Ben Seyden, Internet Director, Taylor Chrysler Dodge Jeep
July 2015 Autobytel Dealer of the Month
We'd like to congratulate Ben Seyden, Internet Director at Taylor Chrysler Dodge Jeep, 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 Ben about the importance of hiring and team support, creating a great experience for customers, and staying ahead of technology, 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?
My name is Ben Seyden and I am the Internet Director at Taylor Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram (CDJR) in Illinois. We sell Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram vehicles and we serve the area near the south end of Chicago; from the city to the suburbs out to the farmlands. In reality, we sell - and will ship cars - virtually anywhere. We have sold to customers in Wisconsin, Indiana, Arkansas, and other states. Recently, we had someone fly in from Kansas City, Missouri to purchase a Renegade. We have shipped vehicles to Dallas, Texas, Frankfurt Germany, and even England.
How long have you been an Autobytel dealer and what do you think are the primary benefits of being on the Autobytel program?
We've been with Autobytel for about 2 years. The primary benefit that we see is that leads are VERY strong. Autobytel is our #1 converting lead source aside from our website. In addition, I love our relationship with our Autobytel rep. She really goes above and beyond for us, and is always looking for ways to help us. I actually use her as an example when I'm trying to "train" reps from other companies in how to serve us better.
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.
We follow the Sean Bradley Dealer Synergy process that calls for the right people, the right leads, and the right website. This process has made us pretty successful. We are up to 6 reps in my department, and they all follow the same process, always. I believe that consistency equals success, and I want every one of my customers to have the same experience every time. Our team participates in role playing; we attend trainings; and we make sure we are all providing the same fantastic experience to our customers, every time.
What are your thoughts about being named an Autobytel Dealer of the Month?
I think it's pretty cool! I'm glad that our commitment to excellence (which is the motto of our team) has resulted in not only tripling the productivity of our department, but has also drawn the attention of people in the industry who are seeing our results. I am proud to say that 40% of our store's sales total comes from Internet leads! We have helped take the store average from 150-units to 210-units per month in less than a year. The sales floor is now using iPads as a part of the showroom process, because of the influence we have had on the store.
What are some tips or advice you would give other retailers when it comes to effectively managing Internet customers?
You must hire the right people and support them! My background is with call centers. I was in management for several Fortune 100 companies, and there, we understood the hidden cost of employee turnover. It is important to find the right people, properly train them, nurture them, care for them, and help them to be successful. We hired a woman at our dealership that I thought would never make it, but we stuck with her and now she is a supervisor. Her uncle has tried to bring her to the dealership he manages across town, but she is loyal to us. My advice is to believe in your people, stick with them, and support them.
What are your general thoughts about the auto industry right now? How are sales? Any interesting things happening at Taylor Chrysler Dodge Jeep or with the brand that you'd like to share?
I think the auto industry is evolving and the dealerships who don't recognize the evolution will be left behind. Dealers have to know and understand that 98% of their customers are going online before they come to the store. We have to embrace what's happening online, and we have to be more aggressive at giving customers the information and experience they want. In our market, there are 12 other CDJR stores within 45 miles, so we are competing against a ton of other stores, and the competition is fierce. We are not a price motivated store, we are a value driven store. We don't believe that you have to give cars away to be successful. We take very good care of our customers, we have built a great reputation, which we have won awards for!
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?
I prefer texting over chat. Since people are primarily searching my inventory on their mobile devices, texting is the way to go. This is why we really like the Autobytel TextShield platform. This product has helped to get us more value out of Autobytel by allowing us to reach customers that we haven't been able to reach before. TextShield also allows customers to send us a lead and opt in, so that we are legally covered as we communicate with them. The product shields us from compliance issues; hence its name.
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 love historical biographies. I just finished one about the rise and fall of the Comanche tribes, and will soon begin one about Theodore Roosevelt. I am also active in my church. I have a Master's degree in counseling and am starting a counseling ministry at my church. I have 3 kids, and I've been married for 17 years. My two oldest are great soccer players, and both play for their Varsity soccer teams.
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.