Oh no. I’m a customer.

If one were to ask me what was the biggest life-changing event I’ve experienced I’m not sure I could say it was meeting my better half. Although she is certainly life changing, she wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for me becoming a car dealership customer.

I was born a car dealer. My Grandfather founded the family’s dealer group 15 years before I was born and long before I was concerned with lease penetration. His Grandfather founded the family’s department store 70 years before that, and he ran a retail establishment after earning his citizenship. Retailing has been the centerpiece of my family’s income for somewhere around 150 years. We would like to go further back, but there isn’t a lot of known history from our European days. From what we do know, we’ve been pretty good at it. I wasn’t just born into a dealership, I was born into a profitable business with all the wonderful perks.  That’s right… “perks” = silver spoon in my mouth.

In 2010 I became a technologist. It turned me into a customer. I had to negotiate car deals and actually use a service department. For shame! Scheduling appointments, and all that consumer-grade garbage, was suddenly a practice I had to succumb to. Peasants ride in shuttle vans! I miss the D-tag that could be magnetized to the back of whatever fast car I liked that day. Dealership coffee? That’s for freeloaders!

I was a customer, a bottom-feeder. And wow, my eyes were opened.

The customer has no tools.  I feel like a tool.We lowly customers have to use the combination of a manufacturer and dealership websites to even get into the ballpark of what a lease payment might look like. Neither of those digital retailing places are good at providing any more answers than what one could get out of those old printed brochures.

Trying to figure out how much a service is going to cost – ha! That’s a laugh.

What rates are available? Shoot, I’d settle for just seeing what banks a dealer might work with.

Can I add an accessory to my car? Sure doesn’t seem like I can with an OEM part.

As a consumer, I can only assume the car industry is not interested in us. It is interested in shoving us into the basement with an ample diet of gruel. This changes in the store. In the dealership I can get all the prices I want and ask all the questions I need answered.

That is not what I want. I want to do this on my time, on my device, inside my own online tool. I want my answers in your website. Your website is not for you dealers, it is mine!

In my opinion this is the biggest miss of all car dealers and manufacturers right now. Everyone seems too concentrated on fancy metrics and getting “smart” that you’re totally missing the fundamentals. Give the customer the information he or she needs to make a decision. Give us content!

Dealers, you do not need to wait for some technology vendor to do this for you. Just because you don’t have a DMS feed of your service prices does not mean you cannot have some basic service prices splattered on the service page. Specials are not the answer either.

If you have a fantastic payment presentation that you can customize for each customer (guess what, you do) then change your website’s calls to action to be “Get your Payment.” Send them a PDF of your worksheet. Yes, this is a little extra work, but it is what the customer wants.

What I’m saying is your website sucks. But you have all the power to fix it right now! Just get off your ass and do it. I guarantee the vendors will follow your lead and make it easier, but you need to figure out what your customers want first.

Originally posted on DealerRefresh

Written on March 6, 2019

Written by Alex Snyder

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