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AM Executive Breakfast Club: What car dealers can learn from sports clubs

Dealers should not feel singled out as an industry being left behind by social media just because some companies are leading the way.

Josh Robinson, Sports Revolution director of creative and integration, told members of the AM Executive Breakfast Club at its latest meeting at Simpson’s-in-the-Strand, London, that most businesses in the UK have not worked out how to make social media work for them.


Dealers can equip customers with technology to enhance the showroom experience  
Digital experience lets potential customers explore cars at their own pace  

Sports Revolution works with football clubs and sports teams to monetise their stadium experiences and nurture social communities using digital technology.

“Most businesses are unsure of the amount of time and money they should be investing in it,”  said Robinson.

“Most football clubs have no strategy for social media yet. Like most businesses, they know there’s something that could be useful to help their business there, but they don’t know what exactly.”

Sports Revolution has been introducing wi-fi to football stadiums to help generate revenue.

“Stadiums are the cathedrals of sport. Thousands of people will be gathered around the massive moment of the game,” Robinson said.

“Sports fans are heavy users of social media and they love sharing their opinions and right there, in that scenario, they have no access to the internet.”

Most football clubs struggle to cater for the thousands of smartphones searching for an internet connection, even on 4G networks.

Robinson said it costs about £1million to install reliable wifi for sports fans. However, it generates revenue by fans using an app, called Stadium Live, to access live stats on the game and which gives brands such as Heineken, Emirates, B&Q and Beko the ability to interact with the fans.

“Social media has really rocked our world. Sports fans are consuming and sharing their passion online and football clubs need to be involved with that conversation,” said Robinson.

“Human beings like to belong to communities – it gives them confidence and confidence helps reinforce identity. That’s what branding is.

“People buy into a certain brand because it indicates that they belong to a certain group.”

Through Stadium Live, the sports team has a team of people reacting to events during the game and they push out relevant statistics and information via the app to fans in the stadium. It also lets brands create interactive campaigns and promotions. For example, a two-for-one Heineken voucher could be sent out when the final whistle is blown, with the message, ‘celebrate with Heineken’.

The idea is that the app enhances the viewing experience of watching a game, rather than bombarding fans with marketing messages.

Robinson believes dealers can use this idea to enhance the showroom experience. Customers can use digital apps to experience the product in their own time in the showroom or during downtime when they are visiting for a service.

  Josh Robinson, Sports Revolution
  Josh Robinson, Sports Revolution director of creative and integration

He recalled a recent visit to a Land Rover dealership when he was looking to buy an SUV and had whittled his choice down to a Discovery, Audi Q5 or Volvo XC90.

“I did the online research and then went to the dealership. It very quickly became about numbers and specification, which didn’t interest me.

“I asked to have a look around one of the vehicles, but was approached by a man with a clipboard wanting some details.”

One of the dealers at the AM Executive Breakfast Club asked him what he was expecting from the experience.

“I had heavily researched online and I just wanted some time with the brand and the product to convince myself that it was the right decision,” said Robinson. “To boil it down, I wanted to have a go on my own.”

Dealers could digitise that process by letting customers have plenty of time, potentially using a tablet to find out more information about the car while they’re in it and then choosing to fill out their details or indicating that they need assistance.

Customers often come to a dealer forecourt with a smartphone. Rather than trying to stop that, Robinson believes dealers should be offering digital services within the showroom that encourage social media interactivity and let customers find out more about the models and deals on offer.

Q&A with dealers

Q: “Did each dealership feel different between Land Rover and Volvo? After watching The Dealership on television, it’s clear Essex Car Company is aware of its local market and acts accordingly.”

Robinson: “Volvo felt very local and welcoming. Land Rover felt very plush. There is a gap between being attracted to a brand and making that purchase. I think it’s down to the showroom and having the space to explore can help with that, through apps and interactive elements on tablets.”


Q: “If we invest in digital elements, the fear is that customers will come to our dealership to experience the product and go elsewhere to buy. What will stop customers doing that?”

Robinson: “If a dealer got in touch in that gap between experiencing the product and me deciding to purchase, I would be more likely to go back to that dealership to buy.”


Q: “How can dealers keep up with how fast technology is moving?”

Robinson: “I’m not sure you always have to. The core platforms of YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are here to stay and it doesn’t need to be that complicated.


Join the AM Executive Breakfast Club

The AM Executive Breakfast Club is free to join and exclusive to senior dealer group executives. It meets every quarter. Delegates enjoy a full breakfast, presentation from a guest speaker and a chance to network and share best practice with senior figures in the UK’s motor retail industry. Franchised dealer bosses are invited to attend the events for free.

♦  For details, email or visit

James Rothnie  

The next AM Executive Breakfast Club will meet on November 1. The guest speaker will be James Rothnie, a marketing and branding expert who joined easyJet as a start-up and went on to help form easyGroup. He is an expert in brand development, corporate image and developing customer loyalty.

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