Automotive Digital: The Cost of Being Minimized

It's no secret that we're on the move. All of us. You might even say that the speed at which things change is breakneck. What is less known is that as we speed toward wherever "there" is, the more we seem to be willingly giving up. The homogenization of dealerships is rampant…and it's the dealer that checked the box.

Our industry moves at the speed of retail. There is no two ways about it. While the mainstream media still focuses on what happens with the OEMs, just know that you are the king, not the pawn. That is until you make a choice: hire the preferred vendor so you can co-op funds; use the standard POPs since it's easier; use the brand website so you don't have to "maintain" two. And so on.

Consumerism is driving retail, which is at conflict with the OEMs. At the same time, dealers by-and-large are giving up the ghost because of cost. Well folks, the greater cost is being minimized. You can want it as much as possible and you still won't have your cake and eat it to. At least not in the digital realm.

So while customers are screaming for attention, service, why-buys, value, appreciation, satisfaction and validation, you throw a redundant website, a canned script, a formulaic email, a prepackaged walkaround, a canned welcome and broken sourcing practices at them. All to hopefully deliver the same car that's available at multiple competitors.

Very few dealers are making the investment to differentiate everything about their operations. You will never sell more saving money. You will never retain more customers while cutting costs. You will never achieve market increases while focusing on consolidating services. You will accelerate your demise.

Progressive businesses continually stay in front of trends, measure more effectively, create opportunities, listen more effectively, invest wisely and attract more eyeballs and customers. Those that don't….don't. 

The OEM-supported and mandated programs that are happening and a growing rate many times are being managed by companies simply adding on costs. Their insight doesn't push results, it standardized you. BDCs are being recommended for management by two preferred vendors for one manufacturer right now. You will sound and read just like your closest competitor. Is that your goal? No, is that really your goal? How much money will you save to get your Internet lead and phone closing rates up 10-50%?

If you save $1,000 a month since you can receive co-op funds with one BDC company, did you save money when you lost 20 units that should have been sold otherwise? Your social media is accelerating you to the same fate with most OEM-pushed companies. However since you don't read your own dealership posts, maybe it really doesn't happen.

At the end of the day, it's all good since the reporting says you're doing a great job. Right? Wrong.

The cost of being minimized, standardized and homogenized has still not hit an industry that's nearly minting money again hard enough between the eyes. To those that are fighting the fight, staying agile, focusing on results as much as the bottom line and not losing their grasp on where the digital consumer (which is all of us) is guiding us…here's to you! You'll be the ones who win.

For those who choose to be a mindless, factory clone, here's to wishing you the lost excitement, zest, fire and desire that you started with. You gave up the digital battle for whatever reason you did, hopefully you can save more than your money…

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