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Monday, June 11, 2007

Your Future is in the Hands of Your Website Provider

How many car dealers really think ahead when it comes to internet marketing? My experience tells me that most dealers are right here, right now personalities. While that may be OK for right here, right now, it's inevitably going to hurt them down the road.

I spent the past weekend attending two birthday parties for family members. Saturday was a surprise 60th birthday celebration for my aunt, and Sunday was a party for her granddaughter's 1st birthday. Looking at a lot of old photos put together in a slideshow presentation which eventually moved toward recent photos, it reminded me how much things have changed in the last 60 years....the last 30 years....even the last 3 years. I found myself imagining what sort of party the one year old will have in 59 years. Some sort of virtual reality display based on home videos where guests are able to "be there" for the 1st birthday? Brain implants so they can experience being there? The way technology changes, it's probably well beyond what anyone can even imagine at this point, but you get the idea that it's going to be different than this past weekend.

As a website company that specializes in independent car dealerships, our typical clients don't need a lot of the bells and whistles that some of our competitors offer....yet. Our business model dictates that we provide only those tools that are needed by our core client base. Someone who is relatively new to internet marketing and/or technology in general does not want to be overwhelmed with products they don't use or understand. As a dealership grows and puts more emphasis into an internet department I believe the average dealer will want these extras. The way I see it, there are thousands of dealers across the country. Some are ahead of the curve and some are behind the curve. Our company's role is to get the "behind the curve" dealers up to speed. At the same time we do this, the curve continues to move, and we as a company need to evolve and adapt.

A few years ago videos on dealership websites were rare. This is a perfect example of a technology trend that's growing and becoming closer to par for the course. While our early dealers did not even consider such things for their sites, we're starting to get more dealers who are. As a reputable web design company it's our obligation to advance the technology with the times. Complacency may not kill a company, but it shortchanges that company's clients.

Whether you have an existing website provider or you are searching for one for the first time, it's important to consider how progressive the leaders of that company think. One company may fit your needs today, but if they maintain the status quo, chances are they won't meet your needs for very long. Choose a web design company wisely, and although I know most car dealers don't like to think about the future, doing so when it comes to the technology side of your business is one of the best moves you can make.


Mike Brairton said...

I see the relevance of what you are saying here, and would suggest that it is not only independent dealers that need this guidance, but perhaps more so new vehicle franchised dealers. The reason I say this is that many of us in the new car world tend to subjegate development of our own individual brands to the "current/latest/greatest" message from our respective manufacturers. When we allow this to happen, we are now more akin to McDonalds franchisees, competing against one another solely on location and restroom cleanliness because that is the only differentiation between us left visible to our customers. Beware-this is not the auto business that many of us got into, and we are headed in that direction. There is a great message in being aware of where we are placing our futures. The manufacturers are looking hard at this stuff-who will get there first?

Jake said...

Great comments Mike, thanks. I think being an OEM franchise store has advantages and disadvantages. The manufacturers have to be aware of both, and those that look to the future are the ones who will elevate above the competition.