CDK's purchase of Auto/Mate may create a major disruption in the dealer management system (DMS) industry. Here is our take. DOWNLOAD
Next to computers, tablets, and smartphones, our cars are often the most technologically-challenging item that we deal with on a daily basis. Every model year brings out new gadgets and gizmos that are designed to enhance, adapt, and often-times engage with other technologies that we carry with us. Tablets are used as owners' manuals. MP3 players have become our stereos. Speakers and mics interact with our phones for hands-free driving. These are the common examples. Today's cars can do so much more.
The advertising on the OEM level often focuses on technology. Why do so few dealers do the same? It's not that they need to advertise the latest advancements to SYNC or show off the technology in any way. That's the manufacturers' job. They can, however, demonstrate that they have both an expertise in making these technologies work for their customers as well as an eager willingness to make it happen.
Many dealers do this. Few market it properly. Many of the car ads we see on television or the internet still focus on sales, price-beating, and gimmicks. What if (and think about it for more than a second) instead of promoting their dealership the same way every other dealership does, they took the path of focusing on their expertise and customer service. What if they weren't just there to sell you a vehicle. What if they were there to help you make it fit in with your technological existence?
It's an idea that was sparked by a friend, Jeff Cryder at Lebanon Ford, about a year ago but that didn't manifest itself in its current form until tonight. I was debating with a friend about his iPhone 5 versus my Galaxy SIII. His "winning" argument that obliterated any chance of convincing him that my phone was better than his: the Genius Bar.
Price is a losing battle in the automotive industry. Most dealers will be within dollars of each other when negotiated down to the bottom line on identical cars. The focus on "we treat you right" is still a powerful message but doesn't quite have the zing that it once did; the number of scandalous car dealers with poor practices has diminished dramatically in recent years and the majority do what they can to treat their customers with respect.
Technology. Expertise. A willingness to help customers get "plugged in" to their cars and take advantage of the tremendous technologies available to us - these are the things that might just work from a marketing perspective. It would be a welcome change from a television advertising perspective. It would be a differentiator at the website level. On social media, it could shine. Now, apply this to both the sales and service departments and I think you might have something.
Would it work? Is it worth trying?
* * *
"Car Technology" image courtesy of Shutterstock.