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If you want to gain market share in these turbulent times, you must first adopt a new way of thinking. The old way of thinking about marketing, your customers, selling cars, acquiring service and even financing has to go by the wayside or your dealership will shrivel up and die.
I know those seem like harsh words because they are and it’s my hope that you don’t take them lightly, I sure didn’t when I wrote them. In order to change your way of thinking, your old bad habits so to speak, you must replace it with a new way of thinking because that’s the ONLY way you’re going to be able to survive.
We’re in the beginning stages of a revolution, an uprising that if you choose to stand against it, will crush you. The revolution I’m talking about is the customer revolution. For so long they had no voice, they were like an infant trying to say their first words, and now that they have a way to get their voices heard, they will never be silenced again.
You’re old way of thinking, that the end justifies the means, should be tossed away because now each and everyone of your customers has a soap box and other people are waiting (and wanting) to hear what they have to say. In fact, you don’t even have to be present, these conversations are going on without you and they will continue to do so. It’s up to you, do you want to know what they are saying or do you feel that if you didn’t hear it or see it that it never happened? I’m here to tell you now that if a tree falls in the woods it still makes a sound, even if nobody is around to hear it.
It’s time to change your perspective; it’s time to adopt what Robert Green calls a “strategy in depth.” I’m not referring to what most people think about when they think about strategy, which is often confused with planning and thinking ahead. No, I’m talking about strategic thinking that includes a higher level of perspective.
Right now you are on the ground seeing things on a level playing field, you are reacting to the changing times by holding on to the past because it’s real, or was real, you lived through it, you conquered it and became its victor and nothing is going to take that from you, not even this so called uprising.
As humans, when we are faced with a novel situation, we tend to react in one of two different ways. The first way, the way most dealers are handling the customer revolution, is to deny the reality of it, to say that it just ain’t so. And of course, since they tell themselves that it isn’t they hold on to the old way. In other words we interpret the world in the ways we WANT to see them, not necessarily the way they are. How are you seeing the world?
The second way, which most definitely is the road less traveled, is to accept the new rules by throwing the old ones out the window. By doing that we move above the playing field and gain new perspective, in other words we have elevated our position and instead of looking both our competition and customers in the eyes, thus limiting our strategic vision, we can look down at the playing field and adjust our position on the fly.
Imagine with me if you will, that you were playing chess but you were limited to looking at the board, while standing on the board. In this position you could only see the pieces next to you which would make it very difficult to protect your king. Now, elevate your position to just above the pieces, true you have a better view but still you would have trouble seeing your opponent advance. Lastly imagine yourself with a birds eye view, not only could you see what your opponent’s moves are but you could see beyond the board, past your opponent and into the horizon. Your perspective would give you a more in depth strategic vision, you would be able to see what’s coming and adjust accordingly.
Most auto dealers are playing the game while standing on the chessboard; they react to only what’s going on around them. I’m here to tell you right now, stop it. Raise up, pay attention to what’s coming and protect your king, if not there is more than a check mate in your future.
If you want to survive then adopt a social marketing attitude, humanize your dealership and give your employees a voice, it’s in the relationships your people can create with your local market that is going to determine your market share. The choice truly is yours to make. I hope you make the right one and when you do I’m here to guide you through it.
What’s Beyond My Field Of Strategic Vision Anyway?
The promise land, the land of milk and honey, the land of increased market share, increased repeats and increased referrals. Don’t you see it? Do you want to see it?
For those of you that do it’s a beautiful thing to behold when the people in your community stop going to Google looking for a vehicle, instead they come to you because you have built the reputation of being one of them. Instead of the traditional advertising monologue you have begun to dialogue with the people in your market. Because of that you are in a the unique position of permission marketing, a term coined by Seth Godin, which means that people are giving you their permission to market to them.
So, elevate your position, take in the whole battlefield and pay particular attention to what’s coming. If not, you could be wiped off the battlefield all together.