You want whats online to match what’s in store to the best of your ability.

To the extent that we can give customers shared control of the process and give up some of that control, we can gain more business.

Communicate with customers the way they are communicating with us. The opportunity to connect with customers has never been greater than it is today.

Customers are always going to do what is in their self-interest all the time. I want to put the shortest distance between intention and outcome.

Are you a hunter or a farmer? I believe that you have to be both.

Your role and your vision really determine where you go.

Jim- Thank you for sharing our story with your audience. We appreciate people like you representing and reporting on our industry. Your team does a great job.

Amazon effect

Yesterday it was announced that Amazon has decided to pull out of their plans to relocate headquarters to my own city, New York City. Once again, the tail is wagging the dog in New York City as the smallest of minds in the smallest number, manage to win their way to costing New York City taxpayers millions of dollars.

Amazon had promised 25,000 jobs in HQ2 all to be in the range of $100,000/year. That would have generated over $2.5 billion in income to Queens, New York. In addition, the income tax generated would be over $1 billion to federal state and local municipalities. This is simply for payroll tax. Those 25,000 new jobs and residents would influence the local community and local economy in ways that would generate billions of dollars in additional revenue and thousands of other jobs being created in the process. Other industries impacted include restaurants, hotels, transportation, police, firemen, teachers, beauty parlors, service stations, nightclubs, taverns, and every other business imaginable that is currently struggling to make ends meet with skyrocketing city costs and burdensome taxes.

Queens had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help solidify New York’s presence as the East Coast tech capital of the United States. How could New York and its representatives be so shortsighted? State senator Michael Gianaris seemed to celebrate the loss of jobs, income, and revenue that Amazon would bring to the community.

Will additional tax dollars be generated by not having Amazon here? What about all the new construction in Long Island City? Who’s going to occupy those apartment buildings? Tax abatements are routinely given to drive business to zones that would help the local community. This was a golden opportunity to see Queens flourish but instead, as usual, the special interest groups backed by people with a vested interest in seeing queens go backward, won again.

Many people in the community were rejoicing at the opportunity to have such an important business player such as Amazon in our backyard. Our community has always welcomed diversity and inclusion which apparently doesn’t apply to successful tech companies coming with incredible opportunities for the communities at a time when it needs it the most.

Sadly, the concerns of few have won over the needs of many. The community, the borough, and the city are the immediate losers as undoubtedly business investment in this area will evaporate.

It’s understandable that Amazon pulled out, receiving a lukewarm reception from the city is in stark contrast with the other cities and states fighting to have Amazon. The tax revenue that would’ve been generated when they located to our community will now be the burden of the taxpayers that remain in Queens. It’s no wonder New York is no longer known as a business-friendly state. Nice job guys nice job…

Ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft have completely revolutionized transportation over the past several years, hindering business for taxi companies and impacting people’s decisions to purchase cars. Despite their popularity with consumers, the New York City Council made a move in early August to stop their growth, halting the issuance of new for-hire vehicle licenses for 12 months.

Stopping the issuing of licenses prohibits new individuals from using their own personal vehicle as a hailable car. The only thing that the cap does not limit is the granting of licenses for wheelchair accessible cars since there is a shortage of accessible cars in both services. This means that the number of available options, in the city, will either remain stagnant or decrease (if/when drivers decide to stop driving).

 

rideshare

The New York City Council said that they made their decision not because they want to get rid of the services in the city.

Instead, they said their decision was motivated by a desire to study the service and how it works. Since they have limited understanding of Uber and Lyft, and have not done a deep dive into the data surrounding it, they want to take some time to look at how the apps work–then regulate them better when they start issuing new licenses again. 39 members of the city council voted in favor of the cap, while 6 members voted against it.

The city council is currently considering another bill regarding ride-hailing companies, and it would require Uber and Lyft to hand over their data to be analyzed by the city. If they fail to provide the data, they’ll have to pay a $10,000 fine.

While the city council members claim they made their decision so that they could study the services more closely, there may be other reasons that they chose to limit the expansion of ride-sharing services.

First, the city council says that they believe that limiting Uber and Lyft will help ease traffic in NYC (have you ever been in NYC when there wasn’t traffic–even before Uber and Lyft existed?).

Also, Lyft and Uber have impacted the taxi medallion services that serve New York, since many people prefer the convenience of arranging a car from their smartphone, rather than having to stand on the street and hail a cab; ultimately this will force the medallion holders to provide better service(s) to their customers in order to remain competitive. The same forces may also be impacting subway and bus ridership; again, forcing those providers to rethink the convenience factor in favor of their riders. The city council should indeed take the time to study and understand the market forces behind this move by the consumers to do what is in their own intelligent self-interest. It is not Uber or Lyft that have been disruptive, it is the consumers that have elected to do what is best for them.

I applaud the New York City councils’ approach by making the cap temporary so that they can gather more information in advance of setting additional policies. I think even in the short term we will see a number of negative results, here are some of the most significant:

First, Uber and Lyft both think that riders will experience longer wait times since supply will dwindle, I agree. Additionally, service will become less reliable and costs will go up. Because there will be fewer cars the price of a ride will rise, and this will hurt consumers (voters) because it will cost them/us more money to get around.

Next, sadly, this cap will impact minority riders disproportionately. Uber and Lyft have all but eliminated the discretionary selection of passengers based on their appearance. Are we prepared to go back in time to an era when drivers had the discretion to select who they will pick up, and from which neighborhoods?

Also, the city government has elected to (albeit for a limited time) impact market forces by trying to regulate supply and demand. I believe, that the free markets should make that determination.

Finally, Uber and Lyft provided a great service to the consumers by giving the consumers shared control of the process. Consumers get to pick the type of vehicle, the driver, the time, and the location of pickup. Consumers get to select their driver by evaluating the experience of other consumers, this again allows the market force of customer satisfaction to weed out drivers that do not provide good service.

Ultimately, this decision hurts consumers and new drivers alike, by limiting options for consumers, and eliminating employment for those seeking this as their profession. It will be interesting to see the results of the market study one year from now…

Sales Strategy

For generations, the fundamentals of automobile sales strategy remained pretty much the same. Cars were sold in ways that produced results, year after year. However, in an era of rapid change, it is fair to ask how long the status quo will suffice.

Futurist Alvin Toffler warns that “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those that cannot read and write, but those that cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”

There are those in our industry who will survive and even thrive because they are truly willing to learn, unlearn and relearn. Or, put another way, “lather, rinse and repeat.”

Inertia, the tendency to do nothing, is a powerful force. Many won’t change until negative stimulation demands it. Individuals and businesses will finally change when their very survival is at stake. In today’s automobile marketplace, that time is fast approaching.

Times of Change

There’s evidence the traditional way of doing things is rapidly falling out of favor. There are three key reasons for this.

First, when Google surveyed North American automobile buyers, it found that 49 percent were frustrated during their dealer visits. Results were even worse among younger purchasers, with 63 percent of 18 to 34-year-olds saying they were frustrated by the process.

Second, the long-term brand loyalty that automakers once enjoyed is fading fast, and consumers are more than willing to look at new brands. In fact, 59 percent said they would consider a new brand, opening the door for a new wave of competitors.

Brand loyalty must be earned during every interaction between businesses and consumers. Today’s consumers won’t hesitate to flock to better deals and more interesting offers. They will often respond to innovation with a viral intensity unknown before the advent of social media.

Third, the consumption of transportation is rapidly shifting. In addition to radically new products, there are more transportation options, including ridesharing, flexible transportation platforms and even subscription-based services.

Where does this leave us?

Although we don’t have the financial resources of marketplace giants like Google, Walmart, Amazon, and Facebook, we can certainly learn from them. For example, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos teaches us about leveraging existing technologies to provide new levels of service to consumers.

In our industry, there’s simply too much friction damaging too many transactions. We must learn to leverage technologies from both inside and outside our industry to achieve more frictionless transactions.

Recommendations

Accordingly, I offer you these five recommendations:

1. Their experience, not yours

It is vital to develop innovative sales strategies that enhance your customer’s buying experience rather than your team’s selling experience. Walk in the customer’s shoes to the extent that you truly empathize with them and understand where they are coming from.

2. Stay current

Thanks in part to the power of the internet and social media, today’s consumers are more broadly educated and more aware. To keep up with them, you need to keep pace with changes inside our industry and in the world-at-large. Understand emerging trends in technology, retail and marketing. “Bundle” your emerging skill sets, and you’ll be better positioned to make new connections before your competitors do.

3. Think like a customer

Carefully listen to your customers in order to better see things from their perspective. You’ll quickly generate new ideas that will positively impact your business. Walk a mile in their shoes, and you’ll be glad you did.

4. Innovate with purpose

Don’t innovate simply to innovate. Align change with new consumer behaviors that are disrupting our industry. Embrace change, and focus your innovative efforts where they truly address the needs of today’s customer. Customers will ultimately do what’s best for them. Become the best alternative there is, and customers will seek you out.

5. Read an hour a day

Your mind is the very best tool you have. Lubricate, refine and expand your mind by reading at least an hour every day. In times of rapid change, an agile mind is priceless.

Finally, I urge you to look for other ways to follow Toffler’s advice to “learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

As you consider how your customers are disrupting the industry, disrupt your own long-held perceptions and challenge your traditional beliefs. Forge a new path into the unknown with confidence, dedication and imagination. Change always separates the also-rans from the leaders of tomorrow.

Remember, there is no better way to predict the future than to create it yourself. Carpe diem! Seize the day, and create your own compelling future!