manage these types of functions for you. Believe it or not with some basic knowledge of how Digital Marketing works and with the implementation of some best practices it is not that hard. It is common sense!
Now let me climb down off my soap box….
I’m sure you are asking yourself “Who is the guy”? I have spent 3 decades in the car business starting in the 70s as a lot boy (for you younger set that’s what we called porters). I have developed some of the largest Internet Departments in the country and have worked for several Major Dealer Groups at the Regional or Divisional Level. Matter of fact I would bet several of you are using some of my old customer reply templates that I developed in the 90s. Several of the major CRM companies are using them in one form or another still today.
I have retired from the car business several years ago to have a life with my family and just now starting to remerge after discovering I really enjoy the car business. (Who I’m I kidding… I miss it). I’m not going back to retail or corporate, but I would like to help the dealer navigate their way through all the garage so they choose a marketing concept that really works for their dealership.'
DeliveryMaxx is an innovative leader providing dealerships with solutions to increase CSI Scores, improve public branding and online reputation, dominating the world wide web through social media, add additional revenue for fixed operations, and provide real results for sales both repeat and referral business. DeliveryMaxx’s business is turning the potential one-time customer into a raving fan for the dealership creating “Customers for Life”.
To find out more, please visit our website at www.deliverymaxx.com