Your 30-second guide to the latest news, updates


Are Hispanics future of U.S. auto industry?

Dealerships’ optimism slides – Cox survey

Why you should finance more deals with SC

Hiring for keeps: A 4-part survival guide

Why your dealership must connect online

Spot On! East Coast Toyota

Billions of $$$ at risk in car industry

Automakers doing a ‘great job’ on vehicles

Vehicle financing ‘easy,’ consumers say

Spot On! Greenwood Hubbard Chevrolet

5 steps to updating your brand


Why your dealership should finance more vehicles with SC

Don’t take our word for it.

You would expect us to tell you why your dealership should finance more vehicles with Santander Consumer USA (SC) as we have in our series The Road Ahead.

Because we’re a lender that is:

  • Committed to helping your dealership succeed.
  • Confident that our updated program will enable you to make more money.
  • Compelled to do what is best for our dealer relationships.

But the reasons your dealership should finance more deals through SC really stand out – i.e., become more than the typical sales chatter – when other dealerships say it.

Being commended by dealerships that work with us is the best measure of our success.

Road Ahead V1

Jim Lopez, general manager of Del Toyota in Thorndale, PA, which sells about 3,100 vehicles a year, gave four reasons the dealership has been working with SC for more than 10 years:

  • Fast response time on applications. Knowing we have a quick approval helps us make deals with our customers faster, and we don’t have to keep them waiting.
  • The Dealer Extranet – We are big fans of the rehash tool. It gives us flexibility to rehash multiple vehicles in minutes without having to pick up the phone.
  • Funding experience. We have had great experiences with the funding department. It is fast and painless, which keeps us wanting to work with Santander.
  • Our relationship with our Santander rep adds the perfect personal touch. In a time where instantaneous accessibility is vital, she is always a phone call away.

Howard Forman, finance director at Sands Chevrolet in Surprise, AZ, with about 4,000 in annual sales, also cites the Dealer Extranet, calling it “a phenomenal tool that not only allows you the ability to rehash deals but also speeds up the funding process by utilizing the [document] upload feature.”

“Our [Dealer Relationship Manager] is a great asset, as well, because he has the ability to help us solve some of the more complicated issues that arise – helps to problem-solve … for a quick resolution.”

Here are a few other comments:

  • “SC has been a valued partner, helping Teddy Nissan grow into one of the most successful Nissan dealerships in the country” – Julio Batista, general manager, at the Bronx, NY, store.
  • “We like the ability to do loans for the full credit spectrum” – Kyle Bacon, general sales manager of Sport Chevrolet in Silver Spring, MD, which sells about 2,200 vehicles a year.
  • “Because of the flexible program [at Santander], we are able to sell more new and used cars” – Tony Avedisian, used car director, Car Pros Kia, Carson, CA., which sells some 9,000 units a year.
  • “We are a store that does 740 cars a month. Our experience with Santander is a positive one with Santander being one of our most-used lenders” – Chafik Amrani, general sales manager, AutoNation Toyota of Winter Park, FL.
  • “Santander gives us the opportunity for almost any customer that walks through the door. They are a full-spectrum lender, and every year it seems their footprint grows within the dealership” – Tony Pesce, finance manager, Greenwood Hubbard Chevrolet, Hubbard, OH.

And then there’s Darryl Morgan, general sales manager at The Sharpest Rides, a dealership in Englewood, CO, which sells 6,000 units annually as one of the largest independents in the country.

“I love Santander for a couple simple reasons,” said Morgan. “One, they are one of my only lenders that understands what we need from them – approvals. They make this happen more than others on the largest set of customers … Secondly, they’re a value bank, meaning they bring value to the relationship. My [Dealer Relationship Manager] is a partner at our dealership.”

And that you can believe.

Hiring for keeps: A four-part survival guide for 2018 and beyond

It’s never a bad time to get better at hiring great people for your business.

Sales associates, service technicians, back-office staff, other team members, it doesn’t matter. Getting better at hiring great people for your business probably will reduce your costs and boost your results.

“It’s no secret that employee turnover rate for certain positions in the auto industry is high,” David Druzynski, director of human resources at Auto/Mate Dealership Systems, wrote recently in Dealer Solutions Magazine. “Auto dealers keep making the same hiring mistakes over and over.”

But avoiding those all-too-frequent mistakes is exactly what our series, “Hiring for Keeps,” is about. And not missing out on “one of the biggest sources of operational opportunity” in your business.

Here is a quick guide to the four-part series:

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Calculating the cost to your dealership of high employee turnover

Employee turnover is a burden, costing the average dealership more than $1.5 million a year in replacement costs alone. That doesn’t count the dollars associated with leads (or customers) burned by inexperienced employees. And the biggest hit comes with your sales team.

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Don’t rush to judgment when you’re hiring for keeps

Nine of your dealership’s sales consultants quit in the last year. Not only does that mean your dealership will spend more money than you would like on hiring, onboarding and training, but it creates continual pressure to find consultants so your team isn’t left shorthanded, costing you sales opportunities. And your hiring process may be exactly where the trouble starts.

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Swim, don’t sink: Best practices for onboarding new hires at your dealership

Does your dealership have the right stuff to onboard new hires successfully? It’s not as simple as just assigning your new hire a desk and starting with administrative paperwork. The idea is to get that new hire up and running – and producing – for your business. And that may mean doing things differently than many dealerships are accustomed to operating.

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Our new hire is on board, now what? Four keys to an engaged employee

There’s more to onboarding a new hire at your dealership than what happens between the hire date and start date. The onboarding process should engage employees early on and keep them interested in staying for the long haul and driving your dealership’s growth.

Two of three dealerships don’t give themselves much of a chance to find – and keep – great people, according to a study from Cox Automotive.

Hiring for keeps means getting better at both and reaping the benefits for your business.

Why your dealership must connect online with sales prospects

121917 IL Why your dealership must connect online with sales prospects (1)

There’s no such thing as net neutrality when it involves reaching prospective customers.

And there is little margin for error.

You need to be on point whether prospects are coming to your website to shop for a specific vehicle or simply to get an idea of whether you can meet their needs when they are ready to buy.

A recent survey by Cox Automotive shows that more than half of vehicle shoppers visit dealership websites, and around half visit the websites of the dealerships where they ultimately purchase or lease. More than half of shoppers who visited the dealership website where they ultimately purchased a vehicle were influenced by the website, the survey showed.

IL-BLOG_70630-11 (The Net Effect Logo)_WordPressConsidering that data, there’s never a bad time to get your website locked down. Our five-part series, “The Net Effect,” should help point you in the right direction.

Here are links to the entire series:

Part 1

Why a great website is so important to the success of your dealership

The average car buyer spends nearly 15 hours shopping for a vehicle – a little less for new-car buyers, a little more for used-car buyers. And most of that time – about nine hours – is spent online, according to Cox Automotive. In other words, your ability to make a sale may hinge on how much of that time you capture online and the shopper’s experience when they get to your website.

Part 2

What your prospects are doing online before visiting your dealership

Americans want to car shop online. And that creates opportunities for dealerships to deliver online benefits that influence consumers’ decisions about where to purchase their new or used car, truck or SUV. But you can’t take advantage of the opportunity unless you know what your prospects are doing online. And then act on that knowledge to satisfy their needs.

Part 3

How to make your website stand out to shoppers exploring online landscape

Is your dealership’s website fit to be tried by online shoppers? If your website provides five basic shopper/buyer activities, you may be ready to take it to the next level – if you haven’t already. So don’t stop short and expect your website to stand out to shoppers exploring the online landscape.

Part 4

What your dealership’s website needs to deliver to online shoppers

You probably think your dealership has a good (even great) website. And maybe it does. But results of a Cox Automotive survey of 2,175 consumers who recently bought a vehicle suggest there’s little room for error. So, if your metrics leave any doubt, it might be time to take another look.

Part 5

Why you need to seal the deal on improving your website

Not everybody is coming to your website to buy a vehicle – right away. But if you provide a good online experience when they do visit your site, there’s a chance you will get them back and, perhaps, convert them to a customer later. “Building relationships with customers early in their process encourages loyalty and builds future sales,” suggests one report.

Most shoppers are coming to your website to learn, do research, and decide whether to visit your dealership for their next vehicle.

You don’t want them to leave feeling neutral about your store.

Habla Español: Are Hispanics the future of the U.S. auto industry?

081418 IL Habla Español Are Hispanics the future of the U.S. auto industry


Yes and no.

While the majority of vehicle purchasers will continue to be non-Hispanic consumers, Hispanics are expected to drive growth for the next 30 years or so.

“The future of the auto industry is largely in Hispanic hands,” Parker Morse, The Marketing Insider columnist, wrote in Why Hispanics Are the Future of the Auto Industry.

While that may sound like an overstatement – Hispanics are buying only about two million vehicles a year out of total sales of 17 million – there is no denying they are the fastest-growing U.S. demographic. Hispanics will drive about 50 percent of the country’s population growth over the next five years, according to Dealer Marketing Magazine in How Dealers Can Reach the Underserved Hispanic Market.

“It’s estimated that new car sales to Hispanics will grow by 8 percent over the next five years, compared to a 2 percent decline amongst the total market,” according to Dealer Marketing.

Industry growth engine?

“In fact, Hispanic consumers could well be the auto industry’s leading growth engine for the next 20 to 30 years, many industry executives and marketing experts believe,” Automotive News reported. “And it’s happening not just in those states where Hispanic demographics have always been strong, such as California, Texas and Florida, but increasingly in the Midwest and everywhere else.”

Capturing a fraction of this market “can mean huge gains for local dealerships.” said Dealer Marketing.

“But knowing that Hispanics are more likely to buy cars than other audiences and actually selling cars to Hispanics are two different things,” suggests The Marketing Insider.

Reflecting Hispanic culture

“Research shows that a vast majority – 79 percent – of Hispanics are more receptive to auto ads when those ads are reflective of their culture in some way. This includes ads or initiatives that involve Spanish-language content, as well as those that speak to the deeper values of the Hispanic community.”

The Insider cited a Ford social media video ad campaign that featured “everyday heroes in Hispanic communities” drawing nearly two million views and 6.6 million social impressions in nine weeks, as well as a Honda campaign “aligning with certain values and behaviors of Hispanic consumers.”

What this means, according to Dealer Marketing, is “creating authentic, culturally relevant online experiences for Hispanics … [while also] deploying a Spanish version of a dealership’s website and ensuring it remains in sync with the content and inventory found on the dealer’s English website.”

Speak the language

“Years ago, this represented a technically complex, costly endeavor,” reported Dealer Marketing. “These days, affordable solutions exist that can deploy secure translated sites in weeks.”

The dealer magazine also recommends:

  • Customizing text, graphics or promotional elements on translated websites.
  • Making content available on mobile phones – “mission critical” – because Hispanics use their smartphones “far more than the non-Hispanic average.”
  • Don’t leave out social media, where up to 50 percent of Hispanic respondents discuss brands.
  • Make sure your team can accommodate Spanish-speaking consumers when they visit.

“There’s no better way to build trust with this audience than to show that you truly understand not only the language that they speak, but also the values they uphold,” wrote columnist Morse.

Where have we heard that before?

Optimism among dealerships slides – Cox Automotive survey

Auto dealers are far less optimistic now than they were about last quarter.

Probably with good reasons.

“While dealers were more positive than negative in describing the current market, expectations for the future deteriorated substantially,” said Cox Automotive in a report on its latest Dealer Sentiment Index, which is gathered through a quarterly online survey of franchise and independent dealerships.




“Higher costs, inventory concerns and rising [consumer] interest rates are likely driving dealers to believe the best times in this cycle may soon be in the rearview mirror.”

Another contributor to the change was declining expectations of tax cuts, Cox said.

“Dealers shifted from a majority expecting a positive impact to their business from tax reform to a majority now indicating they have experienced no impact,” according to Cox.

The lower optimism among dealers appeared justified as new-vehicle sales for most automakers declined in July – although Fiat Chrysler, Subaru and Volkswagen bucked the trend – largely because of the continuing decline of passenger car sales in favor of SUVs and trucks.

Cox Automotive found that one of the most significant drops in optimism involved the new-car sales environment, which slipped about 10 percent to 59/100 from 65/100, although optimism for used-vehicle sales rose three points to 72/100 among franchise dealers. Independent dealers were split about 50/50 on whether the current used-vehicle sales environment is “good” or “poor.”

The expectation of a positive impact from tax cuts on profitability plunged to 61/100 from 77/100.

Despite the lower level of optimism, most industry analysts expect 2018 new-car sales around 17 million because of stronger-than-expected results in the first half of the year.

The Dealer Sentiment Index results are based on a survey of 1,053 franchise and independent dealer respondents April 30 to May 14, with responses weighted by dealership type (franchise or independent) and volume of sales to reflect the national dealer population.

East Coast Toyota

85 State RT 17,
Wood Ridge, NJ

Dealer principal:  John Ripoli

General manager: Jeff Brown

Brand represented: Toyota

How long in business: 25+ years

Number of employees: 120

Annual unit volume (approximate): 4,800+

What makes your dealership special:

The culture of our store makes it special. Our employees, in particular, contribute to the success of our dealership month in and month out. We take pride in providing excellent service to every customer that walks into our showroom. This creates a great customer experience and returns positive results.

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DRM Joe Carpentieri’s comment on what makes dealership special:

This is a fantastic store to be the rep for. They have a solid group of team players that know how to structure their deals and send in clean funding packages. They make my job as a DRM easy. The employees rarely leave, specifically the finance team, which has been in place for a few years now. That says a lot to me when I see the finance team at a store stay together for a long stretch of time with little to no turnover. The guys are very welcoming every time I come in and are always very positive.

How long working with Santander Consumer USA: 10+ years

What you like about doing business with Santander Consumer USA:  

It’s easy to do business with Santander. The speed of the callbacks coupled with the user-friendly Extranet allow us to work our deals in real time and get the best deal possible for our dealership and the customer. Funding is always a smooth process from start to finish, and we continue to send more business because of that. The credit buyers are always helpful and our DRM is available whenever we need him.

One best practice that contributes to your dealership’s success:

Working together as a team brings about positive results.

Describe your experience with Santander Consumer USA:

Overall our experience with Santander has been very positive and VERY profitable. The ease of doing business with Santander allows us to consistently send more business their way and put more and more cars on the road! The call backs are always solid, and we typically have a way to go!

– Juan Higuita, Finance Director

Billions of $$$ at risk on electric, autonomous vehicles – consulting firm

It could be a “pile-up of epic proportions.”

That is what a global consulting firm imagines could happen as vast sums of money pour into electric- and autonomous-vehicle technology without a clear road to a return on that investment.

“A pile-up of epic proportions awaits this industry as hundreds of players are spending hundreds of billions of dollars on electric and autonomous technologies as they rush to stake a claim on the biggest change to hit this industry in a hundred years,” said John Hoffecker of AlixPartners consulting firm.

071018 IL Billions of $$$ at risk on electric, autonomous vehicles – consulting firm

“The winners in this free-for-all will be those who have the right strategies and, equally important, execute on those strategies to their fullest potential – as billions will be lost by many.”

A press release about the study says:

“The automotive industry faces the possibility of a monumental capital drain in the near term as hundreds of players, including non-traditional ones, are pouring unprecedented sums into electric and autonomous vehicles years before those technologies are fully cost-competitive in the market, when consumers are questioning the cost and safety of some of the [autonomous-vehicle] technologies, and just as the market itself is set to continue a cyclical downturn.”

“In truth, this industry has been operating ‘above the clouds’ in terms of industry volumes for a number of years now,” said Mark Wakefield of AlixPartners’ automotive practice. “But those volumes are likely to edge down further, just as spending for things like electrification and autonomy need to ramp up.”

The study finds that a “whopping $255 billion” in research and development and in capital expenditures will be spent globally on electric vehicles by 2023 bringing some 207 models to the market, “many destined to be unprofitable due to currently high systems costs, low volumes and intense competition.”

Meanwhile, the consulting firm says, another $61 billion is just “the opening ante” on the autonomous-vehicle front, “even though consumers say they are willing to pay just $2,300 extra for autonomy – compared with current industry costs of around $22,900.”

“Industry players are sort of caught between a rock and a hard place,” said Shiv Shivaraman, also from the consulting firm’s automotive practice. “If they don’t participate in some way in the ‘new-mobility’ revolution that’s coming, they stand to lose out on what might be the biggest thing ever in this industry. If they do participate, as so many are, they have the chance of benefitting from first-mover advantages, but they also face the possibility of going broke in the process.”

The study predicts that “full battery-electric vehicles will reach about 20 percent of the U.S. market by 2030,” while a second survey by the consulting group found that almost a quarter of Americans – about 22.5 percent – say they are likely to purchase a plug-in electric vehicle as their next car.

Autonomous vehicles will account for three million in sales in the U.S. by 2030, the consulting firm said.

Automakers doing a ‘great job’ producing high-quality vehicles

The 2018 Kia Rio was named highest-quality small car by J.D. Power

The 2018 Kia Rio was named highest-quality small car by J.D. Power

New-vehicle quality is better than ever.

That’s the judgment of J.D. Power’s 2018 U.S. Initial Quality Study (IQS) as problems experienced by buyers declined for the fourth consecutive year overall.

“There’s no question that most automakers are doing a great job of listening to consumers and are producing vehicle quality of the highest caliber,” said Dave Sargent of J.D. Power.

At the top of the J.D. Power rankings is Hyundai Motor Group.

With new-vehicle owners reporting the fewest problems per 100 vehicles sold (PP100), the automaker’s Genesis (68 PP100), Kia (72) and Hyundai (74) brands swept the top three positions and were rated significantly better than the industry average of 93 PP100.

Other brands finishing above the industry average, along with their PP100 scores, according to J.D. Power, are Porsche (79), Ford (81), Chevrolet (82), Lincoln (83), Lexus and Ram (84), Nissan (85), BMW (87), Cadillac and MINI (90), and Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz (92).

Ford Motor Company received the most model-level awards (five) for its Ford and Lincoln brands; followed by Hyundai Motor Group (four) for its Kia, Hyundai and Genesis brands; and General Motors for its Buick and Chevrolet brands, along with Nissan and BMW (three each). Honda/Acura, Dodge, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota captured one category award each.

This year’s IQS awards identify 22 vehicle models in 20 categories as top picks based on results of a 233-question survey of 75,712 new-car owners and lessees. Another 33 models also were rated highly in the 20 categories, which ranged from small car to heavy-duty pickup.

The 233 survey questions covered potential vehicle problems in eight areas: exterior; seats; driving experience; engine/transmission; features/controls/displays; interior; heating, ventilation and air conditioning, and audio/communication/entertainment/navigation systems.

“The Initial Quality Study serves as the industry benchmark for new-vehicle quality measured at 90 days of ownership and has proven to be an excellent predictor of long-term reliability, which may significantly impact new-vehicle purchase decisions,” said J.D. Power.

For more details on the IQS awards, including brand-level results, see New-vehicle initial quality improves again, J.D. Power finds or the infographic Spotlight: J.D. Power 2018 Initial Quality Study.

Vehicle financing ‘easy,’ consumers say, but change may happen anyway

So here’s what your customers think about the vehicle financing process.

Based on a survey of 2,200 consumers by FICO Decisions, the practice of most shoppers obtaining financing through the dealership is headed for a change – perhaps rapid change.

Is your dealership ready for such a change in consumer behavior?

“There is a substantial disconnect between the current channel mix and consumer preference,” said FICO Decision’s report on a key finding. Consumer behavior may be reaching a “tipping point where the shift to digital happens rapidly given consumer demand and availability of new technology.”


While 73 percent of respondents said they obtained their last financing through a dealership, only 38 percent said they would inquire there for their next vehicle purchase, according to FICO Decision’s 2018 Consumer Survey of Automotive Finance Perceptions.

The shift among those consumers went toward applying online and visiting a bank or other institution, representing a significant change from current behavior in which only 20 percent of shoppers total obtained financing through lending institutions and online. The survey showed that more than twice as many consumers (32 percent) would seek financing through a bank or other lending institution and five times as many (29 percent) would apply via a laptop, tablet or other device.

Other findings of the survey are:

  • Interest rate/APR (94 percent) and monthly payment amount (92 percent) are the most important factors when shoppers are seeking financing, more so than length of loan term in months (88 percent) and down payment (82 percent), which “implies that financing proposals that are optimized to maximize for these aspects will be most impactful with consumers.”
  • Only about 21 percent of consumers learn the amount of financing for which they qualify before vehicle shopping, providing an opportunity for “risk-aware marketing” that results in prime and subprime customers getting “the best offers and options for their personal financial situation.”
  • More than half (52 percent) of consumers consider only one financing offer, which provides the opportunity to “present multiple loan offers with differing terms … to optimize the consumer’s preferred terms and avoid the customer leaving to shop elsewhere.”
  • More than six in 10 consumers (62 percent) must wait more than 30 minutes to complete their transaction with 13.6 percent waiting “a few hours” and nearly 10 percent overnight or longer. That means backend systems “still have some ways to go in terms of speed and efficiency.”
  • Only about 31 percent of vehicle shoppers were offered insurance and just 23 percent were offered add-ons such as floor mats, roof racks, etc., ancillary products and services on which dealerships often make additional margin.

Still, according to FICO Decisions, “Most consumers report that the financing experience was easy and low-effort for them … consistent with [an] earlier finding that customers feel in control of the process, understand the terms and feel they got a good deal.”

In fact, 62 percent of survey respondents rated their financing experience “easy,” while only 8 percent rated it “difficult,” with the rest falling somewhere in between.

The survey covered nine countries, but most results were broken out by country.

Greenwood Hubbard Chevrolet

2635 N. Main St.
Hubbard, OH

Dealer principal:  Greg Greenwood

General manager: Denny Denoi

Brand represented: Chevrolet

How long in business: 11 years

No. of employees: 30

Annual unit volume (approximate): 1,800

SC Dealer Relationship Manager: Robert Plemel

What makes your dealership special:

Our business has been in the community for years, and we value our customers. Our customer service stands out from the competition, and the people that work here create that culture. We are able to accommodate and serve our Ohio and Pennsylvania customers in a highly competitive General Motors market.

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DRM comment on what makes dealership special:

Greenwood Hubbard Chevrolet has always given us looks at the nonprime business, and we have had success over the years. They use our Dealer Extranet to increase their volume, and their ability to structure their own deals has helped increase their bottom line. Greenwood is an ideal Santander dealer, and we appreciate growing their business.

How long working with Santander Consumer USA: 10 years

What you like about doing business with Santander Consumer USA:  

Santander Consumer USA has been a consistent lender, and we count on them month in and month out.  Our buyer and dealer rep are always ready to help put deals together. Having access to the Dealer Extranet saves us time and gives us more flexibility in our deals.

One best practice that contributes to your dealership’s success:

Greenwood’s number one best practice is catering to the customer and putting the customer first.

Describe your experience with Santander Consumer USA:

Santander gives us opportunity for almost any customer that walks through the door. They are a full-spectrum lender and every year it seems their footprint grows within the dealership. We put our customers first and knowing that there is a flexible business partner working with us, we know we can.

– Tony Pesce, Finance Manager

Tony Pesce, finance manager, works a deal at Greenwood Hubbard Chevrolet.

Tony Pesce, finance manager, works a deal at Greenwood Hubbard Chevrolet.

5 steps to updating your brand and beating your competitors

Dealership branding really matters.

Whether your dealership is large, medium or small, its competitive survival may depend on how reputation – your brand – plays in the local market.

For example, franchise dealerships representing the same manufacturer within a few miles of each other in a major metro area reasonably could be considered competitors if a consumer had settled on that brand but is concerned about his/her overall customer experience.

(In this case, the four dealers are franchisees of Toyota, the carmaker with the highest brand value.)

062118 IL 5 steps to updating your brand and beating your competitors

Even a quick-and-dirty online search reveals that one dealership scores 4.5/5 stars with more than 4,000 reviews, while the others score 4.1/5, 4.0/5 and 3.7/5 on 600 to 1,300 reviews.

And if there’s any doubt about whether the dealership brand had anything to do with the 4.5-star rating, this sort of review from satisfied customers should put that to rest:

“I am so happy that my uncle found this place to buy our cars years ago,” one customer wrote online. “I have had two from here, [and] I could not be more pleased with the caring staff, always greeting with a friendly smile and always putting customer satisfaction first!”


What your dealership can learn from study of top brands

How your dealership can get more 5-star customer reviews online

So how does a dealership build the sort of brand value apparent in the example above?

Here are five steps Kantar Millward Brown market research firm suggest in its study, BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands 2018:

  1. Value the past

“Find the bits of brand heritage that can add enhancement to mainstream brands and tell a more textured and interesting story … Explain how the brand became part of the larger culture.” Obviously, the same idea could be applied to branding for a local dealership.

  1. Talk about the future

“Consumer wants to know that the car they purchase today will be worth something tomorrow. Being seen as innovative and future-focused helps reassure consumers that the brand will sustain its value.” In this case, a dealership might talk about the reputation of its service department.

  1. Think differently

“Car brands traditionally have been divided into categories – mass and class. It is now more useful to think about how the car brand fills a particular consumer need. In this dichotomy, the brand is either utilitarian (for getting from Point A to Point B) or experiential (for enjoying the journey).”

  1. Fix the buying experience

“People buy cars similarly to the way they buy other things – with a lot of online research and a trip to brick-and-mortar locations for touch and trial, as necessary. Typically, car buyers do not expect their trip to the dealer to be uplifting. Surprise them.”

  1. Be electrifying

While it is important to communicate the practical aspects of owning a particular vehicle, “the excitement of driving needs to remain part of the brand story,” as well as the customer experience.

“We believe the brands that will gain the most in coming years … won’t be finding stories so much as finding points of connection,” wrote Simon Law of Possible digital-marketing agency. “The truth they have to tell will need to be matched by the values they live by and utility they offer to their customers.”

That is, your advantage may be in differentiating your brand’s connection to customers, and not just by talking about the vehicles on your lot and in your showroom.