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This is a Time for Change

From the years as a CRM developer and marketer, I understood the importance of generating a lead and selling that lead. Of course our well being is tied to the word “sell”! But the focus has to change from selling one vehicle to the subsequent “sales” and revenue generated from those deals. In short, one should not kill the “golden Goose” but nurture it and generate a great relationship to assure she will lay more eggs and does so regularly.

And, how do we do this? Of course the first answer is that we bought the best CRM in the market, we have trained our sales staff and BDC and they are “handling” our customers.

Of course “handling” something or someone does not necessarily indicate “handling with care”, which is not the case most of the time, when talking about customer handling through CRM, by sales staff.

And, if a customer is unhappy and would like to have a dialogue with someone other than salesman or service advisor! We all know how available the management staff of a dealership is and how readily the customer can get through the latest phone trees of the new dealerships to actually have a dialogue.

On top of that we all boast our beautiful “plastic websites”. How much business is that really giving you? Who is telling you that it is producing result? Your vendor? And most importantly if your site is so result producing, how come you have to pay for your leads? And, if your CRM is so good in delivering marketing results, how come you have so many other vendors who market for you? Have you considered asking yourself why is it needed for an auto dealership to have so many vendors just to operate? Have you considered looking into the duplications of efforts for which you are paying?

Why is it that auto dealerships have to reach out for so many services to so many vendors?

First reason is that the mentality of “I can do what I want and you can do nothing about it” perpetuated and initiated by the DMS providers. Of course they have enablers also and who they may be but the OEM. You see it is impossible for a new DMS provider to sell to a dealer unless they were first certified by their OEM no matter how good that product may be. So, there might be an state of the art DMS that can outdo and deliver most services a dealer needs, but he will never be able to get in front of a dealer until he is certified by OEM, and the OEM employees who perform those certifications will ask why I should certify you as you have no dealer of my type? Do you remember the “chicken and the egg”?…….

So, now the same process of must be certified before I buy is also applied to CRM and website; effectively eliminating the right and power of competition within this industry. For those who are certified vendors, this is a haven of opportunity, for the end user and new producer of tools and services a nightmare!

Who is to blame?

The OEM people are under bombardment from many vendors who would like to sell. The dealer the same and he also has to comply with the requirements of his OEM and others. The vendor, well he is raking in and really has no incentive to produce better product as the door is closed to innovation. The only possibility of hope belies with the dealer, he usually has the resources to acquire or “test” new products and he also does have the ear of OEM if he saw a tool worthy of consideration and his well being is really tied to seeking and finding new technologies or services that improve upon the old. There are many dealers who are outstanding in this realm and my hat is off to them but they their ranks are few! So, if as dealers we want change, we must also agree to change our mindset. If your company is important to you then, realize that it has to change with times and that means so do its service providers. The following are some recommended steps!

  1. All processes should be regularly up for review
  2. All tools should have a method of measurement specific to your company
  3. Those measurements are to be reformed periodically
  4. I know there are many vendors calling your dealership and you don’t have time to talk to them! But at least put a process of vendor data collection in place so that you don’t miss the diamond in the rough! And realize that most innovations start small and don’t have the resources to climb out of the “noise and clutter” and many times it is the job of the listener to make that distinction.
  5. Don’t ever forget that someone helped you get where you are and you must pass the baton. Your survival depends on it.
  6. He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.” – Abraham Lincoln
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