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Not long ago I saw an article on DealerRefresh titled: “Dealership Employees Blogging in the Land of Unicorns and Rainbows." It’s a silly, catchy title that hits upon an important misconception. Namely, the wrongly perpetuated idea that car dealers are lazy.
I worked in the automotive retail industry for over 20 years, but recently I’ve changed paths. I am now a full time vendor and founder of Wikimotive, and I’ve realized that car dealers aren’t the lazy ones...we are.
The car dealer business hasn’t changed much over the past fifty years. When my father began working in this industry, there wasn’t even microfilm to look up parts; today, computers connect the world. People haven’t been replaced though. People are still needed to find the right part for the right car, and people still like purchasing things from other people, especially ones they like.
TV, radio, newspaper, direct mail, e-mail, the internet, blogging, SEO, social media, ORM, ZMOT, CRM, DMS systems have all facilitated the modern dealership, but the car business itself remains unchanged. With every new technological advance, people start predicting the demise of the traditional business models, but really, nothing has changed...at least not for the car dealer.
The real change in the industry hasn’t come from the dealerships but from us, the Vendors. We serve the dealers with all the brightest and flashiest new toys, screaming at the top of our lungs to be recognized. We preach fire and brimstone on all the non-adapters and hint that if they don’t buy in now, RIGHT NOW, then they probably won’t be around to change their minds in 5 years.
Frankly, it’s bull.
It’s a silly attempt to make ourselves seem more important in the eyes of the dealers we cater to. I’ve been in this business for a long time, and I’ve seen dealer’s with terrible reputations and reviews go out there and sell the most cars in their market. I’ve seen sales managers who still plug power-strips into themselves sell thousands of new and used cars in a month without even knowing AutoTrader and blogging exist. I’ve even seem the biggest anti-social jerks top the sales board while some of the finest dealers I’ve known have gone under.
It may seem like I’m painting a pretty depressing picture for vendors, especially considering I recently got into the vendor space, that isn’t really true though. I honestly believe that when we do it just right, when value delivered matches the value promised, being a vendor who serves dealers is the ideal place to be. Full disclosure, you make everyone happy, and you make lots of money.
What everyone needs to understand is that dealership employees and owners don’t need to learn how automotive SEO works anymore than they need to understand how newspaper printing works; its just another means to an end. All that decision makers need to know is the value it represents. Just like any traditional medium, SEO is a vital, lasting part of modern advertising. That’s the important fact to remember.
If a dealer can acknowledge our success when they see it (and throw out our BS when they don’t) then they’ll be in good shape.
A carpenter wouldn’t give a customer a hammer and nails and then walk away saying job well done, but that’s what automotive vendors have been doing for years. Why? Because we’re LAZY! We can no longer simply give a dealership the basic tools and call it quits, it doesn’t work! We need to help them develop and cultivate until their project is complete.
Why have we been half-assing everything we do? Why aren’t we sending reps to the dealerships to learn about the personnel? If getting quality content for websites and blogs is as important as we claim, why aren’t we providing said content? If social media is so pivotal, why aren’t we managing and engaging dealers’ social networks? Why aren’t we doing it all? We tell dealers what they’re doing it wrong, so doesn’t that mean we should know how to do it right?
Newspapers don’t ask dealers to fire up the printing press and put their ads on paper. Television stations don’t have them installing antennae. So why do we expect clients to be the masters of the medium, of OUR medium? Any guesses?
It’s because WE’RE LAZY! Lazy and afraid. Afraid that if we start providing everything, costs will go up and we’ll have to change how we do business...but maybe changing how we do business is what’s needed, because it’s difficult to figure out why we aren’t doing more. That’s why I modeled my new company on just that: DOING MORE. No more half-assing, no more handing clients a hammer and nails and telling them to build their own damn shop.
Just doing more, so the client can worry less.
And if doing more for your clients doesn’t seem like the right move, maybe it’s time to look in the mirror and ask, “Who’s the lazy one?”