Section: Online Best Practices
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Social Media Toolbox: Especially for the BHPH Dealer
Appeared March 2011 - volume 8 - issue 3 - page 28
Article has been viewed 893 times.
Being social, building relationships and just plain getting to know your customers is good business practice. Years ago when I got into the car business, as a salesman, the very first thing I learned was, ďThe car business is a people business, never forget that.Ē To this day I havenít, and I donít intend to.
With the onset of social networks, the auto dealer has a better way to connect with their customers than they ever did before. Think about it, people put their whole lives on Facebook, Twitter and Myspace, itís just a matter of connecting with and getting to know them and thus building the type of relationship that promotes both repeat and referral business.
Iíve spoken with numerous BHPH dealers that have said they are scared of getting into social media because of the type of business they are in and the fact that they have to repossess their customers vehicles. In other words they are afraid of giving their customers a venue in which to vent, Iím here to tell you right now that they already have a venue, itís called the Internet and whether or not you are there with them, they are still going to talk. Below I will share with you ways that you can influence positive over negative talk.
By the creation and the strategic implementation of a company blog you have a way to both showcase your expertise and to gain valuable search engine placement. You can accomplish that by writing posts on how to build your credit, budgeting, and variety of different topics that relate directly to your client base; people with less than perfect credit.
Facebook is the 800-pound gorilla of social networks, and while almost half of the American public has a Facebook profile a BHPH dealerís customer base would be even higher due to the type of clientele they serve.
Use Facebook to connect with your customers using a multi-tiered approach. First, have your salespeople connect with their customers on Facebook. This is easy enough by taking a picture of them next to their new car and asking them if you can tag them in it on Facebook. Most will say yes. From there they can ask their customers to like the dealershipís Facebook page. As a side note make sure that youíre actually using your Facebook page.
By always thinking in terms of what you can do online, you forgo thinking about the stuff you can do off. By creating and hosting meet-ups for your customers and future customers you begin to build a bond with them that goes beyond the traditional car seller, car buyer relationship. In the BHPH world this becomes even more important when the customer is trying to make the decision about whether to make their car payment or go out for the evening. B.A. Nerison of Wheel City Auto in Sioux Falls said it best: ďWe donít want people thinking, ĎItís okay if I default on my loan at the dealership,í we want them thinking, ĎI donít want to let Jeff down, he took a chance on me when nobody else would.íĒ
Ideas for these meet-ups could include classes on budgeting and credit repair and of course you have to have food... right? From there you can record parts of it and upload them online, as well as get testimonials from those in attendance.
Along the same lines as blogging, video creation goes a long way to prove that you know what you are talking about as you become the obvious choice for people that have no way of getting a traditional car loan. These videos are great ways to gain online market share and if they have a mentoring angle instead of a marketing angle then you go a long way to prove your professionalism.
No matter what social media channels you choose itís important to think in terms of how you can better connect and build relationships with your customers. Itís no longer good customer service to meet your customers expectations, you must exceed them if you want them to say positive things about you in their social circles. Of course, the opposite is true as well and that is if you donít meet those expectations then the word-of-mouth will most definitely be negative.
By harnessing the power of social media you are better able to paint yourself in a positive light when you do have to repossess a car and one of your customers blasts you online. After all the best way to fight negative word-of-mouth is by burying it in an avalanche of positive word-of-mouth.