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After the recent seminars and events in the Los Angeles area it seems more clear than ever: dealers want to do more, are mostly eager to address new opportunities (or old ones sold as new), are baffled by new technology including social media, are looking at the factories for direction and don't seem to have the right questions to ask the not-so-prepared, over-eager vendors.
In a number of panels that spanned these events, the tough questions either weren't asked or answered. This is not a knock on either the speakers or the crowds, most very qualified to talk about new media and marketing. It's just a fact. One panel on social media had some great experts. On data. Not one person doing it for an OEM or a dealer (or, judged from afar, likely even doing it themselves daily). Another panel had some great participants from very disparate areas of automotive talking about some specific activities they're doing. Truly great examples, results and actions were shared. The missing component was how the average dealer, yes including those in attendance, can implement a plan.
What is happening, as our world moves forward at a speed more reminiscent of the amazing La Mans cars running around Circuit De La Sarthe as this is being written, might be another dose of "ignorance is bliss". And that doesn't help anyone. Dealers asking their factories and reps for help (as was overheard quite frequently lately) are getting shrugged shoulders, "we're working on that right now" or "hire the right company or employee to handle that" responses. In other words, dealers are on their own.
So the dealers' sources for information are limited to their 20 group, industry events and magazines, word of mouth and the old fashion pitch by the vendor. Most dealership decision makers aren't reading the blogs and forums because if they were, they'd be asking questions and participating (yes, we regularly scan for them). So, as with the first "Vendoritis Or Dealeritis" post a while back, the question needs to asked again: how do dealers move forward?
Our industry is always in flux. Lately there has been a more interesting bend, however. Dealers and vendors, for example, fixated solely on SEO for the past year plus are now looking at poor conversion stats to fix.There will be the same issues with social media in a year: those that chose to hire crap automation and get to 5,000 Facebook fans and 10,000 Twitter followers will discover that it's not done anything for brand or business building since over 1/2 of their social media throng is over 500 miles away if not in another country.
When you take your eyes off the ball, you can't catch it. You likely won't even see it. Many today say "bullshit, I can do it all". Well, good luck to you. The best of the Fortune 100 acknowledge that they can't. Maybe automotive retailers can do it all: sell the cars they need to monthly and still talk up a great story online. Just like the vendors that do a mediocre job for you somewhere else in your store and tell you that they can add something to their plate. Yeah, and there's a bridge in the desert that I need to show you...
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