Friday, July 21, 2023

#AuthorInterview with Paris Song, author of Modern Dealership

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Lily Andrews is talking with Paris Song, author of Modern Dealership: A Blueprint for the Dealership of Tomorrow.
FQ: I'm fascinated by your background. Would you give our readers a quick look at what "drives" you, and how you came to have such a passion for the automotive industry?
SONG: My fascination with cars began at a young age when I visited a dealership with my parents. The sight of those beautiful shiny cars sparked a sense of wonder and curiosity within me. I couldn't help but wonder who the fortunate individuals were that worked with these magnificent cars every day. However, my parents didn't share the same enthusiasm.
What truly drives me is my innate desire to solve problems. As a budding physicist in college, I was drawn to the complexity of unsolved equations such as P vs. NP, Riemann hypothesis, and Hodge conjecture. I spent countless days immersed in solving these mathematical mysteries. Over time, my passion has evolved to focus on applying my problem-solving skills to the real world. Today, I find immense satisfaction in identifying operational glitches and outdated business models and obsessively working to fix them. Though my path has shifted, I remain a scientist at heart, using my analytical mindset to create practical solutions in the automotive industry and beyond.
FQ: Your book is one of the most interesting texts I have read regarding the automotive industry. You obviously have the passion, but what made you decide to write a book about the issues you see in today's dealerships?
SONG: Writing a book about the issues facing today's dealerships was a natural progression for me. I love the automotive industry. It’s filled with fascinating jargon, and the work is undeniably exciting and rewarding. It became evident that in order to stay relevant and successful, dealerships needed to adapt to evolving consumer behaviors, embrace technological advancements, and embrace transparency in their operations. It was my burning desire to share my insights and practical principles with others, offering guidance to navigate these transformative shifts and thrive in an ever-changing market.
FQ: Can a new auto dealership rely on the practical principles offered to help them prepare for probable catastrophes such as Covid-19 that may occur in the future? Do you see resistance from some businesses to implement change?
SONG: Absolutely. The practical principles outlined in the book can serve as a valuable guide for any dealership—new or established—when preparing for uncertain times like Covid-19. Embracing change can be met with resistance in any industry, including automotive, but the pandemic has shown the importance of adaptability. Dealerships that are open to change and agile in their strategies are more likely to weather future challenges and emerge stronger.
FQ: If there was one thing that you would encourage dealers to address now, to better prepare for the 2023-2024 financial year, what would it be?
SONG: To better prepare for the 2023-2024 financial year, I would strongly encourage dealerships to fully embrace the concept of a digital experience and automation. The post-pandemic world has witnessed a significant shift in consumer behaviors and preferences. Although masks may have been dropped, the impact of these changes on our way of living and thinking is here to stay. As a result, the demand for a seamless and fully digital purchase experience will continue to rise. Dealerships that invest in robust digital platforms, streamlined online processes, and innovative automation technologies will be better positioned to meet the evolving expectations of customers. By focusing on providing a convenient and efficient digital journey, dealerships can enhance customer satisfaction, attract new buyers, and ultimately drive business growth in the upcoming financial year and beyond.
FQ: Some of the challenges facing the auto industry are brought on by advancements in technology, and I'm sure readers would desire to read an elaborated text on this topic. Do you have any plans to do a book on the topic?
SONG: Advancements in technology indeed pose significant challenges and opportunities for the auto industry. While I haven't planned a specific book on this topic yet, I'm certainly intrigued by the idea. Understanding and harnessing technology are vital for dealerships to remain competitive and provide exceptional customer experiences. Exploring this area in depth could prove valuable to the industry.
FQ: I recall back in the 80s, when shopping with my father for a new car, his warning about "hidden costs and other issues." You have highlighted this issue, the lack of transparency, as a predominant issue that breeds customer mistrust. This transparency seems to be well-known among consumers - why have dealerships not gotten proactive? Why have they let this "fester" for years?
SONG: The lack of transparency in some dealerships has been an issue for decades, and it's a complex matter. It may have been overlooked by some because change can be uncomfortable or challenging. However, I believe the tide is turning, and more dealerships are recognizing that transparency is essential to building trust and establishing long-lasting customer relationships. Embracing radical transparency can differentiate dealerships in a positive way, increasing customer loyalty and improving overall reputation.
FQ: Speaking of lack of transparency, would you discuss how long you think results may start to show once a business employs radical transparency?
SONG: Implementing the policy of transparency will show initial results relatively quickly—within 2-3 months. However, its full impact takes time to permeate throughout the dealership. Building trust is not an overnight process, and consistent efforts to foster transparency will gradually yield positive outcomes. As customers witness the dealership's commitment to openness, their confidence will grow, leading to increased loyalty and word-of-mouth referrals.
FQ: What is your opinion regarding the volatile employee retention state in the auto industry, and how does it affect profitability?
SONG: The volatile employee retention state in the auto industry is indeed a challenge. High turnover rates negatively affect dealership profitability, impacting both operational efficiency and customer experience. Addressing this issue requires a multi-faceted approach, including offering competitive compensation and benefits, providing opportunities for growth and advancement, and fostering a positive and inclusive work environment.
FQ: What are your thoughts regarding the effects of evolving consumer habits such as internet shopping, particularly for brick-and-mortar businesses that may take longer to fully automate?
SONG: Evolving consumer habits, particularly the shift towards internet shopping, have significantly impacted the automotive industry. While some customers embrace the convenience of online transactions, brick-and-mortar businesses can still thrive by providing exceptional in-person experiences. Dealerships should focus on creating a seamless omnichannel approach that complements digital offerings with personalized in-store experiences, ensuring a cohesive and customer-centric journey.
FQ: Your book cover and title are simple and minimalistic, with the design's focal point grabbing one's attention. Tell us a bit about how you arrived at this impeccable design.
SONG: The design of the book cover and title aimed to capture the essence of the content succinctly. The minimalistic approach symbolizes transparency and simplicity, core principles discussed in the book. We wanted the design to be eye-catching, evoking curiosity and inviting readers to explore the insights within its pages.
FQ: In your epilogue, you mentioned that this book took three years to write. Should your audience expect a new publication soon, or do you plan to spend time marketing this book first, before starting a new project?
SONG: I don't have immediate plans for a new publication, but I'm always exploring new ideas and topics. For now, my focus will be on sharing the lessons from Modern Dealership and engaging with readers to drive positive change in the industry.

No comments:

Post a Comment