Friday, November 21, 2008

Automotive Dealer Sales Training Tips Part #1 Interview with Todd Hudak

I was introduced to Todd Hudak over two years ago by a mutual dealer client. It seemed Todd had been helping this client with sales and phone training for several years and they were very happy with the results he's helped them achieve. Recently, here at Tri-Auto we've been putting tracking tools into dealers hands, it's been a very eye opening experience both for me and the dealers. Many are saying "I didn't know we had that many people coming in, why aren't we closing more?" I've never sold cars, so I don't have the answers, but Todd has so I contacted him for an interview. Hopefully you'll be able to take something away from this three part series that will help increase your closing ratio. First, a little background. Todd was a Mechanical Engineer for years with the Navy, his first experience in sales came as a Navy Recruiter where he signed up 4 times the average amount of young people to serve. After running several local and regional recruiting centers and taking them all to the #1 spot he decided to retire. As he looked in the paper for new opportunities he saw "Day Off, Draw & Demo" he walked into the first dealership and was hired on the spot, after two years he was the number one sales person averaging 100 new units a year and had several 500 unit years. In '99 the dealer asked him to start a BDC, and by the end of the year the new venture had tripled sales from 89-100 vehicles a month to 300! After getting his feet wet with this experience he was hired by the McCluskey group in Ohio and took the Chevrolet store to the #1 volume dealer in the state. He was awarded the Dealer Innovation Award for 2003 for recruiting, retention and training (of sales people), and featured in NADA and USA Today. The retention rate on his sales floor was 85%. In 2006 he went out on his own and founded Hudak Consulting. He's worked with over 500 dealers, including the famed Towbin group featured in A&E's "King of Cars," and in the past year he's trained over 60,000 sales people. In his lengthy career Todd has proved he knows how to make a dealership successful. This week Todd answered a few questions regarding training and phone training. We started off with a few general ideas about what dealers are facing today.

Q. In your opinion, what is the biggest issue facing the automotive industry today--and you can't say the economy?

A. The perception is with the poor economy that people are not buying cars. Which is just not the case, yes it is tougher, but people are still spending money. The problem is that dealers are getting sucked into a bad attitude, with the market being tougher they are not performing at the same level as they were when times were good. They are doubling their misery instead of looking for new alternatives. Instead of going back to what made them successful in the past and looking for new ways to be successful in the future they are giving up and playing flag football in the back, or cutting costs by removing the popcorn machine from the showroom. This is not the way to get ahead.

The other major thing they need to be focusing on is maximizing the advertising they are able to put out there. At the very least they should be hitting their database, even if it's stuffing envelopes and sending out letters in house, or picking up the phone and talking to them. If they are able to continue with more advertising they have to get everything they can out of it. TRACK everything. If dealers are not able to track in an electronic way, hire a retiree and pay him hourly to track every lead that comes in, pay him an additional $1 for every lead source he uncovers-I promise he won't miss a person. Once they know what is working it makes sense to put more money there and quit doing the things that aren't. I do like mail, and I'm not just saying that because I'm talking to you, but it's personal and I have TIVO, Sirius and don't subscribe to a newspaper so it's down to email & my mailbox if you want to reach me. If dealers do a mailer, they should request phone numbers, where available, on the list. Then have their salespeople on the phone before, during and after the sale making sure they received the piece and asking if they have questions. Dealers are not maximizing the money they've invested in advertising. They just put it out there and hope, then wait for traffic.

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