Lexie Brecke, Dolan Concierge Manager, Dolan Auto Group
June 2015 Autobytel Dealer of the Month
We'd like to congratulate Lexie Brecke, Dolan Concierge Manager, and the team at the Dolan Auto Group, for being named Autobytel's Dealer of the Month for June 2015.
The Autobytel Dealer Awards Program honors exceptional dealers from a competitive field of thousands of automotive retailers who employ the highest standards in customer service, Internet automotive retail sales and lead management processes, and mobile and emerging technologies.
We recently spoke with Lexie about the importance of customer service, team communication, response management, and customer consultation, and how these elements have helped her store achieve significant success in her market area.
Tell us about yourself and your store. What is your official title, what brands do you sell and what are your primary markets?
I've been with Dolan Auto Group for a little over two years but my family has been buying from Tom Dolan as long as I can remember. I was the fifth person hired in the Internet Department and the only female, and today, we are a team of 12 and the ladies almost outnumber the men! What we've done in the short time that I've been here is nothing short of amazing as we evolved into the Dolan Concierge. They offered me the manager position in February of this year and my official title is always changing but today it is the Dolan Concierge Manager but I still refer to myself as a "glorified personal shopper!"
The Dolan Auto Group is located in Reno, Nevada. Tom Dolan purchased Toyota in 1984 and the following brands continued from there. The Dolan group consists of Lexus, Mazda, Kia, and Toyota-Scion, as well as various pre-owned vehicles of all makes and models. At any given time, we have approximately 1,000 cars between our 4 family owned locations. We serve customers in the Reno/Sparks area and surrounding Nevada cities, as well as customers from Roseville, California, and the areas of Lake Tahoe and Sacramento. We've even had inquiries from as far away as Georgia and New Jersey. If we have the car the customer wants, we'll get it to that customer one way or another!
The Dolan Family believes in supporting our local community which in turn supports our business. We are involved in upwards of 50+ events throughout the year. Sponsorships and advertising help make our community a better place through supporting great causes that improve the quality of life in the Reno/Sparks area. Our most rewarding community project is through our School Programs, which last year alone we drove $100,000 back into our local schools!
How long have you been an Autobytel dealer and what do you think are the primary benefits of being on the Autobytel program?
The dealerships have been using the Autobytel program for over 11 years. Last month, my team handled about 1,400 leads, and Autobytel is a big part of that. We have had great results with Autobytel.
The leads we get from Autobytel are very clean and include the correct information to contact the customer successfully. These customers have done their research and typically they are ready to buy. We answer their questions and facilitate their visit in the purchase process. We know that Autobytel customers can choose other dealerships but we understand that people want an experience, not just a car! If we have the car they want, the rest is pretty simple!
Another way in which Autobytel really stands out is the steady stream of communication. Our contacts Kevin Smith, Rick Greene, and Linda Parrish are awesome. I don't have that type of relationship with other vendors. Plus, they may have rewarded us with food maybe once or twice!
What do you think makes you so successful at meeting the needs of today's Internet consumers? Please share a few of your best practices in terms of managing Internet leads.
I firmly believe that it all starts with having a great team. I feel confident in our team because they are knowledgeable and familiar with our product lineup. They are personable and friendly with customers over the phone, plus they have a fantastic pay plan so they are well taken care of! We pay each of our employees a salary, which is pretty rare in the industry. Our people WANT to come to work, so in turn their success is our success. There is a quote that I love from Jack Welch: "When you are made a leader, you weren't given a crown, you were given the responsibility to bring out the best in others." That is always my goal!
We don't pride ourselves on response time, it's more about response management. We want to give our customers the response they deserve. When it comes to Autobytel leads, we know that these customers are well past the research point, they are seeking info from us, and we want to get it to them. We have an auto-response that confirms we have received their inquiry and that we will respond as soon as possible. The key is to communicate all the info they requested in the form of communication that they prefer. My advice is to keep it short and sweet, and as clear as possible.
Lastly, our employees attend continued education weekly and monthly. This includes each sales manager, service representatives, and all specialists. I don't believe anyone can really master everything, and there is always something new to learn in this industry.
What are your thoughts about being named an Autobytel Dealer of the Month?
We weren't aware that this award even existed, and it was very exciting to be recognized. I know that receiving this award is the direct result of the people we work with! We all will drop everything we're doing, and do everything and anything we can to help our customers.
What are some tips or advice you would give other retailers when it comes to effectively managing Internet customers?
I know it sounds cliche but it's true...just shut up and listen to what the customer wants. If you let them talk, they will tell you everything you need to know to do your job right. Keep asking the customer questions and always give them a choice so they must answer you. Always repeat what the customer says to you so that you understand and can truly do what they're asking.
What are your general thoughts about the auto industry right now? How are sales? Any interesting things happening at Dolan Automotive Group or with the brand that you'd like to share?
People will never stop buying cars. Economies shift, yet somehow people do not stop shopping. The auto industry is going in a very positive and exciting direction. The new technology in each new model is fascinating and always developing. My own personal car will text message for me, it is extremely smart and safe.
We are excited to open our new Lexus building on South Virginia here in Reno! It's approximately 70,000 square feet and two stories with a very nice view of Mt. Rose. There is a beautiful waterfall inside as well as a cafe bistro, it's incredible! The official launch is in October 2015, but we've already had a soft opening, and in a few days we will be taking service appointments.
We are also very proud of our efforts in volume sales. We've sold over 780+ cars in our auto group with over 500+ at Toyota alone in the month of July! Our achievements are a direct result of our teams, and we couldn't have done it without them. As a team, we all have great communication, and we also have the "stop everything you're doing and help the customer" attitude. Needless to say, we really pay attention to our customers. We are a very friendly dealership, and we strive to make our customers comfortable when they visit. They can relax and watch TV, utilize our free wifi or have one of our shuttles take them to home or work during their service appointments. All of our customers are always given a courtesy Lexus vehicle while their car is serviced. We offer fresh coffee and snacks at each location and we are dog friendly as well.
What are your thoughts on the new / emerging technologies coming out of Autobytel? For instance, receiving leads via text and texting with customers? Web based chat?
Consumers are doing everything via mobile. For me, texting is the #1 way to communicate, and I am sure that is true for a lot of people. Think about it, if you were shopping for something (anything), and a salesperson wanted to contact you, what's the best way to reach you? It's probably email or text. If you don't give someone the option to text, they won't know it's a possibility. Customers will let you know how they prefer to communicate. Whether it is by text, email, call, or video chat, we try to give them everything. We have had text capability for a long time and it has been very successful in communicating with our guests for service and sales relationships.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself...what do you like to do in your free time? Any hobbies or interests of note?
People may say that I work a lot, but I also enjoy time with my family. I like to go out to eat, and I love to travel whenever possible. Family is very important to me, and that's why I like working for Dolan, we're like one big extended family. Dolan understands the importance of spending time with our own families as well, so I could not imagine working anywhere else!
Each month, Autobytel's sales and dealer operations teams evaluate prospective candidates from a competitive field of thousands of automotive retailers in the Autobytel network, with a monthly finalist selected based on key online automotive best practices, including conversion rates, lead management processes, customer service principles, customer and brand retention analytics and Internet department practices, among others.