How did They Do it? Case Study: Herb Chambers Sells 600 Vehicles Online.

August 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Sean Wolfington - Also by this author

  • Herb Chambers sells approximately 600 units per month from their Internet department alone.
  • Digital marketing strategy generates the majority of their phone traffic to their dealership.
  • Herb Chambers drives revenue to service and parts department through e-marketing.

The strategy began by getting together with the leadership team to create an e-CRM business plan that outlined their goals and strategy. This strategy boot camp was facilitated by a digital marketing vendor, which helped them create a detailed blueprint and action plan outlining everything the team needed to do to reach their goals.

Herb Chambers implemented a complete digital marketing system which included a custom Web site that promotes all of their profit centers and drives more foot, phone and Internet traffic. The system includes a prospect management tool that automates a lot of the e-mail activity so the team has more time to use the phone and sell cars. The most important dynamic technology used are the multi-media buzz mails that help drive traffic through bulk e-mail marketing, selling new prospects and by automating the follow-up of their customers throughout the ownership cycle. Lastly, they have offices equipped with a PC, printer and digital camera for taking pictures of inventory.

They purchased Web site addresses with and purchased all of the names they thought customers may type into their browser to find them. Here are some examples for you to buy:,

They their Web site by conducting bulk multi-media e-mail campaigns and continuously staying ahead of their competitors on the search engines. They also add their URL to all traditional media—basically, everywhere their name might be found including on their current documents, television/radio/print ads, dealership collateral material, business cards, repair orders, license plate brackets and billboards.

The team’s goal was to reduce their expenses for third party lead providers and increase their leads/sales from their own site, which cost less and had a higher close percentage. They eliminated the providers that were not effective and replaced them. In the end, they had more leads and sales and the majorities are from their site. Therefore, they cost a lot less and the closing percentage is three times higher.

Herb Chambers recruited dedicated and qualified Internet salespeople with previous automotive sales experience and great phone and follow-up skills. They are on the same pay plan as the other traditional salespeople.

Their Internet sales process was defined by mapping out how to turn leads into appointments and sales. They do not sell price; they build value in the dealership, people and product as they highlight the advantages of doing business with them rather than the competition. As a result, Herb Chambers is selling approximately 600 additional units per month at a higher gross profit than some of their showrooms.

“The mistake some dealers make is that they sell the price rather than building value …In the end, if we do not ask for a fair profit it is impossible to get one,” said Jay Gubala, Internet director at HERB Chambers. “We put together a pricing philosophy that is competitive but that also preserves our gross profit.”

They partnered with a company that initially trained everyone in the department on the phone, follow-up skills and sales skills they needed to increase appointments, sales, gross profit, CSI and loyalty.

“The key to the training was to develop their skills and confidence, and this is accomplished through repetitive practice, videoing and hands-on experience,” said Gubala.

In addition, HERB Chambers has a very successful nine-day training program for new hires.

“You cannot manage what you cannot measure. We measure everything and hold regular meetings to discuss our progress and ways to improve, said Gubala. “Buzzrak reports give us the info we need: the number of leads by source, response rate and time, appointment percentage, show percentage, closing percentage, cost per lead, cost per sale, etc.”

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