Henry Ford once said, “Most people spend more time and energy going around problems than trying to solve them.” From sales and marketing to service, a fear of change has permeated the dealership. “Time, tough, training, resistance, transition, nightmare” — these are the words that often go through dealers’ minds when considering a DMS switch. The thought of losing finances, employment records or customer data vital to the success of the dealership is no doubt frightening. It can cause dealership operators to be hesitant to flip the switch on modernizing their DMS systems even if it means they are unable to integrate with new tools or adapt to the changing expectations of the consumer. However, if dealership managers open themselves up to change, a smooth DMS switch is obtainable.
When it comes to purchasing a new vehicle, consumers are looking for a dealership where they can start the shopping and buying process online and sign on the final dotted line in-store. They want a streamlined, connected experience. In fact, Cox Automotive’s 2018 Car Buyer Journey Study found that car buyers are spending 60 percent of their time online. What’s more, half of consumers report they are likely to change brands if a company doesn’t anticipate their needs, according to the Salesforce State of the Connected Customer report. In order to stay competitive today, dealerships have no choice but to meet consumers on their terms, and that means a major technology upgrade.
The fear of a DMS switch can often be felt across dealership employees and senior management. The muscle memory is already there with the old system, the time and money to train employees has already been invested — not to mention, what will happen to the data? These considerations often result in dealerships deciding to stay with their outdated system. “There were a lot of panic attacks at the prospect of switching, and that was normal,” said Brett Henkel, assistant general manager at Big Two Automotive in Phoenix. “No one likes change, especially in something that you’ve been doing for years and years. You know how the system works.” As Henkel notes, it’s important to be cognizant of the fact that this fear is normal. Listen to your staff and work with them to identify and address concerns throughout the switch process.
In today’s fast-paced automotive industry, complacency is not an option. Going around the problems that a legacy DMS presents is no longer viable. It’s time to face the problem head on and implement new technology that helps streamline operations and as a result drive profitability and a better customer experience. With planning, communication, and most importantly, a partner who’s invested in your dealership’s success, the only thing to fear is fear itself.
This is part one in a five-part series by John Grace on overcoming complacency and fear of change at the dealership.
Author: John Grace
John Grace is associate vice president of operations for Dealertrack DMS, Cox Automotive. Grace brings nearly 20 years of high-tech operations and support experience to this position.Grace joined Xtime in 2011 from Tastingroom.com where he was vice president of operations. Prior to Tastingroom.com he spent nearly eight years as a member of the executive staff of the Location Services Division of Autodesk. At Autodesk, he played a critical role in the growth and expansion of the division, delivering middleware and application solutions to wireless telecommunications companies. He was responsible for managing SaaS solutions, customer premises equipment, and customer support for domestic and international customers. Grace has extensive experience with pre-IPO start-ups, as well as more established companies in all phases of technical and business management.