Modernizing Your Retail Experience

On this week’s episode of Auto Marketing Now, Brian Pasch talks about digital retailing, making your retail experience more modern, and the potholes in the road for a retail transformation.


Brian Pasch: Welcome to Auto Marketing Now. On today’s show, we’re going to talk about digital retailing and the potholes in the road for a retail transformation. Of course, we’re going to have our popular email grab bag. So what are we waiting for? Let’s get started with today’s show.

Last November I published this book with co-author Thomas Gage, called Just Faster. This book covered the trend and the desire of manufacturers, dealers, and consumers to have a more modern retail experience. Today, it’s not uncommon on a busy Saturday for a dealer to take three, four, even five hours to get a consumer in and out of the dealership, even if they had an appointment.

Now, over the last year, I’ve been reading what other pundits and industry experts have had to say about digital retailing. There’s lots of extremes. We have some people who are saying, “We’ve been doing digital retailing for years. We just didn’t call it this new shiny object.” We have others who say, “It’s not really going to happen. It’s too complex. There’s too much change. State laws, franchise laws, even technology integrations are so weak right now that it’s going to take a very long time for digital retailing to succeed.” And then the third camp of people who swear that they’ve made a very, very strong investment in digital retailing, they’ve changed their marketing, they’ve changed their sales process, and actually consumers are loving it.

And the truth is, there’s truth in all three opinions. Yes, we have dealers who have been delivering cars and doing remote delivery for years. People have been buying cars on eBay. But when it comes to new cars, well, there’s a whole different set of challenges, things like the requirements for wet signatures or motor vehicle paperwork not being completely automated. We have the difficulty of some lending approval processes not instantly integrated into online forms and digital retailing tools. So I understand the complaints of people who are doubting.

But it’s absolutely clear to me that there’s no consumer who wants to spend four to five hours on a weekend to buy a car after they’ve contacted the dealership, submitted a lead form, had multiple conversations with the BDC, maybe even a sales manager, they’ve filled out a credit app, they’ve told you which car they want to drive, and yet they go to the dealership and it takes three, four, even five hours on a busy weekend.

Now, just as a side note, if a consumer did all that work and it took that long to buy a car, do you think this impacts why consumers don’t service their cars at the dealership? Think about it. It may be very reasonable that a consumer felt that with all that advanced phone work and emails that they would be in an hour to two hours, but not four or five hours. Do you think that they’re thinking, “Hey, if what I thought took an hour took four hours, how long does an oil change take? How much time does it take to get my brakes service?”

Brian Pasch: This is why folks like Jiffy Lube and other independents who are out in the marketplace actually telling consumers how fast they are in service are winning the game. You see, you will see dealers advertise service specials, but I don’t think I’ve seen one regular service advertisement or commercial from a dealer outside of Quick Lane, like a Ford product that talks about time and speed. You see, we order our coffee on the Starbucks app. We love the fact that we can order something on Amazon and next day it’s at our doorstep. It’s not other automotive brands that have fixed the retail process. It’s well, other retail brands have fixed the retail process. And in my book Just Faster, we just started scratching the surface.

So what’s happened a year later? A year later, my brother Glenn and I are working on a national digital retailing rollout with one OEM. We have over 25 dealers in a pilot. This OEM preferred to allow the dealer to pick their own digital retailing tools. And then our job is to nurture those dealers to create a modern retail experience. At the end of our project, we’ll be writing a playbook for the OEM to roll out for their whole network.

Brian Pasch: Here’s what Glenn and I are seeing. Most DR companies are bolting technology on the dealer’s website, doing minimal training and stopping. They are not working with the dealer to create a new brand promise, a brand promise that includes saving time, mostly online, to save the consumer time in the dealership. We’re seeing websites without merchandising that talk about this new way to buy a car. We see VDPs still with six to eight call to action buttons with the digital retailing tool just bolted on as another choice. There’s no clear call to actions.

Brian Pasch: With the exception of Roadster, Roadster actually creates their own VDP with a very clean design and creates a more simplified process if the dealer chooses to send consumers directly to the Roadster platform for shopping. I’ve seen other dealers that just put another button on the other five or six buttons on a VDP that takes them to Roadster. I think that’s a fail. What else have we learned?

The DR companies are not leaning in and training the BDCs on how to handle DR leads properly. Glenn is spending a tremendous amount of time building templates, talking to BDC and sales folks on how to respect the work that the consumer did online. We even have some problems where the DR leads are coming in as a website lead, meaning the DR companies have not even worked out a turnkey process for VinSolutions, or Elead or DriveCentric CRM to make sure that their leads are coming into the dealer’s CRM properly tagged.

Brian Pasch: Of course, we have the problem with all DR companies that are sending data into the CRM Dupa kit lead records. Every time a consumer does another step in the DR process, it creates another lead. We have customers that have a whole process of deduping, reading the old lead, looking at the new lead, deciding which one is the right lead to use. It’s a mess. CRM companies are way behind in working with DR companies to have a clean API that does a record update instead of creating a new record each time a step is done.

You want some more potholes in the road to success for a modern retail experience? How about connecting the showroom experience to the online experience? Man, that’s a treacherous one. There are companies that are selling DR tools and basically tell the dealer, good luck when they come in, look in your CRM. We have others that are building showroom tools first before the online because they say, “Well, the majority of consumers still come in the showroom, they buy a car.” But no one has perfected this online to in store experience, and again, a little bit of training is given and the dealer is left to their own ways. Very little accountability, very little handholding.

What Glenn and I have built now is really a thorough onboarding process where we ask the dealer to candidly look at their merchandising on their website, candidly look at their brand promise, help them design the videos and the banners, and the marketing, new logos to actually promote this new experience, to simplify the VDPs, to convert call to action buttons into two way chat engagement. We’re working with the BDCs to create new scripts and work plans, and we’re working with technology and process to connect the online experience to the in store experience.

It’s so much opportunity out there that Glenn and I have really started a consulting practice helping dealers with digital retailing. And I understand the challenges with the DR companies. They’re trying to sell a product, keep the price reasonable. But listen, if you aren’t leaning in and redoing your whole thinking about DR, well I think you’re missing the boat.

Todd Caputo from Used Car King in Upstate New York was very candid at the 2019 Digital Marketing Strategies Conference. He said, “I had to rip the bandaid off the wound, and I really had to structurally fix my pay plans, my hiring process, my storeroom experience.” And his customers are loving it. He’s one of the pioneers. The Schomp Automotive Group in Denver, again, with the best brand promise in the country, one price, one person, one hour. They’re doing it, but they’re the minority today.

Just want to encourage all dealers watching today’s show. If you’re going to embrace digital retailing, it’s not bolting something on. It’s not just another lead form. It really has to be a top down review, an update, and training and accountability process. If you need help, of course reach out. Otherwise, lean on your DR vendors, because it’s not technology that will make a modern retail process. I think technology is 20%. I think it’s 60% leadership, 20% technology, 10% marketing and another 10% of process. There has to be a better way to reach a modern retail experience for consumers. They want it. The OEMs are going to be demanding it. And if you haven’t read Just Faster, this is a great starting point. Look for a new book that Glenn and I will be coming out with in 2020 to help dealers with digital retailing.

Don’t think digital retailing is another shiny object. Consumers want you to respect their time online and save them time when they come to the dealership. You’re going to start now or wait til the OEM mandates it, but under no circumstances are the OEMs going to allow dealers to have outdated retail processes when the rest of the world is respecting the time of the consumer.

Brian Pasch: And that’s today’s segment on digital retailing. And now for today’s email grab bag question. A marketing manager wrote in to ask, “Brian, how many Google My Business listings should a dealership have?” This is a timely question. I’ve been doing a lot of writing about Google My Business optimization. And so let me answer that question in a unique way. For everyone who’s watching today’s show, please take out your mobile phone, and I want you to Google the dealership’s name. If you have a unique name, your Google My Business listing should take over the entire screen.

Maybe if your dealership name is Toyota of Orlando, it may show a few Toyota dealers. I want you to just go to your Google My Business listing. And there’s an hours section. What’d you just click on the hours? If you have Google My Business set up properly, there should be a set of hours for sales, service, and parts. That’s right, three separate sets of hours, sales, service, and parts. And if you have a body shop on the exact property, there could be a fourth set of hours. How do you get three sets of hours, or four sets of hours if you have a body shop on the exact same address? It’s because you need a Google by business listing for sales, service, and parts.

When dealers see the true benefits of this strategy, well, their minds are going to be blown, because you can have your own service products and specials for sales, your own products and services for the service listing, and products and services for parts. You can have your own reviews, your own posts, your own eCommerce strategy. So if you only have one set of hours, it means that Google only sees one Google my business listing on that physical location, and you would need to either claim or create the other two listings.

So as a minimum for franchise dealers, three Google my business listings, and you could have a fourth for a body shop, or an insurance desk, or a rental car agency that sits inside the dealership.

If you have some questions on Google my business, just shoot me an email to, and I’ll send you my Google my business checklist, so you can audit the completeness of your Google my business listing.

If you have a question and I use it on the show, I’ll send you a copy of my new book Just Faster. It’s a complete conversation on digital retailing for anyone whose question I choose and use on the show. Thank you so much for watching today’s show and I look forward to seeing you next week on Auto Marketing Now.

Thanks for watching Auto Marketing Now with Brian Pasch. This has been a JBF Business Media production.