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If you want it done right, do it yourself and save money while you’re at it!

1) Control. Having the control of your inventory what and when you want. No more calling to find out when someone is coming to take pictures, having them retake them because they didn’t turn out good, having to wait until next week to get new trades and program cars online, etc, etc. Now you can take pictures that are tailored to your specific vehicle that focus on what is special about your car and have them online today. You will find when you take your own pictures it’s a whole new World with much better results. It’s time to take control.

2) Quality. I am not going to pick on any "on the lot service" but the fact is, when salespeople are trained on how to take pictures and they are the ones selling the cars - they know what are the advantages of taking QUALITY pictures, LOTS of pictures, what attention to detail means and will make sure it’s done right. Or if you choose to train someone at the dealership that doesn't sell to take the pictures, you can train them, continue to train them and make sure the pictures are being done just how you want them done. Nothing is better than pride of ownership. No crooked steering wheels, crooked floor mats, stickers from the dealership the car came from, blurry pictures, etc, etc, etc.

HOT TIP: Writing out a process for how you want pictures taken is a must: Background, angles, straight steering wheel, what pictures to take, how many pictures, etc.

3) Post inventory to online - NOW. As soon as the car is cleaned up (or even before if it’s already clean), you can take pictures and upload them into your inventory management system. If you have the inventory management system plugged into your website, your pictures will show up instantly. If your inventory management system sends them to your website company, they will show up that evening! Not a single day wasted. No waiting two, three days or more for the “on-the-lot” service to show up. Your inventory will be posted on your OEM website and all third party websites that evening when they receive the feed from your inventory management system. And if it’s a Friday, you can always get your pictures up for the weekend instead of waiting until Monday or later.

HOT TIP: Write down a process on how pictures are to be taken at your dealership. Cover everything, every step the car goes through. Clean up, service, etc. Write it down and give copies to managers and everyone involved in the picture taking process.

4) Take more photos – No Charge. Forget the standard 6 to 12 pictures that the “on the lot” service would take and having to worry about the cost of having them take more. Take 20+ pictures and the cost stays the same. When you are taking pictures of highline cars with lots of options, 30+ is necessary. If you are selling on eBay, 30+ is a must.

5) Show me the money! Cutting expenses is top of mind lately and taking your own pictures will not only save you money but also make you more money by having awesome, quality pictures and getting them online more quickly and the sooner they are online, the sooner they sell. Turn. How many things are out there, where you can pick the better way to do it, the better product and have it cost less and make more money??

6) More Traffic. With awesome pictures, come more phone calls and emails. When someone is looking a car with 20+ awesome photos and another one with 10 photos and both are in the same price range, they will call on the one with 20+. Every time I have gone with taking pictures in-house, we get more phone calls, we set more appointments and more people show up at the front door. It always drives more traffic for the Internet Department and the Floor.

7) Customer Feedback. WOW! Take awesome pictures and you will hear over and over from customers that the reason they called you, the reason they stopped by your place first, was because of the awesome pictures you took. Trust me when I tell you this. Customers love this. It lets them see everything about the car. Customer Confidence. They don’t want to call you to ask you about the side of the car you didn’t take or the condition of the tires. Besides, they don’t trust you - yet, (you’re a salesperson) so seeing is believing. Pictures gives them confidence!

8) Salespeople will KNOW the cars. ISM's that take pictures, know the cars. After they take 20+ pictures of a car, they will know it inside and out. When someone calls on a car they will not only know the one they are calling about but also the one that would be a perfect alternative. And when their appointments show, they can easily switch people to a different car if need be because they know the cars.

9) Take pictures of your New Cars. As customer demands grow and you’re looking for ways to get an edge on your competitors, taking pictures of your New Car Inventory is one area you will want to add. Now you can take pictures of some of your New Cars or better yet, ALL of your new cars without adding a dollar to your expense report.

10) Custom Comments. Writing custom comments for your used car inventory sells more cars and it is a lot easier to write custom comments when you are looking at 20+ pictures than when you are looking at only 6 to 10 pictures. If the person writing custom comments is also taking the pictures, you can bet they will know the car enough to write custom comments after taking 20+ pictures.

Tags: inventory, automotive, cars, dealer, images, management, marketing, online, own, photos, More…pictures, stickers, take, website, window, your

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Come on, we aren't talking about anything different here. Yes, process and people, that's what its all about. If you don't have a process, people to manage the process and the right people to carry out the process, you can't run an Internet Department, Sales Floor or take pictures in house. Sorry but taking pictures in house is not rocket science.
There are two ways to do this and you will need to decide which route you want to take.

Option 1
: Photo booth. Awesome pics and controlled environment but very expensive. Billy gave us a great example of this:

Option 2: Outside. Pick a great staging area and take the pictures with the same background and angle every time.

For most, the cost of the photo booth will delay the whole project for months on end or end it all together. If you can get it done, great! Its a great way to go.

The second option can happen right away and be just as effective - no cost involved and you can make your pictures look very nice. You can have your dealership in the background, maybe even showing your dealership name. If you are consistent, each and every time, the pictures will look sharp. Attention to detail.

After you decide which way you want to go, you need to have a inventory management system, camera and process.....
Thanks for the kudos Chris. Lots of learning before getting to that result.

We tried several different methods including the exterior shots and ultimately settled on the photo booth as it generated the most leads and the feedback from customers was tremendous.

The booth itself is just 2 walls with curtains on the other two sides. Parachute material was used overhead to diffuse the lighting already in place. We placed the booth inside our service department adjacent to detail so the units could immediately go in for pics after being detailed for the lot.

4 soft boxes for the lighting and a nikon slr and ladder for equipment. Total cost including contractor to construct booth less than $13,000. (how many times you spent that on a mailer that didn't work?)

While purchasing the camera and lighting, ended up hiring the guy at the photo shop. We added another person to handle all uploading while also taking care of all information on each unit including text marquees, options, etc... and ebay auction listings.

We rounded it out with a young helper that also served as lot attendant. He made sure all units were right before entering photo booth, chased units, etc...

This could easily be done with 2 people and for probably a little less money.

Our inventory management was through ebizautos. By far the easiest to work with and they also handled sending to 3rd parties such as mydealerbroadcast, atc,, ebay, etc..
One of the biggest parts to making this process quick and easy, is the camera. I have used less expensive to very expensive cameras and the one that made the biggest difference for us was the VinCamera. The VinCamera is awesome and will quickly become your best friend.

When you have several vehicles to take pictures of, simply enter the stock number, take pictures, move onto the next car, enter the stock number, take pictures, etc, etc. Lets say you took pictures of 5 vehicles. Now simply plug it into your computer, and let the software do the rest. It matches up the stock numbers with the ones in the VinSolutions inventory management system and automatically matches up the photos with the right vehicle and uploads the pictures. Can you say automatically? While pictures are being uploaded, you can work on other things. Saved us a bunch of time! I didn't have to resize or mess with the photos either because the VinCamera did that too. I can't stress how much time this saves.

**I forgot to mention.....after you take pictures of the vehicle you can also take a video walk around with the VinCamera and upload that into the system! Very cool. VinManager will also send your video to YouTube automatically.

The VinCamera also has a very cool barcode system. I played around with it but never made it apart of our process.

To watch a video explaining what and how it works and some more details on the VinCamera: VinCamera

The above link will also show you a couple of walk-arounds made from the VinCamera

Every time that I have made the transition from using an on-the-lot-service to take pictures to taking our own pictures in house, I have always started with my Internet Staff. Each one was trained on how to take pictures and upload them into the system. The Used Car Managers also knew how to take pictures just for back up and to help train when needed. I worked with one UCM who really understood how important it was to take pictures that HE would actually take pictures as well - Dwayne Shirley who is a member on ADM. Dwayne is a VERY proactive manager and really understands how big of an impact taking awesome pictures has and getting them online as quick as possible. Don't let the car sit too long on his lot because he'll grab the camera, shoot the pics and next thing you know, they are online. The quicker they went online, the faster they sold!

The reward for the ISM’s taking pictures was being able to receive phone calls from some of the used car sites we advertised on, like AutoTrader. They saw the call volume go up as they took better photos, custom comments and lots more photos. In fact, I had an ISM that was selling 8 cars a month on the floor when I hired him as an ISM. As I worked with them, that number climbed and in just a few months he was selling an average of 20 cars a month. He SAW the difference it was making and for anyone who has AVERAGED 20 cars a month, you know how busy you can be! But he would insist on taking the pictures and didn’t want the other ISM’s to take the pictures which of course he needed their help and they did take pictures as well. He felt that he took the best pictures so he wanted to take them all to ensure the best results. That’s how important he knew awesome pictures were. I eventually had him just focus on ebay (which of course is a space where awesome pictures are a must) and a few other leads and he settled into selling right around 30 cars a month. He was a good example of someone embracing a process and running with it.

My ROI for sites like AutoTrader got a lot better when my ISM's were taking the pictures. We received more calls because of the awesome pics, they knew the cars when people called in because they had taken 20+ pictures of it, they set more appointments and we sold more cars.

If you see the benefit of taking pictures in-house and you reward your Internet Salespeople for taking them, the rest is easy if you stay focused as to why you are doing it.
Sounds like a big sales pitch actually... Chris as you know, and we've met everything here that you've said is important and very true. However, don't you agree that solutions that provide these benefits are expensive and clumpy? I mean, can we do this ( what you've recommended ) with one person or many and do it without buying specialized hardware that will be outdated in a year and can't we do it everywhere? In other words, the specialized approach discussed here fits maybe15% of the market but the other 85% don't have the employees, are having to lay them off due to economics or have issues using and learning technology. How do we accomplish your top 10 reason without having the resources? That would be of interest in this community site and the reason it exists.

Looking forward to your input.
Chris, this user guide is an example of what we have come up with that is a free resource for dealers to manage their inventory, have DMS Integration, manage photos and such... Can you give us some input on pages 9 through 14? We can do a demo as well... What I'm trying to get at is this; How do we get dealers the resources possible with choices? Some will buy this camera, some will hire designated people but most need technology to work for them and still meet all your points because your points are very good, very clear and very on-point in my opinion.

This is one of our customers and a user guide for the product we support for them. It's free for dealers to use in any capacity. Pages 9 through 14 focus on image uploads and I'm interested in your challenge, debate and/or input on this.

Looking forward to your reply as mentioned in my last post ( just making sure I don't sound repetitive )
All very good points. For example, I like Jesse's quote in Digital Dealer this last month whereby he says to express emotion in your ads and make them different. The same it true about vehicle photos. The more you have up online and the more you have that are high quality; the better you represent the product you want to sell to the buyer looking online. My question to Chris and the group really is only that it's not the camera, albeit wonderful to have an easy device, it's the concept of easily uploading photos to the net. Our Carpod product for example does this but would be even easier with a cool device like your camera. That's about all I have to give on this topic... Here's to happy holidays to all and looking forward to a large number of photos on the net :)
Hello Matt,

Did you ever notice that ALL these day's cameras you mention above, that CAN create massive 3-5 megabite files, do have settings to capture smaller files..
David, you couldn't have said it better:

"I can't tell you how many cars I sold and shipped to other states and even other countries, simply because the buyer could see the car in a complete presentation. They didn't need to travel across the country to come and see the car. They already had! When I got a phone call or email on a car, I was usually talking to a buyer. Their decision was already made in many cases. If my price was right to begin with, I had already justified the value with the visual presentation".

You gave them confidence. Nothing left to question, its all there. This is the car they have been looking for, just look at the pictures.

That is exactly what great pictures and descriptive comments will do for dealers!
Agreed, and you managed to not say VinCamera :)

Kidding... :) I love you man...
Evidently my intentions were not clear with writing Top 10 Reasons to take your own pictures. It is very sound advice and can be used with ANY inventory management system and you can use ANY camera. I have used a $100 camera, a $900 Sony Camera and the VinCamera (opps Kevin. I said VinCamera, twice :-) and all work just fine. As far as which one makes life 100 times easier and does a better job is a different subject.

I would strongly suggest if you don't take your own pictures, do the research, look into different options, companies and decide if this will help you sell more cars. Will this give you an edge? Will you get more calls, emails and traffic? Will it give you the option of taking pictures of your new car inventory at no additional cost? Will having actual pictures of my new car inventory provide me with... more leads?

Does it sell more cars?

In my opinion, of all the different things you can do to drive more traffic, this is one of the easiest things to do not the hardest.

Top 10 Reasons to take your own pictures was written as a way to look into just one of the areas in your business where you can do it better, generate more leads, sell more cars and if your current staff takes the pictures, you will actually save money while doing it. All of which we are all looking to do right now.

Just look into it. It will be worth your time to research this subject and if you decide to go that route, trust me when I say, you won't be disappointed!


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