“IT'S NOT CRAZY ‘OH-WOW’ STUFF, BUT IT WORKS,” MARC MCGURREN SAYS.

Marc McGurren did nothing mind-boggling to help make the Jerry Durant Auto Group one of the nation's top closers of Internet leads.

“It's not crazy ‘oh-wow’ stuff, but it works,” says McGurren, Internet director for the three General Motors-brand stores in the 7-store dealership group based in Texas. He is involved in planning digital marketing for all stores.

He started in the business selling used cars, then became sales manager at the Durant group's Nissan store. He left to sell commercial real estate until the bubble burst. “Not the smartest career move,” McGurren says. He returned to Durant, working in the finance and insurance office.

One day, he was summoned to the dealer principal's office. “I thought I was being fired,” McGurren says. Instead, the boss asked him to run the Internet department for the Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC brands.

“That was two years ago. I love it.”

He oversees a staff that closes 10.9% of online leads, selling about 90 cars a month for the GM stores, averaging $2,100 gross profit per delivery. In total, Durant's Internet department sells about 200 vehicles a month.

McGurren attributes much success to what he calls the five “Ps.” They are: people, passion, principle, process and paying attention.

People who work for him are dealership pros. “No green peas allowed,” he says. “We want the best of the best, not a teenager with computer skills.”

There are rookie exceptions. “Our used-car manager found a young man doing a great job up-selling at a local car wash,” McGurren says. “We hired him.”

The Durant dealership group mystery-shops competitors, scouting for standout prospects to hire away. “I'm always looking for ‘hungry’ people,” McGurren says.

Passion sometimes is hard to hone as a skill set, “but it can be developed, and you have got to keep it going,” he says. “This is a great business, but it is tough, too. You have got to keep connected with like-minded people and pledge to educate yourself.”

Principle is similar to passion, but deeper, McGurren says. “It is a question of knowing who you are and wanting to truly help the customer. Embed core values in the entire process. My mantra is to exceed expectations. I am redeeming the name of car-sales people.”

He describes himself as process-driven. Durant also mystery-shops its own stores to make sure employees are doing what is expected of them. “A process is easy to do, implement and monitor,” McGurren says. “Keep it simple and keep it going.”

He insists staffers respond to Internet leads quickly. He will do it himself if salespeople are tied up. “Speed is important,” McGurren says. “I am a firm believer in long-term follow up. But in the beginning, you have to grab them while they are hot.”

Rounding out his five “Ps” list is paying attention. That means tracking store and staff performance. “Everyone wants to see how they are doing,” McGurren says. “We're all salespeople. We want to be the best. But you can't fix something if you don't know it needs fixing.”

He meticulously tracks the number of leads, costs per lead, closing ratios, cost per sale, average front-end and back-end gross profits, net profit per sale, net average and units sold as a percentage of the Internet department.

Using a detailed computer spreadsheet, McGurren does that by store, brand and individual salesperson. “You have to know what's going on.”