I'm asked this often at dealerships, seminars and 20-Group meetings: What is the main element of success for selling cars online?
My answer is always the same. First and foremost, the dealer principal must take an active role in making sure e-success happens. That means going beyond stated intentions. It means showing a commitment to the Internet department.
In our training, we have pinpointed five common traits of dealers with successful, profit-driving Internet departments. Here's what they do:
They invest in the proper technology.
These dealers use the same due diligence in choosing Internet-related products and services as they do when buying products and services for fixed operations.
They emphasize return on investment more than expense.
“These leads are expensive.” “Maintaining this website is too expensive.” “Customer-relationship management software is way too expensive.” Sound familiar? A dealer principal or primary decision maker must realize that every corner cut is not always saving money. It can cost money in front-end and back-end gross, finance and insurance income and service business.
Their opinions of Internet buyers are based on research rather than opinion.
“Low gross.” “Looking to steal cars.” “Not serious buyers.” Again, does this sound familiar? It is how many dealers regard Internet buyers. If you don't see the value, then your actions regarding dealership Internet operations will be off. This applies even to decision makers who don't verbalize their negative feelings.
They invest in training Internet personnel.
Internet and business-development center personnel are arguably the most under-trained people in a dealership today. Many staffers are assigned to the Internet department simply because they know how to send and receive e-mails.
It is irrational to put untrained employees on the front line, facing hundreds of potential customers a month. How can you rationalize spending thousands of dollars a month for leads, CRM software and a website, but not spending anything on training? What message does it send to an Internet professional starving for support?
They understand the value of metrics and accountability.
Expected results can and should be measured. Use those measurements, not your gut feeling, when picking lead providers and website vendors and when deciding who does and doesn't belong in the Internet department.
Here are three power tips to get you energized for Internet success:
Brainstorm with experienced people.
Would you readily take parenting advise from someone who isn't a parent? So why seriously discuss Internet strategy with colleagues lacking strategic Internet experience?
Recognize that technology is limited and isn't a silver bullet.
All technology is create by people and can be utilized effectively or ineffectively by people.
Train, train train.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results. How do you move the needle in your dealership if your personnel are using poor or — worse — no defined techniques, processes or follow-up action plans? An investment in training is an investment in improving results.
The best thing any dealer principal or decision maker can do is get involved in the educational process as well as in assessing where you are now, planning a course of action, and then executing the plan.
That is how you succeed on the Internet, which more and more is becoming a major profit center for smart dealers.
There is no logical reason why the dealer down the street should be “burning it up” on the Internet while you are out in the cold. Ask yourself: “Am I the one standing in the way of my dealership online success?”
If so, get out of the way and in the game.
Cory L. Mosley is founder and CEO of Mosley Automotive Group, a sales training and consulting firm. He is at [email protected].