How to Inspire Consumer Enthusiasm and Give Customers the Buying Experience They Want

On this week’s episode of F&I Today, Becky Chernek of Chernek Consulting, discusses how industry disruptors like Tesla and Carvana are re-shaping customer expectations and building brand loyalty.


Becky Chernek: Welcome to F&I today. I’m your host Becky Chernek and I’m so happy you’re able to join us today. We all know that F&I is vital to the dealership’s bottom line so that’s where I’ve come in. I’ve been in the automotive industry for more than 30 years and in finance and insurance since 1989. I’ve seen a lot and I know how to get impact that sticks. And I’ve worked with hundreds of dealers over the years with amazing results. I’m rarely shocked when I read headlines, especially those having to do with the auto industry. I’ve been around a long time and it’s almost to the point where nothing really takes me by surprise anymore. I guess you can say I’ve seen it all.

Well apparently not. The headline I read today really got me, according to MarketWatch, the stock market news website, Tesla is now worth more than Ford and General Motors combined. Tesla stock shot up pass $500 for the first time this week. Two of the reasons for the surge in stock value have to do with Tesla’s power train design, leading class battery tech, which is no surprise. But the third reason is something even more telling, consumer enthusiasm. Basically, customers love Tesla and they’re supporting the company by making them the number one car manufacturer in America right now. I don’t know if the reaction to this news is hitting in the same way with traditional car dealers throughout the country, but it should. This is without a doubt, one of the biggest wake up calls there has ever been in modern auto sales industry. And if dealers aren’t quaking in their boots, they’re either not understanding the implications or they’re not paying attention.

Tesla’s vehicles are sold public direct. They don’t go through traditional dealerships. This is one of the reasons why dealers should sit up and take notice. It was the first thing that came to my mind when I read the news. Dealers have to put themselves on high alert. Tesla isn’t a company that’s going away and it’s going to force even more changes on the auto industry more quickly than a lot of people thought, even me. And I’ve been working to bring dealerships into this 21st century for years already, so it’s time to face the facts that old school business tactics and business as usual attitudes just don’t cut it anymore. It’s over. Like I’ve been saying for a very long time, dealers need to start investing in new technologies today, not tomorrow, but today. And in order to keep up with the revolution that’s taking place all around us. Sitting back and waiting for that pendulum to drop, not only isn’t wise, it’s stupid. Like waiting for the inevitable to happen and doing nothing to try to prepare.

Dealers have to level the playing field for themselves by creating more modern opportunities to capture business. Digital retailing options are the obvious place to start. Customers should be allowed to do as much as this heavy lifting themselves as they’re prepared to do. Self desking and cannot only save a dealership lots of valuable time, but it also puts the customer in more control over the purchase, which is what they are demanding in growing numbers. In short, dealers can’t continue to ignore the technology. They have to embrace those technologies. This also means that dealers are going to have to change their internal cultures by meeting customers on their terms and not expecting customers to bow to theirs. For too long, dealers have been waiting for customers to come to them and then going through the same old procedure they have been performing since cars were invented.

Now Tesla is showing the world what’s been obvious for some time. Giving customers the buying experience that they want is the wave of the future. If this article doesn’t hit you smack in the face, nothing will. Using innovative technologies and techniques to capture customers makes sense and will likely keep you in that driver’s seat in the future. But failing to do that will cause the inevitable downfall of traditional car sales. Tesla is sealing business with forward thinking technology that’s only being marketed to consumers in a forward thinking fashion. And it can’t be ignored any longer. In the beginning, everyone said that Tesla was a joke. I guess they aren’t a joke any longer. If you’re not thinking five years into the future, you’re going to miss the boat. Now that we know for certain where the biggest threat to traditional car dealerships is coming from, there’s no denying the time has come to implement these meaningful changes and not just to the technology that drives customers into the dealership, but also the culture of dealerships that meet the customer on their terms and gives them the kind of buying experience they demand.

Because like it or not, if you don’t give them that experience, they’ll go get it from somewhere else, Tesla. Customers will also run in droves to industry disruptors like Carvana who are more than willing to offer online financing and who will bend to the way the customer wants to buy a car. Are you ready to adapt and thrive or will you get left behind?

Well, thank you for joining me on F&I Today. Be sure to come back next week, right here on the CBT Automotive Network for our next edition of F&I Today. Also, feel free to contact me regarding my consulting services at (404) 276-4026. And my specialty is providing M and I training, helping auto dealers achieve a higher level of performance by improving internal processes that begin the moment the customer touches down on the dealership website and ends with finalizing in person transactions in F&I or even later. Start making a difference today, check out my and F&I online platform, Chernek Consulting Virtual Pro and take your F&I department to greater heights.

F&I Today brought to you by eLend Solutions.