As an eleven-brand franchised dealer, I get to work with
many different business ideologies. From Korea to Germany the ideological differences can be just as extreme as the geographic distances between these OEMs. These ideologies are also displayed by their customers. To make things more convoluted is the regional demographic differences within the United States. It is true that some areas favor specific brands to other ones. In plain terms, each brand has its own personality.
Over the past 5 years I have watched Internet traffic patterns shift all over the various brands we carry. Our dealer site has grown exponentially in traffic, but our lead conversion rate has remained relatively the same. I attribute this to a major decrease in VW, Audi, and Scion leads while brands like Toyota, BMW, and Honda have jumped up quite a bit. Volkswagen, Audi, and Scion are said to have the highest Internet-using clients of all the brands we carry. Why are these customers no longer submitting inquiries? I can see these customers are still browsing our website, and for a long period of time.
I came up with the idea that these customers have realized that there are not too many advantages to using the Internet department when purchasing a car. I’m not speaking about my dealership, but the industry in general. The most savvy Internet customers have already gone through the “traditional Internet-lead process” for one or two cars, and may have figured out ways to side-step the Internet department. With the vast amount of information available, is there a need to go through the Internet department if they are just going to work with someone else on the showroom floor? Have these people developed the belief that the Internet department is not going to provide any better price than can be negotiated on the floor?
How do we pull the most savvy Internet customers back to the lead pool? Do we want to?
I have an opinion, but I would like to hear from the community first.