Are dealers missing out?

By Mike Edwards, Group Chief Sales and Marketing Officer

Having spent most of my working life ‘retailer-side’ of the automotive industry, I became well-versed with suppliers letting me know that we might be ‘missing out.’ The sources of the stress that such a line addressed were everything from; technology to aftersales revenues, finance and indeed added-value insurance products such as those available from AutoProtect as part of our Group offering.

Today, on the other side of the fence, I feel well qualified to recognise that then and now, many retailers frequently are missing out on all or a combination of income, profit, retention and positive reviews by not taking advantage of well-meaning supplier offers.

However, I believe that before truly addressing the potential opportunities being missed, dealers can, and I recognise some already do, assess this more important strategic question;

Are dealers missing out on realising their potential purpose?

A business’ purpose outlines its reason for being. For motor retailers, this has primarily been straightforward as these quickly assembled purpose definitions from a well-known online resource lists;

  • speaking to customers about their vehicle needs, showing them cars that match those needs, organising test drives, and ultimately selling a vehicle to them.
  • car dealerships will act as a marketplace to buy and sell any vehicles, including cars, bikes or vans.

Then I looked at the purpose/mission defined by the world’s largest retailer outside of China, Amazon;

“We aim to be Earth’s most customer-centric company. Our mission is to continually raise the bar of the customer experience by using the internet and technology to help consumers find, discover and buy anything, and empower businesses and content creators to maximise their success.”

It is a best practice example that I believe motor retailers can use to change the dynamic and culture of their business.

Commonly motor retailers offer more than just a vehicle; there are aftersales and added value services.

Pivot the purpose of a motor retailer to embrace; facilitating customers’ ownership journeys, service experience, to ‘maximise their success’ for example and the model changes. Added value services can indeed enhance customers’ journeys and remove the friction that would be disruptors might thrive upon.

In this environment, offering SMART insurance, long term warranties and more can be about fulfilling the business purpose and driving reputation and becoming the customers GO TO trusted motoring support experts.

Using another best practice approach is not what, or why a business does something alone that should matter, it is how it does it; this is not just about short-term profit. Work concluded by McKinsey and Co in the USA noted, ‘Only 7 per cent of Fortune 500 CEOs believe their companies should “mainly focus on making profits and not be distracted by social goals.’

The potential opportunity of this best practice thinking is to be more than just a sales experience and more than just a vehicle; it is the potential for being a customer’s automotive ally.

I hope this provides some food for thought in our rapidly evolving market.