Technology: Partner or Distraction

October 2008, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Jim Jackson - Also by this author

Technology is changing so fast these days; it’s hard for the average person to keep up. Advertising and sales pitches in the media promote all the new and exciting advances, which may or may not solve your particular challenges. Or, you can go to a live conference or convention and find a solution on how to fix just about everything. If you don’t find the answer to your problem there or in a particular magazine, just open your e-mail from one of the many automotive information highways.

When do you need technology? Can technology fix a problem that is more of a people problem?

I recently attended a conference in Las Vegas featuring physical training equipment. The Las Vegas Convention Center was filled to capacity. I was amazed at how many types of exercise equipment existed. There were over a thousand vendors offering state-of-the-art machines, gadgets and related products. There must have been 100 different stationary bikes, all with a claim that theirs was the newest technology. I counted 30 or more power bars or protein drinks—some that would discourage you from trying health food again and some that were like cookies. I stood back and reflected on all the hard bodies working their machines and trying to paint a picture of what you might look like if you were to invest in their equipment. Are they trying to change your attitude about your own health and how exercise will benefit your life? Or is it simply selling overkill? I truly believe that exercise equipment may help you focus your exercise, but the key is not the latest, greatest piece of equipment. The key is the commitment to get on the bike everyday. What ever happened to plain old walking or swimming?

Like exercise equipment, there are many new technologies in the car business that can and will change your performance. Here are some basic guidelines for using technology that, if applied, will improve your potential ROI.

1. Does the technology help you achieve your vision, or is it just another trend or fad? Technology should enhance and accelerate your business momentum, not cause the momentum.

2. All the competing dealerships have access to the same technologies, but not the same environments in which to apply them. Does your culture support innovative new ideas?

3.  Impulsive acts waste time and money. If something doesn’t fit your plan, don’t acquire it.

4. Assemble the right people first; then, build your technologies around them. Strong people can make a mediocre system look great.

In Jim Collins’ book Good to Great, 80 percent of company executives interviewed did not include technology as one of the top five keys to their success. Collins learned that the great companies all had at least these three things in place: 1) a clear vision, 2) the right people and 3) dynamic leadership to inspire and remove any obstacles.

Sometimes, buying the new technology seems to be an answer, when all you really need to do is change a few habits, attitudes, beliefs and expectations toward high performance. Don’t settle for mediocrity, and don’t expect mediocrity to disappear because you invest thousands of dollars on new technology.

More often than not, selling more cars is about doing the things that no one else likes to like do, like calling people back or setting very specific daily targets and never compromising. Practice doing those little things (the right things) you used to do when you first got into the car business. When you first started in the business, you probably had an underlying attitude to do whatever it took to be successful. Don’t be so prideful that you won’t practice the basics. What is excepted behavior for your business? It is difficult to change others’ behavior unless they want change, and technology won’t change behavior; it has to be a choice.

Technology is a great tool, just like exercise equipment. When used properly with the right techniques and the right people, great results can happen.

Vol 5, Issue 9

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