Every year at the National Automobile Dealers Convention, the exhibit hall is full of Customer Relationship Management and Business Development Center companies displaying their wares. Dealers spend massive amounts of money in a frenzy to buy the “magic button” CRM or BDC solution for many reasons. Unfortunately most of those reasons aren’t valid. Putting great tools in the hands of below average people with below average processes and little to no accountability equals a waste of money.
Let’s look at some of the underlying reasons why dealers buy these tools. Dealers see their dealer friends, fellow twenty group members and competitors buying these tools and feel the peer pressure to “keep up with the Jones’s.” Dealers start reading trade magazines and attending programs where a lot of the conversation is around customer relationship management and feel the force of momentum around this subject.
Unfortunately, I have been in thousands of dealerships across the country and can say without a doubt that in the majority of dealerships, between 80-90% of CRM’s or BDC’s functionality is not being used. Great technology and great tools alone do not move a traditional dealership into the new age of selling. In most dealerships with CRM tools, incremental sales and service numbers are not improved and massive amounts of money are being wasted.
In almost thirty years in the business, I have witnessed the majority of dealerships putting massive amounts of time, energy and money on acquiring new customers and giving only lip service around the importance of existing customers. All research, data and plain logic shows that putting the emphasis on your existing customer base first will reward you more than any other single thing you can do.
I conduct interviews with dealer’s everyday and it’s hard to find a dealer who actually knows what their dealerships repeat sales numbers look like. Almost none of the dealers I interview can tell me what their sale to service retention percentage is. Very few dealers can give a detailed explanation of their CRM process and how it is carried out and even to what degree it is carried out. Embarrassingly, very few dealers can tell me specifically and convincingly why a customer should buy from their dealership versus their competitors.
The traditional entrepreneurial dealer focused only on push driven sales approaches is dead. Dealers have to be better business people than ever before. Gone are the days of being successful in spite of you. The margin for ignorance and operating error is slim.
Bury your old dealership and operating approach as you know it. Take the time to step away from your dealership and evaluate what you are doing versus what needs to be done. Evaluate the 4 P’s of your business – People, Process, Product and Positioning. Evaluate all the tools and technology you use and the effectiveness of those tools and the way they are being used or most likely not being used. You must integrate people and technology together into a cohesive sales and marketing process.
Many dealers will need to come to the conclusion that they will never be able to set up a traditional process with people carrying out all the functions they want them to. Most of your salespeople and managers are not capable or willing to do all the things you want them to do. The truth for those dealerships is that they never have and they never will. If this is your dealership, you may have to let go of your ego and design a process with job descriptions that can actually succeed. You may decide to remove some of the traditional functions and narrow the focus of each person on your team. I have often heard dealers say, “I expect my managers or salespeople to do these things.” In return, I always ask the dealer, “Do they, and if so how often?” Most of the time, the answer is either no or very little.
It’s very clear, gone are the days where a dealer can accept that expectations are not being met. You must either improve your people and accountability of those people or completely redesign your dealership with processes and benchmarks that can and will be executed and monitored. I invite dealers to stop playing victim by blaming your people for not executing. You hired them, you set up the process and you created the accountability or lack of it. Therefore, it’s your responsibility and your job to fix it.
To receive a F*REE Special Report titled “New Generation” and a series of articles around The Death of the Traditional Dealership” and “The Death of the Traditional Salesperson” email me at email@example.com with “New Generation” in the subject line.
Mark Tewart is a sales and automotive industry expert. Mark is also a professional speaker, trainer, consultant, entrepreneur and author of the best seller, How To Be A Sales Superstar. Mark is a member of The National Speakers Association and The Authors Guild