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Dale Pollak

Dale Pollak Chairman Founder

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Lately I've become very frustrated with dealer's Internet departments.  It's not because the people who staff these departments aren't with it or on their game, quite the contrary.  These people tend to be some of the most progressive, smartest individuals in the dealership.  I think that many of them are the general managers of the future.  What I hate is the department, not the people.  The Internet department implies that every other department of the dealership isn't the Internet, what a joke. 

Specifically, the used car department is most certainly the Internet department.  Too often, used car managers and GM’s don't take responsibility for the quality of their Internet merchandising because it is the "job of the Internet department".  This is a serious error.  I’m sorry, but if your name is attached to the used car department's performance, the quality of your virtual display is your responsibility.  If I hear one more excuse from the used car department that it's not their fault, I'm going to go postal. 

Used car managers and GM's would never tolerate a used car lot with empty spaces on the front line, cars not parked straight and covered in dirt.  Yet, the disorderly way that their vehicles are displayed on the Internet is tolerated, or perhaps more disturbingly, not even noticed.  It's past time for any GM and used car manager to take responsibility for making sure their vehicles are on the Internet quickly with prices, quality photos and compelling descriptions.  I know that many who read this post will assume that their virtual display is well represented in this regard.  The sad fact is however, that if you could see what I see using vAuto's virtual view tool, you would not be happy.  If you're a vAuto client with the virtual view tool, take a look at your on-line display through this lens and tell me how satisfied you are now.

Adam Ross
As a former Internet Director and now as a Digital Advertising consultant, I agree with you 100%, Dale... Dealerships that are ahead of the curve have begun to recognize that a digital strategy should be incorporated into all of the 5 profit centers (new, used, parts, service, F&I). The problem is that too many are behind the curve... Each department should work closely with the Digital Advertising Department (renaming the Internet Department), whose primary role should be: 1) to ensure the dealership messaging and branding is consistent and up-to-date both on their website and throughout the web. 2) exploring new high-quality sources for traffic. 3) being a watchdog over the digital vendors to ensure the dealership is getting what it's paying for. 4) executing management's CPC campaign strategies (if Google CPC is managed in-house) 5) providing accurate reporting to management at a dealership-wide level. There are, of course, more responsibilities... but the five listed above would be the most important. This structure would allow each department to analyze their productivity vs. the other departments, show them what percentage of the digital activity they helped generate, and can also identify areas that need work. Thanks for this post... It needed to be said! Adam Ross InfiniteProspects.com
Steve Devereaux
I think it's interesting that you think the Internet Managers are the GMs of the future.
Aj Maida
I'm going to agree with Steve. I find it interesting too. I have been a GM, desk manager and F&I. I chose to become the "Director of Digital Advertising" (Adam I am so stealing that!!!!) 6 years ago and haven't looked back.
Bart Wilson
A good exercise in the importance of a dealerships online presence is to look at the traffic count. In my experience internet leads out-number walkin traffic. Add the fact the a majority of the phone calls come from the internet and the importance is really evident.
Jeff Scherer
I was the manager of the Internet Sales Department back when AutoNation became the first player to really step out and market vehicles online. Aside from the GM's that continually said "This web thing will never work. It's just a fad," they always wanted to give me salesmen "that were good on the computer." What I really wanted was the BEST salesperson from the retail floor. Back then, the Internet Department was isolated, and treated like the redheaded stepchild. The "retail" guys thought that we just sat around all day and waited for money to blow in the door. At the end of the day, the e-Team consistently beat the "retail floor" team in gross and CSI. Today in many stores the line has been blurred, and a lead is a lead, no matter where it emanated from. I won't argue if that is a good or bad thing, but judging by some of the horrible emails that I often get from "regular" salespeople, there might be something to be said for having dedicated e-folks.

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