My Experience at Phil Long Ford Colorado Springs CO
I started selling on eBay in 1999 the world’s largest garage sale and realized that the Internet was changing the way people buy and sell. I started my auto career selling cars in 2001 at CarMax, I saw how they were using the Internet to sell cars online. Since this time, I have been fascinated with Automotive Internet Sales. Over time I moved to traditional dealerships, within a few years I was selling 20 to 30 a month. Later I was offered to manage an Internet Department. I started training sales staff to sell 20 cars a month with the help of the Internet and to “follow up until they buy or die”. I have successfully set up, manage, and turned around numerous Internet and BDC departments since then.
Mark Mike and Aaron offered me the Internet BDC position at Phil Long Ford Motor City. I took this job over other locations because the BDC was already running, and the prior Internet Manager was still with the company and was willing to train me. This is something I had never seen in 20+ years of managing BDCs and Internet departments.
There are only two ways to get more appointments:
1. Make More Calls: Get quality leads, make quality calls, leave a quality message, send a quality email and text if possible.
2. Get More Leads: We can buy leads or traffic, or we earn traffic and leads with Local SEO and Local Social Media.
Both of these programs are not easy because they take a lot of work. When I come into a situation, I review what is happening good and bad and try to implement improvement in these two areas:
1. The BDC: This department has been on auto pilot for a while. BDC do not generally work well with out constant supervision. The 6 agents were producing around 7500 calls during Sept 2023 with around 305 appointments. They were making around 60 to 70 calls a day per person, but a lot of the calls, emails and texts were not quality.
2. The Sales Staff: The entire 50+ sales staff and managers were not calling very many calls except one amazing Lincoln salesperson and a few others. The entire sales team was making around 8000 calls a month for about 305 appointments. Of these 8000 calls one salesperson at Lincoln made 1155. This works out to about 7 calls per day average across the entire team. The sales staff should be at 30 calls a day at a minimum. Many sales staff that are not busy should put up 60 per day or higher. Our average calls to get one appointment is 26 to 30 calls. If they were making 30 quality calls a day in about 1 to 2 hours a day, they would get 1 appointment a day. It will take a while to get the sales team to these numbers but if they doubled their production to 14 calls a day or 16,000 calls a month we would have 610 appointments, double what we have now.
3. Sales Managers: Last week in the sales managers’ meeting a sales manager told me, who do you think you are telling me to make phone calls? For 12 years I have never had to make phone calls, I will never make phone calls, this is your job and the BDC’s job. My have times changed; Every request that I get where someone is looking for a sales manager, they ask me do you know of a sales manager that understands the Internet and follow up? This program works, but it will never work if the sales managers do not get onboard. I do not think sales managers need to make a lot of calls, but they sure need to know how to follow up and be able to hire and train their staff to understand the importance of follow-up.
My Plan To Increase Sales: 1. Have the BDC agents do a better job with follow-up. 2.Utilize leads that were coming in that had no follow up 3. Train the sales staff to better answer the phones and to do better follow-up so they could get more appointments and then sell more cars.
I have used this pattern at multiple dealerships over many years. It is difficult in the beginning to get everyone to take these leads and to follow up but it will only works if the Owners, GM and GSM back me up.
• Leads Down 30%: I notice we were off around 30% on Internet leads, calls and campaign leads. If we are going to increase sales: 1. We need to do a better job with following up 2. We need to increase our leads from other existing sources 3. We need to buy or earn more leads.
• Increase Leads: I noticed the BDC agents were not answering the overflow phone calls, they were not calling the Internet phone leads, AutoAlert leads or Ford Connection Leads. I started following up with these leads and I asked them to do the same. There were a lot of different leads that we could use to supplement the 30% loss in Internet and Phone leads
• Better Job of Follow Up: I noticed they were very good at the fresh Internet Leads, but they were not leaving a message/voice mail or sending a text and email when possible, they were primarily making phone calls.
• Phone Calls: I noticed they called the fresh leads and the recent leads right away. Then they would run up their call numbers with the “uncontacted customers”, these are customers that never picked up. They would leave no voice mail, send no email and no text even when they had the opportunity. We had several conversations with all of them, even Lindsey from Lincoln told them several times do not waste your time on the uncontacted leads. The BDC agents were all doing this to a degree, but the worst offender of this was Audrey she would make 4 or 5 real calls then run up 60 fake calls in a few minutes to get to her numbers for the day.
I very clearly told Mark and Mike this is not going to be easy. Are you going to be OK when the staff starts balking at my program? They assured me that they were. No one really likes my program in the beginning but over time people start seeing the results. But this is not what happened. Within a few weeks Mark went off on me at the managers meeting. This started a chain reaction of Mike micromanaging everything I was doing.
Managing the BDC: Mike started micromanaging every aspect of the BDC
• Mike was very upset when I started requiring Audrey the old manager to stay at her desk and make calls. She got more and more upset and would not stop causing disturbances in my department. She finally quit. This seemed to be the beginning of troubles with Mike. Mike told me “I told you to work with Audrey”.
• Mike then tried to put another salesperson who failed at selling cars in my department that was just like Audrey. I told him No; this is not the type staff I want in the department. Again, Mike was upset at me.
• Mike started telling me every day you must make as many calls as the BDC girls. One day he saw I only made 5 calls half way through the day, so he told all the managers and Mark that I only made 5 calls. I stayed until I had 40 but he still brought it up at the meetings that I only had made 5 and this was not acceptable; I need to make as many as the BDC agents. (If I made an many calls at the BDC agents, I would be a BDC agent and I would have no time to be manager. Mike basically made me into a BDC agent.)
• I started emailing customers on Sunday after 4 Sundays Mike stated text me how I was not rotating the leads correctly and I was not handling the leads on Sunday the way He wanted. My wife got so upset with what he was saying to me on Sunday she took my phone. Mike stopped me from doing the Sunday leads.
• Mike got someone at the BDC to spy on my every movement. He was so upset with me leaving for extended lunches to take care of things like the DMV or the dentist appointment. At this time I was working open to close to see what was happening, I arriving at 8:15 am for the managers meeting and I went home after 7:15 pm when the last BDC agent left. Since I was opening and closing I would take care of things on my lunch hour. I was also working 4 to 5 hours every Sunday and I often worked my day off. But he made such a big deal about it, he told all the managers and Mark that I would disappear at lunch for 2 or 3 hours. The firs time he “Caught me doing this” I was stuck at the DMV trying to get my CO license and the power went out. They kept all the appointments until the computers came back up. But they still did not work so they sent us home to come back the next day.
• One day I told the girls if a manager does not get back to you probably because they are busy, on a hot customer try to get a hold of a salesperson to get them the information or video the customer needs. The lead comes into the managers name first, if the manager does not assign it to a sales person in a timely manner the BDC should assign it and tell the sales person what need to be done, this is a common practice at all stores I have worked at. But later I get a text from Mike I heard you are going around the managers. So just let a hot customer sit there until a manager gets a chance to assign the lead, we should be able to assign a lead when necessary to a salesperson. How would he know that unless he has a spy in the department? There have be multiple situations like this, I would say something to the girls about a change in a process and Mike would text me a few minutes later telling me I heard this or that and why are you making this change?
• I tried to get the BDC agents to change some of the things they were doing. One of the BDC agents Emma says I am not going to train the salespeople or answer the phone calls, or work on the Auto Alert leads or the Ford Consumer Connection leads unless I get more money, yet she was getting paid $34 per hour at the time and not working many of her hours per day, just sat there and waited for a fresh lead,. She also refuses to follow my instructions of using quality leads, rather than the uncontacted leads where the customer never answers. She also refuses to leave a voice mail or send an email or a text every time there is the opportunity. Then Mike tells me Emma does not like you and she says she can do everything you can do and she will do it for less money. But you can never tell her I told you this. Then Mark and Mike tell me on different occasions and keep reminding me that Emma wants your job and she will work for a lot less than you.
• I do not like to make any changes in the beginning until I have a good idea of what is happening. I saw how Emma and Audrey were going through the solds at the end of the month to make sure all the Internet solds were correctly assigned. One of the girls who was looking at the numbers commented we are still short of the bonus number. Emma and Audrey said don’t worry. Sure enough they found a few missing deals and they hit their bonus in July and Aug. Mark did not seem to have a problem with this, he mentioned several times some of these are not real internet sales. Something happened in September, the number of phone calls was up, everyone was working harder than ever, the sales staff were making more calls and I was answering the leads on Sunday. Then something happened in the middle of the month and the Internet sales started going down not up. There were sales by Emma that she did not put down as Internet, someone was sabotaging the numbers. We ended up missing the number by a few in Sept and then also the same thing happened in Oct. Of course, this was blamed on me, Mark and Mike were all over me about the girls missing their number and they were all grumbling and thinking about leaving. I think someone told Emma do not fix the numbers. They all lost $1000 in bonuses because they missed these numbers. Why would she purposely throw the numbers? She needed the money just like the other girls. Mark even alluded to this one time when he said we know we are getting real numbers now.
Managing The Sales Staff: l started training the sales staff, things were going very well, but Mike started saying at the Managers meeting “No one likes your training program” and he put a stop to me training the sales staff. Several weeks later they allowed me again to train sales staff. Things were going good again with the sales staff, but Mike again put a stop to it. Why would he not let me train the sales staff, no one else was doing it? If the sales staff just doubled their production from 7 calls to 14 calls, we would have 330 more appointments at 41% close rate = 132 extra sales at no extra cost.
I keep asking myself why have they totally thrown me under the bus on this project? Who would benefit from us not selling 50 to 100 more cars?
One interesting thing happened within the first few days. Mike was talking to me about what their plans were for the dealership and how I could help the company. He then starts telling me a bunch of dirt on Mark and then on Aaron. I was shocked, Mark just hired me and Aaron is helping me in the Internet department.
Then I realized I was just as guilty of doing stupid things in my lifetime and if I had not done these things, I sure thought about doing them. If Mike did not like sinners, he was not going to like me, because I was just as big a sinner as Mark and Aaron.
Mike often accused Aaron of stealing leads as the old Internet manager and was always asking me if I changed the passwords and did I lock him out of different areas. He also wanted to know if I was aware of him stealing leads etc. So Mike the GSM who should be supporting Mark, was trying to undermine my relationship with Mark and Aaron for what reason?
Aaron is a very interesting guy, He learned how to do an amazing job in the BDC and he also learned how to train sales staff to sell cars with follow up. When He went to Lincoln ha took his best BDC agent Lindsey and He took two other top BDC agents and turned them into sales staff. When he got Lincoln he used the same principles with every sales person he had. This is why his store is doing good, not because he is stealing leads. I tried to apply these exact same principles at the other three stores and got shot down over and over.
Aaron like almost all BDC Internet Managers that I have ever met, they want to become a Sales Manager, so he learned to desk deals and do finance in the BDC. He was so good they moved him to Lincoln. But the (1) BDC Internet Manager should not be desking deals or dealing with financing this is the (8) Sales Managers job. Aaron was thinking way past learning to desk deals, he also was doing a lot of the work of the New Car Sales Managers and the Used Car Managers should have been doing. No wonder the managers do not like me and wish Aaron was back. I have never heard Aaron say anything bad about any employee or manager.
Special shout out to Karen in the BDC who has listened to everything I have said and has tried to apply it. She will be a great BDC Internet Manager.
I never got a chance to set up what I call “Local Social Media” where we take pictures of customers buying a car and get involved with building a Facebook and Instagram following. I was able to make a few “Local SEO blog posts” during all the trauma of the past several months.
At the end of Oct when Mark was out of town, Mike took the morning sales manager's meetings, each day for three days He would tell me how terrible I was oing with the BDC and then He would ask a sales manager what they thought and
then that sales manager would then trash me in front of all the managers in the room. This happened for three days in a row. Then on Saturday there were (2) two-hour meetings where Mark and Mike told me that I was not doing a good job.
Then Mark said he was sorry that everyone got on my case. He then said Aaron will be back in charge of the BDC to train me. Mark said to me you probably will only make $7k next month why would you stay? Then he said I heard you were looking for a job at Nissan, which was not true. Mike told me not to go to the managers meeting. Is Mark telling me I should be ooking for another job?
In Conclusion: I believe Mike tried to poison my relationship with Mark and Aaron in the very beginning and then he turned against me when I would not submit to his idea to keep Audrey and Katie. He then proceeded to poison my relationships with all the managers, sales staff and BDC agents. He told me to stop training or doing anything else, you need to make as many calls as the BDC agents.
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