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5 Business Lessons from Netflix

Pile of CD disks
Article Highlights:

  • The leader in online streaming brings innovation and new experiences.
  • How a streamlined business model can put you ahead of the curve.

Despite entering the market after Amazon Video, Netflix is the leading online streaming provider, holding 87% market share[1]. Why? Netflix continues to innovate and bring new experiences to consumers. The automotive industry can learn from their success since innovation and streamlined experiences are key for today’s consumer.

Here are a few lessons from Netflix for your dealership:

Streamlined Business Model

Netflix got its start by mailing DVDs to its customers in 1997. Users would browse movies online, put in an order, and Netflix would mail the DVDs to the subscriber’s front door. Once finished with the DVD, they would simply mail it back to Netflix. (Like many of you, I was one of those customers.) Then times changed. No longer were we willing to wait for a movie to be mailed when we wanted to watch it right away.  In 2007, Netflix introduced the online streaming service we all know today. This “now” mentality increased their subscriber rate by 283% in just four years[2].

Consider following a similar strategy that streamlines efficiencies and experiences. As Netflix moved from mailing DVDs to streaming titles instantly, you too should consider your manual processes. A lot of today’s manual world resides in paperwork. With an electronic document storage system, you can eliminate the need to sift through paperwork on a daily basis. Digital archives can speed up the retrieval process and improve security. Take it one step further with a tabletop device that creates and stores the entire deal jacket electronically, helping you meet compliance standards and making the process of buying a car fun again. Reducing the amount of paperwork in the dealership can save time, cut expenses, maximize productivity, and provide customers with a streamlined experience.

Individual User Profiles

When Netflix launched its streaming service in 2007, one login corresponded to one profile. This was fine, until you had a family with five kids ranging from 2 to 15. Do you want your two year old seeing the titles your fifteen year old is watching? This led Netflix to create individual profiles for one account. Today, users have the option to bounce between profiles.

Your CRM should be similar. Look for a CRM that can diversify itself based on user. What’s important to a BDC rep, salesperson, and manager are vastly different. Assigning each the profile they need in your CRM will help everyone be more in tune with their day and focus on their task at hand.

Predictive Data

I’m sure you have a favorite show you watch on repeat, sometimes just streaming in the background. Every now and then, I notice the thumbnail photo changes for these shows. This isn’t a fluke. Netflix runs an algorithm to determine what individual users are most likely to click on based on previous or similar behaviors. All title thumbnails are constantly changing as the data continues to grow.

How is your dealership using predictive data? Consider a solution that uses behavioral, transactional, and demographic data to identify likely buyers in your database willing to upgrade to an exact model you need off your lot. These types of data can help fuel predictive analytics  to analyze buying habits and make buying predictions. This will help you turn inventory faster and maximize profits.

Live Updates

Have you ever watched a show with your spouse, but then decided to sneak in an extra episode or two on your own? Or perhaps you started watching a movie on your tablet while on the go, but finished it at home on the living room TV. Either way, Netflix remembered and picked up where you left off in the title.

Fixed Operations involves similar live updates because technicians and parts personnel rely heavily on one another to complete what they are working on. No matter who is accessing a repair order or what department they are in, everyone should have live visibility into the status of every job. Consider deploying a solution that has a forced-march process to record service recommendations and what was approved (or declined) by the customer. The next time an advisor takes a look at the customer’s record, they’ll know how to start or guide the conversation. Parts is similar. If an RO is updated in service, parts personnel should be aware and notified of the change so they can ensure the right parts are ordered or delivered.


Netflix is continuing to work on user security. The company loses more than $135 million every month due to subscribers sharing passwords with other households. This only accounts for 10% of its users[3], but Netflix is preparing to cut down and monitor password sharing in the coming years.

I can’t stress security enough in the dealership setting. Not only should you monitor the data moving between your OEM and third-party vendors, but you should also monitor everyday transactions happening in your DMS. Too often we see headlines of local dealerships finding fraudulent activity. Most of the time it’s someone the dealer never considered a threat.


Are you innovating and bringing new experiences that your customers have come to expect? These business lessons – set by industry giant, Netflix – define the standard of streamlined processes and customer expectations. Take a few notes before it’s too late.

[1] Forbes

[2] Product Habits

[3] US Cybersecurity

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Senior Vice President, Marketing, Reynolds and Reynolds

Kasi Edwards is senior vice president of marketing at Reynolds and Reynolds. She is responsible for all marketing, including branding, advertising, communications, market research, and delivery of dealership marketing services. During her 23-year career with Reynolds, she’s built an accomplished background in sales, marketing, and product management.

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