aven't read it.
Written by David Brown
Tuesday, 20 January 2009 15:46
Our country is experiencing the most tumultuous economic upheaval since the Great Depression. Auto manufacturers and dealers alike are left with an overwhelming feeling of uncertainty about their future existence. Customers are more hesitant about buying new vehicles and servicing their current vehicles. So what can we do to retain and grow our business during this unprecedented era of high pressure, rapid change, and uncertainty? How can we develop our vision and condition ourselves to change our business strategies to adjust to the new reality?
We must first focus on the long term goal of staying in business. Think about what your service department will have to do to ensure success in five years, instead of concentrating only on hours per repair order and overall short-term profits. Make all customers a top priority, not just because you need them for your monthly forecast, but because they are the life-blood of your business. Too often we spend valuable time watching our competition when we could have been cultivating and taking better care of our customers. If you need direction or guidance, take it from your customers, not your competitors.
Are your employees promoting your dealership, as well as your product line? What sets your service department apart from the competition? Do your employees promote superior service, shuttle rides, free car wash, refreshments, factory trained technicians, competitive pricing, pick-up, and delivery? Are your employees trained on how to promote the other departments within your organization? Trust me you’ll keep customers more easily if they are both loyal to your product and your dealership team.
Consider having a private label credit card. A credit card with your dealership logo on it in a customer’s wallet will certainly give your service and parts department the first opportunity to make a sale. Every effort must be made to keep more customers returning back to your service department for needed service. The idea is to offer any plan so as to remove any obstacle in making a purchase with your dealership.
All dealerships have a wealth of information stored in their history files that typically is never used. The most profitable customers to whom you can sell are past clients. They have already done business with you and should have developed trust in your employees and your service. When times are slow, service consultants should pull five service files a day from the service history and offer those customers any needed maintenance. Develop special coupons for “preferred customers” or a “welcome back” client.
Remember your customers during holidays. Why not tell your customers how much you appreciate their business all year long with a thoughtful holiday greeting card? Include a special voucher for $25.00 off their next service maintenance or parts for the next 60 days. This is great way to increase service sales during the lean months. This also reinforces the fact that your customers are important to you and you appreciate their business.
As your customers change, the way you do business must change as well. Do not be afraid to take a chance with creative, off-the-wall approach to boost sales. Often times the most unusual ideas are also the most effective. Encourage all employees to share all their ideas, no matter how crazy, for building and retaining more customers; you never know what is going to work.
Added by Andy Gross at 5:56pm on February 14, 2009
tem and various third parties. The problem was, this one individual was also the inventory manager, spread thin between assisting our internet sales team and his other day to day responsibilities.
I joined Gene Reed Toyota with no specific title or job description - only a goal - develop our internet business to stay ahead of our competitors. The first thing that fell under my responsibilities was ensuring every vehicle on our lot had pictures...
Initially I had to find a suitable spot to take the pictures. Ideally, this should be done indoors to ensure consistant lighting. I've even heard of some dealers creating inexpensive backdrops that have their dealer logo and website address. At the time, I had absolutely zero budget or decision making powers to do anything of the sort. I found a nice little corner spot of our dealership, and slowly but surely made the sales staff aware that this location was mine - no temp parking here or giving customers a walkthrough of features - this spot was for the sole purpose of taking pictures of our inventory.
Every morning, I pull up our inventory manager and print a report of every vehicle that has been stickered and has no photos. From what I hear, not every inventory management provider can generate a report such as this. Strictly for a reference, we use VinSolutions. The reason I select inventory that is stickered and has no photos is because I know these vehicles have gone through clean-up and are available on our lot. Honestly, trying to get photos in the moment cars arrived was a trying experience and communication would often break down somewhere in the process.
One thing that we do through VinSolutions is withold all inventory without photos from being sent to third parties, for example AutoTrader or Cars.com. These unphotographed vehicles will appear on our website inventory listings, but not shoot out all over the web. If the car doesn't have photos, odds are it won't generate much traffic from these third parties anyways. This was the most efficient solution - maybe not the ideal, best practice - but it works for us. Often vehicles are purchased at wholesale and will be entered into our system before they arrive at the dealership. What happens is I find myself with 15-30 cars that I cannot take pictures of but are on our website! We have a standard "out for a bath" photo for these.
Taking photos includes a full walk around, tire closeup, trunk area, several angled internal shots to reveal cabin space, and then close up on mileage and stand out features. On average I take about 25 pictures per vehicle but have taken up to 60 for some truly incredible cars!
Once photos are taken, I use Microsoft Photo Editor to batch edit all the photos with the auto-correct feature as well as resize photos to 640x480px. This generally brightens up most photos and also decreases the time needed to upload everything. For whatever reason, my digital camera takes such great pictures it won't let me choose a smaller size photo. A good tip - if you invest in a camera, standard photo size is 640x480 for most third parties. They usually will automatically resize them upon upload, but this can distort your photos at times.
Once photos are uploaded they are updated on our website in real time and shoot to third parties at several set times a day or nightly. At this point we put in our comments for the vehicle. This is usually the deal breaker for us. Its really easy to just create a standard template and put auto fill every comment field. What we decided is to custom comment stand out vehicles and vehicles over 90 days old. Really, this is just to save time.
And that was just for USED CARS! I haven't even developed a system to tackle new cars yet. I spend about 3-4 hours every morning taking all my pictures, updating comments, following up with used car manager if a vehicle isn't priced... in all honesty, this task is most definately my least favorite of all my responsibilities and I would even venture to say it is the bane of my existence.
The issue I'm sure most everyone else has is one of motivation. No one wants to do this. Its tedious. If I had my way, one of the lot jockeys would be taking all the photos after cleanup when they park the cars on the front line. However, that's one more person to train and one more task that THEY have to do.
Should you be taking pictures, if not video of all your cars? ABSOLUTELY! As Chris has said taking action is the toughest part, and like our dealership, you may need to find someone to dedicate to internet business development.…
month of February, representing a decline of 12% versus January due mainly to three fewer days in the month. Google sites comprised the largest share, accounting for 41% of online videos viewed and just under 100 million unique viewers.
Google Sites continue to rank as the top U.S. video property, with YouTube.com accounting for more than 99 percent of all videos viewed at the property. Fox Interactive Media ranked second, followed by Yahoo! Sites, Hulu and Microsoft Sites. Hulu climbed two positions in the ranking to #4, after experiencing a 33-percent jump in video views on the heels of its Super Bowl commercial at the outset of the month.
Top U.S. Online Video Properties by Videos Viewed February 2009 Total U.S. Home/Work/University Locations
Property Videos Viewed (000) Share (%) of Videos Viewed
Total Internet 13,072,164 100.0%
Google Sites 5,348,579 40.9
Fox Interactive Media 462,620 3.5
Yahoo! Sites 353,489 2.7
Hulu 332,504 2.5
Microsoft Sites 259,002 2.0
Viacom Digital 248,103 1.9
Turner Network 169,486 1.3
AOL LLC 117,119 0.9
Disney Online 116,104 0.9
CBS Interactive 111,762 0.9
Source: comScore Video Metrix, March 2009 (Rankings based on video content sites; excludes video server networks. Online video includes both streaming and progressive download video.)
More than 145 million U.S. Internet users watched an average of 90 videos per viewer in February. Google Sites maintained its lead with nearly 100 million viewers during the month, representing 69 percent of those who watched video. Fox Interactive ranked second, followed by Yahoo! Sites and Hulu. Of the top ten video properties, Hulu experienced the largest increase in unique viewers compared to January..
Top U.S. Online Video Properties by Unique Viewers (February 2009 Total U.S. - Home/Work/University Locations)
Property Unique Viewers (000) Average Videos per Viewer
Total Internet 145,177 90.0
Google Sites 99,395 53.8
Fox Interactive Media 53,794 8.6
Yahoo! Sites 41,679 8.5
Hulu 34,731 9.6
Microsoft Sites 28,490 9.1
CBS Interactive 24,574 4.5
AOL LLC 22,778 5.1
Viacom Digital 22,051 11.3
Turner Network 20,119 8.4
Disney Online 12,699 9.1
Source: comScore Video Metrix, March 2009 (Rankings based on video content sites; excludes video server networks. Online video includes both streaming and progressive download video)
Other notable findings from February 2009 include:
• 75.5% of the total U.S. Internet audience viewed online video
• The average online video viewer watched 312 minutes of video (more than 5 hours)
• 98.8 million viewers watched 5.3 billion videos on YouTube.com (53.8 videos per viewer)
• 41.2 million viewers watched 384 million videos on MySpace.com (8.5 videos per viewer)
• The duration of the average online video was 3.5 minutes.
For more information, please visit comScore here.
Post your response to the public Research Brief blog.
See what others are saying on the Research Brief blog.
We use the term research in the broadest possible sense. We do not perform an audit, nor do we analyze the data for accuracy or reliability. Our intention is to inform you of the existence of research materials and so we present reports as they are presented to us. The only requirements we impose are that they are potentially useful and relevant to our readers and that they pass the rudimentary test of relying on acceptable industry standards. We explicitly do not take responsibility for the findings. Please be aware of this and check the source for yourself if you intend to rely on any of the data we present.
You are receiving this newsletter at email@example.com as part of your free membership with MediaPost. If this issue was forwarded to you and you would like to begin receiving a copy of your own, please visit our site - www.mediapost.com - and click on [subscribe] in the e-newsletter box.
For advertising opportunities see our online media kit.
If you'd rather not receive this newsletter in the future click here.
We welcome and appreciate forwarding of our newsletters in their entirety or in part with proper attribution.
(c) 2009 MediaPost Communications, 1140 Broadway, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10001…
Welcome to Automotive Digital Marketing
Please use the "Sign Up" link above to complete your registration form and become a member of the industry's leading Automotive Marketing and Internet Sales Professional Community. ADM members have access to resources, connections and private events that provide them with a competitive advantage.