June 5, 2006 – Technology program seeks to maximize every opportunity

In this, the fifth installment in a year-long series of articles documenting the modernization of Jasper, Ala. dealership S&W Powersports, S&W’s sales staff continues to practice a structured sales process.
The 9 Step Structured Sales Process includes greet, probe, sit-on, present, sit-down, write-up, close, F&I and delivery.
In May, five companies collaborating to introduce technology and best practices into S&W sat down with dealership President Jim Wilson Jr. to set a goal to maximize every customer opportunity that walks through the door.
Industry statistics show only 10 percent to 15 percent of first-time visitors to a dealership purchase product. Second-time visitors or “be backs,” who were prompted to return by salespeople, buy at a much higher rate — 50 percent to 60 percent.
Up until now, prospects walking into S&W were never tracked or followed-up with.
“S&W has good salespeople. But by all accounts, they need to improve their follow- though and follow-up to increase closing ratios,” said Tory Hornsby, general manager for Dealership University, an Atlanta-based online training firm. “So, the area we’re focusing on at S&W is the write-up step.”
This month, S&W salespeople will start using a worksheet to track all floor traffic, providing a record of contact information, model of interest, price quoted and best time to follow-up with a prospect. It’s a simple tool, but an effective one, moving the salesperson and customer through the 9 Step Selling process.
“Historically, when the worksheet approach has been applied at other dealers, the closing ratio has improved significantly,” Hornsby said. “Once we get to this point, we’ll start applying more advanced selling approaches in an online training forum so that they can learn without having to miss time during the busy selling season.”
“Jim Jr. has done a great job with his customers in Walker County, Alabama,” said Dave Perry, director of marketing for ARI. “His sales, service and accessory market penetration and customer satisfaction are very high in this part of the state.
“However, after a recent conversation with him, we believe he can expand his sales territory into the seven adjoining counties, including Winston, Cullman, Blount, Jefferson, Tuscaloosa, Fayette and Marion. To do this, we’ve put together a three-part marketing program, helping him reach out to the mid-northern Alabama region.”
The first tool used to expand S&W’s reach is its new ARI-produced Web site, www.sandwpower.com, which goes live this month. The site emphasizes S&W’s three generations of Wilson family (Jim Sr., Jim Jr. and son, Whit) community commitment and support, extensive on-floor inventory and strong service.
It gives site visitors the chance to research products and services before coming onto the showroom floor.
Equipped with the ecommerce option of ARI’s WebsiteSmart, the site also allows customers to buy parts online, saving time rather than waiting in line. Online parts lookup also is designed to reduce ordering the wrong part and returns.
The site isn’t yet fully loaded with all the product information and catalogs, but Jim Jr. said he is starting to get favorable feedback from customers, who’ve said it helps narrow down their purchase choices before entering his store.
To complement the Web site, ARI is preparing a series of MailSmart direct mailers, focused on technical service, accessories, power generators and credit support. In one example, they plan to promote non-peak vehicle servicing to motorcycle, ATV and Sea-Doo owners in a 25-mile radius of S&W’s Jasper location.
“Currently, S&W suffers from an embarrassment of service riches when people line up to have work done during prime times, such as summer holidays and opening season for hunting and fishing,” Perry said. “We want to smooth that demand curve out, offering special discounts during off-peak service times, such as the slower October and November period.”
Special discount offers on accessories will be mailed in a 75-mile radius of Jasper. Based on estimates by Jim Jr., traveling this distance is acceptable to vehicle owners who want a lower price on accessories, like windshields, saddlebags and backrest upgrades.
Prospects in a 100-mile radius of Jasper will receive mailings regarding deals on power generators. Jim Jr. makes a good profit by keeping 50-100 Honda generators in stock at any given time, in case of an ice storm, high winds or, as was the case last year, hurricanes of biblical proportions.
“Buying a power generator is like going to the dentist,” Jim Jr. said. “They don’t want to buy until they have pain. But once the power goes out, they’re thankful to find a generator source that’s ready to ship off their showroom floor.”
“To tap further into this market” Perry said, “we’ll use National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration data to zero in on high potential, severe storm areas. We’ll match current generator buyer profiles against profiles of inhabitants located in these high storm potential areas. Then we’ll reach out to them, promoting S&W’s ready availability of in-stock generators.
“It’s a long shot, trying to reach generator prospects before the storm hits, but we’re willing to try our luck.”
Prospects in the 100-mile radius target area also will receive special opportunities regarding credit services.
Jim Jr. believes he’ll appeal to a larger number of credit prospects by offering expanded loan options not available with his multi-tasking internal staff. These prospects, Jim Jr. believes, will gladly drive 100 miles for a chance to get the bike of their dreams.
“Now comes the tricky part,” said Larry Koch, founder of Tousley Motorsports and consultant to the Turning Technology series. “How do we apply all of this technology, best practices and change in the middle of a prime selling season, without upsetting Jim Jr.’s applecart?”
He said one of the ways to help smooth the process is by using Daily Operating Controls or D.O.C., which offers a snapshot view of the previous day parts, service and major unit sales and gross margins, along with month-to-date figures, for each line and model.
Neil Frame, general manager for MIC Systems, provider of the BMS software for the Turning Technology series, explains the D.O.C. installed at S&W.
“In a quick-to-read, at-a-glance report, the effectiveness of Tory’s sales training, the impact of Dave’s MailSmart mailers and the expanded F&I services, as well as the progress of the new service manager, can be scrutinized by Jim Jr.,” Frame said. “It’s an effective way to embrace technology, without changing your lifestyle, and it will let Jim Jr. track the progress with most of the technology, best practices and changes being introduced this month.”
S&W will be making big changes to their sales, service and F&I departments during the hectic period between Memorial Day and July 4th holidays. “They’ll cause a few headaches,” said Koch. “But they’ll be worth it.”
First, S&W salespeople will start applying industry standard, best-selling practices to improve follow up, follow through and closing rates. Second, a targeted direct mail/Web site/email marketing program will be rolled out to build prospect floor traffic, existing customer up-selling and expanded customer reach to power generator and service customers. Third, a new manager has been hired to take over the service department, filling a void left after longtime employee John Timmons died last month.
And fourth, S&W’s F&I capabilities will be expanded by placing an F&I e-kiosk on the showroom floor in an effort to improve service and reduce turnaround time in this highly critical customer support area.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button