How 2020 Taught Dealers to Optimize

2020 may be the year that no one saw coming. But, as our industry forges ahead through the gauntlet of challenges thrown at us moment by moment, rest assured we’re getting better at what we do.

I recently had the opportunity to join my peers at Elevate, Hireology’s virtual, human capital-focused event for a panel discussion on digital transformation in retail automotive and its impact on both the customer experience and people management. COVID-19 has had dramatic effects on the way dealers engage with the applicant economy, how technology allows dealers to do more with less, and what the future of retail automotive will look like. I believe one thing is certain, our industry continues to get better at what we do, no matter what challenges are thrown at us.

Winning the War for Talent

As Hireology CEO Adam Robinson noted in our discussion, which you can view in the video below, dealers are very interested in the state of the job applicant economy. Similarly to the 2008-2009 economic recession, your sales professionals and team members are your most critical assets. He also points out that, no matter what the state of the economy, the best employees will always be in demand. So it stands to reason that the dealers who focus on staffing—hiring and retaining teams and developing the right processes to help them thrive—are going to emerge as winners.

The Quick Pivot

Not every dealership has been impacted to the same degree this year by the pandemic. Some businesses were forced to furlough most of their sales team. Others were minimally impacted and are (still) doing fairly well. And then there were tech-forward dealerships who had already implemented digital retailing best-practices and solutions. Still, though, there was an obvious need for all dealers across the country to take that next step and provide a completely touchless experience. According to Dealertrack sales and transaction data, between mid-April and mid-July 2020, interest in eContracting grew 94% while the number of contracts signed remotely rose by 97%. Dealertrack DMS, and our Cox Automotive brands, were well positioned to provide software solutions to get everyone up-to-speed quickly. Our team was ready and able to shift focus and connect the Dealer Management System to solutions like eSignatures, Laser Forms, and Digital Contracting. Wherever your dealership landed on the impact scale this year, our team continues to find and deliver the right-sized solution.

Your Technology Should Work as Hard as You Do

It’s clear that business across automotive has been able to rebound and find new ways of managing even as dealers work with reduced staff and new processes. A strategic focus on connecting the right people with technology and timely data is the winning combination that, I believe, will bring dealers through these tough times. I’ve seen several OEMs take the lead by hiring higher caliber sales people who are able to carry the sales process from beginning to end, and with fewer hand-offs. This Omnichannel approach to sales and marketing requires better data, better technology, and better, more efficient processes internally. Connected technology should reduce friction, streamline operations, and allow teams to work smarter. How dealers hire and train their teams for this new style of sales will definitely change. I’m interested to see how it all plays out in the next year as we continue to grow and adapt.

Watch the full recording below and download the 2020 State of Hiring Research Report from our partners at Hireology.

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