I hear it all the time: dealers calling for a solution to make car buying a great experience, speed the sales and F&I process, and reduce expenses. Likewise, consumers are asking for a better experience, as they have not felt the trust when it comes to purchasing a vehicle from a dealer. With all the disruption at play in the industry right now, everyone is hunting for a new solution.
I don't agree with all the "death of the dealership" stories. I do believe the current dealership sales model will change in the coming decade, but that doesn't mean it's time to mourn. Rather, it's time to embrace the opportunity and follow the consumer into a reality where the majority of the car-buying journey takes place in the digital world. The opportunity is to seamlessly connect these increasingly important online storefronts to the in-store experience.
In January, the annual NADA convention likely will be dominated by new iterations of technology to make that connection — to make car buying easier and "hassle free." It's important, though, to put these technologies into perspective. Don't get me wrong. Technology can and will play a significant role in improving the car-buying experience. It can give you, the dealer, the ability to fight, not against but alongside the innovation and disruption. But these new technologies are only tools to help address the bigger issue of giving the consumer a fast, convenient and transparent shopping experience.
That's why this opportunity is not only about technology. The new model for auto retail isn't simply about taking another step forward in online sales or inputting consumer information online. This new model is about entirely transforming the way you approach the business. It's about rethinking how you sell a car; how you attract and retain the best talent; how you structure your business to better fit the future of auto retail. If you have simply checked the box by having an "online lead handling department," you likely have missed the point.