Have You Checked Your Internet Specials Lately?

January 2007, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Jason Ezell - Also by this author

Imagine for a minute having a print ad published in this Sunday’s newspaper that has your logo at the top of the page. Full color, full page and the only text in the ad are the words: “There are no specials available, please check back later.” Sounds like crazy talk, doesn’t it? Well, this insanity happens every day, only in its Internet equivalent.

The “Specials” link is often the most frequently clicked link on dealer websites, or a very close second behind physical inventory. Ironically, during three weeks of evaluating dealer websites for this article, I noticed a disconcerting fact…less that 29% of the sites I visited had any specials at all. That means that over 70% of the dealer websites had absolutely no specials, at all!

Now, I know it’s often very difficult, if not impossible, to administer specials on your website. Or maybe dealers don’t know they can edit the specials on their sites, or the one person who knew how to make changes quit. Many sites were not built with that type of editability. They’re just limitations of website technology from back in the day (in Internet time, that’s like 1999). But with most of today’s technology and user interfaces, it’s very doable, easy, and extremely necessary to keep vehicle specials on your websites.

Online shoppers have told us they want specials; that means we should have specials on our websites. Buyers want a deal, and there are a hundred reasons why shoppers think they can get a vehicle for less than what you paid for it. And for every “reason,” there should be a vehicle on your lot that meets their needs.

Good examples of maximizing vehicle specials

Grounded Demos – Demos that have 3,000-5,000 miles make excellent specials. Advertise a dollar figure discount off MSRP. It doesn’t have to be below invoice or minus hold back, just “big savings.”

National Ads – Whatever your OEM advertises nationally makes a good special. And these are good generic specials that don’t necessarily have to be stock number specific. These specials can run for the full month or more.

Car of the Week – This is a great special to run and it doesn’t really matter what it is. The purpose is to get Be-Backs to your site. Be-Backs are more likely to send a lead than first time visitors; it’s a fact. So give people a reason to visit the site regularly.

Specialty Vehicles or Hot Trades – The more rare or unique the vehicle, the more attention it will get, and the further someone will travel to buy it. That’s part of what the Internet does well: advertise your vehicles to people who will never see your traditional advertising.

Consignment Vehicles my personal favorite – When I sold cars (specifically when working the Internet) and couldn’t trade someone out of a vehicle, I’d offer to put their car on our website as a “Consignment Unit.” This way, I kept them from shopping other dealers. I would sometimes earn two clients from one by selling the trade as a pass-through and selling the original client their vehicle. That little tidbit is free!

The point is, Use Your Internet Specials! They work. They’re what people are looking for, and they’re a great way to move cars that you might not move otherwise. My old GM used to say, “There’s a seat for every …. (well, we’ll just say ‘person’ for the sake of good taste).”
Vol 3, Issue 11

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