Auto Remarketing Magazine
By Bobby Malatia, of Kain Automotive
September 05, 2007
As I travel throughout the country, I am constantly asked, “What is the best Internet structure for our dealership?” Most of the time the dealership already has a current Internet setup, and it is just looking for reassurance that what it has in place is a good one.
The simple answer is it is not a simple answer. You have to look at many different factors to see which one will be most effective for your dealership and your market. I will try to break this question down and go over some of the main factors that need to be considered to answer this common but difficult question.
Let us first look at what different Internet structures there are that have experienced moderate to extremely good success.
SalesFloor: Internet leads are taken by one of the managers and distributed out to the regular sales floor.
The one person show: One dedicated Internet person who answers all the incoming Internet requests. a. The one person handles the leads and sets appointments to be given to the regular sales floor. b. The one person handles the leads as well as sales the vehicles themselves.
Appointment setters: Having multiple people handle the Internet leads and then set the appointments. a. These appointments are set for the regular sales floor.b. These appointments are set and given to a manager and then are distributed to certain salespeople. Internet Department: Having a dedicated team handle the leads as well as sale the vehicles (commonly referred to “cradle to grave”). a. Typically this is done using a different process than the regular floor process, though it does not have to be.
Internet Department and BDC: Using a dedicated Internet sales department with the support of a BDC. a. Leadsare handled by the BDC and then set or turned to the Internet department for the sale of the vehicle. b. The Internet department handles the lead, and then the BDC takes over after a set amount of time to take care of the long-term follow-up, and then gives it back to the Internet department once the BDC makes an appointment, or re-stimulates the prospect.
As you can see there are many options, and of course there can be variations of any of these as well.
Now that we have looked at some of the options, let’s tackle the tough question: which is the best one for you. To answer this question you must understand that most, if not all, of these structures can be and have been successful.
There is no one perfect idea for handling your Internet leads, and therefore we must look at the different factors that can influence your individual process. This will help you determine which structure will be most effective for your dealership.
The first of these factors is what the dealer principal/general manager wants to get out of the Internet. Does the dealership want an Internet department, or does it want an Internet dealership?
An Internet department can be a bit redundant given the structure you have in place, but an Internet dealership takes advantage of the skilled personnel already in management roles and molds them into the reality of today’s Internet-dominated sales and marketing environment.
However, we find that because of management resistance to working Internet leads through their current set up, it is normally best to set up a department and incubate the success before considering a merger back into the regular sales environment.
The second of these factors is your current personnel or personnel recruiting options. We believe you should decide on the structure your management feels most comfortable with and then recruit to fit the structure rather than the other way around. Otherwise, each time you hire someone for the role you will be prone to adjust the structure based on the talent and skills, which is not productive long-term.
There is a certain profile that we look for that has the best chance to excel in this type of role within the dealership, and we feel someone with a solid success record in sales, whether it be automotive, real estate, cell phones or airline reservations.
Persons in this position first must be persistent and willing to make multiple phone calls each day, be personable enough to build rapport quickly and be able to sell the appointment if the dealership has any hope of getting the consumer into the store.
Your current employees should be considered for these roles, but you should not be afraid to recruit from outside your dealership. Use the profile and understanding of what the job requires to be successful and grow the department as needed.
The last factor that must be considered when deciding on the correct structure for your Internet department regards your current lead volume. We have recommendations on the volume for each set up and feel it is vital to maintain the right volume or the system will not do as well.
Before you worry about growth and spending more money to get more sales, you must be able to analyze what you currently have structure-wise and how effectively you process your current leads.
Using all three of the factors will help you put together an appropriate action plan to determine “what is the best structure” for you and your dealership.