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Jul. 12, 2010 – The importance of branding for a dealership’s success

July 12, 2010
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These articles recap some of the opportunities uncovered by our GSA powersports consultants during actual consulting visits. These are followed by recommended actions that address these opportunities. Our goal is to provide you with ideas to help improve your dealership.
The first part of this series is an analysis of the overall dealership.

Dealership

This facility has existed as a powersports dealership for more than 30 years. During that time, it has carried many different brands and had several owners. Recently, one of the partners bought out the other. He is an absentee owner with multiple dealerships.
The dealership is comprised of an assortment of older buildings that have been remodeled many times over the years. They are loosely joined together. They are planning to move to a facility with freeway exposure as soon as they can.
They carry three major product lines but have some access to other lines through their other stores. This dealership sold more than 500 units in the last year at a loss. Their market area (30-mile radius) has a population of more than 250,000.
Temporarily, the store is being run by Bob, the sales manager, and Jean, the controller. They are acting as a general management team until a new GM can be hired. The multi-store parts director does most of the purchasing and parts management functions remotely. Bob, Jean and the service advisor are handling the service department management. Corporate staff visits all the stores periodically.
They do not have written job descriptions, but they have started on them. The use of non-negotiable standards as a base for this was discussed. There is no organziation chart for the dealership. This is partially due to the current state of flux of the management structure.

Employee Surveys Summary

Less than half the staff completed surveys, so this may not be a representative sampling. The indications are:

  • They have a good team spirit.
  • They provide friendly service and care for their customers.
  • There is a lack of branding of the dealership. There were no consistent responses to why people should buy from them. They were encouraged to develop “Top five reasons” for the dealership, products and staff.

    General Manager

    As a team, Bob and Jean appear to be handling this task. Since this situation just developed in the past few weeks, there will be a lot for them to do to make it work effectively. Jean, the controller, has been in the business for more than 10 years and has been with this dealership for the past four years. She has experience with dealership benchmarks, profit center accounting and 20 groups.
    The sales manager (Bob) came from the automotive side. He has more than 15 years of sales experience and also has worked in parts, the body shop and F&I. He has been an enthusiast since he was a child, and has wanted to get into the powersports business for many years. Previously, he worked for some very structured dealers. He demonstrated a good understanding of exceptional customer service techniques.

    Action Items

  • All departments should be billing each other at retail in order to get a true picture of department profitability. This will allow for comparison with industry benchmarks. There are a lot of issues to consider here at the corporate level. This impacts various departments as well as compensation plans, etc.
  • What differentiates you from other dealerships? The employee surveys indicate a lack of brand identity for the store. Prior to moving to the new location, branding should be identified and mission and vision statements prepared. This store’s identity must be consistent in all marketing and become a part of the store culture.
  • Move the server to a secure location where it is not easily accessible to customers or staff.
  • The dealership Web site has several errors on the sales, financing and “About Us” pages. That should be corrected immediately.
  • We recommended removing the labor rate from the service Web page. This is a negative to most customers.
  • Put all processes in writing and include them in the guide for all employees. This will reduce the training required for new staff as well as improve accountability.
  • Create a customer waiting area for sales and service with visibility to unit and P&A displays. psb
    Gart Sutton has been a leading provider of on-site dealer consulting, dealer 20-groups, online financial composites, accounting rescue services, and OEM and dealership training solutions for nearly 30 years. For additional information on these services, visit www.gartsutton.com

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