Jerry LaWarre is the Fixed Operations Manager at Acura Columbus. He manages and works with over 25 techs, admins, and parts consultants at their Dublin, Ohio dealership.
Since adding video communication in 2018, Jerry oversees over one hundred videos per month that are sent to customers on behalf of the Acura Columbus service side, and he says video supports their ultimate goal: transparency.
What led you to adopt video?
Our owner [John Connelly] wanted it really badly. He wants us to be very transparent. That's the philosophy here, you hear him say it multiple times a day. That's why we adopted video.
I watch almost all of the videos we send out, there's a ton of benefit to it. If you get your guys to buy in, get it going, you’ll see results. It's something you have to keep up consistently. If you get your guys to buy in, it works!
How did you get your service team on board to take that extra step?
I bought them iPads and hinted to the guys that it was coming. I told the advisors first, we added a new multi-point inspection product on the iPads, plus our new Authntk video product. So we added a couple things at once.
Not everyone was comfortable in front of the camera. And that's where Eric Loring came in, he's our designated guy for video. He has an awesome personality and he’s our Quality Control Manager, so it's almost like you have your own private inspector looking at your car and communicating with you.
We told our guys we are doing this, and we made it mandatory. Our owner came in and backed it up which was huge. It wasn't really a choice. They didn't really buy in and that's when we said we aren't giving up on this, and had Eric take the lead on video. If you can't get your techs to buy in, get an advisor to do it, a control manager, or dispatcher. Some of the techs are really not good on video, and you want quality video, so sometimes it's better to have a designated person. Eric is thorough and good at explaining things.
I think we have an advantage over most dealerships.
Eric, why are you so good communicating with customers through video?
Well, they told me it was my job, they told me it was on my shoulders. The first couple you're pretty nervous, I'm not the most social guy. After doing so many, I do it without thinking about it now. I like to point to things when I'm talking about it because customers don't typically know what they're looking at.
A lot of techs are not used to talking to customers, they tend to be blunt and to the point, which can be a tricky situation when talking about complicated vehicle issues. I came from a retail background so I’m used to talking to customers in the same way that our sales team would be good at it.
Jerry: Techs are quick to speak their own language, not realizing the person on receiving end does not speak that language. Eric is in between and he bridges the gap.
Do you feel video creates more trust?
There are always people that just don’t trust the service department. When you add in video, the transparency is just there, you can actually see it. Talking to someone and gaining trust is completely different than seeing it through a techs eyes.
Loyalty is a long term effect of video and something we look forward to in the next summer. From a loyalty standpoint I think its huge. I firmly believe this is the way you do it. Video is where it’s going to be. Our Acura rep also loves it, he saw it and said, “Wow, talk about transparency.”
Have sales or customer responses increased after adding video?
The more video we do the better we get, and the more response we get. When people see the video, it opens up a lot of conversations. It’s huge, and definitely making a difference.
It’s amazing to see customers reactions to video, because it is still so new. You have to make it a part of your culture and your dealership, you have to go all in or it won’t go well.
They usually do accept the work after seeing the video. It sells, it definitely sells. If they were on the fence, now they're not. You can't deny what video does.
Eric, what would you say to a service department on the fence about video?
It puts a picture to what you're trying to explain. The majority of people who are benefiting from this are those who don't know a lot about cars or maybe women who think they're going to get taken advantage of.
When they can see a video showing them the issues, and then they get the multi-point inspection, that's where it really helps you. Now they have a visual picture of it from the video and they can put pen to paper and be confident. They have both something tangible and the video that highlights everything they’re reading and signing. Video is an important tool.