More and more I find myself thinking, “I ain't buying it.” Maybe it's because I've become a skeptical journalist but I doubt that's the case.
In my position, I get to hear about all of the “latest” and “greatest” products or solutions that will help you sell more cars. Us journalists hear it from the p.r. folks while you and your management team get the pitch from the vendor's sales people.
Often, I'm unimpressed. Other times, I just don't get it. I remember scratching my head after a long conversation with Bruce Thompson about his LaneLogic venture a couple of years ago.
Thompson created the successful American Auto Exchange (now owned by JM Solutions and called AAX) so he has a good track record.
But the LaneLogic concept seemed confusing. I thought it was me, but dealers apparently had a hard time with the idea also. Even AutoNation, who believed in it, had trouble making it work. LaneLogic now is on the trash heap of failed ideas.
Used-car leasing is another idea I'm having trouble with. Just this week at a remarketing conference, I again heard the pitch that the industry needs to get involved in used-car leasing. Ward's has written about the idea periodically over the last several years, including reporting on CyberCalc's and David Ruggle's crusade to get lenders and dealers to buy into the concept.
There are some companies and dealers who claim they are making it work, but it's not many. Used-car leasing accounts for less than 1% of used-vehicle sales.
Ruggles says one reason the idea hasn't taken off is because the companies successful with it don't want anyone else finding out about it because they see it as a competitive advantage.
I suspect the reason is that dealers and lenders have looked at it, and decided they ain't buying it.
Another concept I'm not buying is this idea that online customer reviews of dealers is a good thing.
Vendors are pushing the idea saying dealers need to make it available to their customers. Also, there are products or companies that will help you manage your reputation on the many customer review sites that exist today.
There's Dealerrater, MyDealerreport, CarFolks, among others. The problem is, customers aren't writing reviews. None of these sites have many reviews — at least not enough for dealers worry about them yet.
Yes, you need to keep an eye on what's being written — if anything — about your store online. Our April story of how the Husker group in Nebraska was blindsided by a BMW enthusiast's blog drives that point home. But I fail to see how an online dealership review site will protect dealers' reputations online.
This may not be a politically correct question, but why should dealers make it easy for their customers to air all of their laundry for the world to see? Even great dealerships are going to get burned. There are too many transactions and people involved for it not to happen.
I wonder if these vendors would appreciate a dealer starting a blog airing all of their interactions and problems. I doubt it, yet we want dealers to do it to themselves.
Until we start seeing a lot more customers writing reviews, I ain't gonna buy it.