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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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Gary May

Gary May President

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The More Things Stay The Same, The More They Stay The Same

We're considering making a big alarm clock. No, a BIG %^&*#$@ alarm clock. That way instead of waking up 10-100 dealers at a time, we can wake up 10,000. And folks, we all should know how big that clock has to be. 14 years of the automotive Internet, over 6 years for most OEM website programs and CRMs, over 3 years of SEO chatter, social media, landing pages, microsites, email marketing and nearly 2 years of mobile, geo-location, widgets and integration. What do we have to show for it? The alarm clock is not big enough.

Two percent leadership and a bunch of blank stares. The season of automotive industry digital marketing events is upon us. It's time to move the needle. Even before massive fees, niclkle-and-diming- new widget this and new fandagled that. And it's not "back to basics" or "blocking and tackling". If you want to stick to blocking, the customers are going to be walking. The alarm clock is not big enough.

Many folks talk about how the people that have been moving the industry's training and messaging programs are right there in the comfort zone, what they like, the heart of the 20 Group, the flame to the cigar so-to-speak. Many dealers around the country are still FourSquaring and we're not talking about the social media game. Many dealers don't have photos up on inventory for a week or two (or longer) after receiving the units. Many dealers don't know the first thing about where, what, how and why there are reviews on the web (or, in some cases, all over it) about the poor experiences at their dealership. The alarm clock is not big enough.

We're talking about dealers having to buy leads since their own inventory doesn't display correctly, generating their own leads. We're talking about the leads that are received not being handled right nearly 70% of the time. We're talking about dealers struggling with finding the right people to handle the leads right, yet hiring the wrong people in the first place. The alarm clock is not big enough.

Consider the volume of content that is available to every dealership with an Internet connection*. Consider the wealth of knowledge that exists at the other end of the phone at nearly any time. Consider the amount of information available in one day with the right person. Consider how much consumers, us, are changing the rules. The alarm clock is not big enough.

*Blocking computers from accessing most of the web? Does the industry emply adults? The alarm clock is not anywhere close to big enough for people with that much control. My fricking gosh, lighten up.

Think about how much less the franchise matters today and how much more the dealer brand matters. Think about how your HTML website* won't load on a cell phone nicely but your United, Delta and American boarding passes do. Think about how much more you want your customers to spend at your store but they don't even open your emails (because hopefully you're actually looking at that). The alarm clock is not big enough.

*And the fact that your website company is using Flash-laden pages, can't deploy a PHP-coded application and won't be able to resize and deploy a widget or give real analytics? No alarm clock can wake that up.

Really, the more things stay the same, the more they stay the same. It's not that we believe there are people intentionally not doing what they should to move the industry forward or that they can't do it. No. It's that whatever has been done has honestly moved the ball forward about a yard but it's 4th down and 28 yards to go. This round of events in Las Vegas needs to get as much fire about them as profits because of them.

Not the same data. Not the same repackaged presentation. Not even the same presenter. Not the same expectation. Not the same end game. Not the same focus. Not the same anything. We all know dealers that are afraid today. Isn't fear supposed to promote change?

Here's a challenge: Every speaker. Every presenter. Every vendor. Follow up your sessions with a call or onlne meeting within two weeks of the event for everyone that wants it. And promote it. For Free. Answer every question. Refer other companies if you don't offer something that's being asked for. Give something away at your session. Really give it away. No strings attached.

Maybe it's a start. Maybe it's about time. Maybe it's about the dealer. Maybe it's about selling and servicing cars. What do you think?

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results


You can read more IM@CS posts here on DrivingSales.com or on our blog

Brian Pasch
Gary I love your passion and one thing I can say is that website vendors have woken up and will be showcasing some amazing new updates to their website platforms. One company that comes to mind in Dealerskins. I've been critical in the past with their 100% flash websites and their inventory module that was NOT search friendly. This year they have invested in some MAJOR changes that have made their inventory appear in organic search better than most. That's going from ZERO to 100 in a short period of time. So, let's post an article in November as a post mortem on the Fall Conferences and see which companies impressed us the most with forward things technology and new tools for car dealers.
Jim Elliott
Good message, Gary! I think many more dealers will wake up and attend this October, and when it is all said done combined attendance of the 3 events will be bigger than ever and more dealers will go home engaged and committed. And they will have a competitive advantage over their non-engaged competition. And the beauty is -- the advantage will be invisible to their competition, who is only picking up the classifieds to see if they have the lowest price! The UNSEEN competitive advantage of digital dominance and internal process discipline it many times greater than the visible advantages their unengaged competitors look for. It is time for dealers to become a Mr. Invisible Superhero -- invisible to the enemy, yet powerful and effective and very visible to internet consumers who use their special "Google" lenses to find them and the value they offer!

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