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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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Gary May

Gary May President

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Another event in the history books. Digial Dealer 8 provided a new round of talk, perspective, conjecture, ideas and repetitiveness. Well attended, the eighth iteration of the event made way for a full expo, some great sessions, loud receptions and the proverbial automotive indsutry buzz.

It was a bit funny last week when two things ocurred that caused me to think about what it is to be "digital", take the leap of faith, change some (ok, a lot) of the broken practices in our business and bring as many willing people along with us. Brian Pasch and Ralph Paglia both had digital device "snafus" in front of a bunch of people. And it was funny. While some loudmouth from the crowd chirped "it's digial" (please, no guessses) , it caused me to reflect on how connected we are to everything digital. And what we continue to do wrong, including the so called education of the dealers looking for assistance.

Automotive retail's entire existance is based on success in the digital realm. We don't need a bunch of people, many barely versed themselves, standing in front of rooms of people telling them that the train has left the station. Dealers need real assistance, in real time, in real terms, from real people to build real results.

One thing that tends to rub me is the intention versus goal aspect of the conferences. What's happened to AAISP? certification programs? "put the dealer before profits" and all of the other chatter over the past four years? This is not a post meant to call bullshit on everything but to avoid it completely would be a disservice. At many conferences, more netowrking and business happens away from the event than at the event. And...there is a belief structure that has to be maintained.

It strikes me as odd when people attend events that can have a significant impact, offer extremely relevant information and otherwise influence attendees in a positive way are charged the most, treated as less-than-desireables and not invited to particiapte in the most basic way. Actually it's flat out wrong. The leading events let the audience and industry decide what's best. Not the promoter.

Changes in the industry are happening at such a rate now that those in position to create, promote and execute on large-scale events need to be more in line who they claim to help. Watch the bottom line? Sure you should make a profit if you're going to be bold enough, especially in these economic times, to front cash (which can be significant) and put an agenda together.

Ego and enforcement also have no place in today's events. Protocol, yes. Guidelines, yes. Omnipotent overlords focused on anything besides what drives the most value need to, well...be somewhere else. The digital shift is about practices, assistance, positioning, data and more. Our industry has been dealt a deserved blow in the digital space due to ignorance, denial and a refusal to recognize our own customers and public. How can the auto industry be so large yet engage and learn so little?

In my opinion, there should be more Internet department directors (pardon the phrase), field reps for the larger companies and consultants that are not beholden to vendors on stage. Those are the people moving the industry digital every day. Attendees don't want pitches. They need honest answers. They need examples. They absolutely want to understand what to do. Not being told. Not being sold. Remember, just like a customer at a dealership, they want to buy from someone they trust, that listens to them, that can deliver on value and promises. Why should the B-to-B part of our business be any different?

It time to start doing the work instead of talking the talk. No more "we do that" and then scramble to execute it for the first time. No more canceled cook-offs. No more delays in production. And a lot more customer service. That's what we need at retail. That's what we need from the companies making the claims and filling the magazines with ads. The one's retailers are trying not to do themselves anymore. Because they're listening to us.

Because, hey. It's digital.

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

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Rafi Hamid AutoExecutive
Gary, Totally agree with you, excellent article. Thank you

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