As the industry changes to cater to customer preferences for online car shopping, implementing a digital retailing strategy has been on the mind of many dealers. Bob George, Head of Products at Dealer.com, and Brett Pomerantz, Senior Director of Product and Retail Experience at Cox Automotive, caught up with Cole Frankman, COO at Frankman Motor Company in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to chat about the role people, processes, and technology play in creating a cohesive digital strategy. Here are some highlights from the discussion.
Brett Pomerantz: What are some of the best practices you’ve implemented at Frankman Motor Company that have really helped your team learn and embrace change?
Cole Frankman: We don’t sell cars; we help people buy cars. Today’s consumer is smart. They do all their research. For the most part, they know what they want and they know what they’re going to get. … We just help people buy the car they want. It’s all about service. You can buy anything online, and cars are getting that way too. Probably about half of our sales are online only, over the phone, site unseen. … Customer service plays a big role.
BP: In what way would you say that digital retailing and the sales experience in general have evolved from the early days of digital retailing, and where do you see it going from here?
CF: In the early days, a digital retailing tool was essentially a payment calculator. A lot of websites had just the simple interest rate and what your payment was going to be. The tools got better from there and started using live bank rates. Now, we’re at the point where you can do pretty much every part of the purchase, if you want to, right in the tool.
BP: How has your website played a role in the customer experience? How have you leveraged your car dealer website to publicly communicate the new ways you’re doing business, as well as to promote your digital tools and processes available to consumers?
CF: There are a multitude of ways to have leads sent in from your website. When I first started at the dealership, there were like seven or eight different call-to-action buttons you could use to send in a lead on our website. Now, digital retailing is the only way to interact with us. As soon as I made that change, more and more people started to use the digital retailing tool. More and more interactions started happening. Now I constantly see traffic growing and more people using that versus calling or showing up. Conversions keep going up.
BP: There are different interpretations of digital retailing. How does your dealership define digital retailing, and what parts of your business are involved?
CF: We have found that Dealer.com Digital Retailing is the most complete solution. You don’t have to have five or six different software solutions to get one thing done. You need to be fluid through the whole process, otherwise you’re doing the same stuff twice. Using the tools and processes that are smoothest for the car deal is my philosophy, not necessarily just the customers, just the employee, or just us. It has to flow. Dealer.com Digital Retailing really helps with that because everything is really integrated and plays nice together.
This interview originally appeared on CBT News Dealer Forward. Watch the full video interview here.