Article

Web Site Decisions

May 2008, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Craig Criswell - Also by this author

Over the last several months, I have been researching and evaluating several companies for a new Web site for our dealership. If you’ve read my previous articles (Jan and Feb issues), you know some key concerns I’ve had during my research, and this month I will announce my decision.
Here is a brief re-cap as a refresher for those who have been reading about my research and a summary for those who are reading this for the first time. We already have a Web site with Cobalt—the company I was obligated to continue when I took over at O’Rielly. Now that we have our Internet people and processes in place, it is time to get a new look and feel to our online presence. The key to online success is not limited to a good-looking Web site. Successful online dealers must integrate that site with good search engine strategies, commit to put the address everywhere it advertises, have a solid process in place to quickly and efficiently handle leads, and have a good tool to easily update and maintain the Web presence.

Having owned a successful online e-commerce mall in the past, I knew what I was looking for. I had narrowed my search down to two companies that could deliver what I wanted. I did get contracts from both companies. Pricing was comparable, search engine strategies and implementation of those schemes were similar (and very good), the back-end tools were thorough, but the design offerings were the differentiator. With that said, I couldn’t go wrong with either. For me however, I want the new site to have some uniqueness to it, something that makes it unlike every other auto Web site out there, so we decided to create a custom-designed site with TKCarsites.

The reasoning was simple. Look at auto dealership Web sites. In fact, do a google search or use your OEM’s site to search to find a dealership. Looking at just a few of them will demonstrate how similar many are and which ones offer something a little different. Don’t you think your online customers see this as well? It is so easy to visit a variety of dealerships online and make a judgement about which you want to do business with. Right or wrong – it happens. Knowing that the Internet rewards creativity, it’s important to be unique.

When I began the process with TKCarsites, they spent, and are still spending, quite a bit of time gathering information about our dealership, our market, our objectives and our timeline before any discussion of Web site design is addressed. That is how it should be done. In order to effectively market online, you must have that information before building the site. This is organic marketing that will pay dividends far into the future. We are excited about the direction we are moving and realistically expect the new site to be live by mid-March.

In researching for a new Web site, we contacted or at least attempted to contact what I consider to be all of the major players and even a few smaller companies. If they did not get back to me, I figured that was an early indication of their support as well and did not chase them down for my business. In addition to a great Web site with awesome search engine optimization strategies, I wanted a fair price and excellent customer service and support. I believe I have that, and you can check on the status of our decision by visiting www.oriellytucson.com – starting in mid-March – or by contacting me directly.

Vol 5, Issue 3

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