Best PracticesOpinions & Advice

Should I kill and use that money to enhance our AutoTrader package?

The dealer was going to shut down their autotrader and accounts.

The best part of running DealerRefresh is that I hear from and get to met so many interesting people. From newbie ISM’s to veterans getting back into the business and taking over a dealers Internet Department. Sometimes keeping up with all the emails is like a part-time job!

Last week I received an email from Paul Rushing. He has returned to the car business after a 9 year absence and was given to the opportunity to take over an internet marketing for a Chrysler Dodge and Hyundai dealer.

He had a question for DealerRefresh readers..

“Paul Rushing here in Brunswick, GA.  I have returned to the car business after a nine year absence.  I was given to the opportunity to take over the internet marketing for this store.

The dealer was going to shut down their autotrader and accounts and rely on the poorly designed Reynolds sites. The dealer was very negative about internet marketing and had a manager that was sharing a dual responsibility of internet marketing and as the Hyundai manager.

I took over the role of ISM and receive all leads from our sites and AT and as well as the number on the sites are forwarded to my cell. I am paid as a salesperson.

I am an experienced online marketer selling affiliate products and generating leads for merchants. Applying those skill sets to marketing cars online is not an issue.  However generating support for new ideas is. The dealer principal is a die hard old used car guy. The answer I receive from his maximize what you have then we can open up further negotiations.

We have the minimal AT package however the most leads are generated from them. My suggestion is to kill and use that money to enhance our AT package. Is this advisable?

Founder of DealerRefresh - 20+ Years of dealership Sales, Management, Training, Marketing and Leadership.
Welcome back Paul - it is a much different business than when you left. I think it has become more respectable and honest, but I'll leave you to your own observations/conclusions there.

I have a crazy theory when it comes to what motivates buyers on the East Coast. I believe the Mason-Dixon line still exists when it comes to product popularity. Things change when you travel either North or South of the DC area. Northerners seem to appreciate Saab's, Saturns, and Subaru's more than the people on the Southern East Coast. This isn't limited solely to those three brands - they're just examples.

I think the Mason-Dixon line exists for online ventures as well. A few months ago, I was in the market for a 95-97 Landcruiser, and was searching from Alabama to New York. The places private sellers listed their cars changed depending on whether they were in the South or the North (sorry to use the Civil War terminology). Southerners used while Northerners used Of course, both sites were used in both regions; however, many of the Northerners I called (from listings) told me to check out their listings as it was a better listing. In searching through, for Northern states, I did find quite a few more cars that I never would have seen on In my area (Virginia Beach) and further South everything was on with the occasional listing...the complete opposite.

Typically, product trends start in California and take 2 to 4 years to be fully embraced on the East Coast, starting in the Northern states. If this holds true, I think will be a bigger player down the road for you Paul.
Also look to see if there is any local offerings. I hate to say it, but some areas the local newspaper has a solid online offering or if you are in a high cable penetrated market - check

It stinks to work for an owner, manager, or GM that is unwilling to give the internet department their own budget and or does not embrace online vehicle marketing. If you show ROI your arguments might be validated. Whatever you do, track your results!

I'm not sure it really depends on North and South but market by market to see what online listing providers work for your area. There is always Craig list if they are in your market.

I wish you the best.

  • J
  • August 13, 2007
Alex hit the nail on the head. Each site has different levels of effectiveness in different regions. I get asked all the time by clients "which site is better", and the answer really depends on where the client is. The Philly market for example, is a big area, probably due in large part to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Sure customers use both sites, but as a former sales rep selling into the Philly area, I would have to say has a stronger presence, and I'd bet their site traffic specific to that region reflects that as well.

You're in GA Paul, so I would have to assume is the local market leader in your area. I don't know this for sure, but you're saying most of your leads come from them, plus they're based out of ATL and I know they do heavy marketing in the area (e.g. Atlanta Braves). If you're deciding strictly on allocating the money into, I would think it's worth it for your area. I'm not sure which packages you're on and price you're paying, but another option might be to spread the money around a little more instead of sinking everything into

Another interesting tidbit they used to teach us at According to JD Power, something like 20% of shoppers also use while 80% of shoppers also use My numbers may be off, plus that's on a national level, but you get the point. Basically a lot of the shoppers are going to anyway, but not as many are going the other way. Take that for what it's worth.
Here are some things I am working on or considering now.

-------Doing Now----------------
- PPC Campaigns to specific vehicle listings on our website - (I am very knowledgeable in PPC Traffic Arbitrage)
- working on a custom template script to create landing pages for individual cars in inventory to test with PPC. Template vs Company Website to see which converts better.
- Working on a blog network - For Link Love to Main Sites and SERP domination for specific keywords. (Very Knowledgeable)
- Hired a company to take pictures and provide data feeds for inventory.
- Craigslist ads - Targeting Low cost specialties like BMW, Mercedes etc.
- Using Web 2.0 sites like and to drive traffic to blogs and increase their link love.

----------------Considering --------------------------------
- Going to pull the plug on Leads generated via are way out of my market area, probably for reasons given by Alex
May pull the plug on and use the money spent on these services for PPC advertising. PPC campaigns and natural traffic provide higher quality leads bar none.

I don't like the leaks on either site. The affiliate offers displayed on inventory listings distract the surfer. They provide benefit to AT and and provide no benefit to me the advertiser. In affiliate marketing I would never promote an affiliate offer with a single leak much less the tons of leaks in these sites, does not make sense to advertise somewhere where I pay to promote my inventory and there are many options for the surfer other than to call me or fill in a LCP, when the ROI is higher on PPC and SEO.

Granted I do not have a lot of stats to work from, but my cost per lead is lower from PPC and Natural Traffic with a MUCH HIGHER closing ratio. Thoughts and opinions please?
  • J
    Jeff Larsen
  • August 14, 2007
Hi Paul, I've experienced and heard this debate many times in many different areas of the country.

Your foundation should be to maximize the dealership website first, and Reynolds will work with you to do that. I found their website support in the past to be easy to contact and knowledgeable. Aside from your PPC campaigns, these should be your leads with best ROI. And if you admin the site, lets just say you have the power of directing many to you first.

Autotrader or Two different shoppers: AT shoppers seem to be a little more tech savvy, is more newspaper oriented connected with the newspaper converted shopper.

Dealerships drop $500 to $1000 for a ONE DAY ad in the paper. What is the return on that? Most do not know. Autotrader and together per month are usually a fraction of traditonal advertising costs and with quality ILM/CRM tools the ROI can be tracked almost to the dollar, excluding the non-direct ROI that showroom reps dont report.

Consider this also; Cox Enterprises, a large 'old school' newspaper conglomerate owns Autotrader, and it's home office is in GA. AT also seems to advertise at a much larger scale in professional sport venues and produce more commercial advertising overall. reps are very pro-active before and after signing the contract. Monthly visits with reports, educating and coaching internet personel, and always demonstrating the latest cutting edge technology to capture the internet car shopper.

Did I mention... is the 7th largest internet marketing company that is also industry specific? So there's Google, Yahoo, MSN... and AT at number 7?!
I measure our ROI with AutoTrader and each month. Each vendor brings us almost identical results in terms of phone calls, internet leads, page views, etc, however we get a much better return with as they are about a third of the cost of AutoTrader. Kevin Frye/eCommerce Director/Jeff Wyler Automotive Family (Cincinnati region - maybe since we straddle the Mason Dixon line the results are about dead even, lol)
Honestly, I would quit the dealership right now! The chances of you convincing an old school dealer who doesn't see the value in the internet is very unlikely. Dealerships NEED ISMs and Internet Managers now more then ever. You would be better off finding a dealership that is receptive to internet marketing/new ideas and willing to spend money in order to make money.

Thats just my 2 cents knowing this industry as well as i do.

  • R
    Randy Cole
  • August 14, 2007
Great postings! I come from managing the web sites of a billion dollar competitor of Nike for 9 years and am 9 months new to the auto industry. So I have been here long enough to understand a lot of the frustrations and questions listed here. What I am missing, however, although one of the postings mentioned it, is giving your web site a LOT of attention. Leads are good and will remain our bread and butter, but a dealership web site that has specials listed (costs little to do and is the number one visited page on any dealership site), has a warm human touch to it, and good lead-handling processes in place will win out every time.

If you spend days trying to invite someone to your home, and then they finally come, but you ignore them once they are there, they will leave never to come back again. So looking outward to gain leads is very important, but today the web community is looking for relationship and help. Be that to them.

If I am looking for a computer online today, the first in line are usually those portals which offer up pricing from many different sources (think AT and But once their work is done, and I jet off to the next site to see if the price is really that low, the first thing I see is that dealer's site. Immediately my mind assesses how much time they took, or did no take, to make it easy for me to navigate, to communicate with them, to feel comfortable with them in giving them my business.

Most of the people who use the web nowdays have been to "internet" school. They have learned that "cheap" is not always the same as "good". But professional is almost always good. Go to any one of the highest converting sites on the web today (a flower store, and it's NOT 1-800-Flowers!), and you will find very clear, easy navigation, pictures of people (yes it's true, people like seeing people and the stats prove it) and most of all clear pricing and directions that walk people down the purchase path.

So my advice is to live a well balanced life in the Internet Manager position you find yourself in. Don't just spend all your time going after leads, but make sure your house is inviting and gives visitors the respect and attention they deserve once they are there.

That is also an area where a good hosting and design firm can help those one-man operations. They can check your site for you on a weekly basis making sure there are no empty pages (a specials page with no specials tells a visitor you don't care and, worse, you are mocking them - you invite them into an empty room). They can help with updating those specials and other issues that are real time eaters, again, for those one-man/woman internet depts.

Where I work, we are moving hopefully soon away from one of the big two providers (and it's not Cobalt), and will be working with a smaller, more responsive web hosting/design house, on the west coast. There are others as well, we just like their track record.

Take your time to find a GOOD partner in this respect, as it really pays off and expands and leverages your capabilities as an internet manager. They can also help you to read and use your metrics and stats to prove a point to those who write the checks.
Simply an awesome post. While much of the information is something I do not agree with (north vs. south, cutting our service, cross-pollination of shoppers), I am excited to see all the comments and dialogue involving

In speaking with Paul, we are looking forward to taking the "Pepsi challenge" over the next few weeks. Paul will be monitoring his leads carefully and using his extensive knowledge of internet marketing to see who delivers better value, service and most importantly results!

Thanks to everyone for contributing to this. And thanks to all of our current customers for using our product.

Dave Rudey
p. 312-601-5614

re: AT vs.

#1). Look at your Inventory, get a profile.
......Does Mngt. have "favorite" used units?
............(i.e. 30% of units in 3 models)
......Who are your major Competitors? (list top 5)
......Are they on AT?
......Are they on
............(can you spot any leverage by being on one or the other?)

#2). Are you the 800lb. gorilla, or the sniper?
......Gorilla = >500 used units
......Snipers have small #units and gain leverage by under cutting the Gorilla's by a few $hundred to "pop out" of classified searchs. If you're a Sniper, will mngt allow you to "snipe" as needed?

p.s. Jeff, is there a way to turn on HTML for our replies?
1st things 1st... Lets talk about YOU.

From one Experienced Internet Marketer to another, Here's my $0.02.
Remember that 'ol Billy Joel Song, The Piano Man? The customer says " what are you doing here?". Take a step back and look at your game plan. It's brilliant! I know it's brilliant because it's what I do for a living! hahahaha!

Really... You're bringing dom perion Champagne to a trailer park and hoping they'll all apreciate what you've brought. IMO, either you find a Dealer Group (repeat: Dealer Group) that "gets it", or, you make a go of it on your own! Case in point. I have a huge amount of respect for the fine mind of Alex Snyder. He's got his A game goin' on. BUT... the last thing Alex would want is a "player" like you in his territory. This is a compliment to you and to Alex.

Oh, and there's more!

Allow me to take you 2-3-4 years down the road. I've just spent 3.5years building the finest most SEO friendly Chevrolet dealer site anywhere (my back hurts from me patting it so much ;-). I dominated Natural SERPs for every city for chevrolet,model,city within a 200 mile radius. A summary of the sites accomplishments is here: .

Any how... sales got tight and the principal switched to cobalt 15 days ago and released me from my post. He didn't fully understand how deeply rooted our site was. Inside sourses tell me that call counts are down over 50% in the last 2weeks. All I am trying to say is that you're bringing an Internet Game Plan to a Dealer Principal that lives in a spreadsheet, tied to a 30 day window.

You need to think about this.
There is a lot of effort to build all this link love. Should you find a better opportunity, or, should the Dealer Principal want to have his nephew take over your position, your efforts will be passed on and your back on the street. We both know it'll take 6-12 months of heavy lifting to get momemtum going.

If you're going to stay with this store, why not build everything to point to you? ;-)


If you're going to stay with this store, why not build everything to point to you? ;-)

The blog networks and custom work is owned by me. I am branding myself first and the dealership second in my efforts other than the company sites. I own the domains and hosting.

Link Love can be changed at the drop of a hat or be offered as an inclusion for $$. With no one but me to dictate how it is shared or taken away.

Building link love with white hat content to push to the dealer site or personal site will pay off in spades, but as someone with almost 20 years in high ticket retail I know better than to allow that work to escape me if I leave my current situation.

Very valid point though that most would not see.

Daily I speak with dealers around our country on the pros and cons of each lead provider. The only thing that is ever for certain is that different lead providers are the best in the biz for different regions. My experience is that it isn't as simple as "the Mason-Dixon line". Rather, it depends on the exact location of your dealership. Therefore, the true answer is to have a tool that measures the ROI for each lead provider. This same tool should also let you know if the people in your area shop XYZ Lead Provider first and then ABC Lead Provider Second. In other words, if ABC leads are always coming in second, why subscribe?

Without outing our customers, I can share that two dealerships mentioned here for their successes use our lead management tools. iMagicLab recently launched for as little as $56 per month. Paul, if you decide to hang in there and show the dealership the value of Internet Leads, a tool like iLeadTools is so cheap that it would be silly to not incorporate it.
Commenting in reverse order to each response for this exceptional thread:

Rex - My customers generally love your products! I'd love a post about them on my site if you get time.

Paul - Sounds like you do what I do, but I'm just further west and do it for multiple dealers.

Joe - You're 150% correct. I still try to encourage dealers to try to be the gorilla with the sniper rifle whenever possible, but 95 out of 100 are too big on bulk sales to snipe their cars off the lot.

David - My previous job was ISM in OKC. If service were everything, we would have dropped AT and went all the way. Jojo is actually on my recruiting list (sorry if we steal him) because he blew the AT reps out of the water (except one occasion during the holidays when he brought a tin of cookies the same day that the AT rep catered lunch). Sadly, at least in OKC, AT and are both a necessity.

Randy - Your point about specials and your well written post make me wish you'd post your web address. Great stuff, and SO true regarding an empty specials page.

Brandon - While your post was well intentioned, I hate to recommend bailing out so early. It is impossible to believe, but I worked for a dealership whose owner (in his 70s) had heard of Google but knew nothing about it. 22% unit increase YOY and 29% increase over previous month after they let me rebuild and optimize the website yield possibly the funniest comment I've ever heard: "I don't know how you Google, but whatever it is, keep Googling us."

Kevin - Absolutely! Track, track, adjust, track, adjust, track, track... That's the key. Oh, and making sure your specials pages are updated.

Jeff - I disagree about Reynolds, agree about PPC and dumping newspaper, and had a bad AT rep, but I also have dealers who swear by their AT reps, so it depends on the area. Atlanta, I would assume, is strong for AT for the reasons you and others mentioned.
Response to Paul's other post, detailed:

- PPC Campaigns to specific vehicle listings on our website - (I am very knowledgeable in PPC Traffic Arbitrage)
- working on a custom template script to create landing pages for individual cars in inventory to test with PPC. Template vs Company Website to see which converts better.
((Sounds like a good plan. I'd love to know how it works out))

- Working on a blog network - For Link Love to Main Sites and SERP domination for specific keywords. (Very Knowledgeable)
((We should talk. I have a very large automotive network currently))

- Hired a company to take pictures and provide data feeds for inventory.
- Craigslist ads - Targeting Low cost specialties like BMW, Mercedes etc.
((Great ideas. Make sure you keep on top of the picture quality. Craigslist is my personal favorite because of the "cost". I bought my last car through Craigslist))

- Using Web 2.0 sites like and to drive traffic to blogs and increase their link love.
((Again, we need to talk. My social plugs are strong. My Diggs get 20-40 if they don't go popular, which is great for getting my blogs indexed quickly and ranked well, plus Newsvine, Shadows... large list))

----------------Considering --------------------------------
- Going to pull the plug on Leads generated via are way out of my market area, probably for reasons given by Alex
May pull the plug on and use the money spent on these services for PPC advertising. PPC campaigns and natural traffic provide higher quality leads bar none.
((That scares me a bit, but if you can't get the money without pulling the plug, you can always rejoin if (a) your plans don't work, or (b) your plans work so well that you can get a bigger budget))


Jake, Greg, and Alex: Your points are all good. After reading Paul's post, I think he has a plan that may trump the merits offered by AT and Perhaps not forever, but like I said, I think he may have some ideas that only someone in his unique position can pull off. Normally, I would say to stick with both. If Paul can put his plan into place, he might be able to "take a break" from the classifieds and get his site pumping out enough is sales to win a budget large enough for everything.

  • L
    Lao Shi
  • August 18, 2007

If you are reallocating budget rather then enhance and existing 3rd party source it maybe be prudent to look at experimenting with new opportunities.

"Ebay local", not the auction side, has a nice program they have just introduced that has some very nice features that are offered free within the program, videos, multi image, audio presentations, email campaigns etc. The program itself runs about a $1000.00 a month however they offer specials and the free options add value. They have a respected brand and a number of dealers I mystery shopped to review are using the tool effectively and they are happy with the solution.

Another indication of the success of this solution is the number of dealers buying into the solution over the last 4 months. Ebay is not spending heavy to market and promote this because they do not have to. While you look at who is spending major advertising dollars (actually it's our money as we are paying the fees) to promote their product/service. How much does Craig's List spend???? How successful are they?

They are month to month and I have found the providers that are not asking you to tie yourself up in a1- 2-3 year contract are more confident their solution will satisfy the client. They are usually more cutting edge on the technology curve and intend on staying there.

Craig's List is a great option and you cannot beat the price. Your ISM will have to work a little and be creative however this is what we live for ….right?

Google Base is another option that should be looked into as this and Yahoo offers dealers a great option, priced right that will require the ISM's to be a little creative. is another option. There are a number of these options, many free that are emerging and many more in the pipeline that will emerge in the next 6-12 months.

It's like a great time to be flexible and to experiment.

  • G
  • August 18, 2007

Congratulations on your new position. The question of keeping AT & alive is up to you. The biggest variable I have with AT is how well we own the pre-owned vehicles. If they are owned right, your prices will be accordingly lower than the competition. You can also approach your New Car Director and see if he would support you by adding his new inventory to AT.

Since GM guy is old school, draw up a diagram, or better yet, a spreadsheet with Cost/lead, cost/sold, find out how far away Internet customers have bought from your store (especially if you don't advertise in the local media!) and support yourself with some info from the industry as to what closing/appt setting ratios they can expect with some time. (I have a spreadsheet available if you need)

Next, develop a 30-60-90 day action plan to lay out the short term course. Third, project your advertising budget along with expected leads, appointments and sales, approximate gross/unit and SHOW him how this will make more money, get his store in front of more customers. They have to understand this will get them at least regional exposure, possibly national if you have the right inventory. Fourth, expand everyones' thinking about Internet! Put up cards/tents/banners/decals in the customer lounges to tell them they can schedule their appointments online to save time. Ensure every bit of literature from the company has the website. Loaner cars, business cards, license plate holders, etc., etc. Anywhere you can put the website, put it there! Commit to a process to handle the leads and ensure the money is spent wisely. Last, but not least, ensure you pay attention to your website. Even a Reynolds site can be made to sing with proper attention and marketing efforts.

Don't let them tell you Cars and AT customers are the same- they are not. They buy essentially the same, but it is the information gathering that is different. Much the same argument for 3rd party leads. If everyone searched Google/Yahoo for a type of car in the key words you are using, there would not be a need for 3rd party leads.

There are also some tricks you can use to change your positioning on AT without spending the extra $$$$!

You might also convince him you might be able to MAKE money by selling some of the leads you generate.

Good luck!
Thanks to all for the input.

I am playing out the end of the month and will look at stats from this month and previous months, before I arrived, and make a recommendation on that.

My work load seems overwhelming at this point, but my goal in 90 days is have everything more streamlined. The blog network I am working on is starting to produce some results, however most leads are way out of my market area.

It is well known by now I don't like the current automotive classified platforms the 800lb gorillas have in that niche and will keep researching viable alternatives.

The most important goal is to sell cars and keep the pipeline full no matter from what source.

Saw you mentioned you are doing some social marketing/bookmarking and also a blog network. That is great! Your GM won't appreciate it but if you are effective in it then he will appreciate the hightened exposure and increased business. We have a full-service blog/RSS marketing product that can drive significant traffic to your site if it is <a href="" rel="nofollow">well optimized</a>. Check us out and let me know if interested in exploring further.

-Ryan Gerardi
Welcome back!! I see where your coming from with cutting off sources, I am an Internet and BDC Director for two large Dodge Dealer's in the California Bay Area. An excellent way to produce great quality leads is building Micro Sites, the top Internet Dealers in the country are doing it. Take it from Ralph who created the Courtesy Chevrolet Masterpiece. They are inexpensive to host every month and if you hire the right guy, they dont charge on a per lead basis. Craigslist is always good for 25 cars a month between my two stores as well. Any place you can produce your own leads and have brand recognition is awesome. I have worked as a consultant, a lead vendor, and running large internet departments. The key still in the end is to get quality leads that will sell. I still feel some exposure on both and is best.

Another idea is Specials, most dealers have the buttons on the website but never use them. I have many dedicated specials pages backed by a strong SEM campaign.

Hi Paul,

The Internet is very different now. Selling cars on-line is a very competitive business and most of the dealerships rely on pay-per-click or pay-per-lead via third party vendors. The missing element to greater success is making your web site or web sites rank high organically. People are researching Vehicle Models, not necessarily a dealerships name. They know the vehicle thay want to buy, and so they are researching specifications and prices. So Micro Sites are a very vital option to providing you with organic or natural Search Engine rankings while providing IN-HOUSE leads at no extra cost. This is huge for your dealership. These Vehicle Specific Micro Sites also help raise the ranking of your main dealership site through link popularity. The combination of multiple Micro Sites, organic search ranking and PPC for this industry is the answer you are seeking.

Keyword "2007 Tahoe" #2 Site Courtesy Chevrolet
Keyword "2007 Suburban" #4 Site Courtesy Chevrolet
Keyword "2007 Avalanche" #5 Site Courtesy Chevrolet
Keyword "2007 Silverado" #2 Site Courtesy Chevrolet
Keyword "2008 Chevy Camaro" #1 Site Courtesy Chevrolet
Keyword "2007 Chevy HHR" #6 Site Courtesy Chevrolet
Keyword "2007 Dodge Caliber" #4 Site Hartzheim Dodge
Keyword "2007 Dodge Charger" #7 Site Hartzheim Dodge
Keyword "The Audi Q7" #12 Site Page 2 Fairfield Audi
Keyword "Mercedes GL450" #3 Site Nanuet Mercedes

If you know Ralph Paglia of Courtesy Chevrolet in Phoenix or Jeremy Beaver of Hartzheim Dodge in San Jose, they will testify that our Micro Sites really do work. Courtesy has received hundreds if not thousands of leads from 20-25 Micro Sites as well as other dealers across the country who have used our successful techniques building Micro Sites.

David Jackson
Fresh Start Studio, LLC.
<strong>Learned a lot over the last week</strong>

If you're new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!

I had a question recently posted over at that caused quite a stir at the dealership and with some vendors. I obviously dont like the current...
  • J
    Jesus is Lord
  • October 24, 2007
Hi Paul,
I have been employed for an auto manufacturer as a sub-contracted trainer / consultant with dealerships across the mid-western and northeastern states of the US for the last 7 years. (Spent 13 in automotive retail prior). I just want to offer info based upon 3 things you had stated in your original question. The 3 things that stand out to me are "...The dealer was very negative about internet marketing – had a manager that was sharing a dual responsibility - internet marketing and the Hyundai manager", "...die hard, old school used car guy" and "...maximize what you have".

My statements aren't really too profound, but to start, I have found that the old school guys I have worked with in recent years are obviously still very loyal to profitability no matter which dept it comes from. Hence, while they may not admit that they have a sales philosophy which is antiquated or unique, and an internet philosophy which is in left field somewhere, I believe that deep down, they truly want to pick up new ideas on how to be profitable in a volatile marketplace. There are great dealers, good dealers, dealers who pretend they are good, dealers satisfied with mediocrity, and then there are just bad dealers. Before I ever go to work for anyone, I need to know who I am working for to start with, what challenges they face, how long have they been in business, why do they face these challenges, how do they treat their employees, how committed are they to their company's financial success, what evidence do they have to back that commitment, and how open are they to hiring someone for a dept that needs help who is an innovator with logical, statistically proven ideas, and then go out on a limb to invest company capital in such solutions to help overcome the problems?

If this guy is old school, and he is negative on the internet, then it’s obvious he wasn't raised selling on the internet, probably doesn't understand the internet, and he has had people working for him who also do not understand it, hence giving him the impression which he currently holds fast to. Now that the internet marketing has not proven itself out for your dealer, and this based on bad experience, he has his guard up. After all, he has already come up on the short end of the stick because he threw his New Car Manager to the lions by asking him to manage another department which he WANTS a piece of the action in, but had no idea how to approach it. The NCM now has too much on his plate, and was obviously a beginner at internet marketing himself, and the formula for disaster has begun.

Hence, the solution in my mind at this juncture, is not necessarily to drop one or the other remembering that our audience is not necessarily limited to the local geographic Mason-Dixon line scenario, and the frame-in partnerships between the 2 sites give you effective exposure on over 300 sites nationally. If committed to success, how persuasive can you be, and how stubborn can your dealer be? Is he strapped for cash, or just plain stubborn? Stubbornness is a lot easier to overcome than cash flow problems. I can share that, as I have learned from reliable sources on corporate perspective, has been a very good investment this year for what I will call "Manufacturer A", and this on a national level in the specific arena of used car marketing. Now I'm not sure how far out of Atlanta you are, but I'm guessing if you're not far off, you probably need a premium listing with A.T. there because of the intense competition. So I see that you are between a rock and a hard place.

One solution might be to present an "old school car guys" version of an in-depth data analysis of what you are working with now (short, sweet, and to the point), how it has fallen short, why it has fallen short, and then cross referencing with ideas that you know will work, and how you could begin to prove that with an objective performance prospectus. I think you also need to surf the net with your dealer too, put in your ZIP, and show him where your cars come up in the search with what you have now. I’ve had pretty decent success getting an old school guy’s attention when all he see’s in an online comparison is his competition. Someone as yourself, who has been around this business a while, I'm sure you'd agree that you need to talk to him in language he concurs with, unfortunately for you, I realize a die hard isn't easy to deal with. I'm a firm believer however that if you do what you always did, you’ll get what you always got in terms of dollars and cents or otherwise.

I personally believe that a very high percentage of good dealers want to find people they can trust amongst other obvious qualifications. Here lies the dilemma-can you trust him, can he trust you? Experience and education typically doesn’t reveal the trust factor. How often have people let him down in the past? I think that this is the biggest issue of all issues because people always project what looks good on the outside to someone they want to impress in interviews, business relations, etc. I have to say that your dilemma is not simple to produce the best results possible given the budgetary limitations, but if it’s not considered beating of a dead horse, I might take another run at getting him to spend a little more on his dealership’s profitability. He could never expect investment returns from the stock market without investment - Do what you always did, get what you always got.


  • J
    J-gainesville fl
  • May 28, 2008
Obviously is the logical choice. I have had my ups and downs with them over the past couple years but we meet in the middle-EVERYTIME. They employ some of the best consultants that I have ever worked with. is constantly coming into our dealership and begging me to switch to them and cutting out ATC. I asked the rep, "why would I cut out ATC for" her reply was- we have a larger audience, we provide more leads, we are better, we are the best, we PROMISE double the calls (Promise???)---- I asked my ATC rep the same question- His reply was- "I would not suggest cancelling ATC for I would try to take a little something away from other media and incorporate both audiences, bottom line ...sell more cars". WOW what a difference- he made the remark-"Competition is a good thing for all of us-my job is to make you successful" is about 4 years behind ATC with their product and their staff- they will grow up one day but I am afraid that by that time they will be owned by
Hmmm....lightnup on
I would suggest you encourage your boss to get on and Auto trader both great sites. With 80% of shoppers starting their searches online you would be in a great position. would be my first choice since you don't have to pay for top positioning, on Auto trader you pay to be on top -- really pay, but if you have the budget then I would get on both sites ASAP. Start with, Once you get started and it reaps the benefit you'll be able to show cold hard numbers to support internet marketing/advertising. Where else could you get your entire inventory seen by millions of car shoppers 24 hours 7 days a week. Internet advertising is Priceless
  • T
  • August 19, 2009
Few quick thoughts:
About dropping - I would simply track my referring links from their site, setup goals in analytics to track if they are converting at all. You no doubt know how many people contact you via autotrader. If running any banner ads on their site, you should be tracking the results with 'google' analytics as well.
Add it up and see if your ROI is worth it. If not, drop them. Same with any other sites.