The old saying goes, “Change is good.” But, the reality is, “Change can be really uncomfortable.” When organizations switch technologies, make broad structural shifts, or roll out new policies, the decision is never made lightly. Your dealership, like most, relies heavily on technology to run effectively. With two out of three car buyers preferring to complete most of the buying process online¹, the switch to digital sales is fueling the need for faster, more integrated technology within major franchise dealerships. So, the saying really should be, “Change might be scary, but it’s absolutely necessary!” Making the decision to switch your dealership’s Dealer Management System (DMS) is a big decision, and dealers often begin the process of consideration up to two years before their contract expires. So, when you’re ready to move to a new DMS, finding consensus among your team can ensure a successful launch. Overcome objections with the following tips before you make the move to a new DMS.
Prepare for Pushback
The more prepared your dealership team feels about an upcoming DMS switch, the less likely you’ll encounter pushback. “The more you can get people ready for change, and get them to the point where they’re open and ready to move on with life before you make that change, the more effective that’s going to be,” shares Bryan Baer, General Manager of Budd Baer Auto Group. Still, though, it’s best to be prepared to encounter some level of pushback from even your most flexible and agreeable team players. Ensuring your dealership staff is in the right mindset by the time you’re ready to launch your new DMS may require some flexibility on your part as well. Check your own mindset and make sure you’re prepared to hear some rumblings of discomfort.
“The more you can get people ready for change, and get them to the point where they’re open and ready to move on with life before you make that change, the more effective that’s going to be.” – Bryan Baer, General Manager | Budd Baer Auto Group
Reach out to Nay-sayers
Basic Change Management advice will tell you to find your advocates—anyone excited and willing to embrace the new change you’re bringing forth. That’s really good advice because, as Performance Manager Mark Gabriella points out, “If you don’t have a champion that wants to take the reins, you’re gonna be fighting an uphill fight.” But, that doesn’t mean Dealer Principals and Managers should ignore anyone who isn’t 100% on board simply because they have a handful of eager participants backing them up. Often, when management is ready to make a switch to a new DMS, there’s a good reason. Lack of easy integration, high fees, and clumsy user interfaces, and lack of customer support are some of the top reasons dealers have made the switch. “But, also,” Gabriella warns, “look for those who don’t (embrace new technology). It’s easy to find those who do, but it’s sometimes better to look for those who do not and turn them around.” Ignoring the team members who aren’t ready for change, or don’t understand your reasons, can cause long-lasting resentments that fester long after you make the change.
Validate Concerns by Backing Up Your Decision
When making the decision to switch to a new DMS, your dealership will have time between the decision date go-live to prepare the team. During that time, it’s your job as a leader to field concerns from each department and reiterate the business decision for change. Any organization that intends to grow and adapt to the changing market conditions and changes in buyer habits simply cannot abide by the mentality that “what we have now works just fine,” or “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” Listen, validate, but remember to communicate to your employees the core reasons behind your decision.
Call On Your Partners to Step Up
One major objection dealers are likely to encounter from team members is that their staff is simply too busy to take on a DMS switch. Fears of “downtime” and lost productivity due to training are very real concerns. This is a reminder that the vendors you work with do not get a free pass to disperse as the ink is drying on the contract. Call upon your partners to manage the heavy lifting of training, and ensure that process efficiency is understood as the intended outcome from the switch. Your team is already busy. Let your vendors do the work.
Resistance to change is perfectly normal. Leading your dealership through a DMS change, overcoming objections, and building consensus is the sign of good leadership. Your dealership is destined for growth. Take the next step and download the full guide, The Road to Consensus, to get everyone on board before the big day.
¹Cox Automotive COVID-19 Consumer and Dealer Impact Study