Years ago, it wasn’t cool to buy all of your stereo equipment from the same company. Your turntable had better have a different label than your receiver, which was different than your speakers, and so on. For those who were real music and stereo experts, you could justify these purchases based on quality you could test. You could actually hear the difference.
Technology, especially in dealerships, is remarkably different. Today, spending the most, having many different companies, or having a sizeable ad budget does little to help the performance of any software. In fact, your dealer clients’ most expensive software desking tool will come up with the exact same payment as one priced hundreds or even thousands less per month than what they spend today.
As an agent or agency owner, technology touches you through the dealership as well. Whether it’s positive or negative is totally up to you. If you are simply a “sign-’em-up-and-leave” agency, technology can help or hinder your sales depending on whether the dealer has the right system. However, if your agency is a committed partner to each of your dealers, you can impact how technology can help you with sales, penetration and, ultimately, mutual profits.
Consider the Source
I am not referring to simply giving away menus. That has a zero-sum gain. As a giveaway, you’ve created no value in the menu and can lose an account simply because someone comes along with a flashier menu. As a partner, you can advise dealers based on what you’ve seen working in your other stores. If the dealer is becoming software poor (paying for redundant systems and software), you can help by reaching out to them and referring them to companies that can help.
In addition, technology is constantly improving and becoming less costly as the improvements are made. With the advances available to dealers of any size, dealers can get technology to adapt to the way they do business rather than the other way around. Many tech companies change dealership practices to fit their technology. That’s backward in today’s high-tech dealer world.
Think about this: Who helped your dealers choose their current technology? The rep for the software company? A dealer friend? Advertising? Those are all great starting points. However, they are not where decisions should take place. The answers to your selection is the No. 1 question that is seldom asked: “How does this piece of software make my business better while interacting with what I already have?”
If that answer escapes you during your tech search, you need to stop looking and find the answer to the above question. How valuable would your agency be if you could provide such information? This is where agents are transformed from vendor to resource. You become a go-to guy or gal for your dealers.
I had a dealer ask me about some different tools and the corresponding software. They were looking for a simple menu, a desking tool and a CRM. I advised them on what something like this would cost as well as what it can do. Should be the end of the story. Far from it.
Because the dealer was comfortable with (or afraid to change) their existing software, that didn’t integrate with anything, they passed on a package that literally would save thousands every month. Instead, they opted for engaging several companies to create a patchwork system that has done nothing to improve their current level of performance.
The single best piece of advice I can give to any agent is to think about the desired outcome first. Then see which vendor can provide the right mix of software to get your dealers to where they need to be. Make sure they have backup and support to make certain those who use the software are fully competent to operate it.
Finally, get proper training — not only on how the product works, but more importantly, train how it will help make more deals, deliver more product, accessories, or whatever outcome you need.