Having had multiple debates on the lack of standards in our industry for the Internet realm within it, I decided to come up with a few pointers to Owners, GMs, or anyone looking at evaluating their Internet Director and Internet Manager.
Often times, we hand out titles to the staff in these departments and don’t worry about how they get it done as long as it gets done. IF your Intenret department is failing, you may have to look at new management OR how YOU can help your management succeed.
First allow me to preface that I am extremely fortunate to be in a position to offer advice to dealership warriors who seek it. I have experienced the peaks and valleys of being an Internet Manager and an Internet Director and struggled to set up a department when no one really understood what that role meant.
I am even more fortunate to have found a dealership team that really “gets it” and supports my efforts. It is in that experience and networking with my peers that I have found the common challenges that often ail dealerships.
Finding an Internet Director or Internet Manager
So you know you need an “Internet Manager/Internet Director”, but you don’t know how to get them. Here are some friendly, little pointers on how to find, keep, and help your Internet Manager/Director succeed!
1. Don’t fit triangle people into the star-shaped hole
Just because someone is good with computers or technology on the floor doesn’t mean they will be the superstar you need for the Internet Department. Define the qualities you need in an Internet Manager and find the people to fit that model. This brings us to number 2.
2. Determine the differences in the two positions
(Let’s first talk about the differences of an Internet Director and Internet Manager) An Internet Manager is generally someone who handles your Internet opportunities (read: leads, Internet calls, chats, etc) and maybe even manages your Internet Consultants. They traditionally monitor lead traffic, response activity, and supplies you the reports you need to make necessary changes to sales force, marketing, and budget.
Whereas an Internet Director manages your Internet Manager and Team, oversees the entire Internet Department and all its operations, bridges the Sales and Internet Departments together, has a comprehensive understanding of your websites, inventory tools, vendor relationships, social media, and reputation management to manage and maintain these components.
(Yeah, I know… shocking that we don’t all just sit on our asses and play Solitaire on these expensive computers. Now, on to the good stuff!)
3. Decide on the preferred qualities you seek in each candidate for the position
A true Internet Manager is someone who is well versed in CRM. They should be able to read, write, speak, and breathe CRM! However, they need to be on the path to understanding your websites, inventory, social media, search, Google analytics, reputation management, and the entire selling process. Why? Simply because these Director-esque responsibilities concern the Internet Manager’s livelihood as well.
My best Internet Managers have been great leaders and coaches who measure their own success based on the growth and performance of their team. They understood the fast pace that technology changes in our industry and were willing to adapt in an effort to dominate the market. These are generally people who value the numbers and goals over their paycheck and had creativity and determination oozing out of them.
An Internet Director needs to be all those things and more! They need to be all of the above AND have a much deeper understanding of each of those components. They need to be consistently learning and applying the latest and greatest tactics to the current processes and procedures.
An E-Commerce or Internet Director (like any other Director) should be able to understand team dynamics, be a good judge of character to hire and build the right team, able to delegate and monitor processes, live by metrics, understand the importance of ROI, manage your Internet budget, hold vendors accountable to their responsibilities, reports, and data, and be ROCKSTARS at customer service.
Sometimes the Internet Manager and Director are one in the same, in which case they need to know and understand everything Internet, website, inventory, and CRM!
It takes the dealership to BUY-IN to what their “chosen ones” are doing if they want to be successful long-term.
How to Manage Internet Directors & Internet Managers
Here is where you come in
4. Give them the authority they need to affect the change you seek
Treat Department heads with the respect they deserve. They shouldn’t work FOR your Sales Managers. They should work WITH your Sales Managers!! Internet Managers/Directors need to have authority over their departments. So, they are responsible for handling leads, but have no say over what happens to the lead when they walk into the dealership?
HELL NO! They need to have the authority to voice concerns regarding what happens to those leads when they get handed over. An ideal situation is to allow your Internet Management to have enough authority to work WITH your Sales Managers in an effort to edit or create the sales processes where there is customer overlap. By all means, hold them accountable, but give them the space to be a “manager”.
If you want to create an Internet Director pay plan based on their performance in sales, they better have a relationship with the sales floor in a means in which they can affect said sales floor. They should also be trained to review and/or work deals if necessary.
5. Allow them access to the tools and vendors they need to develop the Internet department
Make sure your “chosen one” not only has the tools they need, but access to evaluate tools they have. Your Internet Director (and Managers, to a degree) should:
- Be able to view, edit, and create templates for email correspondence
- View Internet vendor bills to hold them accountable and save you some money when you are being taken for a ride
- Be an integral part of any decision to cancel vendors or bring on new ones. (They understand when the wool is being pulled over your eyes and when you need to take a chance on a new company.)
- Have the access to the websites, forums, and conferences to expand their knowledgebase and improve your department. (You can shelter them and cross your fingers that other dealerships don’t steal them, or you can keep them happy and learning.)
- Set attainable goals that they must hit, but also have the right to ask why some goals are made to be unattainable.
- Hold your Internet Team to a higher standard than the floor! (Low turnover, professional appearance, attitude, easier schedules, etc. are all obstacles a strong Internet Director is able to overcome.)
In conclusion, seek out for the ones on the floor that put the company first and find creative means to get people through the door. Do not be afraid of looking outside your dealership to find the right candidates. When you do find someone you think is a good fit, teach them, constantly communicate with them, and keep them motivated to do better, bigger, and more creative projects.
It takes the dealership to BUY-IN to what their “chosen ones” are doing if they want to be successful long-term. If you follow these simple steps, you will find that you have a team that takes you to a new level of profit and sales you didn’t think you could achieve!