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The past 10 days have been an amazing time in business, as I have traveled to numerous cities visiting industry leaders and dealers. I also had the honor of speaking at a 20 Group, which is one of my favorite teaching opportunities.
What is your opinion on 20 Groups? 20 Groups have many advantages, but the one that I like the most is that you have the attention of business leaders for an extended period of time, OUTSIDE the dealership.
For this meeting, the dealer principals also brought their marketing team, which was ideal for my presentation on "The Most Effective Digital Marketing Strategies That Dealers Need for 2013."
Every member in attendance got my 50 page handbook, and the feedback was very encouraging. This 20 Group meeting invited multiple industry experts and the attendees really got great value.
Bravo to the moderators that pull off great 20 Group meetings, year after year. They really work hard for the betterment of dealers.
There are a number of organizations that run 20 Groups: NADA, NCM, and some new comers like the Internet Sales 20 Group. Not all dealers are involved in 20 Groups. Why are some dealers not attending 20 Group meetings? I have heard dozens of reasons, and maybe some members can shed some light on their positive or negative experiences.
This post is not an argument for participation or avoidance in a 20 Group but rather a call to action. There is no one else in the world that has your team, your data, your vendors, and your marketing conditions. The uniqueness of your dealership makes it very difficult to compare your digital marketing strategy with other dealers.
For example, two Honda dealers in a 20 Group could be using two different website companies. Two different vendors to manage paid search and SEO. Two different commitments to vehicle merchandising and pricing strategies. The two Honda dealers can be operating in two completely different population centers. The maturity and experience of their sales and Internet teams can be completely different.
This is not news to anyone that has attended a 20 Group, but I bring this up as a warning. Be careful about following the lead of the "top" dealer in the 20 Group or anyone for that matter. It is not uncommon, for a dealer to come back from a 20 Group to make a vendor change based on the results of another member. The decision could be well thought out and it also could be a knee-jerk reaction: "I want exactly what he/she is doing!".
I challenge dealers to think about their 2013 strategy in a new way. Don't compare yourself to anyone else in your 20 Group. Be willing to have a sober 3rd party assessment of your team's skills, vendors, budgets, processes, and accountability measures. There is only one "YOU" and the supporting cast can not be replicated anywhere else.
I say this because it is true. In any larger group you will see one store being touted as the "star" and others in the same group as "dogs". Under the SAME management structure, stores can have a large variance in performance. You would think that within a group structure, great uniformity would exist but it doesn't.
Poor performance continues because we have the tendency to compare and not create customized changes in strategy, structure, and leadership. We have the tendency to "benchmark" and use analytics across stores regardless if the measurements are fairly representing the unique challenges at each store.
To be clear, there are best practices that stores should follow. There are good marketing and operating solutions for dealers. There are also ideas that have failed miserably. These experiences should be "shared" but they also have to be taken in context.
I have heard from dealers that BDC's work and that BDC's are a failure. I have heard from dealers that paid search is amazing and the paid search completely failed. Almost every digital strategy and organization structure has it's fans and detractors.
So, my challenge for 2013 for all dealer principals and General Mangers reading this post is simple. Stop comparing. Be YOU-NIQUE. Get a plan that is right for YOUR store.
Educate yourself and your team on best practices, which can come from 20 Groups and other sources. However, take any advice and tailor it to your store. Be sure to adjust the "recommended" settings for your team and your market.
Be willing to get an independent assessment of your strategy and processes. Don't assume you know everything; you only know what you know. You can't get a real assessment of your operations without an on-site visit from a competent advisor/consultant.
Armed with full knowledge of your strengths, weaknesses, and new opportunities that were once unknown, you can make the best of the new year ahead.
I wish all ISM readers a very happy and prosperous New Year!
Brian Pasch, CEO