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Recently I was asked, “Why do vendors, trainers, consultants, OEM’s always point out the things dealers are doing wrong versus highlighting what we are doing right?”

This got me thinking and I promised the person I would do my best to point out the positive in my next blog. As I thought about this month’s blog it got me thinking about many different times I have seen the negative being pointed out versus the positive. Any of you that have watched a high level sports practice with that type of coach understands what I am saying. My 17 year old All America baseball catcher asked me this just last week and all I could say is, “just be glad Coach only had 2 things to point out instead of 10. I guess that means you are doing more right than wrong.”

This conversation with Austin opened my eyes to why the positive is not pointed out more often and the focus is generally on the negative. Some people would say that the industry has fear mongers everywhere and use fear to sell their service or products but I have a different thought. In order to stay in business you must make money and dealers that are in business and making money must be doing a tremendous amount of things right! The list is so long of the things successful dealers are doing that it is just plain easier to point out the negative. Plus, I have never seen any business write a check for someone to come in to point out the things that are already working.

I want to keep this simple and showcase things that dealers are doing right everyday, so here they are.

1. Training
Dealers train and if you’re reading this at a dealership you know what I mean. Dealers train on product, software, sales training heck I think they may even train to train (LOL). This is a very expensive commitment to doing the right thing.

2. Customization
I see more and more dealers taking advantage of their ability to customize their marketing message. At Liquid Motors we offer all of our dealers a free custom banner, custom eBay template and custom window sticker. Taking advantage of this allows you to show a consistent and professional marketing message and is truly doing it the right way.
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=180565858918

3. Photography
With the numerous case studies we have done along side companies like eBay, Autotrader.com and our dealers we have passed on the secret to vehicle photography and dealers are listening. The basics are 40+ photos per vehicle. I know, I know 40, WHAT? I can assure you this is the solution you are looking for. Presentation, taking pictures in a well lighted area, staging the car, taking the same series of photos for each vehicle is critical to a professional looking listing. Bottom line is they are taking high quality photos and it is paying off.

4. They DO
Every dealer that I have shown a best practice and provided proof to that best practices success has done it! I have never met a dealer that was scared to try anything that makes sense to them and they can see the documentation backing it up. I can assure you not every industry is that way.

5. Pricing vehicles competitive
No longer are the days of marking a vehicle up $4,000 over your cost and throwing it on the lot in a pricing bucket and hoping for the best. Today dealers use high quality pricing analysis tools like the Liquid Motors Accudata Pricing Analysis tool. Having your inventory priced to the current marketing from day 1 leads to faster inventory turns and increased vehicle profit.

http://www.liquidmotors.com/Dealer-Inventory-Management/Pricing_Analysis.aspx

I know I am missing an enormous amount of items such as, keeping their dealer website fresh to super fast response times, please take this as a compliment. Any dealership, sales professional and employee that is still “making it happen” should take pride that in today’s economy you are DOING IT THE RIGHT WAY!

So much time is spent on making sure your website is search engine optimized, but I feel that less time is spent on what the customer will see once they have found your site. I thought I would mention a few ideas that you might consider when building your website, updating it, or even if you are just considering whether or not yours is user-friendly.

Simple is not a bad thing. It seems that most people feel that the flashier their website is, the better, however, they do not realize that flash can hurt you more than it can help. Flash on a website cannot be picked up by search engines, so if you have a lot of it on your site, the space it takes up could have been better used applying things that will help you with SEO like images with mouseovers, keywords, etc. Not only does flash hurt you, but it also slows your website down. A slow website is surely one that will be left quickly. OK, so you might not be the coolest looking website without it, but your visitors will definitely appreciate it. Hey, and you will probably have more of them.

Make it easy for someone to find what they are looking for on your site. There is nothing more aggravating than to have to click 3 different times just to find the preowned inventory. Design your website so that everything is a simple click away. One thing to consider here is the different ways to navigate your site. You can have the dropdowns across the top of your page, but you could also have search buttons with the most common areas people want to go (new inventory, preowned inventory, financing, service, etc.) for easy navigating.

Lastly, keep in mind your audience when designing your site. Are most of your customers older and conservative, young and progressive, or family oriented? If you are in Sarasota Florida and selling Cadillacs, your main demographic is an older crowd, so you want to keep your site conservative, you want to avoid a lot of flash, and you want to keep the navigation very simplified. Also, you probably do not want to use graphics with young families loading the vehicle for a vacation as this probably does not interest that customer. If most of your customers are young and progressive, go with colors that would appeal to them and graphics catered to them. If you offer a first time buyer program or have a strong special finance program, you might want to have that info on your home page. If most of your customers are family oriented, again create or use graphics that show families doing things together. Toyota did an awesome job with their “Swagger Wagon” youtube video in their marketing. It makes owning a minivan cool. You can do the same thing with your website. There is no reason why you cannot have fun with it. By the way, if you have not seen that video yet, you should check it out!

In closing, there are many things to consider when looking at your website, and the SEO is of course one of the most important. However, you should make landing on your site a pleasant experience and design it with that in mind. At the end of the day it’s not what YOU want to see on your website but what the customer wants to see.

We have all heard this before, but it is true. I know the point in this blog may seem like common sense, but I would not blog about it unless I see everyday that it is not being done. If you are marketing online, your website (your virtual showroom, parking lot, coupon mailer, etc. all rolled into one) should display your inventory, service/parts specials and any incentives being offered at all times. We know that more than 80% of shoppers start online, so you have no idea when the shoppers will be checking you out. If they all just started by walking through your door, you know that everything has to be available during the hours that you are open. However, online, you have to be ready 24/7. This means if someone is on your website they should see all your available inventory (with photos), any specials you are currently running and have all the tools they need to make a decision on whether or not they should contact you. We know if you have what they are looking for, they will contact you. However, if you have it, but you are not showing it, then the shopper will move on. I see a lot of bells and whistles on websites, but if you are not doing the basics that I have mentioned here, you might want to reconsider where you allocate your resources and whether or not those “bells and whistles” can compensate for the lack of information. Keep it simple, give the shoppers what they need, and they will come.

Isn’t it frustrating when you are shopping online or just browsing a website and cannot find the information you need? I have experienced some frustration before, and I just simply left the site. I can imagine that is what most shoppers do. Our advanced training this month on September 21 at 11:30am CST will focus on websites and making sure yours is up to par. Be sure to join us as we will look at some websites and point out the good, the bad and the ugly. Remember that your website is your dealership’s 24 hour store front, so you want to make sure it is always open for business and fully stocked.

Are you taking advantage of all that Liquid Motors has to offer? If you are not using our mobile portal application, I would bet you are not. Recently we introduced a new mobile app that allows you to update and gather vehicle information as well as respond to leads in SalesDriver ILM, all from your mobile device. And the best part–it is FREE! The days of heading out to the lot with a notepad, jotting down the info you need, and updating the vehicle once you are back inside, are over. Think about how much more productive you can be if you can update the information instantly at the car itself. I said the best part is that it is free, but a close second is that the mobile portal is QUICK! Because the information is limited, the speed is great. If you have not seen the mobile portal yet, please let us know.

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