Under Frederick the Great, the Prussian army was considered by many to be the finest fighting force in Europe. To behold their perfectly honed war strategies and flawless battle march was to strike both fear and awe in their enemies. In fact, many would consider the Prussian army to be one of history’s most prolific fighting machines.
In 1786 (at the age of 74) Frederick the Great passed away in an armchair, in his study and to this day many people favor him as one of the greatest strategically geniuses of all time. During his long tenure as King of Prussia he had, as understudies, many generals in which he relied. These generals trained his armies and carried out battle orders as the King himself would join the army in battle.
In October 1806, when the Prussian army went to war against Napoleon it was still considered by many to be one of the finest armies in Europe. In terms of 18th century Europe, the Prussian army was second to none. That battle, against the prolific Napoleon Bonaparte and his “Grande Armee” was a suffering defeat and in that defeat there is a lesson to be learned.
The Napoleonic army was quick and agile, it was swift at march, furious on the attack and struck fear in those that came up against it. Ultimately it was the Prussians refusal to deter from the Frederickian System that caused them to lose the battle to the French. It was a tried and true system but one that was over 50 years old, one that Napoleon was very familiar with.
What Does This Have To Do With The Car Business?
The Prussians refused to adapt to the changing times and instead stuck to what always worked for them, in reality they lived past their effectiveness, which lead to their defeat. The same is happening in the car business today. Many auto dealers are refusing to admit that the battle lines have been redrawn and that they no longer stand on the winning side. They refuse to believe that they no longer control the process and hold on to a glimmer of hope that the tides of battle will swing back their way.
I’m here to say that they won’t! But, there is hope and the hope lies in a dealerships ability to encompass the new rules of the game, rules that dictate that the customer see’s your hand. It’s time to rethink your strategy, build relationships and perfect your customer service. It’s time to stop thinking in terms of price and start thinking in terms of social equity. Do you want to win? If you do the concept is rather simple but the implementation can be a bit daunting, but only for one reason and one reason only, it requires change. It requires a fundamental shift in the way most people think in the car business. It’s requires a change in culture, one that most will fight but those that embrace it will start to see their bottom line grow.
In order for any dealership to be effective in today’s market they must change the adversarial approach they take to selling cars and create a strategy that builds trust. Think about it, the way the relationship stands now, between the auto dealership and the customer, is adversarial. It’s time consuming and the customer hates it, with the way things stand now the customer wants to get in and get out as quickly as possible. What that last sentence boils down to is that because of the way things are now, the customer would rather search through countless numbers of inventory, and submit countless amounts of inquires, in order to get one thing, and that one thing… its price.
That’s right, price. In fact if a dealership were to work on building relationships built on mutual trust, relationships instead of adversity, trust instead of mistrust, then the customer won’t be so fixated on price.
Don’t let what happened to the Prussian army, happen to you. Adapt to the changing times, your old strategy, it doesn’t work anymore and the longer you continue to use it the more chance you have of going out of business. This new relationship economy thing we have going on, it’s a good thing, don’t loath it, stop thinking about the way things use to be because they never will be that way again. Instead, embrace the change and grow.