We all love a great tech solution.
We’re busy, harried people in general; and this is true particularly in the dynamic work environment of auto dealerships. Any tech solution that promises to help us streamline efficiency, thereby saving us time and money in the process, is set to be hailed as our saviour.
But tech isn’t the total solution.
Software is one of the most helpful tools to emerge in our generation; but like any tool, its effects can be overestimated and overblown. As a matter of fact, “robust solution” is considered one of the top ten most exaggerated tech terms.
One of the reasons we’re tempted to overestimate the value of tech solutions is because, like Fox Mulder in the old X-Files reruns, “we want to believe.” If tech solutions can save us, we can hop over to the App Store, download a quick fix, and quietly continue on with our regularly scheduled lives.
But it doesn’t work like that.
Software alone can’t save us.
Software Is a Tool
People are most likely to overvalue software when they forget that it’s merely a tool, and like any tool, is most effective when wielded by an expert.
Take, for example, the rise of partial automation in certain surgical procedures. Though elements of robotics and AI have started doing some of the medical heavy lifting, that doesn’t mean surgeons have become obsolete.
On the contrary!
One of the industries that have seen the greatest disruption of robotics and AI has been medicine. We now have robotic and AI tools that can perform amazingly accurate diagnoses and precise surgery. Have we lost doctors to this technology? The answer is “no.” Doctors have simply learned to leverage the new technology to provide better healthcare. (Forbes)
Just as technological innovations have helped advance surgical procedures, so developments in SaaS have enhanced an auto dealership’s ability to serve their customers well.
It does not follow, however, that software can replace personalized service.
In the end, software is simply a product; and products are never greater than the people who use them and the processes by which they do so.
Tools Alone Are Insufficient
Don’t get us wrong: we’re nothing but happy for current advancements in SaaS technologies. We believe great software tools will only enhance your ability to serve your customers well. But that alone won’t save you.
Even auto dealers with the greatest tools sometimes don’t have great processes or great people in place to make it work for them.
Tools alone are insufficient without the people and processes to back them up.
What ensures success for a dealership is not so much the technology it uses to serve its customers, but the skills with which its employees go about their work.
After all, what sets a master craftsman apart is not the possession of tools but the wisdom, knowledge, and experience to use them well.
As one game developer once put it:
Probably the first thing you learn is how to use your tools. Once you become proficient at them you’ll start to notice an increase in productivity and the end results are much improved. Most people will just scratch the surface of a tool but a true master knows how to bend it to their will. When tools are used to their fullest potential, artists can make breathtaking scenes, programmers can debug even the hardest problems, and musicians can compose a symphony.
Though a master craftsman would be lost without his tools, the mere existence of a tool does not make a master craftsman.
The same can be said regarding how software systems are implemented in the business world. It’s not the tools themselves that create a positive outcome but the people using them who truly bring value.
In a dealership, as in most work environments, it is the employees — perhaps even more so than products and procedures — that add the most value to the customer experience.
Serving as the relational connections between the customers and the dealership itself, the people on the ground, working both face-to-face and behind the scenes, carry incalculable value. Though their natural effectiveness can certainly be enhanced through the aid of modern software tools, it cannot be replaced.
Rather than simply asking if they have the right software systems in place, dealerships should consider whether or not their team members are being fully engaged and empowered.
Ensuring a fully engaged and empowered staff requires paying attention to the following elements:
- Planning regular training and development
- Allowing ownership
- Implementing accountability
- Relying on teamwork
- Setting goals
- Establishing measurable benchmarks
- Offering routine feedback
- Celebrating wins
- Compensation plans that align with goals
Some would argue that one of the best ways to keep a business running is simply to plan and implement effective processes right from the outset. There is some wisdom in this.
A good system of processes will
- increase efficiency
- streamline communication
- reduce confusion
- maintain momentum
- coordinate responses
But that’s not all. A good set of business processes will also help you more effectively recognize and respond to demands, pivot outdated models to respond better to evolving market realities, and actually make it easier to retain customers.
That’s because customers can tell when they’re in competent hands.
- 55% of consumers will pay more if they feel guaranteed a good experience
- 86% of consumers will be willing to pay more for upgrades
- 67% of consumers site bad experiences as a reason to drop a product or service
With the right systems in place, auto dealerships are more likely to take advantage of a consumer’s tendency to pay more for a guaranteed good experience and less likely to have their customers drop them in the long run.
Of course, dealerships are in the best position possible when they have more than just smoothly operating systems working to their advantage.
Firing on All Cylinders
Those who have well-trained people running on smooth operational systems are in the best position to get the most out of a great software system.
When the right tools are purchased and implemented through the right (high-performing) processes by the right people, then you can achieve real results.