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David Johnson

David Johnson Social Media Aficionado

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Yeah, What Richard Branson Says: Screw Business As Usual!

I'm tired of hearing it. As you all know I'm a social media guy, different than the rest. I believe that in order to truly harness the business changing aspects of social media that you must first create a social change, not only in your own dealership but within the entire industry as a whole. I'm tired of hearing, "That's not the way we do business. Our processes is more about selling cars than making happy customers."

I totally agree with that statement, as hard as it is to accept. But what I don't agree with is accepting that this is the way it will always be. I don't agree with it as a reason NOT to affect the kind of change that's needed to rebuild the trust most consumers lack with the auto industry. Recently I was having a discussion on Twitter and I admit, I do have some radical ideas, ideas that I feel would have a hugely positive impact on the auto industry, but ideas that may be hard to swallow none-the-less. In that discussion I heard over and over again, that's not the way business is done, you know what I say? SCREW BUSINESS AS USUAL, CHANGE IT!

Take a look at the actual process of buying a car, it's confrontational to say the least. On one hand we're trying to keep all our money, on the other, the customer is trying to keep all their money. Who wins? You can argue that you both do because that's what negotiation is but I would say that you're wrong, nobody truly wins when both sides have to give up something they want, just to make a deal. It's our fault really, we're the ones who make it all about price.

Don't believe me? Just take a look at TrueCar. Why would something like that even appeal to people? It appeals because the consumer feels that they would get a better deal by not having to negotiate with a salesperson, they feel that they could save more money by going through a third party, instead of going right to the dealer.

We've done this to ourselves. There are a lot of reasons why this is happening, the biggest of which is a loss of trust, trust that was lost a long, long time ago. Think politically for a moment, whatever you consider yourself, take a look at the politician you hate the most, the one that irritates you to no end and ask yourself, "Why do I feel that way?"

Now that you've answered that question ask yourself what it would take for that politician to change your mind about them. Some of you no doubt are thinking die and to that I say, that's exactly what the consumer thinks. Answer another question and I want you to be totally honest here, "Why would somebody rather use a third-party site such as TrueCar instead of going right to the dealer?"

Tough question I know but it's one that needs to be answered so that we can screw business as usual and affect the kind of change needed in order rebuild trust, influence word-of-mouth and create brand loyalty.

Tall order? Hell yeah, but one that needs to happen or we run the risk of seeing an end to the era of the auto dealer. Too strong a statement you say? Just take a look at all the unrest around us, take a look at how many leads come through third-party lead providers and you will see it. Be intellectually honest with yourself, don't come at me arguing against what I've said in this post, instead let's talk about what we can do to screw business as usual and make a change.

TrueCar, as despicable as they are, is our fault. The auto industry has caused the uprising, but instead of going to battle we need to take a long hard look at the battle lines, raise a white flag and surrender. From there we need to rewrite our processes, figure out how we are going to do business from here on out and just do it! We have to stop saying, but this is how we've always done it, this is how things are... again, screw business as usual.

I feel that some of the greatest minds in the word are right here in the auto industry, there are dealers all over the country that get it, but they are too few to make a real difference in the minds of the consumer. We need to get together, and soon, and talk about how we can make the type of difference that is needed to bring trust back to our great industry... aren't you tired of hearing jokes that start with, "A politician, a lawyer and a car salesman walk into a bar." I mean come on, their putting us in the same category as politicians and lawyers, screw business as usual!

I'm going to leave you with a lyric from the late Michael Jackson: "

I'm Starting With The Man In The Mirror I'm Asking Him To Change His Ways And No Message Could Have Been Any Clearer If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place Take A Look At Yourself And Then Make A Change

 

David Johnson
Social Media Strategist
PersuasiveConcepts.com

Brent Albrecht
David, nice post, I agree with a lot of what you said. I think what it comes down to is that going forward, dealers need to embrace the idea of complete transparency in their dealership. Recently I read an article on Chipotle, and they said one of the reasones for their success is the transparency in their restaurants. From where a customer stands to order, they can clearly see how their food is cooked, mixed, cut, prepared and moved to the counter where your burrito is made - customers can see everything in the entire process and they truly value that. Auto Dealers need this same transparency, in pricing, negotiations, sales and fulfillment process, service and repairs, etc. and then car buyers will be more inclined to look favorably on interacting directly with the dealership.
Brent Albrecht
I want to add to my prior comment - before I get complaints on my use of the word "transparency" in the dealership. I think there needs to be transparency in the public aspects of the business (as mentioned: pricing, negotiations, sales, etc.) but that doesn't mean consumers need internal information, what you paid for the car, what the salesperson is paid, did you make a profit... that's a line other businesses don't have to cross and auto dealers should be allowed to follow to the same standard.
David Johnson
Sorry about taking so long to respond Brent, thank you for commenting... twice! I agree with your comment, transparency is key, unfortunately the way most dealers do business is very adversarial. Being adversarial means that in the end, there is no real winner, with loyalty and word-of-mouth being almost non-existent. I'll say it again, screw business as usual, it's time for a regime change, I mean shift in the way we do business! LOL

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