Community

Share your automotive expertise

2 Write a Blog Post

Filed in: Marketing

The Automotive Industry Needs More Trusted Advisers

By JD Rucker on Feb 19, 2013

NADA 2013 was a whirlwind. There was more activity, more excitement, and most importantly more hope than I’ve seen since 2008. Dealers were excited to see more, to learn how to go beyond the survival mode that has been fading in recent years and to concentrate on thriving mode. It was the most encouraged I’ve been about the industry in decade, but there was one thing that has me a little concerned.

It may be a minor blip on the corporate radars of the mega-vendors that are eating up chunks of the industry and it might go unnoticed by dealers who are so busy improving sales that they don’t even notice, but I was fortunate enough to take note during the show and after. What I saw was this: there is a distinct lack of trusted advisers and dealer partners in the industry. I know this because I had many more dealers finding me or calling and asking questions about other products and services than ever before. It wasn’t even close. This year, everyone’s looking and there aren’t enough people to go to for answers.

Here’s one conversation I had yesterday minutes after getting off the plane:

“Hey JD, what do you know about [video company]? Is it worth $[x,xxx] per month?”

I gave my opinion that it may be worth it if he was willing to work with them to maximize the effects. Then I asked him a question.

“Just out of curiosity, [dealer], why are you asking me about [video company]? I have an opinion for sure but there are others who know more on the topic than me.”

At this point, I had talked to somewhere around 30 dealers who wanted to know about product X or company Y. It was flattering, of course, but it’s not something that I’ve ever seen during and after other conferences. The dealer told me about the trusted advisers in the industry; more importantly, he described the lack of them. We’ve worked together for several years and he said I was his “go to guy” for internet marketing questions.

Again, I was flattered, but again I was alarmed. Have industry vendors distanced themselves so far from their clients that they don’t believe them as much anymore? Not to shine the spotlight on us, but it’s part of my company’s DNA to give advice, to help with everything that falls within our expertise even if we don’t sell it as a product, and to educate without an expectation of payment or returns. We run a minimum of two webinars per week at no charge with the intention of earning the trust of current and potential clients because we know that helping dealers will make us more successful. When did this become such a rare trait?

I explored further and was a little shocked to find out that nearly all of the dealers I called said that they didn’t consider their vendors as anything other than vendors. The partnership concept is gone. The trusted advisers of the automotive world have been pushed aside by the companies whose executives don’t talk to more than a handful of dealers per year.

This is not the right direction for the industry.

To the dealers who are reading this, now is the time to expect more. Demand more. We cannot allow the industry to be so numbers-driven that your vendors don’t even know your name or face if you aren’t running a 30-top. You deserve better than that.

To the vendors who are reading this, help us make the shift back to a more personal experience. Even with a good number of customers, we have more executives and digital advisers in dealerships at any given time than in the office. Shake hands. Reach out and talk to your clients. Visit them. It’s a competitive industry and we’re always up for the challenge of going head-to-head with others, but we cannot continuously beat each other up for the sake of the bottom line. This industry was built on handshakes and eye contact. Don’t get stuck in the office. Your clients deserve better than that.

Comments

JD, This is a great article and covers a lot of ground. The problem with the majority of vendors and trainers is that they all have an agenda. . . to make money. I have talked to many vendors over the years and when I ask them why they sell services or functionality to dealers which they know are inferior they say they tried to offer the dealer a better program but that's what the dealer wanted. They continue, "If I don't sell it to him they will buy it from my competitor." Then a few months later the dealer wakes up and sees they bought "junk" and the vendor loses creditability.

You would think that a dealer association would create a "vendor vetting dept." to review vendors and product offerings and provide an objective report. So far that hasn't happened.

I see many vendors are like a Mom who wants their kids to eat vegetables, but when the kid kicks and screams the Mom gives them candy. This is a tough cycle to break and no vendor, even KPA wants to be the first to break the cycle.

Feb 20, 2013

Comments 1 - 1 of 1

You must be logged in to comment

Login Create an account

Add your comments:

   

JD Rucker's Recent Posts

Related Posts

  • Stop Using Public Relations as Advertising

    Throughout history, public relations professionals have assisted companies in gaining exposure and getting the right message to the right audience at the right time. In the past, PR agencies relied on connections with journalists, media contacts and industry publications to relay relevant company news. With the arrival of social media, and digital marketing, PR agencies have had to evolve with the times. It has become a content-driven world, with a whole lot more opportunities to place content. While it is now easier for PR agencies to spread a company’s message, the amount of information news outlets and other publishing platforms receive is quite overwhelming. As such, it is now more important than ever to get your messaging right, so it does not get lost in the noise, or, even worse, turn the audience away.  A good public relations agency knows which types of messages are appropriate and most effective for each type of content. Public relations firms are now frequently retaine...Read post

  • IFMG and DealerStrong in Action: the Special Finance SuperGroup Meeting in Las Vegas - September 8, 2014

    Last week our Director of Sales, Russ DeVries, participated in one of DealerStrong's semi-annual SuperGroup Meetings. Scheduled to coincide with the Industry Summit at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, the SF SuperGroup includes dealer principals and senior management from some of the highest volume SF stores in the country. Here's a quick recap.Read post

  • In Marketing, New Trumps Used Every Time

    Bob visits a website searching for a new vehicle. As he filters down to the model he is considering, he is confronted with a seemingly endless list of stock photos with similar prices. Frustrated at the lack of information, he leaves and attempts his search on another site just to get the same results.   Suzy is in the market for a used vehicle. After comparing vehicles by prices and mileage, she finds one that fits her needs and her budget. The vehicle doesn’t have a very good description, however, and she has questions about the vehicle’s condition. She fills out the form and asks for more pictures of the vehicle. All she gets in return are repeated invites to schedule an appointment while being bombarded with phone calls from salespeople.   Joe is shopping for a new vehicle also. Joe is a very meticulous person. His house is always in order. His DVDs are alphabetized. He refuses to buy anything used. He knows that he wants the new Mustang. He also knows that he wants it ...Read post

  • Infographic: What You Need to Know About DrivingSales Executive Summit

    The sixth annual DrivingSales Executive Summit (DSES) is less than a month away. And whether you have attended each year or are hearing about our conference for the first time, this infographic provides a great high-level outline of highlights and features. Read post

  • The 1.3 Dealer Myth Destroyed

    Just about everyone in the business has repeatedly heard and read that the average shopper visits only 1.3 dealerships before buying a vehicle. It’s been repeated in countless articles and at nearly every automotive marketing conference. That statistic is false, it was always false, and it remains false. New research released by J.D. Power and Associates again debunks this myth. J.D. Power also put out information in 2011 which contradicted this myth, but few wanted to hear it. Here is the link to the entire story and a complete understanding of what the actual data means, http://www.dealereprocess.com/1-point-3-dealer-myth-destroyed/ Having the facts right does not diminish the importance of the internet. Just getting shoppers to the store is still not enough. Great websites meet the information needs of shoppers, bring them to the store more ready to buy, and provide full content on mobile devices to meet shopper needs within the store. In the modern buying cycle, websites neve...Read post

  • FlickFusion Introduces Timeline Marketing, an Award-Winning Innovation That Expands Auto Dealer Presence on the Internet

    Urbandale, IA--September 15th, 2014--Flick Fusion (www.flickfusion.com), the industry's leading video marketing provider, today introduced Timeline Marketing, a powerful tool that allows auto dealer personnel to update new and existing videos with dealership marketing messages in the form of banners and overlays. With a few simple clicks, inventory and dealership videos on both the dealer's website and on the Internet can be updated with targeted promotions of choice, such as price reductions, incentives, cash back offers and more. With Timeline Marketing, dealers gain maximum exposure for marketing messages by leveraging the power of video SEO and a large Internet distribution network.   "Timeline Marketing is the only technology that allows dealers to broadcast new promotions via their inventory and dealership videos on hundreds of websites, potentially resulting in thousands of views for every marketing message," said Brian Cox, President and CEO of Flick Fusion Video Marketing. ...Read post

  • Fall into Customer Loyalty with Holiday Mail

    Believe it or not, it is time to start planning your holiday marketing strategy. Now I know what you’re thinking, “I have plenty of time.” You are probably right when it comes to your digital marketing efforts, but what about your end of the year direct mail? The hustle and bustle of the holiday season will soon be upon us and you don’t want to miss your window to deliver meaningful marketing to your customers. Don’t wait another day; get started today. Everyone loves receiving holiday cards, right? If you’re like me, you probably display them on your fireplace mantle, hang them from your office door, or maybe you have one of those holiday card holders. When you receive a holiday card, you feel happy, mostly because someone took the time to send it. Are you reciprocating that same feeling to your customers? Demonstrate your appreciation for your customers’ business, strengthen your customers’ affinity for your dealership, and create top-of-mind awareness, with holiday ...Read post

  • The One Time that it’s Okay to Automate Social Media

    When social media started picking up steam in the automotive industry in 2008, the idea was that since more people were getting social and communicating on these public arenas, it would be a great medium through which to get more customers. Fast forward to today and we’ve found that it can be more challenging than most expected. The lack of social media ROI has prompted many dealers to abandon social media in general. Sure, they’ll post every now and then on their Facebook page or put out a Tweet before a big sale, but for the most part the broken promise of social media delivering the masses to the showroom has many dealers pulling back. This can be a mistake. Whether people are using social media to buy cars or not can be debated, but what cannot be debated is its influence on perceptions. Page views on social media pages, particularly Facebook and Twitter, are going up. Some of this can be attributed to more dealer websites linking to their social profiles. Another reason fo...Read post