The Wilde Automotive Family is a Sarasota area dealer group specializing in Honda, Lexus, Jaguar, Land Rover and Maserati vehicles for the past 45 years.
Today’s customer spends 12.5 hours shopping online, arriving at the dealership better informed and with a higher expectation of the retail sales process. When there are too many salespeople loitering in the showroom or perhaps none at all, poor first impressions are created. The process, from walk-in through delivery, should run like a well-oiled machine. From a GM’s stand-point, salespeople standing around on the floor also means that time-sensitive follow-up is not occurring for potential buyers.
Launched in 2007 by CEO Clint Burns, The Nextup Managed Retail Sales Process (MRSP) assists dealerships in monitoring and measuring team performances while ensuring effective customer engagement in the showroom, in the finance office, and in the service drive. There are four components within the Nextup platform: Engage: focused on Sales, Drive: tracking and auditing the test-drive; Transact: geared towards Finance; and Maintain: targeting Service activities. Nextup provides in-depth tracking for customer engagement processes and offers opportunities to improve both customer service and time management.
Standing Up For Change
Jay Alexander, General Sales Manager of Wilde Honda, knew that he wanted to improve his store’s process, even when he was out-pacing a Toyota store right across the street. He noticed habits forming that he knew would ultimately affect the customer experience.
Jay put it simply, “We’re trying to get better across the board. It was important for us to update the sales process using modern technology.The main challenge is that age-old picture that Nextup highlights for dealers, that experience of the whole crew standing out front of the dealership. That was my dealership. We’re just going down the same path as many others and probably losing business as we go. So that was my biggest problem, how do we fix that. We’ve never had a solution.”
“We had to get away from having three, four guys out front, just looks awful. You also occasionally hire ‘single-minded’ veterans, those who tend to float around between stores. They want to come in here and sell a lot of cars but they don’t want to adopt any of the dealership’s process or culture because they know different. Unfortunately, they don’t know anything except to stand outside and wait for a customer.”
“We tried our own up system. A hand-written system but it still didn’t keep people from loitering out front. I mean, we had a hard fast rule, no more than two people outside. And we’re in sales from Florida, so outside is a good place to be. The way our lot lays out, you have to be outside to see the lot. It definitely works well for the one and two position to be outside but we had Saturdays where there would be 14, 15 people out front. It looks ridiculous.”
A Vision For Success
Every dealership has a vision for the experience they provide their customers and the experience they provide their employees. But do they live and breathe it every day. Jay talked candidly about theirs.
“We could probably sustain for a while, being like the other stores in our area, just allowing people to stand around and make decisions on our behalf in regards to when and how they’ll engage customers. But we’ve invested a lot of time and energy in training and we feel it’s important for the salesperson to recognize themselves as a professional. We want to call them professionals just because they have a job, not because of what they do. They’re just standing outside, you know, that’s not professional. The idea behind Nextup, which how it works so well for us, is I want them to be efficient in the time they’re here.”
“I want my top salespeople to have awesome family lives. We want them to enjoy their kids and wives, their lives. And that just doesn’t happen in the car business. So I saw Nextup as a platform to achieve our vision. We say come in, be super efficient, put your head down and go to work when you’re not up. Our salespeople don’t have to worry about getting skated, and not being out front. The fear of loss is gone with Nextup. It’s changed the game for sure, as far as the long-term vision for the business, as far as keeping good salespeople. Build the process, from walk-in through delivery, that should run like a well-oiled machine. From a GM’s stand-point, salespeople standing around on the floor also means that time-sensitive CRM follow-up is not occurring for potential buyers.”
Onboarding – Where the Rubber Meets the Road
Bringing in new software, new processes are always a challenge for a dealership. Good intentions don’t always generate positive results. Jay speaks about how Wilde Honda prepared the team for implementation.
“I’d say the biggest value on our install and making it successful, is we had already committed to training we received from Alan Ram’s Proactive Training Solutions, and how that technique ladders so well in working a rotation with Nextup. Not just the process of selling the car but the total process of these guys working. We had been talking about it for at least month or month and a half in sales meetings, ‘This is coming, this is how it’s going to work.’ Kind of made the group part of the decision on the rules.”
“Our onsite trainer did a great job. I would say within a week we were really comfortable with it. We had tried our own up system before, as I mentioned earlier, so it wasn’t culture shock completely to our sales staff. I talked to the Nextup support & training team quite a bit when we were installing, it’s common-place in our business to not find out anything about a new product or install happening at your store until the day it happens. That never lends to solid adoption by the staff.”
Big Changes – Big Return?
Implementing new systems, new software usually means some time has to pass before real results become visible. Jay spoke about the immediate return on Wilde Honda’s Nextup investment.
“We track the opportunity report, the walk-in be-back ratio, The appointment be-back ratio. And we’re seeing really awesome data, so as a group we make sure we are in our reporting regularly. The appointment data is a core focus. And the salespeople are now focused on it too. It’s definitely moving the needle on appointments and the value there is so high, for them to have those appointments. They’re seeing the numbers, we post that report weekly. It hangs in the sales office. They can see it. We talk about it and look where we can keep improving.”
“Slowly but surely all of our salespeople have bought in. Some may have struggled out of the gate but we all work to lift each other up and they’re getting their wins now. Everybody can see it. It’s having a ripple effect.”
“There’s not the same grey area as there had been on taking fresh traffic, who’s up or reception trying to locate a salesperson. The managers are more engaged than they were in the past on the floor traffic because they know how much they impact closing ratios with early intros. Everyone is moving the needle in a positive direction together.”
“It’s changed our hiring methodology, we have very little turnover, to begin with. We’re lucky, but when we hire, I want sales vets to ask if we have an up system. Their response is usually the same. ‘I don’t like working at a dealership with that in place’. I can explain to them what we have and how committed we are to making it work. The data we’re getting is backing that up. We feel like we’re getting new team members excited, that they can come in and be successful right away. They don’t have to learn the politics of what’s going on in the store before they can start taking customers right away if they commit to using Nextup.”
When teams embrace process through accountability, great things can happen. It’s clear for Wilde Honda that Nextup was going to be the catalyst for better customer experiences and moving the sales team’s performances in the right direction.