It is said that who you are, depends on either nature or nurture. In the case of Kathi Kruse, the answer is likely both. Her grandfather owned a car dealership in downtown Los Angeles, so it could be her nature. But as a child, she chose to play with Hot Wheels and Matchbox Cars, so perhaps it’s nurture too.
Regardless, Kathi was destined for a career in the car business. Today she is a Social Media Strategist, Marketing Expert, Consultant, Author, Blogger, Speaker and Founder of Kruse Control Inc.
Kathi spent many years working in dealerships, which led her to the opportunity to do operational consulting, where she focused on identifying opportunities to improve dealer profits. She was also part owner of a dealership that was ultimately acquired by another dealer group. The new ownership limited her creativity, so she chose to move on. She founded Kruse Control Inc., a company designed to help dealers navigate disruptions in the industry and focus on marketing in the digital world.
In this role, Kathi’s goal is to make an impact on the car industry and help “car people,” succeed. She has identified some pain points dealers face in committing to a digital marketing strategy.
- Lack of action
- No data analysis
- Making decisions based on opinion, instead of data
- Spending on ineffective tools
- Lack of accountability
- Decision makers with a lack of expertise
Kathi says that a great deal of the problem is that humans are wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Comfort is avoiding pain and change is painful. Too often dealers don’t want to work through the pain to make the change. She encourages her clients to take time to analyze the data, figure out what is working and what isn’t, and to look at your Key Performance Indicators (KPI).
A big KPI might already be in the showroom. It could be that salesperson who is begging for permission to create videos, personal branding or post on social media. Managers must give up the blocking mindset and let that salesperson give it a try–with guidance and boundaries for what’s best for the company. Dealers should ask themselves if the perceived risks of allowing your people to have a social presence, or a say in digital spend outweigh the actual expense incurred without their help.
Kathi’s thoughts on this topic can be found in her blog post, “Is the answer to digital transformation buried within ourselves?”
For salespeople that are given the room to create a digital and social presence, Kathi offers some suggestions on how to become established:
- Create an online, “Home” – This could be a website, Facebook page, Twitter — any place that Google can find you in a search for a salesperson.
- Attract traffic – Create content around what it is like doing business with YOU. Use video, blog posts, Instagram photos or Snapchat. Give the customer an idea of who you are and what to expect when they come to see you.
- Build Credibility – Ask for online reviews. Be sure to explain the difference between online reviews and CSI surveys and why it’s important for the customer to submit both. Reviews could become a huge referral source.
In addition, Kathi recommends dealers identify or hire a Customer Experience Manager who will monitor and respond to online reviews. The writer of a positive review should be graciously thanked. A negative review should be handled professionally, with empathy and a focus on conflict resolution.
Some final thoughts on Social from Kathi:
- Do the work! It will pay off!
- Social Media and Digital Marketing will build and sustain customer relationships and keep people coming back.
IN THIS EPISODE YOU’LL LEARN:
- Key Performance Indicators that can be found in your showroom
- How to manage Reputation Management
- Social Media To-Do’s for Salespeople
- How to create your online “home,” and what to fill it with.
Follow @KathiKruse on Twitter
Follow Kathi Kruse on Facebook
Follow Kruse Control Inc. on Facebook
Kathi’s website: Kruse Control Inc.
Kathi’s Book Automotive Social Business 2.0
Episode #14 Kevin Frye
Episode #15 Victor Montoya
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