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A dealer group's digital journey - Benfield Motor Group

Benfield has had its own in-house website development team since 2011. Headed by Mark King, group digital sales and marketing manager, it consists of a web developer, senior digital marketing executive and a digital marketing executive and is due to expand this year with another web developer and E-CRM specialist being recruited.

King told the AM & Auto Trader Digital Marketing Conference the advantages of an in-house team include flexibility, speed of response, bespoke functionality, a greater understanding of the business and sharing of knowledge, and its ownership of every part of the function and accountability to the group.

Mark King, Benfield Motor Group digital sales and marketing manager


In-house website development team offers greater flexibility and speed, and accountability  
Primary focus of social media is on creating goodwill  

However, there are disadvantages – resource limitations, a limited knowledge pool being shared, inability to purchase off-the-shelf solutions and a lack of a designer.

“One thing I learned from our previous website is that you can’t build a website by committee,” said King.

“We had 12 stakeholders within the business all wanting their own agenda stamped on the website.

“It just doesn’t work, we’re not following the customer’s requirements then, but putting our own first,” he said.

One example of the development team’s results is Benfield’s aftersales platform. This allows customers to enter their car’s registration number and receive quotes for a manufacturer service and a Benfield value service, tyres and an MoT price standardised across the group.

It includes a simple online booking form and allows the customer to choose add-ons such as air-con service or fuel treatments.

In addition to the development team, King also heads a central support team whose function is to handle all incoming enquiries for sales.

It consists of a sales controller, senior sales executive and several sales executives who are incentivised on converting enquiries into appointments and turning those appointments into sales. The benefit is a consistent experience for consumers and King can also measure accurately the cost per enquiry, per appointment, per sale and the return on investment.

Monthly best practice meetings are held off-site to generate ideas for the team. These have included a buddy system, whereby one member will cover the other’s leads if they’re away, and critiques of call and email handling.

Benfield uses social media because King believes it could ultimately lead to a car sale, but primarily the focus is on creating goodwill and brand awareness.

King pointed out that customers are there already, so the group aims to engage them with activities, such as posting team photos in Christmas jumpers, weekly giveaways and backing the ‘Run Geordie Run’ charity runner Mark Allison.

Campaigns generally work best when they’re simple, King said, as competitions to win a loan car that asked people to make videos gained fewer responses.

Social media works best when there’s a champion of it in every dealership. Benfield has some where a staff member makes Twitter and Facebook part of their daily routine, and has thousands of followers.

At other sites, where there’s less engagement, the followers are far fewer.

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