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Some people in the car business haven’t seen this year’s Academy Award Winner for Best Movie--The Artist.
As the car business comes back we have to do more with less. As priorities go watching a silent movie--no matter how acclaimed--isn’t necessarily high on the list.
Recently though I found the time on an 8-hour transatlantic flight. As I watched, the parallels between Hollywood in the late 1920’s and the automotive industry in the late 2000’s were remarkable. The light bulb(s) started coming on as storyboards were revealed:
Just like many in the traditional car business, George Valentin sees the advancement of the movie industry into a new era as a challenge to all that he’s established. A successful actor during the silent era of movies, he built his fame and fortune without the benefit of sound.
Do you know anyone like that in the car business today?
Tears of Love
George, the prominent actor, doesn’t secure the support he needs in the new world of "talkies" and decides to go it alone. He produces, directs and acts in his own movie appropriately entitled “Tears of Love”.
It isn’t that he isn’t capable or talented—he probably would have done quite well in the new era of audio. He just resists progress, digs his heels in and opposes the new way of doing business.
Just as “Tears of Love” is released. . . the great Stock Market Crash of 1929 occurs. Very reminiscent of 2008. How many high fliers do you know from that era that aren't in the car business today?
Valentin's potential is there if he’s just willing to adjust—even if only a little. He knows what to do. He has an eye for talent. He's been so successful, but why should he change? It's almost as if he'd be betraying his own prior success.
Valentin helps a young aspiring actress, Peppy Miller, to break into the business. As her success continues, Valentin’s life--stuck in the past--heads the other direction. Think of Peppy as an aspiring, capable internet superstar.
Despite the different trajectories, Peppy remains loyal. During the shooting of one of her successful films she demands that Valentin be included in her next movie. Despite protests from Studio Management that George is “Old School”, Peppy wins her way.
Spoiler Alert: If you intend to watch The Artist do NOT continue reading.
In a great compromise, Peppy and Valentin come together to shoot a carefully choreographed tap dance routine. The addition of music and tap shoes brings George cleanly into the era of sound and also keeps Peppy at the top of her new found movie stardom.
How Can I Help My People Tap Dance in the New Era?
Do you have talented employees that want to move into the new era of the car business on their own terms? A great way to start can be found by helping them acquire a tablet or a smart phone--dealership issued or otherwise. Just like Valentin's tap shoes, an iPhone or iPad can do remarkable things for the technologically challenged.
Seldom have I seen a sales consultant with an iPad, iPhone or Droid that didn’t quickly get a feel for this all-important and truly exciting aspect of the automotive internet business. I've seen many without one that were holding onto the past though.
As the movie comes to a close Valentin is asked to re-shoot the successful tap dance routine from another angle by the director. In his only audible lines in an Oscar-winning performance Valentin replies, “With pleasure.”
It’s the same kind of experience you can expect to find from those talented, capable people on your dealership team that are willing to learn a new routine.
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