I remember the first dealership I worked in. It was back in the Stone Age; well at least it was well before the Internet. A couple of days a week, the managers would be hunched over a desk, working, arguing, fighting, and working some more. If you weren’t working a deal, you did NOT disturb them.
After a few hours, the Dealer Principal would stop by the desk, step into the hole they made for him and nod his head in agreement. All the managers patted each other on the back. Or, on some days, the DP would shake his head from side to side and point at the object on the desk with slashing motions. The managers would go back to work, now at a fevered pace.
What in the world were they working on? The GM, the GSM, the New Car Manager, the Used Car Manager, all with final approval from the Dealer Principal? What could cause this much emotion, this much diligence, what could bring this team together so completely. What was so damn important?
Simple. It was deadline day for our print Ad.
These folks knew our weekend, our week, and our month would be made or broken by the decisions they made. They understood that a car dealership was really a marketing machine with customers coming into the market (and leaving the market) on a continual basis. This management team was completely and totally involved in the dealership’s marketing.
I’m not suggesting we go back to spending tens of thousands of dollars a month (or a week, in some markets) on print. I am suggesting that management, in many dealerships, needs to up their level of engagement in their dealership’s marketing program.
Print is dead. Digital is the reigning king. The problem is that many managers don’t have even a passing knowledge of the digital marketing world. Used Car Managers aren’t involved in writing the Ad copy on their digital listings. New Car Managers aren’t updating their specials. Dealer Principals aren’t overseeing the entire process. Now to be fair, this isn’t true of every dealership, but is it true at too many.
The dealerships that have a high level of involvement seem to be the ones winning. Being involved in your dealership’s marketing may be ‘Old School’, but it is also very ‘Digitally Savvy’.