digital storefront

Is your dealership’s digital storefront pulling in the number of customers to meet your quarterly plan? Or do you find one department doing all the heavy lifting and other areas just maintaining or – at worst – not involved at all? It may be time to consider what’s wrong.

It’s essential to balance your marketing across every dealership area because you have multiple voices and multiple touchpoints. That’s a crucial benefit when it comes to updating your digital storefront.

But how can you get that started? First, let’s assist you by reviewing some measures that can help you keep your digital storefront updated.

Make Sure Departments Understand the Dealership Story

Your dealerships must have a brand voice, and the consumer needs to hear it or, at best, see it in action every time they interact with you. The hard truth is that you’re most likely in an area with multiple dealerships around you. They may be different brands, but they compete for your customer. And customers who eventually visit your specific dealership brand will most likely be a similar distance from another dealership selling the same car or giving the same service. So, what’s going to make them see you, instead?

In his book, “Building a StoryBrand,” Donald Miller says, “we should be asking three questions. And the customer should be able to answer these questions within five seconds of looking at your website and other marketing efforts”:

  • What do you offer?
  • How will it make my life better?
  • What do I need to buy it?

Sales, Finance, Service, Inventory need to ask those questions before throwing things up on the storefront. Imagine a guy wearing a bearskin T-shirt sitting in a cave by a fire with a laptop in his lap. He’s looking at your service department page. Would he be able to grunt an answer to the three questions above? Could he say, “I can trust you to treat me better. You make my car feel better fast. So, I call in and get in the car quick. I can’t get that anywhere else”? If not, you’re losing sales.

Have One Person Responsible in Each Area

As mentioned in HubSpot, consumers depend on your digital storefront to have up-to-date and correct details like inventory, reviews, pricing, and other items that help them decide. But, even if it’s at your advertising agency, one person won’t be able to handle all of that data correctly.

Sometimes, it’s because they don’t have the time, but generally, they don’t have the knowledge, buy-in, and ownership that’s essential. To you, the service manager, service is your lifeblood. But to a third party who services your department and F&I, sales, on top of everything else, you’re just another item on the to-do list when updating the website. To them, everything can’t be necessary.

To have accurate, compelling, localized, and up-to-date information, the center of excellence or single-point-of-contact must generate it. The responsibility needs to rest on the department head, with that person making daily updates based on the dealership’s voice.

This may cause a change in your dealership’s structure or reporting responsibilities, but Harvard Business Review recently highlighted the importance of decision-making marketing. Giving the decision-making responsibility to your departments will make a difference in how the digital storefront gets updated.

Check Your Competition Every Day

Ideally, you have someone monitoring what is going on with your immediate competition and a dealership you aspire to match in sales. If not, then you need to permit yourself to do that. For example, when customers decide whether they want to get inside your digital storefront, they’ll quickly assess the store’s look. If it’s not welcoming or they can’t figure out what you’re selling and how to get in touch with you, they’ll go somewhere else. In each department area, customers should find what they need while on the phone. And if not, they need to know whom to call.

By viewing your competition, trade magazines, and listening to your customers, you’ll find ways to refine and update the information, so it stays fresh and competitive.

Be What the Customers See

Ultimately, updating the digital storefront brings customers to the dealership’s physical location. But will they have the same experience?

We struggle with words matching our actions in our personal life, so it’s no surprise that it happens with our dealership full of humans. When the customer steps inside our brick-and-mortar store, will they find that pixels match reality? Yes, they will when you’ve implemented the measures, we’ve discussed in updating your storefront:

  • Each department understanding the dealership story
  • Single points of responsibility
  • Checking your competition every day

While your digital storefront is fundamentally different from your brick-and-mortar dealership, the purpose should still be the same. Drive sales, expand the customer base, and get repeat sales. Accomplishing this will require your online experience to match the in-person experience. Using these measures will ease the challenge of updating your website, which will move your inventory and do what you want most – increase profit.

Did you enjoy this article from Steve Mitchell? Please share your thoughts, comments, or questions regarding this topic by submitting a letter to the editor here, or connect with us at

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date or catch-up on all of our podcasts on demand.

While you’re here, don’t forget to subscribe to our email newsletter for all the latest auto industry news from CBT News.