I visited a client at their dealership this past week. After my full day review which included time to meet and train their staff, I was asked by the Dealer Principal: "Just How Far Behind Are We?".
This is actually a common question that I get asked when I visit new dealers or speak at 20 Group meetings. There is no simple answer to this question and it may not even be a relevant discussion.
Running a car dealership is not a sprint but a marathon despite the 30 day time clock that employees are measured by.
With that in mind, with the proper "training" and "patience" any dealer can win this business marathon.
I have witnessed impressive turn-arounds in 3-6 months because the dealer principal made the decision to change, adapt, and dominate their market once again. Old dogs can learn new tricks despite the familiar adage.
The Internet is a great equalizer. A single point store can actually have a more efficient advertising and marketing strategy if the right processes are created. Success starts at the top, so the dealer principal and General Manager's "buy in" are key to leading their market in a ZMOT world.
Each dealership has their unique challenges and selecting the right coach will make all the difference in the world. It is ironic that for as big as the automotive retail industry is that there are not enough qualified trainers to assist dealers with the ever changing demands of the marketplace.
For some dealers, they have the right structure and processes in place but their marketing and advertising strategy is not aligned with today's online shopping patterns. This is a much easier resolution to get a dealership back in the competitive race.
In other dealerships, the structure and processes are broken. In these cases, all monthly advertising and marketing investments are negatively impacted. This is more common than most dealers and 20 Group leaders would like to admit.
Solutions for these dealers can include hiring new personnel or creating in-store training programs. Progress can be made with realistic timelines, a clear commitment from the executive team, and a financial investment that reflects the urgency of the current needs.
A common area for intervention is hiring a consultant to create an effective structure for the dealership's BDC which includes writing processes for effective lead handling and follow-up. Popular industry consultants like Cory Mosley, Joe Webb, and Joni Stuker are coaching dealers on BDC strategy with great success, but they face an uphill battle.
Often they are brought in to fix this one area of dealership operations when the entire operation needs a structural review.
Dealers only know what they know. As I share opportunities with 20 Groups, there are always light bulbs that "go off" when I introduce new strategies. Here are some examples how dealers get behind the curve:
So, instead of worrying how far behind you are, it is best to get an honest, comprehensive third party assessment of your operations and marketing strategy. Dealers are comfortable with hiring third party companies to mystery shop their phone banks and Internet BDC processes (i.e. Phone Ninjas).
Few dealers have had the courage to allow someone to audit their end to end business processes. That's fine for most consultants because they only can work with one dealer brand in each market, if they don't want to cannibilize their own work. Are you open for an audit?
As PCG Digital Marketing increasingly is being hired for systemic audits for dealers, the opportunities that are uncovered are really breathtaking. Meaning, that new insights and strategies are discussed and implemented rather quickly to increase their bottom line numbers. Improvement can be seen in 30, 60, and 90 days. That is just the start.
In addition to the services PCG Digital Marketing offers, industry leaders such as Dennis Galbraith, Paul Potratz, and Christy Roman have been able to deliver outstanding insights to dealers with a complete review of the marketing and digital operations.
I also do not want to leave out the importance of proper sales and motivational training for your team. Leadership and clarity is a rarity in business today! Sales strategy coaches that include Jim Ziegler and Grant Cardone always add value when they visit dealers.
But keep in mind that any training investment should be part of a comprehensive plan and not just to put a fire out. A two-day sales seminar will not have the lasting results that a marathon runner needs unless accountability and support systems are in place
One of the common outcomes that these audits produce are a new set of reports that allow dealers to monitor, measure, and benchmark their Internet investments and processes. It's ironic that dealers have detailed measurement reports for sales and service revenue but few concise reports for their "Internet Dealership".
A detailed "Internet Composite" report for 20 Groups may be the "holy grail" for dealer principals to see how they are doing compared to their peers. That may not be too far away as business leaders work to create benchmarks for our industry.
So, before you start worrying how far you "may" be behind, I recommend that you make sure that you have your house in order and that you have the ability to accelerate past your competitors.
Get the structure, process, and strategy in place, then worry about being #1 in your market. If you want to schedule a full review of your business operations, just give me a call or reach out to the fine consultants listed in this article.
If you enjoyed this article, please remember to click on the "+1 button" and Tweet it out (below). I hope to see many of you at the 2012 DMSC Conference because the new ideas and strategies that will be introduced for the first time will be impressive.
Brian Pasch, CEO
PCG Digital Marketing
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