The Bachelor is a show that should’ve been canceled a long time ago. However, somehow since 2002, this living embodiment of the application Tinder has entertained enough advertisers, I mean audiences, to push on for years. It only took six years to get a Bachelorette on the air, for a more binary look at stupidity. Imagine, now, this next season taking place on the Bachelor or Bachelorette’s actual wedding day. That’s right; our hero is actively shopping amongst new “talent” just mere minutes before standing on the altar. Oh, that would be entertainment. Well, I have some great news! This scenario is playing out, LIVE, at dealerships all across the continent.
What I am alluding to is a phenomenon I’ve witnessed a lot over the years. It’s the act of searching for new solutions before a previous solution has fully proven itself unusable. I’m not talking about continuous improvement initiatives, measuring, making course corrections, and so on. I’m talking about actively looking to replace a solution while the ink is still wet on the paper. It is like shopping for a new spouse during the ring ceremony.
This situation manifests itself most frequently on the softer services. The SEO/SEM companies, the direct mail outfits, and the phone monitoring technologies. The same could be said for Internet sales processes. Paradoxically, these services provide the most data, but are somehow harder to prove their value to the dealership. There’s a cacophony of conflicting noise coming from dozens of sources, including OEMs (and their “hand selected” group of preferred vendors), 20 Groups, and supposedly neutral newsletters surrounded by advertisements. I don’t envy the twenty-first-century dealer.
Life is not TV. We can’t edit out the bad parts, skew the good parts, or boost the dramatic parts. We can’t yell cut and start over again. The Tiffany wedding ring comes with an expense. Just like going from temporary spouse to temporary spouse, continuously switching from vendor to vendor just piles on the expenses.
But, Bill you (deprecating adjective)(noun), this new vendor I found is so much cheaper. I’m just making a sound business decision.
The constant hunting and switching is a tremendous resource black hole. Let us count the ways:
- It wastes time.
All the time spent conversing the idea, arranging demos, coordinating staff, negotiating, training, troubleshooting, complaining, researching for replacements, etcetera ad infinitum, goes to complete and utter waste. As I outlined in a previous post, all of that time leads to wasted productivity, multiplied by every member of the dealership involved, which leads me to…
- It wastes money.
As our pal Ben Franklin said over 250 years ago, time is money. It’s still the same today. All of the time sunk into the quest for an even better solution is time exchanged for selling more cars. All of the time consumed learning systems, which button does what, and what dashboard delivers the most relevant information is time exchanged for properly greeting customers, calling clients promptly, and proofreading emails. That time adds up to negative revenue on squandered opportunities
- It wastes people.
Let’s be honest. The poor schlubs who have to use the moving conveyor belt of ever-changing tools have little-to-no decision-making power when it comes to choosing them. The thought that “basically, it does the same thing” never gets to cross their mind. The decision just happens one day, and they’re faced with a new login, a different training manual, or the face of a new all-knowing “expert.” News flash: the best tool is the one that gets used most effectively. Just as you’d imagine, after a few times, it’s pretty easy to choose highway versus my way.
- It wastes relationships.
It’s business, not personal. Just like on TV. Given that vendor talent exchanges hands nearly as fast as dealer talent, it doesn’t take word to get around. Sure most companies in the automotive space don’t have the constitution to turn business away, but when it comes to the allocation of resources, those dealerships that come with baggage aren’t going to get the best and brightest. Just like a dealership isn’t going to send its best salesperson to talk to the tire kicker who is perpetually “looking” at vehicles just because that customer has nothing better to do (every store has that living embodiment of a distraction). Word travels fast.
That waste is piling up. It’s suffocating the life out of you and your business. It’s time for an intervention.
Take an inventory of the assets you’ve committed to your strategy. As you evaluate each tool, ask yourself, have I committed all that I can to making certain this tool is everything that it was perceived to be? Am I using all of the features to the fullest extent? Have I provided myself and my team adequate time to learn the subtle intricacies of each feature? Did I read the contract, word for word? Did I receive a service level agreement, providing details of uptime and redundancy? It’s probably occurring to you that you’re not giving it 85%, at the most. It’s hard for us to consider, but as decision makers, sometimes we’re the biggest problem.
Turn off the idiot box, because reality TV is not real (except professional wrestling). Instead, take that time to put commitment back into your professional partnerships. Tune out the noise, and trust your instincts that you made the right choices for yourself and your dealership. If you know you did all you can do to make it work, and it’s still not working, then end of the partnership. Time did not heal all wounds. Only then is it OK to tune back in, knowing full well you’ll put 100% into the research and courting phases. Build business relationships that last.
It the immortal words of Beyonce, if you liked it you should’ve put a ring on it.