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From the Trenches - Close Your Eyes


"If I close my eyes forever, will it all remain unchanged?
If I close my eyes forever, will it all remain the same?"


In less than 20 years, the Internet has become the central focal point of our personal, political, business and commercial experience.

Amazing as it sounds, many dealers still struggle dealing with the Internet even though it has reached a level of saturation in our lives.  And while they are still struggling with that, mobile, social media, reputation management and changing customer expectations are spinning their world around.


Unfortunately, what worked before is still hanging in there but is increasingly unstable and failing to provide optimal results.  Many dealers seem to be in denial.  They want to continue old strategies with new technology.


Customers are not going to let them because ...


Wrapping the "tried and true" tactics of the past in new technology is not a strategy.


Some dealers are feeling the strain...  will they be too late when they hold the following conversation with their customers:


"Will you ever take me?"
"No, I just can't take the pain."
"But would you ever trust me?"
"No, I'll never feel the same..."


It's not too late to adopt customer friendly attitudes and procedures within the dealership.  It's still possible to avoid the the following admission...


" I know I've been so hard on you, I know I've told you lies
If I could have just one more wish, I'd wipe the cobwebs from my eyes"


There's a new culture taking the place of the "old guard".  It's been sneaking up on us for 20 years or more.  It's called customer empowerment.


It demands.


It demands great customer service, respect, honesty, transparency, and integrity.  These things are not anti-profit.  They merely require a re-thinking of our business model.


Are you up to the challenge (opportunity)?



Written by
 Tom Gorham

Editor, From The Trenches

Automotive Digital Marketing

Professional Community

Views: 368


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Comment by Tom Gorham on July 8, 2013 at 4:51am

Brian, I certainly take thought provoker as a compliment.  Thank you!  And I see from your comments that we agree on a lot of things.  I often talk about salespeople being the brand within the brand.  You built relationships that lasted.  You had your own customer-for-life program.  You took personal responsibility for your own career.

What I really, really liked from your comments was the statement, "People like to be liked, and when they believe you really like them and don't think of them as a walking $ sign, you'll transcend everything."  That's the essence of what I believe makes a great salesperson.  Thanks again!

Comment by Tom Gorham on July 6, 2013 at 5:09pm

I'm sorry it took so long to respond today but it's a Saturday at the dealership.  I want to thank Steve and Manny for their comments first.

Manny I see a lot of value in the article you posted in comments.  But one thing that struck me was the last sentence, "The car buying experience will change, it is just a question of which manufacturer will change it first."  Why should we always wait for the manufacturer to change and order the dealers to follow suit?

Dealers must be responsible for their own destiny.  Leaders lead and followers wait for the manufacturer to tell them what to do.  I believe CarMax created their own business model without being told it was "best practices" by any manufacturer.  Would you agree?

Comment by Steve Richards on July 6, 2013 at 4:05am

Manny, great comments. Most sales people are decent and hard working; they aren't trusted because of the archaic sales process they are forced to work within and the incredibly stupid sales tactics they are taught to use. By the way, CarMax does offer a no haggle pricing policy, but those prices are NOT low. CarMax almost doubles the profit margin of franchised dealers (used cars only). Their profits are off the chart (relatively speaking) based on the experience they create for the consumer. And they don't use "desk" managers.

Comment by Steve Richards on July 5, 2013 at 6:01pm

Until the number of dealerships that "sell" like the consumer wants to "buy" reaches a tipping point, there will be no change. Since I started in the business the change have been massive; window stickers became law, cell phones were invented, the internet has become the predominant buying tool, and the number of manufacturers playing the US market has increased Yet, there are still "desk" managers in most stores, just like the ones that taught me the business when I started. Most "desk" managers are still teaching the same stuff that I learned in 1978! Only the retail automobile business could survive these changes without changing the fundamental way they conduct business. So, yes, it's going to remain the same. And there are three very powerful reasons it will remain the same, the same three reasons that stall any real change in the retail automotive sales model.

Comment by Tom Gorham on July 5, 2013 at 7:54am

Tom Weigand, I love the way you related to that song.  The song actually inspired me to write the article, rather than the reverse.  As I listened to it, I just kept flashing to our industry and the way we've treated people in the past.  I kept thinking about dealers who still try to deceive customer with dishonest advertising... "the price you see is the price you get, until you come into the dealership and find you don't qualify for all the incentives in that price."

I have been recently training a new employee, and was talking about how we treat customers as a family member or friend.  She looked at me strange, at first, when I said, "You actually have to feel that way."  People understand the difference between phony and sincere.

We should make new friends everyday and maintain those friendships everyday in our jobs within the dealership.  That helps to create "Customer-Loyalty-For-Life."  Thank you!

Comment by Tom Gorham on July 5, 2013 at 7:41am

Bill, slackers beware indeed!  I just finished answering a couple comments about this post on LinkedIn about getting managers on board with a new paradigm. It seems that many people are part of culture change and yet fail to apply it to their business dealings.  At home, they and their families are shopping at Amazon, reading customer reviews of restaurants, sitting in front of the TV with iPads in their hands, and criticizing some company for poor customer service.  Then they go to work and it's business as usual.


Comment by Tom 1TeamSynergy Wiegand on July 5, 2013 at 5:49am

The first verse: "Is it love that's on my mind, or is it fantasy?"  We live in a world of fantasy.  Being made in the image and likeness of God, it is our natural instinct to seek love at every turn.  When we "feel" we don't get it, our fantasies lead us elsewhere, oftentimes in the wrong direction.  I pray we "open our eyes forever" and embrace "Customer Loyalty-For-Life" to lead everyone towards a love for one another that simply keeps us loyal to one another.  Without love there is no real loyalty.  It is always best to be uniquely better!

Comment by Bill Cosgrove on July 4, 2013 at 6:56pm

Tom-You wonder if there is any sound with all of the trees falling on these subjects that we bring up. I believe that things are changing so rapidly now that the ones who do not start embracing change will be on the outside looking in much sooner now than later.

The days of having your feet up on the desk and watching the world go by is taking on a whole new meaning-Slackers beware!!!!

Comment by Tom Gorham on July 3, 2013 at 8:00pm

Thank you Roger and Manny.

Manny, I also want to thank you for relating this to vendors.  The culture changes taking place apply to every industry and vendors must realize the need for transparency as well.  They must show true value, not just smoke and mirrors.  Business as usual?  Forget it.

Comment by Roger Conant on July 3, 2013 at 7:35pm

Great Post Tom!

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