Another event in the history books. Digital Dealer 8 provided a new round
of talk, perspective, conjecture, ideas and repetitiveness. Well
attended, the eighth iteration of the event made way for a full expo,
some great sessions, loud receptions and the proverbial automotive
It was a bit funny last week when two things occurred that caused me to
think about what it is to be "digital", take the leap of faith, change
some (ok, a lot) of the broken practices in our business and bring as
many willing people along with us. Brian Pasch and Ralph Paglia both had
digital device "snafus" in front of a bunch of people. And it was
funny. While some loudmouth from the crowd chirped "it's digital"
(please, no guesses) , it caused me to reflect on how connected we are
to everything digital. And what we continue to do wrong, including the
so called education of the dealers looking for assistance.
Automotive retail's entire existence is based on success in the digital
realm. We don't need a bunch of people, many barely versed themselves,
standing in front of rooms of people telling them that the train has
left the station. Dealers need real assistance, in real time, in real
terms, from real people to build real results.
One thing that tends to rub me is the intention versus goal aspect of
the conferences. What's happened to AAISP? certification programs? "put
the dealer before profits" and all of the other chatter over the past
four years? This is not a post meant to call bullshit on everything but
to avoid it completely would be a disservice. At many conferences, more
netowrking and business happens away from the event than at the event.
And…there is a belief structure that has to be maintained.
It strikes me as odd when people attend events that can have a
significant impact, offer extremely relevant information and otherwise
influence attendees in a positive way are charged the most, treated as
less-than-desireables and not invited to particiapte in the most basic
way. Actually it's flat out wrong. The leading events let the audience
and industry decide what's best. Not the promoter.
Changes in the industry are happening at such a rate now that those in
position to create, promote and execute on large-scale events need to be
more in line who they claim to help. Watch the bottom line? Sure you
should make a profit if you're going to be bold enough, especially in
these economic times, to front cash (which can be significant) and put
an agenda together.
Ego and enforcement also have no place in today's events. Protocol,
yes. Guidelines, yes. Omnipotent overlords focused on anything besides
what drives the most value need to, well…be somewhere else. The
digital shift is about practices, assistance, positioning, data and
more. Our industry has been dealt a deserved blow in the digital space
due to ignorance, denial and a refusal to recognize our own customers
and public. How can the auto industry be so large yet engage and learn
In my opinion, there should be more Internet department directors
(pardon the phrase), field reps for the larger companies and consultants
that are not beholden to vendors on stage. Those are the people moving
the industry digital every day. Attendees don't want pitches. They need
honest answers. They need examples. They absolutely want to understand
what to do. Not being told. Not being sold. Remember, just like a
customer at a dealership, they want to buy from someone they trust, that
listens to them, that can deliver on value and promises. Why should the
B-to-B part of our business be any different?
It time to start doing the work instead of talking the talk. No more
"we do that" and then scramble to execute it for the first time. No more
canceled cook-offs. No more delays in production. And a lot more
customer service. That's what we need at retail. That's what we need
from the companies making the claims and filling the magazines with ads.
The one's retailers are trying not to do themselves anymore. Because
they're listening to us.
Because, hey. It's digital.
Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results