Automotive Marketing Professional Community for Car Dealers, OEM and Suppliers
Recently, I read a post on DealerRefresh entitled: "Dealership Employees Blogging in the Land of Unicorns and Rainbows." An odd title that touches on a very important reality -- or at least a perception that has become accepted as reality: Car dealers are lazy.
After 20 years in automotive retail I have jumped ship. I am now in the full time vendor world as the founder of Wikimotive and I've come to realize that we've got it all wrong. Maybe... just maybe we, the vendors, are the lazy ones.
Car dealers have operated for over a hundred years with really very little change. My father started in this business before there was micro film to look up parts. And while computers have made the job easier, we still need people to look up the part and order the right one. People still buy cars from people they like.
TV, radio, newspaper, direct mail, e-mail, the internet, blogging, SEO, social media, ORM, ZMOT, CRM, DMS systems have all helped to make some things easier, but the car business hasn't changed. NOT ONE BIT! Many have predicted these massive fundamental shifts, but really nothing has shifted. Nothing has changed -- not for the car dealer.
The only thing that has really changed is us -- Vendors; we who serve the car dealers. We have new jobs, new suits, new offices, new products, new predictions, new ideas, new hugely important understandings of the way of the world and if the dealers don't listen to us RIGHT NOW they might not be around in 5 years....
That is a load of crap. A lame attempt to elevate our own importance in the dealer's eyes. Let me tell you, I see dealer's with some of the worst reputations and dealer reviews still sell the most cars and have the highest fixed-ops absorption in their market. I see sales managers who need help to reboot their computers sell hundreds and thousands of cars every month without the help of AutoTrader and SEO and blogging. I've watched some of the most anti-social sales people lead the board and some of the finest dealer's I've ever known lose their franchises.
I know... I paint a pretty dismal picture of reality for vendors so why did I get in the vendor space? Because when we get it right; when we truly offer value and return on investment, there is no better place to be then the guy who serves the dealer. OK and you can really make a lot of money as a vendor... SEE FULL DISCLOSURE!
Dealership personnel don't need to learn automotive SEO. They don't need to learn how to blog and they certainly don't need to understand the social media flow chart. Decision makers need to understand the value of those components, just like they needed to understand the value of being in the newspaper or on TV or Radio or whatever.
Dealers need to know how to understand and recognize success when we deliver it and recognize snake oil when we don't.
For too long the vendor space has provided tools that the dealership has to pick up and use to make work. I say we're the lazy ones! Why build a blog for a dealership if they're the ones who have to fill it with content? Why build a website for a dealership and not do the research and homework to find out who the staff are?
Have we become too comfortable playing armchair quarterback? Do we just love telling dealers they suck?
Why do we only half ass everything we offer? Or maybe thats the wrong question... Why not? Why NOT send a rep to the dealership to meet all of the personnel and take their picture and talk to them and find out what they do and who they are? Why not build a blog and offer a service to provide content writing to the dealer if having it done correctly is as important as we say? Why not provide engaging content to dealer's social media channels if we're going to say that they are vital to the growth and future marketing of the company? Why not do it all? We love to identify that dealers do it wrong. So that must mean we know how to do it right...right!?
The newspapers didn't ask all the dealers who advertise to each come up with an article for the newspaper did they? TV stations don't want them to submit a great idea about a new sitcom, right? The print houses don't ask the sales people to pitch in and stuff mailers in mailboxes! So why do we ask our clients to do these ridiculous things!?
Simple - WE'RE THE LAZY ONES! Or maybe, we're scared. We're scared that the costs would be too high and we'd have to ask them for more money... Is that it? I couldn't figure out the reason why not. So, that is the model I decided to build my new company on. No more short cuts. No more half way. No more pat's on the behind and an, "ok dealer, now get in there and make my product look great!"
Maybe it's time we took a look in the mirror and reevaluated... Who's lazy?