Is Your Dealership the Lance Armstrong of the Auto Industry?
Lance Armstrong and all his sponsors wanted everyone to know he was a winner. Seven consecutive wins of the Tour de France bicycle race. Wow that’s some record. And the fact that he overcame cancer and attained those victories made a compelling story for everyone to believe in.
Then it all came crashing down! He finally admitted what his teammates had been saying for years. He cheated by using performance enhancing drugs. Looking back now, we have to ask ourselves, “Was it worth it?” There is nothing wrong with competition and winning. Both are part of our everyday lives. It certainly feels good when you win, but if the “win-at-all-costs attitude” seems to overrule your internal integrity meter then you have to ask if you are missing the point.
If a vehicle manufacturer (OEM) says they sold the most cars in North America, but later it comes out they fudged the numbers…are they still Number One? Is a vehicle best in class if the window sticker says Estimated Highway Mileage: 40 MPG, but later it’s revealed most customers will never get anywhere near that mileage?
If auto dealers use a customer rating or review process that allows them to manipulate the system so only good reviews appear, does that really make them the top rated dealer in the market?
Today there seems to be a pervasive mistrust of most institutions by our society. And based on the behavior of our elected officials, companies, and supposed professionals it seems many institutions have given us a lot of reasons not to trust them.
The good news for me is that I am an eternal optimist. Where others see doom, gloom and a continuation of bad habits formed over decades; I see opportunity for people and for our industry to wake up and make different decisions today!
The day of the instant-on 24/7 internet is now with us. Our mobile devices and tablets have put all the knowledge of the known universe at our fingertips. Do you want to know the color of George Washington’s eyes? Just do a quick search and you will see there are multiple answers showing they were green, blue, or light brown. I said you have answers at your fingertips, I didn’t say there were always the right answers.
Consumers are tapping into the “social crowd” and looking to see what their peers have to share about local auto dealers. If a dealership website has nothing but all glowing customer testimonials and not one itsy bitsy negative comment then consumers know the dealer is not being honest with them. When the consumer visits other review sites and sees a handful of negative comments it confirms to them that they cannot trust information on the dealer’s website.
People know that no one is perfect, but when a person or business makes a mistake do they correct the situation and make it right? That’s what customers want to see. They are looking for independent third-party validation that a dealership and their people will provide a good if not great buying experience. With standardized websites dealers don’t have many opportunities to stand out and consumers see the same copy on all the dealer sites. Unique content including “transparent reviews” from a trusted source help rebuild relationships with customers for the long term, extend profitability and create unique marketing advantages to connect with new prospects. Are you really an honest auto retailer if you use a customer testimonial process that can be manipulated?
In todays connected world, it’s no longer possible to have a gap between what you say and what you do. Everything from the call center to the service department to the advertising focus must support a company’s positioning. It’s not just about having a consistent message, but it plays to the real and perceived culture of your company.
Mark Dubis is a 26 year + veteran of auto retailing, finance and marketing. He is the cofounder of Carfolks.com an open-source marketing conduit for auto retailers, manufacturers, and vendors. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 216-712-6712.