This morning I sat through a training/refresher course hosted by the Central Atlantic Toyota’s Internet ad agency, PIVNet. Usually I loathe these types of meetings, but Toyota does things so pro-actively I enjoy theirs.
As an employee of a dealer group who carries multiple franchises, I get to work with many different automotive “cultures.” Of the manufacturers I work with, nobody does Internet marketing as well as Toyota. They are leaps and bounds ahead of the pack. They do not dictate which third party vendors a dealer must use (Scion being the exception), and they do not cram a ton of compliancy standards down our throats. Do not get me wrong, Toyota has compliancy standards, but those standards make sense. Toyota contributes DMA money toward dealers’ Internet expenses and provide numerous things to help dealers be better online.
Why are other manufacturers so far behind in this regard? Some manufacturers actually handicap our ability to do business by forcing so many things upon us. It makes me believe some manufacturers view retail sales as a very simple business, and dealers are just lazy or incompetent. Why do some manufacturers force us to use their CRM tool, their site design company, and change compliancy standards for the Internet? I can understand some circumstances of the past when dealers fought the Internet, but this is not fully the case today. Why do these manufacturers continue to practice old-school ruler-slapping? Why not just take the approach they had before the Internet: if you don’t sell the cars, and keep up your customer service, we take your franchise away? Give us some compliancy standards, and step back. Or better yet, take the Toyota approach and help!