Through the Eyes Of the Bold, Part 36

Now that I'm on my high horse about improving the economy of each dealership by improving operations and thinking, here's some more to chew on. Yesterday was the telephone and today it is the Internet.

We build websites. It's not that we are web geeks, but we are sales geeks and we know that there are too many websites that are built by web geeks that don't do much for sales. Of all the websites on the planet, auto dealerships have an awful lot of these, and for being a sales organization, and that is a dichotomy. I think what has happened is that the dealer doesn't understand much about the web, but they want to make sure that they are on the web. They think it is hip and cool and so they get the company with the hip and cool graphics and all the latest flash loops and things moving and fading in and out and flashing on and off and video clips of cars driving and all kinds of technical doo-dads. Those may be cool in a video game, but they have nothing to do with and do nothing for sales. It seems that as a group they are aiming at the young crowd and think this is the way to appeal to them.

I have looked at a few hundred dealer websites. Frankly, they are just not effective. There are no people pictures. No personalities as in people. It is all flash and show and inventory and numbers and credit applications, and requests for quotes and comparison links, etc. It's almost as if they think that people will come and look at their site and just want to buy right off the site. But, they can't buy right off the site. Much of the time, the photos are so small, they are hard to see. I wouldn't buy a book with that small a photo, let alone a $30,000 car. And when it comes to quotes, aren't we just playing this big price game. If people are shopping on the Internet, they are smart enough to be looking in more than one place, don't you think?

So, how can it work better? First, put some personality on there. Get some photos of your people and phone numbers for each one and email for each one and get some communication happening! Don't put everything that they would ever need to know about a car on there, give them a peek and encourage them to test drive to have you bring one to them, whatever. Get some communication. Cars are sold through people, not machines. It's a big decision, it isn't a book or a CD or a Video game. Get a site that is user friendly and works.

What else? Get service and parts on there and have photos and names and phone numbers and emails and get some communication going there too. You have a lot of turnover and don't want to change the site that often? Get over it. This is a big time sales tool and you need to be on top of it and controlling it and working it and expanding it and constantly improving it. Whatever it costs, do it. You want to save money on the site? Don't buy all that video game stuff. Keep it simpler and it will be more effective. Leave the flash and show for the manufacturers site. They have more money anyway. Let them spend it. Their sites cost millions. You can have a great site for $10,000 or less and a reasonable monthly fee for updates. You should be able to get updates in 24-36 hours. When you look at this small number, it is so cheap that it is silly.

When was your site last updated? Is it current? Do all the pages work? Do all the links work? I see tons that are not working, not updated, some pages under construction, links outdated. What's the point of this?

This is a sales tool. Like the telephone, it can be making you money or costing you money. Most of the websites I see are costing tens of thousands and it is just a drain of capital. It is unnecessary and ineffective. Look at your own site and pretend you are a buyer. Get some close friends to do the same and get their opinions. Better yet, ask some people that don't know you and who will tell it to you straight.

This is in our control, so let's take charge and control it. You will improve your economy.

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