Best practice tips for transitioning to a digital dealership

Dealers are currently beating the odds in the face of economic unrest and uncertainty. According to the Cox Automotive COVID-19 Consumer and Dealer Impact Study, dealerships who have implemented digital sales models are exceeding predictions and can expect to see success in the long-term. In fact, 73% of dealers surveyed have a digital retailing solution in place, and just over 70% of those dealers are seeing buyers complete more of the purchase process online. Still, though, 2020 is only halfway over and Dealer Principal Owners (DPOs)and General Managers (GMs) are looking to their partners for advice, insights, and guidance moving forward. According to Performance Manager for Dealertrack DMS, Mark Gabriella, having the right technology in your dealership has never been more important. “The pandemic has been horrible for both individuals and businesses. Right now, dealers are discovering the opportunities within their business to make it through, but also to survive beyond.” Gabriella and his team of Performance Managers are working side-by-side (virtually for now) with their dealers to hold them accountable for the business goals set for the year. Below is his advice for making the transition to a digital dealership.

Solo Decisions Don’t Equal Strategy.

When thinking about digital sales strategy or integrated technology solutions, Gabriella warns DPOs and GMs to be team players. “If you don’t involve your management team, you don’t have a strategy. “You’re probably going to be fighting them down the road,” he explains. “You have to show your team what the advantages of a new software are, what your strategy looks like, how you’re going to implement it. And then you have to be open to meet after the implementation on a weekly and ongoing basis.” The true key to a successful launch of anything new within a dealership, is simple: feedback from the team. Are there tweeks that need to be made? Can the team make adjustments? As Gabriella explains, “It should never be just one person’s idea. Make sure your rollout has a plan.”

Find Your Advocates.

A best-practice solution for implementing change in any organization is to identify key champions within the organization who can help their coworkers with their personal experience and willingness to embrace change. Gabriella has over 20 years of retail automotive experience. He worked as an executive manager over nine stores, and the Chief Financial Officer over 18 stores. Identifying who is—and who isn’t—on board with a technology change now comes second nature. “I always try to identify that one individual that embraces new technology and change,” he explains. “ Then, I use them to get other people involved. If you don’t have a champion that wants to take the reins, you’re gonna be fighting an uphill fight.”

Don’t Discount Your Opposition.

Playing devil’s advocate, Gabriella offers the opposite advice next. “But, also look for those who don’t (embrace new technology)” he shares. “It’s easy to find those who do, but it’s sometimes better to look for those who do not and turn them around.” It feels good to have people in your corner, always agreeing with your decision. However, good leaders spend the time to understand the concerns of their team, to make certain everyone is heard, and not to rush a decision.

As dealers move forward, those willing to embrace digital disruption are primed for the ‘new normal.’ Gabriella offers advice for those making the transition to new DMS integrations to enhance their digital dealership: “there’s always a small valley of despair. As employees become more proficient with the technology, it gets better,” Gabriella states. “The Performance Managers can provide a bridge over that valley.”

Download your copy of our guide, The Road to Consensus, here.


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