Over the past 5 years I have been involved on a daily basis with dealerships all over the country evaluating and making recommendations regarding their Internet operations. During that time I have seen it all, from Internet directors who did not know how to check their email to people who know so much about technology they could have been part of designing the Internet. If technology has passed you by just remember the basics and learn from the errors others make by avoiding the 5 most common mistakes I see daily.

From full voicemail boxes to main phone lines that simply ring incessantly and go unanswered, I am absolutely shocked by the way phones are answered and some of the voicemail recordings I hear. I understand that many people use their personal cell phones as part of business, but when you record your personal greeting do it in a quiet place and think about the tone and pace of your voice. When you have wind blowing or people talking in the background your first impression may not be the one you are trying to send. Also, “Peace Out” is not a professional replacement for, “Thank you for calling and have a great day.” I talk to dealers daily conducting training and every week without fail I will be talking to a dealer about a very important aspect of their business and I will ask a question and there will be silence on the other end of the phone. Then I know what is coming, “Sorry, I was being asked about something else. Can you repeat that?” I am pretty sure that this type of phone etiquette can not be turned on and off which means you are doing it to your customers and don’t even know it!

Did you know that some phone numbers only work if you are calling from inside your local calling area? Everyone reading this will say, “Of course.” Then I ask, why do dealers use those number everyday on ads that will be seen nationally? If your Craigslist ad is indexed by Google and someone from another state sees your ad but can’t call you those are missed opportunities. How about a more common scenario: Craigslist tells a customer no LOCAL results found but here are some NEARBY. This does not even take into consideration eBay, Autotrader.com or your dealer web site.

craigslist nearby

One thing I can not understand is why a dealership would have an automated system to answer their phone. I understand the cost savings argument but I recently called a BMW store and was greeted by an automated receptionist. I almost fell over laughing as I listened to the computer tell me that customer service is job one and how much personal attention I would receive from this store. Then I had to call back twice because I hit the wrong selection and got stuck in loop hell! This is the most impersonal form of communication and that includes auto responders.

Good or bad I happen to be one of those people who believe a picture says a thousand words. Magazines are a great example of how the human mind works. We flip through page after page and when a picture grabs our attention we want to read more about that product or article. This is the same thing with your vehicle pictures. You can do a quick search across the Internet and see a vast array of classic mistakes.
This happens to a lot of dealers all the time!

overlay example

Did this truck just come out of service and is it leaking fluids?

truck photo

You can’t miss the picture in front of the body shop which sends a very clear message: fresh paint!

fresh paint

And finally, one that looks great! Until you realize the dealership sign in the background is from the store next door and not the dealership selling the car!

good photos of vehicle

Here is a step by step guide with proven techniques for taking your vehicle photos. Even if you don’t take your own photos have your lot service company be sure they follow your instructions.

CLICK HERE: Step by Step for Perfect Vehicle Photos

Titles and Descriptions
When every major Internet marketing expert and company agree that custom/personalized vehicle titles and descriptions that talk to consumers on a true human level lead to more clicks and prospects, why do Internet managers still use system generated information? As a proactive company we contact our dealers on a monthly basis to discuss their successes and areas of potential improvement. The most common area for potential improvement is custom titles and descriptions. Have you ever heard the saying, “Show more, tell more, sell more”? It is absolutely true. We did a study with a major auto group and found that when they increased their photo count from 9 to 25+ per vehicle and included custom titles and descriptions on each vehicle the results were amazing! Triple digit increases in same store over the previous years click thru rates. What are you waiting for? It works and will make a huge difference in your bottom line.

Delayed Days to Market
Does it take you 7 days, 10 days or 24 days to get your vehicle out of the shop, detailed, pictured, priced and ready for market? Would you be surprised that the average dealer takes 24 days from the day of acquisition to the day pictures are taken? Take a look at this study conducted by Liquid Motors in 2008-09:

Delayed days to market

Dealer Web Site
There are many things I could cover here but I want to talk about two simple things that truly can be controlled at the store level. Most web sites are too busy! You go there and they have eight different sections on the home page with coupons and pop ups, and are simply bombarding the visitor with everything. Make your site clean, simple and user friendly. Remember, the majority of your traffic wants to see inventory fast. Do you have to click 4 times before you can see your pre-owned inventory page?

The other mistake that is very common is the dealer site URL. How many of you have your dealership name as your URL? Let me give you an example: Dallas Dodge in Dallas, Texas, will be virtually impossible to beat in natural search results for Chaparral Dodge in Dallas, Texas, for a prospect that searches, “new Dodge truck Dallas Texas”. This is because the URL name is directly in the search request. Keep this in mind when you purchase your URL’s.

If you’re a dealership that is considering getting into Social Media or expanding your marketing efforts take a second, step back and evaluate the basics. Make your process about the people and not just the sale and you will see an incredible change in your store.

Please be sure to leave your comments, feedback, re-tweet or just add valuable information to this blog as our goal is to educate car dealers so they can be better today than they were yesterday. Make sure you follow Liquid Motors on facebook, Twitter and our blog for a variety of information for car dealers.