Have you ever viewed the industry as a high school? Think about it for a minute. I’ve had this theory for some time. My brain sees really odd trends. I don’t know why or how but that is how I visualize anything. This particular theory is something I thought of and discussed with a few friends who agreed and convinced me that this theory stands. Let me know what you think! This class system has nothing to do with age and everything to do with when people enter AIH (Automotive Industry High school).
There is always an incoming class of people entering the industry or experiencing the automotive digital communities for the first time. These are people that are hungry for content and networking. They watch, they ask questions, they appreciate every answer, and look to most anyone that has a small amount of voice as a celebrity (or microcelebrity as Shaun Raines likes to say). This class is always our hope to change the future, but discouraging when they follow people that the upper classmen just don’t feel deserve the fame that Freshman give them. This class has all of our hope in their hands. This group sees everything with fresh eyes and can often time rejuvenate the upper classmen or make us roll our eyes at their thinking they are experiencing something for the first time in the history of the industry. They are innovative, embracing personal branding, and evolving the industry in front of our eyes (they just don’t know they are).
This is the class I would put myself in. A class of people who had material to work with that the Juniors created and shared. So, we got to adapt processes, scripts, and theories of those who went before us and we got to make it our own. We grew up in this industry at a time where technological advancement and online community participation helped elevate the dealer staff to a level that the Junior class couldn’t achieve during their time. This resulted in creating many dealership microcelebrities that surpassed the attention and accolades that the Juniors deserved but never received. This class is hungry for innovation, readily sharing information, and really wanting to educate their dealer peers with good unbiased quality content whether it comes from them or not. Many even made upward moves quickly to achieve great titles within dealerships. Some took their quick success as a sign and jumped ship to the vendor side only to find that the momentum did not follow and struggled to find their place. This group of characters continues to push the envelope of technology, innovation, and high standards for the industry as a whole. This class understands and accepts technology and digital as part of any role.
This group of characters is successful and passionate for the most part. They were pioneers with technology, culture, processes, websites, and internet lead handling. They lead the charge with so many innovative ideas and tactics. They then took those ideas and shared them with the rest of the population and I for one feel that the industry wouldn’t be what it is today without them. The unfortunate part is that they “grew up in the industry” right outside the technological boom of communication and they were unable to truly gain the celebrity status or attention they so rightfully deserved. Sometimes, they grow frustrated that the Sophomore class is repeating their information and getting cheered. There is some animosity when ideas come back around, but no one stole from any individual, the information has become so shared that they can’t even gain credit for the genius they brought to the industry. They love carrying the “upperclassmen “I’ve been there, done that” attitude and almost have Senioritis…. almost. Many can be jaded with the crap content spewed around, the flocks of lower classmen trying to make a name without any real evidence of success, and watching individuals and companies grow using their freely shared innovative ideas. Still, they educate onwards as most of them are working as innovative vendors partners hoping to continue moving this industry forward. This group created the huge companies and forums that have become a bloodline for the classes that have come to follow in their footsteps.
Ah, seniors. These are the ones that have seen it all and ready to take on the world. The word in itself assumes that people are old dogs that can’t learn new tricks, but you’re wrong! This group is a very special group. They came first, they have seen everything, they were the first to use the internet to sell cars and they were the first to venture into the digital space for automotive. The difference between this group and the Super Seniors is that they have adapted and evolved the basic sales principles and tactics to current day applications. They have fought to consistently reinvent themselves and have made huge impacts on the industry as a whole, not just digital. They paved the way for us all and deserve the respect that goes with it.
For those of you who don’t know, this is a term that describes people who have failed a year and are in school just to be in school. This category is reserved for the old dogs that refuse to learn new tricks, the ones who cannot seem to adapt and keep spewing the same content they heard or used 30 years ago. (They failed math, socially awkward with other classes, smokes during lunch, tries to get peers to fail with them, and will likely beat you up after school.) They cannot seem to graduate. Some have a temporary voice but are mostly irrelevant to the progress of this industry. That is all I have to say about that.
Like any high school, AIH has inter-class conflicts and issues, but it also has incredible innovation, camaraderie, challenging conversations, healthy (and not so healthy) debates, and inspirational messages.
Every day, someone shares something unique to inspire, help, and move this industry forward. Every week, someone complains that someone stole their idea but with an industry with so many participants, it is likely that more than one person came up with the same and implemented an idea to help sell them cars. Every year more people come in and others grow into upperclassmen.
From early on in my career I created a mission for myself to be a small part in moving this industry forward somehow. I see others with pretty much the same mission and I’m so inspired. So, I ask… where do you fall and do you think this is accurate? What are you doing to be a true PART of this industry? #Autofam is alive and well because of the loving people we have among us (ie: #carstrong) but are you attending Auto Industry High?