First, my role as a "consultant" was thrust on me by my recognition of the fact that many of my auto dealer clients and affiliated automotive advertising agencies linked to Ad Agency Online, L.L.C
. had forgotten the "basics" that earned them their positions as the "leaders" of their respective teams. Other clients inherited their dealership from an entrepreneurial parent or they matured their agency after working for many years building up a book of business that grew too big for them to handle alone. In their case, the skill sets and experience needed to run a business - or to lead, train and motivate a team - were not part of the process that got them to to top. In all cases, today's troubled economy demands that every member of the team pull their own weight - especially the leader. That truth opened up a new position on the team for a consultant to fill in where and when needed; even if it meant teaching the supposed teacher - including the dealer or General manager who was wise enough to add them to the roster.
Fortunately for most of my clients, or at least for the succesful one's, they recognized that their job evolved to the point that their role was to determine what they should do and what they should delegate and their businesses continued to prosper. Then, the auto industry hit a speed bump - make that a wall! I am not just talking about the economy or the bail out or the scandals in the banking and real estate industry, although they hurt enough to get my attention. I am including the "glass wall" that the Internet put up that allowed customers to learn as much - or more - about a vehicle than many salespeople and even experienced managers at the dealership.
The technology and efficiencies developed to capitalize on the Internet created a change in the auto industry - and all other retail industries - that hit the old school "real world" auto dealerships like a sunami. The auto dealers that rode the wave achieved new heights. Those dealers that stood and watched - or worse, that fought the change - were swamped and they are still drowning with lost market share and antiquated selling systems that don't work and never will again.
It was about then that the "consultants" role was defined but unfortunately the tide continued to rise even after the Internet wave due to the continuing pressures placed on the auto industry by the world economy. Staying on top of the combination of technology and economy is proving to be too large of an area of responsibility for many consultants that joined the team with enough skills and experience to face one - or the other - but handling both requires additional resources and ongoing training. Of course the professional consultants know their limits and they outsource certain areas to specialized experts to supplement their services or they seek knowledge through continued training and even networking sites like ADM. DealerRefresh.com
, Ziegler Super Systems
or even my own AdAgencyOnline.Net.
To keep their training current most consultants also attend real world seminars like the 6th Digital Dealer Conference scheduled at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas in April 2009 or the NADA Convention in New Orleans January 24th - January 27th 2009. Of course I - as well as most of the hosts of the aforementioned networking sites - will be there to teach but rest assured that we will also be there to listen and learn; and so should you!
Another example of continuing education for consultants is planned with my development of a new social networking site for my vendor/client EveryCarListed.Com
. The site will be caled "Auto Industry Insights" and it is being designed as a "network of networkers" where established consultants and fellow auto industry insiders will be invited to share best practices.
Remember, the power of information provided by the Internet is not limited to our customers. It is a leveraged resource that must be used by salespeople, sales managers, dealer/agency principals and yes- even consultants! We all must continue to listen and learn before we presume to teach our customers or our team.
If you already know everything, then NEVER MIND! If you would like to teach as well as listen and learn from our newly developing consumer and dealer facing auto industry networking portal by serving on our advisory panel and contributing articles, blogs and leveraging our shared resources then feel free to reply to this discussion and I will be in touch.
After all, what are friends for!