Tad Kilgore wants you to put the R back into CRM

Publish Date: 
Apr 17, 2013
By Holly J. Wagner

MANY dealership managers are familiar with customer relationship management, but too many focus on just customer management without much thought for the relationship.

Kilgore is the founder of the Powersports Business Development Center, co-founder of Traffic Log Pro and a veteran of RideNow Powersports, and now director of business development for More Than Rewards. He believes a lot of dealers misunderstand the role of digital technology. Dealers accustomed to the traditional showroom pace may not realize that web or email-based inquires have to be treated with a greater degree of urgency.

“One dealer, the verbiage at the bottom of their web page basically says, ‘We’ll get back to you in a couple of days. We’re busy,’” Kilgore said. That’s a turnoff for a guy with money burning a hole in his pocket today, he noted.

Kilgore discussed the state of CRM with Senior Editor Holly Wagner.

Dealernews: When it comes to customer relationship management, what are dealers doing well?
Kilgore: Autoresponders. Most of the customer relationship managers and lead managers right now have a way to set those autoresponders up, and an autoresponder is so important. It’s a process. The autoresponder comes out, then there is a phone call, the invitation to come into the dealership.

Is there a correlation between dealership size or sales volume and its CRM efforts and performance?
When we first introduced CRM, the bigger dealerships were more progressive. Who is more likely to be understaffed? Mom-and-pop dealerships. They may be cutting corners. Or maybe “that’s the way they’ve always done it.” At the bigger dealerships, it is all about accountability.

When V-Sept came out, they had such a good marketing campaign — they really helped dealerships understand what good CRM was. They definitely wised up that industry. And Polaris Industries did a really wonderful thing: It promoted the use of a lead manager and then rewarded the dealership for using it with the Max Velocity program.

So where are dealers dropping the ball?
Follow-up. Follow-up is one of those things where dealerships fall into one category or the other. [Some] are follow-up crazy; maybe they come from auto or RV [dealerships] and they are used to really hitting the phones. Other dealerships only call back folks they consider Mr. or Mrs. Goodbuyer.

Sales teams don’t use the CRM as well as we want. You have to be taken off the floor to learn. “When you’re learning, you are not earning,” they say. We’ve got to train these people without them realizing they’re being trained. CRM is behavioral; it’s how you act when things happen. (Continued)