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Is Your Dealer Website Made For You or Your Customers?

November 30, 2011 - 7:00 am

I’ve been doing some thinking lately (look out!).

During the day, I spend a lot of time of Car Dealer Websites, browsing, clicking, checking out the user-friendliness.

Click HereIt’s been a common trend that I’ve noticed – The ability to login to the backend of the site is big and clear. It’s often it’s very own attractive icon saying “SALESMAN LOGIN!” or something of the sort. There’s a way to check a master list of inventory on almost every site. Live chat is present on about half of the websites I visit. The ability to search for a specific car doesn’t exist on nearly enough sites.

My guess is that the powers that be sat at a round table and wondered what features would make their website work best for them. While I agree that a dealer website has a function to be beneficial for the management and sales team, in many cases, the main function of the website is being ignored: The website exists to make a better, easier, efficient, and generally more convenient experience for the customer. After all, you’re trying to sell them your product. They are your success.

It amazed me at how many sites didn’t have a clearly visible search option. I e-mailed one dealer as a friendly “Hey, it took me 10 minutes to find your search page!” and he replied “Well, did you check the site map?”

…The site map. Really?

You can’t assume that everyone knows how to find your sitemap and navigate from it. Heck, I wasn’t even sure what a site map was until I got into doing SEO. Will SEO experts buy cars? Yes. Are all of your customers SEO experts? No.

Your features have to be clear, easy to find, and easy to use.

As a consumer, I love the ability to build my own vehicle. That’s probably one of the most appealing features on a dealer’s website. The age-old stigma surrounding the cut-throat, pushy salesman still remain intact, no matter how inaccurate (sometimes accurate) it is.

The explosion of the internet has allowed the consumer to shop quietly, safely, and conveniently from their own home, on their sofa, in their pajamas, over morning coffee. Whether or not you WANT them to come to your dealership is neither here ‘nor there.  They want to do as much shopping as they can from home. So, you must cater to their needs and wants.

If a customer walked into your showroom and said right up front that they wanted a brand new 4 door sedan, would you insist on them getting a pre-owned 2 door coupe because you want to sell that car? Does it really matter what you want in this situation?

Not at all.

The customer is driving the ship, and you’re on board for the ride. They make the decisions, and while you can influence them, what they want will inevitably prevail.

Again, the customer is on your website because they want what you’ve got. They want an easy, user-friendly experience. They don’t want to log onto your site and be confused. They don’t want to spend 30 minutes trying to find the search button, your phone number, or directions to your place. Just as quickly as they found you on Google, they can click the back button and move onto the dealer next door who built their website around their customer.

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