Article

Alaskan Dealer Uses Internet To Sell 100 Units

October 2007, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Daymond Decker - Also by this author

Since implementing a new digital marketing strategy, Aurora Motors in Fairbanks, Ala., is growing at a blistering pace selling 89 units in the first 30 days and over 100 units the second month. Although located in the remote and sometimes frigid state of Alaska, the frequent snow storms and sub-zero temperatures haven’t dampened the explosive growth at this dealership. Integrated online marketing initiatives are generating a blizzard of results like 360 quality leads with 200 appointments set, closing on over 25 percent.
Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail…
Alaska is the largest state and boasts the lowest density of population. Frigid winter conditions frequently slow or halt automobile travel there, making it virtually impossible to move around. That didn’t deter Owner Tyler Cook, who can usually be found on a snow plow clearing the dealership front lot, from taking steps to expand his enterprise. In fact, Cook has capitalized on the inclement winter conditions in Fairbanks by realizing the potential benefits of online marketing as an attractive and convenient way for his fellow Alaskans to buy cars. As a result, Aurora Motors is now a dominant presence on the Internet in their region, and the newly developed business development center is expanding at an amazing rate even during the peak of the Alaskan snow season.

“North to the Future”
The state motto of Alaska is “North to the Future,” and Cook made the decision to do just that—turning the bottom line of his dealership north with the aid of technology. Aurora Motors partnered with BZ Results to develop and implement new digital marketing initiatives that included the design of a new Web site and extensive training boot camps. The management at Aurora Motors met with their new technology partner to review the dealership’s performance, industry trends, and to establish benchmarks, and a customized, comprehensive digital marketing strategy evolved for this unique dealership.

The next step was to increase visibility on the Internet. The decision was made to integrate AuroraMotors.com into other advertising media and to utilize Search Engine Optimization and advanced Search Marketing campaigns to drive the home-bound Alaskans to the dealership’s new virtual showroom. “Almost immediately after implementing our online strategy, we were hiring four additional people to handle the increase in leads,” stated Internet Manager Jennifer Geier. ”Within the first 30 days, our new virtual dealership was generating 150 solid leads, and now our BDC staff is following up on over 350 quality leads per month with great results”.

The technology of automated follow-up and customized e-mail campaigns have been key factors in the successful results of the dealership. The staff utilizes a lead management tool to capture and record all leads received from the phone, Internet, and showroom allowing them to be tracked and measured. “We can determine which leads are producing and which ones aren’t, enabling us to fine tune processes and make needed changes,” explained Geier. 

E-mail marketing has proven very effective for prospecting and marketing to target audiences. “We send out automated BuzzMails to promote various manager’s specials and seasonal promotions at the dealership. Every prospect receives a virtual test drive that is an engaging multi-media walk-around presentation that highlights unique features of the cars they are seeking information on.” Geier continued, “Our customers appreciate the convenience of taking a test drive from the comfort and convenience of their own homes.”

Aurora Motors is breaking all the barriers with their new business development center. Within three months of implementing their new online initiatives, the Internet specialists in the BDC were setting 200 appointments and closing on 53 units. With a typical benchmark for Internet sales of 25 percent of the total sales, Geier and her BDC staff are exceeding expectations with online sales representing 50 percent to 60 percent of the total sales at the dealership. “We have gone from practically no measurable Internet activity to selling 36 online units the first month and 49 online units the second,” stated an excited Cook.

Industry Best Practice – The First Impression
In the highly competitive automotive retail industry, first impressions are everything. Since opening its doors in 1954, Aurora Motors has been a family-owned and operated business, growing from a relatively small dealership to a multi-franchise enterprise. At Aurora Motors, customers find the largest selection of new GMC, Buick, Pontiac, Mazda, Mercedes and KIA inventory in Alaska in the comfort of a 60,000-square-foot indoor showroom that showcases new and used inventory.

Showcasing inventory is definitely one of Aurora Motors best practices, not only on the showroom floor, but at their new virtual dealership as well. Aurora Motors does a phenomenal job with vehicle inventory presentation adding a professional look and feel to each vehicle, complete with close-ups on customized detail and features like custom chrome packages and oversized rims and wheels. Cook added, “We have the largest selection of factory franchises in the Fairbanks area under one organization. We also have established ourselves as ‘the home of Alaska's no-hassle deal’ where all of our vehicles are priced ‘no hassle.’ This allows us to give honest and fair deals to our customers and reduce the stress of the buying process. We are always seeking new and innovative ways to enhance the purchase of a new or used vehicle.”

The Internet has done just that, proving that Alaskans appreciate the convenience of e-commerce. Pursuing the advantages of Internet marketing has turned out to be an investment in the future of the dealership and the fulfillment of a promise made to his customers. “Our virtual dealership was created to provide the most innovative online buying experience for each and every one of our Internet customers,” explained Cook.

The strategic and extremely interactive features on the site promote all profit centers including new, used, F&I, and service and parts while increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty. Some key hot buttons on the Web site that are effective in converting traffic into quality leads are: 

Money-saving coupons in the form of pop-ups entice shoppers to submit pertinent information in order to become coupon-carrying, excited buyers.

A scrolling marquis displays current promotions, e-specials, factory incentives and rebates.

The Bird Dog Club reward plan encourages customers to refer friends, family and co-workers to the dealership; the link is complete with “Bone Chart” reward fees. 

A military program called the “Employee Pricing Plan” is extended to men and women of the armed forces in appreciation of their service.

Their secondary site, www.$199permonth.com, conveniently showcases new and used inventory and current specials with best payments.

“Credit Acceptance” and “Quick Approval” are online applications for credit-challenged buyers and convenient quick online pre-approval to save time and make the visit to the dealership less stressful.

Shipping to anywhere in the state is available, which is quite a mission in a state that is more than twice the size of Texas.

The virtual dealership works 24 hours a day, seven days a week building value in the products, the dealership and the staff at Aurora Motors. With the phenomenal results that Aurora Motors has experienced during the “cold” months in Alaska, expect to hear more from this exceptional dealership in the future.

Vol 5, Issue 8

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