Given the speed at which the internet develops, customers increasingly expect more from retailers on the web. The breadth and flexibility of available digital tools means there’s always more you can do to sharpen your dealership’s website. There are fundamental must-haves every dealer needs to create a successful website. But there are a few advanced tools and methodologies dealers can use to lure in customers and sharpen their online operations.
Tool 1: Integrate your DMS with your website
Take it at face value, and a dealer management system (DMS) does what it says on the tin. Its core purpose is to be a digital assistant to aid the day-to-day running of your dealership. But these days, a quality DMS should extend its reach to your website, and the two should complement each other.
From an operational perspective, the biggest benefit of a DMS is the ability to instantly update stock on your site, rendering it immediately visible to customers. Once you sync up your back-end stock management section with the customer-facing website, as soon as new vehicles are logged in the DMS, they will appear live online. This approach wastes no time—it’d take twice as long if you had to upload pictures and information across two separate platforms— and it maximises exposure for your used cars.
There’s a similar benefit to feeding email and live chat enquiries from the website into your DMS. Instant accessibility means they can be seen by everyone with using the system. With this visibility, the whole process has more accountability—everyone who needs to can see the leads immediately and follow-up can begin straight away.
Tool 2: Finance calculator
According to the Finance and Leasing Association, 91.1% of private new car sales were funded by its members in the 12 months to September 2019. At the same time, the market for consumer used car finance rose by 12% by value and 9% by volume in September 2019. Clearly, financing is big business for dealers of both new and used cars.
Given the amount of research used car buyers conduct online, the more digital facilities dealers can offer them, the better. Having a finance calculator on your website means customers can cut to the chase and work out exactly what they can afford from the off.
As well as being a useful tool for anyone browsing your website, calculators can also improve the number and quality of leads a dealership receives—and serve as an efficiency measure. Buyers can apply or pre-qualify themselves for finance online, which saves the hassle of doing it in the showroom. The same process also gives the dealership a strong, well-informed lead.
Tool 3: Trade-in valuations
Trade-in valuations are effectively the other end of the fiscal spectrum from the finance calculator. Few people know what their existing car is worth, and providing customers with a digital tool to generate a hard figure is immensely useful.
More importantly, dealers need an accurate trade-in figure in order to generate a proper pricing proposal for customers who want to go the part-exchange route. Quick and accurate pricing is a powerful sales tool, and the sooner you issue buyers with a solid set of figures, the greater you chance of closing the deal.
As with the finance calculator, online trade-in pricing is a big time-saver, and customers who use it are served up to the dealer with a full set of figures—a high-quality, low-maintenance lead. Also, stocking your website with such useful instruments gives buyers less cause to look elsewhere. If you offer them everything in one place, they’re all the more likely to stick around and come back again.