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That question often depends on who you ask.  Salespeople will talk about the dealer up the street or across town who is absolutely giving the cars away.  F&I will talk about lenders who seem to favor other dealers and cost them deals.  Managers will discuss factory incentives, advertising, and the like.  But is that what we're really up against?
After 33 years in the business and over 15,000 salespeople and managers trained, I think there's more to competition than we think about.  I think competition is comprised of how the customers have been conditioned.  Now, we can talk about how rebates, incentives, finance rates, and for some, opening on Sundays have impacted the way customers act, but, there's more to it than that.
Part of the customer conditioning has to do with other factors.  Smart phones, aps, email, and everything else that's been created in the last few years have given them information souces in seconds rather than the research that took days just a few short years ago.
Take a look at your last credit card statement.  More than half the items on there probably didn't even exist five years ago.  We can now video call friends and associates with today's high tech toys.  And it's free for the average user.  I can do long distance sales training for my advanced dealers at a cost that's affordable to them and allows their whole staff to join in live via online video.  Even our training workbooks are electronic so that sales people can keep and update them without worrying about spilling coffee on the pages.
I share that because with all of the changes since I first sold a new car in 1979, I notice many dealers and managers clinging to, "This is how we've always done things here."  Don't misunderstand, there are things that are still the best practices after decades.  These are called principles.  Principles are those carved in granite practices that never change (maybe that's why the 10 Commandments were carved in stone).  Those things that change with the times are techniques.  These are additions, not adjustments, to principles that work with current trends.  The key difference is that principles are permanent while techniques must change to satisfy customers.
You are not up against other products or dealers for competition.  You're up against instant messaging, video conferencing, apps that show your product, pricing and availability.  We are no longer in the "Information Age," but rather the Instant Information Age.  Professionals should know their product as well as the necessary technology to deliver the information to the customer so they can deal with them in a way that more and more are becoming comfortable with.
Your competition is the Internet, ATM machines, movies on demand, texting, Skype, and the like.  Your new breed of customers is used to getting virtually anything they want instantly.  Are you ready to provide that?  You are if you "INSTANTLY" welcome them to your dealership, "INSTANTLY" make them feel welcome, "INSTANTLY" assure them that all of their questions will be answered, and finally, "INSTANTLY" make them feel they made a great choice in stopping by to give you an opportunity to earn their business.
John Fuhrman is the Senior National Trainer for Carolina Automotive Resource Services, a unit of The Dealer Resource Group.  His ten books have reached 1.5 million readers and he has trained sales professionals around the world.  Our Trainers are ready to work for you and develop a sales team you can be proud of.  Email us by Wednesday and we're in your dealership on Monday ready to interview.  When your dealership needs amazing results hiring new people, visit   ATTENTION DEALERS:  VISIT OUR WEB SITE AND REGISTER TO KEEP UP ON MONTHLY TRAINING SAVING SPECIALS.  Our trainers are ready to show you our "WOW!" factor.  (c)2012 by John Fuhrman - Permission to reprint this post in its entirety, including contact information, is hereby granted.

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