Best PracticesDealership Marketing

Four Ways to Improve Your Dealership Website

Not too long ago I had an article published in the latest issue of Digital Dealer.

In this article I review “Four Ways to Improve Your Dealership Website” to increase lead count and overall conversion. For many of you reading, I understand this is basic stuff. Though, I bet only 10% of dealer’s implement all 4 of these strategies on their website.

  1. Phone number placement throughout the site
  2. Update your specials..I try to have no less than 10 used cars on special.
  3. Pricing – have some sort of pricing on your site
  4. Multiple photos

While these items may seem basic and/or elementary, it’s never bad practice to periodically review your dealership’s website as if you are a customer shopping for their next vehicle or looking to schedule a service appointment.

Here are 4 strategies that are critical in order to provide the car shopper a great experience while on your dealership website.

1. Phone number placement 

Is your direct Sales and Service phone number easy to find or is it hidden at the very bottom of your website, making the simple task of calling your dealership a complicated one?

Your phone number is a Call to Action! Use it. Don’t make the shopper jump through hoops in order to call you. Don’t hide it on the Contact Us page. When they see a vehicle they like on your VDP Vehicle Details Page, be sure your phone number is right there – smack in their faces!

A contact form will increase lead conversion but many customers have questions they want answered now… over the phone. Support your phone number with additional verbiage for increased awareness:

Call our VIP Sales Line at 1-800-888-8888

2. Keep your specials updated

Your New, Used and Service Specials are of the most visited pages on a dealer’s website. Yet randomly visit the website of 5 local dealerships and I bet 4 out of the 5 have non-existent Specials. Nadah! Nothing!

Consumers always want a deal. They always want to know what specials are being offered.

Why would you not keep your specials updated? Get your old-age units on there with an aggressive price.

Take it a next step further and use another separate phone number on this page to track its performance.

3.  Price, what price?

I’m a firm believer that you need to have some sort of pricing on your site. Shoppers want to see a price, even if it’s not a sale price; they want to know what they have to work with and if a vehicle is within their budget.

Can you imagine going to your local retailer to purchase a big screen TV and none of the TVs had any pricing? How frustrating would that be?

In the customer’s eye, it really is the same deal. If you’re going to have Call for Price, at least take it a step further with additional Call to Action verbiage: “Call 800-888-8888 for our Lowest Price”

4. Load up the photos

Photos help with conversion, so why would you have a web site without a multitude of them?

Try and get a process set up so you have your photos taken right after the car has been detailed. No one wants to see photos of a dirty car! Build value in the vehicle with your photos. Do a full walk-around of the vehicle, catching every exterior and interior panel. If the vehicle has a special feature like a CD changer, heated seats or navigation system, take a close up shot of these accessories.

Place that customer in the seat of the car and allow them to start taking ownership. If you’re outsourcing your photos, take the time to pull your cars out and show exactly what you want and how you want your photos to look.

Founder of DealerRefresh - 20+ Years of dealership Sales, Management, Training, Marketing and Leadership.
I have just found this site because of the article. So many ideas I cannot empliment them all at once. You had also mentioned elsewhere on this site about posting a picture of the vehicle in the email response. We have gone a step further. We have added a picture of the sales person who is sending the email and maps to find the dealership. We believe this will help eleviate skating within our dealership and prevent the customer from going to the wrong dealership.
Good Day Jeff;

Absolute superstars will become par for the course in the very near retail automotive future. I commend you for being a professional in the trade, and extend to you every measure of support I might have the ability or resources to provide.

Concerning your article, the four "Key Elements" are good. However, the most pivotal aspect of what you do (and what every other top performing AIM Professional™ does) is knowing your target. Indeed, there are myriad approaches and techniques out there that will add value to a dealership-based web interface. Making a website more visually appealing is a plus, especially when the focus of that appeal is the inventory (and second best, the professional staff). Outstanding placement of an INSTANT contact number is also a grand idea. Pricing and Specials are relative. In some instances, one may defeat the purpose of the other - but, definitely, at least one of these elements has its place among most auto dealer websites.

What I sometimes read for is what has not been written. And, being that I learned early in my years to understand the value of Proverbs, I know man does sharpen man. I consider ours a very fine and visionary fraternity. And, with those sentiments, this advice on bettering an automotive web presence…

A properly placed ad is the most important step. An effective message is the second most important step. Then, the photos, and navigation, and pricing, and so forth and so on... This is the Internet Sales approach of Champions. Think of the best online retailers of automobiles. They have each invested serious resources into a marketing media that is still an adolescent, at best. However, you will find throughout each of these leading retailers' sites a consistent strategy and marketing approach. Why in the world would a place like Kellogg, ID be home to the greatest e-dealer operation known to WARDS? Simple answer; because David Smith and company market well to particular and specific audiences or targets.

As I am pressed for time at the moment, I cannot delve as deep into the subject as I would have liked to at first. But, do take into account this industry fact - the Internet is the quickest, most responsive guide to the universe for the hungriest AIM Professionals™, and provides an interactive haven for buyers who know that it is the sales professional who is the most eager to sell any automobile - the dealer's check is going to be the same at the end of the year regardless. And, therefore, the best approach to the Internet marketing media is to get it in front of the two parties who have the greatest interest invested in the idea of bringing a business transaction on a particular automobile at a particular dealership to fruition on a particular day (most notably - today).

The absolute best way to improve dealer websites is to put them into the hands of the most resolute professionals. This is the fastest changing dynamic of our industry. People - your gift Jeff, and the greatest attribute you bring to your dealer organization, whether through a timely mail piece, an on air radio or television interview, or the articles you prepare and have published. The Internet is another tool to be added to your repertoire, and it will provide a platform upon which reciprocal excellence may be performed.

Your Auto Buyer Consultant,

D. Ramonte Rawls, President
Auto Buyer Consultants
770.507.5733 Office
404.403.7476 Mobile
EA: [email protected]
"The Future of the Largest Automotive Market Place..."

Great Basic Structure Jeff, I think the positive externalities that these 4 points share really can improve the Internet Operation of ANY Dealership! I am a one-man-show Internet Manager at a Suzuki Dealership in Indiana and average 23% of our Dealerships Monthly Pre-Owned Sales and 20% of the New & Pre-Owned Combined Sales. I pay close attention to Jeff and the Advice on this site, GREAT STUFF Jeff (you make me money every day)!!

1. Phone number placement throughout the site:
I have increased my call volume by including a Watermarked Logo, My Name and Contact Number on EVERY Photo I post through AutoTrader,, our Rooftop Website and Email Correspondence w/ prospects! This can be done with a product Jeff has posted here on DealerRefresh, it's called FastStone Photo Resizer.

2. Update your specials:
I Agree with Jeff here!! Often the Specials Page can be one of the most Visitied Pages!! (Especially by local shoppers), Be sure to utililize all the Specials availble to you (ie. New, Pre-Owned, Parts, Service).

3. Pricing - have some sort of pricing on your site:
I have heard from AutoTrader and Rep's alike that when consumers dont see a price, the vehicle "....must COST too much!" Is that the impression you want to leave? Why not give EVERY consumer ALL the Information they need to make a well-informed buying decision!!

4. Multiple photos:
This is a gimme! Everyone knows that the more emotion you create during a prospect's "shopping" stage, the better chance you have to be contacted. How is this done? QUALITY photos(at least 9-12 of em') of every vehicle!!

Hope this helps reinforce some of the points Jeff made in his article. This site is really a GREAT resource for Internet Managers/Directors to stay informed about the ever changing world of Online Automotive Marketing.

Jake Wirth
[email protected]
"...We have added a picture of the sales person who is sending the email ..."

That's a good idea!

For those of us that are working with a larger staff, Here's an idea that I'm just beginning to develop.

We all know how customers like to mystery shop AND we all know how they dislike the haggling, I'm building a method where we can get the customer to show themselves by picking a rep that they'd like to deal with.

Customers like to choose their cars, why not their reps? I'm doing a total makeover on our site, it's about 2-4weeks out and I'll be adding this feature into it.

I'll keep you posted on weather shoppers like to choose a rep.