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Just the other day I was talking to a dealer that was looking for a new Internet Manager.  This is a small dealership that represents two up and coming franchises and sells about 100 units per month.  They have 2 Internet coordinators and are looking to add a manager.  The previous manager left to go work for a vendor for similar pay and less hours over a month ago.


Here is a dealership that has an internet department that is running with no process and no real idea of how to measure the results that come out of that room.  When discussing how much an Internet Manager should make the dealer says “Well, NADA says that an Internet Manager should make $60-65k per year”.  I looked at them and smiled because at that moment I understood exactly where their thoughts were.  I realized that either they are not properly educated on what to expect and measure or they just really do not care to value people in one of the most important positions in the dealership today. 


What was even more interesting was how they expect that internet manager to be a working manager and handle everything from answering leads to also handling marketing and managerial efforts.  By the way, this manager for $65,000 will also work a full manager schedule that includes 3 bell to bell days.  I explained my opinion like this, “For $65k, it is obvious why you have not had anyone talented come on board and have not replaced anyone in over as month”.  I added that “$65k will get you a rookie that needs heavy training and a high level person to run the department is a six figure executive.  You can have 29 cents per pound chicken wings and stay at a standstill or you can invest in a high quality piece of steak and really move the needle.”


We have all heard the saying, “The Internet Manager of Today is the General Sales Manager of Tomorrow”.  The reason why some industry experts say that is because it is true.  Once upon a time an Internet Manager was just a sales consultant that personally sold and delivered cars to internet leads without handling showroom floor traffic.  In some aspects the Internet Manager was a sales manager for a group of Internet Sales Consultants.  While, there are dealerships out there that may still operate that way in 2013 there needs to be recognition for a major shift in the industry for what is going on.


The reality is that sales consultants do not have the proper phone skills to handle internet sales opportunities properly.  The other reality is that sales consultants care about what is in front of them now and not what is coming in.  Some more realities, the internet has become a major part of how dealerships market their business.  Dealerships that have been trying to hide from the internet for so many years now have no choice but to at least dabble in it.  This is because some OEM companies are cracking down hard on the dealerships and relying on them to make the appropriate changes in order to stay compliant.


In most cases, a business development center is the way that Internet leads are being handled with professionally trained phone professionals who focus on making lots of phone calls each day to generate appointments for showroom traffic.  These departments are managed by high powered sales managers that have excellent call center management skills, phone skills, and preferably automotive sales and sales management skills.  It is in my opinion that the best BDC Manager knows how to work a car deal and is at the level of a strong desk manager.  Sadly, I have seen people with no care sales experience hold those positions and I still cannot understand why a dealer would settle for that.  But then again, how many vendor reps come in to dealerships to sell a product and tell the dealer how they should sell cars yet they have never been in the dealer’s shoes ones (Yes, it makes me sick and I take it personal).


The bottom line is that the Internet Manager of 2013 must be prepared to be at the level of a General Sales Manager.  Look at the responsibilities of a General Sales Manager.  They are in charge of managing a large team, advertising budgets (sometimes), and training, mentoring, coaching, closing deals, desking deals, managing the finance department, growing their own skills, and reporting to the dealer with full accountability.  Now, look at the Internet Manager.  Internet Managers need have skills that include mastering internet lead management process, managing the CRM/ILM, managing dealership websites, managing social media and reputation for the dealership, handle vendor relations, work with sales department to ensure sales are being properly made, and report to the dealer.  Do not get me wrong in some operations there is more than one person handling the duties and in some cases third party vendors are in place to eliminate some tasks.  However, these vendors still need to be managed by a competent manager.


In essence these are the same job descriptions as the General Sales Manager.  So why does a GSM does make $150,000 per year and an Internet Manager only makes $65,000 per year?  My friend who is a sales manager said to me the other day, “being an Internet Manager today is so much tougher than being a sales manager between all of the marketing, technology, and then managing people and dealing with politics because you are under appreciated”.  The bottom line is that the Internet Manager should have the respect of a General Sales Manager especially since there is a huge chance that they will one day take over that role.   For the dealers that are reading this, if you plan to be a successful dealership in 2013 and hire an Internet Manager make sure that you test their skill level, knowledge at the very least.  Also, be prepared to pay and treat them as a real executive as that is what they will be to you.

---About the author: Stan Sher is widely recognized automotive industry expert with regards to sales and marketing.  He is the President of Dealer eTraining

Learn more about his background here.

Views: 2350

Tags: auto sales manager, bdc manger, dealer etraining, general sales manager, internet manager, internet sales director, stan sher


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Comment by Stan Sher on December 9, 2012 at 1:20pm

I agree with Jerry 100%.  Past experience, history, previous pay, demographics, job description and hours.  By the way did I mention that this $65k job had not 2 but 3, bell to bell days.  I am talking about a 53 hour work schedule with no flexibility or life for a maximum of $65k.  Yes we are in a performance based business.  But if I am giving it my all, I am not working for peanuts.

Comment by Tom Gorham on December 9, 2012 at 12:59pm

Jerry, I agree.  A dealer who is just looking for someone to answer email leads should not pay more than what is advised by NADA.  What they should really be investing in is advice on how to move into the present... and eventually the future.

Most sales today, in a progressive dealership can easily be attributed to the Internet in some way, shape, or form.  Are you getting customers into the store?  That's a real Internet Manager's responsibility.  What is that worth to a dealer? 

Closing an Internet customer who comes in is child's play compared to getting them in.  The average Internet customer (almost ALL customers) visits 1.8 stores.  That means most are not going beyond one visit to buy a car.  The true action takes place before they come in.  Give credit where credit is due.

Comment by Doug Davis on December 9, 2012 at 11:01am

Jerry makes a valid point.  What percentage of dealerships fully embrace the internet and push the volume that the market leaders do?  If you bring a progressive Internet Director into an old school store, you will not likely get your moneys worth.

Comment by Jerry Thibeau on December 9, 2012 at 10:25am

Just because you're an Internet Manager does not entitle you to a six figure paycheck.  When considering candidates one should look at past experience, history and previous pay.  With similar work experience, the person seeking a pay plan of $65K looks a lot more attractive than the person asking for $125K.   Demographics play a role as well. 

The bottom line, how much profit does this person bring to the dealership each and every month?  There are a lot of BDC Managers & Internet Managers out there adding no value to the dealership.  I would tie a pay plan to growth and profitability.  Show me the money and I will show you the money.

The role of a Internet Manager varies from dealership to dealership, this also needs to be factored when considering a pay plan.

Comment by Doug Davis on December 8, 2012 at 11:27am

Brian Pash often comments about the gap in the dealer's advertisement when it comes to traditional Vs digital.

The majority of dealerships don't have a clue where much of their traffic is coming from.  Just look at the sales logs.  They rely on the salespeople to tell them what inspired the customer to come in.  I've seen logs where most of the sources were "drive by".  Might have said, "fell from space".  

Comment by Yago De Artaza Paramo on December 8, 2012 at 11:04am



That is a bit too far, got lots of customers for over 10 years that suck at some parts of their biz but do great on othgers so they pay their bills just fine.


Brian Pash often comments about the gap in the dealer's advertisement when it comes to traditional Vs digital. The gap on how to even start at the service business hasn't even started, it is abysmal.



Comment by Doug Davis on December 8, 2012 at 10:08am

Yago, look at the stock prices for the large automotive groups.  Group 1 runs about double the average at $60+ a share.  They could use some work in their internet departments but they have strong fixed operations. 

If you are doing business with dealerships that can't spare a few hundred dollars for fixed, I would not let them get past due on your billing.

Comment by Yago De Artaza Paramo on December 8, 2012 at 9:14am


Fixed ops are so far is not even funny... most of the time I find that there is no budget to do anything for fixed ops (even sonething like a few hundred a month to get a content writter to get the dealer some pages in their website) nor the parts/service management--in general--has any interest or knowledge.


This noeeds to not only start but also continue to be developed at the top in order to succed.

Comment by Ralph Paglia on December 8, 2012 at 9:09am

Just got off a 70 minute conference call with a DP, his GSM and their CRC Director and I simply wanted to post a comment to let ADM Members who may get frustrated with their dealerships know that there ARE enlightened, progressive dealers out there who value and reward their leaders in digital marketing and BDC type departments. Sure, there are still many dealers who operate as if the brick and mortar combined with an expensive retail location are enough any more... But, there are also a growing number of enlightened dealers with vision, leadership ability and the willingness to invest in technology, people and process implementation that delivers what the car buyer of today is looking for in a transparent and both customer and employee friendly manner.  They are out there... I feel privileged to work with several of them.  DO NOT GIVE UP HOPE OR VISION!

Comment by Doug Davis on December 8, 2012 at 8:54am

I am noticing that dealers are not focusing on fixed ops in a digital fashion as they should be.

They continue to maintain a firm grip on their ignorance.  Dealers tend to fall into two groups. You have those that have it together and those that think they do.

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