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There is the age-old saying that “you can’t believe everything you read”. Well, that thought process has expanded. With the glut of internet “consultants” in the game, I believe you must add “don’t listen to everything that is taught”.
There are two widely-held, overly-preached beliefs that can cause irreparable harm to your ecommerce objectives and bring about online irrelevance. Dealers that adopt these incorrect ideas must have a death wish. Instead, disregard these poorly-conceived trainings and stand strong – Charles Bronson-style. Unfortunately, these are not “old-school” tactics that these “trainers” are teaching, but instead, they are new-school philosophies oversimplified. I will detail these two bits of bad advice. When an “expert” walks into your store spouting this nonsensical bologna, do yourself a favor and stick to your own beliefs…just like Charles Bronson.
First Commonly-Held Belief to Avoid – Dealers must go back to the basics regarding their internet initiatives.
“Back to the Basics” will kill any automotive dealership attempting to stay ahead. There is no reason to scrap all efforts and begin again. “Back to square one.” I’ve heard dealer principals relent. Where is ‘square one’ anyway? Is it a city? Is it a state of mind? No…it’s the unemployment line.
Granted, you may need to bring aboard some refresher trainings to remind your staff of fundamentals, but far too often, dealers go back to the drawing board and “start fresh”. In this difficult economic market, only the forward-thinking dealers are seeing vast improvement – and do you know the one thing they aren’t doing? They aren’t starting over from scratch. Even with potential flaws, they are moving forward, placing emphasis on their strengths and minimizing their weaknesses. They are dedicating a greater portion of their advertising to digital efforts. They are going to battle with the staff they have. They are sticking with the solutions that have brought them “only this far”.
Any legitimate consultant will tell you that it is likely not the solutions or staff doing your dealership a disservice, but instead, how they are being utilized and managed. Personnel and products seem to be the first on the chopping block when sales become stagnant. Instead of going back to the beginning and bringing in all new CRMs, websites, staff, and strategy, it is much smarter and financially-viable to focus on using all of these resources to their greatest capacity. Very few website providers or CRM solutions will tell you that their systems are being utilized to their fullest by dealers. If they do tell you that, I would drop them because they probably offer far too few features to sustain economic growth for their dealer clients.
Don’t go back to the beginning. If you are holding steady in this market, continue to dance with the people that brought you there. It only takes a little dedication, perseverance, and time to weather the storm and come out looking sunny.
Second Commonly-Held Belief to Avoid – Internet buy-in should come from the top down.
This was very true four or five years ago, but times have changed drastically. Not too long ago, some dealers were still wary to dedicate large portions of their ad budgets to advanced technologies and programs, but not any longer. Now, a good majority of dealers have seen some success and growth from their digital marketing efforts and are looking to grow that area of their business. Now, this philosophy has shifted.
If you want to push ahead and achieve online profitability, the internet buy-in must come from the bottom. This is not to say that a sales staff is the “bottom” of the dealership environment. They are the front-line of your store, but all too often, they do not have the decision-making power to change the culture of a dealership. However, if an entire sales force was dedicated to improving online, then they will easily be able to elicit buy-in from the top. No owner would turn away a crew that said “Golly jee, we’d really like to have some software that allowed us to reach our customers electronically on a massive scale using multi-media and enriched content.” I think most owners would have a grabber (i.e. heart attack) if their staff actively sought more internet engagement with their customer base.
Obviously, dealers still must understand the online metrics that are to be tracked and attained. However, the only actionable buy-in needed from above is hiring candidates with an inclination to achieve internet connectivity. With the right, forward-thinking, “connected” sales force in place, the culture of the dealership will naturally change for the better.
To that end, avoid listening to those so-called “auto consultants” who only teach the basics. You are actively reading an online resource as we speak. You are well-versed on the basics. You don’t need to go backwards, but advance. You mustn’t put the weight of your dealership’s virtual world on your own shoulders, but look to the stars in your sales staff to lead the way.