What Does the Tesla Model 3 Mean For Your Store?

What Does Tesla’s Model 3 Mean For Your Store?

It’s all over the news and automotive marketplace right now. Tesla, the widely recognized leader in electric car technology, unveiled their Tesla Model 3 yesterday, March 31. It boasts incredible range for an electric car while bringing electric car technology into a much more realistic price range for the general public.

Just a few points about the Tesla Model 3 that get me hot and bothered:
• Zero to sixty miles per hour in six seconds without burning a drop of gasoline.
• Innovative, sleek, and sexy design that screams modern yet classy.
• An astounding range of 215 miles on a single charge meaning this is finally a car you can drive longer than your morning commute.

Tesla Model 3

What does the Tesla announcement mean for you?

Here’s the thing: Tesla breaks down barriers. The company as a whole doesn’t conform to the structure we expect an automotive manufacturer to adhere to. Tesla sells their product direct to the consumer without the need for a storefront, develops pioneering technology for the industry, and … here’s the biggest thing … LISTENS TO WHAT THEIR CUSTOMERS WANT.

If you try to tell your customers what they want, you might succeed at selling. When, instead of trying to convince your clients what they want, you hear what their needs are and actually develop a product or business model that suits them, you’ll flourish far beyond even your own expectations.

Apply this to your own store. Are you selling to your customers, or are you offering your customers products and services that are based on their needs? If you’re in the sales industry, that means you may not sell your customer the car with the biggest spiff, but your customer will drive away with a car that fits their lifestyle best. If you’re in service, that means you may not sell your customer every fluid flush under the sun, but that service customer will be yours for life.

Tesla listened to what their customers wanted – an efficient electric car that could comfortably carry more than two adults and could last a whole day’s worth of driving on a single charge.

Here’s your homework: Find out what your customers want and need.

Don’t know how to determine what your customers want? Shoot me a message and I can make suggestions for your particular situation.

Fixed ops and service staff — do you know the importance?

I guess it’s a good sign I’ve been too busy to update my own blog until now. There’s much going on in the automotive world to stay on top of including the “Dieselgate” debacle, the unending stream of recalls, incredible car auctions, and keeping my customers’ blogs and web content up to date.
Recently, I’ve teamed up with DrivingSales and DrivingSalesNews to provide fixed operations articles and blog content for their sites. It’s an area of automotive retail that has been sorely neglected until now as dealerships focus their efforts and staff training in the sales department primarily.
As an automotive dealership or even a standalone repair shop, how well do your staff members know their jobs? Are they trained in-house or do you require certification for them to be hired? Do you put as much emphasis on your frontline staff to be trained and portray an air of excellence in their field, to the same degree you would expect your technicians to be professional and trained experts? Is your service department running efficiently or could it fall off the rails at any moment?
The most important part of your service department is definitely your staff. It all starts with who you hire. While service staff – from service advisors to technicians – are in short supply and high demand, they are your foundation when it comes to your business. You really do reap what you sow when you hire your service staff. One negative attitude in the shop will affect the whole bunch of technicians, and one advisor who cuts corners or couldn’t give a rip about improving their numbers will affect the rest of your staff like a cancer. When you have a vacancy, seriously consider the implications each applicant will have on your business. Don’t take unnecessary chances on people with a poor track record.
Once you have a competent, positive staff in place, keep them driven and focused, and reward them for positive practices. Provide incentives that reward positive customer feedback as well as successful performance according to sales.
Keep your staff learning. It’s easier with technicians because ASE certification must be renewed every five years. With your service advisors and support staff, have them cross-train with the position above them. Invest in their training so they can see the possibility of personal growth from their current position. Make their training a positive experience, not a punishment. If you pay on a commission or sales-related basis, compensate your staff for successful completion of a course, whether that may be mandatory manufacturer training programs or ASE certification programs.
When you show your staff that they are integral to your success as a service department or repair facility, they’re going to reward you with their best work.

What Does Hillary Clinton Drive?

The big news du jour is Hillary Clinton announced her US presidential candidacy and will drive to Iowa making unplanned stops.  I took this as a non-issue for good ol’ Canadian me, until I realized I was an automotive copywriter!  What ensued was rapid-fire neuron activity that took me from literally not caring to wondering, “What the heck does Hillary Clinton drive?”  Well, the answer is quite anti-climactic.

She doesn’t drive.  Crap.  Well, she hasn’t driven since 1996 is what the Google tells me.  And from the sounds of it, it was an unauthorized cruise.  The secret service didn’t know about it, which I find surprising because they are aware of the next bowel movement you will have before even YOU know!  Anyway, it seems she got in a bit of hot water over it and can’t get behind the wheel anymore.

If you think this was a dead end, it was not.  Maybe her drive was; I don’t know.  But instead of leaving it at that, I wondered how she does get around on the ground.  Well, wouldn’t you know it.  Important people like the potential next President of the United States of America (and potentially the first woman in the Oval Office) are chauffeured around.  I know there must be a Monica Lewinsky joke in there but I’ll leave it alone.

These motorcade vehicles– they’re usually pretty crazy.  Take for instance, Obama’s “Beast” Cadillac pictured here:

Obama's beast

Ain’t nothing getting to Obama in this thing!  5″ thick steel for the hood alone!  My goodness.  That thing must weigh 8 tons!  Yup, it does.

Or maybe a standard issue Secret Service Suburban:

secret service suburban


That’s pretty cool too.  I’m sure those must have bullet-proof glass as well.  But what is Hillary Clinton driving across America in?

black caravan

Seriously?!?  Isn’t she a little past soccer practices and piano recitals?  Here we read that Hillary’s travelling in a van, but we aren’t given any specifics of what make or model she’s actually travelling in.

Good on her, I say.  She wants to show Americans that she truly does care for them so why not meet them on their level?  Nobody is under any illusion that Hillary Clinton is anything less than a very important person, but in my eyes, seeing the potential president hopping out of a grocery-getter to shake hands and kiss babies will help her connect with her people.

Common Mistakes Repair Shops Make on their Websites

Google “car repair” and then your neighborhood.  For me, it would be Winnipeg.  What comes up first?  On the first page, exclusively?  That’s right! Independent repair facilities.  I repeated the search for multiple cities including Toronto and Chicago with the same type of results.  I find the results quite interesting. I have two approaches to consider; one from the dealership standpoint and one from the independent’s view.


Dealerships rarely appeared on the first page of a car repair google search.  In the highly competitive market of automotive service where the rates of both parts and labour never seem to hit a ceiling, dealerships are missing out on a substantial segment.  This segment includes exhaust repair, brake replacement, glass repair, diagnosis and malfunction indicator scans, and performance accessories.  When I see this short list of vehicle repairs and maintenance, I see dollar signs.  Cha. Ching.  Money missed by the big guys.

A really quick 3 things dealerships can do to on their websites to fill their shop and their coffers.

-advertise value-added service packages to the target audience that believes dealers are too expensive.

-don’t be too expensive! Do a cost-comparison for common repairs locally and advertise a competitive rate on your website.

– hire people that know what they are doing to write your advertisements.  I know of too many managers who fumble through creating their own ads; at least one I know of didn’t even complete high school.  Doesn’t seem like the best use of their time or dealership money, does it?


Now on to the independent repair shops.  GOOD JOB!  You’ve got a large segment of the market for common repairs and maintenance captured.  People search for you and the services you offer, and they find you!  You spend a lot of money keeping the doors open, paying the utilities, paying the staff, and it’s great when it pays off.  Now, how do you keep that business coming in your doors?

– don’t fall behind! You’ve got a web presence, now keep it current! A consistent blog, twice a month or more (no less), with relevant information or tips related to your shop will do wonders for keeping your regular customers in touch.

-let people know where you are.  I’ve known of several shops that have moved to larger facilities and didn’t update the website contact info or address.  A google map of the RIGHT address is fantastic.

-create a subscription list.  People are keen on being kept in touch for the right reasons.  Have a monthly or quarterly newsletter you send to subscribers filling them in on recent pertinent news.




How To Focus On Your Customers: Stop Highlighting ‘Top Salespeople’

How To Focus On Your Customers: Stop Highlighting ‘Top Salespeople’

You’re driving down ‘The Strip’, a stretch of road punctuated by multiple dealerships, and you see all the fancy cars, the bright lights, the flashy flags and pole signs.  The seizure-inducing readerboards flash bright colours and catchy phrases at you, demanding your attention.  “Come see the new…” and “You deserve…” illuminate the night sky in clashing colours, tacky starbursts and speech bubbles. But then you see THIS on a flashing sign in front of one dealership:


“Salesman Of The Week”

cartoon salesman

“Frank Smith”


Immediately, the inherent reaction is to be revolted.  Who likes salespeople? I mean, really?  Who actually likes salespeople? The vast majority of the general public despises being sold on anything, especially such a big-ticket item as a vehicle!  So you keep driving past and you don’t give that sign or any other signs down the strip another glance.  You think to yourself, “Frank Smith. There’s NO chance that guy will ever see my money!”


Let’s take a step back here and look at the scenario.  As a car buyer, what does this salesperson’s portrait on the bigscreen say to you?  As a consumer, I see, “Come give me your money so I can have another sticker on the sales board.” It screams, “I am the top earner”, not “I am the most helpful/friendly/buyer-conscious”. Whether this criterium is what your store determines your top salesman by or not, John and Jane Q. Public see it that way.  So what can you do differently?


Promote your customer!!!  Put your customer on the readerboard in front of their brand new (or brand new to them) vehicle, and maybe with their ‘Frank Smith’.  Have them shaking hands, grinning a silly smile from ear to ear.  Display segments of customer satisfaction letters like, “Frank totally looked after everything! –John Q” and “Excellent experience!! Will definitely be recommending you!-Jane Q”. “Every single human being wants to feel cared for; they want to feel like they matter personally.  Stop advertising being the top of the heap for vehicle sales in whatever gobbledygook category your customer doesn’t understand or care about.  Would it matter to you if the vehicle you were sold was the one that made the dealership “#1 in Category X”? NO! Advertise your “Completely Satisfied” customer!  Mr. Public then projects himself into the situation of being totally pleased with his vehicle ownership experience.


Look at it from your customer’s point of view.  Which dealership would you to stop at on ‘The Strip’?  My money is on the latter.

Sunday, February 8, 2015- Rowandale Family Camp

This weekend my wife and I had a great time with fantastic friends at Rowandale Family Camp in Whiteshell Provincial Park (thanks Camp Nutimik!)  There was good food, fun games and great discussion, especially while relaxing with a cup of java in front of a roaring fire.

While enjoying my weekend away, I’ve had an opportunity to re-evaluate my position.  Any reservations I’ve had about what I do and will be doing have been completely decimated!  You see, it always comes down to people.  The people you love.  The people you love to spend time with.  The people you surround yourself with that make you a better person, whether professionally or personally.  I played the game for so long in an industry that took everything out of me, and when I got home I had little or nothing left in the tank for the people I love.  So, no more!  I will work, and work hard, and I will be successful.  I will do what I love to do, and I will do it for the purpose of being available physically and emotionally for the ones in my life that matter most.

This coming week will be stretching, professionally.  My goals include reaching new clients and nurturing symbiotic relationships, and developing a presence in the writing market.  In addition, a seed has been sown to strike up a new business network with local likeminded professionals.


All in all, it’s very exciting!! I’ll be in touch.

15 years

15 years.  That’s how long I’ve spent in the automotive industry.  In those 15 years I’ve spent time working up through from a car jockey to a service manager and through everything in between.  The one common theme in every position I held? If you don’t know what you are doing, make very sure you look like you do!

There is little training provided.  The hours are long.  It’s a grind to earn every dollar whether on commission or not.  And you’re only making money when you are busy.  It always seems like the guy to the left of you got the only good lead of the day and who knows if he will even close them? After all, he’s only been selling cars for a week!  So we go home to our Kraft dinner and hotdog water soup and try again tomorrow.  If only there were more quality leads coming through the door!

You’re only ever as good as your last month.  In the service department, sales department, F&I, parts department, autobody and every other department, every month starts out at $0 sales.  It’s a fact of life in any retail environment.  We need to generate the right kinds of traffic so the customers coming through the door are consistently high-calibre.  If the loss-leader you advertise isn’t getting converted, do you switch strategies? Maybe try focussing on a specialized niche, something your team excels at.  If there are no warm bodies coming through the door, do you introduce a loss-leader? Are you undercutting your value to make sales instead of promoting your product or image better to keep more gross?  What are you going to do to build your sales from $0 this month?

You look like you know what you’re doing, sure.  Is that half the battle? Maybe more.  But take a look and see if you can optimize your marketing.  It can be the difference between a T-bone and hotdog water soup next month.