Another great year in the books for the Western Canadian Dealer Summit that brings three provinces together to educate and entertain car dealers. So what did we learn? Here is the highlight reel:
- Claire Thomson from Google Canada gave us an overview of the newly released Think Auto Data. Overall auto shoppers are taking 9 days less to move from the thinking to buying stage and they are still not happy with the timeliness and quality of responses from dealers. Claire reminded us that people are busy and that as a dealer you need to get it right online with the first interaction. Mobile experience is still important and dealers need to focus efforts on mobile bid modifiers and location and call extensions.
- Dealer Principal Tom White Jr. gave a top notch presentation on people, process and culture. At his dealership in Wichita they have flipped the org chart upside down and believe in what Tom has dubbed “servant leadership.” Tom spends 80% of his time getting to know his people at their activity-based dealership. (A Subaru dealership that happens to be 4th in the country while being located in a market with less than 500,000 people.)
- Charlie Vogelheim from Motor Trend Audio gave by far the most animated and perhaps most honest presentation on the internet, 3rd parties and vendors. Apple Car Play and Android Auto are coming and all the big manufacturers have offices in Silicon Valley now. Disruptive technology is on its way to the auto industry, get ready!
- Jeff Cryder formerly of Lebanon Ford talked about online reputation management. The best question that he posed in my mind was Are your reviews a reflection of your excellent review process or of your quality service? Do not expect reviews for average service, nobody raves about average!
- Ed Woiteshek from CarProof Canada talked about the think tank initiative that they have launched called Transparency Advantage. Car shopping has a long way to come and it is time to innovate or get disrupted. The think tank is working on several initiatives with a lot of promise, go to TransparencyAdvantage.org to learn more.
- Search Optics did an interesting survey of dealers and how they feel their digital strategies perform versus what they are spending. The insights presented were very enlightening for the dealers and provided some benchmarks for dealers to better understand how their own spend compares.
- Yours truly was on a panel about data ownership and why it matters to dealers. Don Hansen, Emily Baum and Allan Chell presented very important arguments from different perspectives to create awareness about this topic for dealers.
- Wrapping up the conference was Alan Bird from SCI Marketview who shared his “Driving Sales 2015 Most Valuable Insight” winning presentation. Alan and his team were able to prove with data that not only is the speed of a response important but that the quality of the response is extremely important at increasing closing rates. (Auto-responders and weak response won’t cut it.) You need to focus on subject lines and greetings, answering and posing questions, giving prices and availability and your dealership value proposition.
It was a great conference and Jay Radke definitely deserves a shout out for hosting it again. Looking forward to next year in Vegas!