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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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Gary May

Gary May President

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Wow... New Auto Industry Pain Point!! Um... This Is Not A New Issue!

 

The constant challenge in the auto industry is for retailers to implement strategies, execute on their plans, follow process, create awareness, promote accountability and stop making excuses for doing anything less. There will always be a party to throw a finger at, many times deservedly so. That, however, does not take the greater point of responsibility away from an operator of a business and the business's staff.

There are always opportunities to learn, grow, adjust and review. There will always be new opportunities to add capabilities, add products, add services, add partners and add resources. You need the first group before the second, always.

Products and services, good and bad, make any industry go 'round. Companies tend to follow the herd, good and bad. It's why 20 Groups, marketing associations and other collections of automotive retailers are so attractive to companies selling their services and the reps who speak. People will buy blind without the first grain of sense..."My golf buddy uses that website company", or "my 20 Group chairman recommends the third party lead company we just signed", or "It was hard to make up my mind on which new CRM company to call so I looked at the ads in the back of Automotive News/the NADA directory/fill in the blank source" and other oft-heard stories are nothing close to strategies and typically are doomed to fail.

Car dealers need to start looking at track records, company histories and more before even considering where their hard-earned money goes. The majority of dealership spends are not very different today then fifteen years ago. Yes, some are doing thing very differently, it's just not the majority or even close to parity. Stop and ask yourself "do I really need to buy this service or product?" and then ask others than are AND are not for at least some benchmarks and common sense. And start realizing that companies incapable of answering the tough questions before you sign are almost always less equipped to do so after you sign. Which is harder: losing money due to an improper commitment or not making enough from not executing well with the right one? Either way.... this is not a new issue!

The ongoing rants and discord due to one service provider are well warranted, regardless of which position you take (or none at all). At the same time, they are absolutely no surprise at all. If anyone had done their homework, they'd realize that what is being asserted should not be a jaw-dropper to anyone. People just followed the bounding ball/shiny object without question... this is not a new issue!

Sometimes we're fortunate to be in the right place at the right time. Another ongoing issue in our industry (while not as hot as the one just mentioned), as well as every other industry, is what's happening to search - predominantly Google - around content propagation/redundant content, link building and more related to site quality and ranking. Back in 2006 the company that employed me was warned by Google to stop syndicating their content all over the web as it was lowering quality scores and other factors that would affect their traffic and revenue. Fast forward to today and website and SEO companies are struggling with issues under Google's Panda initiative? Who thought that it was a good idea to have 100 blogs all over the country with the same exact content, let alone 700 auto-related websites with the same car reviews? And what to think of website companies that give 40 pages in your site the same name and/or metadata, let alone missing metadata??? The reasons to not go with these strategies are over six years old...this is not a new issue!

If more businesses (dealers) would be willing to listen more, learn more, challenge more and measure more, we'd all be a lot better. And dang it so would our websites. Stop following the heard, start paying attention and making sense even if it hurts a little or you're not in the "product of the week" club. So much $10 garbage gets purchased by $10,000,000 businesses every day it's amazing, but.... this is not a new issue!

 

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

 

p.s. I just checked the market value of this post and you're not paying enough!!!!!

 

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

Dennis Galbraith
Good points Gary! In the 90s, I was still buying newspaper, TV, and radio ads from people whose kids went to school with my kid or the dealers' kids or grandkids. Many dealers bought radio and TV spots without ever checking to see what actually ran or when, because they trusted the people they bought from. Local vendors don't have many dealers to sell to. If they poisoned a well, it hurt for a long time. Today, dealers are called on by hundreds of national vendors. Any one vendor can upset thousands of dealers and still have thousands more to sell to. Retailers can not afford to buy based on personal relationships alone. Dealers must understand the value proposition and see monthly reporting that confirms that value is being received. As Ronald Reagan used to say of the Soviets, "Trust, but verify." It is also vital that dealers know how to align their operations to get the most out of the products they buy. Fully 17% of all used vehicles listed online by dealers do not have a single photo. That is not the vendor's fault. Change is hard, and change at the pace experienced in automotive marketing is more than some people want to step up to, but it must happen. I used to say "If you don't like change, go work at the post office." Now that won't even work. The past decade has taught us all how rapidly we must learn to adapt. As you say Gary, "This is not a new issue."
Dave Erickson
Great point Gary about deals being willing to listen, learn, measure and challenge. At our dealership we've been having some of the same convo's. It's amazing to see how many compelling solutions there are and how blindly sucked in you can be to a solution/vendor just because it's always been there and what you see once you begin to ask why? The challenge I find inside is getting everyone inside the dealership to do the same. Which of course I'm sure you understand what I mean in your own dealings with potential clients. A sorta of half curious look, but nothing happens because the comfort zone is all too cozy.

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