2016 has come to an end. For some, it was a banner year full of amazing sales and advancements. For others, it was a rough sales year, and one full of nervous anticipation for the future. No matter how you felt about 2016, it’s almost over. And now we get a fresh start with 2017. But what will this New Year hold for us? We asked some of the industry’s top influencers what they predicted would be ahead for 2017, and here’s what they had to say.
Gary May, President of Interactive Marketing and Consulting Services:
1. Incentives will rise in 2017 and pressures on OEMs will result in more focus on traditional media for Tier 1.
2. Tier 3 will still struggle with digital due to pervasive platforms and middlemen, while a small increase in leading dealers will invest properly in digital to take market share.
3. Online purchase technology and adoption will continue to move forward, slowly.
4. Data and data ownership/sharing rights will be a powder keg behind the scenes.
Aaron Krane, Drive Motor’s CEO:
1. Millennials will gain marketshare and gravitate towards on-demand car-renting and purchasing experiences, which will influence auto-dealers’ behavior/offerings.
2. Consumers who don’t like being “desked” will spend less time inside the F&I manager’s office, especially as auto dealers will sell more F&I products online -- and fewer offline. With more transparency and digital transactions, everyone wins. In a hassle-free environment, consumers will be more likely to self-upgrade.
3. Large tech companies like Amazon and Uber will begin to encroach on dealership marketshare and customer relationships.
David Kain, Kain Automotive President:
1. I predict that 2017 will be the expansion of more self-service on dealership websites, where consumers are able to move further in the purchase process before interacting with a salesperson at the dealership. This will require innovation by website providers and trust by dealership management and financial institutions. At present, dealership websites are more of a barrier to self-service or digital retailing than a catalyst.
2. I predict that 2017 will be an opportunity for dealerships that focus on the Professional Development of their Sales Team Members and move them into more entrepreneurial roles where they are responsible for their own business development in harmony with the Dealership BDC's and Internet Operations.
3. I predict that 2017 will be a year when attribution becomes readily available and true sales influencers are revealed forcing passive influencers to rethink their business models so they can really prove their value in Digital Marketing.
Richard Rikess, Auto Consultant:
1. The Autonomous Vehicle won’t happen in 2017. Pretty much all I hear people discussing is the autonomous auto. While I am cautiously optimistic about this game changing event, it will not be happening in 2017! So, let us who are not involved in the production and distribution of this era changing vehicle focus on what we can impact this year. While others are chasing shiny widgets and the next great thing, when can we go back to basics and just start becoming professional sales consultants again?
2. Digital Marketing will be important, but not without proper sales techniques. SEO/SEM/Rep Man/Social Media, how do any of these matter if we can’t do a proper meet & greet? If we can’t take a phone up and turn into a sale? If we still do not respond to emails by answering the consumer’s questions and providing value? When a football team is in trouble, they always go back to the blocking and tackling. That’s all I want for 2017, I don’t want the latest and greatest algorithm to beat Google, and I don’t need to undercut my competitor’s price by fifty bucks! I just need to do a better job taking care of my customer base and my prospects!
Ron Henson, Director Of Operations DrivingSales University:
1. SAAR for 2017 declines to 17.2 ruled by higher interest rates that won't be offset by lower fuel prices.
2. Nissan surpasses Honda and becomes #2 import brand trailing only Toyota.
3. Usage-based auto insurance will increase steeply in 2017 as insurance companies adopt a model where customers are charged based on driving habits as recorded by telematic devices.
4. THIS IS A BOLD ONE: Lenders will begin to allow multiple borrowers on car loans in order to adapt to the current ride-sharing trends.
Allen Turner, Owner of Allen Turner Hyundai
1. I am not alone in thinking that interest will continue to rise as will consumer confidence over the next few years, however that will not be a huge number.
2. I believe that Trump will be business friendly and that will help create jobs helping us to sell more metal.
3. I believe that buying services such as True car and others will be less of a factor as they are not new anymore, and more dealers realize they are not our partners.
4. Used cars will continue to be the go to department as manufacturers have less opportunity for "take always" in that area.
5. As we have seen Beepi shutting down outside of California, I am encouraged that a locally owned and operated, bricks and mortar, car dealership still brings value to the community and its consumers. I predict that this trend continues and manufacturers and customers alike realize we bring value and service that helps them.
Joe Webb, DealerKnows:
1. While I don't want to make full-fledged proclamations of prognostications, I will say that I have several "hopeful predictions" for automotive retailing in 2017. As searches are trying to match customer intent more and more at all phases of the shopping funnel, dealers will continue to draw back budget from 3rd party resources in hopes of off-site leads, and dedicate dollars to driving all means of traffic (digital or otherwise) to their own website and storefront. Given this trend, more focus will be put on technology that will assist their own website (and staff) with valuable customer engagement.
2. I would like to see a greater emphasis be put on developing seamless interactions with customers through new website transactional tools, video platforms, and SMS texting capability embedded throughout sites. With the new embracement of communication methods and transactional technologies, dealers must look inward at their own personnel to ensure they have the skill sets and training in place to deliver these efficient sales processes.
3. Sadly, I think dealers will still struggle with the transition between delivering a great online experience and the less than ideal customer experience the showroom provides. Hopefully, more transactional technologies become utilized at the tier 3 level before tier 1 begins instituting policies that some dealers are not yet ready for. Differentiation of the dealership brand will become harder to clarify as more dealers invest in themselves, and I see only dealers truly leveraging the power of video able to stand out online.
Do you agree, disagree? Have some different predictions of your own? Please let us know in the comments below. And if you have your own predictions for 2017, please comment by January 15th for the chance to be involved in one of our breakout sessions at DSES.