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I Before We, With No Exception To D(ealers)

It's the end of the year and the heart of the holiday season, right in between being thankful for everything we have and swearing off more than half of it (mostly weight) for the coming year. It's the time of the year when a few minutes on the automotive networks and news sites gets the mind going. It's also right after last week's (first ever) rant....

So in spelling, it's i before e except after c. Makes sense. Well, it makes no more sense than if it had never been that way and we simply didn't make the rule. No different than putting I before we, especially for the D's. The I's are the loud talkers, advertisers and general blow hards. We...in case people forgot, are the industry. And alas, the D's. The D's are the dealers. Those are the ones that move the industry.

In the event that those that believe the real deals are: the ones doing all of the talking, the media, the OEMs and the old boys club...you're dead wrong. Not that more than an acceptable level of that goes on, it clearly does. But the writing on the wall is getting more clear by the day: the dealers, customers and (ahem) the banks/captives move our beloved industry. Just because an outside person can come in and put a deal together doesn't mean that anything....anything improved the dealership.

More and more dealers are waking up to the simple fact that they've been taken for a long drive on a short road for quite a while. And since the days of milk and honey have been over for a bit, it's more painful than most would care to admit.

So check out the majority of content on our favorite places to read. More #1 this and that's. More white papers. More new, unbelievable this and that's. More covers and articles blaring horns and sirens. OK, the numbers are up in 2010, thank goodness. Even if we're at 12M new units, that's not 17M. Not playing the downer here, lots of stuff is good, but realize that yelling about being the best at something does nothing for business at retail.

Heck, there should be more practicing of the preaching. Any company claiming they're the best, don't just back it up with 1-5% of the client base with quotes. Get the bottom percentage to do the same thing. Ask them to write testimonials without any favors, kickback or kudos of any type. And if you have three times the customers of your next competitor, you should have at least three times the reviews.

We need to move the industry at retail. We can't change the banks, so let's put our efforts where they matter most. Yelling about moving a dealer's Internet sales from 25 to 50 per month, when you didn't? Screaming that you can do the best job in the industry at whatever and your clients aren't the best in the industry? Promoting as best-in-class when the company's experts can't get on the phone for days to review the company's performance in what should be their core competency? Shame on us. How many things have become more important than the customer and how many things are in the way of simply delivering?

Let's make dealers better tomorrow. If a dealer is paying for a service, every 30 days should be better in some measurable form. It's not always units or profit. Sometimes, it's efficiency (which drives profit anyway) or education or communication or retention. Something that makes more sense than simply spending more. Let's put the dealers first. Before the next award bought. Before the next accolade spun.

I before we, with no exception to D is the wrong approach. Pass on the awards, the half-baked "third party" certifications, the advertisements (please!), the 'unbiased' networks, the bling and the paid glorification. Let's get more DEALERS on the cover of Newsweek, not CONSULTANTS on the cover of....

Whooops, that one almost got out....

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