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Future Headline: Disney and Google Partner to Buy 100 Auto Dealerships

(I recently entered a time warp which took me two years into the future.  While there I read this article in the March 2016 issue of Automotive News and wanted to share it with you.)

This week Google and The Walt Disney Company announced their partnership to establish a new company which has arranged to purchase 100 new car dealerships in five states.  They plan on announcing these locations over the next month as legal documents and filings are completed.

The franchises include domestic, Asian, and European brands and are located in large markets or within 30 miles of metro areas.  Disney long known for their focus on the customer experience saw an incredible opportunity that auto dealers failed to capitalize on, even though many dealers completed the Disney Experience Training programs.

Don Duckhouser, Chief Communications Officer for Disney said, “In our opinion it was pretty clear that the majority of auto retailers were hiding behind technology and not focusing on extending relationships to build networks of customers and prospects. Their high employee turnover and lack of respect for their associates indicated to us that implementing a “Disney Process” could retain the best employees, provide a great work environment and still provide personalized service to the auto buying public.”  He continued, “If we can get folks to pay $100 a day to ride a few roller coasters and have them wait in line for an hour for a four minute ride, then selling cars and trucks and providing them with a stellar experience is a no-brainer.”

Ken Searchwright from Google Automotive Marketing division shared his vision of the new stores; “We have designed a simple, friction-free, transparent process that will excite customers, attract a new class of employees, and restore the reputation of auto retailers. Our marketing will be local, organic, socially conscious and not reliant on price or promoting ridiculous trade-in values.”

He continued, “While our operations rely on the latest technology the work environment will be very attractive to employees, offer a powerful home/work balance, and create generous incentives for revenues from repeat customers, their friends and family members. A ramped up level of networking will replace most of the traditional advertising and all media messaging will be consistent across all channels.”

Existing media properties and online channels of Disney and Google will feature interactive advertisements promoting these dealerships; and other tie-ins will be rolled out over the coming year. Naturally Google's team will handle the search optimization and online ads.

When this reporter spoke to auto industry executives many would not speak on the record, but one individual shared, “For years we have tried to encourage, push, and cajole our retailers to improve their sales process and employee retention.  Many just didn’t seem to want to move in that direction, so as manufacturers with a brand to protect we are aligning with companies that value the customer experience and transparency.” 

Article written by Mitch McFly (mcfly@autonews.com
(note- this email will not exist until two years from now)

Jay Prassel
Great stuff! We have seen Paradigm shifts in the auto industry for years now and the question remains, "How well do you embrace change (and technology)? Thanks for the great article.
Chuck Barker
Brilliant Mark. Great word picture for what is going on currently and where it should be heading. Thanks for the article.
Chuck Parker
One might say that the existing automotive distribution system or channel will have to change dramatically for Google or Disney to bother with buying dealerships. However, dealerships may not be dealerships in the next 5 years. Then their involvement could be significant. There is nothing innovative in automotive marketing for G or D at present in automotive distribution but we perhaps should watch what Tesla is doing and how technology and data from Google and other big data companies is changing and is going to change the franchise model and how it operates.
Arnold Tijerina
Now, THIS should scare a bunch of dealerships! (were it true) Love this!
Robert Karbaum
I think if either Google or Disney got into the game it would be subscription base autonomous vehicles. Both businesses excel in selling services, not products. For Disney, they could also input a "glitch" where you are locked in the vehicle as it drives directly to the nearest theme park.

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