The world is full of finger pointers and we certainly don’t need more. I’m so sick of people not taking responsibility for things. If you’ve been in management, or have had to keep multiple vendors connected, then you have probably felt my same frustration. Before this turns into a rant I want to say I have been enlightened. Yes, there are certainly some childish finger pointers out there (that’s right, I called you childish) but most of it comes from a lack of understanding.
Let’s use the pre-owned inventory display conundrum that plagues most dealerships as an example. This is definitely one of the biggest time wasters and absolutely is hell.
My experience with getting a physical car to show on all the retail sites started with the entry of the vehicle either by a finalized deal (trade) or the wholesale department (auction) entering basic vehicle information into the DMS. From there it was typical for some digital dead time as we waited for service to check the car out and update their end of things in the DMS. Then it could be onto some extra reconditioning. During this time stock photos and “Call for Pricing” are the digital attire for customers to browse – exciting!
While this car is “digitally naked” (feel free to snag that term) the inventory merchandising tool (a HomeNet-type of tool) is showing your photo/comment/pricing to total inventory ratio as being a single car off. This gets the boss’ blood pressure up as you’re tasked with cracking the whip on your photo takers and window sticker pasters. Of course, they’re screaming back that they can’t find the car or it is in reconditioning. Then your representative from vAuto or AAX is telling you the dealership is doing a terrible job on its turn rate…..such is this never-ending fun.
When we’ve finally got the car “digitally dressed” we come across a new problem: why it isn’t showing on Cars.com.
- We’ve checked the DMS: status code – check, GL Balance above $xxx – check, all necessary fields filled – check.
- We’ve checked the inventory tool: photos – check, comments – check, price – check, necessary fields filled – check, last feed push within 12 hours – check.
- We’ve checked the pricing tool: updated price in last 5 days – check, that price matches the inventory tool – check.
Why isn’t this car on Cars.com?
- Call the inventory tool support folks – they have no idea….all looks good.
- Call the used car manager to see if he manually deleted it – nope….he wants it online ASAP and now he knows there is a problem, so he’s getting the GM involved – fantaaaastic!
- Call the Cars.com rep to be reminded that you requested the feed be switched from your inventory tool provider to your website provider because they can now push videos to Cars.com.
- Call your website provider to have them point the finger back at your inventory tool provider…….fuuuuuuuuu….
If you read through all that, I apologize. I know it was painful, but so is the world of complicated systems mixed with a world of too many needed steps to get a simple chore done. This is the world we live in and it is a world wrought with little accountability….or should I say little understanding. The simple answer is “hey vendors – build something” but the truth is the vendors build stuff all the time.
Much of the problem is that people love shiny objects, and in dealer groups, there isn’t always a single voice of authority on which products a group uses.
So, we come back to a need for understanding instead of finger pointing. Take the time to understand your systems, take the time to understand your process, and create a documented path of accountability so people can understand where to go when a step in the system breaks down.
How many people in your dealership truly understand your technological process?
Here is a simple diagram you can model your process flow off of (example being the inventory feed flow):