One of the most important aspects of managing an automobile dealership today is tracking and reporting. Most every dealership I visit keeps track of their potential customers by logging their Ups, that includes the customers name, salesperson’s name, time of their visit and the sales manager that let them out if they did not make a purchase. This reporting is very critical to the success of a dealership so problems, trends and patterns can be spotted and corrected as needed. However I have found that car sales management is often lacking when it comes using this critical component to a dealership’s health.
I have visited numerous dealerships where logging sales customers seems to be a subjective task. In other words a customer does not get entered on the log unless they have had their credit report pulled or they are very serious about buying an automobile. The tire kicker, the just looking, the buyer that wants something that’s not in stock and the mooch that wants to pay a $1000 below invoice is never entered on the log. The rationale behind the decision to put hem on the log is that they weren’t buying anyway so why bother putting them on the log.
Now when sales are down the first thing that is to blame is the lack of customers visiting the dealership. Then the finger pointing begins and the blame is placed on not enough advertising, poor inventory selection, weak manufacturer incentives, lack of auto maker advertising, the Internet Department or anything else that comes to mind. When in fact the lack of logging all the Ups on the lot and in the showroom is to blame. The traffic was there all along, but it wasn’t converted into buyers.
Sorry Sales Managers
I know there will be plenty of sales managers out there that don’t agree with me and even more than will curse me, but it needs to be said. When all the traffic is logged at a dealership car dealer management has an accurate picture of what is going on, but when the numbers consist only of those that are considered to be serious buyers the real problem will never be discovered and ultimately corrected.
Maybe your sales people are brooming those that aren’t low hanging fruit, maybe they are “cherry picking” the most promising customers and sending the others packing, maybe nobody is keeping an eye on the lot, maybe they aren’t buying today, maybe doing a dealer trade is hassle rather a sale NOW. Maybe you sales staff needs some training and some guidance to keep from turning your potential customers into shoppers. Maybe some sales skills need to be addressed.
Whatever it may be arbitrarily filling out the log is not doing anyone a favor. The only thing it may do is keep the GM from grilling the sales managers about why the closing ratios are so low based on the amount of traffic that visited the dealership. When the sales floor log shows smaller amounts of showroom traffic naturally the sales will follow, but how is the real problem going to get fixed?
I have visited and observed many dealerships where this is the norm rather than the exception. Observation is the only way to determine if this problem exists and a clear understanding by those responsible for filling out that log that this behavior is unacceptable. It starts with the GM and their responsibility to the owner to make sure accurate and measurements are being taken to ensure the success of a dealership. If a dealership is becoming less and less profitable changes will be made and it won’t be for the good unless the real problem is addressed and corrected.
Later, Fresh Up on the Lot