What do you know about your dealership’s website?  The majority of car dealerships have websites that represent their businesses. 

Some websites can be elaborate:  customers can get approved for loans, get trade-in values on a vehicle they’re trading in, browse through new and used cars, and everything in between.  Other sites may be just simple advertisement sites. 

Whatever type of dealership website your place of business has, it is crucial that you know what is on that website and how the site performs for your potential customers.  If you are familiar and comfortable with the website you will be able to help your potential car buyers in many ways.

First Impressions Are Everything

According to a McKinsey study1, 90% of car shoppers look at the dealer and manufacturer websites in the early stages of researching a new car.

If a customer comes to your website and finds broken links, outdated sales promotions,  cars listed for sale that are no longer on the lot, and an obvious lack of attention to the website, it will reflect poorly on the dealership and you. 

At the very least it looks unprofessional, but in most cases, the potential customer will assume that your dealership is run the same way your website is maintained and will go elsewhere. 

The percentage of consumers that begin the car buying process online is already high and it is growing more every day.  You want the customer’s first impression of your dealership to be an excellent one. Your company’s website and your knowledge of the site can achieve that.

 

Be the Sales Associate YOU Would Want

It is an unfortunate reality that many people view car auto dealerships and sales associates as trying to get one over on the customer.  This is a stigma that many reputable and honest sales associates have to face every time they speak with a potential customer.  The condition of your website and the knowledge you have of what is on that site can go a long way toward bridging the gap that exists between the car buyer and car seller. 

According to Nada studies, Joe Verde Group and a few other sources2, 71% of customers stated that they bought their vehicle because they respected, liked, and trusted their salesperson.  You want to be the kind of sales associate that you would want to buy a car from.

Being able to answer their questions about the site, knowing what they have been looking at and even more importantly, ensuring that what they are looking at is accurate, goes a long way toward building the trust and rapport that consumers are looking for when they purchase a vehicle.  

 An up-to-date website that is customer-friendly is a good way to make a great first impression.  If the site is easy to navigate, information is easy for them to find, and the cars listed on the site for sale are on the lot and available, the potential customer is likely to stay and browse a bit as well as follow through on coming into the dealership.  No one likes a confusing, complicated website.

 

Know Your Dealership Website - Inside and Out

Everyone in the dealership should know what is on the website.   Despite the fact that you, more than likely, did not create the website yourself, it is still representing you and your dealership.  Not knowing what is on your site makes you look unprepared and uncaring about your business. 

If a customer calls the dealership with a question about something they saw on the website, the worst thing you can do is reveal that you don’t know what they are talking about.  Even putting them on hold so you can look it up can put a bad taste in the customer’s mouth and put doubt in their minds.

Imagine how reassured they will be when they call in to ask about something they saw on the site, and you know exactly what they are talking about and can immediately handle that question without hesitation?  Being prepared in this manner can mean the difference between losing credibility overall and making a sale.

Let’s assume that the website for your dealership is a site where the customer can browse for cars and handle a lot of the preliminary purchasing steps online. 

Keep in mind that we are not saying you have to have every aspect of the website memorized.  This is about knowing what is on your site and understanding how the site looks and performs for your customers.  What should you know about your site? 

  • Whether your dealership has a website or not and the website address
  • The basic layout of the website including what tabs are at the top
  • Are sales associates listed individually? If yes, what does your profile or bio say?
  • Does the dealership have a blog on the website?
  • What is on the blog? (A basic knowledge of the topics being written about is sufficient, you do not need to know every blog post in detail)
  • How easy is the site to navigate?
  • What promotions are being featured?
  • What cars are listed in both new and used sections?
  • Does your site have a trade-in platform?  What is it?  How does it work?
  • What contact information is on the website?
  • What other forms are on the website for the customer to fill out?
  • Where else does your dealership list cars for sale?
  • Can the customer schedule appointments for vehicle service or with a sales associate from the site?

 

These points are very important for you and others in the dealership to know because these are the things your customers will see and potentially be using when they come to your website.  Spend some time on the site checking out the different tabs, browsing for vehicles, and experiencing your site from the customer’s perspective.

If your website has a trade-in platform of some kind, know what it is and how it works by filling out the information so you can see exactly what the customer is seeing.  Experiencing your site as a customer will help you understand what they are seeing at home or on their phones and you’ll be ready for any questions they may have.  It will also allow you to help them navigate to certain parts of the site that you may want them to see.

 

The Importance of Staying Up-to-Date

If you are on your website and notice a problem, whether it’s outdated information or anything else that detracts from the site, make sure to bring it to the general manager or the website person if you know who that is.

It is very important that all the people in the dealership take responsibility for the accuracy of the website.  The website manager can’t fix what they don’t know, so don’t be afraid to mention a problem or broken link if you encounter one.

Even if you are not the one responsible for updating the site, the sales associates and the dealership reputation will take a hit if the customer is the one finding the problems.  

Blaming the website person will not matter to the customer. 

They are one-and-the-same to them. Problems with the site will make everyone look bad, not just the website manager.

 

Sorry, That Car is Sold

One of the quickest ways to lose business is to have cars listed for sale on the site that are no longer available. The dealership may look at it as no big deal or as a way to get the customer interested so they can sell them another car.

The customer sees it differently and feels like the dealership is being dishonest simply to lure them in.  This is NOT what you want your internet customers to think about your dealership or your website.

Disappointment can ruin a potential sale.  You don’t want your car buyers to see a car advertised on your site, get excited about it and then find out it has already been sold.  In their minds, if the car is not available, don’t keep it on the site.   The disappointment of this can cause them to go to another dealership.

Keeping the listings on your site up-to-date can make a big impression on your customers. This will reassure them that your dealership is honest about the cars that are available. That carries a lot of weight, much more than many dealerships realize. 

It builds trust that what is on your site is true and that the consumer can believe what they read and see. This trust carries over to how they interact with you in person.  That is very important.

 

Why Is Familiarity with the Website Important for Sales?

You may be wondering why it is important for you to know what is on your website and how that knowledge can affect sales.  As a sales associate, one of the best practices you can adopt is learning to see things through the eyes of your car buyers. 

How do YOU feel when you go to a website and find mistakes, sold out items that you really wanted, and a site that is clearly not being maintained? 

How would you feel if you called the company to ask about the great sale listed on their website and no one knows what sale you are talking about? 

Provide your car buyers with the kind of internet experience that you would want and have the knowledge of the site to enhance that experience further.

The more knowledge you have about the dealership website that represents your place of business, the better you will be viewed by potential car buyers.  These customers are looking for people they can trust.

 A sales associate that understands the dealership website and what the customer sees and does when they are on it has a connection with them that will go a long way toward resulting in a sale and a happy customer that will rave about you to everyone they know.

 

References

1- https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/automotive-and-assembly/our-ins...

2 - https://www.dealerrefresh.com/dealer-showroom-floor-sales-statistic...

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