Many today rant about change and how someone moved their cheese. The mindset of those who expect a static retail world show many who effuse about “the Good Old Days” while using mobile apps for airline tickets, ESPN Mobile for football scores and drive times delivered to their home desktops prior to leaving for the office.
The paradigm hasn’t shifted as much as it’s already taken the dirt nap. If you’re not ready for consumer-based everything, it’s time to reassess where you fit into automotive retail.
As an industry, we fall grandiosely behind what consumers expect. Recently a friend of mine’s mother was shopping for a vehicle. They caught an ad (yes, a newspaper one) and showed up at the dealer to find out that the stacked rebate offer was sold only the day before. After reprimanding that they should have never looked at a newspaper anything, the shopper retooled and headed out via web-based information (the new 2013 vehicle was purchased yesterday, from an honest dealership).
Since the very-public FTC crack down (and resulting settlements) on dealerships just a couple months ago, it is easy to see that the cheese moving has nothing to do with our comfort zone, consumerism or reality. By and large, dealerships will continue to do as done: Get the customer in. foursquare them, throw the keys on the roof and keep them caged for a number of hours, lest they escape when the salesperson leaves for the “desk”.
A few weeks ago, at the Innovative Dealer Summit in Denver, my presentation included a statement: “given the chance, 75% of dealerships would turn off their websites tomorrow”. Frankly speaking, that’s likely not too far off from the truth. This is based on entering and speaking with hundreds of dealerships a year. What can be done to alleviate the burden from those that don’t want it?
Automotive retail must move at the speed of the consumer, not pull the wool over their eyes even faster! The longer we live in year-1995 speakers and training, the faster customers will leave and push consumer-direct sales and other alternatives. Remember folks, 1994 was the year that Ford initially launched FordDirect.com!
The tools, data (for some- to most-part), capabilities and technology are available to us today. Let’s not bury the positive side of retail with 6-hour visits, bait-and-switch tactics, “we’re always here” mentality and less-than-deserved experiences because we are still waiting for the “up bus”.
If you aren’t ready for the cheese to be moved (newsflash: it already did), move on. Let someone else fill your position rather than having your sales staff ask a potential customer “would you buy it for fourteen-five?” when you don’t intend to come off of seventeen and back that up with an awkward T.O. only to find the customer gone in a minute! Consumers expect more, and damn it so do you, so why do it?
Maybe it’s time to forget the cheese and move onto whine… (Oops, meant wine).
Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results