How To Take Over a New Dealership and Double Sales in Under 60 Days

Imagine you’re buying a brand new dealership and in your mind you are thinking, “Maybe I’ll be profitable by the end of this year.” or “I hope to make my investment back in two to three years.”

Then, in your very first month after buying that dealership, you end up hitting your expected pro forma that you were planning to hit over a year from now. In your first full month at your dealership, you have had the BEST month ever in the trackable history of that dealership. 

Seems pretty crazy right? 

Well, that’s exactly what happened for GM and owner, Josh Wischnewsky of Wischnewsky Dodge. Since Fountain Forward helped Josh hit first place in his PMA for his other dealership, Winnie Dodge, Josh hired us immediately for his next dealership for consulting, advertising, and branding. 

What Happened (In Under Two Minutes):

Prior to becoming Wischnewsky Dodge, the dealership was formerly known as Team Dodge, located in Huntsville, TX. 

Team Dodge moved 58 total units per month on average for the last five years.

The old dealership, Team Dodge, sat in the marketplace as a car dealer. The dealership got lost in the noise of being a car dealership. They sold the minimum because they were the minimum. 

They had inventory, they had a solid sales team, and they advertised a bit with no real plan or strategy. 

There is nothing wrong with that, it just won’t grow your dealership. You won’t be an outlier. 

Fountain Forward helped Wischnewsky Dodge do a market analysis, launch the new dealership, and change the narrative in the marketplace. As soon as we looked at the market data, we knew there was opportunity to grow.  

We analyzed the cost to advertise in that market AND the advertising channels available. 

We realized that Team Dodge’s digital strategy was virtually non-existent, and Wischnewsky Dodge was a great candidate for our proprietary Facebook ads strategy. 

Immediately upon launching the new dealership, Fountain Forward was able to come in and exploit channels that the dealership and their nearest competitors weren’t even touching. 

Instead of putting Wischnewsky’s advertising dollars in saturated and competitive channels, we went “all in” on digital – specifically Facebook – and bet on digital being the best catalyst for growth.

At the end of the first month, it was clear that our bet paid off. 

The comprehensive digital marketing strategy Fountain Forward created for Wischnewsky Dodge aimed to bring in-market consumers to consider Wischnewsky Dodge when buying a car. 

This new strategy increased website users by 150%, which increased leads that resulted in more sales. The graphs below show a direct link between the KPIs. 

First, Wischnewsky’s new digital strategy brought a large increase of high quality users to the dealership’s website. 

Second, these high quality users converted on the site and increased the number of total internet leads. 

Lastly, Wischnewsky Dodge effectively closed these leads and increased sales.

With the help of Fountain Forward, Wischnewsky Dodge, formerly Team Dodge, was able to transform and sell a record amount of vehicles and make a record amount of profit in the first full month with the dealership. 

In addition, we immediately noticed a discrepancy when we analyzed their inventory mix and the sales records for their four nearest competitors. Roughly 50% of their lot consisted of new inventory that sat twice as long compared to other inventory which turned quicker, and more profitably

Although advertising had a large impact on the increase in sales, it is not a cure all. Wischnewsky Dodge executed on key fundamentals that were needed in order to make the advertising strategy succeed.

FOR THOSE THAT WANT TO READ MORE…

KEY DEALERSHIP FUNDAMENTALS:

Every dealership is doing what we’ve mentioned below, but how these work in unison is where money is won and lost. Every month, you must build your strategy with the below five criteria in unison. If not, you are wasting money. It may be $10,000, or it may be $200,000, but you’re wasting money, that’s for sure. 

Inventory

  • Does inventory accurately reflect your sales goal?
    • Although outliers do exist, a dealer should expect to turn half of its inventory. Most OEM dealers turn their NEW inventory in 60-90 days and USED in 25-60 days. 
  • Every month when you do you deep dive into the data, before you point any fingers at marketing/advertising you must look at your traffic to inventory data. 
    • Less inventory will have an adverse effect on lead volume. 

Pricing and Merchandising

  • Vehicles need to be priced correctly and aggressively depending on your objectives. Match the customer you’re trying to sell. 
    • If they are priced incorrectly or the page is difficult to navigate, people will choose to do business with a different dealership. 
    • Let’s say your dealership brings 10,000 people to the website every month. Imagine just a 2% lift in conversions with a change in layouts, Call-To-Action(s), or page speed. 

Sales Force

  • Are there enough sales people at the dealership? Like really. Like really really… Just asking, for a friend. 
  • Are you giving them the correct lead mix? It’s typical for salespeople to waste resources on low quality leads that don’t result in sales. We have more than a few case studies to show how creative sales people can be with garbage leads. 
  • Is the sales team aggressive and consultative in hitting lead to appointment benchmarks? 

Sales Process

  • Is the sales process aggressive and effective? What do you define as success for each individual salesperson? 
  • Are customers being reached quickly? 
  • Are customers being followed up with? 
    • How many times? What words do they use?

Messaging

  • A message is what sets a dealership apart from other dealers in the area.  
  • Do customers understand this message in a clear and concise way that touches a pain point?

Team Dodge had the criteria. They checked the boxes. But merely checking them will not max out your profits. It’s not possible. You have to have them all in unison.

That is why, the fundamentals are where the money is. The secret sauce is spending the time to make sure they’re lined up. If you don’t, don’t expect the profits. 

Advertising is not a one off. Successful advertising relies on the right inventory, prices, the sales force, sales process, and the messaging in order to produce results. 

A great litmus test to see if you’re shaking things up… Are the sales guys at the other dealerships knocking at your door? Well, even the Toyota guys in town are hitting us up. 

Fountain Forward was patient and took the time to listen to what the market place desired, and then we created that with Wischnewsky Dodge. This is in unison with an operator that staffed up to 14 sales people IMMEDIATELY. You must have all the criteria in unison.  

Below are a few tactical items to showcase why it’s working specifically for Wischnewsky Dodge 

Inventory

  • The dealership increased their inventory to reflect their updated sales goal of 140 units per month as well as telling the factory “WE’RE COMING IN HOT!” to ensure we get some extra love. 

Pricing and Merchandising

  • Josh knows how to price the cars so our traffic converts. This does NOT mean playing price-tricks on the consumers. It means the right pricing at the right time. 

Sales Force

  • Wischnewsky Dodge immediately doubled the dealership’s sales force to 14 total sales people in order to appropriately handle a higher lead volume and sell more cars.

Sales Process

  • Josh could feel that he had some really solid salespeople, but he went the extra mile. He took 30 days to observe how they were going to use the CRM and THEN put in a new Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that would work for HIS group of people. Don’t just cram an SOP down their throats.

Messaging 

  • Wischnewsky. A name that you’re not going to forget. BUT IT’S REALLY HARD TO SPELL! You’re right. That’s the plan… Read below. 
  • The dealership has fun offers like ‘You spell it, we sell it for $1,000 less’ where customers are asked to spell Wischnewsky Dodge to receive that extra $1,000. It gets spelled over and over and over and iis creating brand recall in the marketplace.

Wischnewsky Dodge now has a comprehensive marketing strategy that gets in-market buyers to consider Wischnewsky Dodge. After that, we rely on the right inventory, prices, messaging  and let the talented Wischnewsky Dodge team take over.

By The Numbers:

  1. Increased sales by 81 units (140%) moving 139 total units in August
    • NOTE: Prior to becoming Wischnewsky Dodge, Team’s Dodge surpassed 70 sales only twice in the last 18 months. Their highest month was 77 units.
  2. Cost Per Car: $323 (saving $220 per copy)
  3. Increased total internet leads by 172 leads (70%) to 417 from 245
  4. Total gross increased by 199%. 
  5. Website visitors increased to 12,137 from 4,830 (150%).
  6. Organic traffic increased 55% to 2,989 from 1,927.
  7. Social traffic increased by 5000+%
    • The first 2 months, Facebook was able to attribute 61 sales with an $8.60 return on ad spend and cost per car of $295 making a total of $154,722 in gross
  8.  Total VDPs increased to 8,774 from 3,292 (166%)

NOTE: % increases are based off an 18 month average prior to becoming Wischnewsky Dodge

In Conclusion:

As a GM, owner, GSM, or Sales Manager you can do ALL OF THESE things with your current vendors completely on your own. Or, you can hire someone to do it for you.

I understand the relationship between marketing and sales in the automotive industry as I’ve worked with nearly 100 dealerships.

The money is there, and that’s why I’ve recently become a partner in a dealership myself.

Stay tuned to see how I do!

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