(This blog was originally written for and published by DealerRefresh)
You are the top dog in your primary market area. Your dealership sits atop the sold unit charts in your region month in month out. You only use the most popular technologies. You only work with the big-box automotive consulting vendors with the most clients.
It has been this way for quite some time. People know you. Other dealers are afraid of you. You act tough and throw your weight around because you are a Zabka dealership. You’re on top of the world. Vendors want to be with you and other local dealers want to be like you.
But are you sitting on a throne of lies, Zabka? Could your popularity and sales volume just be a mirage? Are you resting on your laurels and assume everything will be like this forever? Will working with vendors simply because they are the “biggest” truly serve your dealer as the market moves forward?
William Zabka (aka Johnny Lawrence from the Karate Kid) had it all. The girl, the friends, the cool toys, the popularity… and it was all taken away when Ralph Macchio (aka Daniel-son) swooped into town with his moxie and top-notch trainer and took it from him. Johnny Lawrence didn’t need to be so hard-headed.
He could have looked within himself and challenged himself to get even better. He could have adapted to the Miyagi ways, but alas, he kept on with his same old training regimen.
He never tried to change his brand for the better. The playing field was changing, but his game wasn’t. Well, Danny Larusso sure showed him. Are you ready to be competitive in an online battle if another Internet-focused dealer starts creeping up the charts? Or are you planning to go through the motions when you hear the scariest of words “Daniel Larusso is going to fight!”?
I want to tell you… Zabka dealerships can be made to look foolish. How? All it takes is a Macchio. One Macchio dealer, a new kid in town with a good training regimen, progressive technology, and the willingness, riskiness, and heart to push their digital efforts can single-handedly knock you down to size and steal your trophy.
If you are a dealership that currently dominates, you need to ask yourself if you do it because you are constantly evolving… constantly improving. Or, could it be you are getting by with the same old traditional marketing, Internet department structure, and online presence that you’ve always had?
If so, you need to make a change in how you attack the marketplace. You need to recognize that those vendors, or large automotive consulting companies with the most clients – those most popular that you’ve had in place for years – may not always be the best to lead you into the All-Valley State Sales Tournament of the future.
You need to stop listening to the old-school Sensei sitting behind the sales desk at your store and bring a little Miyagi into your life or you are going to lose your stranglehold on the top spot…quickly.
Now, if you are the little guy, the smaller dealership that has always been a middle-of-the-pack store, wouldn’t you like to beat up on the big guy? Just once? Turn on the shower and rain down on their party? You can.
First know that an “all-purpose” vendor might not always be internally striving for progressive dominance, but simply their own “sales dominance”. You’ll realize this when the personal attention they provide you starts lacking and no matter how much you need their help, their support departments show “no mercy” to your needs.
Do you really want to partner with an automotive consulting firm or marketing vendor interested more in their own sales progress than the advancement of their own technology? There are several vendors out there who are not trying to achieve one-size-fits-all goals, but rather simply dominating one specific segment of the market.
Understand, it may be better to get in bed with several Masters of individual topics than choosing just one vendor who is a Jack of All Trades, master of none.
The technology you choose to invest your dealership’s future with is just one element to your fighting stance. You will need someone to train you in both the wax on/wax off fundamentals as well as the crane kick specialties needed to be competitive on the mat.
It takes a great trainer, solid fundamentals, and a dedication to online advertising. You need to go all-in on your digital strategies. Push yourself to compete in the search engines. Enhance your amount of consumer reviews and testimonials. Improve the way you communicate with others.
If you focus, Danielson, you can win this fight. It takes discipline, drive, heart, and guts. Fear does not exist in this dojo. It isn’t easy, but it is more fulfilling than getting stepped on the rest of your life. Be a Macchio. Take the challenge.
Get away from doing what you’ve always done and train until you are good enough to compete with the best. I urge you. Become a Macchio dealership and you can be triumphant over the regional competition.
(With that said, I think it is necessary to write that I am a major Billy Zabka fan in real life. I mean… I want to hire him to work at the DealerKnows automotive consulting booth one day. And Ralph Macchio is great too. I know KK and My Cousin Vinny by heart.)
(all images within this blog are from the movie Karate Kid and are being used solely to emphasize how much of a fan I am, and not because I own these images.)