Article

Advanced Potography Tips

September 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Rob Chesney - Also by this author

With more than ten million potential customers visiting every month, eBay Motors is a dealer’s best option when selling online. The Internet has become a showroom for dealers around the world, one that can both complement and expand a dealer’s traditional business.

Selling a vehicle online is similar to selling one on the lot – with one key difference, your buyers aren’t able to kick the tires themselves, and they need your help. Online buyers rely on detailed, specific information. Make and model specs, vehicle history and a full description are all important details to include. Most importantly, your online buyers want pictures. Clear, detailed pictures will both verify your description of the vehicle and lend you credibility as a seller.

Last summer we offered a list of best tips for taking great pictures to highlight your vehicles and help boost your profits. We received so much great feedback on this topic that we have provided this refresher course, and an introduction to some advanced photography tools.

What your customers expect

Customers on your lot have the opportunity to thoroughly inspect your vehicles and get behind the wheel. Your prospective online customers need your help to get that level of insight. Information is your greatest asset when listing online. The more you can tell a customer about a vehicle, the more comfortable they will be. The more you can show a customer about a vehicle, the more willing they will be to buy sight unseen.

Tips from the pros:

Customers always want to see more. The more pictures you can provide, the more customers will trust your listing, and the higher your final price is likely to be. eBay Motors recommends that you include at least 12 photos for every vehicle you list.

The exterior of the vehicle is the single most important factor for most customers. Many people select their next car based solely on the vehicle’s outward style and appearance. Make sure you provide a full exterior view of the vehicle, with four separate pictures to capture the front, back and sides. Most customers also want a close-up picture of the wheels to see both the style and the wear on the tires.

After helping your online customers walk around the vehicle, help them get inside. Important subjects inside the vehicle include the dashboard, the sound system, the heating and cooling system, the seats, carpet, trim and upholstery. Be sure to include a photo of the odometer close-up to verify the vehicle’s mileage.

Don’t overlook the engine – potential buyers want to know that it has been well-maintained. Include at least one picture of the entire engine bay and close-ups on any upgrades or changes that have been made. Be sure to provide extra lighting under the hood area to bring out the details and overcome shadows.

Be honest and upfront about any vehicle damage with clear and close-up pictures. Your honesty will protect your own reputation as well as put customers at ease and help them buy online with confidence. Typical problems that you should point out in your photos include dents, rust, faded paint, scratches and damage to the interior, including rips or tears in the upholstery or headliner.

The best photos take into account two key essentials of photography: lighting and framing. Some simple lighting steps to keep in mind can mean the difference between sharp, attractive vehicle images or murky, fuzzy photos where details disappear. Likewise, keeping the key elements of the photo in frame and undistorted will provide a clear and easily viewed representation of the vehicle.

Tips from the pros:

Work with the sun and shoot only where the light is. The shadow side will likely mix direct glare from the sun with a considerably darkened car and end up with little more than a silhouette of the vehicle, rather than details. Take the time to move the vehicle to get the best light possible for every photo – your effort will be rewarded.

Avoid using your camera’s flash – the burst of reflected light can wash out some essential details. For areas where a flash can be helpful (when shooting the engine bay or interior, for example), shoot at an angle that will prevent light from reflecting. Take as many pictures as needed to get a good shot.

Get in close. The vehicle should fill the frame of the picture, without a lot of ground or sky surrounding it. Show as much detail as possible, especially when shooting damage and the interior aspects of the vehicle.

Take your pictures at a low, flat angle. Position yourself at about headlight level to get a straight-on shot that doesn’t distort proportions or features. Avoid extreme wide-angle lenses that can cause distortion.

If your pictures still don’t turn out exactly like you hoped, consider upgrading your camera. Today’s digital cameras take sharp, clean photos that are easy to transfer to your computer.

Stand out from the crowd

Every dealer knows the way to prepare a vehicle for the showroom is to highlight features with a clean, professional and attractive display. Professional Solution Providers (PSPs) such as CARad, Auction 123 and eBizAutos offer a number of programs that help dealers create and manage their listings. These solutions offer dealers the opportunity to incorporate photos effectively and develop an attractive and professional listing.

Many PSP templates allow dealers to include more pictures than a standard listing. CARad, for example, allows sellers to upload 34 photos per listing. PSP services can be purchased by the year, month or even listing – starting at under ten dollars. The attractive, professional listing templates and the ability to include additional pictures will help attract buyers to your listings.

Today, more and more people look online first for their next vehicle purchase before venturing out to the lot. Successful dealers are taking their inventories online, using sites like eBay Motors to find new customers and make sales. The Internet is the showroom of the new millennium – with these best practices in mind, your dealership can take full advantage of this new and growing sales channel.

Vol 3, Issue 4

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