Breaking News! The Future Of America’s Auto Industry Is Changing With Ford

The opening quarter of 2018 has been an eventful one for the auto industry. First, continued concerns about Tesla factories and worker hardships flooded the web, along with newer issues related to its (literally) driverless cars. In March, the horrific accident involving Uber’s self-driving vehicle showed us that perhaps autonomy isn’t where we all thought it was. Then there were a few scary weekends in which U.S. auto stocks fell after talks of tariffs and a global recession.

Such stories dwarfed normally important industry news, pushing otherwise front-page headlines onto the third page, such as GM’s switch to quarterly reporting and a wave of subscription and rental services offered to dealers.

Now that those viral-friendly pieces have seemingly come and gone, it’s time to focus on what we feel is the biggest automotive story of the year: Ford’s aggressive plans for the future, including the elimination of nearly every sedan in its lineup.

Breaking Ford News

“What?! Did I Miss Something?”

If you haven’t yet heard about Ford’s five-yearish plan, then yes, you’ve missed something. Announced within the official Ford 1Q Financial Statement, the automaker’s strategic framework is as follows:

  • By 2020, Ford will cut ties with all sedans and cars not named “Mustang” or “Focus.”
  • The new Focus Active crossover will be the only holdover.
  • Approximately 90% of the Ford portfolio will be made from pickups, SUVs, and commercial vehicles.
  • By 2022, Ford will produce 16 electric-hybrid models, including the F-150, Escape, and upcoming Bronco.
  • Ford will focus extensively on developing a so-called “viable autonomous technology business” to offer ride-hailing and the delivery of goods.
  • The company will also scale its Transportation Mobility Cloud product and Ford Credit program.
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State of the Self-Driving Car: Mid-2017 Report

In a year that’s been interesting, to say the least, there’s been a lot of chatter about self-driving cars. Will autonomy seep into the factory and roadways to take our jobs and swing us too far into the future for our own good? Or do the benefits of having cheaper auto insurance premiums and safer and uncongested streets outweigh the cons?

Whether you’re an optimist or a cynic on the subject, it matters not; autonomous cars are approaching faster than anyone could have imagined five years ago. With Tesla, Google, and Apple making headway, what do the other big-name automakers have cookin’? Here’s your mid-year “State of the Union” on where we’re at in the self-driving vehicle arena.

Self Driving Car

GM to Lead the American Self-Driving Market

June was the month of months for GM after announcing that they’re ready to ship out another 130 self-driving Chevrolet Bolts—a total of 180—for on-road testing. These first- and second-generation autonomous Bolts are equipped with HD cameras, cross-traffic monitoring systems, and traffic light-sensing sensors.

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Top Car Dealer Digital Marketing Must-Haves for 2017

We’re still in the first month of the New Year, which means it’s a better time than ever to re-evaluate your Digital Marketing strategy. To make things easier for you, we’ve compiled a list of digital marketing must-haves that every car dealer should be employing. Take a look to see how you check out; if you need any help, let us know, and we’ll get you on the road to more sales faster than a Bugatti.

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Don’t Use Stock Photos

This might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many dealerships out there are still using stock photos on their SRP and VDP pages. Stock photos aren’t hard to spot. They look bland and could be the deciding factor for potential customers who are comparing your lot to your competitors’. It’s not a bad idea to have a photographer on call. After all, professional photos of the interior and exterior of all your cars could give you a leg up on your competition.

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18th Digital Dealer Conference – #DD18

At the upcoming 18th Digital Dealer Conference, top minds from the auto business will converge with digital experts to share their immense knowledge and real world advice on how to deal with the digitalization of the modern car dealership. This year’s event will be held from April 21-23 in Tampa, FL with attendees gaining insights on how today’s consumers are buying, servicing, and interacting with car dealers online.

Digital Dealer 18

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B…b…b… Bad to the bone!

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Outrageous. Bodacious. And ready to “IROC” your world!

Warning! If you’re a guy with bladder-control problems and you are lucky enough to see the 2014 Camaro Z/28 up close and personal at a Chevy dealership near you, please use the appropriate absorbent undergarments. Trust me. You’re gonna need ’em.

With a 7.0 liter Corvette Z06 16-valve, OHV V8 under the massive hood throbbing with 506 hp @ 6,100 rpm which generates a prodigious 481 lb ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm, this isn’t a car; it’s Godzilla with a great script and much better special effects.

This ultra-wicked iteration of the legendary Camaro Z/28 is so bad-ass that even the Prince of Darkness himself (no the other Prince, not the rock star from Minneapolis) would say: “That’s way cool. Where do I get one?”

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Top Three Tips for Dealership Succession Planning

Passing the ownership torch at your dealership

Passing the Ownership Torch at Your Dealership

It was recently announced that Ford CEO Alan Mulally will retire on July 1st with COO Mark Fields stepping up to become CEO. Fields had been groomed for taking over the reins at Ford since 2012 when the position of chief operating officer was created specifically to prepare him for transitioning into his new leadership role in Dearborn.

Fields already established himself as someone who would have the confidence, support and respect of Wall Street, senior management, and the rank-and-file by leading a turnaround of Ford’s North American operations, which is the engine that is driving Ford’s resurgent profitability.

Clearly the Ford brass had a well thought-out succession plan in place to ensure that passing the torch would be seamless, with minimal impact to the bottom line. They succeeded.

Now, what about your dealership’s succession plan? Have you even thought about what will happen when you step down, or are no longer capable of running your business?

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Spanish: The new language of car sales

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Can you really afford to ignore a $1.5 trillion economic market?

According to a recent study by Nielson, if the U.S. Hispanic market were its own standalone country, it would be one of the top 20 economies in the world!

Stop reading for a moment and let that jaw-dropping statistic sink in.

Any consumer retailer should stand up and take notice. The message is clear: If you are not properly and aggressively marketing to Hispanics, you are missing out on a huge opportunity to dramatically increase your sales.

The study goes on to say that the median age of the Hispanic demographic market is 28 years old. More importantly, the study identified seven key sectors of the economy which stand to benefit the most from this rapidly growing market. Transportation, which includes automotive sales and airlines, was included in this list.

So, practically speaking, what does this surge in Hispanic buying clout mean for your dealership?

First of all, you need to look at your website. You should consider creating a separate Spanish-language website with Mexican and American flag icons that allow users to easily switch between the two. You should also have a Spanish-language section on your dealership’s Facebook page. The buzzword which describes this is “bicultural.” Read more about it here: http://www.hispaniconlinemarketing.com/.

The most important take away is that second and third-generation Latinos are equally comfortable in either the American or Hispanic cultures.

Now, let’s talk about staffing. How many Spanish-speaking sales people do you employ? How visible are they? What about your receptionist and BDC? Do you have Spanish-speakers manning your chat lines? Is there a function on your phone system with instructions in Spanish? What about F&I and your fixed-ops? Do you have bi-lingual staff in these key areas? And consider this also: The sales negotiation process for Hispanics is somewhat different, so having seasoned Hispanic staff on your front line is essential to success.

In terms of both your digital and traditional advertising, you should consider promoting the bi-lingual nature of your dealership. Foster a welcoming attitude which embraces both the language and the culture of Hispanics.

These are just some of the things you can and should be doing to attract Hispanic buyers to your dealership. So don’t be afraid to learn a new auto dealer marketing language. Because at the end of the day, it will translate into more sales. To which we say: “Bueno!”

The green revolution’s impact on auto dealer profits

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Hybrids…electrics…and hydrogen…oh my!

Recently, a futurist named Lars Thomsen predicted that gas cars will become obsolete by 2016. Well, maybe not. But the impact “green” vehicles are beginning to have on society cannot be overlooked. So, in celebration of Earth Day, we’re taking a look at how alternative-energy vehicles are affecting the automotive industry and what it means for the future of your sales, marketing and fixed-ops focus.

Internal combustion engines have been around for a long time. Some early versions date back to the 1700s. But the first commercially successful internal combustion engine was produced around 1862 in Germany. So it’s not surprising that the first automobile would come out of the research done by such engineering visionaries as Nikolaus Otto, Gottlieb Daimler, Wilhelm Maybach and Karl Benz. Nevertheless, it was a British engineer named Edward Butler who built the first successful gasoline-powered internal combustion engine in 1884.

One of the first “electric carriages” was built between 1832 and 1839 in Scotland. And of course, steam engines also powered vehicles dating back to the same time period.

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Celebrating Ford Mustang’s 50th Anniversary

 

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The Year of the Horse:
A personal tribute to the Mustang’s 50th Anniversary

Mustangs have always been a part of my life. Growing up in Orange County, Calif. (aka “The OC”) near enough to Disneyland to hear the bands playing at the TomorrowLand Terrace (with its rising stage for dramatic effect), my first recollection of Ford’s iconic ponycar was our 1965 canary yellow ‘stang with black vinyl interior. My mom traded that car in for a canary yellow 1968 Mustang coupe (she really liked yellow). I remember it well. It had the classic 289 cubic inch V-8 with a three-speed automatic. There were “swooping” black racing stripes on the door panels. The front grill featured two built-in fog lights. The “pop out” chrome gas cap was located in the center of the back rear panel. The interior was replete with white leather and an eye-straining amount of chrome and fake chrome everywhere, set off by a black dash. The wide center console featured a chrome “T” shifter and a matching chrome-faced “roll-top” cubby for stashing stuff. The car was fully loaded for its day, coming with air conditioning, power steering, power brakes and an AM/FM radio (the cutting-edge of technology!). I seem to recall that it had no power windows or power door locks, however. I can remember going with my mother down to the local Ford dealership in my ancestral home of Anaheim and custom ordering her ride. Needless to say, like most women I’ve ever known, she knew exactly what she wanted. And she got it.

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