The quote “Just OK is not OK” from AT&T commercials is becoming an Internet meme. The irony is that in the mobile carrier industry AT&T is the popular wireless phone company that many consider merely OK, at least compared to Verizon.  Brand building and reality aside, the quote popped up in the automotive industry in a Dealer Refresh article by Ilana Zur.

Zur writes:

As the infamous vendor in the automotive space struggling with the balance of bringing bold innovation while also staying relevant for dealerships, this commercial resonated with me (seriously, watch it). Dealerships have good processes in place– you invest in SEM with an agency, you have a working website (most of the time), and you probably do some kind of training for your sales team to keep them up-to-date with the latest strategies on how to sell to women or how to negotiate a pre-owned deal. You probably get some kind of report that tells you how you’re performing– conversions, CPC, website health metrics, and, of course, how many cars you sold from your current vendors. Sometimes even down to the VIN. You get the drill.

But what happens when there’s a new technology — or revolutionary innovation — in the space that may replace something that’s been working for you for years?

This is a fair question.  Direct Ecommerce auto sales may not kill your dealership in the next few years.  But it is a real threat. Carvanas and Vrooms will come and go.  New startups will pop up with other ideas to chop up and reform the customer buying experience.  Some dealers are already meeting the challenge by building or partnering so they too can not just market, but also sell online.  My last car was bought through such a traditional dealership.  I didn’t set foot in the dealership and I loved it.

There is no doubt that the Internet and technology are impacting the industry and forcing dealers to be more nimble and receptive to change.  You can’t ignore new and more effective ways to reach prospects online, convert them to buyers, and reduce your current costs of doing business.

You can’t settle for just being OK.  More importantly, your customers won’t let you settle.  They’ll simply find a dealer who is more in tune to how they shop and buy now – like I did – not how it used to be done 50 or even 20 years ago.

One solution is a dedicated Internet or marketing executive who can be your internal champion and gateway to agencies, programs, and technologies that will benefit your dealership.  What else are you doing to keep up change?  Let us know!