Opinions & Advice

What would happen?

Have you ever been curious to what would happen if you erased ALL of your internet presences? Shut down your website, turn off your auto-responders, neglect to answer customer emails, pull your inventory from AutoTrader and turn off your Adword campaigns.

Would your dealer actually feel the impact? And if so…would it take 1 month or more? Would your sales drop by 5%, 10% or with the aggressive internet sales manager, maybe 20-30%?

I sometimes wonder what would actually happen. Would it really have an impact or would the dealer go on selling cars as usual? Would the local customer stop by the dealer anyways? Would you still eventually sell that used Honda Accord to a “walk in” customer?

Just how important is it to have an Internet sales and/or marketing department? Of course I want to say it’s very important since I have an "invested interest"…but I still get curious sometimes to know what would happen.

Any thoughts?

Founder of DealerRefresh - 20+ Years of dealership Sales, Management, Training, Marketing and Leadership.
  • J
    Jake Wirth
  • May 8, 2006
I feel like I'm a pretty Aggressive ISM and I am confident that my dealership's sales would drop 24-32% if my department were to close up shop (even for a Month).

I started our Internet Department 2 1/2 Months ago and delivered 24% of the TOTAL Dealership Sales the FIRST month!! The SECOND month I delivered 32% of my dealership's TOTAL SALES!!

I have been preaching the power of the internet since I started in this industry over 5 years ago. I have even had dealers tell me "Don't you know the internet hasn't gotten here yet!".

For those dealers that actually get it and buy into not only the internet but the process behind working those internet shoppers, the internet dept has become invaluable to them. Put simply having a well trained and effective internet dept defines the haves and have nots in the dealer world.
My GM places no value on having a dealer website. Even though I bust my @ss daily (and for years) keeping it current all by myself - photos and graphics included - he places no value on the work or the design skills I incorporate into building the site's home page, the graphics, SEO, inventory postings, etc. I have lost much interest in doing work whereas I receive no monetary or other recognition. The GM simply refers to his ROI - as sales made each month -- without any regard to offering a decent salary for the skills used in promoting his business. I consider the dealer website to be a separate business entity...24/7 Interactive Advertising. I handle the incoing calls and emails regarding vehicle inquiries - then set the appointment. I also handle an excel spreadsheet daily which show current new vehicle inventory (in stock and factory ordered units) so the GM knows what we should order each week from the factory plant. All that work is accompished for the sake of personal pride alone - and pride doesn't pay the bills.

It's rather discouraging to know how some dealers think. I'm looking for a better way of making a living than my current situation provides. To those who think the web is valuable, my hat goes off to you for having some insight into this business. You should embrace your internet staff and pay attention to each member of your group.
  • J
    John Fuhrman
  • October 3, 2006

You make an interesting point. I would liken it to advertising in the "last century." Dealers have been told that not having a web site is like not being in the yellow pages. You give the impression that you're not in business. However, that is only correct if you do more than just put your site on your license plate frames.

As a trainer and now CEO of an auto related Internet company I can assure you that the only way to effectively use a web site is to take people by the hand and drag them to it so they can see what you do, who you do it for, and what is really in it for them.

Just as in the past, telling people you sold cars wasn't enough. You needed to let them know that you financed them, leased them, and traded them. You also had to show them what you had along with prices, etc.

Today, the web is just another tool in the box. It is not now, nor has it ever been, the answer to all sales situations. Developing ways to keep customers coming back to your site and really spending time there is critical to making it work. On our site we have articles about things that benefit a variety of consumers. Also, within a secure dealer section we provide information and other services (i.e. floorplan, finance, and other useful companies for dealers) for their use.

This way, even if they don't use your site today, there is a reason to come back again and then perhaps use it in the future.