• Mar 30 2019 • By Sean Kelley

    DEALERS, GM’s, SALES MANAGERS: Are you facing any of the following market challenges and other than working harder, you’re not 100% confident your plan will overcome them?




    We want to share some inside information that has helped car dealers we coach to overcome the high cost of customer acquisition, compressed profit margins, and shrinking customer loyalty. We share this because our team of elite coaches has experienced these challenges and successes first hand alongside the dealers we coach. At Car Motivators, we care about the opportunity the showroom floor provides and the people who work on it. We also believe dealers strengthen the communities in which they thrive. Therefore, we want for you in reading this to enjoy the same success in overcoming these challenges. In this way, your dealership can continue to grow.

    For many leaders, overcoming these seems daunting and hopeless! Many dealers feel like they are playing a game and the chips are stacked against them.

    GOOD NEWS: This is a game, and to win you only need three things:




    The offense is the way that you market to and attract buyers. First, go on the attack and DE-COMMODIFY your dealership! The commoditization of your inventory is one of the greatest reasons your margins are shrinking. Truly, you only have ONE competitive advantage, and it’s your EMPLOYEES. Every employee at your dealership has direct AND free access to thousands of potential buyers. Start using marketing platforms like #Teir4Marketing and apps like #NextSale. Because this technology will keep your people in front of potential clients who can and will buy from them. Create a following online by marketing the individual players on your team. Even employees in non-customer facing departments often have large followings on social media. Why wouldn’t you include them and their online networks in these marketing efforts? To stand out, stop doing the same thing as every other dealership! That’s buying a bunch of cars, pricing them with no margin, and marketing the pricing. Otherwise, you’re simply attracting only those “best price” in-market shoppers who are often transactional buyers.

    When you can make the full transition to these modern and effective methods for attracting customers, you can expect two results. First, your employees will enjoy working with more customers that they enjoy selling. Second, you will eventually be able to lower your marketing spend, and thus improve the cost of acquisition. Keep in mind, you will want to continue your current marketing campaigns along with these tactics. Because it takes time to reach a tipping point when business generated through these means is enough to replace your high-cost low return traditional marketing spend. Most noteworthy, this tactic helped Sansone Jr 66 Automall become the most efficient dealership in his 20 group, over the course of five years.

    The defense is two-part, the first being the customer experience, before, during and IN BETWEEN sales! Start by differentiating yourself from your competition by understanding the customer experience starts before they arrive at your dealership. Technology tools like DriveCentric A.I. can engage with customers in record time, 24 hours a day through various communication channels. Add a personal touch and improve the pre-arrival experience by sending personalized videos to each opportunity. At Car Motivators, we advise our internet sales departments to “Treat the pixels like people”! As a result, we have two Toyota dealerships who have well over 80% engagement from internet leads each month. Your dealership can create amazing online experiences by customizing responses to each opportunity. Have your sales and BDC fire on all cylinders by working in unison to support the online shopper. Leverage all communication tools available like social media messenger apps, video, and texting. In doing it’s not unreasonable to talk to 30% more of your leads than the average dealer.

    Regarding the customer experience, it’s critical that you help your salespeople adopt the mindset that every customer is a 30-car buyer. Stop treating customers as if they are a single transactional sale because if you sell like a kiosk, you can be replaced by one. There is no “after sale” follow up with this new mindset. There is only “in-between sales” relationship development which when implemented ensures your salespeople think long term. The in-between sales experience for a customer should happen digitally leveraging tools like CRM, social media groups, video, and with in-store on-site events, charitable acts, and community involvement. This long term approach ensures long term success for your dealership. Build a team of farmers who are aligned to your dealer’s long term success.

    The critical second half to the defense which will shield you from the three challenges above is the employee experience. The reason is that a better employee experience creates engaged employees. Engaged employees are more motivated, accountable, productive, and remain with your company longer. When you multiply the effects of these engaged employee attributes across all employees in your organization you multiply results. These employees stay on the team longer, and employee retention means customer retention.

    Recently I was coaching a service manager in the dealers’ service drive. During our conversation, a customer drop off mentioned she hadn’t visited the service drive in a year. I asked her, “What can we do to earn your service business every time?”, and she said, “Start by having the same advisors each time I visit.” Clearly pointing out, turnover affects customer relationships.

    One way my dealers improve the employee experience is by having a robust onboarding process that ensures employees have a foundation for success. Stop throwing employees to the wolves without training or tests for competency because this almost always sets them up for failure. Another crucial leadership activity that lowered turnover for my dealership by almost 70%, performance coaching. Continue developing people through aspirational performance coaching, even after they have been trained, and understand their job. This is one of the only methods for employee development once they hit the glass ceiling of skills training. For more information on performance coaching, email Sean@CarMotivators.com

    This combined improved customer experience and employee experience is a defense against commoditization which will ensure that you build customer retention.

    Finally, it’s time to discuss the masterful playbook. Because every great team has a coach with plays that ensure the team outmaneuvers the competition. When you have a playbook your team conducts the right activities in the right way.  Your playbook should consist of several things: A process for vetting, deciding upon, implementing, and revisiting new procedures, tools, and technology. Consistent operational best practices such as competitive mystery shopping, inventory acquisition, time management activity inventory for all employees. Equally important, reporting and methods for holding people accountable to the behaviors encompassed above. Finally, leadership competency and understanding of the latest industry best practices that drive results.

    You can start by working with leaders and employees to brainstorm around new ideas. We suggest involving the entire team in developing this growth mindset. You can discuss which ideas if implemented, would have the most significant impact on business. Try sending your managers to a conference or two. You could visit a top dealership in your region for a day. Another strategy is to simply join a 20 group. A cheap and simple way for ideation is simply to read a few articles with industry best practices or listen to automotive VLOGS on dealershipnews.com or similar sites. Have your team join the Car Motivators Facebook group where industry top performers are always seeking to help each other grow. After these activities, have each employee share their favorite idea and choose the best one to implement. Furthermore, create a game plan as a team, ensure everyone commits to activities and time frames. Furthermore, build reward/recognition programs for results, and communicate the accountability processes to ensure everyone meets their commitments.

    Another opportunity within this bucket is to develop a process for conducting cultural alignment and 360-degree cultural assessments. This can help you bring in the right people and is another method to keep the right people on your team. This gives people who aren’t a good fit the chance to move on to something better in a fair and efficient manner. As such, managers can focus their development efforts on employees on those long term employee partners. This playbook in its entirety if appropriately implemented, will help you quickly add technology tools and processes in the right way. Weaving these new activities into the fabric of your teams’ routines are critical to your bottom line. More importantly, it will help you remove unproductive and unprofitable tools, processes and technology faster and with less wasted effort and frustration.

    At a high level, we have discussed three car dealerships most significant challenges: shrinking profit margins, lower customer loyalty, and the high cost of customer acquisition. Throughout the article, I shared proven processes that you can start doing, stop doing and continue doing which will help you overcome these challenges. Above all, if you’re thinking, “These solutions are not what I had hoped for, this sounds hard.” If you have the inclination to continue looking for that magic pill, then I challenge you to look at any championship sports team. Because they don’t become champions by simply wanting championship results. Nor did the championship team take performance-enhancing drugs suddenly crushing their competition and winning it all overnight.

    Rather, it takes long term consistent training, coaching: Using the right technology and tools. Combine this with taking new modern best practices, a mindset of accountability, a clear vision, and a desire to win. Then go on the attack with a blitzkrieg offense and enhance your dealership’s brand by marketing your people. Set up an impenetrable defense with industry best customer and employee experiences. Develop a great playbook that ensures personal growth for every player and leader on your team. Ensure continuous improvement by inspecting what you expect to create accountability and develop a mindset of ownership across the board. Remember, you too can overcome these three challenges and set your entire business up for future success!


    Sean Kelley


    CEO: Car Motivators

    Prior to entering the car business, Sean believed leadership was the key to ensure his Special Operations team would survive two combat zone deployments. Sean Kelley #thecarbizcoach has since applied those same leadership principals to automotive management and successfully led dealers for a decade: lowering turnover, increasing profit, customer retention, customer satisfaction, and setting first-time regional records. Sean Kelley has built a massive following of thousands of people on Linkedin, Facebook, and is a featured writer and VLOG for www.dealershipnews.com. Sean received the automotive consultant of the year award in 2018 by Dealership News and was #10 on Ambition’s top 100 sales coaches to follow. Sean’s passion for coaching and people development led him to be Chief Business Development Officer of DriveCentric CRM where he helped them double their annual revenue in months. Now, as CEO of Car Motivators and President of Next Sale App for Missouri, Sean and his coaches work with dozens of dealer groups, and hundreds of sales managers across the country helping them achieve great results through their people and technology. Sean creates winning cultures with his unique self-developed approach to coaching and people development called D.R.I.V.E.C3™. Sean’s vision is to positively impact the auto industry and its people by bringing coaching to the car business.

  • Nov 05 2018 • By Sean Kelley

    When we ask most managers what they want more of from their team, it’s often motivation. When we leverage some strong coaching questions aimed to uncover the root of the motivation challenge we come to some interesting conclusions. While anemic motivation can be caused by many factors, frequently the challenge stems from managers methods for leading millennials. There can be vast differences in the thought process of how a millennial wants to be led and the leadership mindset of other generations. Once these differences are uncovered in our coaching sessions, and action plans are created to address them, they help managers lead and motivate their millennials. This article contains some of the insights and key differentiators we’ve coached managers through when it comes to, gen x (like myself), gen y, and baby boomers leading millennials in the workforce. We want to share them with you in hopes of helping you motivate your team of millennial employees and ultimately keeping these great players on your team longer, and helping them achieve even more!

    Millennials like to think for themselves!

    “I’ve told them to do it 1,000 times but they won’t because they’re lazy, I’m tired of asking, I’m tired of telling, I’m sick of yelling.” The frustrated manager complained after I asked him, “What has caused you to give up on asking them to do what needs to be done here?”

    After my tenure as an NCO in the Army, I dove head first into the auto industry. One of the reasons it was such a smooth transition for me, was the similarity of how one leads people in both industries. In both the military and car business there is a clear hierarchy, managers lead by title, give explicit instructions, and expect the employee to do what they say out of sheer blind obedience. From the action or activity to the message being communicated, it’s a do as I say the world in both industries. This works great when the leader is extremely competent, and the follower is both trusting, precise, and compliant. Yet, the model has massive limitations because people become reliant on one person, the manager, to handle all challenges. Take the boss out of the equation after a long stint with this style of leadership, and employees often become unable to solve even the most simplistic challenge. No manager equals no crutch for the employee, and no problems get solved. This is one of the downfalls of blind obedience management, it’s not scalable.

    Millennials have been taught to think for themselves. They solve problems well and often enjoy doing so. If you rob them of their ability to do just that by leading them through blind obedience then you steal one of the key factors that help them enjoy work! Adding value by problem-solving. To effectively lead millennials managers need to let go of their desire to be the hero and save everyone. Managers must free themselves of the need to constantly involve themselves in the tactical actions of the day-to-day and trust your team to handle problems. Do this by asking them for their ideas implementing them and reviewing their results together. Have them come up with new ways to solve old problems. Instead of explicit instructions, give them direction and advice based on their game plan. This keeps your millennials engaged and helps them be part of the solution. This helps reassure them that they are making an impact. If they feel they are making an impact, they will enjoy their job that much more. These different generations have a powerful resource in navigating today’s business challenges in millennials. That is, only if your ego is small enough to invite them to the table of leadership and value their input.

    Millennials don’t just do it for the money!

    The GM frustratedly and rhetorically posed this statement/question in the sales meeting, “There were 15,000 dollars in bonuses on the table this month and NO ONE even tried! Do you not care about money?!” He clearly wanted them to be motivated by the fiscal opportunity. I remember thinking, “Eureka! You figured it out.” After having conducted a cultural assessment for this store, Car Motivators had already uncovered money was NOT they the key motivating force for this primarily millennial sales team.

    Gen-x and older, on the other hand, grew up in a financially motivated workplace. It was and still is for many in these generations, all about the money. I fell into this trap, and as a high paid sales manager in the auto space, found myself operating at a lower capacity than I wanted. My motivation level as driven by income had diminishing returns. Then one day I promoted my first few employees. One employee had worked hard for me for several years and had gone from entitled riff-raff to telling me, “I’ll do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes to move up under you.” and he did just that. He had earned his promotion! It gave me great pleasure to promote this lad. This became a new purpose for me, after uncovering this by accident I had a new reason to lead: Help others move up in their career! This new purpose drove me, drove my results, and inspired me to inspire those that worked for me for years to come. Significantly more than any additional money could have motivated me.

    Millennials are no different. They desire to derive true meaning and purpose in what they do. If the carrot on the end of your stick isn’t the carrot they want to digest, it will not motivate them! If your chief method for driving results and people is pushing the paycheck, don’t plan on motivating many millennials for very long. You can read more about finding a better reason to sell than money in my article: “Selling for the Money is Weaker Than Circus Lemonade”. One of my favorite documented coaching wins was when a single coaching conversation doubled a salesperson’s results almost overnight. He went from selling 10 cars a month for almost 3 years to 20 cars per month. We helped him uncover a deeper reason for selling, which was to donate to cancer research. After losing a parent and both grandparents to cancer, that was something that would inspire him. What a worthy cause! Help your millennials uncover what drives them, because they may not know how their career can help them impact what they want most. If you do help them find a deeper and more motivating reason to do what they do, you will earn their loyalty and provide the inspiration it takes to motivate your employee for years to come.

    They appreciate and are inspired by recognition!

    “Is it wrong that I just want them to do their jobs? I do mine all day and don’t expect any praise!” The General Sales Manager questioned in our leadership workshop while we were discussing the requirements to generate motivation and desired behaviors. The answer to that is, “Yes, it’s wrong.” Here are several reasons why.

    Do you consider doing your job to its fullest capacity, with complete competence, and always giving 150% no matter who is paying attention the only way to work? If so, you are like me. As a manager, then you also need to know that by not giving praise you simply are not operating at full capacity. This is because of the psychological principle of positive reinforcement. Give something for the desired behavior and that behavior is much more likely to be repeated than taking something away for an undesired behavior.

    Sure many employees, not just millennials, appreciate great praise for a job well done. Beyond that, when you give them specific feedback as to what they did well, how what they are doing is positively impacting their company, and what happens if they keep it up, you are inspiring them to do it again, and again. Saying nothing at all and expecting them to continue doing what worked for them, is a management mistake. Saying “good job” isn’t enough, and doesn’t have the same effects on behaviors. As much as I love to joke with many of the amazing millennials I coach about them getting trophies even if they miss a goal, they know darn well I will always tell them what they do right. I want them to know which desired behaviors are impacting their results!

    Regardless of the generation, you come from, if you are in leadership, a great quote from an amazing coach applies: “My job is to find 40 different ways to move 40 different men.” – Vince Lombardi

    This quote couldn’t apply more than it does to leading millennials! Let them be involved in your company and it’s challenges by asking their opinions. Allow them to solve problems for themselves and follow up by providing wisdom and guidance on their action plans. Help them discover a deeper reason to do what they do, other than money. Finally, recognize them and spotlight them when they do what’s right. Trade in the old way of blind obedience management for these powerful new leadership strategies, just as you would an old car that’s starting to break down. If you do this, you can retain more employees, develop and motivate your millennials to another level. This will take a massive leadership burden off your shoulders and help you grow your department. This will ultimately make you the hero as your companies results improve. Here’s to leading millennials, what a great blessing and responsibility!

    This is an excerpt in an upcoming book in sales and leadership by Sean Kelley CEO of Car Motivators. Car Motivators helps auto industry leaders achieve great results through their people and their technology. We believe training should be tailored individually to be real and relevant to your business. By coaching excellence into every member of your team together, we can create winning cultures of unstoppable champions at each layer in your dealership that will exceed expectations, communicate effectively, and be aligned to the direction you are taking your company. We would be honored to learn more about you and your unique challenges to determine if we could help you strengthen your culture and improve your results! Please email Sean@carmotivators.com or check out our website at carmotivators.com to achieve greater results through your people and technology! Sean also has a featured VLOG on http://www.dealershipnews.com and speak across automotive conferences across the country like Digital Dealer, Rockstar Auto Conference, AutomotiveGameChamers!

    #coachingthecarbusiness #thecarbizcoach #thisistraining #coachingexcellence #winningcultures