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Overwhelmed by Technology Choices at NADA? Here’s All You Need to Know.

We spoke with hundreds of dealers at the recent NADA Convention & Expo in Orlando.

One of the recurring conversations at our booth was that many dealers are overwhelmed by all the technology available. From CRMs to reputation management to implementing new technologies in the service drive, how do you know where to begin? What’s most important? What’s really going to add to your bottom line and what’s going to be a waste of money?


I read a book many years ago that provided what is one of the best answers I’ve ever heard to these questions. In Jim Collins’ “Good to Great…Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t,” he outlines a simple rule for companies regarding technology.


Technology should not be purchased as a solution to something that doesn’t exist. Technology should only be purchased if it will help you improve a process that is already currently in place.


Take CRMs for example. Years ago salespeople used pen and paper as a CRM. They wrote down customers’ names and addresses and notes, they sent out follow up letters, they sent out vehicle purchase anniversary cards and they called customers. Today of course the tools are different; you can swipe a drivers’ license and send out a text or e-mail. But the point is, a CRM isn’t going to do that for you. If your salespeople aren’t currently following process, you could potentially waste thousands of dollars a month on a CRM that isn’t going to help you. Same with a brand new website guaranteed to double your leads: ask yourself how well are you converting your current leads?


Another big theme at NADA was technology in the service drive. There’s a huge demand from dealers for features like mobile solutions and auto dispatch that can improve efficiencies & boost profits. Yet many service departments are not following basic processes that will help customer retention. Here’s one example:


When was the last time you went to a dentist? The day before your appointment you probably received a phone call or e-mail reminder from the dentist. Then, when your cleaning was finished and you went to check out, the assistant said something like, “you’re due back in six months, would you like to schedule your appointment now?”


I would venture to guess that most service departments, despite being eager to implement new technologies, are not doing these two basic customer retention techniques on a consistent basis: appointment reminders and scheduling the next appointment before a customer leaves—yet these two techniques don’t require any technology at all!


So when you are considering which of the new technologies to purchase and implement in your dealership, ask yourself these questions:

  • What are we currently doing?
  • Why isn’t it effective?
  • Is it a process, people or technology problem?

If you are 100% certain that your processes are in place, your people are doing what they’re supposed to be doing, and a new technology will make it easier for them and improve results, then by all means, go ahead and buy.


How do you make decisions on whether to purchase new technologies?

What was the most interesting or exciting new technology you saw at NADA?


Views: 676

Tags: All You Need to Know, App, CRM, Choices, DMS, NADA, NADA 2013, Orlando, Overwhelmed, Technology


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Comment by Mike Esposito on February 15, 2013 at 8:29am

Thanks for all the great comments. It always amazes me that for no matter how long I have been in the car business (I think I started right after the earth cooled) I still see dealers forgetting the fundamentals that got them to where they are. As Coach Lombardi would say...It's all about the blocking and tackling. Fundamentals executed perfectly.

Comment by Alexander Lau on February 15, 2013 at 5:40am

Sounds like part of something I've been preaching for a while.

Digital marketing strategy framework

The PRACE Framework = Plan, Reach, Act, Convert and Engage @

  • Key digital strategies: How do we want to grow our online business?
  • Marketplace analysis: How well are we using digital media and what tool should we be using now?
  • Objective setting: Which goals and KPIs should we use?
  • Strategy: How can we achieve our goals?
  • Tactics: Which digital marketing activities do we optimize?

Comment by Darrin Smith on February 15, 2013 at 4:50am
Great reminder of how important the fundamentals are in order for a store to take full advantage of today's technology. I've seen your examples from both sides of the desk and couldn't agree more. Thanks Mike.
Comment by Ralph Paglia on February 15, 2013 at 3:34am

Mike, about 9 years ago I was invited to attend a Reynolds and Reynolds Leadership Strategy symposium in Dayton... Required reading before the 3 days of meeting included "Good To Great". Despite having read countless business books before and since, the lessons I internalized from Jim Collins' book and the discussions in Dayton keep coming up as useful and effective knowledge items more frequently than those from any other book I can identify.  Thank you for the great insight and your take on NADA 2013.

Comment by Brian Pasch on February 15, 2013 at 3:32am

Mike, your article is a great reminder that training and accountability must be budgeted with any new purchase.  I once heard someone say: "The best CRM system is the one that the team uses!". Technology alone is not always the answer, and your reminder that people and good processes sell cars is timely.  

Dealers who are looking to improve their CRM and lead handling processes, as well as implementing training that sticks, should pickup a copy of a new book that specifically addresses this:  Selling Cars in the Digital Age

To answer your last question, there were a number of great products at NADA.  Each year I pick a handful of product to recognize at the NADA Convention. This year it was hard to narrow down the list of most exciting products; there were many contenders.  

However, I did complete the selection process and on Monday I will announce the winners on ADM for the 2013 PCG Spotlight Awards.  

I will list my suggestions to help dealers narrow down some options from the show.  I also did extensive video interviews on many products from the show, including those who won awards, and I will post them on ADM somtime next week.

Brian Pasch

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