I recently attended the JD Power Conference as a panelist as I have every year since its inception. It is by far one of my favorite automotive events and I am proud to have been associated with this prestigious event for many years.
However, this year I was very concerned and upset about the session on OEM Website Strategies, present and Future.
This panel was moderated by Dealer.com and 3 of the 4 panelists were their clients.
Aside from completely ignoring the creditability and class that this event has been built on over the years (I have spoken or been on a panel every year), my problem with the panel moderated and dominated by Dealer.com and it’s clients…is that much of the information was very incomplete and did NOT represent any other successful strategies and ideas that are taking place as we speak.
Our success with Mazda as the exclusive web provider has produced very custom websites for the dealer, while still maintaining the brand equity Mazda requires. Dealers have been extremely happy and dealers that don’t want to participate don’t have to. Novel.
This was a perfect example of how the OEM HAS taken the dealers life into account when developing their web strategy; A very hot point for the dealers on stage with good reason. This would have made the discussion so much more relevant and accurate
Moreover, Dealer.com and Dealerskins are 2 of 4 preferred web developers for Nissan. Nissan’s philosophy is to give dealers a choice of four companies that have proven they can build compliant websites, and also offer national incentive and sales event updates across multiple vendors. A CRUCIAL point that would have completely changed the course of that conversation and encouraged dealers that there CAN be a positive OEM/Dealer website initiative that can please everyone…a point that would have been FAR better to end that discussion on.
Being a much larger data set, and a far better web strategy, why was Nissan not the panelist??? Because they use more than just Dealer.com for their strategy? Of course, this would have negated Dealer.com’s sales pitch of using only one provider to have the best solution. It’s not true.
Frankly, the Subaru web initiative is one of the smallest (with only about 100 dealers participating) and has statistically NOT been one of the more successful. (We have multi-line dealers with Nissan, Mazda and Subaru and their Subaru site ironically performs at much lower levels than their others) The Subaru Rep even admits that these OEM website mandates are done because "most dealers don't know what they are doing on-line", thus the need to provide websites to these dealers. So they are honest in saying they are catering to the lowest common denominator on their dealer body. What about the dealers who do know what they are doing on-line? I guess I give a lot more credit to dealers these days, the ones I work with are excellent at their Internet strategies.
Subaru should Never have been the ONLY example of OEM website strategies on that panel. Mainly because Dealer.com has other OEM relationships that are NOT exclusive that would have made far better examples.
There should never have been ALL clients of the moderator’s company on that panel. That defeats the whole purpose of these panels and destroys the opportunity to give the listeners the most accurate, most intelligent, most diverse, and most comprehensive information available. Instead they left with the understanding the Dealer.com is the only company that has this “website thing” figured out.
In the years past, Kevin Root, formally with Cobalt, and I were on that same panel to give at least two opinions from the web builder’s side. It was much more valuable and informative to listeners. This year NO other web developers were given a chance to represent their successful strategies with much larger and more successful OEMs. I’m just extremely disappointed and frankly offended that this was allowed to occur.
The worst part ultimately…the dealers were not given the proper information in which to make important business decisions for their livelihoods and THAT should be the only reason why any of us are in this business…the dealers pay all of us….they deserve accurate, non biased, multi-channeled, verifiable, statistically valid information.
Independant Internet Consultant
Founder - Dealerskins