If education, reinforcement, results and transparency are the benchmarks of success why are we all not more successful than we are right now? More often than not, in our beloved industry, what has been around for a long time is considered as accepted or the norm and what is new is rejected with rare exception. At the end of the day we're branders and communicators entirely and inextricably linked to the success or failure of process. Well, we need a wake up call.
Recently there has been a barrage of articles on everything from social media must do's for car dealers to self-indulgent bantering among dealership consultants, from incessantly republishing authoritative sources to fill pages and drive traffic to kicking dead horses and old ghosts. And who are we kidding? The whole industry has to wake up to new ways of doing business, engaging consumers that control content, delivering more value than flash to dealerships, learning more than preaching and finally...wait for it...stop talking about what you don't understand.
So what's the difference between ignoring technology because management says "you can sell without it", the Barracuda firewall encasing your dealership is controlled by a corporate yes man who thinks that every 10 minutes on Facebook is one unit lost and your so-called vendors swear they're "all over it" and getting passed by like a 911 GT3 in 6th gear? Not much unless you truly desire to be in business and profitable over the next 24 months.
Every piece of real data out there shows the same thing: brand, communication and process control your path. Not advertising. Not high-pressure salesmanship. Not displacing your cranium under the warm sand. Brand is shared. Communication is shared. Process doesn't need to be shared but without it you won't remember where the brand and communication go (even if you've got really good hair, a tan and bling to win over GMs and dealer principals with).
So, when's the last time you went through your website (and saw keyword stuffing and out-of-date optimization)? Checked out your templates (and saw that they didn't have links in your signature block)? Really customized your 'newsletter' (that is the same as everyone else's)? Checked, double-checked and then triple-checked your third-party lead sources (unless you have no issue with them showing 80 leads and 315 phone calls when you're positive that the real number is half that)? Do you truly know what your site analytics show? How are those inbound links working for you? And your press releases? When was the last blog post you did?
Today I overheard a salesperson getting educated at a dealership. Rather than say trained, we'll go with that. He was asked not to say "welcome to (name of dealership), my name is (his name), how can I help you?". It was explained that by putting the showroom guest in the position of being 'helped' that they will feel put off or less empowered and it was better to offer assistance by saying "how can I assist you?".
Let's not kid ourselves any more. Many in automotive retail need HELP and those that ask will get it from the best sources the industry has to offer, as long as they're willing to go with the new. As you check out all that has to be offered in Orlando this weekend, where is your help going to come from?
Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results
Note: Jim Elliott will be at NADA and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @imacweb_Jim on Twitter