Category Archives

Posts in Commentary category.
Still Ignoring The “C Word” Will Cost You

The “C Word”. You know, that word. The one that makes dealership executives’ skin crawl, makes sales people laugh, has trainers’ mouths drool and absolutely keeps your store from its true potential. It even has female staffers cringing, question working at the dealership. Say it with me….CULTURE.

Ignored by only the bravest of souls who understand the kind of wrath and trial it brings. Changing culture takes balls. It takes work. It takes time. And it takes an unrelenting focus as well as undying commitment. We all know it, so why do so few do it? Weak leadership? Lazy management? Not necessarily. Mostly it’s due to the lack of understanding what the intermediate goals during and wins at the end of the effort are. You know…not starting with the end in mind.

Culture, by definition, is a way of life of a group of people–the behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, generally without thinking about them, and that are passed along by communication and imitation from one generation to the next.

In other words, you’ve built the existing culture and it’s continued nearly blindly. In order to change a culture, the industry has historically resorted to spiffing or spanking. That’s not truly leading a culture change, rather a practice of distraction. So we take adults who should otherwise be able to achieve a change and create a different focus. Then we shoot down the same adults when the incentive or punishment dissipates. Quit setting your business up for failure!

Culture change takes conviction and creating lots of buy-in. We do that a lot with lead management and sales coaching at IM@CS. Creating adoption breeds results. More than taking the same business rules and communication requirements from dealer to dealer, like most consultants and trainers do, it takes a focus on sustainable actions through owning efforts, responsibility and results at each individual business.

Instead of blaming incompatible software, say desking and CRM, for why salespeople don’t complete their logging and steps in tracking and following up with customers, create an environment where sales supports each other and daily reports reign. And back it up with at least one weekly sales meeting run completely out of CRM. Over-simplified? Possibly. Worthwhile? Absolutely.

Culture? It’s everything or it’s nothing. Yeah, that will reflect everywhere…

 

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

Homogenization is for Milk (If You Drink That Sort of Thing), Not Dealers

“If digital were that easy, everyone would be doing it” said no automotive OEM executive, ever. But somehow, over the past few years, it seems as though they did. Meaning, for the most part, they don’t do anything digitally and yet…they expect their franchises to through some very forceful measures.

The dealers don’t win. The consumers don’t win. The car companies win. Concessions. That’s all. And not the kind that sell more cars. No, car sales are not up due to websites, erosion of gross or 84 month leases. Car sales are up because of demand, available loans and because, yes, the cars (all of them) are being made better today than ever. Oh, and of course, because your website company says their marketing rocks and they deliver the most low-funnel consumers to your doorstep (yeah, those reports make us puke, too).

Homogenization has never been greater at a time when nearly every smart person in marketing (automotive and non) says to create differentiation in every aspect of your business. Yet your OEM digital representative, who was in sales operations three years ago and brand communications a year ago, comes in and says that you have to/should use website provider A or B (that doesn’t have a fully responsive mobile platform, let alone one site), CRM vendor C2, search marketing partner D5B and consulting company WTF (who’s consultant was born the same year your rep graduated Northwood and worked at a Verizon store last).

If you’re smart and digitally savvy, you’ll run as fast as you can the other way. Why? Because selfishly, every digital know-it-all can do a better job? No. Because, unless you have a well under-performing store that you can plug any brainless automotive digital veteran into, buy more leads and sell more cars, they’re after your data, customers, results and ideas through managed programs. Yes it’s absolutely essential to have every retailer represented well digitally, however if a dealer wants to think that digital is a fad and not put resources into the top consideration generator, let them do so. It’s natural selection in business folks, let ’em sink.

Being made to look like every dealership with the same banners, offers, landing pages, newsletters, paid marketing and social media is a slow, miserable existence. An import dealer shared today that during his recent brand marketing meeting, an OEM digital overlord told him that he should have the ability to turn off all of the factory marketing if he had his own. Unfortunately, his website company (OEM-endorsed) didn’t allow him to and the third-party, in-the-way-of-your-results consulting firm didn’t have an answer on if he could or not. (the OEM guy did take notes and will report back!)

Another dealer chatted with us about not having proper used car data on their OEM-endorsed websites for their group. You think that the car company loses any sleep over used car anything, let alone mis-equipped listings potentially losing thousands of dollars?

It’s time to take your marketing over if you want to. Yes, it’ll take time, money, measurement (you don’t understand now), resources, patience and a die-hard willingness to learn, changing your dealership culture. And it has to start with the dealer and general management. Not for a dashboard or an award, not for a magazine cover shot or being called up at a conference. And quit talking about visits or sessions, that’s so 2008. Nothing cooler than telling your dealer “we had 1,000 people on the lot and in showroom, sat down with 28 and sold 4!”. By the way that’s what your website says.

All of this is because if something doesn’t sell or service a car, or get someone back to your dealership, it’s not worth buying or using. And nobody, not one person, after working with hundreds of dealers, on OEM programs, at 20 Groups, conferences and webinars, producing second-to-none content, social and SEO, can convince us that standardizing marketing and solutions across thousands of retail points across North America can do anything other than paint the industry with a bland brush.

You don’t deserve that and your customers don’t deserve that. Will Rogers once said “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging”. Unfortunately these OEM digital programs have created a Crab Mentality by literally not letting those that choose to get ahead. Good intentions, poor execution.

You can do much better. We hope. (310) 377-6481 or info at imacsweb.com

 

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

Websites: Why Your Smallest Investment Still Pisses You Off

We’ll let you in on a little secret. For years, decades really, you’ve been able to throw some words and photos onto recycled trees, shoot a check out for $5,000 a week and create a line so long out your front door you were laughing. And now you have a virtual ad up every day for one quarter that price (or less for most dealers) and bang your head against a wall.

You might even think that your last print ad actually did better than any other source in recent memory.

The only rules that changed when you relied on print was if your rep would “take care of you”, a competitor would drop out of the paper for a week, you had a better lost leader than the closest same-brand store or if you included dealer cash or bought down rate and nobody else did that weekend.

Nowadays how you show up, where you show up, when you show up doesn’t make sense to you and don’t have anyone even get you started on pricing as gross erodes, software tells you how to optimize your lot and competitors you’ve never heard of are showing up in your pump-in, pump-out report.

You would gladly spend $30,000 a month to see your latest promotion, however if another rep or consultant walks in with a haphazardly assembled SEO report telling you that their services are needed immediately for $2,000 a month you’ll give them the Axel Foley treatment in Beverly Hills Cop.

And now you’re told that your current website provider platform isn’t up to snuff (what is a subdomain or a second “site”??), your paid ads don’t convert, leads are down and your cost per sale is up. You’re pissed. And mostly because you don’t understand what to do and how to do it or how to get your vendor(s) to do it, not because your most important advertising source can’t work.

It’s your smallest investment (you’ll spend more in coffee services, porters and trips to 7-11 for Red Bull for your staff to start logging their ups and follows ups in CRM).

Studies don’t matter. Analytics don’t matter. Lead ROI doesn’t matter. Not until all of the basics are covered. Not until you have an understanding of your $700-$3,000 per month spend. It’s never been a pay-for-it-and-leave-it even though every vendor tells you it is.

Websites are one of your three greatest investments and the least expensive (the other two are your staff and your CRM). Don’t ignore it and them blame anyone else. You shouldn’t spend money for anything you don’t understand. Don’t be the one who knows more about what clubs Jordan was using last weekend, yet nothing about the platform your website runs on or that you need to deliver four sizes of your latest ads instead of one. Don’t get pissed off at one of your smallest line items, get smart and get results.

 

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

What The Watch Will Have You Watching as You’re not Watching What You Need To Watch

Not paying attention to mobile, tech and search is about to get more annoying…and costly!

What time is it? Really, what time is it? It’s not hammer time or time to get ill, although you may after reading this. It is time to consider where you SEE what time it is. For a lot of people in automotive (read: dealer principals, general managers, general sales managers), it’s usually a nice watch. And guess what? Within months, a lot of those people will be migrating to “smart” watches. Lots and lots of people will.

What does this mean for you? Well, truth is we don’t exactly know yet however know this…you’re about to get more annoyed from a cost and tech perspective. And to think, you were finally getting comfortable with spending money on SEO for your antiquated website 5 years after you should have been spending the money to DOMINATE your market and you just felt like looking into geo-fencing, although you still don’t get it.

Tech, and smart watches specifically, is going to continue the drumbeat of change and focus. Not to say everyone is going to buy a $10,000+ gold-plated Apple watch,. No. More people will be buying the Android watch that’s $499 at Costco right now!

Very few of you are going to think “great! A service app on someone’s wrist with integrated push notifications…I’m in!” Most of you are going to ask “what person would even want their smart phone that close to them?” or “Why do I need to pay attention now, until it’s more common?” or, the worst, “what spend any money on that?”

This is the real question you need to ask yourself, “will my platform, apps and communication be ready for this switch and what is a reasonable cost to be ready?” and for most of you, the answer is no. Look at your email templates and ask yourself are they mobile-ready today. (hint: most dealers have large/wide headers with links, some kind of framing, large/heavy graphics, video and other assets as part of your (non-relevant) emails you send to customers. Newsflash, you’re killing yourself and, if you have an OEM-pushed consultant coming in to your dealership, you’re even more in trouble. You’re not ready.

Tech, search and communication are changing at the speed of the consumer, and you have yet another wrinkle in your plan to do the same thing you were doing before you read this, so keep doing what you’re doing. Yes, car sales are up so dealers can make a lot of mistakes and still make money. The about-to-happen explosion of smart watches represent another example of how overwhelmingly wrong automotive retail marketing is. Now go put your Fitbit on your wrist that tracks you via GPS and uploads to your Strava account and do that run you were planning,. Nothing to see here, everything is fine …

 

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

A Blue/Black Dress. A White/Gold Dress. A Car Sold? Whatever…

Expose your business. Better yet, expose yourself!!

 

It’s not about who bares it all. No, the game is about who gets the exposure at the right time. And most of the time, we perform poorly.

 

Marketers have been talking for decades about exposure, impressions, brand recall and market share. And while nobody (at least here) needs to be convinced that exposure should be primarily online, we’ve once again been shown that the conversation shouldn’t be about advertising.  Yes folks, exposure leads to conversation. All kinds of exposure… 😉

 

So what does the color of a dress have to do with car sales? Both a whole lot, and absolutely nothing. Within a short while of the “dress” explosion last week, automotive b-to-b social media was abuzz with puns,  memes and conversations.  Some of those actually made it to the retail channel. No OEM or retailer had an “Oreo” moment due to what color a dress was. And it was all an experiment anyway.

 

Marketers are being shown up, at an alarming rate, by the media of individuals. And we are still concerned with the “right” newspaper ad for the weekend? Millions of people joined an online conversation about screen resolution and perception, yet nobody sold a car from it.

 

And there could have been some massive fun, too. “Buy a new (fill in car brand) and receive a (fill in department store) gift certificate toward any color dress you want” could have shown up on websites, email blasts and social media within minutes. No, it was all about the weekend ad, which gorilla looks good on the roof, or what new incentives will be, or pouring over month-end reports, instead of selling more cars through created connections.

 

What’s more disarming than making someone laugh? What’s more unexpected than having someone think they just had the least “automotive” experience they’ve ever had?

 

Exactly how to make a popular culture phenomenon part of your marketing is not the point here, realizing that you have the opportunity to capitalize on more of these types of occurrences is.  Ad agencies and media companies aren’t the ones who do this on the fly. We are.

 

Salespeople (and managers) are so focused on the “script”, the “road to the sale”, the “processes” and the such, we take so much of the human element out of making car buying fun.. 2009 was the first time we had a client sell a car specifically (and nearly solely) through social media. Stop thinking about what to say and simply start the conversation. Even if you don’t have a dress on…

Misunderstanding the Misunderstood (A Post-NADA Perspective)

Too often, we mix messages. We misconstrue. We miscount. And most often, decisions based off those actions lead to more of the same. There is a lot of “data” out there: actionable, validated, accurate data, and damaging, paralyzing, inaccurate “data”.

 

Last year IM@CS was fortunate to be involved with a Mercedes-Benz project around lead management and one of the talking points (not from us or our partners) showed the average customer in 2013 submitted a lead to 1.3 dealers. Not only has this been invalidated by at least a half-dozen companies, in speaking with the dealers themselves, the empirical data disputed that. The data. “Data” brought in by (maybe) well-intentioned parties however far from accurate, very far for allowing a proper action plan and light years from having the dealers make sense of it.

 

Too often, the OEMs, and admittedly dealers, are lit up by flashy bids, mesmerizing proposals and the all-too-famous “we also have contracts with Competitor A and Competitor B” line or the notorious “we built the space/were first to launch this” verbal flatulence.

 

Another case in point: Last year General Motors rolled out an initiative for BDC build-out for it’s nearly 4,000 franchises. Good intentions, a little late on the “action bandwagon” (we spoke with GM about his in 2008 and 2009) aimed at mitigating the massive amount of lost sales due to lackluster lead response and follow up (read: all OEMs fall in to this bracket and have subsequently gone at solutions the wrong way). Enter two vendors for those dealers. Yes, two. Two vendors for build out and support of thousands of dealers’ BDCs. Then, the co-op curse, leading most dealers, due to “cost”, to not hire companies that can scale better, are more experienced (in real life, not on paper).

 

It’s time to stop misunderstanding the misunderstood! Who are the misunderstood? The agile, more up-to-date, active, often smaller guys and gals who prove themselves daily, weekly and monthly.  The misunderstood are the companies with great services, not great advertising and magazine cover shots. The misunderstood are the ones who deliver faithfully without contracts or gouging (why would a dealer ever sign a contract for services that must be measured?).

 

There is a prominent Internet/Marketing Director from the Midwest who, a couple months ago, posted on their Facebook page that their group was firing their existing trainer, and looking for a more progressive company that didn’t have an OEM contract. Why? Why? Why? Simply put, the services provided, as do most of the OEMs and the companies they endorse, couldn’t deliver for today’s market regardless of that company’s data!

 

The misunderstood are so titled due to the lack of willingness of dealers to get way from comfortable and, simply put, sell and service more cars. Its not your word tracks, it’s not your phone call scoring. It’s not your trainer that has to repeat him/herself each and every month and bring in nearly-duplicate reports. IF you don’t understand how something works, stops paying for someone to do it. Understand it.. Even if you find a partner to leverage, you’d better understand it.

 

The industry, by and large, still can’t respond to a lead effectively, completely and with a reason to buy in under a day.  We’re starting the 21st year of the Automotive Internet. You don’t need to know ode, you absolutely must understand why having a responsive website is a must. You don’t need to know how Facebook changes their algorithms, you absolutely must understand targeting das and dark posts. You don’t need to how Google leverages directories and local citations to leverage local search, you absolutely must understand how and where to update your information, links and phone numbers.

 

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

 

DSES: Can You Feel Me Or Is It The Customer Experience?

DrivingSales Executive Summit 2014 is officially in the books. It was a sold out event once again that enveloped the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas for the better part of three days. Planned was a (digital) star-studded keynote speaker list plus some of the finest breakout speakers, many dealers, for those in attendance. Here's some highlights form the event from IM@CS' perspective:

Day One

Just as last year, there was a Canadian Breakout Session housing some of the top companies from our neighbors to the north along with some powerful presenters including Grant Gooley and Jeremy Wyant. Jay Radke and Brent Wees definitely brought the "eh" for a second time. Rumor is that next year will be bigger and better (and DSES will NOT be during Canadian Thanksgiving!).

After Emcee Charlie Vogelheim’s grandiose welcome of the attendees, DrivingSales' founder Jared Hamilton managed a uniquely powerful opening recognizing a few members of the car dealer community from stage for thie personal triumphs and celebrations. Most poignant was a heartfelt message and standing ovation for Courtney Cox Cole of Hare Chevrolet. Just completing her last round of chemotherapy a few days prior to the opening of DSES, her presence was missed however her spirit was felt.

The first keynote was Florian Zettelmeyer of The Kellogg School of Management hitting hard on data, telling dealership attendees to get smart on analytics. Well, it was more like "become data scientists", however put the message was clear. This year's Best Idea Contest followed and the audience was treated to some unique ways of approaching the "digital sprawl" that's occurring for dealerships (winner was a repeat of last year, Robert Karbaum). Add to that Mr. Vogelheim’s “costume” unveil, a cowboy shirt that was a present from CADA’s Tim Jackson.

Breakouts began and the session IM@CS attended was with Shaun Raines and Tom White Jr. As expected they hit their stride quickly offering specific actions to dealers that want to build a unique brand, market awareness and make customers the center of their world. Word back from other sessions was positive.

The Fireside Chat that followed had good information however it lacked some of the powerful punch from previous events (DSES and Presidents Club) that had the audience leaning forward or nodding/shaking heads in agreement/dischord. Jared guided Cars.com's Mitch Golub and DealerSocket's Jonathan Ord through a bevy of industry-directional questions and statements.

Day one's evening keynote was Brian Solis, who essentially is Altimeter Group's head analyst focusing on disruptive technology. As expected he brought insight, candor and a new perspectives to the majority-dealer audience, bringing up challenges and opportunities that the industry is facing now and in the near term. He touched on customer experience, the mobile audience, disruption occurring now that is effecting vehicle sales (Tesla and Uber were examples). He signed books immediately after as the reception began.

Day Two

 

Mike Hudson from eMarketer, a nicely-paced review of where the target is moving with consumers in regard to mobile, engagement, disruptive tech and how the sales funnel has move. Like Solis the evening before, he warned dealers and OEMs to stay up with consumer demand for information and provide only value-based experiences.

Breakouts followed and included such speakers as Bobbie Herron and Brian Armstrong in a joint session on utilizing a BDC or not and Jeff Kershner discussing the mobile-based shift for today’s showrooms. Then Jared hosted a fireside chat with two top executives from the newly-formed CDK Global (previously The Cobalt Group). The keynote before lunch featured Adam Justis of Adobe talking about how dealership marketing must be customer-centric and fully integrated, further pushing the “customer experience” drumbeat for the weekend.

After lunch it was Innovation Cup time and this year’s finalists covered a broad range of dealer services. Not all new however all had a updated take on what is essentially consumer engagement via their technology (NewCarIQ ended up with the win).

Then, it was time for speed listening with Jared Hamilton. His keynote this year, “Competing on Customer Experience”, was another blistering wordfest of reality and must-do strategy, followed by a first-of-its-kind video compilation of customer feedback on car buying experiences. The full study isn’t due until next year, however the teaser included a handful of truthful, hard-hitting testimonials that dealers must listen to.

Afternoon breakouts ensued, showcasing among others Eric Miltsch of Command Z Marketing on wearable tech, Megan Barto of Ciocca Honda & Hyundai on dealership culture, Mike Martinez of DMEautomtoive on putting mobile as your top strategy, Mario Clementoni of NADA on best practices and Joe Chura of Dealer Inspire on website/lead optimization. Chura gave out some valuable “freebies”, third party tips, software/programs and offers that included one from Google not previously known.

Closing our day two was a second-time speaker that couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time. Rand Fishkin of MOZ (formerly SEOmoz) dove right into what must-use best practices need to be deployed today for SEO to stick. Raising the bar he set two years ago, his presentation dealt with can-do/don’t-do advice and the Q&A addressed misinformation/misconceptions that many dealers hear regularly through auto industry sources.

Day Three

Charlie and Jared started the morning with the winners of the Innovation Cup then immediately into the 4th Annual Digital Media Debate hosted by Joe Webb of DealerKnows Consulting. A slightly different format than previous years, two retail executives, two consultants and two vendors addressed topics ranging from Adaptive vs Responsive websites to relying on third party leads, conglomerate vendors versus specialized suppliers and one-price stores versus traditional.

The last round of breakouts showcased Christian Salazar of DealerFire on how consumers are finding your website and content, Aaron Wirtz from Subaru of Wichita recapping how the store addressed their potentially damaging PR debacle and turned it into a complete positive (that ended up going viral) and David Kain of Kain Automotive talking about how to make memorable connections with your customers that last.

Closing the 2014 DSES event was Bryan Eisenberg of Eisenberg Holdings. His presentation, bookending Florian’s from Sunday, was an appropriate ending note on the customer experience “Cool-Aid”. Hitting right on topic after topic regarding analytics, measurement, impending trends in consumer shopping and more, Mr. Eisenberg pulled no punches in telling dealers how they need to change their marketing practices to match the consumer path.

Charlie then reintroduced Jared for the shortest closing remarks of the six years DSES has been produced for the industry’s leading dealerships. It was a fitting end to what surely was the most information-filled conference of the year.

Kudos to the DrivingSales team!

 

Best Practcies: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

Want R.O.I. on Anything? Start Using Anything! (Or Settle For B.S.)

One of the first questions that is asked of us when engaging a dealership is “what is the R.O.I. of (fill in the blank)?” Well our friends, from leads to software, to websites and PPC, the question that is being asked is wrong.  If you ask what is the R.O.I. of a product, let me ask you what is the R.O.I. of air?

Well, it’s noting if you don’t use it.

Over the past seven years, we have proven over and over a multiple R.O.I. on all digital aspects compared to before we arrived. And remember, that is usually with no or little vendor changes. Why is this? Because there is no return of investment without education, understanding and utilization.

Dealerships usually buy due to fear or loss, standardization or acceptance of a product, or a unique opportunity (first-in-market). Rarely are those opportunities truly vetted out. While we are not saying to stop before purchasing a product or service that has market penetration because there is a compelling otherwise to do so, we are advocating full assessment prior to signing.

Take lead providers, for example. While most have taken a (B.S.) marketing position and away from you buying leads, most dealers have more “opportunities” in their ILM/CRM than they know how to handle. Buying more leads? Usually you drop your R.O.I.

Also, return on investment is calculated improperly. Is it closer to income and expense or profit and loss? Yes. Until you are properly educated, coached and assessed regularly, there is no R.O.I. because the assumptions are in the wrong place. Show me a dealer closing 10% of their leads, add another provider and, after six months, you will have a dealer with a higher cost structure closing 10% of their leads. Insanity.

Spoiler alert: do the math, work it and get results. For every new website, software, marketing tool and process, you must back it up with hard-core training (no matter how much that word sucks) and sustainment. That is how our average client that buys in fully to our processes and business rules doubles results in less than a year.

Recently we have heard about more catastrophic website or software installs than ever before. What’s the R.O.I. on a vendor search, pitches, proposal and negotiations, set-up fees, months frustratingly lost followed a switch back to the previous or another new provider?

Stop talking about R.O.I. until you spend more on your personnel, education, accountability, scoring, bonuses (not get-it-done spiffs, by the way) and intra-staff support. That’s when you get return.

Until then, you can continue to buy based off of “your competitor is using this and they’ll eat your lunch” or “only 5 more cars sold with our biz-bang-boom and you’re in profit!” or any other snake oil sales job you fall for.

Oh…and one more thing to consider. Results occur top-down with an true ownership, understanding perspective. Not bottom-up make this work garbage. So take that pill and swallow it…

 

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

 

Consulting Conundrum: “You can do whatever you want, as long as…”

Yes, this is opinion. However don't take it as fable.

It’s the consistent vicious circle in consulting: do it all as long as it’s what is wanted at that moment, backed up by someone else, doesn’t bite back at the factory stance, mostly makes sense and when you can grab the proper attention. And don’t blink because all of that can change with one call or a visit from a nice set of pearly whites with a tan and a low-slung top.

In a dramatically fluid world, all of that is a constant.

Meeting with a dealer the other day, their factory (only) site has issues, their SEO/SEM isn’t close to completely transparent in work, reporting or results, their new CRM isn’t installed properly or completely and their sales team can’t seem to do their job. And the store is doing, what most would consider, fine.

In less than five hours, a solution to every hole that was shot in their operation was provided, a path to resolution (in some cases multiple) was drawn out and improvement benchmarks were communicated. All without spending a dollar more in vendors, leads, software or services. And everything was documented.

Very few of us in the consulting world face this; because most aren’t consultants. Most of them are resellers, reps, paid advocates, commission reapers, factory program overseers, old-school trainers with a new world attack and/or recently departed vendor/dealership staff. Consulting, ladies and gentlemen, is a craft rather than a hobby. True consultants create understanding, buy-in, advocacy and results, in that order. And they listen, a lot.

If your costs just went up north of $10,000 per month and you’ll see your consultant one day per month, you should check the other hand of the person you just signed a contract (warning sign) with and see if their fingers are crossed.

As the industry shifted slowly over the past ten plus years, it created a natural recommendation engine that exists more powerful than ever. Don’t believe me? Contact your OEM, ask for a solution or provider for a problem you have in any category, especially digital, and then ask about results for any one or a group of dealerships. And get that preferably in a report with before and after metrics, costs, process changes and net improvement.

Oh, and you might want to hold on to your four-leaf clover.

In a world where businesses still make decisions by how many “covers” or “articles” someone was been on/in or how many times they’ve heard of a potential partner during a golf outing or 20 Group, industry metrics are moving slower than the speed of solutions. Hellloooo, it should be the other way around.

There are no overnight solutions, silver bullets or cash cows, at least legal and/or ethical. Use tried and true sensibilities: ask for more recommendations than someone offers. Look at more live solutions than you are given, dig deeper before you spend deeper. Oh, and if it sounds too good………

Car dealers, do yourself a huge favor. Get a second opinion on everything as if you’d just received a heartbreaking medical prognosis. In both cases your life depends on it.

 

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

Natural Unselection (It Takes Time…)

Yes, it is getting more and more difficult for business owners to make decisions today that will positively impact their business, especially in the arena of digital marketing. You might say “bull hooey” and protest that it has become easier. And you’d be half fright…

Nothing is more frustrating to a business owner that not understanding something that should otherwise be “easy” to do so. That’s where misguided trust and blind recommendations become so darn appealing. Attend a 20 Group and you just might be amazed as to how eloquent an otherwise inept presenter can be.

We live in a world of regurgitated content, many times so prolific that anyone can claim it to be theirs. Car dealers and executive management, typically, know what has been and possibly what is happening now.  They’re still overwhelmingly blind to what is going to happen, even though it’s in front of their eyes. And smartphones.

However, the chasm that exists does so simply because the dots aren’t connecting. In other words, they “get” that they need to market in a new channel, or completely store prospective and customer data in CRM, or spend time understanding new reports. While there is no excuse, none whatsoever including “time”, to not do any or all of that, there is at least bandwidth to consider.

As much as it easy to blame the OEM for (many) programs of epically disastrous proportion, it is up to the dealer to make sure their house is in order.

The struggle that has presented itself over the past 3-4 years, and it’s gaining momentum by the way, isn’t whether to do more, invest more, hire more or attend more, it is truly around letting go of operations to those that they have in power and get immersed the way they did when they started selling, or working in the service drive, or washing cars for their owner-parent while memorizing the specifications to 95% of the cars each year. More than ever you must have a desire to consume, learn, test and challenge yourself. And, ahem, everyone around you.

Recently, especially if you get caught up in rumor, there has been more and more reports of OEM digital, education and training programs being under scrutiny. Enter in shock and awe. Well, at least for everyone but those unfortunate few of us who called into question the very under-budgeted, under-staffed, under-educated, under-facilitated, under-read, under-thought-through contracts. While the programs disserve the OEMs, dealers (at least progressive and knowledgeable ones) are pretty much disgusted. And no, the programs are not responsible for selling more than a negligible increase in amount of cars. Period.

Now here’s the conundrum….we can’t throw another conference at them. We can’t throw another “digital marketing”, or “social media”, or  “digital consulting”, or “new age training“ company at them either (you can here the shotguns loading now). And you’ll not be able to convince them that the person visiting them with zero hands-on experience in anything he/she is talking about will make a difference. Unfortunately they might have to let that person visit to make the factory happy. Ugh.

Dealers and OEMs should be able to (stop everything they’re doing and) reevaluate the broken CSI, allocation and reward programs that current exist. Then, as one example, build new models that actually reward dealers who perform exceptionally for their sales and service customers, not exclusive to volume, according to only those customers (versus third party companies), transparent, benchmarked scoring (imaging that!) and overall investment (including but not limited to the facility).

Yes, customers expect more. And that’s not going to stop, ever. And yes, more cars are selling; same with large new-technology televisions, tablets and dinner reservations. When the “easy” sales stop again, fewer dealers will be ready for reality. At least the reality they’re living on and sold by people who shouldn’t be selling them…

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results