Editor's Note: Here's an excerpt from a feature story in Rural Lifestyle Dealer's spring issue. Click here to read the complete feature.

We really treat our website like a store. It's filled with products that people can look at. We have signage and banners to drive people's attention and to convey promotional messages. And we integrate our efforts so that our website is staffed by the employees that we have in various departments.

We think in terms of people, processes and products and how we can reduce friction in the buying process. Let’s start with the sales department. In general, we have lead generation processes, our website is kept current and we regularly do promotional marketing campaigns that are supported with information in the store and on the website.

For instance, we have implemented a CRM software and ticketing system that helps us gather leads through forms on the website that are then assigned to someone on the sales team. We have set a goal that those leads are responded to within 1 business day. We have also added a live chat feature during business hours. The software is all scripted to be conversational, based on the page the customer is viewing, and provides a more immediate response to customers. We also highlight the dealership’s phone number on the website and have improved our phone system to handle more call volume.

One thing I wanted to add about our website: We have designed it so that it has all the information someone needs to make an informed purchase, without having to talk to someone. However, the website doesn’t exclude the sales staff.

All of our interactions online give customers what they need, show them we are interested in them and invite them to take action. 

Over the past few years, we've seen an increasing number of people who would prefer to call in and ask about a part and whether we can ship it to them. Or, they’re searching Google for a part and want a more convenient way to buy rather than driving to a dealership and waiting at a parts counter.

We tried to come up with a solution to meet those needs. Our customers can look up a part on our website — we stock about 800 popular parts — and add it to their cart to purchase. They will receive it in 2-3 days on average. Online parts orders are fulfilled through integrating various platforms, including Basic Software, our website (platform provided by Dealer Spike), Shopify eCommerce platform as well as Stripe, PayPal and Apple Pay for credit card processing.

A workstation near the parts counter is the hub for fulfilling and shipping the orders and the integration with the dealer management system ensures inventory totals are correct for the parts counter staff.

To answer questions, we use online forms and the chat feature, like we use for sales. Our goal is to answer a question in an hour or less, which really drives sales and enhances the customer experience. We want our expertise to be just one click or one call away. By reducing barriers, more customers will depend on you and have confidence in your business.

When customers come to our site inquiring about service, we can gather information through a form and provide them with a cost estimate or they can schedule a time to bring their equipment in. We’ve also recently added the capability to send text messages with repair status updates to keep customers informed as their equipment goes through each step of the repair process.


View Patrick Richardson's presentation in the Dealer Success Academy, “Turning Your Website into a Virtual Location.”