Best PracticesOpinions & Advice

How do other dealerships count Internet deals for pay?

I’m curious as to how various dealerships are counting Internet deals for pay?

We use a simple system:  If a customer submits an Internet Inquiry, we require either a direct phone conversation with the customer be logged into our CRM or have two email responses from the customer.  We also count phone calls that originate from various web sites/lead generators as deals worthy for compensation in the Internet department.  Basically, it is an Internet deal when either two emails or a phone call are logged in the CRM.  My staff is only paid on sold units that they had a provable hand in selling, and we audit the inputs into the CRM.

From speaking to many other dealers over the past few years it sounds like we are a bit more stringent in this area than others.

Alex Snyder
Director of eCommerce – Checkered Flag Motor Car Corp.

Who knew an argument with Jeff Kershner, in 2005, would lead to Alex becoming a partner with him on DealerRefresh. Where will the next argument take ...
I'm surprised nobody is commenting on this. I would think there could be some potential $$$ benefits after some contributions to this thread. That might not be the case if you are being paid very loosely on an Internet deal. If that truly is the industry norm, I apologize to you lucky people for asking this question.

I see you left the other part of my question out Jeff - ha ha. Maybe we should save it for another time, and re-word it?
Over the years we have encountered this issue on almost a daily basis. Only recently did we implement a solution that seems to be fair for all parties involved. Here's what we've done:

Four elected representatives from each department (traditional showroom sales and Internet sales) met in a closed door meeting with no manager present to formally document 'split' rules. These rules, which now apply in all cases, seem to be universally accepted since they were written not by management but by those parties directly impacted.

Let's face doesn't really matter what rules we play by so long as we all agree to play by the same rules.
  • J
    Jeff Kershner
  • April 18, 2007
I’m with you Alex; I thought for sure this question would get a lot of people participating.

Here is what we have set up at my dealer and before I get into the details, remember we do not have a separate “Internet sales department” rather I am the Internet Sales and Marketing Manager.

I take care of everything and anything related to internet marketing (while also desking deals and appraising trades). ALL leads come through me; I initially work the leads via phone and email. From there I assign my trained showroom/internet sales staff to appointments, deliveries, or to continue follow-up with the prospect until we can get them in the door.

With that being said, <b>what counts as an “Internet Sale”??</b>
<ul><li>Email leads from any of our websites, 3rd party leads or inventory websites (of course). </li>
<li>Phone calls to appointments that are initiated from our Internet Marketing.</li>
<li>Customer walk-in IF they have some type of print out or pricing from one of our websites or 3rd party sites.</li> </ul><b>What is NOT counted as an “Internet Sale”??</b>
<ul><li>I do not count new car sales from previous customers. I hate hearing “we would have sold them anyways” from upper management!!<br /></li>
<li>I usually never count new car or pre-owned Mercedes sales from local customers unless the customer has contacted me directly about a specific car and I know they are shopping other competitive dealers.

-Jeff Kershner

I agree with all of you regarding the difference of when to count "The Internet Sale" & "Non-Internet Sale". It can be an everyday issue with many dealers. Having a great team and all working togethor will help prevent many head aches.

How my Internet Department runs:

I direct the Internet Sales Department along wtih marketing for the website. I take care of all the leads received, outgoing calls, emails sent, followups & setting appointments for the internet customer along with maintaining the website. I then meet & greet the customer and a sales rep is beside me as I am speaking with the customer. Speaking highly of the dealership, inventory & the salesmans product knowledge will get them a better closing ratio and off they go to make a deal. Back into the office I go and start nailing them down again. (And keeping up with Jeff Kershner ;)

There are a few customers that inquire on the Internet for additional information and show up with no intention of setting an appointment, they want a vehicle and are ready to buy. But we do consider them an internet customer due to tracking purposes.

I also agree with Jeff , not counting previous customers as Internet sales. B-backs, etc I do not count.

We count on our DSM. I give our Internet Sales staff 72 hour protection. If a lead comes in and they log all their contacts with the customer, it never comes up. We use Eleads and it tracks everything. My staff is excellent with working their day planners. If a lead comes through the Internet, we have a history. If we have contacted the customer within the last 72 hours, it is a split. We really have a great group of salespeople that are all friends as well as co-workers, so that makes things easier also.
I have had a couple of different pay plans, and they of course have been based on growth, with the plateau being 100+ vehicles monthly.

The pay plan I have fought for basically stipulate any web-customer is an Internet deal. The rationale I have used with GMs is simple- without adequate marketing, what happens with your new car department? Slow sales. What happens if someone comes in on a pre-owned and buys new? New car director gets a mark. It doesn't really matter why they are here (aside from tracking where to spend money, of course), what IS important is they are in front of us and not the competition. For example, if they are here because of the TV spot you're running- proper credit needs to go to that to keep it running.

Therefore, my online marketing is integral to our store's success. In order to be able to put our advetising dollar to its best use, EVERY deal generated by my online marketing needs to be accounted for and reported. How else can they sell a customer for under $200/sale?

Stress to them this is the only truly measurable department in the store from ROI standpoint and be earnest in your reporting, and be consistent in your measurements!

What constitutes an Internet deal? My baseline is: Web-ups, phone pops, walk-ins with print-outs (from my website, manufacturer or Cars/Autotrader, etc. NOT from KBB unless they clicked thru to my website for example), people mentioning they saw a car online and came in or someone who says they researched and found us on the web during our fact finding.

What I would like to know is how many of you are actively involved in the store's Fixed Operations presence on the web and are YOU being compensated?
Jeff- Jennifer-

How can you say a repeat customer is NOT an Internet sale? If they webbed up, bought a car from you and return for another, you have accomplished a lot!

A couple of my guys have good follow up and are able to get repeat business (with some small fleet business) from web customers. Should they refer someone, that is different unless they too web up, but I think if we earn their business the first time, it can be more difficult the next time to retain their business (at least with the price buyer). Just my opinion.
Just going over some older comments and stumbled on this one. Which is one of my biggest pet peaves. The beautiful thing about e-commerce is tracking and is it is proven that there last purchase was an "Internet" lead, then what has changed here. Did this client suddenly abandon the internet for their research with this vehicle? Using "tracking" as we do, we know that the likelyhood of them just walking in and buying another unit is remote at best. Why, would you alienate the person that first procurred the lead and based on "tracking" that we all do, has probably done more follow up and prospecting than anyone. Why? would this not count as their sale....Very very old school mentality there
Donny Beckman
Internet Director
Tom Gill Chevrolet
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    Star Galvez
  • October 9, 2007
we also have the 72 hour rule if we sent emails or have left messages with in 72 hours of the customers arrival is a Inet deal who's to say that the message we left did not encourage the customer to visit out dealership without that call may it be 1, 2, 3, ect they may have never thought of coming to our dealership all together.

Let's say we get a lead but we see that the customer just came in the day prior as a walk in we inform the floor that their customer is activly searching for a car and they need to get them back in. What really matter is the dealership in whole and just not one department; however if we see they made no attempt to get them back within the next 24 hours I will have my team work the lead and if they do come in with in 72 hours fo the floor working it we will split the deal but the gross will stay with the inet department. if the floor is more the 73 hours out no split deal and the INET salesperson gets the full deal.

The number one rule is if the floor does not put the up in the CRM the customer does not exisit.

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    Chris K
  • November 1, 2007
I just started new at this dealership last month, but saw a few sales made by "floor people" of customers that should have gone to our dept. We made zilch off of them, and to be frank, the GSM, and SM's don't care. The most frustrating part was these folks had 3 pages of activity in Web-Control, speaking and emailing with the ISM, and myself, but they never had the decency to ask for us when they walked in. The sales reps here normally ask if they have talked to anyone here, but snakes are snakes.
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    Chris K
  • November 1, 2007
I just started new at this dealership last month, but saw a few sales made by "floor people" of customers that should have gone to our dept. We made zilch off of them, and to be frank, the GSM, and SM's don't care. The most frustrating part was these folks had 3 pages of activity in Web-Control, speaking and emailing with the ISM, and myself, but they never had the decency to ask for us when they walked in. The sales reps here normally ask if they have talked to anyone here, but snakes are snakes.
I have always help design my own pay plan and my team's pay plans. Depending on the dealer and set up, I have always tried to have a once-touched, then counted philosophy. It puts a lot of focus on tracking and inputting data routinely and then following up.

Once touched means that as soon as they e-mail in, call in, or fill out a coupon, that we, as a department, created enough call to action by either our ads or our responses to get them in.

Walk ins, unless centrally controlled, are not an exact science. Some stores and salespeople will report them, most will not. But I tell the dealers that a large portion of customers don't print maps, don't e-mail in and simply show up to the dealership. They don't inform the SR that they started the process online, and the SR doesn't ask.

Therefore, rather than beat my brains in trying to measure these people, I choose to focus on those we can count. I tell the dealer principle that by us "touching" the client that we gain valuable information that allows us to market to them in the future.

So, truthfully, the people might have bought anyways, might have been a repeat or a referral. The point is however; that these people did go online, and probably NOT to just our site or vehicles as statistics have shown. But they ended up buying from us, AFTER viewing our site our contacting the Internet department.

We had to do something right to earn their business.
Chris, I agree. I worked at a Chevrolet store as Internet Marketing Dir. for 3.5 years & always suspected that the customers PREFERED to shop in stealth mode. I felt that asking them upfront was asking them to "show their hand" and they'd prefer not to be asked.

We ran a simple post sale survey (in F&I) that created a picture of how they got to us.

RESULT: 35-45% of all sales were shopping at the store's web site looking for inventory while the Internet Dept.'s sales were a fraction of that number.