Small Store. Big Online Sales!

August 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Maxwell D. Skynard - Also by this author

It’s Not the Size of your Store, It’s the Way you Work your Process
One Internet Sales Manager (ISM), Dave Palmer, took his small North Carolina Chevy dealership’s internet sales from virtually nothing to forty percent of total store volume while matching floor gross. I interviewed Palmer to see how he did it; here’s what I learned:
With a Smaller Team, Culture is as Important as Process

Palmer knows that “process” is akin to the holy grail of online sales. But he adds, “With every person on my team in arms-reach (literally), I can hear their pitch and with my Internet Lead Management (ILM) tool (Dealerskins’ TrafficCenter) I know what everybody is doing all the time. Instead of cramming a 20-page ‘how-to’ manual down their throat, I work with each one individually to ensure they mirror my passion and method.

If you Want Dealer/Principle Support, EARN IT

I’m tired of ISMs whining “my dealer just doesn’t understand my needs. I have special problems floor guys just don’t face”. Please! Go get your juice box, grab a cookie and take a nap. No great car-professional ever got there by whining. Palmer knows what earns respect. “At first, the dealer didn’t see my vision for what I could do. So I read everything I could get my hands on. I knew all the stats, all the tricks of the best guys out there, all of the latest technology and all of the online buying trends. Little by little, 5-7 cars a month became 8-15, 20-30, 40-50. Now I push forty percent of the total dealership volume with a three-person team. That commands respect and support.”
The *Right* Technology Makes a Big Difference
Palmer didn’t spend a mint on his tech-tools. He did what I’ve been telling you works for months. (1) He got a solid, dealer-branded website ( The site’s leads have his highest closing ratio of any lead type (forty percent). (2) He got a good bunch of 3rd party lead providers. He says Dealix is “best for quality and generates about a fourteen percent closing ratio on new cars.” (3) He got an easy to use ILM system to track his leads (Dealerskins’ TrafficCenter). These tools get the job done at a total marketing cost per rattle ($250) that makes the boss grin.
Tell the Truth
Palmer is “upfront and honest”. He says Internet buyers are looking to “escape the dealership run-around” even more than walk-ups (that’s why they went to the Internet in the first place). The Internet leveled the playing field and now consumers often know your rebates, incentives, holdbacks, and invoice costs better than the dealer. By embracing this new reality, smart, honest dealers like Palmer have seized an opportunity to be a consultant, not an adversary in the transaction.
Dave Palmer sets a great example – he earned his respect with a simple process, some solid tools and a passion for the truth. He proved that, with a bit of hard work, a country-talking ISM in North Carolina can generate BIG online sales!
PS: since writing this article, David has been promoted to BDC manager for his entire 26 store group. Way to go David!
Vol 1, Issue 6

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