The Dealer Playbook
The Dealer Playbook

Episode 514 ยท 5 months ago

Steve Roessler: Modern Dealership CRM Best Practices


Steve Roessler is the Chief Evangelist at DriveCentric, a modern take on an automotive CRM that features unified customer communications in an easy-to-digest interface. Steve shares his vantage point about why engagement is the key metric that dealerships need to track and how that's helping his client partners realize greater sales success.

What we discuss in this episode:

  • Steve came to the automotive industry from the medical industry and shares some of the biggest differences between the two industries. When first getting started in automotive, he thought it was funny that salespeople needed reminders to follow up with prospects. That was unheard of in the medical field.
  • Steve explains that the KPI for dealerships inside of a CRM should be engagement. "That's what most CRMs lack โ€” a focus on engagement rather than keeping a database of information. You're shooting yourself in the foot if you aren't tracking engagement."
  • When engagement is the focus, response times go down because every interaction is treated almost like a text message. It's like an ongoing chat rather than a template-heavy interaction.

Listen to the full episode for insights and context from Steve Roessler!

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The car business is rapidly changing and modern car dealers are meeting the demand. I'm Michael Cirillo and together we're going to explore what it takes to create a thriving dealership and life in the retail automotive industry. Join me each week for inspiring conversations with subject matter experts that are designed to help you grow. This is the dealer playbook. This doesn't happen often in automotive dpb gang, hear me out. Not sponsored, but I just gotta say I was recently exposed to the drive centric crm for the first time. Worked in many other CRMS and legitimately, I think the heavens opened, the clouds parted and I heard the Hallelujah chorus. The first thing that caught my eye. It's beautiful, it's simple, it's easy to look at. I'm not cluttered with all of this data right out of the gates. It's a nice, simple pipeline to understand. It just it makes sense. And I reach out to today's guest and I'm like, Yo, I just gotta let you know, Mazle tough, congratulations, you did a thing. I need you to come and talk to me on the show. And so here we are, Steve Rustler, like Hulk Hogan's a wrestler, joining me on the DP B. Thanks so much for joining me. Hey, no problem, Michael. That was great to be here. Man, did you know, once you like started rocking the Pompadour, that people would call you Jimmy Neutron? Like, was that part of the whole personal branding? No, you know what, before the hair was this, I used to have what I called the Duck Butt, and it was I called it the duck butt but it was actually where you push your hair down and then you push it up at the front, you know. Okay, yes, yes, I called it the duck but so I had that and I had the messed up look way back when. But no, my wife said addresser. So I mean, and so when I went with this and then I started doing all the videos Um that I do, and everybody comments on the hair. So I mean I joked around, like I talked to Joe Webb, I talked to frank loops and I said, man, what would happen if I changed my hair? They go, dude, nobody would know you. But but I really thought about this. I thought about if I did change my hair like once a year. Think about this, Michael. If I changed my hair once a year, I could be the Jennifer Aniston of friends. Just mail in the in the auto industry, because you know my wife will say, give me the Jennifer Aniston hair do from, you know, many years ago, when friends was right, right, Oh, I when women understand that joke. Men Don't, but I didn't either until my wife told you that. So well, you might also have another thing in common, which is that neither one of you were wearing a bra, because that was also I was a teenager during the friends era. Well, you're making it. You're making a you're making an assumption there. Yeah, that's fair. It's not a bro it's a Bro.

...where the bro Um? How many more reference? Let's let's see. Maybe we'll work our way backwards to like welcome back cotter or threes company. You've had a past life in the pharmaceutical business. Is that right? Medical Industry? Yeah, I did a lot of things in medical I um usually most people get in the medical industry, they usually what we call carry the bag. Carrying the bag is being a pharmaceutical rep and drop it off samples to doctor's offices. But now I did various things. That was my entry. The goal, the pinnacle, if you will, in medical is always being surgery. That's where the action is. So, Um, the highlight of my career in the medical side, at least what I thought, was getting in surgery, working at medtronic and I did spinal cord stimulation, deep brain stimulations, sore with the neurosurgeons or the orthopedic surgeons, and while patients had lower back pain or thinks that nature, I was basically, uh, stimulating at the head of the table to capture the pain, which was really cool, you know. And Uh, it just it was miracle things. Deep brain stimulation for Parkinson's. You know, people would go like this and then all the sounds like this, all this stuff. Um, but I learned, Um, working for a very big company is not it's hard to defend when you know of the market and metronic was kind of the gold standard in medical and when all the competitors were nipping at the buds, they laid people go and unfortunately I was one that was let go, uh, just because of the timing of where I was at. So we're on a place wrong time. But I learned a lot, but then I started getting in the startup world in medical so I started up two companies in medical side and then, uh, my buddy offered me an ownership position within rig centric. So that's why I got into this. This is this is fascinating to me, especially, you know, having that much experience outside of automotive. You know, I think from the inside we tend to say that, no, no other industry is like this. What's what's your take, having had experience in another industry? Are there any parallels? Are there any commonalities? or No, as automotive so completely unique that nobody else could understand it? No, you know, what I tell all my buddies, and I'm still friends within medical, is, you know, if you're selling, you know the one. The sales cycle in most industries is not nearly like what it is an automotive. I mean to sell a car in four day. Seventy percent of time it's like, are you kidding me? UH, most of the sales cycles that I've ever been a part of our at least one year old. So that's how long it takes you to close a deal, close hospital or get your product on a formulary or get your metronic on the shelf, whatever it was. I mean it's a long, long sales cycle. So Um, settling crm obviously an automotive. It's a long sales cycle. So I'm very used to it. But I think the follow up, like most people like. I'll give you a really good one. This is this one hits Onne to me because I obviously represents crm. I didn't know what a... rule was eight years ago. So you know, my my buddy who's my partner, he came up to me and he goes, yeah, he goes, we gotta set a business ro like, what the Frick is a business rule, dude? Because while you get an Internet lead, you gotta tell the sales people follow up. I will come again. I mean if we just say that right now, yeah, you know, you get you get a lead, you gotta tell somebody to follow up. That makes no to me. I still say that. That makes no sense to me whatsoever. Okay, ping me and tell me I gotta lead and but I'll follow up the way I want to follow up. So it's just that part. I mean that was really kind of weird. I've still to this day I operate. I've never ever in my entire sales career had used a business rule and most people outside of automotive don't. Um. So right, yeah, like I gotta lead. Of course I'm gonna follow up. Exactly. I have a follow up Caden's of Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Tuesday, Thursday. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Tuesday, Thursday. That's my case. I don't need a program to tell me that, you know, and I schedule all my future business rules and I used the crm no matter what I used back in the day. Act Gold Mine. I mean, I date myself for them watching this, but Um, this, this is really interesting. So, so you you come from medical now you're an automotive you're in the CRM game. Um, in your estimation right there. There's some long term players here. We won't go through them all, but I mean this is a this is a space where the oceans perhaps not as blue. I want your take, not just from Um, a crm perspective, but from a startup and working in that, that ecosystem and automotive. What? What are some of the things that you're concerned about, Um, that you're focused on, that maybe you think the others haven't been focusing on, like what what kind of openings are there for? Like, we all know about crm. So what are you seeing that maybe some others aren't? Well, I think the biggest play when I got the privilege of coming on board helping this, the one thing that my partner kind of said, Um, was we're going to do something really, really different, which just excites the hell out of me. Um, when I was in medical I really, you know, luckily represented, you know, different companies and got to build a different brand. Um, as we continue to what, like I say, build versus integrate. Now we're going to integrate with certain things, but the fundamental differences of these big, big companies out there acquiring tools. You know, if they see a tool that they're lacking, the first thing they do is go out there and buy it. And I think we all know like companies that have been bought and then innovation stops. And and look, and that's in every market. That no matter what, if you're an automotive, if you're in medical engineering, that's what happens. People by the product. They take the revenue. For our and the Lloyd, we think, is the...

...dealers as well. They're buying it, they're gonna make it better they're going to integrate. Well, let me tell you something. The iphone four is still on iphone four, but the iphone thirteen and fourteen are gonna be much different than the iphone four. You know why? Because they rebuilt it. Nobody is going to rebuild a tool such as like crm because it's so complex. So the band aid on it is they play the integration game and I think as dealers, what they have to realize is integration is not it's a it's a short term solution and Um and anybody can do it, including drive centric. But the biggest thing that we're really going out there with a message on is give us time to build a lot of things. I think we know what we are really, really good at. We're the best crm, in our opinion, in the marketplace. I hope a lot of viewers would agree that are on it. The folks that aren't on it never seen it. Well, you don't know until you make the change. But Um, we're more engagement focused than a database platform, and that's what these crms are lacking because they were just built twenty years ago. A lot of them have a bolt on texting tool that they put on because it doesn't flow as easy as it does. Um, it's not so much conversation. We go out there and we buy all these tools to make basically a drive centric what it is today. You know, and I'll give you one more analogy and I'll shut up, Michael, but I just kind of think twenty years ago you had a nokia phone, you also had a video camera, you also had a regular camera, you also had a fax machine, you had a pager. Imagine integrating all of those and what do you got? You got an Iphone, right, and that's ultimately we're kind of the iphone of crms right now. So it's it's pretty cool. Yeah, Um, and you you had mentioned I want a key on on this. You said you're you've got to focus on engagement. Um, what do you mean by that? Give it, give us some examples of of why that's important and how do you go about tracking engagement? No, that I'm glad you mentioned that, because that's our biggest focus point. Um, you know, when when we have a database tool like a crm is and we expect our sales people to make a hundred phone calls, fifty emails today and those, you know, communication strategies are out right. I mean if you get those strategies, maybe your Internet teams getting thirty percent engagement steeing and personalized video or we're seeing where it's at along with artificial intelligence. So engagement by definition is two way communication with a customer. So if I got a hundred Internet leads and I get a thirty five percent engagement rate, that means I can schedule at Max thirty five appointments and it's so our source statistically get about seventy percent engagement on the average of all their Internet leads, with all the tools we're providing. And if you just think about what we need to do, we need to talk to more customers, to schedule more appointments and sell more cars. It all starts and ends with engagement. If you don't track engagement, you're shooting yourselves in the foot. Now when a customer is talking to the store, these customers fit, just to show the important of the engagement that Detroit Trading Company,...

...uh during, covid came out with a good little study. And you know the o e m s, and you probably know this, the o e m c. just go out there and say, well, you have about thirty minutes to respond to a lead. Remember, I mean there were Toyotas said that Um and I think the game has changed so much because covid we are in a right now. It's Uh and we used to say the same thing. So, but the customer has changed to an immediate response. So you have about five minutes to reply to a customer. Where they're going elsewhere. And when you get engagement, you gotta make sure you're treating your engagement almost like chatting, you know, and that's what we're kind of teaching our stores is thinking your crm as a big chat system. Whether they're texting, their emailing, they're chatting or replying to a video, they're applying to AI respond back. We don't need all these templates and Um. So we create a new KPI called bumble. So when the customer is talking to you from the digital showroom and you don't respond in an hour, we deem it a fumble Sou and a lot of people can't track the customers are talking to you from the digital showroom. So that's where the engagement platform in drive centric makes it so unique that dealerships and the sales managers, everybody's hanging out in that conversation screen to really help the sales people talk back to the customers and basically study the digital etiquette of what your sales people are saying. This both sparks joy and also makes me chuckle. I remember my first e Book I ever wrote, going back ten, ten plus years. You're gonna love the title. So, so clever. Three automotive digital marketing tips. And you know, one of the things that I remember discussing in that book was response time and how, back then I remember compiling a bunch of reports and it was something like the average response time across dealerships was like twelve and a half hours. MHM, and I drew the parallel of imagine somebody walking up to you and saying hello and then you're just looking at them for twelve and a half hours and saying nothing. Yeah, the reason what you just said makes me think about how ludicrous and absolutely insane that would be is is that you're reframing the syntax by which they understand how this interaction works. This is a conversation. This is not like you can just take a lead, came in and I'm gonna go for lunch. This is no, this is a conversation. When you simply swap out the syntax from lead to conversation, it makes me want to respond a little bit more, and so I think that's really interesting how you're framing that. And also I looked down and wrote the word fumble because I see fumble, you know, in the in in here and I was wondering what that's all about. And and I love how you're just encouraging action. Yeah, no, I mean that's what we're exposing and I think...

...that's what you know. Again, it's these are new things. As as the customers evolved, we gotta come up with new KPI S for dealerships to be successful and focus on you know, when we you know, the old days of going out there and, you know, let's just take a look. You know, if I got a hundred Internet leads, how many appointments I schedule? How many show? How many? That is so old school, because now you've got engagement. If I get a hundred Internet leads, what's my engagement rate? Because now I know what my conversion is when I talk to a customer. Maybe I schedule my appointments. You know, that's good ways of looking at it. If you're getting a low you know, uh, appointment rate, then well, if I increase my engagement rate, man, that should follow suit. Right. It all works and starts with engagement. But yeah, I mean the fumble as we go out there and we developed that new KPI term actually about nine months ago, every one of our stores had a fumble rate of, believe this or not, thirty uh, what was? Um, it's thirty minutes or where where I'm right, of the dealerships were fumbling a conversation, and remember a fumble at least what we started with was a conversation, sitting there for an hour waiting for a response. Okay, wait, that's that's what a fumble and that's during business hours. By the way, a lot of our stories, we have a couple of stores that came up with this, is they established what's called the last word process, and what that means is the customer is the last one that's always acknowledged. So what I literally just had this meeting a second ago, but imagine, Imagine Patrick, a bad since, let's call him up there, right, and now we know his last name here. But if Patrick reached out to one of his managers and said Hey, is that customer coming in at five o'clock. You would bet anybody in that store would reply back and say yes, right, they're not gonna leave Patrick Hanging. So you've gotta treat every customer like a Patrick. Just respond acknowledging. We're teaching the last word process that send an Emoje, thumbs up, acknowledge it. That's it. Don't lead the customer hanging. The customers should be always heard and acknowledged, and that's what the last word process is. So that's how we're getting a better fumble right down to, hopefully less than five percent. So if you're getting however many conversations, you're only fumbling less than five percent, and that's what we're trying to educate our source to do. I love this Um. It solves many other issues, which is, you know, fundamentally there's been an issue between dealer and Marketing Company, lead generating companies, et CETERA. Your your leads aren't good enough. Actually, your engagement rate is twelve, you know, like so you had you had said it earlier and I want to key in on it. It's kind of shining a spotlight all around in a way that keeps everybody accountable, not just dealer, not just vendor, not just whatever, all parties involved in making the business move forward again by changing the focus to engage and really really shift the narrative,...

...and I love it. Um, talk to me a little bit about you had you had mentioned earlier. Um, I mean we've been talking about conversation. Talk to me a little bit about, uh, some of the new features that you were you were telling me about earlier, about how you're tying in all of the different data sources, because typically it's what email, there's like some sort of email lead that spills data into the crm. But you were talking about going actually bigger than that, more maybe more all encompassing. Well, I think what you're kind of alluding to is all the conversation pieces in one screen, meaning like I can for the first time, and even apple and Android don't do this, but in our conversation screen you can see all the communications streamline into one thread. So like right now you can't go into one of your text threads that you had with me and see that you made a phone call to me. Right you had to go to your phone log and track that you got phone, text, emails, e blast, video proposals, pictures, chat. So, yeah, one of the new products we just developed was a product called direct chat and what anybody who's on the BBC side are taking, you know, chat leads. They understand that they're in a different platform and then they pushed that file to an a D F X M L format. For the first time ever, you're able to chat from the CRM and it looks like a text threat or an email threat. It flows logically in the CRM for you to qualify that lead and you're in one platform. You get pushed notifications right there on your mobile phone. You can chat from the mobile APP. Um. So yeah, I mean we're streamlining like person lines video. You can do live streaming, like we're doing a live streaming right now. We're trying to teach to enhance the digital showroom experience by meeting the customer where they want to be met. If I, as a customer, have no control of the price, you know what I got control of, Michael? How I want to buy the car. So I want to have a carbon experience. I'm going to get a carbon experience. So you better have the tools in place, you know, and figure out how I want to buy the car and if live streaming, if I want to show you my trade appraisal, I don't want to come drive like even twenty minutes your dealership for that. Can't you do it through live streaming on your phone? You know what? You know. What intrigues me about this, though, that they're the use case for this is very simple in my in my mind, you know, as a marketing partner, we see this all the time where somebody will click on, say, a facebook messenger lead or, sorry, a campaign, which of course they click, they clip, they click the ad, a messenger POPs up there in a discussion with the dealer. Despite being on platform. People might be surprised to find out how many people are like only talk to me over email, but it's like, but I'm I'm in a chat with your right now. Right...

...this simple, like direct chat thing that you're talking about and bringing all of the data sources into one field of view mitigates even having to do that weird back and forth of like, but how do you? Where do you? You know, like it doesn't need to extend the conversation. It actually, in my understanding, removes even the smallest friction point from this because you're just always communicating with the customer. How they want to be communicated with. Yeah, the very simple, you know, analogy or that. I'll just say, and I mean we do have facebook marketplace integration through messenger with all the compluion, but everything happened on facebook. Lot of people just don't do it anymore. But we are looking at to expand some other things. But what we always suggest we try to get rid of our stores when we convert somebody over, to get rid of a lot of their business rules. Business rules are like, and I'll say eighty percent of their business rules, and we create what's called a touch point. What a touch point is is communicate on the customers channel, like what you're mentioning. Why did I make a phone call to a texture right? And if we go out there, I heard Um, Um Bob Lanham at. I think it was an a D A. I think you mentioned like the Gen z s or and the millennials are taking up like and you know if you have kids, and like me, I mean my daughter Seventeen, I got a text her tell her to come down eight pizza because she's watching some video, have air pods and she's not gonna get so Um, I think text, texting is the number one form of communication. We looking drive centric and probably eight of the communication coming to drive centric is, in fact text just think about that. And if we look at our phone call conversations the way that we have to, if texting is the preferred form of the customer with communication, why am I going to send an email? I don't email my friends and family. Why the hell am I gonna email a customer? Because I've got a data that says, oh, I gotta send an email, that I got a task. So I mean doing the task to do the task mode. I'm not doing the task to get engagement mode, and that is a fundamental waste of energy. At the dealerships that you've got to change their buying set on. Wow, well, I mean seriously, man, congratulations, I love it. Um It makes so much sense to me for those listening. How can they get in touch with you and learn more? Oh Yeah, well, hell, toucht me. Uh No, I mean, look, Hey, you guys can, anybody can reach out to me on social you can dm me whatever, but if you want to get old of me, you can shoot me a text. Three, one four eight, Oh, three four, three, three four. If you really want to email me, then good luck, steve a drive centric dot com, but you know better not go to spam, or else weve me man. Thanks so much for joining me on the dealer playbook podcast. You gotta Buddy, get talking to you. I'm Michael Sirillo and you've been listening to the dealer playbook podcast. If you haven't...

...yet, please click the subscribe button wherever you're listening right now, leave a rating or review and share it with a colleague. Thanks for listening. m.

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