Opinions & Advice

High traffic with low conversions? Is this a franchise-related problem?

Question
First off, I would like to thank Jeff for giving me the
opportunity to be a guest author on Dealer Refresh.

As an eleven-brand franchised dealer, I get to work with
many different business ideologies.  From Korea to Germany the ideological differences can be just as extreme as the geographic distances between these OEMs. These ideologies are also displayed by their customers. To make things more convoluted is the regional demographic differences within the United States. It is true that some areas favor specific brands to other ones. In plain terms, each brand has its own personality.

Over the past 5 years I have watched Internet traffic patterns shift all over the various brands we carry. Our dealer site has grown exponentially in traffic, but our lead conversion rate has remained relatively the same. I attribute this to a major decrease in VW, Audi, and Scion leads while brands like Toyota, BMW, and Honda have jumped up quite a bit. Volkswagen, Audi, and Scion are said to have the highest Internet-using clients of all the brands we carry. Why are these customers no longer submitting inquiries? I can see these customers are still browsing our website, and for a long period of time.

I came up with the idea that these customers have realized that there are not too many advantages to using the Internet department when purchasing a car. I’m not speaking about my dealership, but the industry in general. The most savvy Internet customers have already gone through the “traditional Internet-lead process” for one or two cars, and may have figured out ways to side-step the Internet department.  With the vast amount of information available, is there a need to go through the Internet department if they are just going to work with someone else on the showroom floor? Have these people developed the belief that the Internet department is not going to provide any better price than can be negotiated on the floor?

How do we pull the most savvy Internet customers back to the lead pool? Do we want to?

I have an opinion, but I would like to hear from the community first.

B
Some interesting observations you make there Alex...

1) Are consumers on the Internet because they only want to do research and to find efficient ways to inquire of your dealership?
2) Do they get a good experience via the third party lead providers as they inquire + receive their follow up emails and phone calls?
3) Do Internet customers really want to come in to the showroom as a next step to submitting a lead?

I believe your article indicates real world recognition that the more comfortable the consumer with the Internet, the less they participate in the current Internet lead model. If that is true, where is this going?

I've paid attention to the seminars that focus on how to respond, technologies and processes to make a BDC or ISM efficient and that is all good infrastructure to have. I do. I think it is a lot of hard work, but with some cost-effective and creative effort on marketing your dealership online, that good , profitable results can be achieved.

If 80+% of consumers are on the Internet, they are basing their decisions at least somewhat on what they find there. What does your dealership's brand look like online? Would you buy from you if you experienced that brand online?

But what if the end of the road for an online consumer was not an inquiry?

What if true eCommerce in the form of consumer-facing desking + F&I existed for dealers to provide to their consumers?

What if admission to such a dealer system was free except for a validated email address?

What if the ISM, BDC infrastructure kicked in to assist with unsold consumer account follow up?

Would that sell more cars?

Would that bring consumers to those dealerships with such a system over those that do not have it?

Would having "The Only Complete Online Buying Experience" for your brand in your market be worth advertising?

Those of you who read this blog regularly know me, my company and what I do... but I like Jeff too much to turn his blog in to a commercial.
S
"I came up with the idea that these customers have realized that there are not too many advantages to using the Internet department when purchasing a car." - Alex Snyder

Alex, First off, nice post! I enjoyed the read!

I would say that your above statement hit the proverbial nail on the head. The lines that once separated the internet experience from the experience that a consumer has at any number of showrooms in todays progressive dealerships has blurred to be almost indistinguishable.

What I mean by this is that I think we (the internet folks at the stores) have grown complacent and have not grown with the consumer and maintained or developed unique value propositions to keep the customers submitting leads to our stores.

What now separates the "internet experience" from the regular old car buying experience in general?

I could go on and on, but you get the idea...

Right or wrong, just my opinion.

Steve Williams
J
Alex,

I can attest to the fact (from my own experience) that lead volume generated from brand to brand varies and has seen huge swings (like 300 leads per month down to 50 for a VW dealership that I work with.)

I would like to guess that this has something to do with new models being released or a loss of market share, but it is probably not the answer.

My personal opinion is not to look at this as a dooms day scenario, keep positive & the leads and sales will return. In the mean time, you may want to look at your website for solutions:

1. Does your website make it easy for the customer to find the information that they are looking for?

2. What do you do to build value in the vehicle that you're selling? Also what do you do to build trust with the customer (on a personal and dealership level)? And can you do better?

3. Do you give customers a reasons to submit a lead? (ie: free window tint with purchase through the internet department... or maybe offer a 1 hour purchase program - something that's only available through an online inquiry).

4. Does your site tell customers who is receiving their information and what is going to be done with it? I know that the name of the game is to sell cars, but customers may be afraid to request more information, as they will be followed up with (or bugged) until they buy or die. In the case of a secure credit app, what do you do to show that the site is secure? Do you show that your site is secured & can you add credibility by showing that you are member of BBB online... if you're not, you may want to join (it's pretty inexpensive).

5. Do you advertise your website OFFline? (think license plates, license frames, service loaners... maybe the front door of the dealership?)

I know that my answer didn't address your question of where all the leads went, but I hope that I have given you some ideas of what you can do with your current website to generate more leads, which in turn will generate more sales!

-JoE Drosen
National Sales Director, CarSpot
888-698-7768 x124

http://www.carsgofaster.com
C
"Our dealer site has grown exponentially in traffic"

Was the traffic increase a result of improving or <i>promoting</i> the site?

I wouldn't expect a conversion increase unless the site was improved to convert better.




U
Hmm.. "Our dealer site has grown exponentially in traffic, but our lead conversion rate has remained relatively the same." If the conversion rate is the same... then nothing has really changed. If you are getting more traffic and conversion rate is the same then you are getting more leads. To do any better at conversion you have to optimize for conversion like Corey said. But the honest truth is at max you will only convert 7% of your traffic... heck if you are doing 4-5% you are doing pretty good.

Could the drop in Audi,VW and Scion be linked to there websites not actually linking to your site but their mini sites. BTW Audi has a horrible website... doesn't work in Firefox and spits out java script errors in IE.... ERRR

Checkout the blog LunaMetrics on some nice conversion tips. http://www.lunametrics.com/blog/


A
I am far from an expert on the dealer side of the equation, but I have been squarely in this space since I started CarSpot back in 1995.

Back in the day, the neat thing about a customer using the internet to contact a dealership was that if a dealer was even online at the time, odds are there was a very unique sales person handling the internet side of the equation.

Such a person would typically be willing to interact via the customer's preferred method of contact, would answer any / all questions in a no pressure style, and would just generally buck the (right or wrong) stigma often associated with the car buying experience.

Over the years, dealerships learned that the internet was an extremely trackable means of communication. This in and of itself is not a bad thing and in fact should be a great thing.

However, as the focus began to shift away from relationships and over to "generating more leads" the problem began. I cannot tell you how many dealer sites have been rigged to "generate more leads" (i.e. some have pop up contact boxes constantly bombarding you until you finally fill one out).

Sure, that may "generate more leads" than not having such a feature, but if you are simultaneously scaring away a huge percentage of visitors--visitors that may no longer even consider your dealership as an option online or off-, is that a good thing?

I am not entirely certain of the answers here, but I think Alex is right with his analysis. To me, the crux of the solution revolves around getting back to a relationship-based approach. It need not be a salesperson-customer relationship so much as a dealership-customer relationship.

I also think that you do want to generate leads and track as best as possible, but not at the sake of ruining the relationship or tainting the overall experience.

This may mean fewer leads than possible, but happier customers overall and better results from the leads you do have as well as from customers that are customers despite not generating a lead.
--
Andrew Salamone
<a href="http://www.carsgofaster.com" rel="nofollow">carsgofaster.com</a>
A
Thank you all for your comments so far. Andrew has caught on to the bigger point I was trying to make by my example - I wasn't looking for advice on my own business model, although I always appreciate it!

"I am not entirely certain of the answers here, but I think Alex is right with his analysis. To me, the crux of the solution revolves around getting back to a relationship-based approach. It need not be a salesperson-customer relationship so much as a dealership-customer relationship."

This thread was started to raise an awareness amongst the Dealer Refresh readers. I'm concerned about a trend that we, Checkered Flag, are seeing amidst our VW, Audi, and Scion customers. My concern is that we are doing something, as an industry, to make customers not want to submit inquiries. My concern may be a little premature, but I'm a firm believer in catching the problem before it escalates further.

Maybe this isn't a problem at all. Maybe the Internet, including our dealership sites, are becoming so resourceful that all questions are answered. Maybe the customer is more apt to just show up on the lot because everything was provided beforehand? I do have some numbers to back that up.

We survey every customer who walks out of the Finance office. It is a quick electronic survey the customer fills out while waiting for tags to be issued. In looking through the old surveys I've noticed less VW, Audi, and Scion customers are shopping our competitors (one of the survey questions). It trends around the same time period as when we stopped receiving as many leads on those brands. It also coincides with the increase in our site traffic. If more people are coming to our site, not shopping our competitors as much (translates to more gross), but not interacting with the Internet department, is this a bad thing?

Has the Internet conditioned us to not contact someone before purchasing? I've been using eBay since day one. In the early days I would not purchase anything without having some sort of communication with the seller beforehand. Today, I simply look at the feedback and pull the trigger. Of course, my eBay buying habits change depending on how much an item is, but I'm willing to spend a few hundred dollars without any communication with the seller. Amazon, computer hardware suppliers, car modification companies, B&H Photo Video...these are other places I've spent over $1,000 with, without picking up the phone or sending an email. Maybe I am like most of the other "experienced Internet shoppers" who have been conditioned to just pull the trigger with the posted information at hand.
J
  • J
    Jeff Kershner
  • May 16, 2007
<i>“My concern is that we are doing something, as an industry, to make customers not want to submit inquiries.”</i>

That’s deep Alex. Could this be possible? Could this be happening because the consumer is truly looking for something different and they have quickly realized that it’s really no different then just walking into the showroom floor (for most dealers). You have touched on something here, especially when you look at the brands you have noticed this with.

So what do we do? And, does this prove that dealers will still sell cars no matter if they have an online presence or “Internet Sales Department” or not? Should dealers offer a unique online buying experience like Brian Hoecht over at ai-dealer is experimenting with?

Who says we have to change our approach and process in selling cars. Nothing has really been able to change this industry in over 50 years. Will my GM at the VW dealer where I started selling cars ultimately be right when he said "the internet will be nothing more then a “fad” for shopping and buying vehicles" ?

I don’t believe this to be true but it brings up questions.

J
Andrew,
Have you had chance to plot your poorly trending lead volume vs. % of a trend of repeat buyers?

It's a hunch, but I suspect IF you've been tracking repeat buyer penetrations stats, you may be looking at a undiscovered Internet windfall. If you've won 'em over once on the net, they'll assume you've got the right package and they're less likely to shop ya' the next time.

ALSO, there is the "Jet Blue" effect.
Personally, when it's time to fly, I ALWAYS hit JetBlue.com 1st, THEN, I goto the 3rd party sites if the JetBlue offer is "above market". TV's, leather, wide and deep seats... ahh..... If your customer shoped you hard, bought from you AND your group has bowled the customer over with a great experience, it only makes sense thay they're less likely to shop ya (again).

Ergo, Less requests for 'net quotes is a good thing.

Let's connect the dots for your department.
IF this is the case, then this is a huge victory for the mothership. If this is the case, then your group should consider Internet Exclusives for NEW clients. Establish an incentive earmarked for the new guy becuase once you win 'em over, he/she'll be back again and again.

How to present this to the shopper? Benchmark: http://www.royalcaribbean.com/gohome.do

DAMN THATS SMART, REAL SMART!
Tailor your message to the visitor.

Enjoyed your efforts here,
Hope this helps,
Joe



A
Joe,

I assume you're speaking to me, not Andrew.....

"If you've won 'em over once on the net, they'll assume you've got the right package and they're less likely to shop ya' the next time."

I agree with that - I see it all the time. Many repeat customers purchasing cars from the dealership, who went through the Internet department on their last purchase, are not using the Internet department on this purchase. In my opinion, this is a good thing! The irony of our jobs, as Internet people, is to get people off the Internet. We cannot sell a car in an email, so the ultimate goal is to get a customer in the showroom. If the customer opts to not use the Internet department on future purchases, and heads straight to the showroom, without shopping competitors - is this not the absolute best scenario for the dealership? I am an Internet guy speaking to a bunch of Internet guys, and realize this is a bad scenario for our paychecks.

"Ergo, Less requests for 'net quotes is a good thing." - I think we're saying the same thing.

Another side to the coin, are all the trends the Internet goes through. This "Internet Thing" is still in its infancy. The government is still trying to find a solution on how to handle it, and new business ventures come from it every second. Will everything we're talking about in this thread be worthless next year?

In the meantime, I'm not looking for a solution to what is or isn't a problem on my end. I was simply putting my dealership's "situation" out there as an example. I've got some plans in the pipeline ;) My reasons for starting this thread, although I kept this agenda hidden in the original article, was to bring up discussion on the topic of "where are the customers going?" I wanted to put a thought out that I don't think many people have considered.
J
Andrew,
After taking a quick look at your site, one last thought. Here maybe another reason why your lead count maybe down.

A Paradigm Shift is upon us all.
"Small Dealers must Beware the Beast"

Fact:
Internet shoppers are drawn to selection like a moth to flame. Inventory size is the GLUE that holds Internet shoppers interest. Scale works on the Internet! If your large, very large, your site becomes a destination. Average visting times can be 300% higher for megastores then for single stores. My average visit is under 4minutes. I've have 2 new mega stores in our small market and they're >11 minutes per visit!! The sucking sound is deafening! The megastore site becomes the "1st stop" to see whats just arrived. This is a synergy to hook shoppers that no smaller store can match.

Lastly,
The "thrill" of the 'net shopping experience has gone the way of the sunday drive. Websites are a window into a store. I personally would rather visit a store with lots to see vs. a "we can order it for you" place.

See for yourself:
http://snapshot.compete.com/autotrader.com+cars.com?metric=uv
Autotrader.com vs. Cars.com

=See avg. # of visitors.
=See Engagement> Avg. stay Monthly

Then,
Plug in your site and players in your market (and out of your market).

Hope this helps,
Joe

J
oops,
Sorry about that typo Alex!

anyhow, best wishes with your "plans in the pipeline ;)"


A
Joe,

I understand what you're saying and appreciate your posts. You make a valid point on the megastores. For our marketplace, we are one. We do have very long times spent on our site. According to Ward's e-Dealer Top 100 numbers, we should be in the top 25, but nobody ever asks us for our numbers since we stopped using CarsDirect. That's a story for another topic.

In response to your post, I'm not sure we have to fear the beast....yet.

Thanks,
Alex


J
Alex,
You ARE the beast (in your market ;-) The lil' guys need to be on their A game to compete with the depth and scale of the mega dealers. Your "less ups these days" research validates my thoughts.

You're a marketing wonk, ck out this site:
http://snapshot.compete.com/www.checkeredflag.com
You're avg'ing about 6,500 unique vistors p/mo
They stay almost 7 minutes each <--- great

Warmest Regards,
Joe
p.s. you site is well thought out! kudos: http://www.checkeredflag.com/


A
I've never looked at Snapshot before - interesting tool. It is way off compared to our site and Google analytics, but a neat tool to get a quick "snapshot" of somebody else's site.

Thanks for the compliment Joe!
J
Alex,
Right along with your discovery, I have noticed online service appointments rising dramatically (yr over yr).

We also use callbright.com to monitor phone traffic and the # of service calls coming in from the web site is nearly 20% of our web site driven phone traffic.

Interesting....
Joe


R
Alex,

Our company does alot of research through email surveys to on-line visitors and we find that many visitors never even get a response when submitting inquiries. In fact, I personally have shopped several different dealers over the past 5 years and over half never responded. Of the ones that did, most took days. I could count on one hand the dealers that responded in hours.

You have to wonder if this is starting to have an effect on lead generation. Furthermore, if we find phone inquiries are on the rise as Joe stated, it also makes you wonder if the visitors are not even bothering to submit leads and rather opting for the phone, knowing they will be able to communicate with someone.


R
One more thing...

I know this is only anecdotal evidence but I was working with a real estate broker recently and him and his wife were trying to buy a Hummer on line. He submitted his request to 5 different dealers in the LA area and did not get a response from any of them. In fact, even after several weeks, no response.

He ended up calling two of the dealers and finally negotiating a deal with one of them. Do you think he'll try this again or opt for the phone the next time around?
A
You make a very good point Richard, but 5, 3, even 1 year ago is a vast difference to where dealers are with their Internet presence today.

Did your real estate broker have a spam blocker on his email? Does your system look for that?

We use iMagicLabs ILM which lets us know when an email has been opened. Very seldom do we see a customer opening our emails without responding, but very often we see plenty of customers who never open any of our emails. I assume we are simply landing in their spam box. How many customers submit an inquiry without a phone number, or a bad number, and we end up in their spam box?
R
Alex,

Like I said in the post, it is anecdotal evidence but it did happen.

However, when looking at conversion ratios, there is another thing to point out.

Most visitors go to sites specifically to look at inventory, we can all agree on that. Inventory displays have changed considerably over the past few years. Specifically, many vendors have added multiple calls to action in the form of buttons on the inventory details pages.

In fact, we, TK Carsites, used to do this as well until our research showed that we actually had higher conversions by just having a Request a Quote Form open, ready to go, when the visitor lands on the vehicle details page. Now we do that on all of our inventory pages and are making the move to correct this on our Virtual Inventory as well.


G
Alex- I think you are right on target. I have noticed a drop in our appt set/lead ratio, though our closing ratio has stayed nearly the same. What I have been suspecting for some time is savvy customers get a quote, and come in to work the guy on the floor for a better deal. This is for a couple of reasons (in my humble opinion).

1. They have purchased already from a store with an Internet department, but no Internet sales professionals (cradle to grave).
2. They have purchased from a store that gave them a quote and they ended up starting negotiations at MSRP &/or with outlandish payments ($5500 down, only $845/month for 36 month lease on a $28000 Solara, for example).
3. They have purchased from a store with an Internet department and ISPs, but their perception was there was no appreciable difference in their buying experience, so they resort to the guy on the floor, who they think they might be able to take advantage of.

A recent thread was discussing whether we should have ISPs or hand them off, and many thought dedicated ISPs are passe'. Perhaps they are, but I still think their impact on a dealers' business is directly realted to the culture of the store and how they embrace the Internet customer.
J
First off... Kudos to Jeff K. & the group, take a step back and look at this thread. Truley thoughtful and experienced insights made by what has to be the upper 2% of our Industries most accomplished professionals.

Alex's thread has shed a light on a consumer that finds little value in the "request for quote" email model.

Is this the beginning of the end of the RFQ process?
Are we seeing 2nd generation 'net shoppers leap frogging the RFQ process?
Will a vendor/manuf'er invent a new "hook" that will motivate/satisfy 'net shoppers?

If there is an answer out there, Alex will be hot on it's trail. I will be very interested in Alex's ideas going forward.

Great work Alex!

Thnx,
Joe
A
Be careful Joe - you're going to make Jeff and me blush :)

Thanks for the kind words, and yes, I am constantly thinking about what is next. When I get a better idea of how to handle this one, which I don't think can be done by remanufacturing something on just a website, I'll post it here.
M
  • M
    Michelle - Honda
  • June 6, 2007
Many sides to this discussion...what are internet customers looking for? Is it a good deal? Great service? Ease of buying? Selection? For years the car business has had a bad stigma attached to it. It often tops the list of peoples top ten things I hate to do. Why? Why is it the only industry in the world people get mad over paying profit for? Why does it take so long to buy one? Why can't I get a straight answer on pricing? I don't think our lead traffic is down because markets are changing...thats like saying I can't sell a car because it is hot outside. When you buy something online, you want to know if that company has it and how much it is. If 12 companies have it and they are all the same price, who do you buy from? I would think it would come down to the good old fashion customer service, a quick response, no bull company. People buy cars from people they know, like, and trust. Right? Ignore them and they will never buy from you..not on the floor, not on the net. Don't price something and they will never buy from you...not on the floor, not on the net. Like everything else in our lives today, people are short on time. Waste it on the net and I doubt they will come to your showroom. Back to the Joe Verde training....take a look in the mirror, you will see the only one who can make you successful. If the guy down the street does it bad, it is up to us to make it that much better.
A
Michelle,

Of course, you are correct. What if you are a dealer who seems to be doing things right? Internet sales are way above the national average (statistically speaking) and your business is growing. However, you are seeing lead traffic drop, while site traffic is up, on the more Internet-savvy brands? Is this a reflection on yourself? Mr. Verde is correct on many levels, but there are realistic factors that even Joe cannot account for; nor Ziggler or any of the others.

I'm proposing the idea that we, as an industry, have turned the more tenured Internet shoppers off. The things we were practicing two, three, four years ago may or may not be practiced today. You're absolutely correct; the customer has a long memory.

I think you and I are on the same page, but you're hitting home harder. I'm not going to say that we are perfect, and I don't think I am alone in this statement. Our customers have been expecting perfection forever, and we have not been able to deliver on that day in and day out since the inception of the "consumer Internet." We have evolved, but did we lose the original Internet shoppers in our toddler days? Or have the more Internet savvy shoppers found other ways to get the information they need without contacting the dealer?
B
Alex,

Several others have touched upon it... Internet shoppers are just that... they are shopping on the Internet... then they hit dealer's websites and are instructed to call or email.

When they get responses, then they encounter various processes designed to get them in to the showroom.

"Is this as good as vehicle shopping on the Internet is going to get?"

"Are 3rd party services like CarsDirect and ZAG going to disintermediate car dealers?"

As you observe, consumers are realizing that the bloom is off the rose of Internet lead submissions in terms of receiving a better buying experience.

So if the Internet lead submission strategy with exceptional followup efforts, processes and Internet Managers ;-) will not be long term solution, what is?

The owner of this blog suggested my company's service may be one answer. We have a hybrid approach. We have a consumer-facing Desking + F+I system for a dealer to add on to their website. It is a hybrid approach since consumers have to verify their email address in order to get in (so you get the selling opportunity regardless as to whether they buy direct or not).

It hasn't disrupted website lead volume one iota, so it is therefore capturing the consumers who weren't submitting leads before. Dealer experience is also that the unsold consumers respond better to dealership follow up efforts. Lift comes from unsolds who buy + those who buy direct (and yes, some have).

But this isn't an infomercial. My company's hybrid eCommerce solution for a dealer is only one idea. If the lead model is declining in its effectiveness, what else will be effective? What is it that the consumers really want?

Build your car, name your price?
Trade appraisals?
eBay listings?
Live Chat?

I believe that today's Internet sites are little more than advertising billboards since all "selling" occurs in the dealership... which is NOT what consumers want. I think that is your "WHY" Alex.

So what do we think can be done about it?
A
Brian,

It sounds like you're trying to sell me something. As for your question of "So what do we think can be done about it?" your solution certainly falls in one part of the equation: newer technologies. Other factors apply as well, such as the age old one: customer service. The only thing a dealer can do is differentiate himself from his competitors. If perception is king, then the first two factors crown the best perceived dealer (as always). Of course marketing and processes also play in, but the exact formula is too elusive to put on paper right now. Technologies are constantly changing and, in my opinion, we are still in what I like to call the "CSI Revolution". This is changing processes for the better.

The "CSI Revolution", as I define it, is the manufacturers' decision to have customers rate their purchase experiences and base incentives off of those responses. It is driving the industry to raise the bar on customer service, and may one day rate us higher than lawyers in public perception.

I come from a family of car people. My grandfather started Checkered Flag in 1964, and my uncle is next in line to take over the business. Over lunch the other day, my uncle told me when he first got into the business it was "like riding a slow bike: it was easy to keep a constant pace and if something broke it was easy to fix yourself. Today is like driving a car. You have to drive defensively and when (not if) something breaks you need help to fix it." His analogy speaks to the pace of the industry right now and sheds some light as to why some dealers are having difficulties embracing the technological changes amidst a "CSI Revolution".

In a nutshell, your question cannot be answered specifically. I believe it will come down to a combination of technology and customer service with a good marketing campaign to reel them in. However, I can't say whether this is a short term or long term solution. All we can do is stay on our toes and remain cognisant of the continuing changes.
F
  • F
    Former Dealer
  • April 20, 2008
I just happened to stumble upon this site and have been reading all of the posts! I was a dealer/GM for 12 years and just recently switched careers so I wouldn't miss seeing my 2 young boys grow up!

My dealership was a relatively small import store. The last month I was there, we sold 62 vehicles. I was a tracking fool! If it happened in my store, I wanted to track it. My ISM, Sales people, and Sales manager told me that we had 6 "internet deals" for the month. What I didn't tell them was that my Finance Manager was interviewing the customer also. Her findings were that 29 vehicles were sold because of the internet!!! (21 from AutoTrader.com, 6 from Cars.com, 2 from Dealix). 2 Years ago when I took over that store I cancelled all print and radio, signed with ATC and Cars.com, and increased sales 42%!

My point is this...EVERY CUSTOMER IS AN INTERNET CUSTOMER! I have felt for the last 2 years that this was the case. E-mails and phone calls were down! Using the internet for consumers is just second nature. They don't need to call if they work or live within a reasonable distance of your store. I always felt the most important statistic you could get from ATC or Cars.com, were how many maps were viewed, or how many ads were printed.

Dealerships don't need "Internet Departments" any more. Dealers and GM's need to know that half of their sales are probably internet driven. ISM's, E-Commerce managers, and BDC directors, are constantly trying to justify their jobs by measuring e-mails and calls. If you are still measuring your internet success on those 2 factors...WAKE UP!!!

I certainly hope I haven't offended anyone! If I have I apologize. I really enjoy these posts and will keep reading. I do feel that on other threads there is a lot of bashing of 3rd party vendors. Some are warranted and others are not. However, the newspapers are the ones who have been raping us for years!
A
Former Dealer,

You say you're a tracking monster, but did you know you can take tracking even further? When someone does something on the Internet an IP address is attached to that thing they left behind. Even if you're just browsing a website, your IP address can be found.

I did a little tracking of you because of your statement that dealers don't need "Internet Departments" anymore, newspapers raping us, and watching the map views.....plus a couple of other things. It just all sounded so suspicious.

So "Former Dealer" whose name I will leave out....I know you work for AUTOTRADER.com.....I don't think I need to say anymore.
F
  • F
    Former Dealer
  • April 21, 2008
I am aware of that. I wouldn't have put in an email address if I wanted to keep that hidden. I also didn't put down cars.com or any other online classified site.

What I do offer is experience from both sides of the fence. Everything I posted is true. My point was, it is more likely that the the customer who walks on your lot is probably from the internet. Imagine if your dealer who spends let's say $40,000 in print, allocated that money to sem, seo, online classifieds, etc. Your floor traffic would be much greater than it already is.

The car business has and always will be a people business. I disagree with the previous post stating that this is not what customers want. All I'm saying is, your calls and emails will continue to diminsh. Customers use the internet to research and find specific inventory.

Yes, I work for Autotrader.com. They are the company that recruited me when they heard I was looking for a change. I'm not experiencing any of the things people have been complaining about (including yourself). I've chosen not to get in a debate regarding ATC or cars.com.

So Alex, obviously you are an e-commerce manager.... I just hope you have the dealer's best interest in mind and trying to drive "floor traffic". I hope you're not chasing the worst possible lead a dealer can have. Especially with a 5% national closing rate on email leads. This is why ATC and Cars.com have come out with enhancements to brand your dealership. We realize customers need to get in your door rather than your in-box.
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Richard Valenta,

I am glad you have so much time to post since you will not return my calls. I have numerous problems with my website that has been live for 9 months now. I have had customer complaints that they could not find what they want in the inventory (your sort by price feature did not work), my traffic to the site is almost all derived from SEM because you are way behind the curve in SEO even after 9 months and numerous calls with Jim Rucker, and most recently, I had a customer blow up in the box about their 0% financing that is shown on my incentives page that you created and framed in and I have no access to change. We haven't had this offer in months. The list goes on, but I'll keep it short.

You think you would get it right after it took you 6 months to create my website to begin with. I want you to give me a call because I am a very dissatisfied customer. And to handle me, you put me off to your dedicated "Customer Retention Officer" who had been there for less than a month. Why do you need someone dedicated to "retention"? You have my number or you can get it from Chelsea.

Here is a snapshot of our webstats and SEM efforts:
www.southfloridadodge.com/webstatsUD.pdf
www.southfloridadodge.com/DominatorUD.pdf


Ali Ahmed
Vice President
University Dodge


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Ali,

I certainly apologize if you feel I have ignored you. This is not my intention as I do not hide from anyone.

I sincerely appreciate every customer's business as if it were our only customer and will always pick up the phone whether you have 1 location or 30 locations.

I have no idea how this has happened. I just tried to contact you at the store but you but you were gone. I left my cell phone number with Osiris and you can call me any time this weekend.

Richard

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