TCPA Violations can cost you BIG!

By Tom Hampton

TRUE fact, 95% of texts are read in 90 seconds or less after you send it. Texting is unquestionably an integral tool to engage consumers in 2020, HOWEVER, it is not without extensive legal and regulatory risks.

In order to survive and thrive, businesses must be mindful and play by the rules set forth by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, known as the TCPA founded in 1991. Car dealerships directly put their business at legal and financial risk each time they text, be it to correspond with a lead, with a customer, for collections, or sending inventory pics…the list goes on! TCPA penalties START at $500 and can go up to $1500 per text sent.

Example:

A customer submits a complaint that 5 texts were sent to without their permission. At a minimum, fees will start at $2,500, likely much more, as well as setting the way to a full investigation looking for compliance violations, often adding more fines.

How can the average dealer keep track of all the texts sent by the entire team, on top of the 5,000 other things they are currently doing? The solution is very simple and so cost effective it is scary! For less than one average auction fee and no long-term contracts, you are covered-7-ways-to-Sunday, 24/7/365.

Just like having a DMS to keep all your paperwork records and compliance, this is also a tool to keep your texting compliant! Did I mention that with this service, you see it all! No more guessing what your employees are texting to prospects, customers, or account holders! No more getting blind-sided by customers who say…’your salesman told me if I did this…. then y’all would do that for me!’

SOLUTIONS are what we do at Car Guys Agency. Effective, affordable solutions for your dealership. Give me a call or visit www.carguysagency.com

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5 Effective Ways to Get More out of Your Website

Blue Grey Photo Fitness Blog Graphic

By Tom Hampton             

November is upon us my friends! And shortly, so will be the end of 2020. Can anyone honestly say they will be sorry to see the year go? Actually, I can. 2020 has been the BEST year we have seen in the car business for almost 100 years! The playing field got leveled. Not only did the game change, but so did the rules we used to play by!  

Customers have raised the bar on us at least 10 times in just 7 short months. Test drives became delivered, financing went remote, texting and emails going ballistic overnight. The retailers of the world had to re-invent almost every process in their business to survive and start to grow again as the term in-person became obsolete.  

Which brings us to the topic at hand: Your website. Let’s explore 5 foundational tools your website should offer consumers to be truly impressive!  

1. Ease of navigation 

You do not have to spend a lot of money to have a website that navigates easily. Think about why customers are on your site. What are they looking to learn? They want to see specific vehicles and prices, finance options, reviews, and what steps they need to start the process. Can your customer easily contact you with questions? Each area should be easily identified and navigated to easily! This goes double for your mobile platform, especially as research shows nearly 60% of shoppers are on their devices.  

2. Clear/concise information 

It is really important that your customer can get all the facts from the information you present on your website. Are your photos accurate, good quality, and loading quickly? Is there a condition report posted with each vehicle? Eighty percent of consumers research a product online before purchasing. Providing your customers with both quantity and quality sources of information to make an informed purchase will give your website the advantage over your competitors. It can also really helpful to add a chat box to your website for customer who have questions and want immediate answers from available staff.  

3. Your values 

The values you and your team bring to the used car industry support the vision of your company.  Why should a stranger buy from you? What makes your company stand out? Let your customers know who you and your team are by including short bios, corporate goals and credos, and a commitment to providing an honest, satisfactory experience. Make sure there is a page for feedback from customers. This not only lets your customer feel heard, but also helps you improve the buying experience for future customers.  

4. Easy/Secure access to financing with payment calculator 

The major point to be made here is your customer must become a part of the process and not the subject. Your financing process should be clear, easy to follow, and the steps and required documentation listed. If you aren’t doing your own financing, let your customer know who you do use, with information about their process.   

Consumers nowadays want information about pricing and payments before they take the next step of speaking with a salesman. If you are using WordPress, search for a simple payment calculator plugin to add to your site, so customers can get an idea of what they will be paying.  

5. Transparency  

Transparency boils down to one underlying point…trust. In 2018, The Transparency Imperative Report found that 75% of consumers are more likely to switch to a brand that provided more in-depth product information. The same truth applies today, both to the vehicles you sell and the experience you and your team deliver.  

To conclude, invest the time for a thorough website evaluation. Remember that what you perceive as a value, may not impress your patrons. It is good practice to ask other team members and friends to also evaluate your site periodically and provide feedback of their thoughts and experience. If you are interested in taking your website to the next level, contact us for more information on Auto-Pilot Advertising!  

Create-A-Great-Future…only you can! 

Tom Hampton 

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The Basics

There will always be plenty of companies contacting you professing solutions AND profits…and all you need to do, is use THEIR program/process/formula/app, for a nominal fee…. of course!  

My emails (multiple accts), Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts are flooded daily!  

“Do this and you’ll be rich in hours!”   

“Use our system and NEVER fail again”   

yeah, yeah, yeah! Same rhetoric, different set of words from all the so-called experts.  

Please understand, that I am the first to say money spent to improve yourself and your business are solid investments in your journey to financial success and business stability; I have spent thousands educating myself! Be cautious, however. Financial investments will never return unrealistic and/or extraordinary results with little to no effort. If something promises it will, it is a scam. Change and improvement comes from continuously working at it and staying committed to achieving daily goals.  

Let’s start at the beginning and brush up on the basics! I have found these 4 fundamentals to be the cornerstone to every successful business or venture.  

  1.  Communication  

Communication is one of those things that can make or break your business. I have experienced all types of people and businesses that are not aware that real communication skills are centered around the way the other person learns; Visually, Auditorily, Kinesthetically, or by Reading/Writing. Through my investment in Neuro-Linguistic Programming training, I have learned to how to spot different cues that tell me which learning style a person most likely uses to communicate. For example, if a person’s eyes move up when you ask them a thinking question, they are visual learners and need to see the information I am presenting.  

  1. Listening  

If your customer does not feel like you are hearing them, you might miss out. What I often see happening is people listening only long enough to respondI like to call it talking at one anotherThey spot (and often assume) the problem, then immediately supply a solution. After all, providing our customers with solutions IS what we are here for! By not having great listening skills, you could be missing important information that will help you completely understand what your customer wants.   

  1. Customer Service 

With great listening skills, comes GREAT customer service! Providing your customer with a top-notch experience cultivates loyal (and referring) customers. Going back to my Neuro-Linguistic Programming training, by also learning to switch communication style to match the person being engaged, conversation flows naturally, the customers’ needs are all being met, and rapport follows!  

  1. Providing Quality Products 

Being the best you is only the foundation to a great business. At the end of the day, all of that is only as good as the product/service you are providing to your customer. I also suggest investing the time to ensuring your team is well trained and knowledgeable of the products you are selling.  

These four basics of business are paramount for growth to occur. My best advice is to invest in yourself first. The rest will follow. When the time is right, reach out to us and we can get you started on your road to success. For a limited time, I am offering a FREE 30-Minute Kickstart Guidance session! Let’s brainstorm!  

Create a Great Day! 
Tom Hampton 

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Re-Birth of an Industry.

Honestly, my friends, I did not think that I would live to see the rebirth/reinvention of the used car industry. 

My grandfather was around for its birth, my father for its heyday, and I for the rapid evolution of vehicles. The here and now, we are seeing changes we never could have anticipated, and they won’t stop there.   

In my father’s day, the salesman did it all; Desk the deal, underwrite the paper, go back and get the car made ready, then deliver it. 

Well, it kind of looks like it is 1965 again as our salespeople are granted more independence   from the desk. Our salespeople are taking more initiative to generate their own book of business as they learn to become professionals in all that they do. 

That fact in mind, what are you, the owner, doing to educate/train/inform/practice with your crew? Have you sat down with each one and done a little dream building

Do YOU know what your salespeople’s individual strengths are? Do YOU know what motivates them (besides $$$$)? Have you asked them for their ideas on how to improve any or all areas of the business? The way things (business) were run 6 months ago is just that…the past. A way of business we WILL NOT going back to doing. 

Getting that fact into your business model and adjusting actions accordingly is the key to PROSPERING instead of surviving the exponential changes we are all experiencing. Customers LIKE the personal service this crisis has forced dealers into. Customers like the fact of no F&I Dept process to suffer through. Customers like the test drive coming to them and the virtual test drive videos dealers are doing for every unit in stock. Customers like having the perception of having the upperhand throughout the entire sales/delivery process. 

Customers LOVE the fact that salespeople are having conversations with them and ***MAGIC WORD*** LISTENING to them! Customers are getting what they always have wanted and feared the most…control. 

IF IT SELLS CARS – THE CUSTOMERS MAY HAVE AS MUCH CONTROL AS THEY FEEL THEY NEED. So, WHAT are you doing about that? 

How are you fostering/nurturing those relationships to ease control into the customers hand? How are you making your customer feel more a part of the process and not feel as if they are BEING processed? These are some very serious things to think upon my friends. 

Being in communication with friends/clients in the industry in all corners of this great country has painted a very clear picture of what the smart dealer is doing. They are buckling down and getting it done. In this unprecedented season of reinvention and rebirth, LET your customers, salespeople, bankers, friends, associates, and all others help you, reshape your future

If you do not know what your customer wants (expects) then how can you meet those wants/needs/desires? My advice, grab a notebook and pen, have a Zoom meeting with your team, and brainstorm your tails off!  

Now, more than ever, the game of “what if” can be your best tool to grow with the curve of change and not get crushed under it. 

Create A Great Day, 

Tom Hampton  

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Time to Change

Funny thing, time… it has so many different meanings and associations.  

We here in Houston measure distance by time- “My Office is only 30 minutes from the Galleria.” We as Dealers buy according to the seasons (another different measurement of time) – for example, during the holiday seasons, we buy less and for Tax Seasons and Back to School Seasons, we buy more

Time regulates us. Here in Texas, you can only operate certain hours and for certain days (no consecutive Sat & Sun). Time is a man-made concept used to regulate and equalize life across the planet. 

We all have 24 hours in a day, no matter where you are on the planet. It is whether we spend or invest those hours that determine our financial future, our emotional future, and what guides us on our charted path. 

We as business owners often find ourselves in the “there are not enough hours in a day” mode. We hurriedly put out fires in various directions as we attempt to accomplish at least ONE thing on our growing TO-DO list – before the phone rings yet again? 

Sound a little too familiar? 

It happens to all of us at one point or another, after all, we are Entrepreneurs’ and we can handle ANYTHING! Well um, maybe some can, however the rest of us devoid of super-human abilities, we muddle through each day. 

Muddle time is over, (oops, there’s that time thing again) my friends! Earlier I quoted that you can either SPEND or INVEST your time. Most Dealers “spend” time looking for inventory, getting cars in and out of the shop, attempting to collect information for financing, and a whole host of other things! 

Some Dealers “invest” time sourcing inventory, recon is done in-house for most vehicles, and they have people or services prescreen their leads to expedite financing! 

What? You say that is investing MONEY and not time? Money we can always get MORE of; time, on the other hand, you cannot get back. 

So, the answer is YES. By investing capital, you gain TIME. 

Most business owners think you only have x-amount of hours in a business day. Well, I am here to tell you that you can easily “buy more hours” in a day! Some of you by now might be a bit confused, so I will clarify. 

Investing capital to “buy” more hours: Hire someone or some company to do some of the tasks you are doing right now! 

Think long and hard before you answer these:  

  • Would you pay $200hr to run to the courthouse for 3 hours to get 4 cars titled? 
  • Would you pay $200hr to run get parts or drop a car off to the shop? 
  • Would you pay $200hr to make calls for missing information and verify information already given? 

In fact – most Dealers do this every day and wonder why their business is so stressful and their profits are so low. As a business owner, your time is worth approximately $200hr! 

So, the smart operators pay out $25-$50hr to get something off their list so that they can INVEST the time into growing their business, not SPENDING their time running their business. (In some cases, the business runs the Dealer!) 

Yes. A business must be “run” in order to make money, however, that does not mean you have to run it all. 

Competition continues to come into the Independent Used Car market every day. That means your slice of the pie gets smaller with each new Dealer in town. However, the more time you can invest in yourself and your dealership, the quicker you gain market share. 

When was the last time you took a sales course or even had a sales meeting? When was the last time you paid a service to evaluate your webpage and then implement the changes When was the last time you went to a networking opportunity in your community? When was the last time you overhauled your Social Media strategy – or came up with one? 

You see my friends, there are numerous opportunities to “invest” in your future – some take capital, most simply take time. 

March 8, 2020 Time will change yet again (Daylight savings) and we will barely notice. Ask any 14 yr old the horrors of losing an hour’s sleep and March 8, 2020, has a very different meaning! 

Perspective is the key to success. 

Some may see themselves investing their time wisely by running the company; After all, they are saving money! That is what I call treading water. In a deep endless ocean, you can only tread so long before you drown. 

This is your business and your 24 hours. My role is to play WHAT-IF. So, what if you started paying a title company to run a few titles a week? What if you tried a couple of wholesalers and saved 10hrs at auction this week? What if your salespeople or heaven forbid – your customers – only be allowed to turn in complete applications for financing? What if you started your own Dealer Group to share resources and ideas? 

What If’s are endless. Your possibilities are too. 

Invest or Spend. What will you do with your TIME? 

Create a Great Day! 

Tom Hampton 

Contact us today MyRep@CarGuysAgency to learn more about our dependable products and services! Invest in growing your dealership today!  

www.CarGuysAgency.com 

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