If you’ve been in the retail automotive industry for any length of time, you’ve seen how inaction is thought to be the best course of action. With today’s evolving retail world where consumer’s can order oil and battery changes on Amazon, I’m sure there are many more changes that Amazon is hatching for the automotive industry. If your attitude is that you are making money right now, so why change, it could lead you down a path of no-return!
Consumers are changing — these days they not only vote with their wallets, they use their new-found megaphones of social media and rating sites to hit back HARD when they are not satisfied. Industry disruptors know this and are entering the space with new technologies in communications, payments, marketing, sales processes, financing, and overall experience improvements that leave any dealerships which continue to do it “like they always have” in the dust.
I advise you to pay attention to the trends that are happening in the retail world because, inevitably, those trends migrate into the automotive space. Even Tesla stole their “showrooming” practice from the retail furniture industry. Consumers are all about using technology nowadays. How many people do you know that DON’T have a smartphone? And yes, they’re not afraid to use that smartphone to price shop your competition while standing on your lot – or in your parts or service department. And they’re certainly not afraid to leave if they are dissatisfied with the experience they are having.
So, by continuing to do “things like you always have,” all you’re doing is telling consumers to take their money elsewhere. A large American retail icon, Toys ‘R Us, just went down in blazing flames because it failed to adapt to retail industry changes. Instead, it counted on its brand name to carry the stores. But it didn’t. And it’s sad. They had an opportunity to make their stores a toy adventure place for kids and parents, making it a destination of experience, excitement and hands-on fun for their visitors. How many toys would kids have left with if they got to play with other kids and experience 20-30 toys while visiting? Instead, Toys ‘R Us remained a warehouse of boxed toys customers could look at but not touch, while competing with online toy stores that show detailed pictures instead of sterile boxes and provided hassle-free delivery.
Change is happening all around us. Businesses that have failed to adapt to consumer needs in experience, convenience, efficiency and transparency are going away, right before our eyes.