Dealership Success: Innovation, Your Buys, and You

An Article From the Customer Success Department, Work Truck Solutions

Innovation: The creation, development and implementation of a new product, process or service, with the aim of improving effectiveness or competitive advantage, while maintaining or increasing efficiency.

In short, the sole purpose of innovation is to increase production while decreasing expenses.

Innovation has been the trend in all industries.  It marks the difference between the $2,100 first digital watch in 1972 (that translates into $12,000 today), and the $1,000 computer/camera/clock/phone/gaming-console you have in your pocket.  If there was no push for innovation, some of us might be reliving our glory or shame from last year’s Tri-County Pong Tournament.

This trend of what we could now call hyper-innovation has been especially true for the automotive industry, and particularly within the last two decades.  But what if that all stopped?  Suppose for a moment that Ford simply stops innovating in their vehicle designs and marketing.  No more money or brainpower put into making any part of their vehicle lineup stronger, safer, more fuel efficient, or better in any other way.  No more market research to determine their customer’s needs, translating into a progressive lack of understanding of how to get Ford into their customers minds, driveways and shopyards.  The short-term cost would be absolute stagnation.  Eventually, they would be dominated and pushed out of the industry entirely by other OEM’s determined to stay both relevant and profitable.

How many of your buyers purchase the newest model with the newest technology every time their buying cycle is up?

Very few, I’d wager. There are probably many different reasons why, but likely some combination of cost, existing satisfaction, complacency, and direct opposition to having to learn and implement something new.  For many, change is bad; it can replace the comfort of the known, with the fear of future loss and failure.

For those buyers that do consistently embrace the newest innovations, are you confident that they understand and use these new innovations properly to meet their needs without unnecessary additional cost? Consider, for example, the business owner that is “sold” on moving from diesel to gas.  Lower up-front costs coupled with the significant increase in power transmission in gas engines is an attractive sell.  But if their service area is almost entirely in hilly or mountainous terrain, diesel is probably still the better choice.  Sure, gas can now save money over diesel in long-hauls over flat roads, but diesel is still king where low-gear high-torque is the norm.  A well-intentioned but misinformed mistake like this could cost a business owner tens of thousands of dollars or more in gas and unfortunate repair and replacement costs.  Blind or uneducated leaps into “new tech” can cause big problems.

Does your dealership consistently embrace or shy away from innovations in technology and marketing that support the operations of your dealership? Why?  What are the results?

At the dealership level, innovation comes in the form of the vehicles you sell, as well as everything else that helps you sell them – POS systems, tools and equipment for the Service Department, lighting and interior design for the sales floor, internet connections, phone systems, marketing tools, CRM’s, buyer-facing websites, etc.  In business, remaining relevant and profitable is incumbent upon embracing – and correctly applying – innovations that affect what you sell and your ability to sell it.

If you are completely on top of the new technology and marketing options, are you confident that your staff is getting the most out of them? Spending money on new technology and tools is not enough, just as it is not enough for your buyers to simply purchase or include the newest thing without understanding how properly to use it.

If it is not in your current business model to embrace innovations in technology and marketing tools, are you satisfied with the results year over year?  Known and unknown obstacles aside, would catching up on the newest advancements serve you and your customers better?

If the purpose of innovation is to increase your results while decreasing your expenses of time, money or any other resources, is it not in your best interest – as well as your customers’ – to have, understand, and use effectively all of the best possible tools available at the moment?

If you feel your providers are the absolute best for your needs, then it is important to be sure that you have and understand the best that they have to give you.  Check your voicemail, check your email – they are likely reaching out to you constantly to update you on new and better offers for you to consider, as well as to update you on technological improvements to the platform package you already have. Reach out to your providers.  Make sure you and your entire team is trained and uses these tools in a way that consistently does you better than simply justifying the expense.

And finally, if you want to get on that leading edge and you think your current providers can’t or won’t get you there, perhaps it is time to start shopping.