I just got back from speaking at the Virginia Auto Dealers Association Convention held at the Ritz in Amelia Island, FL. I was originally scheduled to fly over on Sunday, but with Hurricane Debby lurking off the Gulf Coast of Tampa I decided to drive over at the last minute. It was a rough trip, as it took me 6 ½ hours to make what is normally a 5 hour drive.
Even with the bad weather they only had one dealer not make the trip and it was because he flies his own plane and thought better of flying into a hurricane. He’s a very good decision maker.
The three speakers on the agenda for the Monday session were me, Mark O’Neil from Dealer Track and Scott Painter from True Car. Interesting group wouldn’t you say?
Prior to Dealer Track, Mark O’Neil spent a number of years at CarMax and was a key innovator in the development of what CarMax is today.
You may also be aware that Scott Painter has been on the hot seat over the last year with dealers, state associations and regulatory bodies over the True Car approach to selling cars. True Car has made major changes in its program, and has hired a number of experts to help fix what’s wrong. They have also added an advisory board filled with some of the top experts in the field to assist them with their mission. I don’t think they have it figured out just yet, but you have to give them credit for getting "humbled up" and trying to right the ship.
Mark and Scott are excellent speakers and handled themselves well. Going from their speaking delivery to mine was like going from sitting through a Catholic Mass and then walking outside falling into an all day Southern Baptist Revival under a big tent. A bit of a contrast to say the least. I’m not saying that’s a bad or good thing either way. Just different.
The title of my presentation was "The Past, The Present and The Scary Future." Most of the focus was on the scary future. (The is a presentation your 20 Group or state association needs to hear.) When you shake it all out, the common theme by all three of us was that the consumer wants you to simplify the selling process.
They want to do more of the sales process online. They want a simple app they can access on their portable device that will allow them to select the car they want, and the price and payment they want to pay. They want it now and they want it fast. (Isn’t that what we all want?)
Now for the really scary part. Someone, maybe you, is going to figure out how to get it done. When it’s finally done it’s going to turn the automobile world upside down. Did you know that the new app "Draw Something" had 12 million users within the first 10 weeks? Apps are here to stay and they are growing at a pace that boggles the mind.
Recently one of the more forward thinking public auto groups purchased 7,000 iPads for their employees. Do you think they see the future? How about you? So, at your business today how many of your staff members have a company furnished iPad? I doubt I’m going to get very many responses on that one especially since, believe it or not, some of you still don’t have computers on the desk of every sales person.
If almost all products and services can now be sold online through the use of a mobile device what makes you think that automobiles will be an exception? Is it the new car smell that’s missing? Someone will figure that out in the not too distant future as well.
You can be a leader or a follower. Leaders take chances; they move forward and that’s why they win. Followers sit on their hands waiting for the next great thing to happen. By the time followers try to get on board, the train has already left the station.
Go Angry Birds, that’s all I’m gonna say. Tommy Gibbs