Coming from a background in Dealership Management Systems (DMS) and Inventory Management Software, it’s imperative that the syndication of cars across the web have good data. Why? Because if they don’t, buyers will not click, call, or arrive on your lots. Dealer’s who practice “speed to market” seem to relish in watching competitors miss opportunities with outdated processes. They drive by the dealership and snicker to see the very same trade-in’s and auction buys that were sitting along the back fence last week. Can you believe that, yes that is correct, sitting literally for days and weeks. The longest I have ever personally witnessed trades and auction buys sit “off market” is almost 3-weeks! Twenty days “off market” is a very long time. If the average car dealer gets 3500 website visitors per month (that’s 116-digital Ups a day) then they would have missed 2320 (20-days x 116/day) opportunities, or potential views on cars that were technically (from an online shopper perspective) “off the market”
I know what readers (especially if your in a poor performing Used Car Department) are thinking right now, the guy writing this crap is full of it because those cars were on my website and on lots of classifieds sites. They are all out on AutoTrader.com, CARS.com, Cargurus, Ebay, Craigslist, on so on. These very the same managers who forget that the number of buyers who statistically will click, call, or visit a dealership on cars devoid of photos, descriptions, and PRICE, will never contact that dealership again.
I would even go as far as to say, your dealership may have ruined future chances of ever being visited by that same buyer’s friends, relatives, and neighbors.
As the saying goes, “We only get one chance to make a good 1st impression”
When I say speed to market, I simply mean your website. (with photos, descriptions that include call-to-action) and excellent data. Dealer’s who use inferior inventory software or just don’t bother to clean-up data end up with poor looking exports. They website will be incorrect. VIN data will show “White” (because someone in the office entered White into the DMS) and nobody edited or cleaned up the output inside inventory management tools. If consumers really want a “White Orchid Pearl” Honda Accord, then they will go to whomever has correct data. Don’t assume just because the DMS exports raw data and not a good VIN explosion, that consumers will every “click” or “call” on that car. There is always a competitor who pays attention to inventory detail and will output correct data for the consumer to view. Also remember, that the crappy data being displayed on your website is the same data being exported across the web to all classified vendors you are paying big bucks too (for no clicks, calls, or activity) It does not take too long for shoppers to figure out the dealerships who consistently output good data, excellent photos, great descriptions, and reason for them to click, call, or come in for a test drive.
If I owned a car dealership and was aware of the fact that 90% of in-market shoppers start online, I would ask my Management Team to make sure a process is in place to make sure our trade-ins, auction buys, and so on were efficiently safety inspected, detailed, and nicely photographed. When this process was completed, the Used Car Manager/Internet Manager should upload new photos, write compelling vehicle descriptions, and add call-to-action strategies. From here, cars should be freshly exported to update the dealership websites and 3rd party classified vendors. With API technologies coming on
The reason car dealerships have slow months………………………………………..
- Inferior reconditioning process – failing at “speed to market” (wasting online ups)
- Lack of interest regarding data input/output to make sure cars are accurately represented.
- Poor photos, no photos, not enough photos, no photos of blemishes, being transparent
- No vehicle descriptions, poor vehicle descriptions, letting FIELD populate with generic data.
- Poor performing websites, poor SEO, poor Local SEO, non descriptive URL’s.
- Search output from Google, Yahoo, and Bing is horrendous. SEO done poorly.
- Poor decisions made regarding inventory selection, paying too much for trade-in’s.
- No use of video technologies, creating video walk-a-rounds to stimulate buyer excitement.
- Going to marketing with inaccurate PRICE. Cars being priced by “Car Guy Gut” = No phone ups, no website leads, no activity for months. Get pricing tools. They may be expensive, but cars not priced according to “real” market conditions suggest your not a serious player in the highly competitive USED car game.
America’s Top performing dealerships have cars front line ready in 72-hours. If your a Dealer Principal, GSM, and GM, your probably thinking this sounds difficult. This process takes incredible coordination, skilled shop personnel, skilled detail personnel, and well paid happy staff members. It is not impossible, it just seems that way. Figure out how to get some the things mentioned above erased from your operations and say goodbye to having slow months.