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Kershner's back to the dealer diary

Discussion in 'Industry News, Resources and Leadership' started by Jeff Kershner, Jun 16, 2016.

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  1. Jeff Kershner

    Jeff Kershner
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    Founder

    First Name:
    Jeff
    Dealer or Company Name:
    DealerRefresh & Mercedes-Benz of Hagerstown
    Joined:
    May 1, 2005
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    Location:
    Maryland
    It's been a bit over 10 years since I've been on ground level (day to day operations) at the dealership. Since then, was on the "corporate" level for one of the more larger groups in the US, director of marketing for a smaller group in my hometown, helped build and get AutoHook off the ground and consulted with many dealers and industry vendors, all while continuing to build-out and manage DealerRefresh.

    Why go back back to the dealer?

    I don't have a definitive answer. It was timing more than anything; an opportunity presenting itself at the right moment. In addition, I've felt like I was losing some of my edge, in-touch of being at the dealership. And maybe I've been missing it, just a little. No matter how long you've been in the industry, when you step away from the day to day, after time it's only natural you forget.

    The day to day operations at the dealership is what inspired me to start DealerRefresh, over 11 years ago, and it is what has driven the passion and commitment to build out the Dealer Forums and continue on. So here I am, back at the dealership I was working with when I first start DealerRefresh. Makes for an interesting story doesn’t it?

    Back then, I was handed a blank page and was asked to build upon as I saw fit. I had free rein in choosing a Website Provider, Inventory Management and Marketing Solutions, Vehicle Listing Portals, CRM / Desking and so-forth. This time around it’s a bit different. However, many of my decisions made back then stick today.

    I'll do my best at staying as transparent as possible while at keeping the "diary" updated with much of my day to day operations, obstacles, projects, ideas, solutions (and I’m sure a few rants) while staying clear of sensitive information. Keeping a fair balance with outside services and vendors.

    Stepping into the position wasn’t the smoothest transition, as I've had to quickly pick up pieces of the fallen puzzle. An amazing dealership with wonderful personnel but quite typical one when it comes to being overly organized with their vendors, technology and marketing. A few pieces here handed to me here and there, several pieces found under a rug and the bottom of my chair. Many pieces I’m still looking for. Some pieces are in the hands of others, I can only guess they're not even yet aware. You get the picture.

    That’s my analogy so I don’t upset the wrong people. It’s all good though. I’m really looking forward in helping to bring about some change while getting my hands dirty again in the operations.

    That’s it for now. Follow me over on the dealer forums as I re-navigate my way through hope to post a few times a week. I’m sure I’ll skip all over the place, from one project to the next.

    Let's have some fun!
     
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  3. Ryan Thompson

    Ryan Thompson
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    Sr. Refresher

    First Name:
    Ryan
    Dealer or Company Name:
    The Dealer Geek & Ernie Dean GMC Buick Chevy
    Twitter Handle:
    ryan_dealergeek
    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2010
    Messages:
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    Location:
    Canada
    This is awesome Jeff!!! Really excited to see what your perspective looks like from the floor in 2016. Would love to see some kind of "That was then, this is now" type of post.

    New challenges in 2016 vs 2005?
    What hasn't changed (probably more than you think .. right?)
    Biggest roadblocks with getting the people in the store to execute all these great ideas

    I'll be following this closely.

    RT
     
  4. Jeff Kershner

    Jeff Kershner
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    Founder

    First Name:
    Jeff
    Dealer or Company Name:
    DealerRefresh & Mercedes-Benz of Hagerstown
    Joined:
    May 1, 2005
    Messages:
    3,085
    Likes Received:
    744
    Location:
    Maryland
    What hasn't changed much? Most still going about it the same way they were 10 years ago. For this dealer, a few of the reps worked with me back when and it was cool to watch them utilizing much of the CRM the same way I had initially trained. It was funny to find my email templates still loaded and being used daily. Many of the day to day services that I had brought on are still around and being utilized, but not all.

    What has changed? All the MANY programs, mandatory services and vendors the manufacturer insists you use now. It's triple the amount it was 10 years ago. I get more phone calls a day from OEM reps of different services than anyone else. Five weeks in and my head is still spinning with all the services the dealer now (has to) uses.

    Here's one for ya!! FIVE different texting solutions are being utilized to some degree between sales and service. FIVE!! The CRM has a texting solution that works nicely within the CRM environment. Since they advertise with Cars.com, a few of the reps have ContactAtOnce loaded on their desktop. The chat service they're using (CarNow) has a texting feature. They're currently partnered with Edmunds.com and utilizing their free CarCode texting solution (which is quite efficient and easy to use.) Yes - 2 texting solutions on 1 dealer website. Lastly, the service department (though the Mercedes-Benz mandatory Service Drive initiative) is using MyKaarma for texting service customers and sending mobile invoices and accepting payments via online mobile. I'm impressed with the niche features of MyKaarma, but they're for service only.

    Lots more to come...
     
  5. Ryan Leslie

    Ryan Leslie
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    Sr. Refresher

    First Name:
    Ryan
    Dealer or Company Name:
    DealerRater
    Twitter Handle:
    jrleslie
    Joined:
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    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    Wow Jeff, Congrats my friend! I'm looking forward to an updated presentation on "protecting your ass from showrooming." (wish I had that picture still, good times.)

    So... now that you're back in the dealership...

    How would you like to buy the newest, latest and greatest shiny website widget conversion tool-a-rama-10X? It will only take 1 car deal to cover the cost. I mean, c'mon man, you DO want to be the hero at your store and make more money, am I right? ;)
     
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  6. Tallcool1

    Tallcool1
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    Jr. Refresher

    First Name:
    Clint
    Dealer or Company Name:
    Clock Tower Auto Mall
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2014
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    Location:
    Columbus, Nebraska
    I am very interested in following this.

    I wonder if the vendors today are more "exhausting" to dealership management than they were 10-12 years ago.

    Today, the Car Fax guy called me. He just wouldn't stop coming at me. We got disconnected 2 times (his phone service, not me hanging up on him), and he called right back. Then 4 hours later, he called me AGAIN! He offered me a $900 value inflatable Car Fox that stands 12' tall...for free! That's right folks, a FREE 12' tall inflatable Car Fox. I literally started laughing.

    I told him, you win. You have successfully exhausted me. I am tired of trying to explain my point of view, so I am now going to politely hang up.
     
  7. Jeff Kershner

    Jeff Kershner
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    Founder

    First Name:
    Jeff
    Dealer or Company Name:
    DealerRefresh & Mercedes-Benz of Hagerstown
    Joined:
    May 1, 2005
    Messages:
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    Location:
    Maryland
    I can't imagine it' much different, however it's our job to set the tone and expectations. As I have transitioned I've had a SLEW of vendors calls in such a short period. I've taken each opportunity to lay out my expectations and preferred communication. This reminds me of an article @Joe Webb@Joe Webb shared with us awhile back - Create You Own Vendor List Protocol. It's what I've followed.

    I let each rep know, NEVER just stop in unexpected. I will ask you to leave.
    NEVER call me out of the blue and expect me to answer. Because I won't.
    Here is my vCard, please send me yours so I have you in my phone.
    If you NEED to get on the phone with me, TEXT me first with a brief explanation to schedule a quick call.
    Email and Text is best, Text being the preferred for initial communication.
     
  8. Jeff Kershner

    Jeff Kershner
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    Founder

    First Name:
    Jeff
    Dealer or Company Name:
    DealerRefresh & Mercedes-Benz of Hagerstown
    Joined:
    May 1, 2005
    Messages:
    3,085
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    Location:
    Maryland
    Only ONE deal will pay for the service? SIGN. ME. UP!!!

    I haven't experienced that yet BUT I did have to sit through a face to face presentation with someone what wasn't too fluent with their own product. Something else that gets under my skin are "Patents". "We have patent on the technology so no one else in the industry can do it" - meanwhile it's something so generic and you know of 5 other vendors doing the same thing, the exact same way. Don't lie to me. Please.
     
  9. craigh

    craigh
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    Sr. Refresher

    First Name:
    Craig
    Dealer or Company Name:
    Vicimus Inc
    Twitter Handle:
    craighooghiem
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    Location:
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    Next time we meet up I'll need to get some sales scripts from you :)

    Huge pet peeve for me. Also the reason I'm difficult to work for if you're a sales person or a product rep :)
    You need to know your product. You need to know the limitations, the competition and the benefits.
    Most common one that I hear from vendors right now: "Yes, we can push these reviews to Google for you".

    I love Patent Pending vendors. As if that means anything at all.
    At least a granted Patent means they can go to court and fight it out if they want to be a--holes.

    Absolutely agree though - I've seen patents for things like "a button that opens X" or "a product that combines photos".
    They're all stretching their own patents, if they even exist.
     
  10. Brice Englert

    Brice Englert
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    First Name:
    Brice
    Dealer or Company Name:
    TradePending
    Twitter Handle:
    @briceenglert
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    Location:
    Durham, NC
    Awesome idea for this diary, going to be fantastic to follow!

    And, of course, congrats on being back in the game!
     
  11. Jeff Kershner

    Jeff Kershner
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    Founder

    First Name:
    Jeff
    Dealer or Company Name:
    DealerRefresh & Mercedes-Benz of Hagerstown
    Joined:
    May 1, 2005
    Messages:
    3,085
    Likes Received:
    744
    Location:
    Maryland
    The first week or so - back at the dealership.

    If you were stepping back into a business development management role at a new dealership - what's the very first thing you would dive into that would potentially have the most impact on increasing opportunities??

    Let's if we're on the same boat.
     

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