P R N Disrupt.

The power of disruption is the key to business growth

I’ve been to a couple of conferences in Toronto this year: Dealertalk and ACE. If I had them both combined, I come away with boards discussing disruption and Gary Vaynerchuk warning dealers they’ll (expletive deleted) die. I enjoyed Mike Stollery and crew, but they certainly had a different style than Gary. I referenced Gary in a previous blog post so if you want to read it well there’s nothing like having folks backtrack, yuldrive.com/i-met-gary/

At the ACE conference, one of the favoured topics of technology minded folks came up pretty often. It wasn’t about self-driving vehicles although I must admit I am mystified as to why nobody has started up a group named KITT. Nope. They were talking about ‘disruption’ and how it’s going to make a dent in a stalwart of every community: the automobile dealership. I listened to a number of speakers regarding this and it was on the minds of vendors and dealer principals alike. I saw a fascination when the subject was broached and trepidation when it came to figuring out how to deal with all this imminent disruption. I heard many different perspectives and at the end of it I felt that it was all pretty spot on, while also hearing a heck of a lot of “I dunno.”

I view the auto dealership as a multi-tentacle offering that stretches in a ton of directions. From each one, they’re hearing about their eventual demise if they don’t get their stuff together. I’ve been there as a vendor in the past and heard that before, and sadly the outcome wasn’t all that better back then. Once upon a time in my career I had a few clients that were household names: Blockbuster and Columbia House. They did their best to make sure that their digital communication efforts were up to par, but they couldn’t envision switching the business model to accommodate inevitable change. It didn’t work out so well for both those firms but I’m not sure I see a similar fate for the dealership world. At least, not for everyone. The question I have is how to deal with it?

In one of the sessions I listened to there were some speakers making excellent points regarding remarketing and the technology platforms that provided some exciting potential. When it came time to ask questions I had one, but I thought it might point the dialogue in an unwanted direction. I was curious as to how dealers would be able to plug all of this stuff in and be on top of it. Last time I checked, most OEM dealerships wouldn’t accept a lesser standard when it came to exhibiting their products and excelling at digital initiatives requires multi-faceted resources. Those types of folks don’t come cheap, just ask my favourite recruiter.

Gary Vaynerchuk always tells you to go for the jugular when working on promoting your strengths. You can feel how his passion works. When I combine Gary and Mike’s guys together I see digital platforms that will excel when dealer resources buy into both offerings. Solutions will only become more sophisticated, your vendors and resources need to be equally so. It sound simple but it’s not, it requires personnel that are not only willing to learn but to raise their hands, stand up and lead the charge. I’ve gone through that in the past and we’re experiencing it again now, this time it’s good to have those experiences behind us and look at how the future opens gradually, both for ourselves and our dealerships partners.

While I can’t profess to fully cover the topic of ‘disruption’ in a single blog post, at least this does show that these conferences have merit. It also reveals to Andre that I did, indeed, pay attention.