Embrace digital tools, dealers urged at DealerTalkX Calgary

Canadian auto dealer was in Calgary for the second leg of Kijiji’s three-city 2017 DealerTalkX conference, which focused primarily on the car buying process and changes that dealers need to consider to improve the overall consumer experience. The emphasis was, of course, on digital.

The Montreal DealerTalkX event, which took place in September, set the groundwork for this issue. Speakers  had discussed the impact of digital disruption in the auto retail industry and offered several solutions. In Calgary, the speakers took this topic to another level by shining a light on the car buying process and how dealers need to make it more modern.

Martin Latulippe, the opening keynote at the conference, addressed the issue of a changing consumer with a reminder that millennials will represent 75 per cent of the workforce by 2025.

Latulippe, a successful entrepreneur, author, and business strategist, says the same amount of care and consistency that dealers put into the dealership and showroom must extend to their digital marketing strategy. And that strategy should include video content on social networks like Facebook due to the powerful impact this medium has on consumers.

Annie Deslauriers and Lindsay Duffield of Sym-Tech Dealer Services talked about the future of F&I — a topic that also touched on the car buying process and its urgent need for a redesign. “If you Google ‘I hate buying a new car,’ you will get over 8 million hits,” said Deslauriers.

CarProof’s Stephan Lalonde and Brent Brooks further explored the issue by telling dealers to look outside of the automotive sector to see what other industries are doing. One aspect they noticed was that the purchasing experience was faster and easier.

“Make it faster, make is easier,” said Lalonde, adding that “the customer won’t wait three seconds for a website to load, but is expected to wait 43 minutes for a valuation.”

TheCargurl.com’s Emma Hancock reminded dealers about the importance of improving the dealership experience for women. “You’ll be rewarded today with the sale, and you’ll be rewarded tomorrow with the referral,” said Hancock. “Women are the queens of word of mouth — her word of mouth will create your digital referral network,” she said.

Other speakers like Duane Marino, author and founder of Duane Marino Automotive Solutions, discussed how the digital realm requires a different sales approach. He said dealers should pay close attention to the average transaction time, and suggests developing a sales and transaction process as two separate entities.

Kevin Gordon, co-founder and Managing Partner at Convertus, offered an energetic presentation on the importance of attribution and how it can help dealers make smarter marketing decisions. But to really take advantage of attribution, dealers first need to set up their Google Analytics.

“Very few dealers have Google Analytics goals, events, and referrals traffic properly configured,” said Gordon. “This is essential if you want to generate meaningful attribution reports within GA.”

James Carter, principal consultant of Vision Mobility, wondered what car ownership would look like in the future.

“I think we’re on the edge of a tipping point right here,” said Carter. “If you’re a manager, start positioning your business for rapid change.”

Finally, Devin Daly — the CEO and co-founder of SpinCar, and the closing keynote speaker for the event — urged dealers to pay more attention to their online showrooms. That’s because it gets almost 20 times more traffic than the physical one.

He suggests getting vehicles online fast to avoid missing opportunities, shooting vehicles in a consistent format to ensure a professional look, and to make sure that value-added features are captured using dynamic photo prompts. 

Organized by Kijiji, Canada’s largest online classifieds site, the theme of DealerTalkX 2017 is “Dealership of the future.” The next event will take place in Toronto, Ont. on Nov. 16.

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Canadian auto dealer