Honda Powerhouse Dealer Profile, Part 2: CRM and Marketing Expert

Publish Date: 
Dec 11, 2009
By Arlo Redwine

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE

Editor’s note: This is part two of a three-part profile of Heartland Honda in Springdale, Ark. Part one contains a history of the store, as well as details on how the staff has been downsized. Part three focuses on the plusses and minuses of being a Honda-only store.

Every dealer knows that retaining customers is a top priority, especially when floor traffic drops as much as it has lately. But what’s the best way to retain customers? Which of the various marketing systems should you use?

Greg Donahoe, general manager of Heartland Honda, has experimented with most of the systems, whether it’s something as traditional as TV and radio advertising, or something as modern as Google AdWords. He’s also used a variety of customer relationship management (CRM) software providers and website builders.

In fact, today his store uses no less than six vendors (and probably a few he didn’t mention). Donahoe has learned the strengths and weaknesses of each, and he’s not afraid to share his opinions.

So if you’re shopping for a new marketing vendor, or are just having second thoughts about your current vendors, read on to see how Donahoe’s experiences compare with your own. You may just pick up a tip that will save you customers.

Traffic Logs, Call Center, Websites (Two of Them)
Why does Donahoe need so many vendors, you ask? Well, let’s just say that’s he’s fine-tuned his marketing approach.

“We’ve got a got a door counter. We’ve got a paper log. We’ve got an electronic log,” Donahoe says. “I use Victory Solutions for our electronic log. I like them. In fact, I was with them four years; then I switched over to V-SEPT because I thought it had a better product.”

But Donahoe claims the V-SEPT marketing system was good on paper only. “It’s a nightmare,” he complains. (Click here for V-SEPT's response to his opinion.) “The problem with it is they have so many bells and whistles in it that you won’t ever get utilization. It’s hard enough to get a salesperson to log someone and get all the information, let alone use all that. So we dropped them and went back to Victory Solutions.”

Donahoe was able to negotiate with V-SEPT to keep only its loyalty program, which he loves. More on that later. (Continued)