Billions of dollars are spent by dealers every year on technology and marketing products. Dealers are called/visited by scores of vendors every month. Meanwhile, technology and digital media is evolving so rapidly that last month’s fabulous new solution can be this month’s Edsel. So, how does a dealer wade through all this to make the right decisions for his/her store? The best way, of course, is to talk to one’s peers. And 20 Groups are terrific outlets for this. But those meetings are not 24/7 and, unlike consumer products, travel or restaurants, dynamic user reviews of vendor products are not rampant on the internet, in fact, they barely exist. Dealers simply have very few outlets for user reviews.
There are magazines like this one that do a great job of reporting on new solutions and practices and provide dealer points of view, and dealers should search through automotive publications for information on solutions and best practices. But we believe that, in addition to the trade media, dynamic real-time dealer reviews submitted head-on by those who have spent time in the dealership with the product are critical to the health of our industry. But how are dealers supposed to do that?
At DrivingSales, back in June 2008, we created a vendor ratings platform that enables dealers to review their solution providers. Why? Because we wanted to create something that was unbiased, vendor-neutral, and an easy way for dealers to share their experiences so that their fellow dealers who have to make million dollar decisions on a daily basis have an objective and dealer informed source—sort of a 20 Group for everyone. Our goal was to provide honest, objective reviews on a platform where fellow dealers who have the same concerns, and carry out the same responsibilities, could share and we also included as part of the platform a system for validating every review so vendors wouldn’t game the system. No one else in our industry is doing this.
In order for a platform like this to work, however, we need dealer participation. And we have been very lucky, as thousands of dealers have submitted reviews over the years in categories such as ILM, call management, SEO, and many more. Each review adds value that helps their peers make those real-world decisions. And, today, we are making a call for thousands more so we can expand the number of categories in sync with the expansion of channels that technology is expanding into such as mobile apps, geo-fencing, the cloud, and more!
We invite all dealers to visit the platform when they are making their solution-provider decisions and then we ask them to take a few minutes to let their fellow dealers know how the products and solutions they rely on are working in their dealerships.
We know this process works; user reviews are driving improvement and innovation. In fact, every month vendors contact us to tell us how they are using dealer feedback, through the reviews, to build better products. And dealers are using it to make better buying decisions. Just as consumers are rating and reviewing their experiences at dealerships, we encourage dealers to take a few minutes and leave feedback about their vendors on DrivingSales.com. Each verified review helps move our industry forward, helping dealers and vendors alike meet the demands of, and reap the benefits of, innovation.
One part dealer operator, one part tech geek and full-time auto industry innovator, Jared Hamilton is the founder and CEO of DrivingSales, a professional network, which serves the auto industry with dealer-driven news and information, online training, and performance data.