Dealer Huddle West “The Connected Dealership”

By Amber Cruickshank

There is nothing like a good old fashion meeting of the minds to network, learn and get inspired and on March 15, 2023, in the beautiful city of Calgary, AB, that’s precisely what happened. 

Dealer Huddle West II was a VIP automotive event focussing on the future of Canadian automotive trends, marketing and the next generation of employees. It was an all-day event featuring guest speakers from Google Canada automotive, Tik Tok automotive, local dealerships and groups and other automotive industry leaders who shared their knowledge and personal experiences in today’s marketplace. It’s fair to say that Dealer Huddle West 2023 was enlightening for those that attended and a great representation of what the future looks like for Dealers, Marketers and Auto Industry Professionals. 

Leadbox’s very own Sr. Director of Sales Randy Leal was there to soak in the knowledge and had this to say; 

“Attending Dealer Huddle West 2023 was an inspiring experience. Seeing so many young, bright minds focused on the future of Digital Technology and its impact on the Canadian Automotive industry was truly remarkable.  It’s clear the future of the automotive industry continues to be digital and that some of today’s and tomorrow’s best minds are focused on ensuring it’s customer-centric.” – Randy Leal, Sr. Director of Sales for Leadbox.

Randy also shared his biggest takeaways…

Data is King – As we get closer and closer to a cookie-free internet experience, Dealers are recommended to get a handle on 1st party data. Tools that help support 1st party data and utilize it effectively will be a trend in the next couple of years. 

We discussed this in our Leadbox blog, How to Provide a Better Online Shopping Experience without 3rd Party Cookies, a few weeks back. Your Dealership is full of valuable 1st party data often found in your DMS, CRM and other systems where customer data can be found. This data can be one of your biggest competitive advantages if you can collect, store and organize it well. 

Search and Video – Search and Video have more influence in the purchase journey than OEM or dealer websites, and online video influences the buying decision of nearly 70% of Canadian shoppers.

There are many reasons that search and video are pulling ahead in this digital age.

  • Convenience – Search engines and video platforms like Google and YouTube are easily accessible and available to shoppers at any time and from any location, making them a convenient source of information.
  • Diverse Content – Search engines and video platforms offer a vast array of content in various formats, such as text, images, and videos, making it easier for shoppers to find the information they need in a design that suits them best.
  • Unbiased information – Shoppers may perceive OEM or car dealer websites as biased sources of information. In contrast, search engines and video platforms offer more impartial information, enabling shoppers to make informed decisions.

Other factors contributing to video influencing buying decisions are visual appeal, emotional connection and the ability to demonstrate products and/or services. 

Social Media – TikTok is becoming an increasingly important tool in dealership awareness advertising and is reaching a key demographic. And in case you’re wondering if this means having your Sales Manager do a viral dance to get views or just advertising on the platform itself, it’s actually both! Why are platforms like TikTok gaining traction? 

  • Wide audience reach – TikTok has over 1 billion active users, which means car dealerships can reach a vast audience and attract new customers.
  • Key demographic – TikTok’s primary demographic is Generation Z and Millennials, starting to enter the car-buying market. These generations value authenticity and entertainment, which TikTok can offer.
  • Engaging content – TikTok is a platform where short, creative videos can gain significant traction, and car dealerships can create engaging content that entertainingly showcases their vehicles and services.
  • Viral potential – TikTok’s algorithm is designed to promote content that resonates with users, which means that if a dealership’s content is well-received, it can go viral and reach an even larger audience.
  • Cost-effective – Creating content on TikTok can be relatively inexpensive compared to other forms of advertising, making it an accessible option for car dealerships.

E-Commerce – Dealers should look deeper into e-commerce web solutions for online parts sales, as Amazon sees this as a very lucrative vertical. There are a few reasons why this makes sense. 

  • Changing customer behaviour – Customers increasingly turn to online channels to buy car parts, and dealerships must adapt to meet this changing demand.
  • Increased revenue potential – By offering parts online, dealerships can expand their customer base beyond their local area and reach a broader audience, boosting sales and revenue potential.
  • Improved customer experience: An e-commerce platform can provide a seamless shopping experience for customers, with features such as easy search and filtering options, product recommendations, and customer reviews. 

And finally, the last big takeaway…

Online Shopping – The trend towards online vehicle shopping is continuing, with 6% of ICE consumers and 12% of EV consumers saying they engaged in online buying experiences, with 54% (ICE) and 74%(EV) saying they want to purchase their next vehicle online.
Overall, the Dealer Huddle West II was an enlightening and educational experience; if you couldn’t be there, we hope this recap is helpful. Still have questions? Leadbox is always here to help…unless you need viral TikTok dance content. We’ll leave that to you.


Dealer Marketing