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Run Your Business Like a Well-oiled Machine

Everyone knows that managing a dealership is tough. It requires determination, persistence, and a lot of hard work. However, there are some things that you can do to make your business more successful, and your employees more engaged. 

Improve your sales team

Your sales team is the foundation of a successful business. Investing in those who are the “face” of your business is critical for your customers’ satisfaction, and your business’s longevity. Improving your sales team will, in turn, improve your bottom line. 

1. Answer and return phone calls. Ensure your team is picking up the phone. It’s often the first step customers take before walking in your front door. If you’re short staffed or simply too busy, try to check your voicemails once an hour and return any customer inquiries. 

2. Treat customers fairly and document issues. Even when your sales team is doing their best to meet customer needs, issues can arise. Encourage your sales team to document any issues they encounter and work with them to create a plan that prevents them from repeating the issue. 

3. Listen to your customers. Good sales etiquette involves making sure the customer’s budget is realized. Recommending a product that’s too expensive or too cheap can cause the customer to lose interest. 

4. Deep product knowledge. Does your sales team understand the products you sell? Deep knowledge of your inventory can help when you don’t stock the specific item the customer is looking for, but have something similar.

Improve marketing efforts

Marketing has significantly evolved over the last decade. Browsers no longer start their purchase journey at the dealership. In fact, buyers today spend 59 percent of their time researching online. As a result, dealers are facing unprecedented pressure to optimize their online presence. If you haven’t taken the necessary steps to move your marketing into the present day, now is the time.

1. Develop a strategic strategy. Choose a few specific goals that can be measured, tracked and adjusted over time. Stay away from broader goals such as “I want to sell more units.” Instead, you may want to focus on a particular brand. 

2. Create a customer-friendly website. It’s imperative to have a responsive website so customers can easily find what they are looking for regardless of the device they are on. Make sure to keep your website well organized, and your inventory front and center. Also, remember to keep your business hours, location and contact information up to date and easily accessible. 

3. Invest in digital marketing. Your website, e-mail marketing, and paid ads can all help you reach a wide audience – if you use them the right way. E-mail has the highest ROI of any marketing channel, and it’s a great way to get used inventory out the door and update your customers on new stock or equipment. Google ads can also get you to the top of the search results quickly. If you are just beginning, you may want to try Facebook ads as they are inexpensive and relatively easy to manage.

4. Monitor your online presence. With more than 97 percent of consumers reading online reviews before making a buying decision, your business needs to have a solid online presence. Remember to respond politely to every review and, if possible, use negative reviews as a learning experience.    

Improve business management

Small-business owners wear multiple hats throughout the day. They often act as managers, sales personnel and marketers – and sometimes all at once! In order to keep yourself from being spread too thin, try these suggestions:

1. Implement successful staff training. Investing a little extra time training your staff the right way the first time saves you from going back to repeatedly correct them – and potentially losing out on customers. 

2. Create efficient processes. Help your staff manage their time effectively. Efficient processes streamline activities and ensure your staff is optimizing their time. 

3. Understand your business’s culture. Knowing how your employees work together can help boost productivity and morale, even in the busiest of times. Keeping “in the loop” with your employees’ needs can help you eliminate issues and increase efficiency. 

4. Verify your online directory listings. Ensure your business information is consistent across your website, social media and third-party directory listings. 

Improve business culture

A healthy business culture keeps owners, employees, and customers happy. 

1. Invest in your community. Community involvement gives employees a reason to be proud of their place of employment. Plus, small things like sponsoring a Little League team can help to get your name out in the community, which resonates with customers. 

2. Help those in need. Giving a helping hand to those in need can make a world of difference. Not only will you connect with your community on a deeper level, but the people that you help have family and friends who will hear about your kindness and may choose your business as a result.

3. Show employees appreciation. Management’s recognition of their employees’ job performance is a critical factor in determining employee retention and company culture. A simple “thank you” can make all the difference. 

Improve hiring practices

Hiring new employees can take up a lot of your valuable time, so it’s important to find the right person for the job. 

1. Require specific skills. Make sure you include the skill set required in your job posting. And make sure that you discuss these requirements when you interview applicants. They should be able to share past work scenarios that demonstrated their level of expertise. 

2. Align salary with expectations. If you are looking for someone with experience, make sure you have a clear idea of the market rate for that position. Paying someone too little can lead to employee disengagement, and ultimately, churn. 

3. Test customer service skills. Each employee, no matter his or her position, should be able to clearly and courteously communicate with your customers. 

4. Determine appropriate incentives. Find out what motivates your candidates to succeed and perform their best work. Hiring is a task you want to do as little as possible, so finding long-term employees for your dealership is important. 

Article provided by ARI Network Services. ARI’s suite of award-winning data-driven software tools and marketing services help dealers “Sell More Stuff!” online and in-store. ARI removes the complexity of selling and servicing new and used inventory, parts, garments and accessories for customers in the outdoor power equipment, powersports, marine, RV, automotive tire and wheel, and white goods industries. More than 23,500 equipment dealers, 195 distributors and 140 manufacturers worldwide leverage ARI’s website (www.arinet.com) and eCatalog platforms to “Sell More Stuff!”

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