Dealership Marketing

Hiring a Full-Time SEO and Internet Marketing Manager for your Dealership

dealership seo nerd

Are you thinking about bringing someone into your dealership full-time for online marketing initiatives?

If you aren’t, maybe you should. Considering that dealerships need to not only be versed in SEO and SEM but also analytics, reputation management, video SEO and social media, it seems only natural to bring someone in to do internet marketing full-time.

Over the last few years, I’ve seen more and more companies, large and small, go this route. In fact, for larger companies, it’s at the point where they’re building out teams of internal marketing employees. This may be happening for a number of reasons:

  • Dissatisfaction with agencies and third-parties
  • Difficulty justifying the cost of outside resources
  • Diminishing or unsatisfactory returns
  • All of the above

Bringing someone into the dealership full-time may not fix all of these problems, but there are some definite advantages. With an in-house person, you:

  • Can talk directly to the employee at anytime (there is reduced risk of miscommunication).
  • Work with someone who always has your best interests in mind.
  • Shift the focus on the quality of traffic, not the traffic itself. ROI rules.
  • Create quicker turnaround times for changes in strategy, budget, etc.
  • Enjoy readily available expertise for quick questions, thoughts, etc.

Are dealers ready for this?

What do you look for in these employees, and where do you find them?

Are dealerships ready to hire someone as a full-time internet marketing manager (Note: “Sales” is not in the title.), or is the position simply a passing phase?

About the Arthor: Dan Perry is the SEO Manager for Cars.com. He also has his own interesting Golf [slash] Internet Marketing Blog.

B
  • B
  • November 8, 2008
Before taking an offer I couldn't refuse, until 3 weeks ago I was one of these in-house eCommerce/Marketing Directors.

My background, while I'm more than capable technically, is very heavy on the marketing side. Online and traditional.

This, I think, is the most important aspect of the success we had with our online presence. Most dealerships put individuals in that position for one of three reasons.

1. They can turn on a computer
2. They're somebody's daughter
3. They fit the "geek" mold

After reading a post such as this one, many dealers in the 3 areas above would say "We already have someone that handles that" which is why, until the GM or Dealer Principal "gets it", they will underperform in regards to internet sales.

Another issue is money.

Most GMs are not going to see the same value in an eCommerce Director as they are in a desk manager, F&I Mgr or top salesperson. In order to get someone in place that truly understands eCommerce and has the proven track record, the dealer is going to have to not only get out of the "back in the day" mode most dealers are in regarding sales but also commit to offering what it takes to get the right person in place.

IMO, a top-notch eCommerce Director should be at a level of compensation relative to the GSM and/or F&I Director.

How much have they been paying different vendors to attempt to fill that position?
G
Virtually every dealer in the country is in need of somebody to handle e-marketing. Too often, this function is treated as a side show. Just take a look at dealer websites, they're all the same, with only a few exceptions. I was just demoted from internet manager because I didn't produce instant results, even though only one of my many suggestions were implemented. We still have a poor website, hit or miss lead management, poor email follow up and few sales from the internet. While the internet marketing function can be a huge black hole where $$$ get wasted, done properly you'll sell more vehicles at a lower cost per unit.
J
There are few people on our planet that can speak more authoritatively on this topic than your ol' pal Joe here... So here it comes!

The larger your operation, the more marketing leverage your web site has.

In our new Internet Marketing World… Inventory is advertising. The larger your inventory count the more "advertising units" you have to hold your visitors attention. The more units you have on the ground, the more ROI an Internet Manager can generate.

Sounds utterly simplistic, but the best ideas are!

I wrote a blog post over at Dale Pollak's vAuto blog last week, here's a snippet:

>>>...From my research, this general rule applies. For every 100 units you have under your umbrella, you can expect to keep your visitor for 1 minute. That means if you have 300 units on the ground, you can expect to keep shoppers tied up and kickin’ tires for 3 to 4 minutes per visit. Like wise, if you have 1,000 units, 10 minutes per visit is quite normal.

To put this into perspective, AutoTrader.com and Cars.com keep their shoppers tied up for 12 to 15 minutes per visit. So, if you have the size, you can offer up a shopping experience that rivals the classified sites.

I say use every ounce of your marketing energy to create the best web shopping experience you can muster. Pull every string, twist every knob, dangle every carrot you can find, get them to your web site and get them warm safe and comfortable...<<<

link to the full post:
http://www.dalepollak.com/2008/11/04/internet-market/

So, if this makes sense then what profit generating tasks does the Internet Marketing Manager need to execute?

2 topics rule my decision making process
#1). DIGL
Does It Generate Leads?
#2). DISC
Does It Sell Cars?

More utter simplicity! yess!

List everything an Internet Marketing Manager needs to do, then hold these 2 simple rules up to each task and rank them.

Quick Example:

Inventory Photos taken to Perfection?
Inventory Options Deeply Detailed?
Specials Updated?
Site Design, DIGL & DISC?
SEO
SEM
Analytics
Reputation management
Video SEO
Social media

List your duties and rank them for DIGL/DISC value. I am here to remind us all that NOTHING is more important to motivate a shopper than killer photos and digging for "hot options" and placing the HOT OPTIONS into a custom description. What good are SEO/SEM analytics efforts if your pics suck and your vehicle options collection people just bust ‘em out and have never been audited? If you’re looking for DIGL and DISC, get this boring basic stuff done right! You’ll never have a higher ROI than here.

Speaking of site design, Can someone tell me why 99.3% of the dealer web sites look the same 24/7/365? Don’t we all reinvent ourselves every 30 days? We all run special promos; would you run the same newspaper ad all the time? Is not a web site the most easily addressable form of media on the planet? DUH! Wake up you web vendors!

IMO, an Internet Marketing Manager is in charge of DIGL and DISC. They use analytics to help keep score of their efforts to sweeten the visitor’s experience (bounce rate, % return rate, visitor loyalty, time on site, avg. page views and on and on...).

Finding this unique person is quite a chore. IMO, they need more marketing skills than geek skills. They are part car guy/gal. They need to be creative and disciplined too. They need to work with other departments and should be the boss of the web data entry players (photos and options). They need to sort out technical problems and find “work-around” solutions all the time.

Just my $0.02.
Joe
B
  • B
  • November 8, 2008
Great comments Joe.

While I do agree that inventory obviously does play a part, there are several factors that are just as important if not more.

I can think of several reasons for low conversion rates regardless of your inventory. Here's just a few.

1. Ease of navigation. If your site visitor has a difficult time figuring out how to get where they want to be or you want them to be, you're going to lose them. I cringe whenever I see a site packed with blurbs, info, links, images on the homepage. back button

2. Presentation. Properly presenting your inventory i.e. - quality of photos, details, etc... is essential.

3. Call to action. Having created over 500 commercial websites in 15 yrs, I've tried to use the same philosophy on each and every one. "Sell them in 12 seconds or lose them". Give them a reason to continue spending time on your website in the first 12 seconds after they click on your link. NOT after the page loads.

For various reasons, the inventory at the stores I've handled has gone up and down. I think the truest test of a successful eCommerce Director would be whether that person can make the most out of their inventory. Not the amount of inventory making the eCommerce Director look good.

We had several prime examples of this the last few years with customers visiting our site, not finding exactly what they wanted in our inventory but, because of their experience, asking us to find them the vehicle they're looking for and in most cases, we were able to.

You do cover some of this in the paragraph above regarding duties but in my experience, no amount of inventory makes up for poor visitor experience.
B
  • B
  • November 8, 2008
Gregg,

What most dealers do not understand is that on average, you can produce better results spending $30k on internet marketing, leads, site, etc... than $100k of traditional advertising.

I've been fortunate to have been associated with a GM and dealer group that truly does "get it" for the last 3 yrs and while they are suffering some losses from the economic situation, nowhere close to what the industry average is.

For most of the time I spent with them, our dealership totally blacked out TV and Radio and did very little newspaper. In both dealerships I handled full-time, we were able to greatly increase market-share and lead the state in one store and so far in the other lead a highly competitive zone with 20+ dealerships of the same make.
M
It all comes down to having the right people with the right talents. And with high turnover in the industry, how long will you have them once you find the right person? How much a month would a full time employee cost versus out sourcing?

There are definitely plenty of seo tools available for the dealer to do everything on their own.

Outsourcing may be best though because they will have more expertise and experience. A good vendor could also help guide the dealer on what they can do in house while assisting them with what they can't do.
J
  • J
    Joe
  • November 8, 2008
Billy,

I must have caught you with some concepts that you haven’t wrestled with before.

You wrote:

***While I do agree that inventory obviously does play a part, there are several factors that are just as important if not more...***

Ahh... Inventory plays a part? A part of what?

I was talking about how size of inventory is directly related to time on site which is tied to the Internet Marketing Manager EASE of creating ROI. If you read my blog post on vAuto, you’d see that time on site is an opportunity to sell the value added goodies and keep your shopper tied up. Look at Gregg Hunters recent demotion. They have 72 units used in stock. They have no room in their budget for an Internet Marketing Manager (let alone a real Internet Manager). HANG IN THERE GREGG!

Billy, we are talking about MARKETING, my studies have led me to believe that each vehicle is like an advertising unit, like a TV commercial. The more units you have on the ‘net the more “Advertisements” you have out there.

There are so many marketing advantages to mega dealers its not a fair marketing fight.

LEVERAGE EXAMPLE: Consumers have a finite amount of time to shop. More inventory takes away time spent with your competitor.

LEVERAGE EXAMPLE: If your inventory is large enough and your home site is excellent, then your home site becomes a "go to" shopping site along with AutoTrader.com and Cars.com. You tweak the shopping experience with the metrics seen in analytics.

LEVERAGE EXAMPLE: If your inventory is large enough and you have time to hammer home your value added items (buyers clubs, car wash, oil changes, etc..)

More Inventory = More Advertisements = More Audience Viewing Time = More Marketing Leverage = Easier ROI. Next.

Billy writes:

***I can think of several reasons for low conversion rates regardless of your inventory. Here’s just a few***

Low conversion rates?

What low conversion rates? Who were you reading? I was talking about all of the VARIED tasks an Internet Marketing Dir. has and my silly little simple method to prioritize the tasks (aka DIGL, DISC).

Billy, to address your other comments,

If you feel that improving Site Navigation will sell more cars and generate more leads than improving Vehicle Presentation (photos and options) then that’s ok, that's your opinion. You call BZ, Cobalt, etc.. and work on navigation. I'll get a wide angle high-def camera and audit the options on each car. My efforts will be levered not only on my home site, but AutoTrader and Cars.com too. ALSO, my effort will cost less and will take place tomorrow, while you'll fell like a snowball in Arizona asking & waiting for the dealer template builders to mod the navs.

Billy writes:

***I think the truest test of a successful eCommerce Director would be whether that person can make the most out of their inventory. Not the amount of inventory making the eCommerce Director look good.***

I think I can try to connect your dots. I think you are saying that "it’s the man not the inventory" that is the truest test of success. Connect that comment to my observation that marketing leverage is found with size. You (somehow) personalized it.

Your serve has been returned, make your reply a good one!! ;-)

Joe
B
  • B
  • November 8, 2008
Joe,

I'll let the first comment in your reply go. Things like that are better left to more qualified individuals.

Marketing, however, is how I make my living and have most of my adult life. For the last 15 years, more specifically internet marketing.

Couldn't begin to tell you how many thousands of websites have failed regardless of the amount of inventory of whatever product they had.

Simply put, if nobody sees it, they can't buy it.

Let me use examples for you.

The dealership I just left had 200 preowned units in inventory in March. Average time spent on site approx 3.4 minutes. Sales of pre-owned internet 28.

Ahead to September. 115 preowned units in inventory. Average time spent on site over 6 minutes. Sales of pre-owned internet 56.

What changed between April and September?

Our presentation - finished photo booth and new site with much easier navigation.

site traffic - increased traffic substantially.

processes - significant changes in respect to lead response, response time, etc...

advertising - shifted advertising funds from TV and radio to internet.

While I do believe you can "leverage" your inventory to create more opportunity, it's much more than "build it and they will come"
K
Uh... wow... I still can't get past this picture you posted Jeff, I'm speechless for once...
J
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    Joe
  • November 8, 2008
Billy,
Must be a great new site. Share the URL with everyone, I am excited to see this!

1). Was there a new GM, GSM or UC manager hired within the last 12-18 months?

2). Was there any change in the prices or models offered?

3). Was the store a Import store?
Sure shounds like a Toyota Store to me.

4). Did you change your methods of sales measurement?

5). More traffic, PPC or Organic?

6). New site? Who made the old one?

You're talking about 6 turns a year just from Internet Ups that you can track.

Does anyone have an internet department that is 1/2 your sales staff?

Looking forward you seeing your site! I am always eager see new efforts in action!

Joe
B
  • B
  • November 8, 2008
For various reasons, I've replied to Joe's response via email. Should anyone else like to have the answers to Joe's questions, please send me an email

[email protected]

Thanks!
T
That picture has me more than speechless. I swear that's a picture of me in high school, 45 years ago. Oh my GOD, am I that old?
D
@Matt Watson Your points about finding talent are valid; it's tough finding good talent regardless of where you are (dealership, agency, etc.)

That being said, I disagree with the "free SEO Tools" argument. Sure, there are many, many out there, but who has the time? Who at a dealership knows which tools to use? If SEO (in addition to SEM, Analytics, Local Search, etc.) were simple enough to do with free SEO tools, I'd be out of a job.

Outsourcing may be a good option for some dealerships. The point of the article was to get dealers thinking about all of pieces of the internet marketing puzzle, and once they realize the amount of work involved (to do it right), it's often worth it to bring someone in full-time.

There are advantages to outsourcing, but there are also clear advantages in hiring someone full-time. I've done both and from where I sit, the pendulum is swinging in the in-house direction, and dealerships should consider it.

Thanks for commenting!
First off, I want thank Dan for his post. It's a great topic to discuss and something that many dealers have overlooked or simply don't understand the importance of.

Getting back on task; should dealers have an in-house Internet Marketing Guru that manages all your dealers Internet marketing efforts as Dan mentioned (SEO and SEM but also analytics, reputation management, video SEO and social media)?

I believe 100% that a dealer should have this guru at their disposal. I would also lean towards the idea of having this person in-house.

Are dealers ready for this??

They need to be BUT it's the age old view on how you pay your employees. Anyone that makes real money at a dealer, their paycheck usually directly corresponds to their output. Cars sold, gross held, wrenches turned, service RO's written and parts sold.

Dealers have been paying commission based for years now and all of a sudden they have to pay someone for something they have no undertanding of...

<b>How do we pay this Internet Marketing guru?

How to we measure the success and ROI for this position? </b>

This becomes a huge stumbling block and is another reason why many times Internet marketing managers and the ISM is the first to go when it's time to "cut back".

This stumbling block is why many times these duties are pushed onto a sales person, who eventually becomes the "Internet Sales Manager". BUT in order to survive they MUST continue to sell as well or at the very least, handle ALL internet derived leads while managing the CRM duties and scheduling appointments. Handling all of this on top of any online Marketing initiatives quickly becomes overwhelming, the ISM feels under appreciated and under paid (especially since they spend 3 hours a week fighting for the skated sales).

Imagine if you will; taking photos of a car, writing the description, managing the upload of your dealers inventory, listing the cars on Cars.com, Autotrader, ebay and cragslist. You get a call from one of your listings, schedule the appointment for later that day. Meanwhile manage the existing leads, follow up with customers via email and phone, schedule a few more appointments for the weekend. Then you jump on your website to build out a content page for the new model coming out, optimize the page for the SERPS (if you know how), check your RSS reader for any Online Reputation alerts, call the CRM vendor cause leads aren't parsing right, convince the GM that the $4,000 your spending with an ad source still have a good ROI, Update your dealers myspace page, write a new post for the blog.

You're knee deep in building out the Used cars specials on your dealer website and ALL of a sudden your appointment shows up early. You quickly switch gears, shake hands, demo a car, close a sale, deliver the car and then start all over again. I know there are many reading this and know exactly what I'm talking about :)


Joe is right..."Finding this unique person is quite a chore." Finding a "car guy" (or lady) that has a full understanding of Online Marketing, SEM etc. and can also sell cars or at least understand the car business is a rare find. You almost need someone with split personalities. And if you are luckily enough to find this person, holding onto this person is even more of a chore. Ask anyone of my former employees. Ha!

Unfortunately this is how many dealers are running their operations and managing their online marketing efforts. And what efforts they have in place are many times outsourced. Not saying you can't outsource but dealers are always getting burned because no one on staff knows any better. Another reason to have someone in-house that at the very least can hold a vendor accountable and track the effectiveness.
J
Nice Photo...! Is that you Jeff on a bad day? JOKING!!

Looks like someone’s nightmare!

Ok. Finding the right person for that department is for sure a big chore. Dealers tend to hire anyone that is around that is up for the challenge, but come to find out that individual does not have their heart into that position.

Billy’s Post: It can be someone’s daughter/ son.

I totally agree.

I speak with many IT Directors/ E Commerce &amp; can tell they are not into it as other Savvy E Commerce / Internet Directors are. (Depending on the size of the dealer they may just have 1 individual doing all projects).

It gets me irritated that they don't take it seriously.

When I am speaking directly with a GM/Owner they ask me the same question. "How do I hire &amp; where do I start looking?"

1. See past projects

2. Don't place your top sales person in there &amp; don't place your below average sales person in there.

3. Don't just hire anyone off the street

4. COMMON SENSE!!

5. Internet Savvy

6. Quick to adjust from floor sales to Online Sales

7. Knows how to type &amp; oh yeah turn on a computer ( I have seen this before )

8. Communicates well with all management

9. You must treat them as all GM/ SM &amp; F&amp;I Management!!! (This is a common mistake )!!

10. Pay them on a salary + Commission based on units sold out of the internet department

11. Don't stick them in a hole way in the back of the dealership (I see this way TOO MUCH!!)

Sorry for the blabbing. But as I have ran a successful IT Department / E Commerce &amp; Marketing all in one I made sure I was at the top of the management chain.

Having #1 support from the Management helps with a successful department. No I was not stuck in the backroom; I got the old F&amp;I Office across from the GM. So we can communicate on a day to day basis.

If we were short staffed I sold cars too. (I did that too much staying at top sales person each month) but was able to adjust back to the Technical end for the dealership.

Anyways, hopefully my 2 cents helped out a bit. Back to work now.
M
I agree that ISM/BDC Managers are in full gear. Having some help would be nice. I guess it really depends on the dealership. However, SEO and SEM isnt really that hard to learn. To have someone "in-house" is far more valuable than "out-sourcing". I am sure a lot of us who post here all wear so many hats at the dealership branding our internet program and progress. Most of the time our website vendors already do some SEO for our sites. http://www.google.com/adwords/learningcenter/
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    Pete
  • November 10, 2008
Billy said.."IMO, a top-notch eCommerce Director should be at a level of compensation relative to the GSM and/or F&amp;I Director."

Absolutely! The old school managing people and working deals as was is like sending a telegraph(fyi you can't anymore)

It is about MARKETING. Get rid of the podiums if you still have them because unless you have a crown and in charge of your own country, you look like an idiot Mr. or Ms. GM.

You lost the revolt and the people have spoken.
J
Mike &amp; Pete -
I Totally Agree!!!

Being on the same level then everyone succeeds!
B
  • B
  • November 10, 2008
Jennifer,

Can't begin to express how amazed I am being on the other side of the fence now.

I never imagined there were so many with the title of "Internet Sales Director" or "Internet Sales Manager" that lacked basic eCommerce skills like simple email responses, basic processes and/or the ability to even create a new folder in outlook.

I think that some dealers have really been turned off to the point of being gunshy at hiring that "eCommerce Director" that so many of them know they need. Most of them have been told "this guy knows his stuff" or "he'd make a great IT guy" and have suffered through incompetence to the point of just holding pat. (can't tell you how many times I told people I'm NOT the IT guy)

There will come a day when many of the eCommerce types will migrate over into the automotive business. That day will only come when GMs are willing to pay what they would for that GSM or F&amp;I Dir.
J
This is too funny! As reading and posting comments to this post yesterday, I got a call from the Internet Director at a dealer group not to far from me. They just taken on an additional store too. ( You will see the results below for he is very pleased )

I have been speaking with the GM of this store on a weekly basis pushing him to realize that this Internet Director cannot do full circle sales and keep up on the marketing, budgeting, advertisements and SEO / SEM that he wants him to do.

Expecially taking on the additional store.

After pushing him to realize that this Internet Director is not just an Internet Director, for he is a Manager, an E Commerce director, Marketing Director etc etc etc and so on.

So the call, He got a set salary and makes a certain percentage off the units sold through out the internet department, he got a staff of 3!! He has all management authorities and oh yeah he does not have to sell no more!!!!

Keeping him happy along with recognition of his efforts will keep him striving further and much more for the dealership! Shoot, he and I helped the dealership save $50k over a 2 year period!

This is way too awesome that my nagging (Well not nagging, but true common sense to get the GM to understand the importance of that position in any dealership was my true success!)
R
Hey Ladies and Gents,

I have to say I enjoyed reading the post and feedback. I am fortunate to be working one on one with multiple dealerships on either SEO, SEM or both. This is a subject that seems to intimidate some dealers and managers and some just don't get the fact that Search Marketing is here to stay, and Optimization is a must, not to mention its vital to have someone knowledgeable in all aspects of how things work with optimization and marketing. These are the cheapest ways to get quality traffic and amplify RIO as well as free up the "sales" managers to focus on their part in the sales process. Sales!

So are dealerships ready for this?
I would say the dealers in the 21st century have already moved in this direction or are already looking to go this route to not only save money but also have access to campaigns 24/7.

Where do you find these people?
I typically get referred by other vendors including other website designers, CRM companies, internet consultants ect.. Simply because I've worked with them in the past, currently or will be for future projects.

Some things to know before outsourcing for SEO, this starts with your website design and the company must have total access to your website in order to offer true optimization. So I would stay away from companies that do not build and market their own websites.
Outsourcing for Marketing can be tricky depending on the company taking over. I've found most dealerships want a company to handle the website and marketing all in one.

That's all for now... Ron
R
...Oh yeh the Pic cracks me up!
T
SEO/OEM, Social Networking-blah, blah, blah.

Either you as Internet Managers have what it takes to do all these things or you don't. A good Internet Sales Manager can manage his, or her team, update the site specials, rewrite the SEO content on every page of the site (front and back) at least 2x a month (after the Googlebot visits), manage adwords, take pictures, update vehicles (trim, options, price), make/post videos, Blog, AND SELL CARS/DESK DEALS. That is what makes sense, and works.

You got to deal with reality. I have been watching this industry online for 10 years now. Things do not change quickly. Hell, we are still building websites much like we did 10 years ago. What hold us up the most are the website providers, but that is for a different post. (I am not talking about you Dealer.com, so don't worry!)

The only way to be successful is to take the bull by the horns and go for it! This is a long haul. And either you adapt, bob and weave with the changes, or go crazy trying to change it they way you are currently going about it. It will be years from now before dealers get it the way the author in this post fantasizes, and the last few posts, like Web 2.0.

Work hard, be innovative, stay educated, and do it yourself. If you do not like your pay plan, get a job where you are appreciated!

If you have never been a Closer, then a Finance Manger, then a new car/used car Sales Manager don’t whine and say you should be paid like a GSM! You got to earn it baby. Get the experience, leave your precious Internet Departments and go into finance and work you way up. When you become the Sales Manager, take over the Internet Department and revolutionize your stores!

Making your way through the ranks will take a few years, but that is how we do it in this business. Internet Managers of today are the GM’s/GSM’s of tomorrow, uh, or so I hear…

But cha’ “ain’t gonna be no GM if you ain’t got no experience,” I do not care how well you can get your site to be #1 in Google!

And as a side note, as far as I am concerned Cars.com-they lost me a few years ago with how they are handling dealers, and the trainers are weak and speak only to dealers who are in the Dark Ages, though this guy peaked some interest. Hurry and get the instant messenger out, and a Click to Call feature CARS.COM and ba a service to the dealers again!

One last stab at Internet Managers- Get over yourself! Being on the cover of Digital Dealer magazine is a JOKE! So stop embarrassing yourself and just put up regular pictures of yourselves. ANYONE can be on the cover of Digital Dealer Magazine. Anyone can just email them and they will use you as they are starving for Cover Dealers! Try it, it is easy! Just look who has been on the cover!
J
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    Jeff Kershner
  • November 11, 2008
Tony, thanks for the spew, the smack down and the reality check.

You're right about being on the cover of Digital Dealer. I can speak from experience BUT this does not mean that you should so quickly dismiss some of the people on the cover, just for being on the cover.

What you are saying is; a dealer SHOULD NOT have a separate SEM/Internet Marketing professional in-house because the Internet Sales Manager ought to and NEEDS to know how to do all of the above. I won't disagree with you on many levels :) I have worn many hats in the past. However, even if you know how to do everything..there is something called "time". If you're in a high volume store, achieving all of the above could become difficult. Would you agree?

Yes you could maybe manage most of it working bell to bell but could you really dial into it? And what if you are a multi franchise dealer?

"rewrite the SEO content on every page of the site (front and back) at least 2x a month" - I know people that make more than a GM doing this. Again, not disagreeing with you, merely bringing another angle into it.

Thanks for your insight and point of view Tony. Always appreciated!
T
Humbled again! Okay, not all people on ddm are weak! After all, Snyder was just on the cover. I actually congradualted him in an e-mail as he did belong on the cover.

Maybe I should just go back and my shell and just keep laughing...
O
Tony,

Based on your post you seem like the type of person that can take constructive criticism or even plain criticism since you are a “car guy” and we all know a pre requisite to that title is to having thick skin.

After reading your post I could not wait to link to your website and see your finished product in action. Much like the anticipation I had the first time I linked to Checkeredflag.com and Wyler.com (something I recommend to anyone reading this post) I’m sure that even you would agree that there is NO comparison. It would take to long to list everything that could improve your site but the few that stood out were the grammar errors, picture placement and the overall inconsistency. Specific examples include “meet our staff” have someone read this and suggest different grammar ang verbiage to make the intro paragraph flow smoother, “pre owned page” is very inconsistent photos are taken from various angles some have video others don’t, I missed the certification graphics, too many different phone numbers to choose from, as I said I could go on and on…the important take away is that you should have an “expert” give you a second opinion…I’m no expert but I will give you some advice…the site is very dated, consider a picture of your massive facility “the world’s largest showroom”, picture of your restaurant, picture of your massive lounge, Do you have a CPO program? (you may not be aware of this but it’s one of the only segments of the industry performing well) redesign your site with better graphics and easier navigation, if you have a tab you should have content on the page (isn’t there any news in VA?)…For someone that uses the phrase “Get Over Yourself!” it seems strange to have soooo may pictures of yourself on your site (3 on the staff page is too many even if you are wearing 3 or more hats)It would be a great idea to visit the above sites and you will see my points come to life.

On another note I do feel, like there is merit to working your way thought the ranks. My background although not important started in 1997 before anyone “got it” and continued with sales, internet sales, back up f/I, closer, secondary f/I, internet manager, primary f/I, sales manger, desk manager, GSM, E-commerce director…IMO a true internet marketing professional should report to the GM and be compensated as well as a GSM. The problem as you know is that this position is viewed as an expense unless you pay based on the # of sales. More often than not maintaining acceptable sales #’s takes away from the time needed for other important tasks. The best compromise I’ve seen is to pay a salary based on experience and a commission based on results. The definition of results would be determined prior to accepting the position. You must also keep in mind DIGL/DISC in every decision that is made as we all know there is NOTHING more important in a car dealership than selling a car…

I also agree that vendor training is not needed for many that truly “get it” in the industry but there are far more that don’t and hearing it from a vendor sometimes can have a positive impact on your GM…think about it they trust them enough to spend 30K a month with them and as this post suggests they won’t take their own peoples advice. Sounds like you may have gotten the senior trainer with Cars.com next time request the one whose mantra is “helping the best get better”


As you read this post remember that you have “thick skin” and don’t view it as someone that is bashing you if you do take the time to consider the suggestions it will ultimately make you stronger. Your post has a lot of great content but let’s be honest are you REALLY doing everything that you say in the intro paragraph. If you are then consult Jeff and Alex and discover how you can make better use of your time. Re-read your post and then visit your site it doesn’t seem like the same person is responsible for both.
T
Yes, Yes, my site is far from Checkeredflag. I only wish we would invest more. Yes my spelling sucks, yes the site could use improvemnet. But the site is different every month. Anyway thanks for your critisism, I was not trying to be ugly, just some of these posts and articles make me laugh. You can never dare to compare my po dunk site to those other sites and there is zero revenue to invest.

On this side of the fence we invest little, yet sell so many off the web, even with gramatial errors.

Thanks again, and I guess I will go cry myself to sleep!

Oh yeah, I kind of like my pictures.....
J
  • J
    Joe B. Observer
  • November 12, 2008
Tony, seriously, from my professional point of view, you could sell another 25-30% a month if you improved the spelling on your website. Checkered Flag has an entire staff of dedicated English Lit. majors combing through every word of their website daily to ensure sales. This is Web 2.0 my friend, and Po Dunk websites apply.

Industry experts are all recommending to shift focus to this one very common problem most dealers miss on their websites. It's proven from spellcheck sales tracking and reporting that customers are truly more interested in proper annunciation, proper english, and grammatical proficiency far more than the selection of your inventory, or the prices on your website. One mispelled word could cost you thousands of dollars in sales.

Don't take my word for it go here: www.DealershipSpellingRater.com

I'll also have an article I'm working on...
"Observe your dealership website sales increase by spellchecking one letter at a time, Web 2.0 enhanced"

Joe B. Observer
"Your friend, observing and spellchecking ur ass 24/7."
T
Thanks Joe! LOL. Man, I can't wait to get spellcheck by web 2.0! Then I might be able to increase my sales from 32% to 40% or 50% of my stores total sales. Do you think it will improve my gross profit in the front end?

Thanks everyone!

Yeah, and I am going to make every first display picture of used vehicles on my website to be exactly the same. I am sure that will increase my sells by another 5%!!!

Everyone, check out my site often and watch for improvemnts!
O
Joe B, that is hilarious. Thank you for making me laugh so hard.

Tony, I can appreciate the fact that you are having to operate on a limited budget and I’m sure that based on your spend you are achieving great results. It is unfortunate that the decision maker at your store is not as forward thinking and open minded as you are. I guess the reason I took the time to post is because your comments seemed a bit like throwing stones in a glass house. This is a house that I have worked in for many years and there are many dedicated hard working professionals (like you) that are giving their heart and soul to this industry everyday. Maybe it was the word “stab” that triggered me, nevertheless I am glad that you are willing to admit that there are areas that we can all improve on.

You also bashed the training of one of the better providers in the marketplace. Unless you know different Cars.com does not charge extra for their dealer training and as you will see on this site they provide seminars dedicated to achieving better results on a monthly basis. The rep I know is constantly bringing in articles about best practices throughout the industry.

I try my best to adhere to the philosophy if I can’t speak positive about someone I just observe.
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  • A
    Another Observer
  • November 12, 2008
I agree with "Observer" that Tony Weaver needs to cjeck his ego at the door. I vistited this man's site and there are more pictures of him on there than there are cars! In addition, the picture quality is definitely less than impressive. Who takes 30 pictures of a single vehicle? Do we really need to see what the dash look like with the cup holder "in" AND "out"? Also, the video on the website instructs people on how to get the so called best price. However, any respectable consumer would quickly close the page after being instructed like they were some sort of idiot! "Observer" had it right. The picture placement is inconsistent and did I mention all the pictures of Tony and his other "Mob-Like" looking salesperson? Who would buy a car from either of those guys. They look like the characters from the Sopranos! I'm surprised that with all the pictures of opened car trunks, that there are no bodies in them! I could almost hear the Godfather theme song playing in the background as I researched the site! On the other hand, "Observer" mentioned the need for spell/grammar check on Tony's website. And while I agree with you ("Observer") that Tony's website is in desperate need of an English lesson, you may want to follow your own advice and check your posts for spelling/grammar errors. Don't take this as "bashing", but someone needs to inform you that there is no "g" in the word "and"; that there are 2 "o"s in the word "too" when using it as an adverb meaning 'more than is necessary or useful'; and that a comma does not replace the need for a PERIOD! My gosh, there are more commas in that run-on sentence filled paragraph of yours than there are pictures of Tony Weaver on his website!
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  • A
    Another Observer
  • November 12, 2008
By the way, I just consulted my staff of proof readers and they informed me that I mispelled the word "check" in my opening sentence. My apologies...
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    Observer
  • November 12, 2008
Thank you for pointing out the mistakes. I did hit spell check but that's about it. It's just a post not a representation of my dealership. Thank you all the same.
Yes, we spend a lot of time working on grammar and punctuation. I was hired because of my English degree, and I receive a raise each time I dot an i. This isn't simply Web 2.0, it is Web 0.o - get with it!

Tony - thank you for making my day! This has been a hilarious string of comments. I agree with you in that it is good to be well-rounded in this line of work. That is true of anything...experience is king.

On a different note...how did Checkered Flag get so rooted in this conversation?
J
  • J
    Joe B. Observer
  • November 12, 2008
Mr., Ms., or Mrs. Another Observer... why so emotionally temperature?

OMG And how's could you mispell check? That's really blasphamy from the darkist depthes of hell... alL this gramatial erroring from these thread posts is making me nautiousical here.

No wondered the car businesses sales slumping are happening now right as we spoken!

C'mon Another, just uses Microsofts Word first, then second hits spellcheck, then copied every things and pasted it in to the Comments sectional Areas.

Its really vary simpical.

Piece Out.

Joe B. Observer
"Loosening that atmosphere on boreds every wear on line"
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    SpellChequer
  • November 12, 2008
You guys sure are an observant lot!
T
Snyder,
I don't know, someone mentioned your site and I think Jeff's as a comparison to mine, and how bad mine is!

From there it was comedy. I am going to have to put together some of my own thoughts, put through spell check and send them over to Jeff. Maybe an anti Web 2.0 article, or why 3rd part venders are hurting dealerships on the web... I am going to do it!

And to Observer, if you are a third party provider (not a dealer) your opinion means nothing to me.. As far as shattering glass houses, I got a lot more stones to throw, but next time I will do it in a format that will be acceptable. Love, peace, and gosh I am sorry that I got some people upset, Tony
T
PS I will fix my site first!
J
Tony,

I held my breath a bit today reading your comments along with the others. Being on the road was a good thing becuase it helped me think of what I was going to say.

I hope my comments at least mean a little something to you as being a website vendor myself. I have been in your shoes (Internet Director/ Marketing, saleswoman etc). I can speak from the heart and understand your frustration. (I hope others see my comments as valuable information to absorb)...

"Think open minded"

Really, I think we fell of the track on this posting. Maybe from Tony's Kool-Aid he passed around. I am not sure.

Do they come in 6 packs?

It saddens me that many Dealership do not support the Departments ( Internet ) that are considered to be the "Golden Departments" these days.

Finding the right individual and investing in them is a hard task. Tony, I am not sure I would consider you being a valuable SEO/SEM/IT etc etc in my dealership after those fun stabs you threw out there.

All should be considered upper management and have the authorities to make those crucial decisions for the dealership. Oh yeah, let them be part of the weekly meetings too.

Tony, I didn't even go to your site and am glad that I did not. After these comments I am a little afraid to see the pictures. LOL.. No hard feelings... Lets stay positive :)

From so many pictures of you throughout your site, are you afraid the salesman are going to steal your leads?

Come on guys and gals, "What was this post about again?"......
J
Oh one more thing.....!

Being on the cover of the Digital Dealer Magazine is a great accomplishment of a dealership in a whole! I applaud &amp; give high fives for the Internet Manager / E Commerce Director etc success for doing that and such a job well done.

"One last stab at Internet Managers- Get over yourself! Being on the cover of Digital Dealer magazine is a JOKE! So stop embarrassing yourself and just put up regular pictures of yourselves. ANYONE can be on the cover of Digital Dealer Magazine"

Anyone?? Why have you not been on there?

Being on the cover (success stories) gives hope to other ISM's, GM's, SM's etc. that they can improve from that magazine &amp; other viable sources.

Just my $0.02
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  • T
    Tony Weaver
  • November 13, 2008
Man I am just messing around. I got it. I will just post positive things for now on. I am not worried about what has been said about me. I just always just read, and "observed" in the past. I suppose when you have so many people backing up each other, I can seem like I am drinking spiked Cool-Aid!

Observer was absolutely right- and I was served. I will hang back, put together less of a rant and explain myself in the near future.

I really do appreciate your comments. And to Observer, you are right about my site, to a point. I will forward this thread to my web provider though...

Honestly, I do not need a blog, I do not need Web 2.0, I do not need to be on MySpace and Facebook, and I "do" need to clean up my site. Regardless, no matter how my peers out there see me right now, my Internet Department in this store is still selling the same as always (1/3 of the sales for this store); Christmas is going to be great! You just have to realize that many of the things you guys blog about has nothing to do with your success! I just went about saying it wrong.

I have no excuses or complaints about my dealer; I don't care if my dealer has zero PPC budget, or SEO. We are killing it, always have, and always will. I just do not understand why people focus on so many things that have NOTHING to do with selling cars on these blogs (there are exceptions for needing these things).

I promise only positive feedback for now on! Again, I will write something up and send it to Jeff.
J
Tony- Now you are talking!

I am glad you see. We all come togethor and back each other up and most important help others out.

Ok Ok I will take a gander at your site. What is the URL address? I would be more than happy to give you a few pointers if you have not all ready received enough.

:) Have a great day and sell many cars!
M
Jennifer,

How can I get on the Digital Dealer Magazine?

Do you think that SEO / SEM should be highlighted and have 1 expert in the dealership for such a reason? Or do you think 1 person can handle it all with the help of course with a good website vendor?
J
Mike

You are more than welcome to shoot me over an email with your contact information. I can absolutely give you a bit of advice!

No sales pitch intended :)
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    Tony Weaver
  • November 13, 2008
Mike,
Just email the editor, it is that easy!
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    Tony Weaver
  • November 13, 2008
www.berglundtoyota.com
I don't think it works like that Tony. I believe the magazines contact the person they want to feature. There aren't applications or try-outs.
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    Jeff Larsen
  • November 13, 2008
I think a great summary to this blog would be to hear from some of the other respected, successful professionals in the business that do not normally post on here, yet converse and consult everyday with multiple dealership's management and owners across the country on this topic.

Rafi Hamid, Alex Snyder, Corey Mosely... just to name a few that come to mind quickly.

If the dealerships embrace the technology and processes the top consultants suggest, are they adequately staffing positions to maximize their ROI from these tools and processes?
M
I know I'm jumping into the dialogue a little late but there are some great points shared by all that have caught my attention.

I need to clarify one thing first that I saw in a post above. Cars.com does not charge anything for the dealer training sessions that we host.

They're held all over the country and you can contact your local Cars.com Sales Manager to find out when we will be hosting one near you.

I wanted to share a few comments regarding the main topic of hiring someone full time for SEO/SEM.

After visiting dealerships everywhere from Kalamazoo, Michigan to Las Vegas I have witnessed a few things that I will share with you as you decide what works best in your stores.

From what I've seen many dealerships would see more benefit by investing in other areas like: training for their staff, taking the time to prospect in their service department since those customers already have a level of trust with them, or even by tuning up their website.

Until those processes are in place, many will continue to blow customers out faster than they will sell them and this causes long term damage to what could be a great consumer relationship.

Let's say that you do invest in a full time person to manage SEO/SEM.

Let's assume a consumer does end up at your website. What will they see? Is the website going to inspire the consumer to make contact? If they make contact will the sales person have the skills needed to get them in the door? If they do purchase will your team continue to follow up and prospect so that the consumer is loyal to you and your store?

If the answer to all of that isn't a resounding yes...perhaps you should consider investing time and money in those areas first.

Finally I want to bring up something that I hear more and more from Dealers. I have met hundreds of Owners and General Managers this year who have spent oodles of dollars on SEM. When I ask them why they have invested so much in SEM the typical dialogue looks like this:

Why are you investing so much in SEM?
"To get them to my website."

And the goal of getting them to your website is what: "To get them to email or call us."

For the $5,500 you spent last month on it how many people came to your website?:
"Um, I'm not totally sure but it looks like about (X)"

Ok, so how many of them called or emailed?:
"I don't know but I'm sure a good number did because we track things really well."

--------------------
Gang, we all know that this is a numbers game and getting more people to your website should increase contacts which should increase sales.

The toughest part about SEM is that we're investing in the "HOPE" system. I 'hope' they come to my site and I 'hope' they will contact me and I 'hope' my sales person will get an appointment where I 'hope' they will close a deal.

In today's economy we need to stop throwing dollars toward things that we 'hope' will work.

While many pay-per-lead providers offer low quality I would argue one thing (without talking about specific providers): Pay-per-lead fulfills the goal of SEM by skipping the 'hope' steps. The end goal for SEM is a contact which is what you get with Pay-per-lead services isn't it?

Hiring a dedicated staff person for SEO/SEM may be the best plan for your dealership if you have a rock solid website, and a great process in place for tracking the referring sources for your website traffic.

Hiring a dedicated staff person for SEO/SEM may be a good idea if you have solid processes in place for sales, follow up and prospecting. However, if you don't have those in place, you may be better off investing a few dollars in training your team before spending it on any additional advertising.

That way, when you are ready to invest in advertising, you know you will get great results and you don't have sit back and 'hope' for the best.

Congratulations in advance on a great close to November!

Helping the best get better,
Mat Koenig
Sales Training Manager
Cars.com
B
  • B
  • November 14, 2008
Mat,

My opinion is that an eCommerce Director or manager should be much more than just SEM/SEO, for many of the reasons you mentioned in your post.

My responsibilities extended far beyond my computer screen at the dealerships I represented. While I took care of the actual marketing and SEO, building micro-sites/landing pages, email campaigns, etc.. my duties also included but were not limited to actually supervising the Internet Sales Department. Having a super ISM to deal with most of the daily issues regarding the reps in the department was essential but I handled everything from one-on-ones to pay issues to pep talks to calling customers to personnel issues and so on.

I have been, on many occasions, asked to interview candidates for various dealerships or at the least appraise a resume and offer advice and would certainly not recommend anyone just for a SEM and/or SEO position.

Basic qualifications would include supervisory and troubleshooting skills, department management, maybe some experience in traditional marketing in addition to the eCommerce/Internet Marketing.

If a particular candidate showed no acumen for actually setting up processes and assuring the daily management of those processes, I'd be moving on to the next candidate.

As essentially important as the Internet has become to the Automotive industry, why are dealers out there not trying to hire the best available candidates as eCommerce Directors?

This is exactly where I see dealers coming up short. Right this moment, you could say the most important team member at any dealership is that person in charge of Internet sales and marketing. If it's not, then you're missing the boat.
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    Tony Weaver
  • November 14, 2008
Alex,

Please check your e-mail from me.. Thanks!
J
Mat &amp; Billy,

Great comments. Mat you hit the nail on the head in many ways.

That is a great way of saying it "Hope System"

Keep up the great work!
S
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    Stan Sher
  • November 15, 2008
It is in my opinion that an eCommerce Director or Internet Director should be a very skilled individual. This person should have the skill level of a GSM when it comes to internet and marketing. The position should have the authority of a GSM as well. This person should be able to build a manage the internet staff as well as maintain proper communication with vendor reps. At the same time, this person is willing to learn more proactive marketing techniques that drive more traffic to the dealership. If a new and amazing marketing tool comes out, they should be the first to consider it. At the same time, this person should be able to desk a deal and a close a deal if a TO is needed. While it is important to be savvy with technology, it is important to be one of the strongest sales people ever. The compensation should be similar to a GSM. This position is very important if you are going to run a high volume store of 400+ units per month or a group of stores. A smaller store that does 100 cars per month can certainly be without an internet director. However, by hiring more then one person to work the internet there is room for both people to work it properly. It is a matter of how they are going to be compensated ad how much time and effort they want to put into it.

Stan
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    Joe
  • November 15, 2008
CRAP!
I missed the free-for-all on Tony!! RATS! Late to the party again! Hmmm.... what the h*ll, I'll toss one out there anyhow... in Tony's 1st post, he writes:

"... A good Internet Sales Manager can manage his, or her team, update the site specials, rewrite the SEO content on every page of the site (front and back) at least 2x a month (after the Googlebot visits), .."

hahaha... ahem... Sorry.
Tony, if you're my "Internet Marketing Dood" and my site is not visited by google at least daily, I'd fire your a**.


Actually, I shopped ya on Google and you're scoring well, very well. But, to no thanks to you as Dealer.com has done all your SEO work. You can now cross "re-writing every page on your site 2x a month" and go back to sellin'.

Sorry to jump on the pile so late, but some times its so much FUN! ;-)

Actully Tony, I have a legit qwuestion. How often do your visitors click on your videos? One in 20? One in 10? One in 3 vistors? How long do they listen to the robot voice before they stop the stream? Have you tried to do a PERSONAL walk around a few cars to see if teh viewing time data increases?

See where I am going with this? Does the video generate interest (with leads to DIGL)?

Thnx for the fun Tony, I enjoyed the read!
Joe
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    Tony Weaver
  • November 22, 2008
Wow Joe, I thought we were all past all of this.... Okay here we go...

Of course Google visits our site every day! I was talking about a complete indexing which happens a few times (usually two times) a month for most sites. I have yet tapped into Google, or any other robot fully indexing my site every day. If you know the secret please write an article on how to do it so Jeff can let everyone in on the secret…

Joe, you write,
"But, to no thanks to you as Dealer.com has done all your SEO work. You can now cross “re-writing every page on your site 2x a month” and go back to sellin’."

I would really like to know where you get all your information? In the attempt to make me look like an a**, you have made one of yourself! Dealer.com has done Zero of my SEO. They did it in the beginning, but I let their SEO team go back in June or July of this year... Now we are indexing much better. I rewrote every title, keyword, description, and all page content on our site. And I update this information all the time. Do you think Dealer.com would make those spelling errors that "Observer" so kindly pointed out? Get you facts straight Joe! Dealer.com can not take any credit at this point! I am certainly not going to say anything negative about Dealer.com as I think they are awesome, so I will not get into specifics.

As far as video goes, I agree with you, the digital voice is a bit mundane! We used to do all the video; I have gigs and gigs of video stored. I once had many of the videos I made on the site, and all our videos were on Google, AOL, Meta Cafe, MySpace and so on. We got 35,000 to 65,000 views per month, and we owned local searches for every make and model. These 100’s of videos were targeted geographically, so hopefully they were local viewers... I since took the videos down, and we are working on another platform that will take its place. Anyway, this current video method we have is simpler for us until someone comes out with something better… My conversion rate is up to 8% on our site, and the average time spent per visitor is up to 10 minutes per visitor since I added these new videos.

I really regret coming off so strong (and negative) on my first post on this site… My tail is between my legs (so Joe, that must make you happy), but if you are going to bash, get it right! All is fair because of my post, and I think everything has been covered!

And to clarify some of the comments I made about Digital Dealer Mag (nothing to do whith Joe); I was a cover story for Digital Dealer, but we decided not to run the article, and (to me) it was a bummer that we did not let the publication run it! So, Sorry about bashing anyone being on the cover of Digital Dealer! If Michael Roscoe reads this post he can agree with this statement…

I hope this is the end of Tony Bashing, yet I know it must be fun!
S
Tony I'm not going to bash.
I didn't even read up the post to find out why there is a bashing, I just don't care.

I do have some questions Tony regarding your post. Gathering from what you wrote it seems like you've been active with videos.

You wrote:
"We used to do all the video; I have gigs and gigs of video stored. I once had many of the videos I made on the site, and all our videos were on Google, AOL, Meta Cafe, MySpace and so on. We got 35,000 to 65,000 views per month, and we owned local searches for every make and model."

1. What type of videos did you shoot? ex: vehicle videos, testimonials, test drives, etc

2. The video views per month are based on how many videos? And what type, vehicle videos?

3. What search sites did you OWN with the videos?

You wrote:
"Anyway, this current video method we have is simpler for us until someone comes out with something better… My conversion rate is up to 8% on our site, and the average time spent per visitor is up to 10 minutes per visitor since I added these new videos."

1. How is the new videos simpler?

2. What new videos have you added to your website to get these results?

3. What is your website URL? Guessing from your post it's a Dealer.com site?

And, if you want to take this off-post just email me, Thanks Tony.
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    Tony Weaver
  • November 24, 2008
Stew, Please email me as I can not get to your e-mail address as we are experienceing some sort of Java error on a lot of things today. [email protected] I prefer a phone call as that would be faster for me. Email me and I will get you my information...
T
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    Tony Weaver
  • November 24, 2008
Wait! STew PID ASSO? Oh.... I get it :(
T
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    Tony Weaver
  • November 24, 2008
1. What type of videos did you shoot? ex: vehicle videos, testimonials, test drives, etc

Used car walk arounds, and some testimonials

2. The video views per month are based on how many videos? And what type, vehicle videos?

160 videos published on 8 different sites, so 1280 videos, mostly used car walk arounds.

3. What search sites did you OWN with the videos?

Google.

1. How is the new videos simpler?

They are automated slide shows, hands off!

2. What new videos have you added to your website to get these results?

Slide show videos on used cars.
S
Tony, yeah I get that razzed on that alot,
pronounced a little different tho:)

Thanks for answering. Sorry didn't post back I got slammed today.

I checked out www.berglundtoyota.com too, do you have your video walkrounds you shot on there? I couldn't find them.

Btw, I'm nowhere close to your market;)
Check ur email, call me anytime.
S