Much auto-industry time is spent discussing emerging digital technologies and which of those technologies dealerships should focus on. This is an important discussion, which, by dealer request, we will spend considerable time on at our 2011 DrivingSales Executive Summit (DSES), with topics ranging from social media to mobile to new technologies for accessories sales to analytics and data.
There is another area critical to technology discussions, however, one that generally receives scant attention, but that the dealers deciding the agendaof the DSES have raised their hands high on: How to execute on technology. The ‘how’ is just as, if not more, important as the ‘which’ of technology to these progressive dealers—as it should be. But for many dealerships, this is not top of mind, which is why we plan to shine a bright light on the importance of execution at the DSES.
Executing on technology seems like a no-brainer, right? But, even though servicing dealership technology is where the secret sauce of its success lies, dealerships tend to take a passive approach, particularly on their foundational technologies: CRM systems and website platforms. On the surface, in a busy dealership, a passive approach to CRM makes sense; after all, these are expensive automated tools whose vendors boast about how ‘turn-key’ they are; so, why not just sit back, focus on selling, and let them work? The answer is that these systems hold a treasure trove of un-mined information that can be used to proactively develop relationships with customers through data-informed, nuanced communications that will resonate into loyalty, car sales, service appointments, etc., far more successfully and, ultimately, cost-effectively, than boilerplate templates sent on standardized timelines.
The same holds true of a dealership’s ‘turn-key’ website platform. The platform itself is only the beginning. Ask yourself: Are you optimizing your website to create the customer behavior you need? Have you tied your keyword strategy into your website conversion optimization? Are you attaching creative from your OEM to work with it? And this is just the beginning of the questions you should be asking.
For full execution, processes need to be revamped, employees trained and managed, even pay plans, in some cases, have to be edited for a technology to take hold inside a dealership. At minimum, the dealership needs to wrap its brand around the technology.
Remember, you have multiple options to execute, and learn to execute, on these technologies—either through outsourcing or, if you have the right structure and resources, by doing it in house. Another option? Attend a process-driven industry event like the DrivingSales Executive Summit, where dealers come not to be sold a technology, but to understand in what direction the market is moving, to outline the most aggressive operational plan in the industry, and to learn to execute on the most advanced social media strategies, web strategies, and technologies.
However you do it, be sure to look at all your technologies and ask yourself: Am I servicing this technology in tune with what my customers are doing, to increase traffic, upgrade conversion, generate more car sales and drive loyalty?
The dealerships that do this successfully will progress with greater profitability through 2012 and beyond and raise the bar for the rest of the industry. Want to hear more? Register for the DrivingSales Executive Summit at www.drivingsalesexecutivesummit.com/2011_registration.
Jared Hamilton is the founder of DrivingSales.com, the world’s largest automotive social network. For more information, visit www.DrivingSales.com.
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