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car dealership employees holidays

Avoid Post-Holiday Blues and Boost Employee Morale

I hate to be the one to say it, but (once again) the holidays are practically over. The excitement of gift-giving and receiving dies down, and we forget about the famous annual ball-drop.

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As you go back to your daily routine, it’s important not to lose momentum. Leverage the holiday atmosphere to kick off the new year on the right foot!

Here are three ways you can avoid the post-holiday blues and boost dealership employee morale:

Have a holiday recap meeting.

A post-holiday team meeting can be an excellent time to de-stress by allowing your staff to recap how the holidays went both at home and at work.

Ask your team to bring in some leftover goodies (you know the ones I’m talking about!) as kind of a last hurrah before you dive into the new year. Then have everyone share what they did on their time off and what their favorite part of the holidays was.

By reflecting on how great the past few weeks went, your team will see how those days off with friends and family gave them time to rest. Then, you can use this momentum to provide them with a good old-fashioned “New Year, New Dealership” pep-talk.

Help them accomplish a new year’s resolution.

We know that New Year’s resolution #1 is usually a variation of losing weight, eating right, or taking better care of our bodies. So, why not help your team accomplish that by incorporating healthy practices into your dealership’s routine?

Keep in mind that your staff will include people with a variety of likes and dislikes, as well has different fitness levels — you don’t want to make anyone feel bad or left out. So try to think of creative ways to accommodate all your employees.

Here are a few examples:

  • Join a league of office sports teams like kickball or basketball

  • Provide corporate discounts to fitness classes

  • Have free healthy snack options in the break room

  • Start a jogging group that exercises together before or after work hours

The point is to help your employees help themselves — which will inherently serve your dealership. The added benefits of leading a healthier lifestyle will improve their performance at work. It will keep your staff safer from getting “that bug going around,” it will boost their energy, improve their self-esteem — and increase their productivity!

Now, about those leftover goodies at the recap meeting….how about some tasty fruit and green tea instead?

Lead them by example.

As a manager and leader, your team will look to you for guidance and motivation, which is why your mindset should be confident, encouraging, and positive — especially if you want to start 2015 off with a bang!

It all boils down to showing your staff that you can not only talk the talk — but also walk the walk. I recently read an Entrepreneur article on leading by example, in which the author expresses the importance of INSPIRING others to follow you, instead of merely telling them to.

So how exactly can you lead by example and motivate your employees this new year? Here are a few ways:

  1. Try your hardest to keep your word. Delivering on your promises will build your credibility as a leader — especially when you’re in a position where your actions can potentially affect the dealership’s bottom line.

  1. Hold yourself accountable for your actions. Acknowledge failures as a part of development. This will show your resilience, and make it okay for your team to learn from their mistakes.

  1. Create solutions to problems. When your employees come to you with work-related issues, offer them your wisdom and knowledge. By showing them you are a problem-solver, you are teaching your staff to be problem-solvers too.

  2. Roll up your sleeves. Not only is this the right thing to do, but it’s also effective. Employees will respect leaders who can share in the sacrifices they ask others to make — the ones who aren’t afraid to practice what they preach.

In the end…

Try to remember that the holidays bring a whirlwind of emotions like excitement and anxiety. So returning to the usual routine — and probably a much quieter workplace — is inevitably going to dampen some spirits.

Be understanding of your employees. Don’t become frustrated when some employees are a bit lagged in spirits. As a leader, you must ensure you set reasonable and achievable goals for your team’s motivation and performance. Set high, but sensible standards of excellence — then help your staff achieve it!

4 Reasons Why Shoppers Love Using Live Chat

chat_bubblesAutomotive marketing as we know it has changed. The Internet now forces dealerships to have an online presence and build relationships with consumers in the digital world. Why? Because the modern shopper expects it.

Consumer research is no longer solely accessible via phone calls and drive-bys. Now, your prospective customers are looking for information on your website — and using live chat to get their answers.

We often talk about live chat as a great lead generation tool for dealerships. However, it’s important to keep in mind that one of the biggest benefits of having live chat on your website is that chat conversations can improve the consumer experience.

CONVERSATIONS ON SHOPPERS’ TERMS

Giving your website visitors the option to chat improves the consumer experience by making them feel more at ease during the research process and also giving them more control over the conversation. How? Here are four ways:

They have a say on how to communicate with you.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all preference when it comes to communication between consumers and your dealership. Some shoppers would easily call your dealership or unquestioningly fill out an online form.

However, with the abundance of the Internet and mobile technology – and more text-based communications, many shoppers also prefer to use live chat to get in touch with a dealership.

Offering more than one form of contact puts the shopper in a position to control how they want to experience and communicate with your dealership, and as you’ll find out later in this blog post – today’s shoppers love being in control! They are happy when they get what they want. So give shoppers exactly what they are looking for: options.

Chat gives them time to formulate the questions that matter.

If you’ve called a 1-800 customer service line, you’ve probably experienced an incident where after a 40-minute conversation you finally hang up — only to realize you have more questions! But phone queues and the repeat of “please hold” can be discouraging for shoppers who want answers NOW.

However, with live chat, it only takes your online shoppers the click of a button to start a new live chat conversation and ask the questions they need answered to move them further down the sales funnel.

So, live chat is faster for your shoppers and you get leads more quickly! It’s a win-win for both of you!

They can end the conversation whenever they want.

First, let’s establish that this is by no means a benefit or goal of live chat from a dealer’s perspective — but it may be for your online shoppers.

No one likes the pressure of having to listen to a sales pitch or wait on hold for 10 minutes, but some people do it because it’s “good manners”. With live chat, your website visitors have the choice to end a conversation whenever they want — that can be empowering for your shoppers.

A managed live chat team that is trained to have engaging conversations won’t let this happen, of course — but in the shoppers’ mind, they could stop the conversation at any time without any guilt or frustration! Today’s shoppers like to be in control – so give them the freedom they want and they’ll be more willing to do business with you!

They have control over if, and when, they give out their contact information.

Many shoppers don’t want to fill out contact forms because they are afraid to get bombarded with marketing emails from your dealership. And other times, they simply aren’t ready to give out their personal information.

You don’t want your chat team HOUNDING your website visitors for contact information! Reps who constantly say “I don’t know. Please give me your email and phone number so the appropriate person can contact you,” are not adding any value to the conversation and can essentially hurt your consumers’ perception of YOU.

Instead, you want a chat team that has helpful and informative conversations first, and then naturally ask for contact information if and when the time is right.

By having a live chat team that can assist your shoppers and answer the questions that will help them in their research — you are guiding consumers to a more trusting environment that will lead them to give you their contact information at will when they are seriously ready to purchase.

Tip: Read chat transcripts regularly. This will not only help streamline your team’s follow-up process, but it will also help you ensure the conversations being had on your behalf are the highest quality.

THE TAKEAWAY

Live chat is more than a lead generation tool, which is why it’s important to look for a managed chat team that can provide assistance that is customer-centric. Look for a provider whose team:

  • Provides timely assistance by picking up chats in 6 seconds or less, and responds in 30 seconds or less

  • Patiently listens to and appropriately addresses your prospective shoppers’ questions and concerns

  • Is trained to engage online shoppers in robust conversations that guide shoppers further along the sales funnel

  • Has automotive knowledge and tools that will benefit shoppers chatting in

Emotional intelligence sells more cars

Emotion + Information = Expert Selling

They say people buy with their emotions. However, what actually happens is a mix between influential information and emotional cues.

MarketingProfs provides some great insight about the different degrees of emotion and logic in the buying process. In this article, they discuss how the beginning and aftermarket stages of the buying cycle are the most emotionally-driven; once shoppers get closer to the sale, they start to become more logical and transactional.

Shoppers need a a combination of getting the information they need to make a decision, as well as a positive experience at every touchpoint of their research.

So, how does your dealership effectively deliver both information and emotion to shoppers throughout their research process, buying cycle, and your aftermarket communications?

How to Balance Informational and Emotional Selling:

  1. Review your video advertising campaigns. Does your advertising give people the warm and fuzzies? Does it make them laugh? Or is it purely informational? You want a mix to draw the most shoppers to your website and your store.

Oak Lawn Toyota’s viral video, which could be slightly more informational, definitely hits on emotional selling – and it also answers three questions for shoppers:

  • “Whose advertising is it?” (Oak Lawn Toyota).

  • “What can I do there?” (Buy a car for someone special for the holiday season).

  • “Why should I do it?” (Because research says Toyota is top-notch, because I like parody videos that make me smile better than standard commercials, and the people at Oak Lawn Toyota are probably awesome to work with).

  1. Check your social media personality. What kind of information are you providing? Are you including both fun and informational details? Remember that people will interact with your social site at any point in the relationship with your store. You need to have content that’s relevant, helpful, and emotionally stimulating for both shoppers and current customers alike.

As a good example, check out Longo Toyota’s Facebook Page!

  1. Assess your website’s design. Is your site easy to navigate and find information? Having a unified layout with clear call-to-actions and directional cues can be very helpful for the logical shopper to locate the information they need.

Also, what kind of colors are you using? Color and website clutter can have an emotional impact on the shopper. Pay attention to how you setup the aesthetics of your site to ensure you deliver a positive emotional selling message.

  1. Personalize your staff page. Your website’s staff page is a place where you can start showing the different personalities of your team. You can make it fun while still professional, and start to connect emotionally with your shoppers by discussing your team’s interests and what makes them each unique to work with.

For an example of an excellent staff page, check out Hagerstown Honda. When you move your mouse over the staff images, they reveal something personal about each team member!

  1. Use an expert live chat service on your website. Live chat can provide the emotional support that someone is “there for me” on your site, while also being helpful by answering the questions a shopper needs quickly.

*Note: Be careful about who you choose to represent your dealership on your website. If your live chat reps don’t have the emotional selling know-how, your sales could suffer rather than grow.

  1. Get personal with your emails. People love when you relate to them on a personal level, and it’s emotionally positive to get a personalized email. It shows you took the time to make someone feel special, while also ensuring they get the information they need.

  1. Train your staff about the importance of tone. The tone of your emails, phone calls, and conversations in person affects the emotional impact you have on your shoppers.

Emotional and Informational Needs Are Not 50/50

It’s also important to realize that every customer is different. Some shoppers are more emotionally-driven, and others are more logical when it comes to their purchase. You have to pay attention to what they say and how they interact in your communications.

For shoppers who talk a lot and give you their life story about: why they need a new car (for their ten kids, two dogs, and all their ski gear) or what exactly happened to their bumper (and how sad they are that their life long partner-on-wheels is injured), you’re going to appeal more to their emotions.

Encourage their decision on a new vehicle. Sympathize with shoppers about the bumper and assure them that their vehicle is in good hands. Tell them more about who you are and about your certified staff, and relate to them on a personal level in your communications.

For the shoppers who just want the facts, get that information to them as quickly as possible. Don’t waste time with any extraneous details! Be as “to the point” as they are, and you’re sure to win their favor.

When you have the right balance between emotion and information in your automotive marketing and sales process, shoppers will love buying from you. And they’ll refer more friends and family to your store!

Make dealership holidays more merry

5 Ways to Spread Holiday Cheer to Your Dealership’s Employees

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — but it can also be the most hectic as your dealership plans for the next. These long days at work can make your staff feel like it’s not quite the holidays.

But you can change this dreary feeling, and shuffle in some holiday spirit at your dealership! Here are 5 easy ways you can help spread cheer and appreciation to your dealership’s staff:

1. Decorate the Office

One of the simplest ways to spread holiday cheer at your dealership is to put up festive decorations in the office!

Your employees spend long days at the dealership — sometimes they spend most of their day at work. Make them feel more at home by buying holiday decorations and encouraging them to bring in their own!

You can even make decorating the dealership an event by setting a date and time for all employees to decorate as a team! Here’s an easy way to set up a decorating event:

  1. Share the “Holiday Decorating Extravaganza” event on everyone’s calendars

  2. Have all the decorations at the office ready to go a week or so before the event

  3. Bring in edible goodies (cookies, drinks, candy canes, etc.) the day of the event

  4. Play some festive holiday music!

Easy-peasy, right? Decorating doesn’t have to be expensive or boring — in fact it can actually be fun and good for your employees. Use this small activity as an opportunity to enhance your dealership’s culture and reward your staff for a great year’s work.

Also, be sure to check out this Buzzfeed article for some decorating DON’TS and a good laugh!

2. Have a Gift Exchange

Another way to help your employees embrace the spirit of camaraderie is to host a gift exchange at your dealership.

Gifting is a simple way to show gratitude, goodwill, and appreciation towards others — so why not spread the joy in the workplace by hosting a “Secret Santa” exchange!

While I’ve heard reasons to avoid gift exchanges, such as people not receiving their gifts or employees not participating for economic reasons, a well-structured exchange can help you avoid that!

Here are some simple considerations to ensure a successful gift exchange:

  • Have a price limit  for the cost of gifts. Ask for pricing suggestions from employees, and then set an explicit limit in the rules.

  • Set deadlines for employees to bring in gifts to avoid any mishaps where some employees don’t receive a gift!

  • Have employees list 3 gifts they would like on the paper that goes into the Santa hat, so that the person who picks their name knows what they like.

  • OR set fun gift rules like homemade-only gifts, edibles-only gifts, or whatever-fits-in-a-holiday-mug-only gifts.

3. Host a Team Dinner

Few things bring people together the way food does — especially during the holidays.

Pecan pie, cranberry sauce, eggnog, and more pecan pie. It’s the best time of the year to eat and be merry. The best part about a holiday meal is that you can have it at home AND at work!

Treating your dealership’s employees to a holiday dinner is an easy way to spend quality time with your team, relax, and enjoy an excuse to eat a delicious holiday meal.

Depending on your budget, some of your dinner options could include:

  • Making reservations at a nice restaurant and taking your team out for dinner

  • Having food catered at the dealership (or a nice venue)

  • Hosting a holiday potluck where everyone brings in a home-cooked dish

Allow your employees to bring a piece of home to work (literally!) by allowing them to share a meal and bond during the holidays.

4. Give Back to the Community

Earlier this year, I mentioned 4 great reasons why your dealership’s team should volunteer and give back to the community — and a big reason is that giving back boosts employee morale and well-being.

I find this especially important during the holidays, when work days seem a little longer.

In the spirit of spreading cheer this season, why not encourage your team to make a positive impact in your local neighborhood?

Allow your team to volunteer at a local non-profit organization for the homeless, host a clothing and toy drive for less fortunate children, have your team write holiday letters to troops overseas…there are so many little ways to make a big difference for others during the holidays.

If you’re raising funds, get creative! Host an “Ugly Sweater Day”, where your employees pay $2 to wear the ugliest holiday sweater and jeans — and have the proceeds go towards your charity of choice.

The point is to empower your employees to give back and feel great about making a positive change in your community.

5. Give Employees Some ‘Family Time’

As I previously mentioned, many of your dealership’s employees put in a lot of hours at work, which can make finding a work-life balance difficult for them during the holidays.

Consider that some of your employees may live far from home, or that they may have to work longer days and see their family less.

So give your employees the best gift this season: time for family. Here are three ways you can thoughtfully give your team some much-needed family time at the dealership:

  • Schedule short video conference opportunities for employees to call family and friends that live too far to see in person.

  • Provide holiday cards, envelopes, and stamps for your team to send greeting cards to their loved ones. You can even purchase inexpensive e-card options instead!

  • Offer them a day of childcare so employees who are parents can get some holiday shopping done.

Little acts of kindness and acknowledgement towards your staff will go a long way this season. Remember dealership holidays aren’t just for handing out those bonuses — it’s a time for giving and showing your staff appreciation for all of their hard work this past year!

how to use geofencing in chat

How to Use Geofencing with Live Chat

The Internet allows you to have a global street corner for your dealership’s Digital Storefront, but sometimes it’s wise (and profitable) to send certain messages to your local shoppers ONLY, and in order to do that – you need to use Geofencing.

What is Geofencing?

Geofencing is a popular customer targeting technology that uses GPS location. It gives you the ability to allow or prevent designated website visitors from viewing different parts of your automotive marketing. Some places to use geofencing include: your ads, pop-up messages in your dealership’s app, or certain information on your website.

Reasons you might want to use Geofencing:

  • Location-based restrictions on service warranties

  • To promote your upcoming events to local customers

  • To send a reminder about your Express Service to customers who are 10-15 minutes away from your dealership

How Can I Use Geofencing with Live Chat?

Limit Leads from Out-of-Range Business

Don’t want leads about service warranties from an area that’s out of your dealership’s range? Ask your chat provider if you can set up Geofencing to prevent that particular area from seeing the chat buttons on your website.

Increase Leads from Local Shoppers 

You can also target a local area and send those visitors a special offer or reminder via chat. By targeting messages to local shoppers via Geofencing, you’re more likely to reach the right shopper at the right time with the right message.

Local shoppers are also more likely to visit your store more often for their service needs. It’s a good idea to send them something special as they browse your site!

Note: Although Geofencing can be helpful in limiting unwanted traffic, it’s also important not to limit your traffic too much that you deter business from shoppers who are willing to travel a long distance to your store for a good price (or for great customer service!).