In 2007, in the award-winning film about entrepreneurialism and greed There Will Be Blood, actor Daniel Day-Lewis earned an Academy Award for his menacing portrayal of oil prospector Daniel Plainview.
In a pivotal scene, Plainview describes how he uses diagonal drilling—comparing it to angling a drinking straw from his claim underground to his competitors’ to drain away their oil and sell it as his—exclaiming, “I drink your milkshake!”
Who’s diagonally drilling into your business?
There is a breed of company, known as fintechs, making big moves by responding to the shifting retail paradigm driven by consumers through new technologies. FintechWeekly.com describes them as businesses competing directly with banks to sell financial services and solutions to consumers—and by extension (my words), siphoning away a share of your customers’ wallet.
As a dealer, you have one of two options in the face of this new competition: One, do nothing and watch your revenue drain away or, two, embrace fintechs as business partners who will route more warm leads to your door.
You can do the latter by collaborating with them through a partnership with your digital sales and F&I technology providers. They can help you leverage fintechs’ consumer appeal, so you can also capture a share of this growing opportunity.
Understand that the fintech challenge isn’t a pure technology-driven one. Instead, it’s a response to your customers, who’ve asked for more accessible, more transparent, and more flexible ways to do business with dealers—and the industry’s response hasn’t met consumer expectations.
Of course, our industry is responding in meaningful and significant ways. One example is the emerging digital retail automotive ecosystem that helps dealers to deliver an end-to-end digital sales and F&I experience.
If you ignore Mr. Plainview’s strategy for your dealership consumer channels now, it may be too late for you to benefit from these revenue flows.
Unbridled fintechs will continue to nibble nimbly at your operation using apps, interactive ads, and in-game experiences and embedded technologies all along your customers’ car-shopping journey. They’ll grab their attention and revenue from their earliest touch points, via media, online search, and other channels—and right into your sales and service departments.
Don’t let them do it.
Bank Innovation magazine notes, “Dealer channels are a vital source in such a business [as auto dealerships]; customer buying behavior is evolving, and this poses a challenge to the existing norm. As direct channels emerge, this will affect the buying behavior of cars. Challenges can emerge when the journey of a dealer and end customer is reimagined.”
The correlation to the car business may not be precisely parallel, but a report out of Ireland offers some cautions. Independent.IE believes Irish financial services firms could experience revenue losses of up to 40% to fintech operators over the next three to five years.
Forbes discussed the threat four years ago: “Transparent online and mobile platforms will not only empower borrowers to access the best products available to them in the market, but they will also cut out the spreads that dealers currently layer on finance and insurance products.”
In the meantime, the industry is watching TrueCar, Carvana, and now cars as a service (CaaS) startups like Flexdrive, Clutch, and others redefining the dealership model, forcing more-agile dealers to innovate quickly to respond and compete.
You want to be alert to fintech’s reach into your pockets. Here are a few applications used by fintechs that may be doing that, but which you can utilize to keep those activities yours:
You can respond proactively to this challenge. Start discussing this today with your technology providers—those that have demonstrated loyalty and commitment to the auto industry, your dealership, and your customers.
The right partners will also understand how potential fintech technologies threaten your business. Their expertise can help you leverage the same digital mechanisms so that the customers and their business that those apps threaten will remain yours.
Ideal partners for this most-urgent competitive response will bring to the table:
Give the following urgent consideration: