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Always Be New

Updated: Jun 7

It was 1997, my first full year in the retail automotive business. My first-ever Manager in the car business would remind me DAILY of two things: “Always be new” (which took me a few years to understand) and “There are no shortcuts to the sale.” I realized many years later that “always be new” meant never thinking you know it all and, therefore, ending up taking shortcuts.

In my first month in the car business, I sold about 15 cars. In my second month, I sold about 15 cars. The grosses were great. I had this car-selling thing down! In the third month, I thought I knew everything. I sold 4 units. Too many shortcuts were taken.

Shortcuts are still being taken at our dealerships every day. We may not see, hear, or read them, but our customers most likely do.

We allow for kinks in our process online that we never would have allowed to be done within our stores.  Look at how your inventory is merchandised, for example.  I drive by dealerships all the time that wash the inventory on the lot almost weekly, yet our images online may not be of superiorly reconditioned cars.  A customer comes on our lot, and we land them on their vehicle of interest, and we (hopefully) walk them around the vehicle, describing equipment (feature, advantage, benefit…you do that, right?). Now, look at your vehicle descriptions online.  Do we follow the same best practice there…a thorough description of the equipment and not just a list of every vin-decoded item on the car? Is it compelling? Does it read easily? And when it comes to merchandising, do we show the value-added equipment on the car in our photos right away, or do we expect the customer to sift through 28 images before we show them a cool piece of technology?  We show it to our buyers on the lot right away; you need to do it online.

On the lead management side there are a lot of shortcuts we take as dealers.  A lead comes in…is the response timely…but more importantly, is it compelling?  My first few months into the car business I was expected to meet and greet the customers on the lot in a certain and timely manner.   Do we have a standard for this online, and is it being followed?  In addition, are we answering questions (or even seeing the questions in our leads?)? Many dealership representatives miss the questions in the leads we receive. Be thorough…Bob and Mary might want to know what the vehicle towing capacity is, so they asked in their lead form, and we totally missed it.  Details matter; make sure you review your leads for questions and answer them, or some other dealership will earn their business.

Finally, let’s not miss or shortcut truly earning a customer’s business.  When a customer walks on our lot and enquires about a particular preowned SUV that happens to now be sold…how do we handle it?  I would hope we would walk them over to the other preowned SUVs on the lot, land them on something else that will suit their needs, test drive, and sell them a car.  We should be doing the same thing online.  Customer enquires about a vehicle…maybe it is sold, or maybe we learn after working with them they want something different.  Work the switch opportunities you have. Yet, make sure you are compelling with those switches.  Bob and Mary inquired about a preowned Ford Explorer but are open to other preowned SUVs in their budget.  Your dealership has a beautiful preowned Honda Pilot in their price range.  Are we just emailing the name of the other inventory we have or telling them on the phone?  Send them photos, a link to the vehicle (s) on your website, and videos!  Bob and Mary might not know what a Honda Pilot is and looks like.  A shortcut won’t answer that for them!

There truly are no shortcuts to the sale. I hope you will take a moment to look at your processes and make sure they are compelling, informative, customer-friendly, and free of shortcuts. Always be new!

-Eric Gidney

Performance Engineer

Lotpop Inc.



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