Dealer Management: Stay Paranoid, Fix People & Image Issues Now

telematicsThe Situation:  So far, things are going well for automotive dealer owners and management in 2013.

The Real “However” Situation: There are issues, practices, policies and attitudes in your automotive dealership that need to dealt with now – this year – while sales and profits are pouring in.  You will be well served if you do.

Significance:  Not a time to sit back, get over confident, take profits and let things just happen.  It is a time to stay paranoid, proactive and prepared.  Things are a changin’. Only the Paranoid will survive (Andy Groves’ book for you to find and ingest).

List of Dealer Fixes– What do dealer-retailers need to fix or get going right now?

  1. Sales Force Development:  Empower sales leadership with comp plans and a career path for recruits who receive education, mentorship and cultural change. Stop the turnover, failed performance and defection to the dealership across the street.
  2. Women on the Team:  Women see bias in every industry and do have it better than before but no consensus of where to from here, particularly from dealers and even NADA & AIADA.  Full-time women earn 79% of men and suspect it is worse in dealerships. Women have proven that they can and do strike a balance. (Read “Lean In” ASAP by Sheryl Sandberg)
  3. Build a Key Management Team:  Empower and recognize their skill set.  Seek to have less reliance on consultants, conference speakers, and reps from your software systems providers.

The Unlimited Opportunities for Dealers Who Keep Pushing the Envelope:

  1. Become Transportation Centers:  Dealers can and almost must become the focal location of all or most of the site, sales, service, supply, sourcing, and management of the client’s vehicles. (Not customers anymore).
  2. Capitalize on Millennial Mania Wake up to the generational shift in the way young people look at cars — they want you to provide them with the ability to move about.  Dealers may not be selling them a car but will involve offering then a “constant-car” service 24/7 including fixing the monthly cost and providing the “use” of more than one kind of vehicle.  Your clients are becoming “Users” not Owners.
  3. Kill “The Deal” Mentality:   Stop making deals and snuff out that macho attitude about always “Getting a Deal.”  Rather, you want your client to tweet, text, and tout your vehicles, great service and awesome people.  They really want to brag about how good you are.
  4. Stop Calling Yourself a Dealer:   You are an automotive retailer and no longer a “dealer” because with the Internet and knowledgeable buyers there is no such thing as a “deal” anymore. (For the dealer or the buyer).  Besides what is a “deal” anyway — badgering and haggling to gain a few hundred dollars off while burning the bridges to a great relationship with the dealer sales, service, and general management that you really want to have on and at your side for next 3 or more years as you “use” your vehicle to move about safely and reliably.
  5. Be a Role Model for Ethics & Civility: In many communities, automobile retailers are still the paragons of respect and confidence.  However, most of the public still regards a dealership as one of the last places they seek to go.  All vehicle retailers and OEM should take a page from what Tata has done in far off India as far as making ethics and sharing a part of the dealership culture.
  6. Fix the Vehicle Sales Process Forever:  Bring speed, trust, and transparency to the whole process of acquiring the “use” of a vehicle including sale, servicing, and supporting its owner-user.  Structure and setup your sales channel so that your dealer team can get people in and out of the dealership in an hour.  It can be done if the process is put in place and discipline and direction are paramount.
  7. Show Your Prospects that Your Team Knows about Showrooming:  The practice of shopping for and examining  merchandise or cars in a traditional dealership “showroom” without making a purchase and then shopping online to find a lower price or better inventory at another dealership. Cell phones and 4G technology have provided the means for this to be going on in your dealership at this very moment.  Be aware, watch for this going on and develop a “strategy” with your sales team to make this phenomenon produce sales conversions whether the prospect leaves your showrooming on the Internet or in their trade.
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