Rese Ballou, Business Development Manager, Hendrick Toyota Scion
August 2013 Autobytel Dealer of the Month
We'd like to congratulate Rese Ballou, Business Development Manager of Hendrick Toyota Scion in North Charleston, South Carolina, for being named Autobytel's Dealer of the Month for August 2013!
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.
Rese sat down with us recently to discuss Hendrick Toyota Scion and the way her team focuses on relationship building and the personal touch to outshine the competition in her market.
Tell us about yourself and your store? What's your official title, what brands do you sell and what are your primary markets?
My name is Rese Ballou and I'm the Business Development Manager for Hendrick Toyota Scion in North Charleston. Our primary brands are new and pre-owned Toyotas and Scions and we service the greater Charleston area, including the surrounding communities of Summerville, Moncks Corner, and Goose Creek. The Charleston Naval Weapons Station military personnel and Boeing employees are valued customers as well. We're the largest Toyota dealership in South Carolina and we've got a great crew here!
How long have you been an Autobytel dealer and what do you think are the primary benefits of being on the Autobytel program?
Hendrick Toyota Scion has been an Autobytel dealer since 2010. Autobytel customers are more serious about buying. They're not messing around on the Internet. A majority of the leads we get from Autobytel result in a purchase.
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.
First response is crucial to success. I believe our response time, the way we focus on selling the appointment and not the car, and a low-pressure sales environment have really helped us be successful. We're not your stereotypical car salespeople. For us, it's about building relationships and listening to what our customers want and need. I carefully review our Internet customers' notes and personally greet each one who comes into our dealership before introducing them to the sales consultant who will further assist them. Our customers appreciate the relationship and that personal touch. Our new e-commerce director, Earl Newell Jr., who came from one of our sister stores, has really helped us fine tune our processes as well. Frank Sacosky from Proactive Dealer Solutions assists us with training processes and scripts that have been proven to be successful for us.
What are your thoughts about being named an Autobytel Dealer of the Month?
It's thrilling to be named an Autobytel Dealer of the Month. I'm a "newbie." I've only been here eight months and I'm very, very proud of my team and our dealership. There are six women in my department and we've created a great support system here. I can't give them enough credit. They're outstanding.
What are some tips or advice you could give other retailers when it comes to effectively managing Internet customers?
The best advice I can give is to steer away from the high pressure sales environment. Talk to your customers, listen to your customers. Don't try to shove the sell down their throats. Greet each customer personally, and treat each customer like a person, not a number. Focus on building the relationship.
What are your general thoughts about the auto industry right now? How are sales? Any interesting things happening at Hendrick Toyota Scion or with the brand that you'd like to share?
The industry has improved by leaps and bounds over a year ago, and right now, we're setting month over month records. Our team recently got a standing ovation from the GSM, F & I staff and sales staff for the amount of Saturday appointments we set, so that felt great. I was a little apprehensive initially about the month of August, but things certainly picked up.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself...what do you like to do in your free time? Any hobbies or interests of note?
I enjoy hanging out with family and friends, and I just celebrated 24 years of marriage. I'm really passionate about my job and love the work I do and the people I work with.
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.