Too often dealerships delegate the Internet management role to mediocre sales people that are just good guys who have not had much sales success on the floor.
But the person you pick as your Internet sales manager will either bring customers to your dealership or drive them away.
The number of customers using the Internet for car shopping is at record levels and your dealership needs to be prepared to greet them with the same level of consideration given to walk-in traffic.
Determining what you expect from your Internet department and its manager can make all the difference and provide clear directions on how to get the best return on your Internet investment.
Establishing Department Goals
What are your current results?
If you don't know, find out before you start recruiting. A good Internet manager candidate will want to know. Your manufacturer should be able to provide this information. A lead provider should be able to provide monthly reports. Gather the information, determine your current status and be up front with the candidates about job challenges as well as opportunities.
What is your dealership's Internet marketing plan and expected return on investment?
Identify your Internet target market (all buyers, used-vehicle buyers, import buyers, specific zip codes, etc.). Identify your lead sources: website, providers, aggregators, database marketing.
Determine your budget for effectively tapping this market. Costs would include a web site, a lead management tool, lead providers, vehicle photos and the like.
What are your performance expectations for the Internet department?
What kind of operational standards do you require? How many vehicles do you expect them to sell? What kind of gross profit do you expect? Be specific and communicate your expectations.
Find the right structure.
Internet department reporting to the general manager or sales managers? Internet sales team embedded in a business development center?
Selecting the Right Candidate
Candidates must be able to sell vehicles if your process requires them to work the customer from e-mail to delivery. If they can't sell cars on the floor, they likely won't fare any better online.
The best results I've seen are from dealerships putting quality salespersons into this role and training them on the computer and the administrative functions. Keep in mind this role is to sell cars and trucks.
Candidates must be organized and able to multi-task. That includes managing leads, updating the inventory on the website, managing lead providers/aggregators and measuring results. It is important that the candidate realize this.
Candidates must be willing to put in the time necessary to make the department successful.
Most customers shop online after traditional sales hours so responding to leads in the evening and on weekends should be part of your expectations.
If a candidate is unwilling to communicate with customers after normal business hours it is best to find this out beforehand.
As with all pay plans, where you focus the pay is where you will see results. Consider the following when determining your compensation plan:
What is the structure of the department? Internet salesperson, Internet department, business development center, etc.?
If your structure is an Internet salesperson, will the position be full-time or will the Internet manager take floor ups?
How much time will be spent working with administrative activities (website updates, photos, lead provider interaction, etc.)?
Do you want to focus on volume or gross?
The right structure, goals, job description and compensation plan will give you the confidence to choose the best possible person for the Internet manager job.
David Kain is president of Kain Automotive Inc. He can be reached at [email protected] 859-533-2626.