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Keith Shetterly

Keith Shetterly Owner

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Industry Wake-Up Call: A Script Won't Help

 

Is anyone reading this old enough to remember travel agents and travel companies?  The Internet eventually killed them and rolled them all into Expedia, Priceline, etc.  I met a travel company owner back when Priceline was just taking off, quite a wake-up call to the travel industry, and he was buying up companies and agents as fast as he could:  He was convinced he was going to win because "People still want to buy from an agent."  He went out of business and lost a bundle.
He missed the wake-up call.  Sound familiar?  Read on.
Now the smart phone is killing the PC.  HP and Dell, the last titans of PC land other than Mac, are failing--and they even ousted the guy who smartly wanted to sell the PC division of HP last August, replacing him with a PC-fan CEO . . . who now faces a quarterly debacle that shows the guy she replaced was right (click here for that story).
In our industry, we have billions of dollars in brick-and-mortar facility investments, protected (at least) by franchise laws that were intended to prevent OEMs from getting a dealer invested into a dealership location for millions and then deciding for their own purposes (or ignorance, to give that possibility) to set up a same-make competitor--or a "company" store--right in the same area.  Or even across the street.
And so we have some breathing room that PCs and travel agents didn't have, in large part for us because of these laws.  Which room cannot and will not last.  Maybe 5-7 years more?  Who knows.  It ain't forever, that's for sure.  And the consumers--misled, or right, or some mix of both--will be who rise up against the laws.  This will happen as surely as every other change that folks didn't want to see--the dinosaurs, I'm sure, did not understand their demise, either, no matter how it came.
And we're not alone.  Amazon,etc. online retailers are already using Walmart, etc. as brick "showrooms" for their online products, forcing brick-and-mortar retailers to re-asses their pricing.  
That's an online margin attack that we've already seen the first volleys of in our own industry:  Anybody remember CarsDirect.com?  Welcome to CarsDirect.com Version 2.0, also known as TrueCar, which has stated on numerous occasions that they intend to move from car pricing towards aftermarkets.  Even if that agenda has changed or ever does, that doesn't mean that there isn't some Version 3.0 out there lurking.  Because there is.  The Internet marketplace guarantees it.
So, what do we do?  Those dealers who can will evolve to be customer-centric as in no other time in history.  Real customer service, not just CSI massaging.  Real reputations, not "BuyYourRep.com" crap.  Smarter advertising, online and offline, targeted to CONVERTING the in-market shoppers.  To getting the great sale now in return for a great buying experience.
Be smarter.  Stronger.  Faster.  Better.
And then, no matter the changes, you won't just survive, you will prosper.  And flourish.  And eventually stand, as we do now without even thinking about it, on top of miles of rock containing the bones and fossils of those who did not make the evolutionary step.
You're getting that industry wake up call now.  And you better answer with your best, not with some dusty old pre-Internet script--but with a strong, new voice to your future.
"Ring!"  And how do you answer?
by Keith Shetterly
Copyright 2012 All Rights Reserved
www.keithshetterly.com keithshetterly@gmail.com 
Chris Costner
Great post Keith, and you are so right. Answer with your best. I wonder how many dealers out there even know how their phones are being answered. I would venture to say many are answering the phone and "winging it" with every potential customer that calls. Anyone else agree?
Brady Irvine
I agree completely. I'm great at my job and I still catch myself answering questions and giving information on the phone more often than I book appointments...
Bryan Armstrong
Selling the appt. is about setting the stage that you understand we are in a New era of Automotive sales and can provide a seamless experience. Validating information the Consumer already has is just one way to win that trust. The problem most encounter is that they Validate but fail to ASK when they can meet to provide that experience.
Keith Shetterly
Here is exactly the value in posting articles in several places: This is, so far, the only spot that the actual phone call and appointments came up. You all make valid points, which I love--but the point I have isn't to answer the phone better, though that's always a great thing, my point is we are, as an industry, missing a WAKE-UP call about modernization of the customer's entire experience. And how to sell to them how they WANT to be sold to. Thanks all for these comments, however, because we all learn something!! I for one love DrivingSales for that reason and more.
Chris Costner
I understand Brady; I too can become so much better. Consistency is certainly key and having the ability to get back on track with the client once they take you off. It definitely take practice but I am not a believer the human brain can do it "from the hip."

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