Change is the Only Constant
The automotive industry has weathered more changes than any other in the last one hundred years. That is something nearly everyone agrees upon. There are literally endless articles about the “new automotive consumer”. Terms like customer journey, customer experience, or digital consumer appear in nearly every market strategy article written for dealers. And yet, overwhelming evidence of the need for change has never done much to impact the human tendency to resist.
It is also true that we often live with problems so long we don’t recognize the solutions right in front of us. Or maybe we’ve stayed so focused on the problems, we don’t think change is possible. Henry Ford once said, “Don’t find fault. Find a remedy.” And isn’t that what the best leaders do? They don’t waste time focusing on mistakes made or who should get the blame. They just get busy breaking down barriers and finding remedies.
For the purpose of making sure we’re all on the same page, I’ll give you the Cliff Notes version of seven big changes in the market impacting the bottom line of dealerships of all sizes. [I’ve linked you to at least one source for each item just in case you need proof.]
1] The automotive shopping journey begins online.
2] Mobile shopping behaviors are increasing every year.
3] Customers visit fewer dealerships before buying.
4] Customers talk about their dealership experiences online…good or bad.
5] Hardly anyone wants to be called on the phone.
6] People don’t want to submit leads online, and when they do, remember number 5.
7] Buying a car takes too long and people want it to change.
Getting Digital: Shoppers Start online, Use Mobile Devices and Visit Fewer Dealerships
This means you need to have a website that answers the questions your customers are asking online. You need basic SEO in place to appear in search, and you need to be priced competitively for your market. In other words, you need an online showroom. Address this challenge by taking a minute to view your dealership through your customer’s eyes. Go online and search for a vehicle you’ve got on the lot. Who else has one? How does your vehicle information and presentation compare to the competition? Video walk-arounds are great attention grabbers and hosting them on YouTube can boost your SEO. Does your site look good on a mobile device? Is it all pop ups asking for information you want or is your site focused on answering the questions customers ask? Viewing your online presence in this way, and making changes where needed will positively impact your business.
Customer Experience: Making Changes Your Customers Want, Even When it Hurts
Customers live both online and in real-time…the line between digital and in-person is rapidly disappearing. It is no longer a matter of if your customer will talk about you online, it’s when. That is, if you are lucky enough to have captured their attention in the first place. This is where so many dealerships are missing the boat. You don’t know all of the customers you missed because your inventory doesn’t reflect the market you are in…and it changes faster than you realize. Are you looking at the market around you daily? What are the dealerships moving more metal than you doing? Do you have a strategy for improving your presence in the market? What needs to change? If you don’t know, acknowledging what you don’t know is the biggest step toward uncovering the next right thing for your business.Change requires us to wake up and risk something...and it might even hurt a little. #automotive… Click To Tweet
Who’s In Your Corner? Change is a Team Sport
Change requires us to wake up and risk something…and it might even hurt a little. Great leaders know they need a team to accomplish their vision. The most successful choose their advisors and team members with intention. Gather your key employees and talk openly about what’s working and what isn’t. Be open to hearing their opinions. For more ideas about how to leverage your people more effectively, take a look at the previous blog post and make changes if needed. Next, evaluate your vendor relationships. Are you happy with the level of service you are getting? Who are the vendor partners you value most? Are there changes you know you need to make and are avoiding? If you find yourself dreading interactions with people you are paying to help your business, it’s time to change. If you don’t feel valued by your vendor partners, don’t let that residual resentment trickle down to your customer. Take charge of your dealership and look for alternatives if necessary.
If You Can Only Be Good at One Thing, Let it Be Change
In his book Motivated to Succeed, author, coach and leadership expert John Maxwell said, “You don’t have to love change to be successful, but you need to be willing to accept it. Change is a catalyst for personal growth. It gets you out of a rut, it gives you a fresh start, and it affords you an opportunity to reevaluate your direction. If you resist change, you’re really resisting success. Learn flexibility, or learn to like living with your failures.”
There are things we control in life, and things over which we have no control. Identifying both things can make all the difference. Change is the result of identifying that which is in our control, and making a decision. Like Henry Ford, we must stay “remedy-focused” and intent on adapting, in spite of our own tendency to prefer what we know for sure.
If you need help identifying the changes you need make next, we would love the opportunity to join the team in your corner. Our team has a passion for helping our dealer partners reach and exceed their goals. If you’d like to speak with one of our customers, we have several who would be happy to share their stories with you. Take the next step toward change and call us at 1-844-484-6283 or email firstname.lastname@example.org