Moving The Needle: From A Get Together To A Ground Swell

It is going to take lots more than talk, snake oil and rain dances to turn our hobby back into an industry with integrity, consistency and accountability (if we even had those in the first place).  It is more than about time to make change rather than simply talk about it.

Somewhere between the low-ball numbers form some industry experts and the pipe-dream estimates provided by others, there is a more accurate one and that's where we'll ultimately end the year.  Fact is the number is still going be a boatload below what it was just a couple years ago.  Now we can do our best to get to some better 'state of the industry' but the last time I checked, it still happens through selling and servicing cars the right way: one at a time.

Let's face it: consumers control content, the banks are controlling most of the consumers' spending (or at least for now), and there's no love lost for the venerable car dealer.

A couple weeks ago there was a Automotive LA Dinner, put together by Philip Inghelbrecht of TrueCar, and it was a great example of trying to get together to move the needle.  Eleven industry colleagues, most meeting for the first time, came from as far as 150 miles apart to meet in the Long Beach area and share insight, expertise, information, backgrounds and opportunities.  Our next meeting is supposed to be around the New Year, I hope sooner.

Next month's DrivingSales Executive Summit is going to be different.  charlie Vogelheim and Jared Hamilton wanted to put the dealers' future and opportunities in the spotlight, rather than the typical highest-paying sponsor or best-known industry speaker or colleague spearheading an event.  I hope this becomes a series of events with unprecedented support for the attendees, instead of greasing the skids for someone else.

The list of companies hosting webinars to get information out there for free is compelling: Cars.com, Powered.com, Automotive News, Ward's, Dealer.com and more are spending time, money and attention on where the water level really is: retail.

When the needle really starts moving in the right direction is when most of the events and support are the rule, not the exception.  It's a matter of finding the folks who weren't particularly impressed with an event, sitting down with them and finding out how to improve things.  Video after video, post after testimonial about how great an event or speaker or consultant was when half of the people in attendance leave a room is not going to benefit anyone.

Our responsibility is to improve, educate, compel, engage, support, enlist and activate.  Simply going through the motions and putting a new cover on old tricks (like reusing a one- or two-year old article and calling it fresh) , saying the you can deliver on something and then not or simply doing nothing at all – i.e. 'waiting' like so many dealers like to play it – is a move in the way wrong direction.  Don't get the wrong assumption: getting back to basics is great. Great for teaching someone how to close that doesn't.

You can't get a newspaper person to get the web, so don't try to.  You can't get a person who's never used a cell phone to text a message, so don't try to. But if we act like a village (no laughter, please) and raise the collective water level, we can do amazing things.  The needle can move much quicker in the direction we want and need if we eliminate the roadblocks, maintain above the status quo and help one more person each day achieve something more.

And maybe, just maybe, we might get someone who's never turned on a computer to end up taking 70 leads a month and closing at the third or fourth highest rate in a dealership.  We might see more dealerships starting to implement true customer satisfaction tools, employ true SEO practices, get advanced training on their CRMs, get a higher ROI from truly targeted service marketing and even utilize mobile web (I don't care if it's 0.005% of online users now, it won't be next week, next month or next year so quit using ridiculous excuses!!!).

Remember: it's our job to help move the needle, not someone else's.  Let's get the needle movers together.  Unite!…and stay thirsty my friends…

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

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