Industry News & Trends

Checking in with Jake Wirth – 6 months later

6 months ago, Jake Wirth was just settling into the position of
Internet Sales Manager
at a Suzuki dealer in Elkhart, IN. At that time, he
shared with us his thoughts and ideas in getting the Internet department
started. I thought I would drop in on him to see how things have been going.

He again shares with all of us where he is, how he has progressed and what he is
doing to get there.


Wow! In this Industry it is amazing how much you can learn in 6
! You may have read my article “Starting an Internet Sales
Department from Scratch!!”
a couple months back. If so, this is my 6
Month Checkup; if not, this is a rundown of my last 6 months developing
and directing the Internet department I created from scratch in February
of this year. I work for a rapidly growing single-franchise Import store
in the midwest and the influence of the Internet in consumer shopping
has just recently (within the last year) become obvious on a day-to-day
basis in my local marketplace! It is now finally commonplace for about
50% of our walk-in traffic to make reference to some form of an online
automotive reference source (,, AutoTrader, Kelley
Blue Book, CARFAX and etc).

The Importance of an Internet Department (for those who don’t
already know) – Prior to our Internet department’s creation our store
averaged between 20-25 Sales a month, both new & pre-owned. March was
the first sales month for my fledgling Internet department managed to
sell 5 vehicles, Hello 25% overall store sales increase!! Each month
since, the Internet department has brought an average of 8 Sales a month
to the bottom line, that’s 25%-32% of every month’s total sales Mr.
General Manager! Not to mention that on average, 45% of shoppers that
view a classified vehicle listing (AutoTrader,, VEHIX) come in
to the dealership without first contacting the Dealership or Internet
department directly! That’s an additional increase in floor traffic for
the dealership, talk about a Spillover Benefit!

Taking the Next Step – Due to this Spillover Benefit, six months
later (with solid performance on paper) everyone is paying attention to
the Internet department! It was time to take the next step. Here was my
setup: AutoTrader,, VEHIX for pre-owned vehicles –
new leads for new vehicles – DealerOn for dealership
rooftop website. Something was missing, can you spot it? An
Internet Lead Management program (ILM / CRM)! I had been managing all of
my leads on paper like the great used car salesmen of the 1970’s. Why
pay $22 per lead for new leads or $900-2,500 a month for AutoTrader and
or if you CANNOT POSSIBLY get the FULL VALUE of the leads your
Internet advertising produces? I needed an Internet Lead Management
(ILM) or Customer Relationship Management Program (CRM)
terribly, and I got it when I could show my General manager how the
performance and overall efficiency of the Internet department could be
improved with this one single tool. After months of shopping, I chose
the ILM Product offered by iCarMagic. In addition to providing the most
affordable, simple, and easy to use interface, iCarMagic did not require
me to sign a long term contract! This tool not only allows me to ensure
the most professional and effective incoming lead response, but also
provides reporting that tracks Sales, gross profit, prospecting
performance, closing ratio, appointment ratio, response time, ROI for
each lead provider and more!

Re-thinking the Process – For me, adding an ILM to the arsenal of
tools available to the Internet Dept. was a HUGE stepping stone. After
months of Internet marketing and sales experience I was ready to
implement the process in which all incoming leads to the dealership and
Internet department were handled. In order to plan an effective process
I needed to establish the key elements I wanted to integrate:

Speed of Response – I recently learned in a training
session that your chance of closing an Internet lead decreases by 70%
after the first hour!

Accurate, Relevant Data – I believe that following the “GEICO”
to contacting leads is very SUCCESSFUL. This approach
emphasizes the importance of getting our leads/prospects the information
they ask for in a timely manner. Now the “information they need” may not
be obvious, often I get new vehicle leads with no comments from the
shopper however, that same shopper submitted a lead on a ‘2007 Jeep
Grand Cherokee Overland 4X4 Automatic.’ So I would surely play on the
UNIQUE features of the ‘Overland’ trim level in ALL the emails and
eBrochures I send that specific shopper. After All, ‘If I’m this helpful
while you are shopping for your next Vehicle, imagine how helpful I’ll
be once you’re a customer!!’

A Well Defined Response Schedule – I know from studying sources
like DealerRefresh that a consistent and well-defined email Marketing or
phone call schedule will result in a better appointment and ultimately
closing ratio!

In order to incorporate all of these key objectives I also picked up
another cool product, Call Prospector. This product help me turn every
single Internet lead I receive into an INSTANT phone up call! Within
seconds of receiving a new or pre-owned Lead from any source my phone is
ringing to tell me the name and vehicle interest of my newest lead!
Since implementing Call Prospector I have seen a measurable increase in
my lead closing ratio across the board! I often contact shoppers while
they are still viewing the vehicle that they just submitted a lead on,
now that’s GOOD FOLLOW-UP!!

I look forward to integrating these revolutionary products into my
Internet sales processes and seeing positive results! Feel free to
contact me about my experience and for any advice about Internet Sales
Management. I have been following DealerRefresh since my first week as
an Internet Manager and I look forward to hearing the innovative ideas
from other Internet managers as well!

Please Contact me with any questions/comments:

Jake Wirth
[email protected]

Founder of DealerRefresh - 20+ Years of dealership Sales, Management, Training, Marketing and Leadership.