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The Ground Is Shifting — Again

Article Highlights:

  • What does the "new" New Normal in automotive retailing look like?
  • The right technology platform and tools make the difference.

The past eight years since the recession have put automotive manufacturers and retailers to the test. Overall, they’ve passed with flying colors. The industry sold a record number of cars and trucks in 2015, closing the year above the 17-million vehicle mark — a level not seen in 15 years.

But now, the ground is shifting again.

Dealerships are flourishing on the one hand, yet facing more and different pressures on the other. Vehicle sales soon are likely to plateau or even dip. Dealership net profits continue to get squeezed. Regulatory oversight continues to intensify. And consumers continue to expect a more rewarding car-buying and servicing experience.

Welcome to the “new” New Normal in automotive retailing. It will challenge dealers on a number of fronts, in spite of near-record industry sales. But it also will create opportunities.

How to respond?

The conversations I’m having with dealers continue to touch on three topics.

 

Driving Out Inefficiencies and Ineffectiveness

The dealers I talk to tell me how much they’re drowning in physical paper in every department. It’s more than costly and inefficient to their business; it also reinforces the worst perceptions of a dealership for consumers.

The aim of what we call “eWorkflow™” is to help eliminate the inefficiencies and ineffectiveness in the dealer’s processes that come from constantly handling physical paper. eWorkflow changes how work is done in order to change how customers are served. It delivers improved productivity and efficiency for dealership personnel and an improved car-buying experience for consumers.

Implementing eWorkflow takes the right technology platform and tools that enable dealers to organize their deal-related information and documents into a comprehensive, manageable electronic portfolio across the dealership. For the consumer, eWorkflow can make the car-buying process faster and more efficient.

 

Turning Information into Business Action

Dealers are also recognizing that Precision is the new North Star of automotive retailing. It’s no longer simply about gathering customer information; it’s about taking more deliberate action with the customer — and for the dealership — tied to the information.

By using the right technology platform and digital tools, dealers can more effectively reach each consumer with more Precision in delivering relevant information at the right time in the right channel so that consumers as well as dealership employees can respond in the most favorable, advantageous way.

 

Capturing More Opportunities

Dealers know well that they invest a considerable amount of time and money in reaching consumers, capturing their interest, and engaging them in purchasing and servicing a vehicle. Now, more dealers are asking how to take that next step in serving those customers, while also adding new profit opportunities.

With the right technology platform and tools, dealers can create new profit centers and re-cast more familiar ones by implementing more compelling and efficient ways of presenting the dealer’s products and services to customers — everything from promoting vehicle accessory sales to delivering more complete Service CRM for “recommended but declined” services and vehicle repairs.

 

The Opportunity Ahead

The world ahead for dealers will be increasingly demanding with higher hurdles for compliance, operating profit, and an enhanced consumer experience. The most successful dealers are looking to technology to help them respond and to make their business more efficient, effective, and, ultimately, more profitable.

Reynolds will have solutions on display at the 2016 NADA show proven to help dealers achieve those results. I encourage you to stop by the Reynolds booth to learn more about why Reynolds, and why now.

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Former President, Reynolds and Reynolds

Ron Lamb is the former president of Reynolds and Reynolds (2010-2017).

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