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I believe that the dealerships that are struggling or know that they could do better with the internet are the ones with the lack of upper management’s knowledge on what to monitor, what to manage and how to make the department accountable. Put on top of that, the knowledge of what third party sites are good in your market, where to spend the internet budget, how to update the dealerships website, know the process of how the photos and inventory are being populated to all of these sites, and to make sure all of your internet leads are getting replied to in a timely manner and are being put through a good, effective internet process. These are the stores that struggle with the internet and get to the point of giving up on it or restructuring it every 6 months, the whole time knowing that the Internet is where they need to be these days to keep up with the consumer and the industry.
This is where dealerships with a knowledgeable Internet Director start getting the upper hand on results, like excellent response times, closing percentages, return on investment, low cost per sale and an overall more effective internet presence that helps effect the whole store. I see the Internet Director position at the store as similar to the GSM and the reason is that just like the GSM, the Internet Director is responsible to make sure that the virtual lot (website) looks good, they need to make sure they have the staff to handle the traffic and close the deals, they handle all the internet vendors, make sure that the ROI is in line, all the internet advertising is correct and the department is producing. But not only does sales benefit from having an Internet Director but also parts, service, body shop and F&I get to benefit from a well ran Internet operation.
If you are a smaller store and have 1-2 Internet managers or salespeople handling the leads there is typically too much work for them to be effective selling cars!
1-2 Internet Managers responsible for 100-250+ leads
and is also responsible for:
-Response time to leads
-3rd Party vendors
….any many other responsibilities
But just like any industry, the larger stores, and large dealer groups have the resources and income to be able to hire a full time Internet Director while the single point or small multiple point dealer group still struggle to find a way to compete in their market. The big dealer groups have an Internet Director that manages 10+ stores (upwards of 30-40 stores in the larger dealer groups) that manage the departments and visit the stores on a monthly/quarterly bases.
So where do the small dealers go?
You can send your internet manager to conferences, hire an internet consultant for a day or two, but when the day is over, it is still up to the store and the management team to make sure they are getting the results they need. But most sales managers/GSM’s that I speak to (and I have spoken to about 1000+ of them nation wide over the last year) tell me that they wear too many hats already, so to make sure they monitor the Internet department is usually done only to their best ability. As long as their internet person sells their 10-15 units that’s good enough. This is not the sales managers/GSM fault, it is no different then having them be responsible for your parts or services departments, there is only so much they are going to know and only so much that they can monitor and as long as it is getting some results, that all they can do.
So I ask you again, where do the small dealers go?
Hiring a full time Internet Director would be the best place to start if you have the resources or income. But to have a full time Internet Director to manage a 1-3 person Internet Department might not seem to cost effective. Not only that but most the stores I talk to have a hard enough time finding good sales people or Internet Managers, much less finding a great Internet Director that really knows what they are doing. So now what? Hmmmm......