Social media is beating down dealership doors with its continual drumbeat on transparent selling.

These user-friendly websites project the same upfront, no-nonsense approach to automotive selling and financing I've been espousing for years. What's the message being conveyed via its steady and vastly appealing rhythm to eager listeners?

Some social-media chatter, good and bad, goes like this:

  • “Yeah, I'm on to that dealer's game-playing. Learned about it online.”
  • “I know that dealer's kids; they go to the same school as mine.
  • I've seen him at my grocery store buying prime steaks; I had to settle for chicken thighs!”
  • “I wouldn't buy a windshield washer from that dealer.”
  • “That dealer is as honest as Abe Lincoln. Puts everything in writing. Doesn't even try to push me into buying something I don't want or need or that's beyond my ability to pay.”

Comments such as these can reach thousands of potential customers. Social media has connected the dots between your dealership and every current customer, potential customer and those driven away by outdated selling tactics.

Social networking involves millions of daily transmissions through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, MySpace, Plax, Digg, and hundreds of blog sites and ezine articles.

Via word of mouth, users tout upfront selling and a genuine respect for those in the market to purchase a car. They speak loudly against the former hassle that made the process of car-buying one of their most hated and feared activities.

Not so fast, you say. The social media gurus can say whatever they want but where's proof that social-media advertising sells cars? Folks can click on an app for my dealership and then click back to something else in a finger tap. Can these new media outlets launch or sell my brand and generate customers instead of just gossip?

Truth is, social networking is not a magic cure for what ails the car industry in today's economy. But, the method can be and should be part of your overall advertising outreach.

Word-of-mouth advertising can be an effective tool for your overall marketing strategy. Creating opportunities to converse with potential customers and to have them track your dealership activities is a good thing.

Adding “Follow us on Twitter” or “Join us on Facebook” to your print ads or website encourages valuable social intercourse. It takes concerted time and thought, though.

And it requires a specific goal, just like any other form of advertising does. The most important part of that goal should be to broadcast the message that your dealership beats its drum differently. No sales games or gimmicks. Just upfront, transparent selling.

Unfortunately, most dealerships disregard the fact that social media provides endless opportunity for unsatisfied customers to share their pain and hurt a business in the process.

Word-of-mouth testimony can be disastrously negative. Ever heard of the Yelp site? Customers have the opportunity to find you, but they have equal opportunity to diss your service and staff tactics.

All the more reason to establish immediate change in your sales and finance and insurance procedures.

That starts with making sure the customer knows the full price of the car, not just monthly payments. Many of the old ways of doing things are over. Whoever sticks with the old risks reading about it on social-media sites.

Next month, we'll discuss how to do deals and make customers happy.

Note: Join my new live webinar on how to effectively manage an F&I office. We'll cover fundamentals as well as integrity selling. It is for all professionals, especially people seeking an F&I position, as well as Internet and sales manager with no previous F&I experience. This 4-hour comprehensive program is over three days. Contact me at www.ccilearningcenter.com or call 404-276-4026

F&I trainer Rebecca Chernek is CEO of Chernek Consulting Inc. She can be reached at 404-276-4026 and chernekconsulting@earthlink.net.

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