Community

Share your automotive expertise

2 Write a Blog Post

Looking Back On 7 Predictions for 2013

By Eric Miltsch on Jun 26, 2013

Can you believe we're halfway through the year? I've always believed that while you're tracking your daily activities to stay on course and hit your monthly goals you still need to keep your finger on the pulse of the bigger trends. What's the industry direction? Where are things headed? What will shape our decisions for our activities and tactics?

I shared my thoughts, at the end of 2012, about a few topics and trends that I felt would be important for us as an industry.

"What are your thoughts? What other trends are you seeing develop?"

Seven Concepts That Will Define The Retail Automotive Business In 2013.

1. Changing Website Design Standards

The time has come for a new standard in website content design. The familiar template design we've all grown tired of needs to change. Website design standards are changing and we need to adapt to this as well. Where is it written that says car dealership websites must live within a static grid system of non-effective content boxes filled with random content? Look at what's happening with the user interfaces within the sites the average Internet user spends their time. Top visited sites such as Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and Netflix are moving away from directing the user via standard navigation and letting the user control more of their experience.

Imagine your dealership website as a palette of interactive vehicle images and videos with interactive research and shopping tools augmented with social elements such as ratings and reviews. That's all the consumer wants - plus it would adapt to their mobile devices so much easier. This also opens the door for the next wave of mobile navigation controls as we move from clicks to gestures. This concept rests solely on the industry's website providers to push the envelope of creativity.

So far, I have seen a couple nice examples of websites that step away from the rigid cookie cutter style; I like what DealerFire is doing with their widescreen, multi-container approach within some of their new automotive websites. Keep the changes coming vendors, I believe shoppers will embrace these new experiences.

2. Separation of Internet Directors and Marketing Ninjas

This concept of an Internet Director who manages sales staff, sales activities and Internet Marketing needs to stop now. You don't ask your sales people to sell the car and also change the oil every 3000 miles, do you? We'll start to see a massive shift in the delegation of activities and the types of people hired into these roles as dealers become educated and understand their responsibilities.

In my dealership, I focused on one thing: managing our online presence. That's it. Someone else managed the sales activities. We worked together to create solid processes and manage the flow of activity generated from our online presence. The concept works well because it lets talented people work within their interests and passions. 

Not sure if this is changing quickly or I'm just giving it more attention, but the dealers I've been in contact with this year have made a direct shift towards dedicating more internal resources towards managing the marketing efforts. The emphasis on digital asset performance creates a strong need for dedicated resources.

3. Managing is out. Leadership is in.

Look for an intense focus on leadership in 2013 as deeper concepts of ownership take hold at the dealer principal, executive and corporate levels. Teams will move beyond simply managing activity, they will become experts in mastering concepts within their respective areas of expertise to create a waterfall of knowledge and learning experiences for their entire organization. These experiences will influence the behaviors and actions of the entire staff rather than just one person driving the activity. Process, structure and marketing understanding have paved the way for a new layer of leadership as industry thought leaders become more savvy. Mastering the art of telling your brand's story, retaining customers and employees for life via inspirational experiences, education and embracing the power of your data will transform today's managers into tomorrow's leaders. 

Leading your teams by example, providing an educational element and creating a culture of ownership is definitely "In" - managing by simply following a tick sheet and barking out orders is "out." Which side are you on?

4. Mobile Payments (& Behaviors) Will Shorten Buying Cycles

I'm not concerned so much with the actual solution, rather the actual concept of how our behavior will change as result of this solution. NFC, Square, Paypal apps, Passbook and others will continue to provide more options for consumers to learn a new behavior. And with this behavior will become a shorter buying cycle, pushing us closer to providing better solutions for your customers to connect and purchase - anything from parts, general services and even make down payments. I've said this before: customers don't need new ways of finding things to buy, but they do need more efficient ways of paying for things. This action alone changes the perception of the shopping experience. 

We'll also see more contextual actions which integrate functionality from other social networks that help us complete actions based on our activity and those of our friends. Not only will we be alerted of a friend's upcoming birthday or newborn child, we'll also be able to find either products or retailers nearby based on our recent activity and interests. We'll also find relevant feedback and have the ability to purchase and ship within a few simple gestures as this all happens within our various mobile devices. 

More specifically, and within my favorite segment, location based services will not only hit a new level of awareness and understanding, but they will also achieve a new height of effectiveness with the introduction of better algorithms which learn and predict our habits, usage and interests - based on our permissions. Hype free, no spam and exactly what we want to see. Central hubs of our activity will exist, making it easier for us to stay connected to the key informational elements of our life - Grokr is a wonderful example of this new effective hub.

I'll admit this one is still a bit further out for our industry, however the concept and the activity is moving at incredible speeds for other sections of the retail industry. Square is on pace to process $15 Billion in mobile payments in 2013. Geo-fencing strategies and concepts are beginning to trickle down to more retail establishments; OEM's and large dealer groups are starting to experiment with these activities. We'll keep watching for more results and behavior data. I'm still betting big on this movement.

5. Niche Industry Events

The industry has spoken about macro events that happening just for the sake of having an event. Buying products based on sales pitches is out. Broad based integrated solutions based on awareness and education is in. It's time for dealership leaders to understand how the clock works rather than just being able to tell the time. The best example of this is next year's DrivingSales President's Club event headlined by Seth Godin. This will be a key niche event focusing on areas such as leadership, global economic impact, dealership M&A activity, industry regulations, and other retail industry insights which make up your key foundation assets.

While everyone at DrivingSales was a little cautious about the President's Club event it proved to be an overwhelming success based on the feedback from the attendees, the speakers and the vendors in attendance. Look for more of these events to provide a nice balance to the DrivingSales Executive Summit in the fall. Maybe an international event could be added to the mix?

6. Increased Mobile Video Presence and Effectiveness

Mobile video will become more helpful based on a couple of simple factors: Improved network infrastructure creating better connections on 4G and LTE networks and faster, more powerful chip sets within the devices constantly at an arms length away from us. Pictures will become old school, video will become the standard and keep an eye out for more practical uses of augmented reality as well.

Look for major improvements in mobile workflow solutions for all dealership departments, even better customer facing solutions, and especially new expanded solutions within your social media efforts with regards to real-time story telling. This all ties into shortening buying cycles, improving digital footprints and creating more effective social signals to help drive your local mobile search results.

Video continues it's charge. New devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S4, the iPhone 5S and others are positioning video as a core element of their experience. Vehicle merchandising tactics are also focusing on the importance of mobile. This one is a no brainer. Get on the mobile video train, the seats are filling up quickly.

7. Strong Focus on Professional Experiences and Personal Brands

As company leaders, Internet directors and marketing ninjas continue to be defined by their areas of expertise, so will the awareness of how important their individual brand is to the dealership's customers, staff and the industry. This is how the next wave of excellence and talent will be discovered within our industry. 

Tools like the DrivingSales dScore will help drive awareness around individual activity and relevant experience. Branding platforms such as About.me will continue to define your personal brands and provide greater context for our abilities and affiliations within the industry.

We've had some fun with the dScore so far this year. Every week someone else asks me about it, what it is, how it works and what it means. Another shift this year has been the changes Klout made with regards to introducing Klout answers. The ability to demonstrate relevant activity, authority and experience is important when building personal brands. Different solutions such as the dScore, Klout answers and Quora all help the cause.

Comments

Excellent post Eric!

Jun 27, 2013

Thanks for checking it out Robby - anything else happening this year that stands out for you as well?

Jun 27, 2013

Hi Eric,

Several of your points struck a chord with me, but your third point on leadership especially so. This is a trend in contemporary business practice in general. and it is ESPECIALLY pertinent in the industry we both find ourselves in.

In any business environment, long gone are the days when some generic MBA grad can take the reigns and act as glorified cheerleader over their respective division, department, etc. One must lead by example, and the best example is to be a master of every aspect of your craft. That trait, above all, is what inspires subordinates to bring their A game, and kudos to you for highlighting this.

I am a obviously a newcomer to this site, but I will look forward to your future posts.

Jun 27, 2013

As far my own thoughts on trends? My background is mostly as an IT Professional/Programmer, and while I am far from the timid introvert most of those with my background are, I lack the gift of rhetorical chops you have.

Jun 27, 2013

Comments 1 - 4 of 4

You must be logged in to comment

Login Create an account

Add your comments:

   

Eric Miltsch's Recent Posts

Related Posts

  • Customer Loyalty Isn't Dead. It Can't Be. It Simply Needs a Revival.

    There is doom and gloom in the statistics. Fewer people are staying loyal to a single brand of vehicle. Fewer people are staying loyal to a particular dealership. We've been hearing about it since the rise of the digital age and it can push dealers to focus on generating new sales and service customers at all costs. Since we're a vendor that specializes in search and social marketing, one might think that this is the type of shift in the industry that we would embrace. The reality is that our roots as car people and our focus on being a partner for our dealers supersedes the benefits we receive from the trend. We want our clients to succeed and the lowest hanging fruit - customer retention - is the one measure that we see slipping through the fingers of so many dealers out there. One of the things that we've been investigating is the (seemingly) lost art of turning the one-time sales mentality that has been growing in our industry into the good ol' "customer for life" paradigm that...Read post

  • 2014 DrivingSales Executive Summit Recap

    For the sixth year in a row, DrivingSales Executive Summit (DSES) sold out to an enthusiastic and progressive-minded audience. With the Bellagio Hotel as our venue, we were all treated to an impressive main stage, plenty of space, and exquisite food catering—and, of course, the most advanced content in the industry!   Day One We began the conference earlier than ever before, kicking off at 1:30pm on Sunday, October 12th—and that's not considering our Canadian breakout session sponsored by e-Dealer, Glovebox, and SCI Marketview that started at 8:30am or the Cox Automotive brunch and panel presentation that commenced at 10:30am. DSES indeed had a packed schedule! And then, the audience was shown the 2014 DSES Kickoff Video: Introduced by event emcee, Charlie Volgleheim, the founder and CEO of DrivingSales, Jared Hamilton, provided a high-level overview of Executive Summit, what the attendees could expect from the conference, and a brief look at the auto industry as a whole....Read post

  • Mobile Search Rank Study Shows It's Good to Be #1

    If you've spent any time on the marketing side of your dealership, you know how valuable organic search traffic is. But in order to receive a large amount of search traffic, you need to rank for a variety of different keywords, which means having a properly-optimized website, high-quality content, and inbound links from authoritative sites.   Now, on the desktop side, there have been plenty of studies that prove that the #1 organic result on Google receives the brunt of the clicks. As Google users become more familiar with searching for information online, and Google updates its algorithm to provide better overall results, though, the number of people who click on the first result has gone down significantly.   (This is also a sign that your metadata--which is the information displayed about your page on Google and other search engines--needs to be optimized so users can understand what your content is about, which will increase clickthroughs to your dealership's website.) Read post

  • Stand Out by Thanking Veterans

    The spirit of the holidays is in the air. Halloween is next week and before you know it, Thanksgiving and the end-of-the- year holidays will be here. With all the excitement of these upcoming holidays, many retail companies will glaze over a very important tribute, Veterans Day on November 11th. This day of remembrance and thanks to veterans for their commitment and sacrifice to defend our nation deserves a place in your end-of-the-year marketing strategy. Here are two ways you can honor veterans, drive traffic and revenue, and STAND OUT from your competition. Offer Exclusive Veterans Savings This idea seems like a no brainer because it is! Put together valuable discounts, something you’d typically offer your most loyal customers, and advertise them exclusively to veterans and active duty military personnel who visit your store during the month of November. You could also decorate your showroom or service drive with red, white, and blue to show your support of these brave men and wo...Read post

  • Going Beyond All-You-Can-Eat In Loyalty

    When consumers think of loyalty programs, they typically think of racking up miles, or frequenting a business in exchange for rewards, perks or freebies. No matter what business you patronize, there is a good chance that it is offering some sort of loyalty incentive. In fact, many argue that loyalty programs are so prevalent nowadays that they are losing some of the initial qualities that attracted consumers to them back some 45 years ago. Namely, that feeling of being treated special in exchange for the customer’s ongoing business and continued loyalty. Today, some loyalty programs choose not to even offer rewards. Instead they just provide the concept of receiving lower prices. Many grocery store chains have the regular price and then a loyalty member price. Sale prices are reserved just for members of their loyalty program.  Your information and transaction histories are exchanged with the grocery store for a slightly lower total at the checkout counter.   Loyalty programs h...Read post

  • Dealers Shouldn’t Abandon Third-Party Sites Just Yet

    If you've been following the trends for the last year in the automotive industry, you’ll note that there are some dealers that are pushing all of their advertising dollars towards driving traffic to their websites. It’s a strategy that was made popular when a large dealer group declared that they were going to focus on generating their own leads and wrote an interesting piece about why they were doing it. Unfortunately, the strategy that they’re adopting has been misunderstood by many. The idea is that they wouldn't be buying leads from other sites anymore. They never declared that their inventory wouldn't be available on other sites. It’s a concept that makes sense – generate your own leads, whether they’re coming from third-party sites or the dealership’s website. In an article titled, Why Car Dealers Should Adopt a Modern Digital Merchandising Strategy, we went into detail about why many consumers prefer to shop on third-party sites rather than on a dealership’s ...Read post

  • Why Customers Leave Without Buying A Car And What To Do About It

    What's the most creative reason you've heard from a customer who is leaving your dealership lot without purchasing? Sure there are the typical, "have to check with my spouse," and "have to pick up my kids at their soccer game." Then there are the more atypical reasons: "I have a dentist appointment," or "My mother-in-law's in town." If it's one of the latter, warning bells should be ringing. Who would rather go to a dentist appointment or visit with their mother-in-law than buy a car?   According to AutoLoop Engage's call center statistics, only three percent of customers who leave without purchasing give the salesperson the real reason. Our agents have connected and engaged with thousands of unsold customers and here is why they're really leaving, according to our data:   55 percent leave because of payments/price/trade-in issues 26 percent leave because of inventory issues; your dealership didn't have the exact color or model they wanted 16 percent left because they had a bad...Read post

  • How to Find Out What Women Want and Reach The Modern Female Car Buyer

    A woman’s vehicle path to purchase needs may be prioritized differently than a man’s, and in order to sell to women, stores can benefit by understanding and caring about what women want when it comes to cars. They should ask Mel Gibson (about what women want…)Read post

    By Cobalt on October 23, 2014