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Industry Wake-Up Call: A Script Won't Help

Is anyone reading this old enough to remember travel agents and travel companies?  The Internet eventually killed them and rolled them all into Expedia, Priceline, etc.  I met a travel company owner back when Priceline was just taking off, quite a wake-up call to the travel industry, and he was buying up companies and agents as fast as he could:  He was convinced he was going to win because "People still want to buy from an agent."  He went out of business and lost a bundle.

He missed the wake-up call.  Sound familiar?  Read on.

Now the smart phone is killing the PC.  HP and Dell, the last titans of PC land other than Mac, are failing--and they even ousted the guy who smartly wanted to sell the PC division of HP last August, replacing him with a PC-fan CEO . . . who now faces a quarterly debacle that shows the guy she replaced was right (click here for that story).

In our industry, we have billions of dollars in brick-and-mortar facility investments, protected (at least) by franchise laws that were intended to prevent OEMs from getting a dealer invested into a dealership location for millions and then deciding for their own purposes (or ignorance, to give that possibility) to set up a same-make competitor--or a "company" store--right in the same area.  Or even across the street.

And so we have some breathing room that PCs and travel agents didn't have, in large part for us because of these laws.  Which room cannot and will not last.  Maybe 5-7 years more?  Who knows.  It ain't forever, that's for sure.  And the consumers--misled, or right, or some mix of both--will be who rise up against the laws.  This will happen as surely as every other change that folks didn't want to see--the dinosaurs, I'm sure, did not understand their demise, either, no matter how it came.

And we're not alone.  Amazon,etc. online retailers are already using Walmart, etc. as brick "showrooms" for their online products, forcing brick-and-mortar retailers to re-asses their pricing.  

That's an online margin attack that we've already seen the first volleys of in our own industry:  Anybody remember CarsDirect.com?  Welcome to CarsDirect.com Version 2.0, also known as TrueCar, which has stated on numerous occasions that they intend to move from car pricing towards aftermarkets.  Even if that agenda has changed or ever does, that doesn't mean that there isn't some Version 3.0 out there lurking.  Because there is.  The Internet marketplace guarantees it.

So, what do we do?  Those dealers who can will evolve to be customer-centric as in no other time in history.  Real customer service, not just CSI massaging.  Real reputations, not "BuyYourRep.com" crap.  Smarter advertising, online and offline, targeted to CONVERTING the in-market shoppers.  To getting the great sale now in return for a great buying experience.

Be smarter.  Stronger.  Faster.  Better.

And then, no matter the changes, you won't just survive, you will prosper.  And flourish.  And eventually stand, as we do now without even thinking about it, on top of miles of rock containing the bones and fossils of those who did not make the evolutionary step.

You're getting that industry wake up call now.  And you better answer with your best, not with some dusty old pre-Internet script--but with a strong, new voice to your future.

"Ring!"  And how do you answer?

by Keith Shetterly
Copyright 2012 All Rights Reserved
www.keithshetterly.com keithshetterly@gmail.com 

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Comment by Stan Sher on February 29, 2012 at 8:20pm

When I train dealerships I have a script that I created with my own flavor and wordtracks and I use variations of what I have been taught over the years.  I come to it with an open mind and I straight up tell everyone that there are people who would disagree with this.  I only teach what has worked for me and I have tried it before.  I train people to have an open mind and work my system but find a way to make it work smooth.  There are too many egos out there and every trainers and manager thinks that their way is the only way.  They hear something else and they dissect it to make it look like it is bad.  Bottom line is this, have an open mind.  Use everything that you have learned and create your own style.  Learn how to use digital strategies to work hand in hand with your word tracks and processes.  You will be fine.

Comment by Stan Sher on February 27, 2012 at 7:11pm

My main man Keith Shetterly!!!  Great job.

Comment by Tom Gorham on February 25, 2012 at 4:23pm

Kevin Kelly, I'm not sure about one person doing everything but I agree you must tear down the walls between departments.  Multiple people can assist a customer with sales and finance and service introuction, but it must be a smooth, seamless and painless progression.  And the salesperson should stick with that customer when they have service needs.  We have the customer's salesperson set up loaner cars for their customers when they need service.  It keeps them in touch.

As for " Imagine someone working at the same dealership for 71.4 months", I have been at our dealership for almost 12 years and half the salespeople have been there as long or longer.  When salespeople stick around, so do customers.  Lots of repeat and referral business!

Comment by kevinkelly.it on February 25, 2012 at 10:55am

Agree with you 100%, sadly this will become the I told you so post for many.  The big hurdle is braking down the dealership department walls.  As a customer, you start with the friendly BDC person until the customer walks in the door and gets hit by the sales wall.  If the sales area does it's job, the customer walks into the F&I wall.  Then the customer gets hit by the back office delivery wall.  Then 30% of the customers get hit by the service wall, that's the return average for service now.  

Imagine if one dealership person was responsible for one customer from digital introduction to sale, F&I, Delivery, then regular servicing of the vehicle and finally repurchase of that vehicle in 71.4 months. ( that's the latest American average for holding on to new cars)      Imagine someone working at the same dealership for 71.4 months.     

Comment by Michael Timmons on February 25, 2012 at 9:16am

Keith, you are spot on with your post. When a dealer's phone rings it creates an opportunity for a sales associate to instill trust and provide a great buying experience for the customer. How we differentiate ourselves by creating a unique and modern experience will determine our future.

Comment by Tom Gorham on February 23, 2012 at 12:53pm

That's why I like you Keith.... you do your homework.  Not really... I like you because I like you.  But the link has been fixed.

Comment by Keith Shetterly on February 23, 2012 at 12:49pm

Tom, I think your link is wrong?  Anyway, The Mayans were famous for their sales training and requirements.  They had rules like "8 or the stoning", "2nd place is the first beheading", and the ever-successful sales technique "The Twelve Knife Throws of the Sales Process".

Comment by Tom Gorham on February 23, 2012 at 12:43pm

Keith, I pay attention to the Mayans!  Strange how they knew things we are just learning.  ;-)  Reality is ALWAYS stranger than fiction.

But the real fiction is that dealers can continue to rely on the same methods, leaders, and insights that they did in the 90s.  That stumps me!  Most of these people are reactionary, not progressive. 

A revolution and an evolution should not be confused as being the same thing.  I send you back in time to a post I wrote many moons ago...

http://t.co/iq59IGLI

Comment by Keith Shetterly on February 23, 2012 at 12:31pm

@ Tom: Thank you!!  Business as usual is NOT going to cut it.  Whether the Mayans were right about 2012 or not, this is the LAST year we should be using anything in sales as OLD as the Mayan times.  :)

Comment by Tom Gorham on February 23, 2012 at 12:17pm

Wow Keith, this is one of your best in my humble opinion.  "He missed the wake-up call."  He surely did, and so did thousands if not millions of others.  How many are missing the wake-up call today?  I am not talking about PC vs Mobile.  I am talking about closed minds, arrogance about who they are, and business as usual "wth a new twist".

There is no "new twist".  There is a new conciousness.  What a great gulf exists between the two.

TrueCar?  I couldn't get excited about it.  It's just a pea in a pod.  The changes taking place today make TrueCar look like a baby beginning to crawl.

Reputation Management? Most still don't get that it means how you do business... not how you play games online!

You hit the nail on the head... "Be smarter.  Stronger.  Faster.  Better."  Most of all, be better!

I end this comment with your words... "You're getting that industry wake up call now.  And you better answer with your best, not with some dusty old pre-Internet script--but with a strong, new voice to your future.

"Ring!"  And how do you answer?" 

"

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