Why aren't more dealers taking control of their websites?

Blake Lemmons
First and foremost, I founded Auto Web Engine, just to clear the air as far as whether I'm biased to this question. However, I founded Auto Web Engine because of this question - why are more dealers not taking control of their own websites? I'm not doubting the effectiveness of many services, but I also know that as a customer of these services, dealers are "stuck" to the confines of what these services can do, or will do, and at their pace. Can a dealer develop their own web brand, their own web style, in-house over what a service can do? Absolutely. Can a dealer still manage SEO? Totally. Can a dealer still push leads to where they need to go? Without a doubt. The only thing a dealer can't control is inventory management and broadcasting the inventory where it needs to go - what dealer wants to develop this. But if this were not a barrier (yes, services like mine offer an open api and easy to add inventory module to any website), why would a dealer not want to take control of their website. Many spend thousands on website management. If you hired an in-house webmaster, as many other industries do, you could control how your website looked, how displayed info, how it funneled those leads to you, everything. And regarding SEO...everyone knows SEO is vital, there is no arguing this. But SEO services, and not just automotive, but in general, have been pushing all sorts of garbage out there about what must be done or not done. Just look up SEO online, or even ask a question on here and you'll get a ridiculous amount of "expert" views, many completely different from each other. If you go to Google, the source, and find out what should be done regarding SEO, you'll see amazing results just going off their simple guidelines and you've just saved thousands of dollars. Dealers can take control of their websites, they can. It might take baby steps, but if right person is hired, dealers can achieve amazing results and they control pretty much everything and keep things in-house. I know I might get a ton of varying answers here, and some might think this is obvious or just ignorant, but as someone who developed a system that is used by third party services and dealers alike for this very reason, it still boggles my mind as to why dealers don't just take control. The web is so vital, you would think this was one thing they would keep close.
Grant Gooley
You bring a really good point to the table. I know I think about this daily as a Director of Marketing for 35 dealerships. There is a long story behind the answer (Great inspiration for a blog post actually!!) To make it short...The bottom line costs on a web service compared to a web team, makes the decision very easy for a GM. Not to mention the headaches and learning curve of having an in house marketing/web team. GM's and Sales Managers want to sell cars not worry about CTA's, CTR's, Geo Fencing and Bounce Rates! Today it's becoming much more economical, the new GM's and dealers have a well rounded knowledge, and for that reason I believe you will see this happening more and more.
Blake Lemmons
HI Grant. Good point, and I do see this often, costs, unsure how to go about it, and so on. But today, things aren't what they used to be. Heck, even the Obama at one time promoted learning coding in schools. Seems like every one and their mother can code in some shape or form. Now, I've seen some very poor coders, and I've seen great ones - we've worked with both. But if you look at some of these costs for some services, hiring a single webmaster can come close, and the benefits are incredible - instant updates, changes on the fly, design anything you want, and so on. I think service providers will still provide all the backend tools dealers need, but the website itself, that's another story. One webmaster can handle everything, you don't need a team if everything is done properly.
Blake Lemmons
I deal with many marketing directors like yourself - my degree is actually in Marketing, web development just kind of fell into my lap years ago. From a marketing standpoint, I can see the glee marketing guys would have if they had full control over their web properties, it's like seeing a kid outside the toy store window just wishing they had the keys to get in. Believe, I get this. And again, as I disclosed, this is what my company does and has developed, giving dealers the keys. Doesn't matter who a dealer uses, who they hire, their is so much more marketing control, they can make their own path, if they just take that first step.
Grant Gooley
Blake, another important point that should be brought to the table here is the "Safety Factor". Dealerships don't like to rock the boat if they don't have to. It's much easier to point the finger at an agency, when the leads aren't coming in, then it is at an internal programmer you hired... Im in agreeance with you, just stating some very known facts as a front line dealership employee!
Lauren Moses
Blake, Great thoughts. I have to agree with what Grant says about the safety factor. I think too many dealers are behind on the times themselves (not the dealership). Therefore they want to know that everything is taken care of and are afraid that an individual isn't capable of doing it all on their own. That somehow having a "company" do it makes it more legit, instead of just a talented employee (such as myself, j/k). I have designed websites before but never for the automotive industry. No, I didn't do the coding, but that mess is too confusing. As for SEO, and all other factors that play into websites and bringing them in-house, I don't have a degree, Hell I didn't even study it when I WAS in college. It just happened and I have found out how much that I really like it and so it's not so much a job as a hobby.

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