Article

Houston Dealer Strikes It Big: Internet Division Sells Additional 100 Units Per Month

August 2007, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Daymond Decker - Also by this author

The Internet Division at David Taylor Cadillac Buick Pontiac GMC located in Houston is proving that the largest city in Texas is no longer just for pick-up driving, ten-gallon hat-wearing cowboys. David Taylor has capitalized on the innovative technology of the Internet to increase Web site traffic from 2,400 visitors to 7,500 visitors, and closing ratios are booming from 8.1 percent up to 18.5 percent. With their new digital marketing strategy, the David Taylor Internet Team is averaging 80-online units per month with a 100-unit high in only eight months.

Houston, the largest city in Texas with a population of over 2 million people, is a booming city of commerce and technology - the perfect combination for the ever-growing Internet Division at this “Bayou City” dealership. The new e-Commerce team, under the helm of BDC Director Garret Wilson, is leading the renovation of their dealership into a state-of-the-art virtual dealership that serves the citizens of the fourth-largest metropolis in the nation with innovative technology and premier customer service.

David Taylor Jr. is a fourth-generation owner coming from a legacy of automotive retailers that began when his great grandfather founded the Taylor Studebaker dealership in Blum, Texas during the early 1900’s. Deep in the heart of this Texas family legacy, the passion for the industry is evident as Taylor’s father, David Taylor Sr., still wet-behind-the-ears at the age of 28 years, became the youngest Buick franchise dealer in the country. Now it is Taylor, Jr. who is bringing his family’s legacy into the 21st century by providing the same tradition of excellence to new Internet tech-generation Texans.

The Auto Boom
Oil isn’t the only thing booming in Houston. Houston is famous for traffic, and, well, traffic means cars. Census reports indicate that the city’s young and well-educated population is the proud owner of an estimated 3,623,344 vehicles. With well over 200 dealerships in the sprawling Houston metro area, the competition can be fierce, so the management at David Taylor speculated that the Internet was the way of the future, and an Internet Sales Manager, Garret Wilson, was brought on board. After researching and analyzing competitors in the market to experiment with different approaches, Garret was ready to make some recommendations to upper management. “My Internet Sales Process was effective, but not perfect. We ran into organization and structure problems due to the fact that we were expanding at an exponential rate,” said Wilson.

“Appointments were the problem; we would have four people to see one salesman at the same time,” added Wilson.  To gain the systematic processes and controls necessary to operate effectively and efficiently, David Taylor contracted with a technology consultant with automotive digital marketing credentials and proven results. With the backing of senior management and the innovative expertise of BZ Results, Wilson now had all of the “right technology, tools, and people in place to build the David Taylor Internet Division.”

Exploration and Development
Wilson is definitely a man of conviction when it comes to implementing and executing processes to ensure effective results.  Through continued research, and with the help of their training consultant, Wilson devised a playbook with procedures and scripts, and was able to develop their current David Taylor Internet Division Sales Process. Wilson staffed his department with three Customer Representative Coordinators (,CRC’s), three New Car Product Specialists and two Used Car Specialists. He has invested a lot of time into training his team, and is known to recruit a hungry showroom salesman or two.  Wilson elaborated, “I’ll let them sell on the floor for about six months, get beat up a little and then show them another way of doing it. My salesmen continuously finish in the top three because they are trained from day one that there is no such thing as down time. If they do not optimize every moment of their day, they get shipped back to the general population. After selling vehicles in our department, no one wants to get shipped back to the floor.”  With an awesome media-enriched virtual dealership, powerful and innovative CRM tools and a well-trained staff, things were taking shape for the eCommerce team at David Taylor.

“Black Gold…Texas Tea”
With the key basics in place, the focus for David Taylor turned to lead generation. Wilson relies on their lead-generating virtual dealership DavidTaylor.com for quality leads that convert into sales. “We pushed some traffic to our old site, but it was simply incapable of converting those people into leads. Our new Web site is great. I was not initially onboard with some of the features like pop-ups. I hate pop-ups with such a passion that I will leave a site for simply having them! Our trainer explained that the typical buyer does not think like I do, and he was right. Within the first week we generated 15 leads from our pop-up coupon feature and seven of them bought cars. Every page and every click has strategically been designed to convert that stealthy shopper into a card carrying hand raiser,” said Wilson.

The DavidTaylor.com Web site has been completely reworked and all marketing strategy and campaigns are focused squarely on that site.   It is difficult to track direct sales from billboards, commercials, and newspaper ads, especially penetration in relation to dollars spent. The beauty of directing an advertising budget towards a Web site is you can determine without a shadow of a doubt which advertising sources are going to produce and which ones you should chuck. “When your Web site converts 22 percent why would you not send everyone that you possibly could to the site? No other advertising source can claim that 22 percent of the audience turns in to actual leads,” Wilson said.

Having a great Web site is essential, but making sure that prospects find the site is just as important. David Taylor incorporates Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as well as Search Engine Marketing (SEM) to make the pieces of the puzzle fit together.. Wilson reports that the results from SEO are building at an alarming rate. In February alone, SEM campaigns generated an additional 2,000+ visitors on DavidTaylor.com.

“Our old Web site put us on page 13 on the very best searches. We certainly have top placement in the Houston Market with Cadillac, Buick, Pontiac, and, yes, GMC. We are the little dogs in GMC, but we are steadily increasing our GMC volume. We have the number one GMC Dealer in the nation right down the street and our Search Engine Placement is performing better than theirs,” said Wilson.  “True, I have to incorporate SEM as well as SEO to stay there, but that’s a piece of the puzzle that makes it fit together. My next step will be to incorporate SEM for our Service Department.”

Houston is no longer just about ten-gallon hats, rodeos and cowboys that want to know if search engines run on diesel. The results and successes generated from the David Taylor Internet Division are proof positive of that.  Wilson summarized, “David Taylor was so old-school it looked like a 1980 Car commercial before I built this department. Now, we are one of the most sophisticated Internet departments with real support to back it. We use the latest technology and still get our hands dirty. We went from no Internet sales at all to an 80-unit average and a 100-unit high in 8 months.”

Wilson has every intention of averaging 150-units a month in their little store off the southwest freeway. They are already making a name for themselves in the Internet sales world, but they aren’t finished. Wilson wants to increase staff and leads.  With the right people and the right facility all they need to do now is focus on the goal. This David Taylor Internet Division is still in its growth stage, so keep an eye on them.

Vol 5, Issue 6

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