Peter Deiser, Director of E-Commerce, Ed Morse Automotive Group
September 2015 Autobytel Dealer of the Month
We'd like to congratulate Peter Deiser, Director of E-Commerce at Ed Morse Automotive Group, for being named Autobytel's Dealer of the Month for September 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 Peter about the importance of offering an outstanding customer experience, having happy customers and employees, and continually improving on processes and procedures, 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 Peter Deiser and I am the Director of E-Commerce for the Ed Morse Automotive Group, a family owned and operated dealer group established in 1946. Our group offers 10 Brands, and has 17 Franchises at 13 locations throughout Florida. I have been with the Ed Morse Group since 2001 and have held positions ranging from Internet Manager, to Internet Sales Director. In my current role as Director of E-Commerce, I oversee all digital marketing efforts for the group, and work with my team to implement our customer-focused sales processes utilized for all Internet-initiated prospective clients. We currently have a digital team of qualified Sales Representatives, Sales Management, and Administration personnel that now exceeds 50 full time employees. We pride ourselves on providing not only a great experience for our customers, but also for our dedicated employees, many of whom have been with our organization for 5, or even 10+ years!
How long have you been an Autobytel dealer and what do you think are the primary benefits of being on the Autobytel program?
Being involved with Autobytel goes beyond the years that I have been with the Ed Morse Group. In fact, my very first Internet Prospect and sale was an Autobytel lead in the spring of 1998 when I first started in this business! There are those in our industry who feel that 3rd party leads have no place in 2015, but I completely disagree. We make every effort to draw prospective clients directly to our websites and our dealerships, but no matter our efforts as dealers, there are always those consumers that prefer a 3rd party experience. We want and appreciate the business that we are graced with, regardless of the initial contact preferences of the consumer. Within our agreements with Autobytel, we are guaranteed that each inquiry that we receive is a valid, in-market consumer that we are not currently in contact with. This assures us that, at the time that we receive the initial Autobytel inquiry, the prospect is truly found business. Whether we may or may not have eventually crossed paths with this consumer at a later day is always up for debate, but we prefer to hedge our bets and control as much of our market as possible, and Autobytel is one of the tools that we use to ensure this.
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.
Everyone in the industry is always looking for the "Silver Bullet" and, in some cases, I am absolutely guilty of participating in this somewhat meaningless endeavor. It is very easy to get caught up in the pursuit of the latest and greatest! The truth of the matter seems to be that our very best assets as dealers have been with us all along: Offer an outstanding consumer experience that is better than that of your nearest competitors, keep your existing customers happy, and offer an excellent alternative for those who may not be happy with their current local dealer. These are all the things that are in the "not so secret sauce". We feel that retention is just as important as acquisition. Technology, measurement, and adaptation are also imperative, but having happy customers and employees is truly the foundation that makes it all gel. Are we perfect? Absolutely not. However, as long as we are dedicated to continually improving our processes and procedures, we are constantly on the road to success.
What are some tips or advice you would give other retailers when it comes to effectively managing Internet customers?
When I was a consumer-facing Sales Representative, both on the sales floor and as an Internet Sales Representative, I realized early on that my happiest customers were those that I really rolled out the red carpet for. If a family member needed a vehicle or a referral from a close friend, I realized that those were the easiest sales - both for me as the employee, and for the customer. Why did I treat these customers differently than someone that walked through the front door blindly or someone who completed a form online? What if I treated EVERY customer like I treated, say, my Mom's neighbor? I found that the best tool that I had was to speak to prospects very casually and to make it clear that I am there to assist them with their purchase, not just sell them a car. I found that if I could get a customer smiling or laughing early on, I almost always secured their business. What does this have to do with "Internet Customers"? EVERYTHING! Whether a representative is on the phone, typing an e-mail, or greeting a customer on the showroom floor, the customer should be treated like the valued guest that they are. Once the customer is comfortable and at ease, the sale will take care of itself. My advice is to throw out the scripts, try to avoid the email templates, and actually listen to the person who is doing nothing more than attempting to buy a vehicle from your dealership, which coincidentally, is exactly why you came to work today, isn't it?
What are your general thoughts about the auto industry right now? How are sales? Any interesting things happening at Ed Morse Automotive Group or with the brand that you'd like to share?
The automotive industry is so strong right now, it is not a surprise to see large corporations buying up franchises as quickly as they can be acquired. We are also seeking opportunities for expansion. We were thrilled to add an additional Mazda point, as well as acquiring our first Fiat and Alfa Romeo franchises, all within the last few years. Being family owned and operated for so many years here in Florida, we have built a solid reputation with both consumers and employees as a premier automotive dealer group with state of the art facilities and exceptional service. This is one of the reasons that I feel our group stands out from many other publicly traded dealer groups.
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?
New technology can be very tricky in our industry. We often feel the need to be on the cutting edge of technology, but I personally have become more and more, let's just say, "Careful" about jumping in every time the latest and greatest gadget or marketing tool becomes available. I think dealers have bought into new trends blindly for many years, and many mistakes have been made. Trying new technologies is important and making mistakes is almost inevitable, but learning from past mistakes is what separates innovators from others just chasing trends.
One of the great perks of being on Autobytel's Dealer Advisory Board is being the first to see their emerging technologies and newest acquisitions. It also affords me the privilege to pilot them and shape the products to be a winner for both Autobytel and our organization. For dealers who think that Autobytel is just a third party lead provider, think again! Of all of the digital and E-Commerce companies that I work with, I can honestly say that Autobytel is one of the most forward thinking, aggressive technology companies in the Automotive Digital space. Autobytel is constantly searching for new tools and technologies that dealers can benefit from, and that is what I look for in a true business partnership.
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 do enjoy my career immensely, but when I am not at work, I am a family man through and through. My Wife, Ingrid, and I enjoy boating and offshore fishing and will take every opportunity we can to get out in the Gulfstream for a great day in the beautiful South Florida Atlantic. I have four children ranging from 7 to 24 years old and even two grandsons, so getting a "crew" together to get out there is never really a problem!
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.