“The Internet killed my gross profit.” “The Internet made it so competitive we have to give away cars.” “The Internet lets every idiot in the world just review whomever they want and doesn’t care if the reviews are wrong.” “The Internet is what ruined the car business.”
ENOUGH ALREADY! Let’s go to school for a minute boys and girls and define the Internet. Here is the beginning of the definition on Wikipedia: The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to link several billion devices worldwide. It is a network of networks that consists of millions of private, public, academic, business, and government networks of local to global scope, linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless, and optical networking technologies. The Internet carries an extensive range of information resources and services, such as the inter-linked hypertext documents and applications of the World Wide Web (WWW), the infrastructure to support email, and peer-to-peer networks for file sharing and telephony.
Let me define that in plain English. The Internet is a network that connects stuff.
For some reason, in our industry, we keep talking as though the Internet is a person, or like it has an opinion, or on the flip side – we act like it’s God, like it’s going to do our job for us, like if we’re just online we don’t have to do anything because the Internet will magically help our business get better.
The Internet, on its own, doesn’t do anything for you. Just like the pan in your cupboard doesn’t cook dinner by itself. Just like the car you have doesn’t drive you to work by itself (yet). The Internet is a network. On top of that network, there are a whole bunch of tools that can help us be more productive like Search Engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo) and Email, and that CRM your dealership bought that’s cloud based, and our Smart Phones that allow us to communicate over the Internet.
Why the rant? Because ever since its creation, this network known as the Internet has given every one of us in the auto industry the framework to make our lives easier. It has given us the framework to be more productive and communicate faster than ever before. It has literally been the biggest innovation in our lifetime and somehow there are still salespeople and managers who have the nerve to blame “the Internet” for our loss of profit, increase in competition and overall lack of sales.
Let’s have a little come to Jesus meeting here shall we? Oh, and if this ticks you off it’s likely because you need to hear it so read it again when you’re done. Your gross profit is lower because you choose to give it away. Your margins are lower because you haven’t practiced building value in your product, you stopped role-playing to sharpen your selling skills, your objection handling, your closing and you flat out lost the passion you once had for showing people why you’re worth more money than the dealer down the street. You lost the nerve to ask for more money in a deal because you lost the belief that doing business with your Dealership was actually worth more than your competitor. Now that you’re good and pissed off at me for throwing that out there, I have a question for you:
Why did you stop believing in yourself, your store and your brand? The truth is, you’re more valuable than ever before. People can find anything online and when they choose to connect with you it’s because they believed in you enough to give you an opportunity. That should make you feel amazing! That should make you feel more valuable than you’ve ever felt before! In a time where people can check reviews, ratings, prices, competition and anything else they want, they chose to reach out to you.
The Internet allows them to do everything they need in hours or minutes rather than months and weeks, it allows people to use tools that can speed up the buying process and it allows you, the Dealer to contact them faster and easier than ever before! No more licking envelopes, no more card boxes, no more Hannah Daily Planners or Daily Game Plan folders to keep track of our follow up.
The Internet allows us to do everything we did 20 years ago in a way that is faster, and easier, which should mean we can do it with better quality. This is where the problem is. Because of automation, we’ve gotten used to our CRM company giving us a template to do our email for us. We’ve gotten used to our CRM telling us when to call people and what to say when we call. We’ve gotten used to our third-party sites doing all the marketing to their site and hoping they do enough work to generate a lead for us.
The Internet is a beautiful, shiny, fantastic tool, and you’re F-ing it all up! Your CRM is a tool; it’s reminders are tools; your phone is a tool; your calendar is a tool and they all work with this beautiful tool called the Internet but we have to remember that we are human beings.
When your CRM reminds you to call someone, make the call and be a human being who leaves a message that sounds like you care! When your CRM tells you it’s time to send an email, don’t just use the exact script! Take a second to add something from your last conversation like “By the way how did Timmy’s basketball game go?”
The Internet gives you the ability to send a video that you made on your phone to a customer that’s hours away just so say hello. The Internet gives you the ability to send someone a letter “email” without paying postage and waiting a week to hope they get it. The Internet gives you the ability to read this article online, and post a comment to tell me and the rest of the world what you think.
The Internet has given you the ability to market to customers that you may have never reached before and it is the best thing that has ever happened to your business. All you have to do is stop blaming it for all your failures, and make the choice to use it for more success.