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From the Trenches - Don't squander even one more day


The world is full of people whose notion of a satisfactory future is, in fact, a return to the idealized past.   Robertson Davies,


In mid 2000, my General Manager told me, “I don’t like you.  I don’t like the Internet.  It’s a waste of time.  You should be taking “Ups” not photographs of cars.   I want to see you on the floor, not in front of a computer.  If I had my way, you’d be gone.”


Within two weeks, I had another job offer as an Internet Manager.  My current dealer asked me to stay and offered to match any offer from the new dealer.  It was hard to say goodbye, but I did.  I liked that dealer (the man) very much, but I had already moved on in my mind.


Within six months, that General Manager was gone.  Within two years, that dealership was gone.  But I have been at my current dealership for eleven years since then.


I was unpleasantly reminded of those times these past couple weeks with the controversy about TrueCar.  No, this isn’t going to be an article defending that company.  I agree they are not good for the industry and the people and companies I care about.


But I have to ask the same questions I asked back in 2000.  Are you going to stand in front of the locomotive and try to hold it back, or are you going to find a way to profit from the future?


As a rule, I am very careful to be shallow and conventional where depth and originality are wasted.” Lucy Maud Montgomery


This is business, not solidarity, just as it was then.  Picture this scenario:


  • TrueCar is defeated.  Lawsuits are filed by dealers regarding the use of information pulled from dealer DMS systems.  Dealers, and privacy groups, win.


  • A new company comes into being… “  They pull no information from dealers but instead, they get their information from banks, credit unions, and manufacturers.  Before they even announce their presence, they have signed with almost all major financial agencies.  They have deep pockets. They don’t care if dealers sign on.


  • Congress passes a new consumer protection law regarding financing that eliminates dealer profit from assisting customers with financing their vehicles.


  • Dealers are making less on used vehicles due to “market pricing”.


  • Domestic manufacturers put pressure on existing dealers to try to equalize their numbers with Import Dealers.  Good dealers become “Unsatisfactory Dealers” due to failure to “increase” their numbers and are then eliminated, because they are too close to their same-brand competitors.


  • Due to less local presence of franchise dealers to service customers, Congress passes laws requiring manufacturers to provide independent auto service providers with standardized diagnostics and immediate updates by computer.  Big money jumps into independent auto service super-centers.


  • Franchise dealers find dwindling profits from all profit centers are dragging them to bankruptcy.


  • Manufacturers come up with a solution to save dealers.  They will institute dealerships dedicated to demonstrating vehicles and delivery of “personalized” vehicles to the customer.  MSRP becomes selling price.  Transparency is no longer an issue. Brand is the issue, and manufacturers will guaranty brand marketing.  For the remaining dealerships, the only issue is customer service.


If ADM ( were in existence in 2000, what would the major players and their followers be saying about the Internet at that time?


“It will destroy business as we know it.”  Yes it has, but we have adapted. 


The truly progressive dealer who has only one thing in mind, survive and prosper, will find a way to adapt to whatever changes are thrown at us. 


“How can you squander even one more day not taking advantage of the greatest shifts of our generation? How dare you settle for less when the world has made it so easy for you to be remarkable?” – Seth Godin


Written by Tom Gorham

Editor, From The Trenches

Automotive Digital Marketing

Professional Community

Views: 181

Tags: Digital, Internet, Marketing, Media, Social, automotive, customer, marketing, reviews


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Comment by Tom Gorham on December 11, 2011 at 4:01pm

Thank you Jim.  I just worry that sometimes we are so busy fighting battles, we're prepared to lose the war.

Comment by Jim Radogna on December 11, 2011 at 3:50pm

Great insight as usual Tom!

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