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Is Frank Davis the Only GM Dealer that Complains about the Cobalt Website Program?

I have the privilege of getting invited to speak at various dealer 20 groups, conferences, seminars and other dealer focused events around the country... In fact, I am headed to an NCM 20 Group in San Diego in a couple hours. Every time I deliver presentations that focus on various aspects of Automotive Digital Marketing, if there are any dealers in the room, they invariably bring up some aspect of OEM website suppliers and the way that several car companies have designed their programs.

Here's a couple of changes that that car companies could implement to make things more dealer friendly:

1. Allow dealers to choose from at least 2 suppliers.

2. Set up a Search Advertising Enrollment page for Dealers.

3. Dealership Alternate URL Registration.

The fact is that dealers can and should have more than one website that each serve various targeted customer bases and subject matters. The days of a one size fits all dealer website are long gone and dealership business models actually act more like a consortium of affiliated businesses than a single store front. Personally, and this is just my opinion, I believe a dealership should have seperate websites that reflect the dealership's autonomous department structure... A Service website, a Parts website, a Sales website, a Commercial and Fleet website... maybe even a used car website all make a lot of sense. Of course, they would all have descriptive text based links to each other so that a network has been created... Hey, I have an idea! We could call it the "Inter-Net" or something like that!!!

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Tags: Frank Davis, Only Dealer, Program, about Website, that Complains


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Comment by Doug Blankenship on July 28, 2008 at 8:57am
I hear complaints about the GM program as well, but they are mostly about Cobalt. They say that cobalt is slow to make changes. They don't like being nickeled and dimed to death with every change. When there is an issue, they take too long to fix the problem. These are the kinds of critisism I hear.

They complain, but then they shrug their shoulders and say that it is what it is. I think many GM dealers just deal with it, rather than voice their opinions to GM. Its a shame, because this kind of thing could be so good for dealers. It reminds me of when Ford started supplying Salepoint and Dealer Connection to their dealers. That program recieved the same kind of critisism and mistrust from many of their dealers.

But what better? These products might not be perfect and might upset dealers, but some dealers, who weren't, will start paying more attention to the internet when they perceive they are being negatively effected by these programs. They might start doing more to get their own image more dominance.

It is important that GM sees what dealers want or don't want. And they have to understand that 80/20 rule. Out of all the people who are unhappy with something, 20% will come froward and complain, the other 80% won't say anything, so don't dismiss these critisisims as being a vast minority of opinions. They might be bigger issues than we think.

At any rate, it is up to many of us to help dealers focus on what will make them money. We can positively impact a dealer's bottom line by properly using the tools at hand. If there is anything dealers can use right now, it is positive energy.
Comment by Rob Melone on July 22, 2008 at 7:48am
Right on Ralph! WOW...That was some great information about this subject since Frank brought it up. Since GM's main objective is to "sell" more cars then why not do a PPC campaign to go after "Tulsa Ford Dealers", Tulsa Chrysler Dealers", "Tulsa Toyota Dealers", Tulsa Honda Dealers", or "Tulsa Nissan Dealers" not to mention Kia, Hyundai, Suzuki and the others. Why don’t they go after our REAL competitors? It's bad enough we Chevy Dealers beat up on each other in our own market, why would GM want to stir up the pot more? If GM really wants to sell cars then let's go after who is the most vulnerable. I have to agree with a lot of what Ralph said. There are some dealers out here who do know what they are doing and have spent a lot of time in developing their own sites and have them positioned very well. GM needs to allow those dealers some latitude and allow such dealers to pursue their own campaign with no interference.

Now I must qualify this post as I work for Frank in our Internet Department but have been keeping up with this subject. While I may not understand all of this, I feel I have a basic understanding and have been trying to learn as much as I can about this as well as other important subjects. I am an Internet Sales Manager here at Jim Glover Chevrolet that feels GM may be taking food off of my table. It was interesting to see the post by the Cobalt V.P. who said we are the only dealership complaining about this. I find that very hard to believe that there aren’t some more Internet Directors who have “seen the light”. While Cobalt may want to blame GM and GM wants to blame Cobalt, don’t we really know who the 800 lb gorilla really is and who has the power?
Comment by Ralph Paglia on July 22, 2008 at 7:12am
In 2006 I was successful in getting GM Planworks to incorporate each of our LMG's dealership names as negative keywords so that the dealers were not bidding against GM for their own name when local customers were searching for the dealership. Bill Gruwell was the president of the Phoenix LMG at the time and he might be able to give you some additional offline guidance. I believe he is still the new "LMA" president for Phoenix.
Comment by Frank Davis on July 22, 2008 at 4:28am

You are a true professional, everything you say makes perfect sense and I wish we had more dealers posting here on ADM as that is what it will take to get GM to change. Thank you for the post it is an awesome piece of work.

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