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If there were a test...

Updated: Nov 15, 2023

Most dealers spend a small fortune of their advertising budget using third-party sites to generate leads, online activity, and, hopefully, traffic to their lots. However, very few know the details of these sites and what may trigger moving the vehicle up in searches or what may put the vehicle back in front of a customer. If tests from each site were available, would you know the ins and outs? What about features that customers are searching for and a must-to-be in the vehicle descriptions? What triggers alerts if a customer saves the vehicle? How many vehicles on the lot are improperly listed with missing colors, transmissions, interiors, etc.? Not long ago, reported that nearly 40% of all vehicles on their site were improperly listed.

I have encouraged dealers for many years to act like a consumer, create a personal account with all third-party sites, find and save some vehicles, and set up alerts to see what communication you get if/when that price description or photo counts change.

Recently, I have had quite a few people reach out to me for help finding specific types of vehicles. Having access to lots of inventory and industry knowledge, one would think it would be pretty simple for me to find a vehicle; IT IS NOT. In fact, as a consumer, searching is less than ideal and frustrating, to say the least. From lack of quality descriptions to wrong information, the process for a consumer would be much more challenging than for me.

Dealers must take advantage of the online dollars by putting their best foot forward, knowing the sites and how they work, leaning on the third-party representatives for the vast amount of data they can provide, and learning the ins and outs of their sites. Be a master of the sources to which thousands of dollars are given each month to get the most from them.

A few bullet points for a dealer’s daily review as a best practice are:

· Review of pictures the day they are posted. Are they standing tall?

· Pricing review: has the market shifted since the vehicle was priced? Up or down?

· Does the vehicle description tell a story, such as the work needed to get the vehicle front-line ready? Was it previously bought and serviced here?

· If it hasn’t sold in the first 30 days, is the vehicle revisited online and physically for cleanliness, driven for any unexpected drivability issues? Is there a bumper scuff that got missed or a check engine light that has magically appeared?

You need to know that most consumers seeking a vehicle will be online before reaching out to a dealership; that is the first opportunity and maybe the only chance a dealer has to capture a consumer’s interest. Nothing happens until the phone rings or a customer requests more information.

Dealers, do not mess up your first impression; the consumer has no knowledge of the amazing experience they will have once they get to your showroom. Your online presentation must be on point to bring them in.

Happy selling!

-John Ruswick

Industry Specialist


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