We are at the next crossroads, for now let’s call it the end of 2015 and the beginning of a new year. There’s more road crossing later. Wow, the past year had a lot of ups (and ups) and downs. And in the end, more cars were sold with fewer showroom visits and more hours spent online. If you agree with that statement, you can stop reading now…
First, let’s hit volume. At the time of posting this, we’re on pace to possibly topple record sales in automotive, if not get extremely close to doing so. There are some surprise winners and some more surprise losers. All in all, the increase was predicted and, with some exceptions, most everyone will be keeping their lofty jobs at our glorified manufacturers (why do most people on automotive blog spell that darn word -and many others- wrong?).
Fiasco. Well, we didn’t see that BIG one coming, huh? It’s too early to say what will come of the Volkswagen TDI (as well as Audi and Porsche) debacle, so it’s suffice to say that the “ouch” outcome is due to come in 2016. The key is that people will still buy their vehicles, it’s a combination of consumer perception and how the retailers handle the opportunities.
Titles, the least favorite of ours being “millennials”, do nothing other than distract car dealers, enable marketing companies (and some barely-average people to become experts in the field) to take advantage of ploys and create enough hysteria to take people’s attention off of what matters: taking care of the customer, stupid.
Consolidation, especially the big one in 2015, serves the car dealer, right?!?! Holy crap piles of nothing Batman, more dealers on a single-serving platform!! That’s got to be serving the shareholder more than the client, but don’t tell anyone Boy Wonder! Sure, you can see the episode with Adam West and Burt Ward roll out in your mind now, with the “BOOM”, “CRACK” and “UGG” blasts behind every customer service call now… It’s a great idea when you want your business to be on cruise control, unless you take a good look at the while picture and realize that we’re not well-served until a point that all of the technology is integrated and the data is utilized across enterprises. Until then, it’s called dropping the amount of checks you issue and nothing else. Yeah, and the website will be fully responsive in 2016 (bwahahahaha!!!)
Arrogance showed its beautiful face again in ways we hadn’t since 2004-2007, when dealers were nearly printing money. Near-record profits with slightly more optimized operations after the shit hit the fan in 2008 and 2009 showed our dealer body to some very-needed net profits this year. Along with that came the thoughts that showed as an ongoing lack of understanding what the public wants with an automotive experience, still underutilized digital marketing (yes, please hand your capabilities to the OEM vendor. That’s smart) and a continued focus on increasing spends in unmeasured media or supporting digital vendors that should have died five plus years ago (you know who you are).
All that’s left is the big decision: are you going to wait longer or finally commit the right resources and people power to the proper partners, building your results, true bottom line efficiencies and leading in your market? More dealers have decided, or are deciding right now, to follow (i.e. relent to OEM control of their digital marketing) the herd to irrelevance. It can’t be said more easily or with more conviction, if you’re going to be led by the same company that works with everyone else in your market, or trust the advisor that works with your competitor, you lose. Done properly, most dealers can increase their digital spends at half of what they drop in traditional, increase their sales and service, put the rest into resources for their staff (including adding staff) and come out thousands of dollars ahead each month, net. They don’t because…….because…..because…they didn’t do it that way before.
For those who do it right, 2016 already started over a month ago. If you need to focus on the last 25 days of the year more than anything else, how well did you plan for and execute during 2015? Or maybe, you simply have the wrong partner(s) in the first place…
Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results