We sat down with Kacey Wernimont, the Internet Manager at Classic BMW, to discuss how VehicleXchange has helped increase their customer retention and generate incremental conquest business.
How has VX impacted day-to-day operations at the dealership?
KW: It has brought more traffic through our doors. About 65% of our sales are from repeat customers, so it really helps retain our existing customers, in addition to getting our name out there and engaging conquest customers who have never been to our store.
Give me an idea of a “day in the life” of your use of the system?
KW: I am the person who uses the VX system the most out of anyone at the dealership. My name is on the letters and emails that get sent out from the system, so I get a lot of calls and emails regarding those campaigns throughout the day. I will also work the actionable leads from the system throughout the day when I have time. We are training a new employee at the dealership (Skylar) who will be working the VX system full-time once he is fully up to speed, which should be in the next two or three weeks or so.
What is your feedback on the new VehicleXchange Plus program?
KW: It has been working great so far! I’m used to the first VehicleXchange system, so it has been a little bit of learning curve for me. I’ve gotten used to the lead round robin functionality, with the repeat customers going to their original salesperson for follow up, but it’s much more simplified now, I really like it!. You just go in there, click on the actionable leads, work the lead, get it done, and move on to the next one!
Are you in charge of maintaining accountability for the salesperson users for VX Plus?
KW: We’ve only added a few salespeople to the new system so far. We’ve weeded out a few people who had not been working it as well as we thought they would. So far they like it, they think it is really user-friendly! Skylar has really taken off with it, as it is the only system that he has ever used before.
What is your feedback on the expiring lease campaigns?
KW: We are pretty aggressive with our lease pull forward programs, and we make sure to use all of the offers that BMW makes available to us. When you combine those offers with the skill set of our experienced sales staff, we are really on top of our game with our current lease customers and keep them in BMW product. From a conquest perspective, the campaigns have brought in quite a bit of traffic who owned Hyundai’s, Ford’s and Chevrolet who didn’t realize they could afford a BMW and are looking to upgrade, as well as the folks who were looking at Mercedes, Lexus, Audi, etc.
How are the vehicles that you are acquiring from VX customers performing from a retail perspective?
KW: We really do well with the BMW product that we take in on trade and put back out on the lot as CPO units. Those units are turning pretty fast for us.
What feedback do you get from the consumer regarding the VehicleXchange program?
KW: It definitely puts people in the “in-market” mindset. I’ll come in after a weekend and I’ll have at least 5-10 voicemails waiting for me from consumers targeted by VX campaigns. People come in through out the day and week with the letters asking me “what’s this all about?” or shoot me emails to that effect. It is piquing peoples’ interest. If they weren’t thinking about a new vehicle before they got the campaign, they are now, and it allows us to put our best foot forward with the customer and give them a great shopping experience.
What are your goals for the VehicleXchange program?
KW: Our first goal is to get Skylar (our new hire specifically for VX) integrated into the full day-to-day of the system so that we have a regular rotation of our personnel coming in every day and making car deals happen solely from VX, specifically new customers. We do really well on the retention side, around a 65% retention rate, so we are really focused on the conquest side and trying to gain as much new market share as possible. Our high-line competition in the area is very aggressive, so we have to do everything we can to grow our market.
Is management pleased with the results of the program? What is their involvement with the program?
KW: They are very pleased! Our GM, John, checks in a couple times a month. We also just hired a new GSM, Ricky, who came from BMW corporate, and he is getting up to speed on the product. He is getting more involved with the program and is very keen on the marketing capabilities of VX, so he is really pleased with everything. Around two months ago, we transitioned the primary responsibilities of the VX program from Allen (another manager) to myself, which has made a big difference.
Has since the effectiveness of the program increased since the dealership made you specifically in charge of the program?
KW: Yes, because I am able to respond to emails and voicemails and people coming in with the letters a lot quicker than our managers, who are always extremely busy. I also have the ability to work and close deals on my own, instead of having to hand them off to a salesperson and hope that they follow up with them.
Have you seen any symptoms of the forecasted auto sales downturn at the store level?
KW: A little bit. That’s why we are using Pearl and VehicleXchange to really focus on conquest leads, so we can be proactive about getting new customers and gaining market share, because retention isn’t a problem for us.
Do you see value in the level of automation that VX provides?
KW: Absolutely. Especially with the campaign creation and the mailers. I’ve used AutoAlert in the past at a previous dealership, and VX is definitely a lot more streamlined and user-friendly.
What feedback do you have on the quality of training and support that you receive from VehicleXchange?
KW: It’s super! Alex is incredibly responsive, and Lori and Jennifer are all great. They enjoy coming here to the store and helping us out. Our managers admit that we can be a quirky operation, and it can take a few times for them to comprehend certain concepts, but everyone with VX has been very been very patient with us, and we have been successful with the program as a result.
Do you have a piece of advice for fellow VX dealers who have just signed up on the program?
KW: Keep in mind that the system isn’t going to automatically make 1000 car deals happen out of thin air without any effort. It’s a marketing tool, it is going to generate leads and bring people into the store, but you still have to do your job and work your leads and close car deals. If you put the work in, the system will work, it is very user-friendly.