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Your dealership isn’t that important
If you’re a dealer principal or general manager of a dealership, I can pretty much guarantee that you have heard the following from a handful of people over the years, “Your website IS your dealership!” For   the   longest   time,   it   seems,   many   dealership   owners   and   staff were   hesitant   to   embrace   websites.   It   made   sense;   this   was   a   shift in   how   business   was   done   in   the   automotive   world.   Instead   of customers   coming   into   the   dealership   to   shop   and   ask   questions, these   websites   were   making   it   so   the   customer   had   the   power. Websites   allowed   customers   to   browse   without   the   aid   of   a   sales consultant. It   took   drastic   measures   to   convince   owners   and   management   to accept   websites   and   make   the   most   of   them.   So,   some   clever marketing-type   person   thought   of   the   term,   “Your   website   is   your dealership”    and    repeated    it    so    many    times    that    it    eventually caught   on.   For   at   least   the   last   five   years   I   have   heard   this   echoed throughout   the   industry   -   in   every   showroom,   every   industry   event, every marketing-related conference call. The Hard Truth Here’s   the   thing   though,   your   website   isn’t   your   dealership.   Your website is much, much, much more important. “Blasphemy!”   many   will   shriek.   It’s   understandable   that   dealer principals    see    their    brick-and-mortar    dealership    as    the    most important   piece   of   their   empire.   The   crown   jewel.   We’re   talking about   multi-million   rand   buildings   that   keep   important   things   like staff,   vehicles,   computers,   service   equipment   and   everything   else safe and sound. While   all   of   that   is   true,   it’s   also   right   to   say   that   the   average customer   doesn’t   care.   Walk-in   traffic   seems   harder   and   harder   to come   by.   There   is   a   pretty   good   chance   the   customer   in   question won’t   step   foot   into   your   dealership   until   the   day   they   buy/lease the   vehicle   from   you. After   all,   nine   out   of   10   of   your   customers   go online   to   do   research   before   purchasing   a   vehicle   -   some   may   even know   MORE   than   your   sales   team.   Those   same   customers,   in   many cases,   will   have   spent   more   time   on   your   website   than   they   ever will   in   your   dealership   -   depending   on   the   speed   of   your   delivery process. Perception is Everything While   you   may   see   your   business   primarily   as   a   physical   place,   your customer    judges    you    by    your    website    first.    It’s    all    about perception,   and   your   dealership   has   a   serious   flaw:   it   actually exists. It can never be as perfect or as accessible as your website. Because   they   are   big,   physical   buildings,   dealerships   are   affected by   things   like   weather,   power   outages   and   other   “acts   of   god”. Your   business   can’t   function   without   a   staff   and   a   staff   needs   time off.   Websites   don’t.   Websites   are   available   even   on   stat   holidays. Websites   are   available   when   a   guy   can’t   sleep   and   shops   for   a sports car at 3 a.m. On   a   heavy   stormy   day,   at   most   dealerships,   it’s   all   hands   on   deck to   cleanup   so   potential   walk-in   customers   and   appointments   are impressed   by   the   condition   of   the   dealership.   Sadly,   the   same   care is   rarely   taken   on   dealership   websites   even   though   many   more people   are   visiting   the   website   than   driving   by   the   dealership   - especially   on   a   stormy   day.   If   you’re   busy   while   your   website’s vehicle   inventory   is   missing   photos   and   descriptions,   it’s   time   to reassess your priorities. If   you   perceive   your   dealership   in   the   same   way   your   customers   do (website   first),   you   can   provide   them   with   all   the   information   and resources   they   need   on   your   website   and   then   know   exactly   what to    expect    when    that    online    shopper    does    come    in    for    an appointment.
Think Savvy, Be Savvy, Get AutoSavvyOnline
An interesting article by Devon Babin