April 15th brings fear and trepidation to almost everyone. Despite who’s in office, or how much you make, regardless…..everyone still owes. Tax time is usually an introspective time where you look at what you’ve made, what you have to show for it, and how you will restructure things for the upcoming year.
As an automobile dealer group, we go through the same process, we look at how we handled business in the previous year and how we might be able to meet this year’s goals and objectives. Has the auto industry changed? Can we attract customers using the same old tactics? Where are customers searching for vehicles? These questions have eluded all sales and marketing directors in the industry. If we had the answer, we wouldn’t fall prey to all of the lead generation vendors swearing they can bring you multiple leads and sales magically. Not long ago, being a player in the digital world meant having a website, then paid search got introduced to the mix. Now we have Social Media, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). How often have you been asked to visit a 3rd party website such as Dealerrater.com or Google Places to submit a positive review?
Dealers have been so obsessed with implementing a digital strategy that they jump head first into the Social Media, Paid Search and SEO arena’s. Some pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to be in that top spot so you will click on their website when you are ready to make your next purchase. They also spend unheard of amounts to dress their websites up to attract customers. How many times have you fell victim, like I have to the beautiful hotel website in another state, only to get there and realize they must have photo shopped every picture because the place is a dump! This is the same with car dealerships, no matter how many Google Reviews have been coerced out of customers, if at the end of the day the service doesn’t match the online portrayal the dealership will suffer.
Most dealers take part in Social Media and other online venues grudgingly because they don’t want to have negative things said about them online. Even if they view the comments or not, things are still being said. The secret is to manage those comments and not give your customers what you think they want but what they actually ask for.
A dealer’s online reputation should match their actual in person performance. They should not be attentive to online customers for fear of public backlash and neglect customers such as my grandmother who doesn’t know Google from Gobble! If a dealer’s main focus is exceptional service, that will show in their online presence and in the way they handle their customers face to face. In the end, while marketing strategies have changed, the one constant in the marketing mix has remained the same, you the customer. If you as a customer take to an online forum to vent your frustrations, or if you tell a friend of a negative experience, you are still using word of mouth. The Internet just makes your voice as a customer louder. But in this day in age every customer counts…..no matter where they come from, the Internet or the old fashion walk-in. A customer lost, is an opportunity lost. We at King Auto welcome your thoughts as we embark into the new age Digital Dealer, while still delivering that royal treatment that that you have come to expect and deserve!