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Autobytel Dealer Spotlight: Shane Maness, Hastings Ford
Autobytel Dealer Spotlight: Shane Maness, Hastings Ford

Shane Maness, Leads Manager, Hastings Ford
April 2015 Autobytel Dealer of the Month

We'd like to congratulate Shane Maness, Leads Manager of Hastings Ford, for being named Autobytel's Dealer of the Month for April 2015.

The Autobytel Dealer Awards Program honors exceptional dealers from a competitive field of thousands of automotive retailers who employ the highest standards in customer service, Internet automotive retail sales and lead management processes, and mobile and emerging technologies.

We recently spoke with Shane about the importance of response times, follow-up, and working your Internet leads, and how these facets of his business have helped his store become successful in his market.

Tell us about yourself and your store. What is your official title, what brands do you sell and what are your primary markets?

My name is Shane Maness, and I am the Leads Manager for Hastings Ford in Greenville, North Carolina. Our dealership sells new and pre-owned Fords. We have been in business for over 40 years, and our store has a history of being one of the most trustworthy dealerships, and having one of best service centers. We serve Greenville, North Carolina, as well as areas all the way to coast, and the eastern part of the state. We are also one of the only dealerships to carry a particularly wide inventory and selection. We almost always carry a higher number of Ford models than your typical dealership.

How long have you been an Autobytel dealer and what do you think are the primary benefits of being on the Autobytel program?

We have been using Autobytel since October of 2014. I like that the Autobytel system gives me the control I need to make deals my way. Before signing up with Autobytel, we only had one other lead provider, but adding Autobytel gives me another avenue to receive more leads, and sell more cars. In this day and age, you have to find a way to get into people's lives because they aren't all reading newspapers and magazines anymore. They are all online, and in front of their computers, so you have to receive Internet leads. I firmly believe that because you usually won't close 50-75 deals from using just one lead provider, you need to get from various sources. And, the advantage with Autobytel is that it works!! I receive high quality leads from Autobytel that I can work with. If you don't get good quality leads, no matter what you do and no matter how hard you work, you just can't turn them into a sale.

What do you think makes you so successful at meeting the needs of today's Internet consumers? Please share a few of your best practices in terms of managing Internet leads.

Timing is everything. It's as simple as that. My personal goal for responding to customers is within 5 minutes. I recently received a lead at 3 am. I heard the notification on my phone, and was able to get up and answer it right away. I have had customers tell me that they came to my store because I answered first. That is why I answer leads as soon as they come in. I want our dealership to have the best chance at making the sale, and response time is crucial. I think getting there first, and being consistent, answering customer questions, and having a "never let go" attitude has a lot to do with being successful. It really is what you make of it. Autobytel sends me the leads, and it's up to me to close the number of deals that I want.

What are your thoughts about being named an Autobytel Dealer of the Month?

I love it! It's absolutely awesome, and a tremendous honor. I feel that this recognition adds even more credibility behind our dealership. The leads we get from Autobytel are terrific, allowing us to close a good number of deals, so receiving this award is icing on the cake! Plus, I've never heard of a lead provider honoring their dealers with this type of award, and I think that's great.

What are some tips or advice you would give other retailers when it comes to effectively managing Internet customers?

The biggest piece of advice I have to give is this: Get there first! If a customer is reaching out to multiple dealerships, it can really pay off to get back to them first. Another very important piece to the puzzle is to establish a strong relationship with your customers. Having a great personality helps. I almost always first meet my customers via the Internet, or via their cell phone, so getting my personality to shine through the Internet, and over their computer, is really important. We won't always have the exact car or the right inventory that a customer is looking for, but having a good relationship is the stronghold, and the key to sales. I believe that if you have your heart in what you are doing, and you believe in your store, that comes through to your customer. One of the biggest things I see as missing in the car business, on every level, is follow up. As far as I'm concerned, the market has a 72 hour cycle, or 72 day cycle, and you never really know where your customer is. So, I make sure to follow up with my customers so that when they are ready, so am I. I know my customers trust me, and a big part of that is because I have so much contact with them.

What are your general thoughts about the auto industry right now? How are sales? Any interesting things happening at Hastings Ford or with the brand that you'd like to share?

I love being part of the Ford brand because Ford was recently voted one of the most respected brands in US. That along with product changes and improvements have made the business more exciting than it has been in 20 years. Technology has also done wonderful things for the car business within the last 10 years. It is definitely an exciting time for the industry. If you want something that hasn't been developed in a car, stand still for a minute because it will come. The quality of cars nowadays is terrific. Technology has put everything on a level playing field, and you see very few dud vehicles anymore. The vehicles are beautiful and better than ever, they all have advanced technology, and better safety features, and all this has made the market exciting.

What are your thoughts on the new / emerging technologies coming out of Autobytel? For instance, receiving leads via text and texting with customers? Web based chat?

We use Autobytel's TextShield product, and are very happy with it. I have learned that every new technology you can add is an advantage, whether it's TextShield, or Payment Pro, new technologies create opportunities and give you another chance to make the sale. The ability to chat with customers immediately is amazing!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself...what do you like to do in your free time? Any hobbies or interests of note?

I have been married for 34 years, and I have two adult children who are doing tremendous things. In fact, my son is in the car business, too! I'm a car nut, and I love football and the New England Patriots. I love music, and I started playing lead guitar at age 6. I have a dog, a rat terrier, and he's my little buddy. I have been working in the auto industry since 1985. I absolutely love the business and I love what I do!

Each month, Autobytel's sales and dealer operations teams evaluate prospective candidates from a competitive field of thousands of automotive retailers in the Autobytel network, with a monthly finalist selected based on key online automotive best practices, including conversion rates, lead management processes, customer service principles, customer and brand retention analytics and Internet department practices, among others.

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