I am the product of early 70’s TV. I learned how to navigate life watching shows like the Beverly Hillbillies. It was a sitcom about the Clampetts, a poor backwoods family who were transplanted to Beverly Hills after striking oil on their land back home. What attracted me most was the ‘fish out of water’ theme–it was both hilarious and intelligent. Their banker, Mr. Drysdale, was always trying to stay one step ahead of them so they’d keep their money deposited in his bank. Most of the time, he’d underestimate them and his motives would backfire. Mr. Drysdale had the right idea about knowing his customer but his strategy was off-base.
It reminds me of a dealership I used to work for in Beverly Hills. We were “printing money”: 6% Net to Sales. #1 in everything: Sales, Service, CSI. Then, suddenly we heard that a large company was purchasing the store. We kept working hard and the corporate people left us alone for the first few months. Soon though, the company sent their ‘management team’ to start telling us how to sell and service cars in Beverly Hills. I always welcome thoughtful ideas but these guys were some good ol’ boys from the “Southern part of the US” and everything they said was borderline ridiculous. In fact, they made us all attend a meeting where they were letting us know how things were going to change. All I kept asking was, “Why would you want to change anything when we’re delivering on every level?” I really hate when I start asking why.
At the end of the meeting, they asked if we had any questions. No one did except my friend Paul, our Used Car Manager, who by now realized that our days were numbered. He said, “Here’s my question: If a man and woman are married in the South and they move to California, are they still brother and sister?” Now there’s a man who knows his audience! But I digress…
Today, it’s no longer good enough to know your target customer, you must know your target community. Social networks each perceive themselves as distinct from the larger society within which they exist. They share, give, gather, compete and refer with each other. To be successful, a dealership must become a part of the community. They must become part of the conversation. They must INTERACT with the community.
Part of what a community does is buy. But increasingly, whom they buy from is a person that is a part of the community. Someone that is giving, sharing, gathering, competing and referring other members of the community. The most successful dealerships never underestimate the power of their Social networks–their community. They “strike oil” and generate sales.
Do you know a dealership who is succeeding like this in Social Media?