Adapt or Die – Surviving the Technology Storm to Come!

If you’re a dealer who didn’t get to go to the Digital Dealer Conference, I want to warn you. I also want to offer some insights and questions you must ask yourself to survive a storm that’s coming.

After your first conference like Digital Dealer, you probably walk away feeling a little overwhelmed and also convinced that you’ve got to make some immediate changes to your process, your tools or your people to remain competitive and profitable in the coming years. By your 10th conference, you leave less overwhelmed and you feel like you came to a reunion with your automotive family.

So, what does it feel like after you’ve attended your 15th, 20th, or maybe more industry, marketing or sales event?

One emotion I am leaving DD23 with is the feeling of sympathy for those who manage dealerships but don’t know what’s coming. Like a person who wants to weather the storm while a hurricane is barreling towards them at 170 mph, some dealers seem to think, “We’ve been through bad weather before!” That maybe a sufficient response to just a bad weather forecast, but are you prepared for the hurricane?

That’s what’s coming – a big bad storm. And it’s not just any storm; it’s a devastating one that will wipe away you, your building and your business if you ignore it and don’t prepare.

This storm is called Automation, Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality and E-commerce. In this new storm, speed, innovation, and customer experience will be your shelter and your keys to keeping your business. Those who can do it the fastest, in unique ways, and with the least barrier of entry will survive! You must start asking new and bigger questions to prepare your dealership. Even if you don’t have answers at this moment, you need to start thinking about them now.

As a dealer, operating partner or General Manager, you must ask yourself these questions today to start preparing for the storm:

1) How can I move the free-line?

The free-line is the line up to which you are willing to give in order to get.

When I was a kid, getting a free toy in a happy meal was an amazing treat! Today, you’ve got to ask: How can I add more for less to a generation that’s used to getting more and more for free from the world? How do I entice a generation that expects and feels entitled to “free phones”, “free movies” and “free upgrades”?

You’ve got to move the free-line in more creative ways if you want to stay competitive. It could be things like partnering strategically with affinity businesses or by re-allocating your financial resources to allow you to fund your freebies.

2) In what ways are we out-experiencing our competition?

The term “out-experience” has to do with the uniqueness of how a customer is treated throughout their interaction with your dealership. From the initial engagement online, on the phone or on the lot, what do you do for your customers that no one else does? Or no one does it better than you?

Examples are the ease of navigating your online portals, the guarantee you offer your appointments to take away their risk, or a personalized and unique delivery experience.

Experience is what changes customers from mere clients to advocates. It’s what creates the story that they want to share on social media or what will motivate them to tell their friends to come to your dealership for their next car purchase.

3) What kind of hiring and onboarding process would we have to have if after the interview and orientation we were to give all new recruits the choice of 1) 4 months compensation ($12,000) to quit, OR 2) they could officially join our team?

I first learned of this practice from the company Zappos. Apparently, they only want people who are “all-in” and committed to being part of their team for the long haul. So, after the basic training has been completed they are offered two choices: 1) Take a check (equal to 4 months income), or 2) Join the team! Can you imagine?

Why would you even need to think of something so drastic? Why can’t you just keep going with the “swim or sink” recruiting and training approach for your new hires?

Well, to properly execute solutions to the four questions I posed, you need a team that’s committed to your company and your success. You will not survive with a bunch of people who are staring out of the window hoping for a customer to show up. And when they do greet a customer, they do such a poor job that instead of referring friends to your dealership, the customer wants to go on social media and bash you.

You need a sales team that’s committed to your vision, committed to out-experiencing the competition, and committed to offering a unique experience to their customers.

So ask yourself: What if I had a recruiting, onboarding, orientation and training process that was so compelling that I felt confident to do what Zappos does? What kind of culture would I have if people were that committed to being part of my company’s mission and success?

4) What if you sold every car in 1 hour or less? In fact, what if you offered a 1 hour vehicle guarantee to your clients and had to pay $10/minute to them for each minute past the 1 hour guarantee?

Imagine creating a process and guaranteeing the result of selling and delivering a car in 60 minutes or less. What would you need to change to do that? What would it look like if you could improve profit while increasing the speed of the sale?

Time is the new currency! If they are on your website and don’t see what they want, they bounce. Heck, if the site doesn’t load in less than 1.3 seconds, they move on. If they’re at your dealership for hours and don’t have a deal, they leave. Remember, the new generation is deciding who to date by swiping to the left or the right in seconds.

As I said at the beginning of this post, you probably don’t have the answers to these questions right now. And that’s okay. You don’t have to know what to do now, but if you don’t soon, the storm will come, and all you’ve worked for may get washed away.

I help my dealer clients implement or optimize their processes in all these areas: creating unique marketing campaigns, out-experiencing the competition, recruiting and hiring, and finetuning their dealership processes to become efficient and effective. If you need help or ideas in any of these areas, contact me at 612-387-7776 or jon@sellchology.com. I also invite you to google “Sellchology” first to see what I’m all about.

Leave a Comment