The Theory of Dealership Evolution

Charles Darwin wrote that the “final cause of all this wedging, must be to sort out proper structure, & adapt it to changes”, so that “One may say there is a force like a hundred thousand wedges trying force into every kind of adapted structure into the gaps of in the economy of nature, or rather forming gaps by thrusting out weaker ones.” This would result in the formation of new species.

Evolutionnoun – the gradual development of something, especially from a simple to a more complex form.

Revolutionnoun – a forcible overthrow of a government or social order in favor of a new

The way you feel about these two words has a massive impact on the level of success you have in the auto industry. If you think that it’s best to just continue doing what you’ve always done, you’re rapidly headed toward the proverbial endangered species list; which is in close proximity to the extinction list.

In the car business, several new species are rapidly emerging. A new breed of surprisingly advanced buyers are here and they have adapted to the point where they can use their opposable thumbs to buy cars! If you think that’s wild, consider the latest strain of car dealers… they have cars in vending machines and no salespeople. Love it or hate it, it’s here now, it’s happening. To survive we must adapt and overcome.

How do we overcome this? First let’s identify what caused this… this generation of tech-friendly buyers want an online, seamless, fast experience with everything, even their car purchases. Some of the older more experienced car pros resist this and say,” No! They need to test drive! They need to sit in the vehicles they like, smell them, see if they feel right, check out how they drive, these things are necessary!” That makes complete sense to us. It’s always been that way, so why change it now?

Evolution. It’s not giving us a choice. One of my very favorite sayings is, “if you can’t beat
them, join them, then beat them” -Peter Diamandis. Let’s do exactly that!

There are huge flaws in Carvana’s model. They are selling an experience they think buyers want, but it’s so far from perfect, it gives dealers the chance to revamp their processes. Let’s identify their weaknesses, first and foremost, there are no experienced professionals a potential car buyer of theirs can reach. We can adapt to the digital buying trend that shows no signs of ever going out of style. We can keep the human element in it. Buyers want to talk to someone they can trust, even if it’s over the internet or texts. They like negotiating and feeling like they saved some money and won! Carvana offers none of that. More than one lender option is a huge benefit for dealerships. Manufacturer certified pre-owned vehicles are obviously not available through Carvana and their “certified” program is silly. They don’t have a service department in the back of their lot, because there is no lot. According to Jacob T., a Carvana “advocate” they have 4 service centers located in different parts of the country. They can’t order a roof rack for a client buying an SUV or install a hitch for a guy who is excited about buying a pre-owned truck. They can not offer the same services that a dealership can, and that’s good news for dealers right now. However, if dealerships are not willing to adapt to the new buying revolution, they risk getting swallowed up by the companies that understand evolution.

  • Douglas Blankenship

    I applaud your trying to create a business around helping people through the buying process. There is a demographic out there that will use this kind of help, because the lack confidence or the knowledge of how to buy a car.

    Calling the dealership and asking for ridiculous discounts is not the answer, however. You won’t get much cooperation and you will not be able to deliver on your promise to your customers.

    A good deal is mostly a state of mind. If the customer feels like they got a lot of value for their money, then they will be happy. Your job is simply to have your customer’s 6 so they don’t unknowingly add something to their deal they don’t want or need.

    As for this idea that there is a huge number of “surprisingly advanced shoppers” (I think that’s what you called them), ALL customers are advanced shoppers these days. Convenience is the rule of the day. The customer sends a lead and is asking the two questions they can’t answer online. “Do you have it?” and “What is MY price?” If the Dealer doesn’t answer those basic questions, they are ruled out. The customer is not trying to buy the car online in these cases. They are trying to eliminate your dealership from contention based on your willingness to answer these basic questions.

    So my advice to any dealers reading this is:

    In the words of my long lost brother Kenny Blankenship: (google him if you don’t know him)

    Be transparent. Make the appointment. Let the customer show up to the store and buy a car from you. You will have earned it by earning the customer’s trust.