Disrupt or be Disrupted is the topic of a great article in the Fortune Magazine June of 2016.
The essence of this article is the following sentence.
“Accelerate speed and drive competitive advantage through digital transformation”
A survey of hundreds of thousands of autoWALL client members on the question, “what services and technologies does your dealer use that are most important to you”, was responded with these simple two characteristics.
1- Systems that save me time
2- Systems that allow me to communicate easily and seamlessly with the critical employees at the dealership.
Now, if you want to stay in business and flourish there are a few rules that you have to follow, they are as follows.
1- Listen to your customers needs
2- Implement processes and tools that get you a way to address the client needs
3- Do all of the above in most the cost effective way possible
4- Remember that at any moment other companies may wake up to your “customer’s needs” and can come up with better tools and services to nab your customers
These “Better Tools and services” are usually called “disruptive systems”. Think of Uber, people used to wait for a cab at a curb or have to call the night before and sit in a dirty yellow cab. No longer is that necessary, you can call an Uber from an app on your smart phone and have a cab in ten minutes and also provide a job and revenue to anyone who might like to join Uber and drive part time to supplement their income or work full time. Both sides of the equation win. The customer is provided an easier better way to get a ride and every day common people are provided more income. Of course, you can say that the Taxi Cab driver loses here and the answer to that is yes, and I am sorry for that, but why the Taxi Cab companies did not come up with an APP that could call a cab in ten minutes? I guess the answer is they were sitting on their laurels!
The auto industry is in danger of this also. There are many places that “disrupters” can hit and the easiest and the most critical is the service department. You see most service departments are run still using old technology which, in all fairness to them, is pushed down their throat by their OEM. A great article written by the insightful “Alpha Dawg”, Jim Ziegler was published in Auto Dealer Magazine on June 2016 addressing this issue eloquently and is very much worth reading. Appointment setting tools of the 1990’s which require 14 clicks to set an appointment, and no way for a customer to directly and easily communicate with critical employees at the dealership other than through the dealership phone system. They are told that a CRM, actually builds a relationship with customer, when in reality it is only a database management tool. Websites developed in the early 2000 by Cobalt are still touted as the state of the art tools.
At some dealerships service department employees are now handed a tablet, but the software on the tablet does not provide systems that enable the customer and employee to save time and communicate. Technicians are not at all part of most systems even though the technician diagnoses a lot more issues that could end in more sales and profitability in the fixed operations. The customer is usually not notified of those issues until later, requiring another trip to service department and further cost resulting in an unhappy customer.
So, there is some very cool technology that could handle all these needs and keep the dealership service department from becoming obsolete and disrupted. There is online payment system tool for a service and interactive multipoint inspection tools where technician, parts and service advisor can communicate with the customer. These tools enable the customer to directly text the status of an issue with their car to a road side assistance center. All of these tools keep service departments in the Millennium, keep millennials happy and increase customer satisfaction. This relates directly to customer retention and ultimately increases revenue. The greatest advantage of these tools is that they make the dealership the “disrupter” not the “disrupted” and improve revenue, which is the ultimate goal of any company.