Stop Treating Your Auto Dealership Like an eCommerce Giant

Stop Treating Your Auto Dealership Like an eCommerce Giant

[vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_column_text]Amazon may well be on its way to taking over the ecommerce world, but when it comes to shopping for a new vehicle, the transaction is a bit more complicated than reordering your dog’s favorite brand of dog food.


People just don’t buy cars that way. When they land on your auto dealership website, they are “shopping” for a new vehicle, but they are not ready to make a purchase. According to the 2018 Car Buyer Journey Study from Cox Automotive, 77% of the traffic on your site is NOT ready to buy. Our data shows the same numbers, with 79% of online car buyers surveyed this summer saying they are in the beginning or middle stages of shopping.


Do these calls-to-action sound familiar? Get Pre-Approved, Schedule a Test Drive, Contact Us, Buy Now. Each one is focused on closing the deal and offer little information to those online consumers who are simply researching their options. So, why is your auto dealership website only focused on the end transaction?


Reach Car Buyers Along the Journey


When Stacy decided to look for a new vehicle, her car-buying journey included more than 900 digital touchpoints in a three-month period, doing 71% of the research on her mobile device. She searched Google 139 times, watched 14 YouTube videos, looked at 89 images, interacted with auto dealers 69 times, and engaged with the vehicle manufacturer 186 times before she decided to buy.


For Jeanette, a consumer who went through PERQ’s online shopping solution on one auto dealership’s website, it only took five website sessions before she decided to buy two days later. She started around dinnertime on August 8 by researching the Honda Pilot Touring for about 5 minutes, then checked for special offers before scheduling a test drive on August 10. She continued to research the website on her mobile device the next day, right after her lunch break and later that same evening. On the day of the test drive, Jeanette visited the website again to make vehicle comparisons and confirm her choice.


If your website or sales team is only focused on closing the deal, you’ll never know about Stacy and Jeanette because they left your website a long time ago to find the information they were after to make a final decision.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image=”29445″ img_size=”large” alignment=”center” qode_css_animation=””][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]

Engaging Visitors Throughout the Online Journey


Most automotive sites rely heavily on static lead forms, credit tools and buy-now messaging. Online shoppers find this approach overwhelming and it often results in higher bounce rates.


Most car shoppers are turned off immediately by static lead forms. They’re not willing to just give up their information knowing a sales rep will be calling them in the next half hour. And while dealers say “buy now” buttons produce leads that convert, they typically only see one or two of those per month.


Websites that engage the online shopper throughout the entire buying process produce better results. When shoppers are in the discovery phase, entice them with a personalized Returning Website Visitor greeting or New Customer Welcome incentive. For the majority still in the research phase, gain more details about a particular car shopper by offering a New Vehicle Body Match Style Assessment quiz or learn whether they are interested in leasing or financing. Serve up special offers or tools that allow them to schedule their own test drive or determine monthly payments with a calculator.


The more you engage online shoppers with information to fulfill their research needs, the longer they will remain on your website, and ultimately trust your brand to complete the transaction.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image=”30532″ img_size=”large” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_border” onclick=”img_link_large” img_link_target=”_blank” qode_css_animation=””][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]

What Type of Auto Dealer Are You?


Auto dealerships across the country typically fall into one of three categories:

  1. Buy Now: This auto dealer doesn’t want to speak to the researcher. They focus their site and efforts on the group of shoppers ready to buy. Their calls to action point toward the transaction and their sales teams are trained to convert those leads. They receive fewer leads, but they convert well.
  2. Contact Us: This auto dealer wants to capitalize on all website traffic and they’ve tried various tactics, but they haven’t found the right product or suite of products to achieve their goals.
  3. Take a Test Drive: This auto dealer engages the customer online, captures and nurtures leads from initial research, and converts more leads to sales by combining multiple tools in the same digital retailing space.


Where does your auto dealership fall? A digital retail solution that focuses on all phases of the consumer shopping experience should deliver the next best steps in the buying process. That connected experience delivers results.


While the Amazon way of shopping in today’s digital world makes sense when it comes to easy and convenient purchases, buying a new car takes a little more work. Empower all of your online car-buying shoppers with the right tools to do their research in their own time.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]

Additional Auto Resources:


How PERQ is Leading the Way to Connecting Consumers with Brands

How PERQ is Leading the Way to Connecting Consumers with Brands

[vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” css=”.vc_custom_1521224734716{padding-bottom: 25px !important;}” z_index=””][vc_column][vc_column_text]Since the founding of PERQ in 2001, we have seen many changes in the landscape of consumer engagement. The idea of online shopping was just starting. It was certainly not a given that one day it would dominate how consumers buy. Fast forward to today, and consumers average 5 hours a WEEK shopping online. In fact, our first reaction anytime we want to buy anything is to get online and research.  If we are happy with our research, then we buy.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_column_text][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” css=”.vc_custom_1521237423302{padding-top: 25px !important;padding-bottom: 15px !important;}” z_index=””][vc_column][vc_column_text]This ability for the consumer to research and educate themselves has led to a significant change in the consumers’ expectations when it comes to engaging with brands. Mainly, the consumer expects to be in control of the sales process.  More specifically, they don’t want to talk to a salesperson and certainly don’t want to get ‘sold.’


Allow Consumers to Guide Their Own Shopping Process


Consumers expect the tools on a brand’s website to make it simple for them to narrow down their choices from the seemingly unlimited options available. In Amazon speak, this is the ‘you may also be interested in’.


Consumers shop on their own time, in the comfort of their home, and in a buying journey that is very much specific to them. The tools used to navigate this online buying process are called ‘guided shopping’. This technology makes the research of seemingly endless options simple while continuing to personalize the options and narrow down the choices until the consumer has landed on what they want.  They have sold themselves.


At PERQ, our guided shopping software is built for a very specific niche of businesses who sell high priced goods, have consumers who are spending more time researching and educating themselves online, yet still, want to buy face-to-face.


These types of businesses include automotive, furniture, and multi-family. These are big consumers purchases where the consumer wants to research and educated themselves in the comfort of their home, but when it comes time to ‘buy’ they want to touch and feel the product to confirm and validate the opinion they developed online.


Engage Consumers so They Feel Like They’re in Control


The research and education piece is where PERQ comes into play. Smart, Connected, and Interactive Experiences engage consumers regardless of where they are in the buyer’s funnel.  These experiences include assessments to help narrow down choices, calculators to determine payments, credit applications to ensure approval, and appointment schedulers to finalize the sale.


Our technology brings the business’s website up to the expectations consumers have today when it comes to shopping thanks to likes of the big retail brands like Google and Amazon.


It turns your website into your best salesperson by delivering great recommendations based on the consumer’s desires. But, it very much leaves the consumer in control. It takes all that wonderful product a brand has and delivers the right request by asking questions to the consumer like: Should I buy new or used vehicle? What type sofa is right for me? What amenities are close to this new apartment?  Those answers deliver the consumer to the product page on your website using one very specific use case.


But beyond the tools, PERQ’s technology also takes care of some of the common-sense things that we all take for granted when shopping on a big retailer’s site:


  • The site remembers me if I leave and come back.
  • The site never asks me to enter the same information twice.
  • The site personalizes to me the more I engage with it and delivers different calls to actions based on my behavior.


This is all done without a website overhaul or changes to your existing sales process.  Again, we take your great website, full of wonderful content and product, and turn it into your best salesperson.


Over the past year alone, we have had 1.5 million consumers engage with businesses through our technology, and the results are fantastic.  We know because we take the consumers engaging on your site and match it with your sold data.  This gives you unprecedented insight into where your website traffic is coming from, what consumers are shopping for on your website, and last but not least, the ROI of your website.


Consumers aren’t going back. Connecting the online world with brick and mortar stores is a must in today’s retail environment. Make sure you educate and see for yourself how guided shopping technology works.  Click here to schedule a demo.


Being a Leader at PERQ

Being a Leader at PERQ

[vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” css=”.vc_custom_1521226682387{padding-top: 25px !important;padding-bottom: 25px !important;}” z_index=””][vc_column][vc_column_text]What are the expectations of being a leader at PERQ?


Sure, it’s a question I could answer. One that was always being discussed in a roundabout way through one off discussions, one-on-ones, or during our weekly Wednesday manager meetings. The content was always similar and coming from the same place, but used more anecdotally rather than specific and consistent.


Some were cultural things, most were tactical, and some were those really weird scenarios that were likely to never happen again… but, they all provided learning lessons to help our growing leaders improve while trying to maintain consistency across departments.


However, something was missing. All of these lessons and decisions would be discussed and then we would move on. Nothing documented. Nothing from which to go back to when another challenging leadership decision popped up.


We weren’t able to leverage our experiences from growing the business. And worst of all, there was nothing that I could point to that easily described what it meant to be a leader at PERQ for the new managers or for the experienced ones who needed to be reminded of what is expected to lead at PERQ.


While our management team was reading High Output Management together, it struck me that I wasn’t using my leverage correctly or efficiently when it came to providing the expectations for leading at PERQ.  In other words, all of the problems were my fault (Booooo!). So, I got to work.


The end result was a document titled “How We Lead at PERQ.” Feel free to check it out here.  

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” css=”.vc_custom_1521237423302{padding-top: 25px !important;padding-bottom: 15px !important;}” z_index=””][vc_column][vc_column_text]It was a fun exercise and one that really wasn’t that hard to write. These were things that Scott Hill, PERQ co-founder and executive chairman, and I have practiced and believed in from the start, as well as things our team has learned along the way.


After a couple revisions with Scott, I sat down with the management team and we went through it together.


This took place over a few meetings at the end of our weekly meeting. We took our time until we were all aligned and bought into the the essence of the document. Some discussions we had never had before. Have you ever openly discussed with your entire management team how to let somebody go?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” css=”.vc_custom_1521237423302{padding-top: 25px !important;padding-bottom: 15px !important;}” z_index=””][vc_column][vc_column_text]Great and meaningful discussions that showed me what we were doing well, and others where I needed to be more effective in coaching.


Moving forward, this document will be ‘taught’ at leadership development classes, whenever we hire in a new manager, or when an existing manager strays from the expectation. The first two will always be done by me. Something that will definitely help me learn while setting the expectations and reasons behind them for the future leaders to come.


A few key takeaways for those looking to do something similar:


  • Think about big moments where you and another manager or the whole team had to solve a problem. What did you learn? What was the core logic in the decision?
  • Write down those sayings your team has heard from you. Most leaders love sayings and analogies, and we generally have a few ‘go-to’s.’ Write them down. They are crucial.  Your team already knows them, and there is more meaning than just the words.  Example for us – Power is taken, not given.  Our team knows what this means.
  • Get your team involved.  Ask them what makes a good manager while you’re prepping? How is it different for our culture and how would you describe that difference? They’ll have great stuff to add here.
  • Be specific. Each company’s culture is unique and built around core values that mean something. This is your time to call those out specifically focused around leadership and management.
  • Have fun and make it your own!


The Flexible Business Model

The Flexible Business Model

[vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” css=”.vc_custom_1521224734716{padding-bottom: 25px !important;}” z_index=””][vc_column][vc_column_text]Having been in business for 15 years, we have seen our ups and downs. While there is always volatility internally, the macro environment has been anything but steady. I remember reading somewhere that anyone who started a business in the 2000’s hasn’t seen a “normal business cycle.”


Scott and I founded the company in early 2001, so this certainly feels true. In fact, after 6 months in a family room, I pulled into our first office on September 11, 2001.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row row_type=”parallax” header_style=”light” parallax_content_width=”full_width” text_align=”center” background_image=”28348″ full_screen_section_height=”no” section_height=”200″ parallax_speed=”2″ css=”.vc_custom_1521230775859{background-position: center !important;background-repeat: no-repeat !important;background-size: cover !important;}”][vc_column][vc_empty_space height=”55px”][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1522686823873{padding-right: 25px !important;padding-left: 25px !important;}”]


[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” css=”.vc_custom_1521226682387{padding-top: 25px !important;padding-bottom: 25px !important;}” z_index=””][vc_column][vc_column_text]From 9/11 to the .com crash to the recession, our norm was constantly moving. Lucky for us, we were growing.  And growth covers for a lot of mistakes and macro volatility.


It also covers the need to have a good budget model.  You know, the thing that tells you if your plane is flying into a mountain.  We were young entrepreneurs who were making the Inc 500 list multiple times. Our gut was our model.  If we needed more cash, we would just sell more. Ah, to be young and bulletproof again!


A funny thing happened around 2007 –  our ‘gut’ started to ache. All the things we ‘knew’ started to seem a little shaky.


  • At first, it was a slowdown in new customers. There were rumblings coming from the sales floor about the markets we were serving.
  • Our existing customers stopped spending as much because they were “tightening up.”
  • Then came the cash balance starting to fall.


With the benefit of hindsight, we were serving a market that was one of the earliest to the recession (high-priced consumer goods).  But things went from bad to worse… quickly.


We were in a full reactive state. We couldn’t find the bottom.  After all was said and done, our revenue was cut in half in less than 18 months, and our team was reduced from 90 employees to 40.  It was awful!


Experiences like that stay with you forever. And for me, knowing the recession took a lot of the responsibility off us, I also know we could have been much less reactive.


Our lack of a business model took all our control away. We were flying blind. Zero ability to see trends. Zero ability to adjust inputs or outputs as information came available.  Zero ability to see what would happen if those input/output changes.


Thankfully, we managed to survive. It broke the business, but not the culture (that’s another story!).  We used it as an opportunity to adjust the vision and strategy, trying to make good out of a terrible event. I am thankful every day for this second chance, while never forgetting that it can all go away tomorrow.


Fast forward to today, and we are very much in startup mode, having launched our SaaS product in the middle of 2015.  We are lucky enough to be right back in the middle of growth. It is coming fast and furious.


What’s the difference this time?  Our business model. It’s bad-ass. I take pride in it. I can’t imagine flying the plane without it.  Who knew Excel could be so cool?!


It has continued to increase in complexity as our business has grown, but I crave the information it provides.  We built the model 5 years out, but the later years don’t matter so much. They are very rough estimates. The closer we get to today, the more specific we get. The estimates turn into expectations.


Every quarter we adjust the remainder of the current year and the following year. Adjustments include revenue, hires, and timing, ARPA (average revenue per account), quota attainment by rep, retention and churn, etc.


Then, we look at the unit economics it spits out to see how we are doing. We ask ourselves questions like, “Should we slow down?  Should we speed up that Client Success hire?  Are we being too aggressive with the next release and the corresponding ACV?”, etc.  These are all good questions to dive deeper with the leadership team.


At the end of the day, these outputs give me peace of mind and are my center.  Sure, vision and strategy provide the direction, but a good business model is the fuel that keeps you on the road.


Taking the time to build the model is an easy thing to overlook and an even easier thing to dismiss because so much is changing. Don’t let that be you!  Build an MVP and add complexity as you can. Adjust it monthly at first, then the quarterly as the business gets a little more predictable and repeatable.


A good model should tell you 3 very specific things:

  1. Cash flow: As in, how much do you have now and in the future?  Tying it to revenue projections for real time changes is imperative. We make changes to revenue and expense and go to a tab and see how that impacts cash. It’s awesome even if we don’t like the answers sometimes.
  2. Unit economics: There is nothing worse than hitting your goals and the outcome isn’t attractive. SaaS has these beautifully crafted metrics with clear benchmarks that tell you how much to spend and where. Use them and compare them to your model.
  3. Hiring Calendar: A good model sets the ratio for rep’s quota attainment, clients per Client Success hire, % of R&D to revenue, NRR expectations, etc. Ratios like these drive the hires you need and when they should start.  This allows you to prepare well ahead of time for recruiting…. which always takes longer than you want.


While my idea isn’t revolutionary by any means, and I am sure there are a few of you that are saying “no kidding, idiot,” — well, this post isn’t for you. It’s for the people who are doing well and keep putting the model off because they feel the “gut” is all they need.


Take the time.  Build it.  And enjoy the control!  Your gut will thank you.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Time for V2

One of my favorite quotes comes from Mike Tyson who said, ‘Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth!’  For me, the strategy is the plan, and the complexities that come with growth are the punches.  And yes, you get punched a LOT! 


We are 20 months into the SaaS world.  We have been fortunate and in the throws of growth.  Craziness is only getting crazier having closed over 400 customers and increased the staff from 65 to over 100 during that time.


I truly appreciate being lucky enough to make it to growth again after the recession crushed past growth.  The first time going through this was from 2001-2007.  I didn’t have the benefit of hindsight and what it teaches.