In the automotive business, there’s a bit of preoccupation with the future. There are always new prototypes that engage future car fantasies. Right now, there’s an almost deafening buzz about autonomous cars and all the various and sometimes controversial sub-topics that surround the future of driverless transportation. It’s fun to imagine what life will be like when these cars become widely available.
While it’s easy to find enthusiastic conversations about future cars among the staff at your typical car dealership, it’s a little more rare to find conversations happening about future planning at a dealership. Just like autonomous cars come with some tricky considerations, getting your automotive business prepared for the future can come with complications.
There are two main areas that a dealership must consider when future-proofing the business:
Cyber-security: You’d never leave the showroom unlocked or forget to turn on the security cameras when you leave, but you may be doing essentially the same thing if you don’t have a solid cyber-security plan for your dealership. There are several aspects of cyber-security that need to be addressed:
- You need a password policy. Employees should be encouraged to use a strong password that includes both upper- and lower-case letters, punctuation and a string of six to eight characters. Establish a regular timeline for passwords to change.
- Secure mobile devices. There’s important customer data and other information flowing between devices and your servers, so make sure the transmissions are safe. You should also password-protect mobile devices, because the threat of loss or theft represents significant risk to your dealership.
- Use firewalls and antivirus protection. Consider hiring an IT security specialist that can assess your security at the dealership and make recommendations for protection against a breach.
Future leadership: It’s never comfortable to think about how the dealership would move forward if there were a need for an immediate succession of leadership. If the dealership is family-owned, it can be difficult for the owner’s children to approach the topic of a transition plan.
Still, this is a critical step for long-term success for any automotive business. Not only should future leaders be identified, then trained and prepared for their future roles, but future goals for the dealership should also be established.
It may be helpful to think of future planning as vision-casting or continuing the legacy of the leadership team. The current leadership can find satisfaction in feeling that they have a major influence in determining the direction of the business, and the effects will be seen even long past their own retirement.
Make future-proofing your automotive business a priority. While it may take some effort to get started, you’ll be glad that you have a plan in place to secure the future of your dealership.