Dealership Marketing

Alex’s Dealer.com Headquarters Visit

Visiting Dealer.com HQ is one of my favorite business trips to make.  No, they don’t throw a bunch of “good times” and “perks” out there while you’re visiting (even though they aren’t too far away from some Canadian craziness).  What they have is an amazing atmosphere and energy that is unsurpassed in any other workplace I’ve ever seen heard of.

You’ll find DDC HQ in the heart of Burlington, Vermont.  This town can be considered quaint to people from the city, but once you get to know it, you’ll find a technologically savvy industry mixed with the fun of college life.  Burlington is a young professional’s haven.  And the scenery isn’t terrible!

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Don’t wear a tie, don’t wear slacks, don’t even dress business casual – you’ll feel very out of place.  The dress code matches the one your local gym probably sets and that could be due to the fact that they not only have a gym in the office, but a basketball court, ping pong table, tennis court, and locker room right in the office.

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If you think this relaxed dress code and gymnasium hamper enthusiasm for getting the job done, then you’re grossly mistaken.  The staff at Dealer.com is one of the most driven I know.  Everyone there is gung-ho about advancing the company through better supporting their dealers.

Whether you are working in the dot Calm Cafe or developing new products, you definitely feel like a part of the team.  Everyone is friendly and even though they’re all very busy, everyone is smiling.  This is truly a company in its golden days.

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Just like the people of Vermont, Dealer.com is very concerned about their environmental presence.  The on-site cafe is stocked with organic food, the bathrooms use recycled papers and little water, the parking lot is filled with fuel-efficiency, and the building itself is a recycled converted old production facility that was abandoned over 15 years ago.

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This was not my first visit to DDC HQ – I visited Dealer.com about a month after they moved into their current buliling.  There was still a lot of construction happening and we were able to fit entire departments in Mark Bonfigli‘s office – yes, it is a roomy office, but it isn’t monstrous – Dealer.com was just a smaller company at that time.

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I think I’ve spent enough time talking about DDC’s diggs and should mention why I was there:

  • All new Checkered Flag.com
  • Major SEO Push
  • Some Video Changes
  • More robust Live Chat solution
  • Doing more with Specials
  • Pushing DDC for more service & parts stuff

Those were the only items on my agenda, but we certainly went over a bit more than that:

  • Total Control Dominator (TCD) future offerings
  • Reporting meshing/changing
  • ILM Interface tweaks
  • How to handle social media
  • Reducing the amount of pop-ups and click-throughs in DDC’s Control Center

Yep, we’re redoing Checkered Flag.com again.  It will be a departure from your typical dealership website, but those items might not be so obvious right up front – you’ll have to wait and see those things for yourself.  We’ve been doing a lot of studying into what other retail sites do and how people have been interacting with the current version of our site to make this “brash” change we’re about to launch.  There is no set ETA other than “soon”.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask away here – or on the DealerRefresh Forums.

P.S. Thanks to everyone at Dealer.com for your hospitality.  I had a great time.  You are living in your glory days right now – enjoy it and congratulations!

G
  • G
    Gerald
  • May 16, 2009
Good stuff Alex- Very curious about what you have up your sleeve!

BTW, does DDC offer training to dealers for the work environment? The gym looks like a perfect place to blow off some steam and alleve stress.
Sounds like you had a great trip. I'm a little on the jealous side.

Can't wait to see the new checkeredflag.com :)
M
Thanks for the beautiful write-up Alex! As always, it was a pleasure to have you with us...

Mike
A
Alex,

Nice write up, and I too am on the jealous side that you got the HQ tour as well as getting a new design. I'm anxiously awaiting the finished product.
S
Thanks for sharing this, Alex. I've been getting up-to-speed on dealers' handling of social media, and have enjoyed the blog.
T
Hey Alex,

I was there for the full tour the week after your visit. I too was extremely impressed with their offices. I met at length with most of the department heads. It is no secret that, in the past, I was NOT a fan of dealer.com. I have always disagreed with their SEO strategies (or lack thereof). I can say that after my visit, and many discussions about areas of improvement, I now think they're product is a great fit for 95% or more of dealerships out there. Rick is a genius - perhaps I am biased because it seems we think the same way. I was able to get a lot of insight and sneak peaks at the products that will be rolled out in the future and I can say with confidence that it is a bright one.

But I have to be me and provide objective criticism as well. They blew me away by changing a major pet peeve (url structure) on the spot and pushed that improvement out globally while I was sitting there. For those of you who don't speak geek, they changed am major facet to their SEO effectiveness and did so in an extremely impressive way (Rick couldn't wait to drop that bomb on me). BUT (and I won't completely blame ddc for this) there seems to be a real lack of definition as to what SEO or an SEO service is and what it should entail. SEO is clearly an area that they lack confidence in speaking about. Not one person gave me the same answer to the same questions. Of particular concern is the "Dynamic SEO" package. This product really has no perceivable value whatsoever. It is simply a way to generate gross profit by using the term SEO. No one seemed to have a clear definition as to exactly what you get with this product and when the SEO department head stated that it means that "We will look at the site at least once per quarter and adjust title tags if necessary" everyone in the room seemed surprised by this. This is an area they really need to address. This type of SEO should be standard with ALL websites. Title tags should be created properly from the beginning and not be duplicated (Their new platform ensures no duplicate tags). If you are going to charge a premium for a service like this, then there needs to be transparency. A premium SEO service needs to be just that - above and beyond the typical use of tags and content. It should included a PROactive approach to SEO not a passive one.

They simply cannot currently provide the custom approach to SEO we are seeking and as such we no longer use their service.

Again, I think their product is one of the best values out there. I think the majority of their staff is incredibly talented and hard working.

Alex, you left out the de-stressing area! The swings hanging from the ceiling are awesome! And the in house restaurant rivals some of the finer establishments in town! How about those GIANT cookies! LOL One thing is for sure, Dealer.com is an AWESOME place to work for! Any six-figure job openings for an SEO expert/Car-guy? LOL

Sincerely,

Timothy P Martell
Digital Marketing Director
Albrecht Auto Group

Marlboro Nissan | Marlboro, MA
Woburn Toyota \
Woburn Jaguar } Woburn, MA
Woburn Scion /
Infiniti of Norwood | Norwood, MA

(888) 251-3813
A
Tim - where do you think I took that last picture from? I tried to take a picture in the "relax" room but it was too dark.

I was there for 2 days, and the conversation constantly circled back around to SEO. Right now, we are doing some work arounds to keep traffic increasing for us, but Rick told me the first step toward bigger things goes into testing today. Hopefully I'll be able to test things out next week! ....it is also the first step toward starting development on the new Checkered Flag.com!
A