TVI MarketPro3 and Eric Hawkes

How I Got My Fixed Ops Marketing Start

I started 30 years ago as a service advisor. I didn’t have a lot of auto experience in repairing cars other than do it yourself for oil changes, tire rotations on my own vehicles. While looking for a job, one of the questions that the service director asked me is, “how are you with speaking to people? Are you comfortable?” I said, “yep.” And, long story short, he said, “well, that’s what this job is. If you can be comfortable speaking to people then you’ll be good at this job.” So I said, okay.

He said, ” the technicians will teach you about the cars and what the customers need and don’t need. There’s like basically two sides. One is the technician side, which you’ll gain that knowledge. And the other one, that you’re pretty natural with, and that is talking with the customers.”

So, that’s how I started and, um, worked my way up to a Lane Manager. Then to a Service Director, then a Parts and Service Director and at one time running a couple stores in the Northern Virginia area.

And, I then had the opportunity to join up with TVI MartktPro3 three years ago. And it’s great to be able to impart your experience, your knowledge with the same people. So I’m just on the other side of the desk now, as opposed to vendors coming to talk to me about the product. I’m talking to them, but I have the benefit of 27 years doing what they did. So I can empathize, enjoy, relish all the stuff that they do. And when I say that, I mean that sincerely, I think it’s one of the more difficult jobs in a dealership. You’ve got to deal with the general managers, the owners, the technicians, the advisors, the valets.

My Mission for My Clients

My mission is to take dealers in their fixed ops departments and get them more business. The foundation of our company is “Grow Your RO.” I think that is exactly what I’m in line with, you know, to be a benefit, to make it easy for those guys and girls.

Again, I’ve sat in that seat. All the items I just mentioned you’re dealing with and then you also deal with the marketing. So the easier and more efficient I can make it for them while still building a value is what I enjoy about this.

So I enjoy the camaraderie, but when I see the reports and I see the return on investment is substantial. I feel really good. And if it’s not, I feel like we got to do something different. We got to do something better because they’re spending their money and it’s no different than you or I spending our money on something, we want to have a value in what we do.

My Greatest Challenge in Serving My Clients

Um, good question. When you don’t know an individual, getting them to understand that you’re just not another vendor. You’re just not another salesman trying to have them carry your product. That actually, there are benefits to it. And so it’s my job to get in front of them and explain the benefits well enough where they see a value in it.

Most Rewarding Part of My Job

Again, it’s when the program’s working, when we sign them up and they see the benefits and they’re happy about it. So part of our responsibility is going to the dealers after we’ve signed them up, and maintaining our relationship. And in that, we’ll review the numbers. So every month we see how we’ve done. We call it our maintenance. I call it our monthly results meetings.

We meet up and talk about what we did good, what came in, how many New VINs, how many new customers came in the course of a month, how many lost customers, customers that haven’t been at this dealership in over two years, but we’re able to get them back in. So that’s the most rewarding part is the success of the program. And then if it’s in a dealer group, to get referred to their partner, to the guy down the street who’s now at the Infinity dealership or the Honda store, and then they believe in us. And that’s a nice, what I call it, being on a roll. You know, you’re in with the organization and as long as you’re doing what you say you’re going to do, it’s very rewarding.

Common Challenge Across All My Dealer Clients

Again, similar to having them understand that you’re just not another vendor, you’re just not out there trying to get them to spend money, that you really do care and that you do have insight in what we’re doing and which I do, so I’m comfortable doing it because I, again, I sat on the other side of the desk for 27 years.

So I understand their time is limited. I understand that while we think this is a very important product, and it is, it may constitute 5% of their total day, their marketing. They have cars, they have to be fixed right the first time they got appointments that didn’t come in, they got appointments that never show, that come in that never were in the system.

There’s a lot on the table, so if I could make it seamless and efficient for the service directors to fix operations and they see the value in it, that’s very rewarding.

How I Personally Support My Clients in Solving These Problems

I empathize with them quite a bit, knowing what they’re doing and what they go through on a daily basis, and they know that I’ve done that, so it’s easy to do. Also, you know, 27 years at the job from an Advisor to Lane Manager to a Fixed Operations Director, I can impart with them some information that I’ve been familiar with: effective labor rate, grid pricing, people on a guarantee versus flat rate, express service.

The corporations, the manufacturers are always wanting this, that, and the other. It’s not always what the dealership wants. So sometimes I can kind of see both sides and help my contacts on a consultant type of basis.

So not only am I helping them try to get more customers in door, I can also help them with the problems they have, or sometimes, like I said, just talk with them and empathize with what’s going on.

TVI MarketPro3 Tools That Help Solve These Problems

First and foremost, I think it’s valuable, the reporting suite, but we call the control center. It kind of dives in and goes through the monthly results. And you can of course make it three months or six months. So you build value in that. And you also spend some time with your customer and looking at the ROs, looking at, we see this customer came in and we pull it up and we see that, you know, yes, they came in off of our marketing because they discounted or they applied the marketing material on the repair order. So the proof is in the pudding and that’s one of the major tools.

Another tool that we do is we review the results in a more of a macro picture over six months or over a year. And what tactic are we going to take going forward for 2024?

We review, hey, what’s good, what’s not good, what can we go after that we don’t have in reference to zip codes and demographics.

NADA Show 2024?

I think the grandness of it. You know, it’s the one time so many people get together that are all in the same working group, whether you’re a general manager or service director, but the common theme is selling and servicing cars.

And so there’s a lot of activities going on. There’s a lot of vendors with interesting products. And so it was kind of a refreshing spike to your day to day. As a service director, fixed operations director, I went several times and one of them we were looking for a new DMS, i.e. Reynolds and Reynolds or CDK. And it was interesting, you know, how they were trying to propose and sell their software to us.

Well, now I’m on the other side again, looking to hopefully impart our experience and knowledge and bring some new dealerships to the table. So I think I’m going to bring a net and I’m going to try and swoop people into our booth and spend a little time with them. So it’ll be a challenge and I’m looking forward to it.

TVI MarketPro3 and Eric Hawkes

I think dealerships should turn to TVI MarketPro3 because of the experience that we provide, one thing that we should do in the business is we would talk about how many years of experience we have in the shop. We would take the 25 technicians times how many years each technician has worked in the business and then come up with a number. And we’d say, you know, we have 350 years of experience working on cars come to us.

Well, kind of the same thing, but we have years and multitude of dealerships that we’ve been doing this with. The bottom line, I firmly believe you have to market. It goes back to the, you can have the best mousetrap and it’s sitting in your backroom workshop, but if no one knows about it, who’s gonna buy it, who’s gonna use it?

So you have to get out there. You know, I know the McDonald’s jingle, da-da-da-da-da, because they market it. It’s always in your head, right? Ace Hardware, whatever it is, the point is a lot of these brands have been out for a long time, but they still have to market, still have to remind.

We’re kind of in the frontier of a lot of dealership groups that haven’t heard of us. So it’s that opportunity to see them, spend some time with them, and again, go back on our referrals, those who are on our program.

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