The Situation: Have you had enough? In listening, informally surveying, and observing what is happening with dealer adoption of vender systems, sales pitches, magazine marketing, and constant conferencing – not to mention how-to articles by eager consultants, trainers, and hundreds of salespeople – one can begin to conclude that dealer management & their team are “maxed out” on the application of technology systems, overnight transformation of their sales teams and the day-to-day management of a typical dealership in general.
Has a “plateau of platitudes & pontifications” come up on the horizon?
Key People Out of the Dealership: Further, it looks like dealer GM and principals have been sending too many key management people to too many industry conferences and listening the too many presentations by too many of the same consultants, trainers, and quasi Ziggy Zieglers.
Who is really selling cars? Have the dealer management teams reached a plateau in interest, needs, and ways to sell, service, and engage the customer? Are there too many vendors, too many sales people calling on them and taking time away from managing the dealership? More so, is it true that thousands of salespeople from a half dozen big vendors like AutoTrader or ADP, & ReyRey are spending so much time in dealerships in their territories that in some cases they are selling cars and writing repair orders in the service department?
Too Many of Most Everything: A growing case can be made that there are just too many industry conferences. AutoCon, Digital Dealer, J.D. Power, Driving Sales, Auto Finance Summit, Remarketing Week, SEMA and MEMA plus regional sessions by Digital Dealers, Internet Sales Group, Joe Verde, Tim Deese, and Leedom and more – All in the span of about 60 days. And now Bobit is planning a super dealer conference next September – all to sell ads and gain conference profits.
Industry Providers are NOT Happy: Reports from every one of them shows growing vendor dissatisfaction, poor dealer attendance, and still more commercial pitches from vendors who must pay-to-say with exorbitant exhibitor fees and sponsorships. Plus, the cost of sending at team to a conference can easily reach $20K or more.
Oops—Not Going to NADA? Now we are hearing that many dealers and industry providers are not going to NADA in New Orleans in January. For dealers, many feel that they have spent enough money and time sending their lead people to some conference for 3 days in Vegas. Some know and we keep hearing that many dealer reps are not attending sessions but on the crap tables or doing things that never leave Las Vegas. Take a look at that Workshops at NADA – many of the same consultants and vendor going over the same content again. We do note that the LED lighting companies got a panel on lighting up your dealership even though they wanted have their own workshop show.
Industry Publications in Peril: Another indication of the plateau of dealer management needs and succeeds is what has and is happening to industry publications: they are “Going South.” For example, the longstanding, almost institutional Ward’s Dealer Management has stopped producing a print version and has gone to delivering their monthly “digitally” on an iPad or even iPhone. Dealer magazine has taken their ad sales in-house to save and keep the commission money for the publishing company. NADA gave up on print publishing two years ago. Leedom has recently let its erudite editor go, and Dealer Marketing mag is more of an advertorial than ever. The reality is that video and editorial content are outperforming banners. Even Internet publishers of e-newsletters are finding the banner ads do not work and that they cannot rely on vendor banner messaging revenue to survive.
Things are a-changing, And we are going to see fewer of most everything—vendors, magazines, sales people, consultants, trainers, and easy how-to solutions, systems, and conferences. Maybe even fewer dealers selling more cars. The ”fit may have hit the shan” and now we are waking up to some major OMGs going into 2014.