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It’s not a theory, it’s not even the future, it’s happening now and time is getting short. Auto dealerships are notoriously late adopters of any new technology but in our current state of rapid technological advancement more and more dealerships are falling by the way side and closing their doors. While many different theories can by hypothesized as to the reasoning behind this I’d like to bring forth the idea of Digital Darwinism.
“The idea that the development of Internet based companies is governed by rules similar to Darwin's theory of evolution, and that those that adapt best to their environment will be the most successful”
We are in the midst of a huge economical shift, consumers aren't as trusting as they use to be, we live in a world of digital transparency, but still dealers want to hold onto the old way of doing things, just because it's the way it's always been done. It's that very same thinking that is causing dealerships, all across the country, to close their doors for good. Sure, they put up a good fight, blaming everything and everybody, except themselves that is.
For those of you that were in the car business when the internet first rolled around you know first hand how dealers resisted the change. They fought it saying that people wont go on the internet and interact with a dealer through their website. They insisted that print ads would always reign supreme and lot traffic would never dry up. If you could go back, knowing what you know now, what would you tell them?
Right now, this very second, we are in another shift, its a little different but still it's technology based. More or less, we are going back to the way things use to be before the internet. If you haven't guess it yet, I'm talking about social media, and all social media is is a new way to use an old tool. That old business tool is networking and things are going back to the village mindset (thank you Jack Perry).
What do I mean by that? Well, before the the internet, actually technology in general, we use to consult our neighbors, friends, and family members about things going on in our lives. Now we have the internet and and can Google just about anything, but before the modern marvel of online search we use to have community meetings, one-on-one discussions, and asked for each others opinions. Like they say, history repeats itself and now the internet, through social platforms such as Facebook, Myspace and Twitter, are bringing us, once again, closer together.
Why then, are all these positive changes causing dealers, once again, to want to discount whats really going on? Digital Darwinism is alive and well and it's just a matter of time before the old school car dealers become extinct, they want to fight the fact that the customer is in charge of the process. Instead of fighting them it's the progressive dealer that's able to relinquish control and starts to think in terms of "how can I make this new way of doing things work for?"
In reality, this goes much deeper than the onset of social media, this happened a long time ago and will take a tremendous shift in an old car dogs thinking to really get it. We are in a relationship economy, no longer can dealership afford to put the sale before the customer, it's time to put the customer before the sale. Their needs come before money, it's a fundamental shift in thinking that will propel a dealership to new heights and will allow them to take market share like never before.
Embrace the changes my friend, don't fight it. Don't try to stuff a customer in a vehicle because that's all you've got, find something that the customer both needs and WANTS, even if it's at another dealership. Honestly, I feel that if an auto dealer is against what I proposed in the last sentence then a time will come when they are either filing for chapter 7 or selling out to somebody that gets it.
David Johnson is the digital marketing director of PersuasiveConcepts.com and Next Generation Dealer Services