Car dealers are being constantly encouraged to improve their websites and become far more proactive in the way they interact with potential customers on line, probably with good reason. Many traditional retailers have embraced the concept of selling online particularly supermarkets and high street retailers, and as a consequence much of their income is now derided from internet sales.
With consumers buying online accelerating at an incredible rate why then are car dealers still seemingly so far behind when it comes to successfully marketing their cars and promoting themselves online?
I believe, having talked at length to a cross section of car dealers that there is either not the skills available in some companies or that they are just not prepared to commit the resources required to improving their online operations when they cannot necessarily measure the success of it.
That is the concept of the KPI or the key performance indicator in the car sales industry. It is the old mantra of “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” and that is not something that’s easy to do when you are building and promoting a web presence for your business.
Many car dealers, without the expertise in web build, design and promotion, often believe that just having a website, Facebook and Twitter account is enough. They have a “if you build it they will come” mentality and as far as they are concerned their appearance on the internet means they have cracked it and the customers will come flooding in as a result. The reality is that whilst car dealers are experts in selling cars they do not necessarily have experts with the ability to build and maintain a relevant web presence which requires more long term thinking whilst at the same time trying to increase direct sales enquiries with innovations such as pay per click advertising and search engine optimization. Obviously they can outsource the operation to web and social media experts who even just specialize in car retailing but it’s not cheap and again requires someone to agree the expenditure without them really understanding how they can accurately measure the results.
As a new Generation of web savvy employees come into the car industry this will hopefully change for the better. However until car dealers accept that there are no instant results and that building the brand will ultimately lead to more business with the effort applied beforehand, they will always lag behind other retailers who have long ago recognised this and are now reaping the rewards.