Pushing Boundaries

New technology is not a substitute for salesmanship, but it can create more opportunities to do business the right way.

March 2016, Auto Dealer Today - Feature

by David Gesualdo

David Gesualdo
David Gesualdo

The name of the auto retail game is digital marketing. You know it, I know it and the car-buying public knows it. More importantly, your competitors know it, and the smart ones are doing everything they can to get an edge in the fight to find new customers and communicate with them on the Web and on social media.

In this issue, John Possumato returns to introduce the concept of boundary geofencing, also known as proximity marketing. This technology leapfrogs websites, Facebook and Twitter in one jump. Properly utilized, it allows dealers and marketers to engage in-market car buyers with messages that appear above the “lock” screen on their smartphones, much the same way they are alerted to a new text message or the latest headline from CNN.

No, you can’t blast out offers to everyone who owns a smartphone. But you can reach customers who have opted in by accepting an earlier offer — which could be for just about anything — and wandered past a predetermined “geofence,” triggering the communication. The geofenced area can be wherever you like. It can be your lot, a competitor’s lot or the local Quik Lube, and the message can be an offer related to sales, service or whatever else is on your mind.

This is a truly fascinating tool. And as John explains, it’s not too late to claim early adopter status. The technology has caught on at the OEM level and among several large marketers, some of whom cater to auto dealers. But it’s far from common, and as Michael Pacifico, the dealer who appears on our cover, has learned, it’s an effective (and cost-effective) way to retain customers who might otherwise have slipped away.

Ron Reahard follows with a treatise on his affection for the car business. Ron is a good friend of mine. We have worked together on any number of stories and various other projects over the course of a business partnership that goes back 20 years. I can tell you that his love for the automotive retail and finance industry and the people who make it work is genuine. Read his article for yourself and you will see what I mean.

That’s not all this issue has in store. Jim Ziegler has a few choice words for Nissan, as you will learn in this month’s “On the Point” entry. Gerald Jones Honda’s general sales manager, Jason Heard, returns to offer three old-fashioned remedies for bringing the human touch back to new-vehicle sales. Tom Hudson, a friend and ally of dealers everywhere, weighs in to list a number of common truth-in-advertising violations that the CFPB and FCC are looking for — and finding — on a near-daily basis.

If there’s a theme to this issue, it’s that the sands of time and technological advancements will keep us on our toes for as long as we’re still standing, but the principles that guide us at work and in life must never be forgotten. We need to keep each other informed and keep pushing the envelope. People need cars. So let’s get to work.

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