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July 22, 2014

Tire dealers give advice on social media

CEO and President Patrick Sandone recently hosted an open house for Net Driven's new headquarters in Scranton, Pa.

CEO and President Patrick Sandone recently hosted an open house for Net Driven s new headquarters in

So much went on at the inaugural meeting of the Automotive Dealer Council that we needed a second Web item to cover it all!

The council met at Net Driven's new headquarters in Scranton, Pa., on July 17, 2014 (that same day, the company held an open house for the facility). The meeting focused on the tire industry, with more than 100 dealers from across the United States and Canada participating in a program moderated by the Tire Industry Association (TIA).

Formed by Net Driven, the council is made up of "dealers on the front line," according to the company. They will meet periodically "to examine challenges in the automotive industry... and develop new solutions."

Council members discussed online pricing, industry trends and best practices in item No. 1 (see "Net Driven hosts Automotive Dealer Council"). Here are more of the questions -- with a focus on social media -- addressed at the meeting, plus answers and observations from the participants.

Issue: What is your biggest struggle and/or biggest success with social media?

* Content has to be relevant to consumers.

* "We use Facebook for branding. We emphasize 'happy' content."

* Successes: Media picked up our dealer charity event and linked to Facebook. Educational videos. Discounts offered on social media, including "share with friends."

Issue: What can a business do to convert Facebook friends and Twitter followers into paying customers?

* Show the customer you're part of the community Social media is for branding the human element.

* Offer a free item (such as a Frisbee for Frisbee Tire Co.) provided the customers gives you his or her email address and agrees to receive future emails.

* Have to shine because the first impression matters.

* Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest on Facebook -- dealer donates money to charity for every "like."

Issue: What trends are you noticing on social media? What is on the horizon for social media?

* Youtube is the next television.

* Social media equals change in the way we do business.

* Always a new platform, Instagram, etc. Be selective with one or two that work for you.

Issue: Is Facebook still worth the time for marketing your business?

* It doesn't take a lot of time, two or three posts per day. Figure out what factors I need to consider before creating a social media presence, and how much time and how many emplyees do I need to dedicate?

* Regularly post new, fun, engaging content. Need to be willing to engage and answer questions quickly. Goofy stuff works -- you end up looking like a person. You need to have one dedicated person and one backup.

Issue: How do you handle negative reviews?

* To avoid, immediiately send an email to make sure the customer is satisfied and call on the phone three days after the visit to make sure customer is still happy.

* Stay on top of negative reviews. Admit mistakes, don't be defensive. Contact customer and fix it -- get right on it.

* Keep in mind customers don't expect a problem to be resolved.

* There are two types of negative reviews: 1) legit problem and 2) bully money out of the dealer. Yelp -- respond to let customer and the world know you're trying to resolve the problem. Send out Google Alert for your business.

Issue: How does your business increase customer loyalty?

* Clean showroom, bathroom.

* Honest, friendly, good service.

* By exceeding expectations.

* Free alignment check.

* Free car wash. Vacuum the inside of the vehicle.

* 75% of people stop doing business with one bad experience.

Issue: How do handle online leads? What works well?

* We route them to the location specified by customer and the general manager. Then the GM gets a report from the store. Always follow-up and call.

Issue: What are the pros and cons of adding a call center to handle incoming leads?

* Takes away personal touch.

* Works well if customers ask about price or store hours. Transfer the other questions.

Net Driven, the business name of Local Focal Inc., is a leading provider of website and Internet marketing solutions for tire dealers and new and used car retailers in the United States and Canada. To learn more about Net Driven and its complete portfolio of service offerings, visit www.netdriven.com.

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