There’s something wrong about the way we set car sales target in our industry.
Based on financial forecasts & OEM requirements, we set the ultimate monthly number. But is it the right number?
If you’ve been with us for a while, you know I put great importance on Conquest (new customers) vs Retention (existing customers).
I’ve been breaking it down in two distinct parts since a few years now, and I have to admit, it’s truly eye-opening.
I can’t believe I used to meet with dealerships, talking about forecasts & leaving those two concepts buried in the “sales” targets.
I actually feel bad about it. It was staring at me right in the face the whole time.
It’s like if you went to see a nutritionist for weight loss, and the concept of fat and calories would not be addressed. Only weight targets would be set.
I sat with a GM dealer owner at a store pulling 1500+ new units per year this week, and asked him a very simple question:
“Dave, what’s your new car conquest target this month?”
He looked at me, a bit lost and said: “I don’t have a conquest target. I should set one, I know.”
“Well yeah, you should, preferably before I leave today” was my answer.
What if you hit your 120 units target this month but all of them were existing customers, would you be happy?
A cold “NO” came out. Then, using the data from his CRM & DMS integration, I showed him only 11 new customers (people we didn’t know before) had bought from them
We were at roughly 10% conquest, 90% retention on their overall sales target.
I mean, your dealership still hit the number you decided was related to success right? But you’re not getting new blood in your database.
I have to say, I caught him off guard, and this guy is far from stupid. I really enjoy working with him and his team, increasing sales month after month at a pace I’ve rarely seen.
But we both agreed it is stupid not to have a clear target when it comes to conquest.
Meanwhile, their renewal rate is at 53%. At this rate, they’re going to be out of business in less than 20 years.
DOING THE MATH
“Ok, so what’s the solution?”
Let’s stop what we’re doing and set a clear target. At first, let’s aim at 35% of your global New Vehicle target. In this example, your current number on the sales board is 120.
120 x 35% = 42 conquest sales
Do you want to know why I chose 35% number in the first place?
It’s the national average of sales that can be attributed to your website leads. Basically, 1 sale out of 3 right now is happening after someone visited your site and generated a lead.
I attribute a strong conquest rating to your dealership’s website because if you were to match sales attributed to leads, you’d find about 90% of leads on your site are new customers.
This is the average! If you’re below that number…
- Your business is in danger
- We really need to talk. I won’t charge you a dime unless you decided to work with us.
Some clients of mine are now up to 50, 60 and even 70 percent. This would take the 42 above to 84 units… Moreover, what do you think happens to the 120 at that point?
You guessed it, you’re now a 162 sales a month dealership, a sweet 500 cars/SUVs/trucks increase over the next 12 months! What about that!
Is it easy to accomplish? Hell no.
Anyone that calls you or comes through your door telling you otherwise should be slapped in their face and turned back where they came from.
This means you have to make clear assessments, and I’m going to tell you, it’s a big project.
I strongly advise your break it down in chunks.
Here’s how we do it with the dealers that choose to work with us (mucho simplified):
- Month 1 – Complete overview & assessment of the tools on hand + Extraction of every point of data
- Month 2 – Data clean-up & Benchmark/Target setting across your dealership (online & offline) + Clean out unnecessary expenses
- Month 3 – Changes Phase 1: Work with the tools & staff on hand + simplifying processes
- Month 4 – Changes Phase 2: Eliminate & replace stale or obsolete tools + set new processes in relation with new tools
- Month 5 – Changes Phase 3: Increase investments where ROI is positive
- Month 6 – Recap and Evaluate to stop or continue the program
GET TO WORK
Altogether, this will force you to turn to your CRM & internet leads for new customers.
You’ll stop relying on your current database as the sole source of sales and by leaving them alone a little bit more, they’ll thank you by referring your new business.
Dealerships relying on existing customers alone are like teenagers on prom night: desperate. You’re calling the same customers every other month with the same damn offers.
Sometimes you call them with a worst offer than before. They’re not stupid you know…
Instead, opening your conquest tap will also open a world of opportunities.
But, who are these people?
That’s the challenge right here!
There are people around you, that don’t know YOU exist. Don’t make the mistake to think they do because you’re filling up the airwaves advertising your newly-built 5-story Tajmahal.
Truth is, nobody cares about your business until they feel like they need a new car. Start embracing that and you’ll save a ton of money instead of yelling at everyone you exist like a 5-year-old with no attention.
You and your controller will thank me later.
True story, I recently closed a 12 months program with a 6 stores dealer group. Their ad spend was $50,000 per month, PER DEALERSHIP.
I almost fainted when the owner told me. What the actual fuck. Are you serious?
This meant they were forking over $571 per sold unit in marketing expenses.
The maths above divide the total marketing dollars over all sales.
But there’s a major issue with that formula.
You could go to 0$ in advertising & marketing and still sell hundreds of car by the natural force of the market.
So shouldn’t we multiply the marketing expense by that number instead? That $571 might become $1,500 or more, it’s a mystery…
By the time we were done, I couldn’t justify spending more than $82,000 per month for the whole group.
This means an average of $14,000 per dealer per month. Which is still a black belt budget in my mind.
They shaved almost 77% from their global advertising budget just like that, or 2.8 million over 12 months.
Yikes. Wish I had a cut on that instead! 😀
Plus, their sales are up 34% so far this year, which can be attributed directly to the new efforts. They are aiming well under $200 per sold unit now, very healthy.
I can tell you something, the marketing agency they were working with wants to kill me. (if anything happens to me, you’ll know where to look first)
Anyways, don’t think we cut just for the sake of it. In this new budget, we have plenty of nice things going on:
- Online Google Ads campaigns at 90% saturation
- Facebook & Instagram Trifecta = Awareness, Lead Generation, Trade-In
- 120-day automated lead nurturing track
- Facebook Marketplace for Used Cars
- YouTube Remarketing
- Display Remarketing
Conquest is expensive, but never get fooled in thinking you have to lose money on those deals.
So, what’s you conquest target this month?