How to Maximize Your Website
Ryan Higgins proudly notes that his employer, Northeast Acura in Latham, N.Y., spends at least an hour each day on “website upkeep”—which, he says, is time well spent.
After all, the service manager has learned the value of a dynamic dealership website.
“The website really is the first impression of the dealership,” Higgins says, while also acknowledging the importance of utilizing social media platforms, too.
“Today we probably have 60–65 appointments, and 40 of them were made online,” he adds, speaking on a recent afternoon.
Yes, now, more than ever, websites drive customers through a dealership’s doors. According to a recent Cox Automotive study, more than half of all auto consumers (51 percent) prefer to start the car buying process online, which no doubt trickles down to eventually impact the bottom line of fixed operations, too.
“We’re seeing a lot of [website] traffic,” notes Higgins, whose service department boasts a 94.6 CSI score. “People are checking for coupons, they’re checking pricing of cars.”
Higgins, who has had multiple managerial roles in his career, notes the steps dealerships can
take to truly maximize their websites.
Post Video Tutorials.
At Northeast Acura, Higgins has taken it upon himself to film multiple commercials, addressing common customer questions, like what exactly is an alignment? He feels that’s the kind of easily accessible information that today’s consumers demand.
“Rather than just explain it to our customer, why don’t we just pull up a video on our website?” says Higgins, whose department has an average monthly car count of 900. “And, while I’m talking about it, there’s a technician [performing the repair] in the background.
“Things that look and feel homegrown, in terms of the dealership employees doing the
videos themselves, but are also informative” are valuable, he notes.
Produce Blog Posts.
The dealership has a link at the top of its website that guides visitors to numerous educational blog posts with headlines like “7 Secret Tips to Increase the Value of Your Vehicle.” Higgins says those blog posts have proven to be beneficial.
“One of the main reasons we have that is it kind of broadens our spectrum on Google,” Higgins explains. “These are questions that people, a lot of times, are going to whip out on their phone and simply Google. And having this on our website, for our local customers, is going to put us on the first page of Google” results.
Allow for Parts Ordering.
Earlier in his career, Higgins had a stint as Northeast Acura’s parts manager. As a result, he’s well aware of the value of a parts ordering website link, or a parts e-store. In fact, the dealership’s multiple parts ordering links are utilized far and wide.
“Those are definitely utilized by customers, and they’re utilized by customers that aren’t local, which is what we’re looking for,” Higgins says of the parts links. “We send parts all over the country, really—to California, Florida, Texas; we had an order go out today to North Dakota. And it’s all customers sitting at home, ordering.”
Link to Service and Parts Specials.
Higgins’ service department, which generates an annual revenue of $1.8 million, posts four or five specials per month online, and makes sure to get creative, rarely repeating the same offer twice. For example, last August, Northeast Acura offered to perform free New York state inspections for the month to drive business, which Higgins says typically “has done wonders” for business.
“Every day we get people asking about service and parts specials," he says. “We update them every month. It’s good to have the option on the website.”
Don’t Forget FAQs.
“Frequently asked questions” sections have appeared on websites virtually since the advent of the Internet. Yet, they still hold relevance for many consumers in Higgins’ experience, especially older customers.
At the dealership, employees make sure to mention the facility’s website and its frequently asked questions section during multi-point inspections.
Staffers typically relate something along the lines of, “you know, you might not have a question now, but you might have one at 10 o’clock, after we’re closed,” Higgins says. “If you do have that question, and you need to know it before we open in the morning, you can visit our website [and the] frequently asked questions page.”