One of the beauties of working with those businesses that want to move forward is just that: the move forward. One of the drawbacks is the distractions that can stop clients in their tracks. Even the most excited dealer, on any given day, may end up with a list of fire drills that can stop a freight train. Downhill. When you start your move in the digital direction, it must be a complete commitment.
More and more principals and senior management at the dealer level are getting their hands, minds and ambitions set around their online presence, brand reach, consumer interaction and spending real time in understanding what is out there. By educating dealers rather than just taking over the whole ball of wax, change is visible. By involving them rather than avoiding them, cooperation is established. By partnering, accountability becomes easier.
Even with the greatest level of engagement, however, retail is still retail and some habits die hard. Dealers can't ignore their fixed operations for a day. Management can't (and won't) turn a blind eye to the sales floor for 24 hours. Not even the parts manager gets a day without a general manager visit. So how can you afford to go a week or two, if not longer, without chatting up what's happening online and not just leads.
Two areas that might need more work are setting expectations and goal setting. Too often relatively major aspects of online operation are glazed over that can easily be addressed by keeping both vendor and client accountable to updates, the calendar and results.
These days you hear about more dealer service providers being tasked by their dealerships, companies providing more amenable terms, dealers sharing more information with their 20 groups and huge attendance at events around Internet and social media efforts. Great! What is happening to hold the dealer responsible? The web and everything associated with it is so fluid today that it almost makes more sense to have a meeting about what's happening and how to adjust and direct once or twice a week compared to having another sales meeting. Folks, if you have the right staff, it's about bringing the people in...salespeople know what they're doing and not doing especially when they hear it from the desk consistently.
Set expectations, draw out what steps must be done to excel. We must start with the end in mind AND be completely committed to it. Advisers, consultants, webinars and conferences are what you start and maintain with. In other words those are tools, just like 3 by 5 cars, tickler files, walkarounds, and CRM software. They are the conduits to results you want: the sale. They don't sell cars but you can't exist without them.
If you have committed to put your emphasis online, no matter what phase of the process you're in, stick with it. This isn't toe-in-the-water. This is died-in-the-wool. You can't get anywhere without having both the keys and a destination. You can't take off without the right equipment and a flight plan (yeah you pilots of the auto industry, you know who you are). And you can't win online without being part of it, staying in it and knowing what you want out of it.
Best practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results
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