Being an auto dealer comes with great opportunity, but operating the business side can be a daunting task. Dealers need resources that are easy to access and simple to comprehend in order to stay ahead in a highly competitive environment.
The following resources represent the top 10 go-to providers of information online that will help dealers run and grow their businesses efficiently and profitably.
1. Training and education resources
The education and training needed for auto dealers and their staff (both new and seasoned) has many unique requirements. A number of online sources provide training materials like informative articles, videos, tutorials, and e-books.
Educational resources can lend a hand in the sales and marketing, F&I, and operations departments, as well as for ongoing compliance with state and local regulations.
Dealer Training HUB is a comprehensive online resource for these types of materials, as is the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association (NIADA).
2. Industry regulations
Auto dealers must stay up to date with industry regulations, but doing so can be overwhelming while also focusing attention on running a successful business.
The NIADA also offers relevant and timely information on industry-wide changes in legislation and compliance procedures.
Similarly, the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) provides a vast amount of information online for dealers wanting to stay abreast of trends and shifts in regulations.
3. Technology and software resources
There’s no question that dealers operating in today’s competitive marketplace need to keep up with the digital revolution.
Fortunately, there are technology-infused tools and software options from countless vendors that focus on dealers and the unique needs of their businesses.
A comprehensive list of the most highly rated dealership technologies and software platforms can be found at Capterra.
Formal education and training is one path dealers can take to ensure they are compliant and up to date with the most recent industry needs.
Keeping an eye on new articles from industry thought leaders, successful auto dealers, and salespeople throughout the dealer world is helpful, however. Some blogs focus on sales and marketing techniques, while others set their sights on the latest news, research, and trends.
Another go-to resource online for most dealers are professional forums or communities of other dealers.
In an open forum online, dealers are able to present questions to others who may have insight on similar issues, or share success stories or challenges that have helped shape their businesses.
6. Marketing resources
Effective marketing is a must for dealerships. Strategies for incorporating a strong marketing strategy into a dealer’s business may include social media campaigns and advertising, a dealer blog for current and prospective customers, or local ads in print, on radio, or on television.
Given the vast amount and different types of marketing necessary, however, it’s often a good idea to get some expert direction. Auto dealers have many resources online for marketing help, including this directory from 9clouds and DealerMarketing.com.
7. Business management
Many factors must be considered when running a dealership, with one of the most important being management of the business.
For smaller dealers, the Small Business Administration offers a myriad of online tools and resources to create a strong business plan, get up to speed on business financials, and gain insight on how to grow a business from the bottom up.
8. Bonding resources
All auto dealers are required to provide some protection for customers against bad business practices or misrepresentations in sales. This is most often accomplished with the help of a surety bond for auto dealers.
Getting a bond shouldn’t be a complex process, but there are certain steps to take once licensing and state requirements are met.
This online resource offers ample information about auto dealer bonds, the process, the price, and options for dealers with less-than-perfect credit.
9. Licensing resources
Each state has varied requirements for auto dealer licensing which can make it difficult to know where to go for the correct, most up-to-date information.
This e-book on auto dealer licensing is a great place to start because it spells out the types of licenses needed, the agencies that grant auto dealer licenses in all 50 states, how to get bonded, and paperwork requirements.
This vast online resource also breaks down business location requirements for new dealers.
10. Sales resources
Finally, sales are crucial to the sustainability of any dealership, no matter how big or small the business.
There are several online resources available to dealers that focus on sales training and sales concepts, as well as strategies for reducing salesperson turnover and customer satisfaction.
Dealers will find all of the online resources presented in this article to be invaluable tools in operating a successful auto dealership.
Eric Weisbrot is the Chief Marketing Officer of JW Surety Bonds. With years of experience in the surety industry under several different roles within the company, he is also a contributing author to the surety bond blog.