As a fan of the television show Bar Rescue on Spike TV, I was curious about a new show that immediately follows it called Car Lot Rescue, with Tom Stuker, a dealership consultant. I've only watched two episodes, but already I like it for its ability to quickly find business flaws and offer practical solutions. (Plus, it helps that there's always some drama to keep things exciting.) In a recent episode about a struggling car dealership in New Orleans, I was pleased to see how much attention was placed on the need for a CRM system.
Tom took Kirk, the sales manager, to a neighboring dealership so he could see how a competitor uses its CRM system to rotate leads among the salespeople. A receptionist would greet potential car buyers who enter the showroom and call a salesperson to assist them, based on whoever was up next in the rotation. Rotating salespeople enables a more equitable distribution of leads and discourages skating—a highly objectionable tactic whereby a salesperson attempts to steal someone else's leads. Because salespeople no longer have to watch the lot for buyers, they can sit in their office and use the CRM system to call prospects.
After some convincing from Tom, Kirk was willing to confront Royal, the car dealership's general manager, and fight for a CRM system. Royal, who was already heavily invested in building a new facility for the dealership, was not open to spending any more money. After Kirk requested new computers, a CRM system, and a receptionist, the rest of the conversation played out this way:
Royal: We don't need computers. We don't need a CRM tool. We don't need a receptionist. If you can't get the job done with the tools I've given you, maybe you're not the right guy for this job.
Kirk: Maybe I'm not. [There's a dramatic pause.]
Tom: Enough's enough, guys! Work this out! [Royal], you need [Kirk] and he needs you. You've got the right guy for the job. You're going to have to put more faith in him.
Kirk: Royal, you hired me to come here and do a job. I want to get it done. I want to bring us to the level where you want to be, but we need to bring this dealership out of the past and into the future. How can we have growth like a modern dealership if we don't have the things that a modern dealership has?
Royal: Oh, f—k it. I'll tell you what, Kirk. I respect you greatly as a manager and a person, and if you think this is the thing we should do to save the dealership…
Kirk: Yes, sir.
Royal: Let's go ahead and do it.
Kirk: I appreciate it.
They shake hands and Tom ends the scene saying, "You made the right decision. Welcome to the 21st century."
The dealership purchased laptops for the sales team, implemented the CRM system ProMax Online, and hired a receptionist. Not surprisingly, within a few months it experienced double-digit growth.
Naturally, in the real world, we don't have the benefit of editing, so these conversations and their results don't come out as neatly packaged as they do on the show. But when companies invest in CRM systems, they can notice similar and even more impressive results. And, when they're ready to get more advanced, they can make additional investments in the technologies mentioned in this issue, such as predictive analytics, marketing automation, and mystery shopping programs.