Industry News & Trends

Happy 3 to DealerRefresh!!


I almost forgot, the month of May marks the BIRTHDAY for It’s hard to believe it’s been 3 years. interviewed me a few weeks back for their newsletter, I figured what better time to post the interview on DealerRefresh.

Thanks to EVERYONE for making DealerRefresh what it is!!

The Interview:

DealerRefresh: Straight Talk about “New Marketing”
Interview with Jeff Kershner

Jeff Kershner heads up Internet process training at Mile One Automotive, the large dealership group with stores in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. But that’s not how most people know him. Most people know him as the man behind DealerRefresh,, the blog that he started three years ago.

DealerRefresh’s focus is Internet sales and marketing – but don’t call it that if you talk to Jeff, who prefers the term “new marketing.” As he explained when we spoke with him recently, “Calling it ‘Internet sales’ or ‘Internet marketing’ makes it sound like a niche part of the business. Increasingly, it is the business – the fundamental way for dealers to reach and win all their customers. Dealers who don’t accept this won’t survive.”

Helping dealers thrive, and not just survive, has become DealerRefresh’s primary mission. Here’s more of what Jeff had to say. (DDC): Where did the name DealerRefresh come from, and how did it get started?

Jeff Kershner (JK): It’s like the refresh button on your browser: every now and then you need to hit the refresh button to make sure you’re seeing the most up-to-date version of a website. I found myself thinking about how we dealers need to refresh our thinking in order to be on top of all the change in the business. And that’s what the website tries to provide.

When I came over to the sales side of this business, the Internet was just starting to have an influence on dealers and consumers. Since I knew how to type, I was appointed as the guy that takes care of the “Internet stuff”. The problem was, nine years ago there were no valuable resources for dealers on how to leverage the Internet. There was no one to share ideas and communicate with. So I decided to start blogging about my ideas and opinions.

Since then, DealerRefresh has become something much larger. Over 3,000 people read it every month, and many of those visitors are active participants who respond to the posts and publish ideas of their own. It has morphed into a community of dealers – ISMs, mostly – who are helping one another refine their practices, share ideas and opinions. And it’s a great place for someone new to the whole thing to find basic information and guidance.

DDC: Why do you think it’s become such a supportive community? Don’t dealers worry about giving away their secrets?

JK: Some dealers like to hold their cards close to their chest, but you find that mostly in places where the Internet effort is already very well established. Meanwhile, there are still plenty of dealerships in the U.S. that have no Internet presence at all, and the vast majority are somewhere in the middle, still finding their way. The general feeling throughout the industry is that there’s so much work to be done that it makes sense to help one another.

Another thing to keep in mind is that there’s a certain amount of thinking out loud that goes on at DealerRefresh. In a lot of dealerships, the ISM is a pretty lonely position. You’re at your computer all the time, and there may be no one else at the store who’s dealing with the same issues you’re dealing with. When you share what you know online, sometimes you’re figuring out what you know – you put an idea out there, someone responds, and the idea gets refined in a way that profits everyone.

DDC: By now, most people are aware of the issue of civility – or a lack thereof – on Internet forums. It’s something that started with email, and now we read about “flame wars” on some blogs and other participatory websites. What would you say the civility level is at DealerRefresh?

JK: This is actually one of the things I’m most happy about. Being respectful of others is the number one rule on the site, and people really are 99% of the time. I recently spoke with someone who runs a prominent blog outside of the automotive sphere. He had looked at DealerRefresh and was amazed at the great way that people interact with one another there.

Listen, I don’t want to give the impression that it’s boring. We’re not wearing white gloves and drinking tea; in fact one of the things the website is known for is its no-B.S. attitude. People say what they really think, and there are plenty of critical judgments expressed. But when you get right down to it, most of what contributors have to say is productive and helpful.

DDC: Are you pushing a particular viewpoint when you write for DealerRefresh?

JK: Naturally, I say what I think when I write my posts. But the only consistent viewpoint expressed on the site as a whole is one I don’t need to push. The readership and the people who post all believe that “new marketing” – all the techniques opened up by the Internet – is the future of automotive sales. What motivates me, and what brings people to the website, is a compelling interest in figuring it all out. That can mean something really specific, for example, how to format an email template. But we take up plenty of big issues too: ad spend distribution, the value of third-party leads, and so on. Maybe I have a strong opinion on some of these issues, but it doesn’t dominate the site because people are free to disagree – and, believe me, they sometimes do!

DDC: What’s next?

JK: Wow, that’s really hard to say. DealerRefresh has already become so much more than what I originally envisioned. That’s because of the way that dealers have flocked to it and made it their own forum. I’ll keep writing my posts, of course, but the future of the website itself is really up to the readers. The readership isn’t just growing in size, by the way. I’m hearing from more sales managers and even GMs these days who write to tell me how their dealership has benefited from help they’ve found at DealerRefresh.

DDC: Jeff, thank for your time. Keep fighting the good fight!

Founder of DealerRefresh - 20+ Years of dealership Sales, Management, Training, Marketing and Leadership.
Jeff, congrats on 3 years!
Good job Jeff. I remember those early days when you would post to the sounds of crickets - only getting 1 or 2 comments. You deserve to feel a sense of pride.

Awesome site! I found your site a few days ago and am really impressed at the amount of useful information that you have compiled. I just wish I had found it sooner!

Keep up the awesome work!
Tommy Justice
DR has come along way in 3 years. I can't remember when I first found the site but it has to be at least 2 years ago when I was looking for a book by Edward Colemen. Been a regular ever since. Great content. Great dialogue. Great site! Congrats Jeff!

Jeff -

Congratulations on your efforts; you've created a much-needed haven for those in the business who are looking to "get it."

Don't change a thing...except maybe more pics of the woman at the trade show booths.

Great work.


Dealer Refresh is in the top 3 sites I review every morning! Always great info, and I still use this site as a resource (by going through the archives) when I am completing my due diligence on new vendors and new ideas. Many thanks to Jeff, Alex, and ALL who participate here, as this site is great because of everyone that contributes. Cheers! Kevin Frye/eCommerce Director/Jeff Wyler Automotive Family
Congrats to JK and ALSO to our growing community!

Welcome aboard newbies! And remember, there are no dumb questions... er... unless, it comes from Brian T in Etown! We all know he's wacked! hahahaha.

Congrats again JK!
I am a new member and I must say that over that last few months I have acquired more usable knowledge from this one site, than I did in a year on all the other sites out there COMBINED!
Jeff you are the man.
Awesome job.

Alex Jefferson/Direct Marketing Manager/eCommerce Director/Proctor Automotive Group
Happy Birthday DR! Jeff has got to be a proud parent - thanks for keeping up the hard work.
Great work Jeff!
Joe I have been hearing about that new site, can't wait to check it out!
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    Lao Shi
  • June 2, 2008
A common mistake that most bloggers do is that they tend to become too preachy and too technical. Let the blog be the forum to allow ideas and concepts flourish from the readers and to let the true picture emerge.

My number one reason, at least for professional blogs I read, is to learn new ideas and concepts. It is great when bloggers seem to find stuff you never thought of or who have thought provoking ideas and ways of thinking.

The reason I visit DR is because I know I'll sometimes learn something new, learning has to be there.

Jeff does not alienate the readers. He does not make them feel like he is the great guru and the readers are his disciples. He involves his readers as much as possible in the blog discussion. He invites their opinions and suggestions, and keeps an option for them to voice their problems as well. This makes the blog more interesting. I like bloggers who try to encourage community by allowing comments and who also take the time to respond sometimes in a hotly debating manner. There are times when special interest groups or people dominate the forum however Jeff seems to monitor this well.

Some blogs exist to entertain, others to educate, others to advocate, with out the top down information flow and the paid advertisers who mask promoting their products and services in magazines and news media. We sometimes see where there are “special interests” motives behind some of the comments however the truth usually comes out in the debate and it is plain to see for most.

Thank you Jeff for creating a blog involving such an industry as ours that really needs to have forums like this to bring the change needed to allow it to improve and be succesful.

Jeff...fantastic job man...keep it up.