Opinions & Advice

Are you being left behind? #NADA2011

With the 2011 NADA convention around the corner it dawned on me that a lot of Dealerships are leaving their future at the dealership this year.

This might get a little cryptic but stick with me here.

  • Do you have an inventory stocking & merchandising manager?
  • Do you have someone in charge of all your newspaper ads, radio spots, or TV reach?
  • Do you have someone who solely looks at CRM and the processes it promotes?
  • Do you have an in-house trainer?

I’m asking if you have one individual for each of these rolls?  Chances are, you don’t.  And the truth is, you probably don’t need to.  You don’t need to because many of these items are things your traditional management, GM’s or Executives are fairly well versed in (maybe I’m reaching with this statement).

So, why do you have an Internet manager?  A BDC?  An eCommerce Director?  I bet you have, at least, someone who is solely dedicated to your online presence.

Let’s turn the clock back to roughly 1995 when the “consumerNet” got started.  In 1995 your Internet person was probably still in grade school.  16 years later that person has a ton of Internet experience.  She or he grew up with the consumerNet.  Your current GM’s and Executive Staff grew up with the newspaper, books, TV, and radio as their information hotspots and are experts in those mediums.  Tomorrow these won’t be the people in charge of the dealership; the “Internet kid” will be.  Tomorrow there shouldn’t be a need for an Internet Manager or eCommerce Director because they will be the GM’s and Executive Staff who know the modern digital mediums, like your current management team knows the “traditional” ones.

The sales and service staff of tomorrow will be adept at using email, text messaging, and social media’ing.  Just as you trust your current sales and service staff with your phones (well….maybe you shouldn’t trust them with your phones), the younger generation will be able to handle your Internet Leads…..if Internet Leads are still around tomorrow.

I’ll get to the point. NADA has become a trade show mostly focused on digital.  The dealership attendance is mostly made-up of decision makers with only a handful bringing their Internet person.  Yes, many of those decision makers are making fantastic strides to understand digital better; however, I have to ask some of you why you’re leaving your future management back at the dealership?  Why?  To save a buck?

P.S.  I know my regular audience is not who I am speaking to right now.  If you are being left behind this year, take this argument to your boss.

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Alex, I went in 2009 when I was working on my own and plan to be there this year as I am working on my own. But in 2010 (last year) I was the eCommerce Director of a dealership. My owners went and did not bring me. They would not even listen to my reasoning. They had a problem with my attending Digital Dealer. The common remark was, "you learned so much over the years why don't you start to implement it?" and my response was "I have implemented Mr. Dealer, how else did my department become successful so fast?"

It is amazing how many people just don't get it. Why? They think they know everything and they do not want to change. They say they want to sell more cars using the internet. They say they want to get involved in Social Media. But as soon as you give them just that they are never satisfied. The other problem with these dealers sending "future managers" to these events is the thought that they will lose them to a vendor given the right opportunity. We all know how many of us that has happened to.
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A few weeks ago I was asked to meet with a management company affiliated with our dealerships. They wanted to "Pick my brain" to try to gain some insight into how we did things and what made our stores successful on the digital front.

After a couple of hours of discussion I was asked "in a nutshell, where do you think dealerships are missing the mark" My answer; training and participation in events such as DD, NADA, and internet boot camps by the staff that are actually doing the job.
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Like most humans, car dealers will not break away from the status quo because change involves an element of fear. We can educate and enlighten (kudos to DealerRefreshers for doing this!) to remove some of that fear but it ultimately comes down to the dealer making a commitment to learn. Those that don't make that commitment will be the ones truly left behind.
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