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JD Rucker

JD Rucker Founder

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Your Internet Manager Should Not Be Your Digital Manager

Jeff Cryder

In 2012, there's a person you need to hire if you haven't already. Every dealership or dealer group that wants to succeed MUST hire a Digital Manager. I go into more details about what a digital manager does in a blog post on Techi, but here I want to shed some light on the differences between an internet manager/BDC manager and a true digital manager.

First, digital managers are more than just the person sitting on Twitter and Facebook all day. They should be using these as tools, certainly, but that should be only a small part of it. If your dealership has a full time social media person, that's great, but that's not the end of it. You need more.

You need content. Real content. You need pages added to your site constantly that are created by real people. Automated "SEO pages" are junk thanks to Google Panda (and I would happily debate that point with any vendor pushing the "more pages is better for SEO" rhetoric that simply doesn't work anymore). You need real pages. You need unique content. You need engaging content such as videos and infographics tied into compelling text and images.

You need a pro-active presence. If your focus is on building a strong Facebook page, you're completely missing the boat. It's not what happens on your page that matters nearly as much as what happens on other people's pages and profiles when they're talking about you. Are people talking to you and about your dealership in a positive manner multiple times a day? Are 50% of the people driving off the lot with a new car posting a picture of themselves on their Facebook pages and Twitter profiles? Is your dealership involved in some way with local discussions, other pages/profiles, and every publication that has a voice in your area?

Your internet manager and his/her team should be contacting all of the inbound leads. Your BDC should be contacting old customers. It's the digital manager and his/her team that should be contacting everyone else. They are the voice of the dealership. They are sending emails, texts, direct messages on social media, and every other new method of communication that's popping up, and they should be doing this daily.

Are you in complete control over your search engine presence or are you leaving it completely to your vendor. If you are leaving it to your vendor, are they reporting to you adequately, talking to you when the need arises and empowering you to contribute if you want (or to sit back and let them handle it of you don't)?

The subject of hiring a digital manager is so important and a single blog post cannot do it justice. If you have any questions or would like to learn more (keeping in mind, this is all about education and help - I'm not selling a "digital manager in a box" product or anything) about the most important move you'll want to make that will have the most dramatic impact on your business in 2012, please feel free to contact me (jrucker@tkcarsites.com).

I'm here to help.

Jim Bell
Great post JD. Jeff is a great example of how hiring a digital manager can help the business through his growth that he saw at Lebanon. If you don't have a plan and just wing it, you will be doomed.
Russ Chandler
what type of pay plan should a digital manager be on? Salary? How much is this position worth?
JD Rucker
Salary with performance bonuses are the key, and it's an extremely interesting question because a true Digital Manager should be tied to sales success of the dealership. That means that lead volume is not necessarily the key indicator. Unfortunately, it may have to be, which means that the focus of the Digital Manager would be a little tilted. In an ideal world (such as with Mr. Cryder's situation) the dealership's overall success is influenced by every activity. For example, when a Facebook post is shared with hundreds of friends and family members of a happy customer, it's very possible that one or two of them will take this as a sign of trust and visit the dealership. When they buy a car, they'll be asked how they heard about you. "My co-worker Bob Smith bought here last week and was happy with the purchase." It gets tracked as a referral despite the fact that it was a direct result of the actions of the Digital Manager. This person was never an internet lead but would never have known that Bob Smith bought there unless the Digital Manager got Bob to post it on Facebook. A Digital Manager's main job is exposure. Leads should increase as a result, but the challenge with focusing solely on internet leads as a measuring factor is that they will tilt their activities towards what will drive more leads, not what will increase sales. It's a subtle difference, but different nonetheless. We can't have rogue operators in a dealership that aren't tracked, so if it's not possible to tie in their performance based upon the dealership's performance, leads and internet sales are the only real alternative. If I were running a dealership, I would risk ambiguity by tying their compensation to dealership success. Clearly, the person in the position would need to be a self-starter, high in pride and willing to do what it took to brand, expose, and properly represent the dealership. With the right person, their base salary would be enhanced by overall dealership profitability much like a General Manager. That's not to say they would have the same powers, of course, but their goals should be holistic.
Bryan Armstrong
I agree here and the only caveat I would offer is tie the bonus to the variable net not page 2 line 2. I have seen other pay plans that a Manager will SPEND his way into a Bonus situation. Neither a desirable nor sustainable model. Since Service and Retention as well as CSI fall largely under this umbrella of Management's set, the Pay plan should be akin to a GM's. After all isn't this the person your entrusting the Management of your Virtual Dealership to?
Russ Chandler
Very Interesting points, I currently work in a Digital Manager type position at a 6 location Independent used only dealership. I wasn't able to set up any type of bonus type pay in addition to a low entry salary due to lack of a solid tracking system. I would be have to ask for a percentage of each location or as a company over-all. This seems like a lot sense I cannot prove anything outside of just plain leads generated and/or general web traffic. Shortly will be another chance for me to restructure or re negotiate my pay structure. Do you have any suggestions or points to make when negotiating a pay plan? What type of pay is warranted for a position like this? Should you be making GM type pay/less or more?

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