Marc Imowitz
| 06/06/2017

Build a Website Like You Build a House

Imagine you’re thinking about building a house. Future homeowners often want to jump the gun and start picturing how their house will look when it’s finished, buying paint colors and wall hangings before they’ve even bought the land. They can get so excited about the outside shell of the house that they neglect to take the time to think about all that needs to go into the process of building a well-made, functional home. Many people fall into the same trap when starting to build a website for their dealership. While the aesthetic aspects of a website are important, making sure that you have a strong foundation and the correct structures in place are essential to long-term success.

Start with a Solid Foundation

Everyone knows that a strong house starts with a strong foundation. Before you can start thinking about paint colors or decorations to hang on the wall, you must first start with the seemingly boring task of building a strong foundation. This means choosing the right location to begin building and spending time building the frame of the house properly. Building your website is no different.

When you’re thinking about selecting a website provider, it’s not enough to just look at the nice designs and flashy technology. For a dealership, it’s also necessary to determine if the company backing the websites is the strong foundation you want to build your “house” on. Consider if your website provider has the resources to invest in evolving technology and whether they have the resources to build at scale for your dealership or dealership group. Understand whether they’re just meeting the current needs of the industry or if they’re spending time in developing the next generation of solutions — like connecting online shoppers to the dealership showroom or making sure that your site will always work well on the latest mobile devices.

Make the “Behind-the-Scenes” Connections

Once you’ve built a strong foundation on sturdy ground, it’s time to think about the systems that need to be in place. Before the walls are covered and painted, the electricity, plumbing, heating and air conditioning systems need to be wired behind the walls and connected to the outside world. If you don’t make sure that the proper support and connections are in place before hanging the pictures on the finished walls, you’ll have to tear into the walls and start over. Similarly, before you begin picking pretty website designs, you need to make sure your website is connected to all the right “utilities.”

A house can’t run its own electricity without being connected to a provider, and your dealership’s website can’t function as it needs to without the right OEM connections. Make sure that your website provider has strong relationships with OEMs that enable an easy connection to your website. The website should also integrate with your DMS, CRM and other solutions in order to use the information you already have to better serve customers. In addition, consider whether your provider connects to other outside “utilities,” like third-party providers for additional tools like live chat and online credit approval, or agencies that support your site through advertising. Lastly, ensure that the proper architecture is in place to allow you to capture analytics and make actionable decisions.

Add the Finishing Touches

After you’ve laid a strong foundation and connected your utilities, it’s finally time for the fun part – decorating. You can finally start to think about paint colors, furniture and décor, or in the case of websites, website design and homepage hero images. Just as you’d want someone to feel comfortable in your home, you want the design choices on your website to suit a customer’s experience. Think through the user experience and design choices. Your website provider should let you easily choose between a host of great designs and allow you to quickly change different aspects of the designs to suit your dealership’s and your customers’ changing needs.

Most of you have probably already built your “house” and while it may look stunning to the outside observer, only you know if it’s got the foundation and the systems needed to provide you the success you deserve. A hastily built house may show its weaknesses when you try to turn on the electricity, or a disaster comes along to shake its foundation; a poorly built website can show the same weaknesses when you try to connect to a third party or a competitor comes along to contend for your customers. Take the time to evaluate if your website really is as strong as you need it to be. We’ll be right here to help.

Marc Imowitz
Marc Imowitz

In my current role at CDK Global, I lead marketing, communications, and commercial operations function for the $2.2B OEM, Digital and Baseline sales channels. I'm also passionate about driving positive change in the organization as a whole.