Omnichannel selling is complicated, and it’s evolving quickly. There are a lot of moving parts and getting it right means understanding the role each department plays in the process. At Assurant, we use our exclusive nationwide research studies, ongoing industry events and our work with more than thousands of dealerships and millions of car buyers, to help each person within the dealership understand their roles in omnichannel process and how to positively contribute to PVR and annual profitability goals. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at each department along with some of the challenges they’re likely to encounter.
The General Manager Role in the Digital Experience
The role of the general manager (GM) is paramount to an effective and seamless omnichannel experience. A good manager knows their dealership like the back of their hand—including each step of the customer experience. As such, they’re uniquely positioned to understand how each department should function to combine the online and offline experience in a way that drives profitability.
They’re also responsible for the top-line decisions that can mean the difference between success and failure. This includes tasks like assessing digital readiness within the dealership, identifying the go-forward strategy and choosing the technology solutions that are best suited for your business. Getting this right the first time can save a lot of headaches, time and money later on.
GMs are also responsible for important tasks like creating appropriate staffing plans and training your team to operate in the omnichannel space—because in digital, staffing and training is as important as on the physical sales floor. And while a digital experience is based on technology, the full encounter is built by planning and good leadership – and that starts with the general manager.
Key responsibilities of the General Manager:
- Assess digital readiness
- Map out the dealership strategy for online and offline sales
- Compare digital tools and choose the right technology partners for the dealership
- Plan staffing and staff training support the full customer experience
- Facilitate collaboration between digital marketing managers and the sales and F&I teams
The Digital Marketing Manager (Or Person who Oversees Digital) in a Digital Experience
Delivering an omnichannel experience that converts car shoppers into buyers means more than simply plugging in off-the-shelf technology. You need a digital manager who can make recommendations on the technology solutions that will work best in your dealership when combined with a professionally trained team to create the optimal customer journey.
The digital manager will also be responsible for optimizing the experience over time to suit changes in technology and customer needs. Like the general manager, the digital marketing manager (or person who oversees the digital strategy) needs to be intimately acquainted with every touchpoint in the customer journey to properly maintain a positive experience. They’ll be working closely with department managers, and they will need authority and support from the GM to effect change across departments.
The task of the digital marketing manager isn’t easy but it is key to creating a successful omnichannel experience. It requires a deep understanding of the dealership, of omnichannel technology, customer expectations and best practices for maintaining an optimal digital retail flow.
Key responsibilities of the Digital Marketing Manager:
- Manage dealership website; oversee or directly manage other digital communications channels such as email, social media, chat or online advertising
- Integrate F&I information into the website and digital communication in response to customer needs
- Set up digital retail flow
- Analyze customer behavior and optimize dealership approach
The Sales Team or Web Sales Team in a Digital Experience
The sales team is the backbone of the customer experience whether online or in person. Their job is to guide the customer step-by-step through the entire journey, ensuring the sale is not lost or interrupted along the way. To succeed, they have to be armed with the right digital tools and receive comprehensive, high-quality training across the omnichannel experience.
A key part of this training includes laying the groundwork for the F&I sale by reviewing factory coverage, conducting a pre-interview to understand lifestyle and driving habits, and introducing F&I at the right time once the need for F&I products have been set. This requires carefully identifying each customer’s protection needs and ensuring he or she knows what to expect next and who they’ll be dealing with at the F&I office, and it can happen online or in person.
Key responsibilities of the Sales Team or Web Sales Team:
- Respond to digital inquiries from customers
- Maintain and grow familiarity with digital communication channels to engage with customers in a variety of formats
- Use in-person and online customer interactions to identify customer’s needs and respond accordingly
- Facilitate the test drive for customers both at the dealership and offsite
- Provide a smooth transition to F&I
The F&I Office in a Digital Experience
As a key driver of dealership profitability, planning and executing a strong F&I digital presence is critical to your bottom line. But it can be tricky. Your F&I office needs to work with customers well online and off and transition between the two flawlessly. This could be as simple as knowing and being able to respond to questions about how an F&I product is positioned online, or it could be as complex as delivering an online F&I presentation to meet the needs of a buyer in a virtual setting.
While close collaboration with the sales team has long been a goal of good F&I managers, now that collaboration should extend to the digital marketing manager or team. It is critical for the F&I office to integrate their expertise into your digital retailing strategy. This means your F&I manager will need to learn the ins and outs of assessing and responding to customer needs through digital channels, and they’ll have to direct your digital marketing manager to help implement their approach.
This may need to include digital training, research-based consumer data on the effectiveness of online tools, and online marketing materials like videos and digital brochures to build value awareness and help consumers self-identify the need for F&I products.
Key responsibilities of the F&I Office:
- Assess customer F&I needs using online and offline communication channels
- Develop F&I presentations that can be delivered in office or virtually
- Conduct effective video calls as needed
- Communicate with customers through digital channels such as social media, online chat, or email
How Assurant can help prepare Dealership Departments for Digital Retailing
Each department is critical to the overall digital experience, and they should all fit together to create a holistic customer journey. Our team of experts or tools can help. We offer a diverse range of solutions designed to help your team, including:
- Assess dealership digital readiness
- Choose the right digital tools
- Plan appropriate staffing
- Train staff to sell in the digital space
- Maintain and optimize experience over time
Learn more about the digital retailing tools and solutions your team can use here.