Automotive Digital Marketing

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Sometimes I have to look for verification on a calendar that it is actually 2012 and not 1992, and while it shouldn’t still surprise me it continues to do just that when I am confronted with the extreme disconnect that still exists between the evolution of the car business as a whole and the dinosaurs that continue to populate most managerial roles at the dealership level. It seem like the manufacturers get where the business has adapted to, hell most car companies have dedicated staff handling social media and customer interaction and fully encourage dealerships to as well.

Many large dealer groups I have had experience with have some real forward thinkers on their boards and provide goals and guidelines about how to get into and manage online communities and their importance but when it comes to the application there are just so many out and out failures at so many dealerships due to lack of understanding and or unwillingness to even consider something that isn’t part of the way its always been, the way they have always done things… Believe it or not conversation’s like the following happen every day, yes in 2012!

GM: I just got an email from corporate; we need to set up a page on this plus Google thing. Its free and they want each dealer to get it done, you need to get on it.
Me: Uh, well… our page was up on Nov. 7th, the first day that Google + open up business pages actually. Would you like to see it?
GM: Is it gonna sell me a freakin car? No, I don’t need to see it, just make sure if I go and tell corporate its done that it is, don’t make me look stupid…

GM: Hey, we need to get some videos of our customers and post ‘em on that FaceTube crap pronto. Corporate is all hot about video so get on it so I can tell ‘em we did it and then we can get back to selling cars…
Me: Actually, we have well over 40 customer delivery videos already and they are posted continually on both our company Facebook page and our YouTube channel. Would you like to see them?
GM: Facebook, YouTube, Face Tube… whatta you making fun of me? Just get it done so I can get these guys off my back, and since your so on top of things smart ass how come you aren’t sellin more cars now??

GM: Hey, I just finished my projections and to hit my goals I need you and your team to increase sales up to 75 new cars per month so you need to hire more people cause you cant get it done with what you got now.
Me: Well, with our current closing ratios as strong as they are all that really needs to be done would be a combination of a strong PPC plan and perhaps increasing our lead volume from our best lead provider and we could certainly get to your numbers. I have emailed you each of the last three months with my recommendations on increasing volume.
GM: That’s sounds expensive so no. Just hire more people and if the ones you got want to keep their jobs and not see a drop in pay they will figure out how to sell more cars, more people always means more sales, dumbass…

Its so incredibly frustrating to sit through presentations from amazing folks like Ralph Paglia, read the wisdom and insights of folks like Brian Pasch, Kathi Kruse and the members of all the forums I pour through and then be inspired by incredible motivators like Renee Stuart only to be told to stop wasting time with my nose in a screen and get my guys out on the floor to ‘grab an up and sell a damn car’…
Out there, somewhere is a Dealer Principal or GM that gets it. Understands the value of a positive atmosphere in which employees strengths are praised and employees are valued as vital aspects of the overall success of the dealer ship and not easily replaced lackeys who should be able to consistently ‘man up’, take the chew out and go sell something.  The possibilities of what could happen if the shackles of what worked in the past aren’t restraining us from moving forward are incredibly exciting, evolution needs to speed up and the dinosaurs that yet still hold tenaciously on to the GM chairs across the land need to fall into the tar pits and go away!
I’m just sayin…

Thanks for listening... :)

Views: 1004

Tags: Automotive, General Manager, Sales Manager, car dealer, management, team


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Comment by fernando poniente on February 13, 2012 at 7:12am

I couldn't agree more.

Comment by Mark Tewart on February 12, 2012 at 3:54pm

The 80/20 Rule has and will always exist. 80% will not do a thing to grow and learn while 20% will. The 80% will tend to be negative and take the mindset of a victim. They will attract other victims or people who feel like they don't have options. Don't be a victim. Align yourself with growth oriented people. The chances of you changing a manager after this many years of his learned behavior is slim and none. People leave managers more than they leave dealerships. 

Comment by fixedopsmike on February 12, 2012 at 2:04pm
I feel your pain Michael they'll either get in the game or get put out of the game, the middle ground is going away fast.
Comment by Ralph Paglia on February 12, 2012 at 12:21pm

Mike - Hang in there at your Honda store and both me and my team at Tier10 Marketing will work towards making the situation better for you by getting you the recognition you deserve at the corporate level.

Comment by Brian Pasch on February 12, 2012 at 11:11am

Mike, thank you for including me in your list of people you like to read and follow.  I know how frustrating this can be and in most cases, the only way to grow is to move to a dealership that has a comprehensive digital marketing strategy that supports your efforts.  Life is short so consider your options and find a place the elevates your passion and rewards your energy aside from financial compensation.

Comment by Suzanne Brief on February 12, 2012 at 10:35am

Wow, I dont think truer words have ever been written. I see it every day, day after day. Managers who try to "help" by sending inappropriate emails or not bothering to learn more than they absolutely have to. It is not skill it is a state of mind, nowhere is it more prevelant than in the Northeast. Hundreds of thousands spent each week on full page newspaper ads very few people are going to see and websites that are barely functionial. It made me crazy until I finally realized, we wont ge past them so we have to go around them. I said, "give me a budget and let me do my job", which I see as getting the sales force to buy in to the process, the future and keep the sales managers from doing any harm. I learned a few things: so long as we get results, the upper management really doesnt care and as soon as the floor people realize their income is increasing they stop rolling their eyes, come to understand that $$ spent online IS an advertising budget and start to search out their own online opportunities. I also learned to stop fighting a losing battle with GMs and GSMS. Although its more work, it is better to do it all myself and win the battle in spite of them instead of because of them.

Comment by Rick Carlson on February 12, 2012 at 9:56am
Michael, I couldn't agree with you more. I left the business a year ago out of frustration over poor management. I've been interviewing over the last couple of months and have only talked to a couple owners who get it. It's 2012 wake up!
Comment by Jim Setele on February 12, 2012 at 9:45am


I see it every day...

I consider myself a student of the game and as a former dealer myself, it makes me crazy that people, considerably younger than myself, are closed minded to the changes that are happening in front of them.

One thing is for sure... they are not reading industry magazines or books. They are certainly not following forums or becoming members of AAISP and embracing the future of our business. Automotive News doesn't count towards being a future minded publication either, although that is read and consider their "reading".

We still have managers that think that showing the consumer the Carfax or Autocheck before the car is sold is a sign of sales weakness. 

There is much more to share lest I digress and I would like to not be upset on a Sunday...

/mini-rant complete

Comment by Ralph Paglia on February 12, 2012 at 9:07am

Michael - The scenarios you describe happen every day in dealerships all across America... Not so much in Canada, more enlightened GM's and Dealers there.  But, it is professionals like yourself that represent the future of our industry and will become the next generation of General Managers and GSM's.  So, hang in there and keep doing what you are doing, work towards making the digital marketing component as powerful and impactive as it can be. Not all leaders are promoted into top leadership, until they have in fact become the organization's "de facto" leaders.

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