Have you ever tried skiing? Uphill? Are you one for SCUBA diving? In a wading pool? Do you get your kicks running marathons? On a treadmill? How does this grab you: are you a fan of water skiing? On a dry lake bed? It seems that the more you try to distinguish your dealership today, there's someone from the factory telling you that all of the franchises in your brand should be the same. Nice. There's nothing better than showing up to a gunfight with a knife, right?
Know that we understand completely the advantage for the OEM. The level of standards, compliance and requirements shows more (not necessarily better) knowledge and what's happening with endorsed vendors shows that there may be a desire for (less than acceptable) results. "But they're the factory and I don't want problems". Well, Dear John, that train already left the station and you're the one who gets to sell the customers…right? Don't look now but the factory guys, umm, they don't know how to sell cars and neither do their bosses. Shhh, it's a big industry secret!
So how do you win at the "I want to get ahead and they want me to be behind some imaginary digital line that they don't understand" scenario? With more effort, time, cost and resources you can get 'er done! Welp, that's the short, hard to swallow answer. Can it get done? Yes, the same way you eat an elephant.
Look, they're the 800-pound gorilla (or, if you've been to counseling, the "white elephant in the room") and it's usually ugly if you don't take the extra cars they're shoving down your throat. How can the conversation about why the website vendor is failing them or the fact that the social media/reputation management company actually doesn't do what they say they do with any competency go better? It can't…not until there are real conversations at the headquarters. And folks, they've not even started yet. And the people in the digital posts at your OEMs facilities? Yes, they were selling factory replacement parts to you, at best, six months ago. No, everyone with a smartphone, a Facebook account and knows that CMS is content management system doesn't understand digital. Newsflash: SEO is alphabet soup to them.
Our 800-pound gorillas (read: all of them, not just the "big 6") need a major intervention from you right now. If you're reading this, you're in the top 5-10% of progressive dealers in the country. And don't think for a second that by having them out for a heart-to-heart or flying coach back to the OEM HQ for a fireside chat is going to take the covers off your website, CRM and marketing secrets because we still don't have over 17,000 dealers on mobile-optimized websites yet. However it's a step in the right direction and then 90% of your brand brothers won't have to scream that they don't know what their digitalmarketingleadmanagementpaidsearchretargetingonlinereputationconsultinggurus actually do (yes, please hashtag that!).
Did you hear the feedback from NADA? Yuuuuuuuuup! We're sure you did. Are the OEMs the bad guys? Not in the least. However the combination comes from vendors constantly selling (and them buying, BTW), relationships winning over logic and thousands of dealers fighting the "digital machine" for way to long. When a franchise gets over 50% of their traffic from sources they've not looked at in over a year, someone has to get involved. So they're not public enemy #1, they're just one massive speed bump that wrote a blank check to the wrong address.
Tip the scales in your direction, one pound at a time. (No gorillas were harmed in the creation of this post, but some will be offended – and so will many endorsed vendors)
Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results
Rather than reigning in the innovative dealers who go off book, the OEMs that are falling to the back of the digital pack should be learning from their top producers.