Robert Marcial, Internet Director, Lake Elsinore Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram
October 2015 Autobytel Dealer of the Month
We'd like to congratulate Robert Marcial, Internet Director at Lake Elsinore Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, for being named Autobytel's Dealer of the Month for October 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 Robert about the importance of response times, selling the value of his dealership and sales team to customers, and establishing good customer relationships, and how these factors have led to the success of his store.
Tell us about yourself and your store. What is your official title, what brands do you sell and what are your primary markets?
Our dealership is located in Lake Elsinore, California and we sell Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram vehicles, as well as used vehicles. We are a very new store (opened in August 2014), and we have really been pushing the digital approach in taking over the market. We have a big saturation of customers that travel a distance to get to us. Our dealership is situated in a prime location, about 20 minutes from Orange County and San Diego, and we get customers from LA, too. We've had customers drive from Northern California and Las Vegas to get to us. I'm proud to say that we are one of only a few 4-star Yelp Chrysler dealerships in the state.
How long have you been an Autobytel dealer and what do you think are the primary benefits of being on the Autobytel program?
We started sometime in June or July 2015 with Autobytel, and I really like the program. I've seen other 3rd party sites push their own agenda, but with Autobytel, they don't force us into anything. With Autobytel, my profits are incredible, and my ROI is about 1000%, and the reason why is that we practice selling ourselves and selling our value, instead of focusing on the pricing game. We don't do a lot of price quotes. Of course, we provide price, but we don't play the pricing game because we know people will still want to be taken care of, especially because this is a big 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.
It always comes back to the team! You have to build your team up and remember the 3 Ps: People, Product, and Process. It sounds old school, but without this, you won't get anything accomplished. Our response time is also one of the most important things to us. I'm not a fan of the round robin when it comes to leads, so we just don't do it! We have one sales rep who is responsible from the initial call to delivery. We don't have a BDC program either because we believe the customer feels disconnected when they are handed off from person to person. By establishing a relationship with the customer, and making sure that just one rep is dealing with the customer all the way through, we see more profits, and have achieved better CSI scores. Customers want results right away, and we strive to get to them within 20 minutes of when their lead arrives. Our focus is getting a hold of the customer. Without the customer, you don't have anything.
What are your thoughts about being named an Autobytel Dealer of the Month?
It is pretty humbling. I'm only 25, and have been in this industry for 5 years. I feel like I'm just scratching the surface, and it's so nice to be noticed.
What are some tips or advice you would give other retailers when it comes to effectively managing Internet customers?
Take everyone seriously. Take advantage of every opportunity. If you do, you can really push and get a lot out of it. You can't assume that you will sell a car to every lead, but a lead is exactly that, so you have to make it work. If something isn't working, don't assume that the lead source is the problem. You might have to take a personal look to see what you could be doing differently.
You have to let the customer know that you are on their side. I can see why customers get frustrated, but you should be an educator. One thing I've always done is explain to my customers why things work the way they do regarding financing, pricing, etc. Most times, customers just want a specific car and a great experience. They don't have a lot of time, and they just want answers. Sometimes, salespeople can make it difficult for customers to buy a car, but they must remember that it's only as hard as they make it. Remember that most customers are scared, and most will tell you what they want, and what price they can pay, so it's a yes or no.
What are your general thoughts about the auto industry right now? How are sales? Any interesting things happening at your dealership or with the Chrysler brand that you'd like to share?
I think the industry is putting out great numbers. It's impressive to see that more cars are being sold...17.5 million cars in US! The manufacturers are making unbelievable cars of very good quality, so it's really hard to find a bad car on the market today. We recently released the Chrysler hybrid minivan, and that's exciting. A new Chrysler truck is coming, so there are lots of good things to look forward to in the future. Our current product offerings are very impressive - more powerful vehicles with even better and better gas mileage! There was a time in 2009 or 2010 when customers were afraid to buy some of our products because they thought we were going under, but here we are.
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?
We use TextShield by Autobytel, and one thing we do in my department is send a lot of texts! This tool keeps customers coming in...they don't want to feel like they are wasting their time, and having the texting tool is nice because it gives customers another avenue of communication. Our close rates from the Autobytel texting tool are pretty high. These are serious customers, and it's nice to have a non-threatening option for communication that is quick, easy, and customers can do it on the go. We can make a good first impression via text, and once that happens, it makes our job easier.
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 don't know what free time is. I work a lot, 6-7 days per week. I recently bought a Jeep Wrangler and I like to go off-roading. I have a 4 year old, and I like spending time with her and taking her out. I enjoy watching sporting events, concerts. But really, if you want to be successful in this industry, you need to put in a lot of time in to get the customers to walk through your door. I played football in high school and college (and coached, too), and it taught me discipline, how to study plays, and how to react, and that is what a lot of this business is about. My long term goal is to go back and coach football!
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.